Jamie Oliver’s Romantic Notion

When I was a little girl, I hated cooked carrots.  They were the orange, bane-filled mush of my nightmares.  I loved the roast beef and potatoes they usually came with (I have never met a potato I didn’t love), but when my plate got down to the globs of orange, the gagging began.  My parents wouldcoax…or yell at me to eat them.  I’d gag them down, eyes tearing up, gulping big swallows of milk afterwards to try to erase the memory.  I’d lose my breath, I’d hem, I’d haw.  I’d gag some more.

One night, when I was about 8,  the humongous pile of carrots on plate was just sitting there getting cold and I asked to be excused, unable to bear the thought of eating them.  But my dad decreed that I would eat. every. bite.  :)   We all have one of these stories, don’t we?

carrots cooked

I sat and looked at them.  They looked back at me.  I begged them to taste good and somehow just go down.  I’d take a bite and they’d suddenly swell to this huge mouthful of putridness and the yuk would begin and I’d cry, calling out to God to deliver me, help me, pleeeeeeease.  Dinner had started at 5 pm on the dot, like always.  At 9:55 pm, alone in the cold, dark kitchen, with my cold dark plate of carrots – my mom finally released me to go to bed for school.  I hung my head in shame.  I wasn’t being rebellious not eating them, I just really thought they were that horrible.

The Redemption of the Carrot

Fast forward to a snow day when I was 11.  There was nothing to do and so I pulled out the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook for Kids, late 1950s edition.  I was determined to cook something for fun.  But we didn’t have all the ingredients for any of the recipes – nothing, except one…carrots.  Cooked carrots.  Because we had the carrots, we had the honey and we had the butter.

Intrigued, I stared at the picture in the cookbook for a long time.  The carrots had been cut into very long, skinny strips, “shoestrings,” and the butter was melting over them all shiny and bright.  I stared and my mouth started to water.  I pondered…I figured I’d give it a go.

My mom came in and asked what I was doing.

“Cooking carrots.”

“You don’t like carrots,” she reminded me.

“I’ll like these, ” I told her, by faith.

So I cut them into shoestrings.  And I simmered them with a teaspoon of raw honey.  Then I plated them in a pretty pile, all the strips going the same direction and put a big pat of butter on them just like the picture, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and ~ GLORIOUS! I loved them.  I understood them, finally.  I got what they were there to give me: nourishment and deliciousness.  They weren’t overcooked and later I learned they were so sweet they didn’t need the honey.  But I fell head-over-heels for my carrots on the spot and my mom was thoroughly nonplussed.

What does this have to do with Jamie Oliver?

jamie oliver with veggies

Well-it’s his zeal.  He believes it needs to start in the home, that the home is where we should begin to pass on cooking again – for the health and welfare of generations to come.  Because the last several generations have increasingly gone to processed, convenience foods and eating out – a lot!  And it is literally killing us,  killing our children.  And he says when you learn to cook it yourself, you love it.

It was true for me.  With carrots, people!

Exponential power to change the future for the next generation is in our hands~ By good-old-fashioned home-cooking!

“Passing it on is a philosophy for me it’s quite romantic, but it’s about: If one person teaches three people how to cook something and they teach three of their mates, that only has to repeat itself 25 times and that’s the whole population of America.

Romantic? Yes, but most importantly it’s about trying to get you to realize that every one of your individual efforts makes a difference.” -Jamie Oliver

So, this is a call-out to the grandmas and grandpas out there and to the mommies and daddies for that matter: drag out the family recipe books, take the kids to the store to buy fresh ingredients, and show them how to cook.

I’m guilty.  I didn’t teach my kids to cook like I should have, but was lucky they are smart enough to have pursued it and are good at it. But it’s not too late and it’s a chance to pass on heritage and family stories, too.

And hey – I like this organization {The Family Dinner Project}, “A start-up grassroots movement of food, fun and conversation about things that matter.”

But we all have to take back our food.  I’m on a kick because of gardening-and eating what you grow…Eat fresh, eat local (when possible – I mean, I have to get my oranges from Florida, people),  and grow your own, as much as possible-try it!

suburban stone age - opt out

My husband was raised on casseroles.  Any meat you could scramble and  stir in some cans of Campbell’s Soup and top with Tater Tots, that was supper.  My family was meat and potatoes.  We had a meat (breaded and fried pork chops or breaded and fried chicken or fried hamburgers) with potatoes (you guessed it-usually fried) and a veggie…out of a can.

Our parents had been sold post-war convenience and were doing the best they could to put healthy meals on the table-quickly .  And by sheer convenience they were less healthy, but the one thing they got right was cooking at home day in and day out, feeding their families meals seasoned with love, and eating around the table nightly, and if you were really blessed: good talk.

Dave and I provided our kids with frozen veggies and thought we were doing pretty well, better.  But we failed with TOO MUCH eating out!  No bueno!

“We’ve got to put back what’s been lost.”  -Jamie Oliver, Ted Talks, Chew on This!

It’s romantic and do-able.  Cooking more at home for life.

Tonight:  Some one is bringing the salad, some one else the soup and yet another, the dessert.  My part:  Italian-bread BLTs (whole grain for those who feel less guilty eating it that way, thought if you’re eating a bunch of bacon, I say: go all in), heavy on the B and the T.  And Bruschetta a la Pomodoro and Chiabatta w/Walnut~Basil Pesto.  All easy.  All garden-fresh.


3 thoughts on “Jamie Oliver’s Romantic Notion

  1. We had ciabatta with pesto (and olive oil and balsamic vinegar) with our meal last night (chicken with melted mozzarella and more pesto because the basil is getting ready to take over the planet, evidently). Heavenly!

  2. P.S. I love this post. We have been focused on this very thing for the past couple of years. Not too late! I do think they love it more when they can taste the ingredients and see how they blend together. And? The family dinner table is where we have our very best conversations.

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