The Best Granola You will ever try – Waste not, Want not!



New Pastures

The time has come to say goodbye to blog.com and we have moved to pastures new over at  http://schoollunchbox.wordpress.com/ , please come visit :)




This last week I have been wallowing in creativity (at the CCC conference in Haarlem) delighting in passionate foodies  (at Kookt in Rotterdam) and feasting on the glories of International community at The Feel at Home Fair in The Hague. As Doctor Sue Southwood, a developmental educationalist says, ” If you are not learning, you are not moving and if you are not moving, you are not growing, and if one ceases to learn, one withers.” I can tell you I am in no danger of withering away this week. I have learned so much and have so delighted in so many  fabulous movers, shakers and joyous creatives that I am keener that keen to share it all. As I believe blogs should be shortish to to the point here are my top tips!

Do join the Slow Food movement http://www.slowfood.com – they have a great website so please look it up.

Do come to the Creative Conference in Haarlem next year – http://www.creativecompanyconference.com/programme

and do keep learning! It really is great good fun!!

I would like to share my newfound found love of a recently discovered ingredient – the very beautiful, glowing and healthy pomegranate. There are quite a few about in The Hague currently and prices are varying wildly. I got one for 85 cents on the Wagenstraat, 1.25 at the Ekoplaza and saw them for 2 euros at the Amazing Oriental.  Use their jewel-like seeds in fruit salads, grain salads, and as a gorgeous garnish and they will reward you by glowing with good looks and flavour.

Pomegranate and Bulgur Salad

Cut the pomegranate in half. Do this over a small basin to collect the juices. The juice will stain you fingers but it does wash off. The only way to remove the white pith from the red stones is to pull it off with your fingers. Do remove all the white bits; the pith is most decidedly not NICE!

Prepare about 2 cups of bulgur/couscous/quinoa or your favourite grain.

Finely chop mint, coriander, flat-leafed parsley and add in when grains are cold.

Squeeze some lime or lemon juice into the mixture. Mix in a half-teaspoon of ground sumac berry powder. Add some crumbled feta or caprino (the best caprino in The Hague is from Italy on Piet Heinstraat).

Add in some finely chopped carmelised red onion.

Season to taste.

Serve with a green salad and toasted lavas bread.

This recipe is based on one of the many I learned at the Vegetarian Society’s Fragrant Lebanese course in London.

While desperately searching for pomegranate paste for another recipe from the course above I found not only the paste but some lovely flat as the thinnest crepe Lavas bread. It makes a wonderful pizza with crumbled cheese, some herbs and tomato sauce cooked quickly at 220 degrees. And it is pretty good for a crispy light sandwich base. Also spotted at this very small Persian store called the Super Khazar (Boekhorstraat 50) real pomegranate, apricot and raspberry fruit leather made with no added sugars. Great for taking on long journeys.

 rose coloured oyster mushrooms from Portabella at the market

Photo’s : beautiful Pomegranate,Rose coloured oyster mushrooms from Portabella at the market,Chesire Jack delighting in making his own Kappa Maki, breakfast of the season :apricot porridge with coconut , apple , raspberry sauce and greek yogurt. Autumn produce from the Market.

Stop press or stop blog… Special notice for early birds – Paul and Ginny at the lovely la buena vida (the good life) on Fahrenheitstraat no. 582 are having a ‘gift basket’ evening on Thursday, September 23 in The Hague. Ginny will have examples of beautifully presented baskets for work, friends and families in all price ranges. Order and get a 10 % discount.  Ginny’s favourite combo is the one featuring one bottle each of Madonna Della Vittori Cabernet Sauvignon & Pinot Grigio wines, a set of 4 stemless wine glasses, a tricolore gourmet pasta and Tuscan pomodoro sauce in a glass bowl all for 49,95 euro… sounds great to us! See http://www.livinglabuenavida.com/lang/en/ for more info!


Kookt Festival at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam this Saturday !

The Lunch Box are off on a special outing – join us  at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam for the Kookt Festival (9 through to 12 of September). We intend to go around 13.00 on Saturday 11th and our first port of call will be our favourite mushroom woman (who knows her produce like a copy of the gastronomique). Do check the website www.kunsthal.nl and if you are keen to join our group email me this week!

Oh, and we are harvesting our apples at present so will be adding our sweet/sour green apples to virutally everything we make: coleslaws, crumbles, green juices, thai salads and maybe the odd chutney. If you have a great recipe using cooking apples do please share it. We will be bringing you some autumn soup recipes in our October blog. Enjoy the change of season!




The Lunch Box Food Guide to London

I have been all aflutter these past few weeks. I’ve been to London to visit the Food and it’s just so full of glorious food and food creativity that it’s enough to set a foodie on fire. I have put off writing this blog for a few weeks in order to try and present a more balanced perspective (with fewer of those exclamation marks I am so fond of) but still I feel the butterflies.

Eating Health Itself
So what did I/we see, do and eat? First and foremost we ate lunch at Saf, a raw foods, vegan organic restaurant on Curtain Street – what those cooks can do with vegetables is simply mind blowing. We started with a glorious bright zingy sea weed salad, a will-die-for Laksa (one of the two cooked items on the menu) parsnip rice sushi and a divine cashew nut cheesecake washed down with a lavender mule and a green energy shake. It felt like eating health itself in a delicious cloak of flavour with hints of far off places. It’s a life-style thing as well with yoga, cookery courses and enthusiastic wait staff. Please go visit and back it back to The Hague NOW please!  http://www.safrestaurant.co.uk
After pumping for information from all the foodies/bloggers I met at the bread-making and middle eastern cookery courses I attended – a gloriously sunny and friendly Belzise Park bread-making class with Maria – http://www.bakewithmaria.webs.com/apps/testimonials and a delicious Cordon Vert Fragrant Lebanese course http://www.cordonvert.co.uk) – the name Ottolenghi came up again and again. Other tidbits emerged as well including Ginger & White in Hampstead, To a Tea for afternoon tea at 14 Farringdon St, the Antipodean style casual Flat White in Berwick Street in Soho, Haberdashery in Crouch End, Vanilla Black, the Ally Pally farmer’s market and Borough market in the city to name a few. I visited as many as possible in the time allowed and have arrived back convinced many would work well here.

HEAVEN
After joining the hordes gaping at the decadently drop dead gorgeous Harrods Food Hall ( a must for any traveller to London) and on our way to one of the only Michelin starred Thai restaurants in Northern Europe http://www.halkin.como.bz/eat-and-drink/nahm (where I ate a banana flower for the very first time – tastes like Aubergine) we literally fell over a superb gem of sheer food heaven.  Decorated with only ruby red peppers and dark velvet aubergines it was none other than the fabled Ottolenghi. It was small, white, simple and stunnnnnnnnnnnning!

HOME
Now it may be that I was reminded of various Sydney eateries and of the Rocket Kitchen in Ponsonby Road, Auckland or that I was so impressed with the window dressing but Ottolenghi felt like home to me. I was sorely tempted to get their cookbooks there and then (and a sample of every glorious thing displayed) but I reminded myself of the jars of pomergranate paste I had just purchased and the deadliness of the ezyjet scales) so decided to get one via amazon. Now, I have started to delve into Chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes and have just made the most delicious tart I have ever tasted – his carmelised garlic tart from the Plenty cookbook. Lisa ate it too,so ask her if you don’t believe me. It was seriously yummy.

We also heard about the tremendously popular Nitrogen Ice-Cream store at Camden Lock where they make the ice-cream as it is ordered. One chatty foodologist takes you through the process while the other adds on your choice of cardamon pistachio or berry flavour toffee etc. Made with a reduced amount of fat and sugar due to the instant nitrogen blast, it was very good indeed. The kids liked the swings outside where you sit to eat your ice-cream as well. Great fun – www.chinchinlabs.com. I also learned a heap of stuff including the  supremacy of cummin from Iran plus 7 delicious Lebananese recipes care of Chico Francesco our extraordinarily entertaining and able Cordon Vert tutor and one heck of a lot about kneading. Please do contact me to ask about the courses I took (I can thoroughly recommend both).
I also heard of the underground market and restaurant movement in London where people are invited to go to private houses to dine. I love it! And if you are interested in starting a small daytime cafe with the best deli food around, family friendly and with space for workshops email us – who knows what a group of like-minded foodies could do for this city! I leave you with an image or two from London town…




A few of my favourite things …

Summer’s wonderful abundance is upon us. The Wednesday farmer’s market is full of searing yellow zucchini flowers, majestic sunflowers, herbs aplenty, aubergines and tomatoes of every sort.
It seems a good time to make the exceedingly easy but tasty aubergine and tomato dish Melanzane alla parmigiana – Jamie Oliver’s version is excellent – see  http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/melanzane-alla-parmigiana. It is also a great time to be thankful for a few of our favourite things. This month I am thankful for Firat’s supermarket on Weimarstraat in the Hague for the best organic box of  cherry pomodoro tomatoes I could ever want. We have halved them, slow roasted them, pureed them, made salad caprese with home-made pesto and finally frozen them. I was also forced to buy one of the silvery grey Olive trees standing so forlonly outside his shop. It looks wonderful in my small urban paradise. I am extremely thankful I have a garden with fresh thyme, basil and rosemary in it!


Another of my favourite things is La Buena Vida  cafe/shop (see www.LivingLaBueuaVida.com) on Fahrenheitstraat 582 where Paul and Ginny make the most divine coffees and preside over a cornacopia of innovative treasures including artisan chocolate, gorgeous kitchware, olive oil hand-creams and loads of lovely stuff. A group of us did a barista course there last night and had a fabulous time – I recommend. My favourite thing from Ginny’s shop though is a recycled Spanish Glass Water dispenser. We fill it with slices of citrus, sprigs of herbs, hibiscus flowers and rose petals which tempts all to drink lovely cold fresh slightly flamboyant water!
Another of my favourite things is coming up soon in the form of outdoor theatre by the Illyria troupe.  The English Theatre is bringing James and the Giant Peach to The Hague – see www.theenglishtheatre.nl for details (and do note they have hampers on offer for the Romeo and Juliet performance). Which brings me rather neatly (Peach reference) to my most favourite dessert designed for Dame Nellie Melba in 1892 or 3 by the French Chef Auguste Escoffier.


Peach Melba
Make a fresh singing sauce by heating 2 cups of frozen raspberries or berries which may have seen better times (bruised strawberries etc) and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. Reduce over a low heat and blend ready to use.

Plunge two perfect velvety firm-ish peaches into freshly boiled water for 20 seconds and then run cold water over them. Their skins should easily peel to reveal a beautiful pinky golden flesh. Halve to remove stone or leave whole if desired.

2 scoops of the best Vanilla ice-cream. Our favourite ice cream comes from Talamini Ijs in Oude Rijswijk. But at a pinch we will use some youghurt ice cream from Florencia on the Torenstraat. Or even better make your own with some fresh vanilla pods. Jack and I made our own Strawberry ice cream in our hardly used ice-cream maker and it was delicious.

Arrange your peach dessert winningly on a pink and white plate with sprigs of mint, fresh red fruits, maybe a sprig a lavender from the garden and enjoy! You deserve it! I have (we have) loads more favourite things and I invite you to list yours by sending then to me…



Come Join us under Green Leaves with your picnic rugs

Mrs Mouse’s Cheese Muffins and Toast Baskets
by Kathy Voyles

Last week I did a Dental Health lesson for the Beavers scouting group in The Hague. We drank water (the best of all drinks), ate apple slices, blueberries and chopped raw carrots.  My lesson consisted of my nasty alter ego “Bad Jelly the Witch” telling the children how to get really, really unhealthy by eating lots of sweets, fizzy drinks and lollipops.  ”Bad Jelly” loves it when kids have bad teeth (like hers) and they became slow and forgetful (from not eating good healthy brain food)  so she can catch them to make little boy and girl sandwiches! Anyway, this charming witch made me remember some foods from my childhood and I found myself overcome with the desire to make Toast Baskets.

My dear sister Dyanne used to bake Toast Baskets for me when I was little and they were a great way to use up left over bread, eggs and cheese. I also made some Cheese Muffins (one of  my late mother’s favourites). You could call them Mrs Mouse’s Cheese Muffins  from the Angelina Ballerina stories (which we love). Both recipes are great for picnics in the park. You will find us with our pink picnic rug at Zorgvliet Park, a natural woodland, dog free park not far from the Peace Palace in The Hague with our muffins, watermelon and iced tea. Come join us one summer’s day to climb trees and hide under dancing green leaves. Buy your family pass for Zorgvliet at the local tourist office (VVV) for about 7 euros – it is worth it!

Toast Baskets
makes 12
12 slices of brown bread cut into circles to fit in a muffin pan
Chopped or grated onion fried gently, fresh herbs such as parsley, chives or coriander
Make a simple quiche mixture by mixing together
half a cup of grated cheese
2 eggs
half a cup of cream
Add in the chives and onion and your mixture is ready to pour into the bread squares.

Preheat the oven to 175. Line the muffin tin with paper cups and press in the bread squares. Pour cream mixture into bases. Add chopped baby tomatoes etc. Cut the crusts to fit over the muffin cases and bake at 175 for about 10 minutes until filling is cooking and bread cases are crispy. Cool on wire rack and serve. Use in next day’s lunchbox if they last that long!


Cheese Muffins
My mum loved these. You can use any left over cheese or mix different cheeses together.
2 and half cups of self raising flour
1 extra teaspoon of Baking Powder
2 cups of cheese of your choice – can use small chunks of brie as well.
1 cup of fresh herbs – your choice of chives, parsley, coriander etc.
2 eggs
125 grams of butter melted
375 mls of milk
Sift dry ingredients – we used half wholemeal and half white flour.
Mix in cheeses and chopped parsley
Whisk eggs, melted butter and milk in a separate bowl
Lightly stir wet mixture into dry. It shouldn’t be too runny as cheese will melt. Can add sunflower seeds, poppy seeds etc.
Bake at 190 fanbake for approx 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy with a dab of butter, homemade chutney or tapenade.


Truffle and Eggs in Heaven

I have fallen quite head over eggs in love with summer truffles. Madame mushroom, my favourite stall holder talked me through the delights of this strange black creature. Remove the little treasure from the rice and shave with care, a little goes a long way.  Either serve the thin black shavings over scrambled egg or place in melted butter for a second or so, seasoning with care and toss through the egg or pasta.

I know truffles seem wildly expensive but because these are summer truffles with less flavour than the later varieties so they are affordable. Our little truffle purchased at my favourite Wednesday organic market with two huge portabello mushrooms (for the BBQ) set me back some 5 euros. And I forsee they will be part of at least 3 meals. So, this morning at 7.30 am I could resist no longer. I whipped up the scrambled eggs with chives from the garden, cut slices of spelt toast (from Philipe Garlene) sliced a few thin slivers of portabello, melted the butter with a hint of New Zealand Marborough sea salt (thanks Tracey Sullivan) and shaved a tiny bit from my truffle. The mushrooms were cooked through, the shavings added to the seasoned pan and then tipped over the eggs. It really was plate lickingly divine.
I can only thank the vagaries of nature for producing such an odd little being. How did we humans discover its riches I wonder. Mine as you see below is shaped like a heart (bless) but beautiful it is not. Now what shall we make next?



Why we write this blog

Increasingly we at the Food Forum are aware that our aspirations to bring “healthy food” awareness to schools, kids and parents will not be an easy task. Yet, where our food comes from, how it is prepared, how we eat it – at a table with family, in a car, in a fast-food restaurant and even how we dispose of the leftovers, will impact on our lives and on our planet.
Heart disease, diabetes type 2 are increasing exponentially in the western world. And if you are not sure please do check these people and their weblinks – www.michaelpollan.com, author of our favourite food book “In denfence of food” and leading pundit on real foods.  Also www.chefann.com, a woman who has changed the face of school foods in California, and former head of the US FDA, David Kessler who examines how companies use our neural pathways to lure us into eating stuff we shouldn’t be by combining fats, sugars and salt – see www.theendofovereating.com.
Believe me, the writers of this blog love food in all its many shapes and forms, be it a quinoa salad with roasted almonds and slow roasted tomatoes, a lemon tart, an 70% dark chocolate mousse or Baklust’s carrot cake but our stance is about cooking food from scratch and enjoying it with family or friends. We do buy sustainably fished salmon, low impact farmed beef, organic fruit and veggies and we grow edible plants and flowers in our small urban gardens. In a word we are passionate, committed and keen to share knowledge about good food and to give profit to those who farm and grow wonderful food.


We leave you with a whole wheat breakfast pancake served to Jack who has learned to tell the time and has a new watch! Enjoy



Jack’s Super Snack Box.

We put in a mix of fresh summer fruit, plums, blue berries, dried apple, almonds and a low sugar oat cookie (see ANZAC cookies in this blog to make yours). This will keep him going all morning.