It is difficult to avoid the mountains of fat and salt
tephanie Alexander’s most cherished childhood memories are watching her mother at the kitchen table kneading dough for bread rolls and cutting up apples for a pie. But the cook and restaurateur says children and young people are no longer getting these basic cooking skills from parents and grandparents, and as a result face a poor nutritional future. Alexander, whose mammoth and encyclopaedic recipe book The Cook’s Companion is an Australian classic, , will release a new compendium this week — The he Cook’s Apprentice — in a bid to attract a new generation of young cooks back into the kitchen. “I still feel an awful lot of people are shying away from cooking because they’re anxious and, for whatever reason, are not confident in the kitchen,” Alexander tells BW Magazine. “This This boo book is aimed at teens, young people and n new cooks, and I have tried to explain straig straight forward techniques and ingredients t that anyone can understand, no matter what their skills. “A lo lot of parents of young children n also d didn’t learn the necessary kitchen hen skil skills, which now means two ge generations lack the confidence to p prepare basic meals at home.” The Cook’s Apprentice is one ne of those keep-forever cookbooks s that will become an essential tool in the kitchen, its pages blotted and dirtied with ingredients over time. The first chapters deal with cooking techniques and take new foodies through skills from how to b blind-bake pastry and carve a leg o of lamb to chopping onions and tim timing a meal. An A-to-Z section will take you through all the ingredients menti mentioned in the recipes. And then there ar are more than 300 recipes from simple dis dishes such as a five-ingredient butter-and-r butter-and-rocket pasta sauce to more complex examples such as a Thai steamed fish. All of them though are explained in simple to follow steps.
The cookbook is expected to take the place of the parents and grandparents who once passed on these basic skills to their children and grandchildren. Alexander says our hectic modern lifestyle has made this sharing of ideas and passing on of skills difficult.
“I received this information from my mother and so did my siblings, it was part of our family tradition,” she explains.
“But that has changed so much now that we’re grabbing food on the run, eating out and ne of the greatest food worries Stephanie Alexander has is the high volume of heavily processed food on the market, something she refers to as the nutrition world’s “lowest common denominator.”
“The mediocre foods out there are a cop-out in terms of flavour and nutrition,” she says. “It is difficult to avoid the mountains of fat and salt if you’re grabbing food on the run.”
The results of the latest National Secondary Students Diet and Activity survey won’t give her any peace of mind. It found about 40 per cent of adolescents and teens consume eating eatin meals at odd hours due to the growing number num of after school sports and activities. The cumulative effect of this kind of society is that skills are not being passed on.
“I don’t want to exaggerate it — there are plenty of people who love to cook — but we still need to do these things as a family. They are good habits that need to start somewhere.”
Alexander recalls early memories of watching her mother cooking in the family’s Melbourne home when she was still a schoolgirl and learning the skills that would become the foundation of her cooking empire.
They are also the skills she passed on to her own two daughters years later. Mother and daughters still enjoy a get-together over a special meal around the table.
“My mother was a very good and curious cook,” Alexander says. “She was a frustrated burgers, pizza and hot chips at least once a week, with more boys than girls giving in to the craving, according to the report by Cancer Council Australia and the National Heart Foundation.
Furthermore, those who consumed fast food regularly indicated a low consumption of fruit and vegetables.
The only highlight was the fact the number of high school students who ate fast food at least once a week had dropped from 43 per cent in 2010.
The report also found young people were susceptible to advertising from fast food companies, with more than half claiming they had tried a new food or drink they had seen advertised in the month before being surveyed.
A further 24.3 per cent of secondary students had chosen a food or drink that had been linked to a movie or sports personality they admired.
And when it comes to soft drinks, the results were worse — with 17 per cent of teenage boys claiming to drink a litre of the high-sugar beverage a week, compared with 10 per cent of girls.
“Over a year it equates to at least 5.2kg of extra sugar,” says Kathy Chapman, chair of the Nutrition and Physical Activity Committee at Cancer Council Australia.
“And this doesn’t even account for other sugar-sweetened beverages such as energy drinks.”