Saturday, 21 April 2012

Pink Veal

When I was first teaching myself to cook, before I became a vegetarian for many years, I discovered Veal. As I did not know what it was, I read about it. The public Library was a great place of discovery for me then, and it still is. It was there that I discovered the vile practice of “Veal Crates” and producing white Veal. But I also discovered there was an option of Pink Veal and I was able to try it, taste it and like it.

The problem with White Veal was simply that the calf’s were tethered in a create so they could not move. Hence with no movement the muscles would never develop much of a blood flow and the flesh would remain pale and white. With Pink veal the calf’s are still feed milk but are able to move about and the flesh is much more pink. The milk diet though makes the meat of Veal a pale and not the full depth of colour that Beef or Steak would have. Also the taste is a much more delicate flavour than Beef.

However, going back to my early cooking days, when I tried talking to others, especially my parents about where Veal came from, I was told that the books are wrong and Veal was not produced by mistreatment of the calf. Then a couple of years after I had become a vegetarian, the truth of the farming practice became widely known to the public, and Veal disappeared from the shelves of the supermarkets and larger shops.

As White Veal was one aspect of bad farming practice that the public were happy to see the back of, the term Veal was seen as a “Bad Meat” There was no distinction between White Veal and Pink Veal in the public’s minds. Yet as each milk cow has to give birth to lactate and produce milk, the calf’s have to have some use. The females obviously grow up to become new dairy cattle, but the males ended up being “Shot at Birth” rather than being used to produce Veal.

While there are ethical arguments regarding any form of rearing animals for eating, as we do eat animal flesh then we should not waste any food resource in this cavalier manner. I ceased being a vegetarian when a small but significant number of farmers had dispensed with the unethical practices that government and big business had imposed upon them. And the best way I could support this change was to buy and eat meat from farmers that were producing the higher welfare produce that had been lacking when I stopped eating meat.

It is likely that because I did not eat meat for over twenty five years, I can taste the difference between the factory farmed, fill the supermarket shelves stuff and good quality well reared meat. Yes it does cost a little bit more than the supermarket pap, but I prefer to eat it less often and have something that is enjoyable to eat than just feed the lower ethics of factory farming by paying for the poor quality tasteless stuff.

Now we need to fast forward to the twenty first century, in fact today. As today I went to the Bishop Auckland Food Festival. One of the delightful discoveries there was a local company that is producing Pink Veal from two farms.

I had looked on the internet for suppliers of Pink Veal, but I had only found farms at the other end of the country. While I would have been prepared to buy in that way, I would always prefer to support local farmers if I can.

While the primary reason for wanting to find a supplier for Veal was to make a number of recipes that need Veal. As Veal is a low fat (and Low Cholesterol) meat, it is a very healthy meat too. Also I like to have a good variety in my diet and the dishes I cook.

New moor Veal can be found here

This posting is not an advert for them, although I am happy to promote them as simply they are they are producing food the way I personally believe it should be produced.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Cooking For Pleasure

There has been a great change in the way people eat and the range of foods available that I have seen in my lifetime. I am a couple of years older than god so I have seen these changes. Some have alarmed me while others have delighted me. One of the aspects that has delighted me has been the rise in people cooking for pleasure.

While the aspect that has most alarmed me is the way that food is treated by big business, made into high calorie fuel with little regard for quality or health effects. While this subject is a whole other posting, I find it distasteful the way that far to many people will then criticise the poor who often have to rely upon this type of product to feed their kith and kin. However, its about the growth of home cooking that this post is concerned with.

Before the banking collapse and the recession, many of the cookery programmes were chefs showing off creating food that very few people ever could or would try and cook at home. While its very true that good looking, well presented food makes us want to eat, the pretentious over fussed food may be good in a Michelin stared restaurant, but has nothing to do with the food that the majority of us cook and eat.

The recession though brought people back to reality and there are now programmes that reflect the way people really cook. There is nothing wrong with people creating fancy dishes, especially for special occasions. But it is via simple cooking and understanding how flavours work together that classic good food is created.

People are relearning these skills for themselves. Discovering that the secret ingredient in every dish is the love of cooking for the people we care about.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


When I started selling herbs and spices again, I discovered that many folks were greatly interested in using and trying them, but were cautious about using them. Not because they are frightened about new flavours, nor of spicy food, but it was a lack of confidence in cooking, or more precisely their cooking skills.

Its one of those wonderful facts that no matter where you go, what class of people you talk to, food is something that can and does unite people. I have had some wonderful conversations with strangers in pubs, on trains and other public transport where food has often been the ice breaker.

However, in recent years food and the way that it has been talked about in the media, has been used to divide people too. Yet the problem there is very similar to the reasons why I felt that creating a blog could be useful, its peoples lack of confidence in cooking.
Cooking your own meals from scratch is deeply satisfying, especially when your kith and kin enjoy the food too. Often it is cheaper than buying ready made meals or take away food, but unless you have the basic skills in the first place, then you can not take advantage of the possible savings.

Further, there is a lot of criticism of people regarding the quality of some folks diet. Here is is often the fear of the lack of cooking ability that keeps people trapped in a cycle of buying and eating processed foods, combined with a lack of money. Simply if someone is poor they can not afford to waste food by trying to cook meals, where if something goes wrong and their family wont or can not eat the meal, well there is not the spare money to replace that meal. Therefore poor people and families will play it safe and stick to that restricted diet that they know.

So I will be providing recipes here that will show how you can use herbs and spices as well as dealing with many of the food issues as they arise. In a friendly and chatty way. I hope that I will have the time to post at least once a week, so hopefully this will build into something folks will want to follow and use.

Lastly while there is a commercial aspect to my blogging, there will not be an endless hard sell either. I am turned off by that myself when I find it and I bet you are too.