IT’S that time of year again when parents are torn by pride and dread and teenagers are excited at their first taste of independence.
It’s not only the starting of a whole new life and the opportunity of meeting a host of new people but also the prospect of moving away from home for the very first time.
Not having parents at their beck and call means extra responsibilities: washing clothes, cleaning a house or flat – and most importantly cooking (except for the takeaway nights of course), a shock-horror thought to the majority of students – as well as their parents worried what their children will be subjecting their taste buds to.
But one café has stepped in to save the day!
Caffi Florence, at Loggerheads Country Park, holds its own student cookery workshops teaching prospective students much-needed cookery skills.
Having children of her own at university, café owner Jane Clough, knows how these students feel.
“I can relate to how the students are feeling,” said Jane.
“Today has been set up to help students to use their money wisely whilst at university and gives great practical ideas for healthy and easy to prepare meals.”
I joined Jane, six prospective students and head chef Ian Purcell as they began the workshop.
“Today we will be cooking four savoury dishes – Bolognese sauce, carbonara, chicken stir fry and vegetable casserole,” said Jane, “as well as two pudding dishes: bread and butter pudding and chocolate tiffin.”
Before the cooking got under way I was interested to find out more about the students, and why they were attending today’s workshop.
Hoping to impress their fellow students with their culinary skills were Michael Rance from Penyfordd, Tom Marquil from Halkyn, friends Hannah Phylip and Branwen Jones, both from Mold, and brothers Joe and Ned Bibby, from Warrington.
“I will be studying product design and robotics at Middlesex,” said Michael.
“My auntie suggested this workshop to me, I can cook but I thought this would be a good thing to come to.”
Tom, who will be heading to Aberdeen to study mechanical engineering, said it was his parents idea for him to attend. “I do want to be able to cook something whilst at uni.”
Hannah, from Mold, who is studying medicine in Cardiff, saw the event advertised in the cafe a few weeks and and thought it would be a good idea to attend and suggested her friend Branwen also of Mold, who will be studying English at Liverpool, should also give it a try.
But it was brothers Joe and Ned, from Warrington, who had travelled the farthest from their home.
“Our grandad told us about this, so we came over to have a go,” said Ned.
“I am hoping to do as much cooking as possible.”
Ian, who has been head chef at Caffi Florence for the past two years, took the reins and began the demonstration – first stop Bolognese.
“This is the simplest Bolognese sauce you have ever seen,” said Ian.
“I am going to use mince in this Bolognese, but if you have anything else left over in the fridge just pop it in.
“In Britain we cook with just one meat, but you can use whatever, and how much you like.
“Leftover sausages – just peel the skin off an add to the mince.”
Other tips for cooking Bolognese included cooking the meat slowly; chosing middle-of-the-range priced tomatoes, adding pepper to season and leaving it for an hour and a half to simmer.
The students were each given a task to do throughout all of the recipes including chopping and mixing ingredients and surprisingly, they all looked confident in what they were doing.
Unlike me, these students will now enjoy a range of healthy dishes during their time at university and its all thanks to Jane and Ian.
These workshops are a great idea... I just wish I had known about them before I was a student!
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