One of the Charities that we like to support is ” The Clink”. It was set up I 2009 in one of her Majesty’s Prison. HMP Highdown in Surrey. The catering manager there, Alberto Cristi MBE, saw a potential in training inmates for catering trade in order to reduce reoffending rates, and since then the graduates have had a reoffending rate of only 15%.
During their final months at now four training restaurants, prisoners can apply to be accepted on the course, which offers City and Guilds vocational qualifications, and since 2009 they have trained more than 2,500 prisoners and they help place them, find accommodation, etc. They have also a facility for horticulture and another which does Event Catering. They have even catered for three Royal Events.
We have eaten at the Highdown facility, but to be sure, it is not somewhere that you can just rock up to, bookings have to be made well in advance with personal details, passport number etc given. No phones allowed, no money allowed ( though of course you would be able to buy from the shop). The lunch we were served was absolutely excellent ( no photos I’m afraid), cooked and served by inmates and when I looked at the young men, they could have been my son, nice polite young men.
We subsequently went to a Carol concert, where the main speaker was non other than The Reverend Jonathan Aitken. He once was an MP but became an inmate at one of HMP, where his main occupation was reading and writing letters for other inmates. What does this tell you? They are ILLITERATE, and hence one reason for the high offending rate!
Anyway, , Himself is now the proud owner of a Clink Apron and myself I have added another cookery book to my shelf!
One of our favourite , fast dinners is Moules ( Mussels). Having lived in Bruxelles ( Brussels) for 13 years,where it is a National dish, it is small wonder! My eldest,The willowy Blond, ate her first mussels,when she was only 15 months old! All three of my kids Love Moules ( and Frites of course)
We have been experimenting recently and trying various ways of cooking them , previously it was always Au Vin Blanc ( with white wine). However I think the latest incarnation is Thai Mussels.
It is the time of year that we should no longer be eating them ( only eat with a R in the month), maybe because in the warmer months, mussels tend to be much smaller.
However, here is the latest favourite. For two people:-
- 5 pounds fresh mussels
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 large can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 2 tbsp of Thai red or green curry
- 3 cloves smushed garlic
- 1 tbsp Asian fish sauce
- 1 tbsp Palm Sugar But can use white sugar
- Bunch fresh coriander, chopped.
In a large Saucepan combine the lime juice, coconut milk, wine , curry paste, garlic , fish sauce and sugar. Heat, stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to the boil. Add the mussels. Cover and shake occasionally until the mussels are opened.
Remove from the heat and discard any unopened mussels. Pour the mussels and liquid into a serving dish and garnish with the coriander.
Serve of course with French Fries, Chips, Triple cooked Frites ( a la Belge )