Tuesday 25 June 2019

Ang Can Cook

I've just got a copy of Jack Monroe's latest book; Tin Can Cook, and it has been a fun read.
Now I know not everyone gets on with Jack - certainly in her early days, she frequently came across as a mouthy, aggressive feminist, angry with the world.
But she had reason to be angry, and she was [and still is] fiercely determined to protect her son, and to make the world a better place for him as he grows up. She has no time for mealy-mouthed fat politicians who have made no effort to understand the needs of people trapped in genuine poverty. Having pulled herself out of that situation, she generously gives time and money to help those in need. I respect that. 
She describes Tin Can Cook as 'an entry level' cookbook. Having lived for 6 months on handouts from foodbanks herself, Jack wanted to create easy to follow, simple but tasty meals using stuff-in-tins. In conjunction with the Trussell Trust, Jack has set up a crowdfunding page so people can actually donate a copy of her book [plus three cans of food] to a foodbank in the UK. The Trust will ensure donations are distributed fairly across the country. Being given a food parcel is great- but many recipients look at the contents and wonder what to do with them.
I've boxed up the donations after countless Harvest Festivals and Christmas Collections. There is always a high proportion of baked beanz, canned toms, corned beef, sweetcorn and tinned fruit. If your family is depending on the Foodbank, this selection must get a little monotonous sometimes. Jack's inspired recipes provide easy ways to serve up these basics in an interesting, tasty way. 
This book begins with an introduction, shopping notes for novice cooks and a section wittily entitled "Cansplaining" Then eight chapters on different dishes, from breakfasts through to puddings [passing beans, potatoes, pasta, meat etc on the way]
Jack doesn't want to be a Masterchef, or expect her readers to aim for that either. She wants to create affordable, nourishing meals which are easy to prepare and enjoyable to eat. I applaud her for that.
Her 'cheeky corn fritters' uses a can of corn plus just 2 eggs and a few other bits to make a decent breakfast for a family of 4. Red Lentil and Mandarin Curry is the weirdest recipe, with a crazy story behind it [I shall definitely be trying that one out on Bob soon] Corned Beef Chilli is another with a clever twist.
Not everyone has access to a farmers' market, or Waitrose, a veg box delivery, or even a cheap and cheerful street market, where fresh, good quality meat, fruit and veg are available. Many people rely on tinned food because they cannot get out to the shops easily. 
If you believe eating canned potatoes will kill you, that it is always better to spend more on fresh carrots than open a tin, or that canned sardines are only fit for OAPs, then this is not the book for you. 
If your beloved granny got through WW2 and rationing with a diet full of canned foods, and you always have a can of tomatoes and some mandarins at the back of the cupboard just in case of a National Emergency**, and you enjoy food writing which is laugh-out-loud funny, and not pretentious oneupmanship, then read Tin Can Cook. Borrow it from the library, or buy your own copy - and then donate one to somebody whose budget is so tight they can barely afford ingredients, let alone a cookbook.
[**at some point you will have to eat your way through the contents of that Brexit Box, you know, whatever the outcome of the next few weeks]
I will be posting about my adventures with this book once I have the energy to try them. For now I'll just point you to this Guardian Article which includes some of Jack's Recipes [Liz rates her Crabby Pasta highly] Great book, with good principles behind it *****


  1. What a good idea! I hope that it helps many.

  2. One of my all-time favorite curries is made with canned mackerel (I prefer the ones in water or brine) and canned coconut milk. I add onions, tomatoes (generally, fresh, but canned would be fine, too), some curry powder, chili powder, etc., and have a wonderful curry to be eaten with rice, pasta, flat breads, etc. Canned sardines on toast is another favorite. :)

    1. Would you be able to post the full recipe. It sounds great.

  3. It's fine to be a snob when you have the money but something like this will be very handy for a lot of people - so well done Jack.
    I admit to keeping most tins as emergency supplies but every now and again a tinned of corned beef made into a hash and topped with a poached egg just hits the spot!
    And yes, my nana, who raised her family during the Depression and WWII always had a larder full of tins. I used to straighten them up when I came to visit and then she'd tell all my aunts how she couldn't find anything since I organized it! :-)

  4. Going to see if the library has this. Cheers


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