Cookery Courses News

Age UK – teaching your grandfather how to cook eggs

It must be a hard life, traipsing around pubs in the middle of the day, but that’s the lengths Age UK’s charitable staff is going to in Somerset to draft members for their cookery courses for older men.

According to Jane Lewthwaite, a community development office for the charity, the nine men currently attending the cookery classes are either caring for their ailing wives or are already widowers. The senior citizens are borne of an era where ‘kitchens [were] foreign territory‘ and they had little knowledge of appliances, let alone thinking to put on oven gloves to extract the products that they are now unbelievably baking from the stove.

The initiative has come from the local elderly gentlemen themselves who expressed the desire to fend for themselves, should the need arise – as it does now for those attending the Backwell school cookery courses near Bristol. On that basis, the charity took the men at their word and the cookery classes were launched some three years hence.

Although the men were keen to cook, the charity has reported that there was a feeling of resistance due to intimidation about joining any of the other local cookery schools. However, with the added assistance from pupils of the Backwell school, like sixteen year old Nat Fudge who is an aspiring chef himself, the pensioners are chalking up the disciplines one by one and becoming dab-hands themselves.

Mike Wadge, who, at 68, is the whipper-snapper of the current crop seniority chefs, proudly produced an orange and almond sponge, risen to perfection, incredulity in his exclamation, “I’ve baked a cake!”. He went on to explain that his wife would hardly believe it; given that only a few weeks hence, he hardly knew how to turn an oven on, you got the feeling that he didn’t believe it, either.

There has been a rise in popularity of this type of ‘new-old man’ cookery course over the last five years as Age UK’s health and well being program, Fit as a Fiddle, with a side order of help from Lottery funding, has sought to instil the belief in senior citizens that age is no barrier to learning new skills.

In the face of organisations like Meals on Wheels facing debilitating cuts to their budget, the cookery classes have sprung up all over the country out necessity, it certainly being the mother of invention for Mike Wadge and is surprisingly excellent cakes and the rest of the gang learning to cook long after they’ve started to draw their pensions.

Okay, so you maybe can’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs, but you can certainly teach your grandfather to cook ’em.

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Cookery Course News

Oxford students to teach elderly healthy cooking on a budget

Two Oxford Brookes University students are turning their hands to helping elderly residents of one Oxford estate learn to cook nutritious food on a budget following a similar class they held recently for moms and children to achieve the same with resounding success.

The cookery classes will be held once a week for the pensioners who are not only stuck for ideas due to lack of local choice but are feeling the pinch in their purses for the exact same reason.

Monika Kozlak and Julie Hayes, studying nutrition and business at the local university, are not just putting together a cookery course that their curriculum dictates they ought, either. Their cookery class has a real community spirit feel to it.

Once a week the elderly residents of Alice and Margaret House hold a coffee morning. Next Tuesday, 28th Feb, the two students will pop along to discuss the residents likes and dislikes in order to put together the cookery course on a shoestring as many locals are extremely concerned that their pensions, given the adversity they face to get to a supermarket of any renown, do not stretch to a healthy budget.

Cooking healthily is not so easy on a budget

This scenario is so prevalent that the Rose Hill residents, the estate in question, recently rallied around for one senior couple to aid their application for debt relief after they ran up bills of £8,000.

A local Rose Hill and Donnington Advice Centre spokeswoman, Carol Roberts, echoed the pensioners’ plight, underlining how tempting it is for them to nip to the shops to get out once a day with the adverse affect of impinging upon their budgets.

This way of thinking is one of the aspects Julia and Monika hope to change, encouraging a bulk-food shop rather than fresh produce bought daily. To run alongside that is the cookery course; many of the widowers have not truly grasped the concept of cooking at all, let alone on a budget, since their wives have passed away.

Details have yet to be finalised and will hopefully be concluded following next week’s tête-à-tête with the residents. If things go to plan, the communal kitchens will be the venue for the cookery classes at the nearby Desborough Crescent sheltered accommodation flats. Sainsburys will provide the ingredients from its local Heyford Hill store, although, long-term you’d maybe proffer  cheaper alternatives, if they’re truly serious about saving, drawing upon other chains’ value/store brands to fill their larders and pantries.

If you want to see the type of things the girls will be considering for the cookery courses, they’re holding a demo tomorrow (Fri 24th) at The Oval, courtesy of The Health Bus.