Everyone looks forward to eating Christmas dinner, but not everyone looks forward to cooking it. But the Yorkshire and East Midlands Life Skills group rolled up their sleeves last week and cooked up a fine feast for twelve! Education and Support Service Worker Claire explains how this culinary masterpiece came together:
"The day had finally arrived for the Team Fostering annual Life Skills Christmas Dinner and anticipation filled the air.
The Life Skills group, a mixture of young people aged between 12 and 18, had attended monthly groups all year long and now was time to put some of the skills they had learned into practice. The time spent learning and practising cookery skills, knowing how to plan a meal and keeping to a budget, understanding portion size and what a balanced meal looked like were only a few of the skills they had learned that year.
Following a Supermarket Sweep style shop by staff, the ingredients to make a delicious Christmas dinner were ready and waiting at the East Midlands office when our young people arrived.
They were in good spirits (read ‘giddy’), excited to be together at this special time of year. Everyone was hungry so thoughts turned to cooking; no one was leaving the office hungry tonight!
The ingredients to cook a dinner for 12 were listed on the board and the group quickly worked out the timings – how long each thing took to cook and what times things would need to go on. This was no easy task with the following items were on the menu:
Turkey, gammon, carrots, parsnips, broccoli, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding (controversial), peas (even more controversial in my opinion), stuffing, gravy and of course the obligatory sprouts!!!
The team allocated themselves jobs and set about them with gusto. Amongst the frivolity the kitchen was a hive of industry; chopping, peeling, mixing, boiling, roasting, setting the table and with everyone helping out and helping each other.
Luckily for us, our East Midlands office has a double oven, so the group were able to utilise this which made life a little easier – anyone who has ever cooked for a large group knows the woes of things going cold whilst other bits are in the oven!
Whilst the dinner was cooking, we sat together as a group to think about the cost of the food we had bought. The young people are very aware of the current cost of living crisis we are living through, and we discussed how to save money but still cook a delicious, fresh and healthy meal. We looked at how to save money using fresh ingredients rather than pre-prepared ones, how to mix budget items with more costly ones and to think carefully about the supermarkets we choose to shop in. The group worked out that by following this guidance our dinner came in at around £3 per person; they were amazed by this, comparing it to prices of meals in McDonalds and Nando’s.
Finally everything was cooked and we were given a lesson on how to carve a turkey, something not one of the group had ever done before. We continued ensuring there was no waste and thinking about how we could use the carcass of the bird to make stock and soups.
The plates were piled high, the crackers were pulled and with a glass of juice raised to wish us each a Merry Christmas we tucked into a fabulous Christmas dinner."
All year round, Team Fostering's Education and Support Teams programme activities in Yorkshire, the East Midlands and the North East, for children and young people of all ages. Find out more about our Education and Support Service activities here.