Generations come together to cook

Natalina Ashton teaches student Georgia Howard how to make gnocchi with burnt butter and sage sauce. Photo: Hannah Baker

Natalina Ashton teaches student Georgia Howard how to make gnocchi with burnt butter and sage sauce. Photo: Hannah Baker

A PINCH of salt, a secret ingredient and a splash of love is generally what it takes to create a much-loved family recipe.

There is always a secret trick up the sleeve of the family cook which makes the meal seem all the more delicious - without it, it just isn’t the same.

These recipes and tips became the focus of a group of seniors during Seniors Week as Faith Lutheran College and the Redland Community Centre joined together for a special event called ‘Down the Line’.

The premise? Seniors brought along their family favourite recipes they have ‘passed down the line’ to cook and share with Year 12 hospitality students.

The day was the brainchild of Redland Community Centre volunteer co-ordinator Joanne Cook.

Cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

Cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

“It was a chance to focus on the memories recipes and cooking brings and why they are so special,” Ms Cook said.

“Kids today don’t know how to cook the way seniors do due to fast food and prepackaged foods, so having a senior take them through a recipe step-by-step from chopping items and making things from scratch was exciting.”

For Natalina Ashton the experience was a trip down memory lane.

“Gnocchi has always meant Italian food to me,” she said.

“It was one of the first dishes my mumma taught me and let me help make it.”

Gnocchi with Burnt Butter and Sage was a weekly recipe for her family, made from ingredients grown by her father in the backyard vegetable patch.

In the kitchen, she shared the recipe with student Georgia Howard taking pleasure in showing her the skills her mother taught her.

“A lot of people think gnocchi is hard to make, but it’s strange because I find it quite simple,” Ms Ashton said.

Lily-Bella Nicholson peeled some onions to make navarin of lamb. She is pictured with friend Sophie McKee. Photo: Hannah Baker

Lily-Bella Nicholson peeled some onions to make navarin of lamb. She is pictured with friend Sophie McKee. Photo: Hannah Baker

“You boil the potatoes and just mash them up; add a little fl our and eggs and cut it up to create little pillows.

“You run the fork over the top and make sure you create a little hole in each piece so it can hold the sauce.”

One could safely assume that given access to pre-packaged, convenience food today, that most teenagers would never have attempted to make pasta from scratch, with the recipe making a wonderful choice for Ms Ashton to share.

“It’s nice to be able to pass on those skills,” Ms Ashton said.

Describing Georgia’s meal as “luscious”, Ms Ashton said the event was a rewarding experience in being able to pass on her knowledge and enjoy it with another generation.

“I have grandchildren at home, so I look forward to passing on old Italian recipes to them,” she said.

With the meals consumed at a special sit down lunch and the kitchen cleaned, both the students and seniors could not have been more happy with the experience.

Speaking to Senior Lifestyle, Ms Cook said those who participated were still talking about the event weeks after.

“They loved it; they absolutely loved it and are asking if they can take part when we do it again,” she said.

“They loved being able to bring out old-style recipes and imparting their tips to the students.

“Being able to enjoy the meal was great; because they had spent the time in the kitchen talking about the recipe, cooking and preparing it, when they sat down to eat there was no lull in conversation.

“Everyone was excited to see what had been produced.”

The recipes and stories behind them will now be made into a recipe book by the centre, which will be given as a memento to those who participated in the day.

Faith Lutheran College head of secondary school Darren Pope said the experience enabled students to experience an authentic cooking class.

“Faith is a learning community that values engaging the head, heart and hands, as we connect with the wider community to serve and learn together,” he said.

Ms Cook said she is hopeful the event will become an annual event to coincide with Queensland Seniors Week.

The event was made possible from a grant from seniors’ advocacy group Council on the Ageing (COTA) and the Queensland government.

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