Store News, Tasting Table, The Secret Jozi Chef and The Pink Table Project..

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As per usual, I have too much to say about our very real Jozi Real Food Revolution space. There is always so much going on to talk about in what continues to be a very dynamic community and as a writer I’m compelled to tell it all.
I cannot edit the way I communicate without losing who I am so I don’t write to please an audience, I write for those who can hear and appreciate me this way. For those who don’t and who just want short sound bites of what is in store – please follow our Facebook page – I’m getting back into the rhythm of putting up quick news of new things that come in so that’s the space if you don’t want the debate and musing.
Before I go into the chatter that is , let me get the pertinent news relevant to the store out the way first.
The big news of the week is that The Leopard Company sausages made with free range pork and that do not contain starches or gluten are back in store now.
The Brennaissance Boran Indigenous Wholly veldt reared beef comes in today. It takes a while to bar code, weigh and get it onto the shelves so if you are coming specifically for that, the afternoon or tomorrow is your safest bet. Call the store on 011 514 0958 to see if its in before you make a trip especially.
The produce coming off Chartwell Veggie Patch, our favourite, local PGS approved growers continues to be phenomenal. The highlight this week from them has been the leeks, beetroot, carrots and bright lights spinach and for heaven’s sake the pumpkin leaves. When Sam initially brought them back, I queried his judgement suspiciously. “Sam, honestly do you really believe there is such a demand for pumpkin leaves that you brought so much in?”
I was ready to accuse him of being negligent with stock purchasing! Then I had to swallow one very large slice of humble pie – not my greatest  – when they disappeared off the shelves and we had requests for more.
I did not miss that ‘I told you so’ look that Sam can give, it comes with a wry smile when he is happy to have been proven right and he deserved to wear it this time. 🙂
Still puzzled as I have never cooked pumpkin leaves – I started asking people in the store what on earth they are doing with them. The answers had me salivating.
Pumpkin leaves have been eaten as an indigenous food for years in this country, they just didn’t much reach the suburbs who were divorced from these foods as food choices have been dominated by what supermarkets wanted to sell. So first I heard from a gorgeous West African lady who brought 4 packets, about her delight in finding them because it returns her to a childhood favourite recipe of her mothers. She delightedly recalled dishes of pumpkin leaves – cooked like spinach – with chilli, crushed ground nuts and coconut milk. My knees weakened at the idea. She brought the Jozi Nut Butter, coconut milk and the leaves and told me she was going straight home to cook it up. Another local customer with deep roots and food culture bedded in his rural up-bringing, recounted how exciting it was to get home as a child and know that your Mother had made pumpkin leaves with Holsum, back in the day.
Ok, the Holsum would not be appropriate now – so he brought some of the free range beef tallow made with the Brennaissance Beef fat and that’s what he was going to do with it. He said he would be roasting some pumpkin to add to that heavenly combo.
Salivating again with wondrous culinary joy, I turned to the other customers who had picked up a handful of packets, feeling a bit like Alice in pumpkin leaf wonderland and said ‘what are you going to do with these’ and burst out laughing when the reply was ‘I’m going to do what that man said.” Joy.
So much conversation has excitedly happened about the availability of pumpkin leaves and the recipe sharing has been inspiring, heart-felt, connection, fun. Be assured – that once we launch The Jozi Real Food Cooking Events – a dish with this will feature as will something with moroggo, another indigenous revival happening in Jozi that delights me.
Our indigenous green leafy vegetable that used to be a staple green in rural areas for the largest part of our history gets cooked much like spinach and pumpkin leaves. It’s a deep, dark leaf which implies a large amount of iron and antioxidants, it’s way smaller leaves than spinach with, I think, an earthier tone. It also begs to marry with some form of nuts, chilli and garlic and coconut oil, milk or cream.
West african island meals blend coconut milk, ground nuts and spices with dark green leafy vegetables so well. When the organic creamed coconut is back in, tomorrow, I’m going to try something with this too. This is going to be a year of recipes and fun cooking.
I’m trying something tonight, an idea that has been cooking in my head with all this talk – I am going to chop up some of The Leopard Company free range sausages with some tallow and then throw through the pumpkin leaves to wilt in to that and see what happens. I can’t imagine I’m going to need more than that because so much flavour comes out of those sausages, with a bit of added tallow and the flavour of that – I have a hunch it is going to be satisfying. I’ll of course let you know and post a picture up and the recipe on facebook in the morning if its compelling. Though I might actually roast some organic cocktail tomatoes while we have them to toss through for colour and a bit of sweetness.
Speaking of which – today The Jozi Real Food Tasting Table dish and recipe will be a CTOrganics Chicken Bake that we (Joyce my right hand in the kitchen, and I) have re-done until we got something just right and it’s silly delicious.
It gives you an idea for a very easy and satisfying one dish meal – all that is needed is a salad to go with it. We used the CTOrganics chicken breasts, Gourmet Greek yoghurt, organic leeks and courgettes, raw honey, some mustard and Gourmet Greek cheddar. It’s compelling.
So if you want that idea, come and taste it today and we’ll have the recipe with it. Joyce will be here to answer any questions about how to cook it.
Cooking, playing with recipes and doing more with this food is going to feature this year, which leads me to my next piece of news and revelation about where we need to head to heat this revolution up further and news of an event happening at a Jozi restaurant that gives you the opportunity to taste incredible dishes made with ingredients from our favourite sustainable farms while your doing so, contributes to helping raise funds for breast cancer awareness. 
Over and over again on this journey I learn that this revolution is about way more than food and that’s the area yelling for priority attention at the start of what is going to be a demanding, challenging but most significant year.
The Jozi Real Food (R)evolution is not just a dialogue about food, we’re actually in a vital conversation about values and connection. 
This conversation is always about connection to life and by that very nature, endless transformation.
Transformation is the underlying principle of this life from which none of us can escape – it is the interplay of life and death. No transformation happens without death, no life happens without being fed by a death no death happens without creating new life.
When we tap into the relationship between the connection to food as a part of the nourishment, life and death process of transformation – transforming energy in the form of nutrition in an endless cycle where everything connects, we become aware of how food affects our vitality.
We can’t become aware of this without equally becoming aware of how food impacts our health and contributes towards disease. The light and shadow of this knowledge.
As this understanding broadens, the very lifestyle diseases associated with the chemicals inherent in our food system is becoming as large a part of the conversation about food than the food itself.
So the point is, the beginning of this year has brought two issues that are becoming a part of the food (r)evolution conversation boldly demanding my and your attention – and begging for marriage.
Cancer – the very issue I discussed in the last newsletter. I spent the whole week-end on the tills and once again, the topic of people turning to alternative methods of healing and trying to build their immune systems and fight the disease by getting chemicals and carcinogens out of their lives and diets was a dominant topic. This is becoming such a large one that I am committed to an idea I’ve had brewing ever since this started taking up such large space – to making one of our Jozi Real Food Events that will launch in March – a get together to bring all of you together who are in the daily fight of cancer.
You all have such a journey and have found incredible resources and I think you need to support each other and share them. Everybody is battling alone and yet there are so many of you, every time we chat, I want to connect you to other people who are going through what you are. The Dad of the matriculant who survived a cancer the oncologist told him he wouldn’t, by changing his diet entirely – told me that his son would love to tell his story and there are so many others. I’d like to help bring you all together. I also got connected with a Doctor – who wants to start treating people with natural therapies and asked whether I could help, just as people are yelling for more of these types of Doctors who will use alternative therapies that make more sense to them, therapies that build and don’t harm. It’s all coming together and I need to respond.
 At the same time that this was becoming large noise in the system  – I also felt strongly at the start of this year that we can’t move forward with the real progress the revolution requires without getting back into our kitchens and cooking from a place of connection and joy. I knew that it was time to put more focus there. Hence the cooking demos and recipes we started on a small scale outside the store.
Then something happened that brought these two energies together – The Secret Jozi Chef said that his restaurant Pronto was going to be accepting The Pink Table Challenge and would we like to be involved in supplying the food from our best farms for them to use in their menu for this event? Hell yes, I thought as I replied more dignified, calmly, ‘yes we would’.
So this is where it got interesting for me. While I’m starting to realise that I want to do something to start helping people with cancer who come here and bring them together, and I’m at the same time realising that it is time to do the cooking classes and chats I have wanted to do for ages – this happens.
The Jozi Real Food Revolution requires getting us all back into a more empowered relationship with cooking so that we are less dependent on conveyor belt food and can regain control of our pantries.
Chefs that connect personally and make you excited to cook are critical in this regard. Not chefs that impress you with making a complicated jus for 4 days that smokes and changes colour before it is delicately displayed in an artful shape on a plate that requires deep analysis – not cooking that intimidates the crap out of you in other words  – but chefs that say ‘you can do this, let me help you cook more’. 
The Secret Jozi Chef is one who has made himself accessible to everybody and brought a new excitement and revival to our relationship to having fun in the kitchen while turning it into home.
So he has taken on the challenge and now The Pink Table Project has Pronto participating for the month of February. 
This is an event where restaurants are being challenged to design a menu that is healthy to acknowledge the relationship between cancer and food – and host dinners that help contribute towards raising awareness of cancer. So The Secret Jozi Chef accepted it – and has dedicated a pink  room at his restaurant Pronto to make this happen.
Every restaurant gets to decide what their take on a ‘healthy’ menu will be and The Secret Jozi Chef – decided to focus on sustainable farming rather than food groups, something I whole heartedly support. Getting neurotic about food groups doesn’t make any sense to me. I cannot answer any question about whether something is healthy or not until I know about the farm it comes from. White conventional bread cannot be compared to heirloom sourdough anymore that you can compare feedlot beef on a diet of grain, antibiotics and growth promoters to beef from cattle living wholly off veldt. They are not the same foods, so I love the fact that his focus is on this.
So what it special about this menu is the fact that he has designed recipes from South Africa’s most sustainable farms, those that are contributing towards The Jozi Real Food (R)evolution in the best way. 
On the menu you will find recipes made from the Brennaissance Indigenous Boran wholly veldt reared beef, the organic vegetables from Chartwell Veggie Patch, Aloe Dale, Wensleydale Farm, Mooberry Farm, organic coconut products from Goodlife, The Gourmet Greek dairy, Leafy Greens and Jewell & Co charcuterie made with pastured pork from Glen Oakes.
That’s a big deal for us. 
When I saw the menu plan using food from farms I’m emotional about, I just crumbled. It is ridiculously exciting.
Just to give you an idea, an aubergine stack made with our organic aubergines, ragu made with Brennaissance Beef and a white sauce made with Mooberry Cream and Gourmet Greek pecorino – a minestrone made with the local, seasonal vegetables in store, a coconut ice-cream made with organic creamed coconut and Mooberry eggs and more,  it’s all like that and it’s heady.
Look out for competition news coming shortly on our Facebook page of how you can win a night out with me at Pronto and 9 other of your Jozi Real Food community members – eating from this delectable menu with food from our favourite farms.
If you would like to see the menu and book one of these very special tables, all details are up on The Secret Jozi Chef’s page – or you can call Pronto to book on 011 447 4346.
If you go to The Secret Jozi Chef’s page – you can also see how to enter his competition that could win you a table for 10 eating from this menu at Pronto. I think that’s worth entering. 
Alright, let me get on – Joyce is setting up her tasting table, excited for you to taste that bake – lovely talking to you as per usual and bringing you up to speed on all things to do with this crazy sensible food revolution that we are all co-creating, one meal at a time.
Have a gorgeous week….
For and on behalf of The Jozi Real Food Revolution.
Debbie Logan
Shop – The Organic Natural and Whole Food Emporium – rooftop entrance, Bryanston Shopping Centre, corner William Nicol and Ballyclare
011 514 0958

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