Spreading the love in the new (school) year

Kathie Auton - 07 September 2012

CheeseSeptember is here and we might feel justified this year in finally giving up on the summer and embracing the new (school) year. Unlike the chilly, dark and bleak new year in January, the September new year is a more fruitful affair. Both in the sense of a new beginning for children starting school or moving up a year and in the sense that the new season's Bramleys are here, Victoria plums are putting in an appearance and, whilst the Discoveries may be all but over, we have months of apply joy to look forward to. So for me, we should light the fireworks and make the resolutions in September not January, but perhaps that’s just the teacher in me.

One resolution this September though could be one about food. The Soil Association obviously sees the relevance of September and chooses it for a month long celebration of all things organic. They ask if you might take the Organic September Pledge – what’s that if it’s not an excellent new year’s resolution!

For those of us with school age children this September our organic effort could go into their lunchboxes. The daily sandwich stuff might just be a great place to add a bit of organic to your child's lunch and here's an easy suggestion for how you can do it easily. Sandwich filling for children needs to be cement like. It needs to attach the two bits of bread together with magnetic force. Grated cheese, whilst an obvious and tasty choice, does not have the attachment factor. Grated cheese repels the two slices, it guarantees that your sandwich will become an 'open sandwich' - the wrongest of all kitchen wrongs. Rather like an open marriage, an 'open sandwich' will get messy and fall apart. Best stick to two stuck pieces of bread.

Now a homemade cheese spread may well sound like a faff, but if you do want to go organic it's probably easier to buy organic cheese than it is to buy organic cheese spread. Plus it will last for ages in the fridge or freeze in ice-cube trays, so you can mass produce. Also the spread-time will be minimal because you won’t need to pre-butter your bread. So all in all, I’d see this as a time-saver myself. The basil is entirely optional of course. Quantities are very approximate and not at all essential to the blinding joy of this recipe.

Homemade Cheese, Tomato & Basil Spread

100g Butter
4 tomatoes
200g Grated cheese
A few basil leaves
Pepper

  • Quarter and de-seed the tomatoes
  • Melt the butter in a pan
  • Cook the tomatoes in the butter, the great sea of butter, until they are soft and the skins come loose. Fish out the skins. (or, indeed, de-skin them before cooking if you can be bothered - I prefer the fishing out method)
  • Take it off the heat and chuck in your basil leaves and ground pepper.
  • Mush, mash or blend
  • Stir in the grated cheese, it doesn't have to all melt perfectly.
  • Pour/scrape into a dish and let it set in the fridge. It should set to perfect spreadable texture straight from the fridge.
  • Spread it onto both pieces of bread and wodge them together, this give a good sticking factor. Or just do it the normal way if you prefer.

Also, for those with children having school dinners, please have a browse of the Soil Association's school food pages and see what’s happening at your school!

Kathie has two young children and is taking a break from teaching to be a full-time mum. She is passionate about cooking and growing good food and takes any opportunity to get her kids involved in the kitchen.

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