Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

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Everyone has a right to learn how to cook: Kaleyard Community Kitchen

"Everyone has a right to learn how to cook” says Sumayya Usmani, the founder of Kaleyard Cook School and Kitchen, Glasgow’s first non-profit social enterprise cook school. Sumayya is a cook and writer who made Glasgow her home in 2015, having changed career from the law and moved up from London. She writes about the food of Pakistan, she grew up in Karachi, and has published two books (full of her memories of sitting under the tamarind tree in her Grandmother’s garden, and of the flavours and recipes she remembered from her childhood.

She wanted to open a cook school to help people cook from instinct – the andaza of Pakistani cookery, where all the senses are involved in creating a dish – with flavour being sensed and felt rather than exact measurements being followed.

But she wanted it to be more than just teaching people recipes, she wanted it to be about community and gathering around food. She wanted it to be about the power of food to heal, unite and inspire. As someone who had felt the pull of Pakistani food more once she had left Pakistan she understood the importance of food as a centre to culture, identity and a feeling of belonging. Cooking, eating, sharing.

So the Kaleyard Cook School and Kitchen was set up in 2018 as a community interest company – first as a pop up, and then when it became clear that the idea needed a physical space, in the Toryglen

Community Base in Prospecthill Circus, two miles south of Glasgow’s City Centre. There Sumayya and others host a range of masterclasses – teaching a wide range of cuisines, from Indonesian to Middle Eastern alongside Pakistani – which in turn fund community classes, cookery teaching in schools and special events.

It is a positive circle – the way food brings people together, combats social isolation, can help combat food poverty and health inequalities by giving people the skills to cook cost effective, seasonal, nutritious food.

When I spoke to Sumayya for this piece we were in the middle of the first lockdown – she was trying to raise money for the rent, to keep some income coming in, by cooking takeaway meals in her home kitchen and delivering them locally.

You can find out about all Kaleyard’s future cookery classes, meals and events by following the link here. If you'd like to try Sumayya's recipe for Attock Chana Rijai, click here.

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The packing bench in the studio.⁠⠀
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Sometimes I turn around and things just look so pretty together.⁠⠀
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Labelling pale pink socks with the plant they were dyed with and the date they went into the dye pot.⁠⠀
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The perfect almond glue for sticking paper, jute string for tying things up.⁠⠀
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Amazingly I didn't even have to tidy up to take a photo - though it is quite a tight crop and the background is a blur.⁠⠀
For the past year the bedroom windowsill has been neglected. It has had stones and bones and the blue speckled pot of bird food, but no flowers.⁠⠀
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I couldn't really work out why.⁠⠀
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Then, as soon as I got the urge to line up my vases again,I realised what the problem had been. ⁠⠀
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In March last year - as I was shielding and Euan is a front line worker - I moved to the spare room. ⁠⠀
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I was very, very bad at it - despite the room being very nice - and huffed and moped and felt I was being punished. I eventually slunk back to my own bed after two months. ⁠⠀
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The deal was that if Euan thought it was a risk he would phone from work and I would move my things back to the spare bedroom.⁠⠀
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I kept expecting - despite all the precautions, the scrubs, the showering - that I might have to go back. ⁠⠀
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Last week I had my second jab, the numbers look good, and, though Scotland is behind England in opening up, I can see the country beginning to relax. ⁠⠀
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It felt safer, I went and found a jug for the cherry blossom.
I began doing freehand embroidery when my daughters were tiny - a deliberate wiggle and flourish when hemming seemed preferable to my wobbly attempts at keeping the needle straight.⁠⠀
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Then, when I began to sew commercially to have some income in the winter months, it seems like the perfect technique.⁠⠀
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Getting the chance to exhibit at the Country Living Fair in 2005 got me speeded up and it certainly felt like my thousands of hours were put in then.⁠⠀
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Today I start teaching an e-course to Studio Club members which will hopefully enable them to begin drawing with they sewing machines.⁠⠀
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The module that will arrive with them today is all about machines and materials - with the message that the simpler the machine the better.⠀
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It gave me a chance to tidy my sewing desk.
Today is the last day to sign up as a member of the Studio Club.⁠⠀
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So if you are ready for more connection and creativity in your life . . . .⁠⠀
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If you could do with a bit of calm and gentle joyfulness . . . . ⁠⠀
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If you want to find out more about the living things around you . . . to slow down . . . to feel more 'at home' . . .⁠⠀
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Then head over to my website snapdragonlife.com to find out more.⁠⠀
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There is a 'Pay what you can' option -  it is always the most difficult to get people to sign up for, and yet I know if would be perfect for so many.
It has been a joy this week to see the bantam hens all out enjoying their freedom.⁠⠀
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It is the one point in the year when we have an abundance of eggs - they are late starters and then hide them all as soon as the weather warms up.⁠⠀
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I have been spending time sitting watching them peck around the orchard - feathers ruffled by the wind, heads down eyes trained for tasty morsels.⁠⠀
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I decided to make a hen embroidery the last part of the 'freehand machine embroidery' e-course that starts on Tuesday. ⁠⠀
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The aim is to break downtime the processor freehand embroidery into very simple steps - with a different exercise each week, building skills and confidence until you can draw with a sewing machine by week 5.⁠⠀
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The course is included in the Studio Club membership - if you want to take it live, week by week, you have 24 hours to join up.  Details on snapdragonlife.com
This week I have been drawn to white and bright and light.⁠⠀
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In the flowers I picked for the Studio Window.⁠⠀
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In the cool white Scottish linen I've been embroidering.⁠⠀
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It's a clean feeling, a throwing off - probably because I've been stuck with a dragging, draining fatigue for a few weeks.⁠⠀
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It's that wondrous clarity that you get when you realise that you can open your eyes wide again.
If I could persuade people of two things they would be . . .⁠⠀
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1. to seek alternatives for domestic cut flowers until their local field flowers are blooming (which is almost now here in Scotland ).⁠⠀
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and . . . ⁠⠀
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2. to pay attention to the daily changes where you live.⁠⠀
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These are snippets of hawthorn and hornbeam hedge arranged in test tubes - but they could also be in bottles or small vases and they could be any kind of deciduous tree or shrub. ⁠⠀
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Every day they emerge a little more, every hour they catch the light in a different way.  All week they have made me smile.⁠⠀
Last year I dumped a load of finished tulips from pots into a metal box, intending to plant them out in the garden.⁠⠀
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I completely forgot and all summer the box looked as through it was just a heap of used compost.⁠⠀
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Most days I walked past it - always intending to take it to the compost heap - until last month it began to sprout.⁠⠀
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This is some of the 'free' (if rather mangled) tulips from the box.⁠⠀
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I have replanted them into the old terracotta pots and propped up the wayward stems with bits of hedge.⁠⠀
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Then - I promise - I shall plant them out properly when the finish flowering this time.
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At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

 

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