Lifting the lockdown mood with food

Jacqueline Kinnear (centre) with her daughter, Sarah (left) and husband Brian.
Jacqueline Kinnear (centre) with her daughter, Sarah (left) and husband Brian.
Image: supplied

For local foodie Jacqueline Kinnear, cooking up a storm may be one of the best ways to spend the lockdown.

And while she cooks some interesting and flavourful meals for her family, she has also been inviting the public into her kitchen.

Posting a recipe on her Fresh Kitchen Facebook page every day over the three-week lockdown period, Kinnear said she loved the way food could bring people together.

“The first meal I made for Brian [her husband] was after he ran the Buffs marathon. I flurried about in his kitchen dirtying every pot and pan available making fried eggs, bacon, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and toast.  

“I set the table and poured the orange juice. At the time I liked hard eggs, so I thought everyone liked hard eggs.  

“Brian couldn’t eat the eggs they were so hard. You could bounce them off the wall and they’d come back at you! 

“I realised then how cooking can bring people together, even when the meal is a flop.

“It can bring laughter, joy and so much more. I love being able to spend time in the kitchen with my husband, my daughter and her boyfriend, who all share a love for cooking,” Kinnear, 51, said.

The former estate agent said cooking had always been a part of her life and though she had no formal training, she spent hours glued to cook books and experimenting in the kitchen.

“I've loved being in the kitchen my whole life. I have never had any formal training.

“My knowledge is self-taught from voraciously reading cookbooks, watching cooking shows and being inspired by particular chefs along the way,” Kinnear, who remembered presenting a cooking demonstration as her grade 6 English oral, said.

She started her page, Fresh Kitchen, in 2011 in the hopes of continuing to share her passion for cooking with her daughter.

In December of that year, Kinnear also auditioned for the first season of Masterchef SA.

“Our daughter, Sarah, and I both share a passion for food and cooking.  

“She was leaving to attend UCT at the beginning of 2012.

“I was feeling very apprehensive about us being apart, and I was looking for a way to keep in touch with her and continue our shared passion. The page just grew from there,” Kinnear said.

“I don’t like cooking under pressure. When I entered Masterchef SA season 1, I got to the second round in Joburg, but promptly got shown the door in the next round,” Kinnear said.

But that didn’t stop her from cooking and sharing her meals online, and she has continued to do so over the lockdown 

Inspired by Yuppiechef’s month-long free online cooking courses, Kinnear hopes that sharing some different tips and tricks every day may inspire some quality family time.

From Friday-night pizzas and stuffed baby calamari to Asian pork salad and dim sum dumplings, Kinnear has offered up an array of tasty meals for anyone to try.

“Just before lockdown I took a photo of my ingredients and instructed everyone to follow the photos for the recipe.  

“I reached more than 2,000 people with that post. My usual reach hovers around 600-800.

“When we went into lockdown, I posted a similar post with photos and instructions.

“I started to notice people responding more. They had the time and I did too.  

“I was encouraged by the comments and private messages from everyone following the page.  I just thought to myself, I've got to keep going no matter what. I can’t let them down.  

“Silly, I know, when you think people are dying all around the world. But this is what I know I can do, so I will show up and cook and share with my community,” she said.

“I want to make people realise they can bring their families closer together by sharing a well-cooked meal.”

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Jackie’s recipe for Asian Pork Salad

3 pork rashers, (leftover from the braai) cut into bite-sized pieces

2-3 Tbsp white sesame seeds, dry-fried until light brown and placed into a bowl until needed

1 Tbsp creamed or regular honey

2 Tbsp soy sauce

Half a Tbsp finely chopped garlic 

Add the cut-up rashers to a dry pan and brown on all sides. Mix honey, soy sauce and garlic, and add to rashers in pan, cooking  until well coated.

Watch carefully to ensure they don’t burn.

Once off the heat, sprinkle one tablespoon of the dry-fried sesame seeds over the honeyed rashers.

For the salad:

Half a baby red cabbage

1 stalk of celery

Handful of coriander (reserve stems for  dressing)

Chop the salad ingredients and place into a bowl over which the zest of one lime is grated and the rest of the dry-fried sesame seeds are sprinkled.

For the salad dressing:

1 tsp honey

2 Tbsp ponzu (or soy) sauce

2 finely chopped chillies

Chopped stems of coriander

Juice of one lime

4cm section of fresh ginger root, grated

2 Tbsp  water

1 Tbsp sesame oil

Mix dressing ingredients together and add to salad one tablespoon at a time until you get the taste you like.

Serve salad with pork rashers and enjoy with a cider or beer.

Kinnear says this is a very spicy dish, so halve the chilli and ginger if you need to tone it down.

The salad can also be stir-fried and served with rice.

For more of Kinnear's recipes follow her daily posts on her Facebook page, Fresh Kitchen. -

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