Easy as pie
RMBI residents across the UK took part in a variety of activities to mark British Pie Week, with tasting, baking and recipe-sharing sessions among the events. The RMBI places great importance on providing its residents with food that they grew up with and enjoy – as well as new dishes they have come to love – and its balanced, nutritious menus include classic pie dishes.
Recipes and Reminiscences, the RMBI cookbook, contains 50 favourite recipes from residents and staff. Many in the book were national staples in their era, including Woolton Pie, named after one of Churchill’s Cabinet.
A classic wartime dish, it encouraged people to use whatever vegetables were available to them during the rationing period to create family meals.
Debra Keeling, RMBI Deputy Director of Care Operations, said: ‘We strive to deliver a high quality of life for our residents, and providing enjoyable food and drink is essential to this. Our residents are encouraged to put their menu ideas forward to ensure we cater to their individual tastes. British Pie Week is a great way of bringing residents together through their mutual love of food.’
Pie’d and tested
From the classic steak and kidney to the delicious apple and blackberry, families have been enjoying pies for years and last week was no different as the nation celebrated British Pie Week
Pies have become a symbol of British comfort food at its best and can be traced in history as far back as 2,500 BC. Usually enjoyed with lashings of gravy, spoonfuls of mashed potato or smothered in custard, the pie has at times come under fire for its high fat content. However, a recent paper published on the Open Heart website has criticised the guidelines issued in the 1980s which advised people to avoid eating fatty foods.
The paper questions whether saturated fats are as bad as we have been led to believe, and suggests that the link between fat and the increased risk of death may not to be valid.
Residents at Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) care homes certainly agree that eating meals containing butter and cheese as part of a balanced diet has been an enjoyable part of growing up. In fact, older people who consumed pies as part of their diet prior to the guidelines issued in the 1980s are amongst those living longer today.
Recipes and Reminiscences, the cookbook produced by the RMBI, contains 50 of the favourite recipes from residents and staff. Many of the recipes included in the cookbook contain dishes that were a nation favourite in their era, including Woolton Pie, a classic wartime dish of the 1940s that encouraged people to use whatever vegetables were available to them during the rationing period to create family meals.
At the RMBI, we place great importance on providing our residents with food that they grew up with and enjoy, including new dishes they have come to love. We create menus that provide residents with healthy and nutritious food for a balanced diet, including well-loved pie dishes.
Debra Keeling, Deputy Director of Care at the RMBI, said: 'We strive to deliver a high quality of life for all of our residents, and providing enjoyable food and drink is essential to this. Our residents are encouraged to put their menu ideas forward to ensure that we are catering to their individual tastes.
'British Pie Week is a great opportunity to bring our residents together through their mutual love of food.'
To mark British Pie Week, care home residents of the RMBI took part in a variety of pie-related activities – including tasting and baking sessions and recipe sharing – organised by our care homes’ Activities Coordinators.
Recipes and Reminiscences
In time for the festive season, the RMBI has published a limited-edition Christmas recipe card to complement its Recipes and Reminiscences cookbook launched earlier this year. In addition, an online payment facility has been introduced, enabling customers to purchase the book quickly and easily via the website.
Created from recipes contributed by residents, staff and their families at RMBI care homes, Recipes and Reminiscences explores how food is linked to memory and can bring people together through shared history and experiences. Spanning the 1940s to the present day, it provides a fascinating insight into the way food has changed in Britain over the decades. Published in hardback with a foreword by Mary Berry, food writer and co-presenter of the BBC’s The Great British Bake Off, the book features fifty much-loved recipes alongside beautiful illustrations and nostalgic photographs.
All proceeds from the book will go to the RMBI care homes’ Amenity Funds, to pay for activities and events for RMBI residents.
Recipes and Reminiscences costs £12.50, which includes postage and packaging and a limited-edition Christmas recipe card. Buy online at www.rmbi.org.uk, call 020 7596 2400 and pay with debit or credit card, visit your nearest RMBI care home, or send a cheque (made payable to RMBI) with a completed order form to: Recipes & Reminiscences, RMBI, 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ
The cooking connection
From prawn cocktail to chicken tikka masala, the Recipes and Reminiscences cookbook provides an insight into UK diets over the past five decades. Anneke Hak finds that it is also connecting older citizens with people in their present
For many people living with dementia, short-term memory loss is a distressing challenge that they face on a daily basis. Imagine finding it difficult to remember what you ate for lunch, let alone what you did yesterday.
But what if you asked the same people what they liked to eat twenty or thirty years ago? The reaction might be very different. The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) has produced a cookbook called Recipes and Reminiscences, which takes a trip down memory lane to see how the food we eat has changed over the years, using recipe contributions from RMBI care home residents.
Going back in time
There are nearly eight hundred thousand people living with dementia in the UK; by the age of eighty, one in five is affected, and one in three people will have the condition by the time they die. ‘Dementia’ isn’t a definitive term, it’s a word coined to describe a collection of symptoms that affect the victim’s memory and thinking skills severely enough to reduce their ability to perform everyday activities. There isn’t currently a cure for dementia, so an effective way to connect with someone with the condition is to meet them halfway, through reminiscence work. If they are struggling with their short-term memory, many carers find it beneficial to take them back to a time that is easier to recall.
‘It’s a way of valuing what people have done and their own life history and story,’ explains Julie Heathcote, author of Memories Are Made of This. ‘You’re never going to make them better, but you can impact upon their mood and well-being. Talking about their memories boosts their self esteem and makes them feel they can contribute.’
‘It’s about building bridges to find out where there are similarities, to rediscover the importance of relationships and learn more about people,’ agrees Edna Petzen, assistant director in marketing and quality at the RMBI. ‘We find that as people age, we see them when they are frail, whether they have dementia or other complex needs. They’ve obviously lived a life before they move into our homes and we want to understand that in a way that helps us connect with them.’
The RMBI has been caring for older Freemasons and their dependants for more than one hundred and sixty years. It operates seventeen residential care homes across England and Wales and has used reminiscence activities for a number of years.
‘Reminiscence shows what people can do rather than highlighting what they can’t’ – Edna Petzen
From memory quilts to wedding walls, on which residents hang pictures from their wedding day to encourage conversation, activities coordinators organise reminiscence-based projects on a regular basis. ‘There are so many different ways that we use reminiscence to help people connect with positive experiences in their past and promote positive feelings in the present,’ says Edna. ‘It’s a way of connecting with people that shows what they can do rather than highlighting what they can’t.’
When Julie helped train RMBI staff in reminiscence work, one of the suggestions coming out of the sessions was to reminisce about recipes with elderly residents. ‘Most people took to it really well,’ says Edna, ‘and we were inundated with classic recipes, some from war years and others from the modern day.’ It was at this point that the RMBI decided to pull together a cookbook structured around the decades most likely to have had an effect on the people in its homes. ‘We broke it down into decades and focused on the different types of food and dishes available,’ explains Edna. ‘They’re based on the ingredients that were accessible at the time and really explain the history of the way we eat in the UK and the big influences that have come about in our whole dining experience.’
Recipes and Reminiscences features some unusual recipes – by today’s standards at least – such as spam fritters, as well as the shopping habits of the families that cooked them and more modern-day phenomena like processed meals.
‘If you go around to see someone, they will offer you a cup of coffee or tea and probably something to eat. Food aids social interaction and is something that a lot of people can remember,’ explains Julie. ‘It’s also a subject area that isn’t troubling. Talking about husbands and wives might be an upsetting subject, whereas talking about food is an enjoyable subject for everyone.’
With the success of TV programmes such as MasterChef and The Great British Bake Off, home cooking has never been so popular. So, who better to give a foreword to Recipes and Reminiscences than Mary Berry, one of the most iconic ladies in the kitchen. ‘We thought that Mary Berry would be fantastic,’ enthuses Edna. ‘As an older woman she has an understanding for what we do as an organisation, and as a food writer herself, I think the subject area really resonated with her.’
Promoting the cookbook might be a little hard for some of its contributors – the eldest, Phyllis, who supplied a recipe for Jubilee biscuits, became a centenarian in March – but RMBI homes will host events based on each of the book’s decades to celebrate its release. Talk about having your cake, eating it, then writing the recipe down.
Recipes and Reminiscences is available to buy at www.rmbi.org.uk. All proceeds go directly towards funding activities for residents in RMBI homes.
‘Talking about food is an enjoyable subject for everyone’ – Julie Heathcote
A taste of the decades