ALIX NORMAN meets a group of women who have put their heads and recipes together to produce a fund raising recipe book
Sometimes you meet a group of people who you feel could, if they wanted, change the world. Luckily for politicians everywhere, my four interviewees this morning have set their sights a little lower. These four, along with two absentee fellows, are all members of the Eastern Cyprus Ladies group and, driven by charitable impulse, have given over the last nine months to the process of creating, compiling and publishing Food For Thought, a book of recipes to raise funds for the Association of Cancer Patients and Friends (PASYKAF).
There’s Roseanne Shearman, a bubbly American who’s the press contact; Tricia Barrett and Moira Affleck both hail from Newcastle, and Marion Mitchell – the driving force of the group – has moved over from Yorkshire, where she ran a betting shop. Along with Sharon Smith and Barbara Warbiton, these four have managed – in the space of little less than a year – to raise sponsorship, collate the material for and publish an entire, 80-plus page book of yummy recipes. It’s certainly no mean feat to drum up sponsorship and publish an entire book, especially when the financial crisis threw a spanner in the works in March. But Food For Thought has finally launched, and it’s been quite a process…
The initial idea belonged to Marion, who’d seen something similar in the UK: “A teacher friend in England had raised the sponsorship and printed a book of recipes to generate funds for her school, and I thought we could do something similar,” she explains. “The Eastern Cyprus Ladies group is a great engine in terms of fundraising, with events all the time: quiz nights, raffles, fun days and last year a Jubilee celebration. But this idea was the biggest challenge we’ve had so far,” she laughs. “Luckily these ladies soon took over!”
“First we asked all the ladies to bring in their favourite recipe,” says Tricia. “Some entries were more suitable than others,” she admits. “Oh, a lot were scribbled on pieces of paper,” adds Moira. “We went through them about three or four times to work out what was actually meant in some cases!”
“All the recipes are brilliant,” Tricia continues. “Most can be adjusted to suit the reader’s taste, many have comments below regarding foods that might complement the dish. There are all sorts – some are so easy a complete beginner could tackle them, others are a little more complicated – but nonetheless extremely tasty!” Turning to their charitable sponsors – many of the local businesses who each sponsored a page or half a page –the ladies also gathered further recipes to add to the growing pile. “It took a great deal of work, but eventually we had the sponsorship and the recipes to go ahead and publish the book,” says Moira.
Food For Thought is divided into four sections: starters, snacks, mains and desserts. With the title having been a clear cut favourite, the next step was to find the artwork for the cover. “We applied to the art students at Xenion High School, asking if they could provide illustrations for the cover and the four dividers,” explains Marion, “and eventually chose our five from the 15 submissions.”
While the sponsors provided the money to publish the book, the entire proceeds from the 500 copies will be going to PASYKAF, a charity close to home and dear to heart: “I think everyone here knows someone who has struggled with cancer,” says Marion, who has herself beaten breast cancer. “Since the Eastern Cyprus Ladies group began, a number of our members, their families and friends, have suffered. And, as a group, we’ve always supported PASYKAF – their work is excellent and we’ve built up a good rapport with the nurses.”
With their fundraising always going towards something specific, the ladies have provided oxygen concentrators, Zimmer frames, beds, back rests and even a car for the nursing staff. In fact, so concentrated have been their efforts, that in 2011 they were awarded the ‘People’s Choice Award’ at the Daxi Business Awards for their outstanding achievement to charity. “It was brilliant,” says Roseanne. “We were all so excited! Marion was actually speechless, and that’s no common occurrence!”
It’s a heart-warming tale of a group of women who’ve battled the odds – whether in terms of time, money or health – to give back to their community. “It has been a lot of hard work,” Moira reflects, in conclusion. “But it’s such a worthwhile cause.” Packing up, I ask if there are any last messages. “Yes!” says Marion, leaping in with a laugh: “Please buy the book!”
Food For Thought is published by Lithotechnic and costs €7.The book is available from the PASYKAF Charity Shop in Paralimni, the PASYKAF office in Paralimni, Home Bargains in Pernera, Sharon’s Jewellery Store in Ayia Thekla market, the Ice Queen shop in Kapparis and a number of smaller outlets. For further details of the book and where to buy, email [email protected] or call Marion Mitchell on 99 947865
MOIRA’S CHILLI TOMATO SOUP
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chilli powder
Fresh chillies can be used (to taste)
600ml vegetable stock
Oil to fry onions
Blanch tomatoes in boiling water
Skin and de-seed tomatoes
Chop up flesh and set to one side
Chop the onions
Fry the onions in oil until soft and translucent. Add the chilli powder, salt, pepper and chopped garlic. Cook for 10 minutes then add the tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cool and liquidise. Add extra salt and pepper to taste.
This soup is great in the summer, served chilled with ice cubes and mint.
This recipe has been sponsored by Rachel Affleck