The Kitchen: Lydia Poole
Lydia is Sue's daughter and a qualified nursery practitioner with an NVQ Level 3. After ten years spent following a career in acting, she has returned to Liverpool and her first love – children. Fortunately for us, she has always had a passionate interest in cooking and healthy eating so we were delighted when she decided she was going to settle here and take over the cooking in January. Her ethos is on the back of our menu, please read it and be aware that, as well as being really healthy, the food is absolutely delicious.
Lydia says "As of the start of 2016, Monkton went completely wholegrain, as I wouldn't eat anything white myself. They are simply empty calories without any nutritional value. So it's brown pasta, bread, flour and rice and we didn't have one complaint, in fact I think there is less waste! We did have two children from Oranges and Lemons who asked for 'more pasta please' when in fact they were eating brown rice....but they ate it and we can figure out the details later!
With everything I cook I use Rapeseed or Coconut oil depending on the dish, as I found these to be best due to their high smoke point and obvious health benefits. The main meals are now absolutely jam packed with vegetables. For most dishes I will start with a Mirepoix base (carrots, onions and celery cooked down) then for some, like the Chilli, I add peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, sweetcorn and finish with kidney beans – so much nutrition in there and, despite my worries (especially with the Chilli), plates were cleared. It's been such a success and I'm so relieved.
For our Veggie children I use the same bases as the meat eaters, then just add some Quorn mince or Quorn chicken to theirs. Now I did initially meet with two of our Mums to discuss the changes to the menu and share ideas which was so helpful to me, (and a lovely morning playing with their little ones). One of them mentioned feeling that Quorn perhaps wasn't the best alternative. I ate Quorn during my years as a veggie so I had assumed it was pretty good, but if our Veggie parents would prefer me to keep to grains, pulses and lots of yummy vegetables I would be more than happy to do that.
Now, the devil, Sugar. I felt a little bit mean cutting out the refined sugar, but I truly think it's the root of health problems and I couldn't justify giving these tiny little people any of it. So it's gone, no more chocolate muffins or Jan's delicious crumbles....I'm so sorry kids!! Mean new chef. Instead I'm basing desserts around fruit and using honey or organic syrup to sweeten some dishes – although most don't actually need extra sweetness. Instead of ice cream or custard, more often than not the children have natural yoghurt or Alpro vanilla soya yoghurt. I think they actually eat better than I do.
Lots of Love,
Jen - Kitchen Assistant
Jen joined Lydia as kitchen assistant extraordinaire and ensures that the kitchen is absolutely spotless. She has also shown that she shares Lydia’s passion for food and is becoming more involves in the cooking and the creative process which she is enjoying.
"Thank you so much for all of the gorgeous healthy meals, so important and it has helped to turn W from a fussy eater to a boy we can confidently take out for dinner. We will miss Monkton meals and the takeaways so much!"
Maintenance: Dr Ian Poole
Running repairs and maintenance on the building are attended to by Dr Ian Poole, the proprietor's husband. Ian is a retired teacher who holds an enhanced CRB check. Ian worked at Liverpool College as Head of Sixth Form for 27 years.
Gardening: Jim Bligh
Jim Bligh has been the gardener at Monkton for the past seven years. He previously lived opposite the nursery in Palmerston Road, and has maintained his weekly contact with us since moving house. Not only does he keep the gardens bright, but he also maintains our hanging baskets. Jim holds a current DBS licence.
"Words cannot describe how heartbroken we are to leave. Monkton has grown and turned my little girl into the beautiful thoughtful and intelligent little lady we know today. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and hopefully we’ll be back!"