Hairy Biker Si King gets handy in the garden and recalls his early days in the kitchen

PUBLISHED: 10:37 02 February 2012 | UPDATED: 21:00 20 February 2013

Hairy Biker Si King gets handy in the garden and recalls his early days in the kitchen

Hairy Biker Si King gets handy in the garden and recalls his early days in the kitchen

Our star columnist gets handy in the garden and recalls his early days in the kitchen

We have just put three raised beds in the garden as well as some native hedging, hawthorn and blackthorn, and some fruit trees. My youngest son Dylan has always wanted a veg patch and to grow things and hes getting into composting as well.

Its important kids get involved and understand how things get from the field to their plate, to know whats grown, when its grown and how to cook it.

The biggest excuse from parents who dont get their kids involved in the kitchen is that they dont want to give them knives. Why not? Dylan cut his finger when he was doing some onions.

I asked him why he thought hed done it and in-between telling me how much it stung, he said hed used the wrong knife. It was a proper deep cut so we stuck a plaster on and he carried on. Whats wrong with that? Its about getting them involved and testing them. Were all a bit too mollycoddled these days. He learned something there it hurt him a bit, but he learned something and it didnt put him off at all.

He came in the other day while I was separating some rib bone to make a stock and he asked to have a go. His mam was out so I said aye, have a go. He went off and came back in his jogging bottoms and a vest, I had to take a picture he looked like a mad Italian chef!

I often see people of a certain generation in their 20s and 30s who have obviously not been socialised to eat at a table, with other people. The advent of tv dinners is one thing but social housing has played a part, too. Our social housing has the smallest square meterage in Europe and theres no legal requirement to leave room for a table so people arent encouraged to eat together. Thats a kind of social glue, being able to sit and eat and chat and enjoy good food and good company, and theres all these people who never learned how to do that.

I thank my lucky stars we were round the table eating together at home when I was a lad. Even if it was egg and chips, and it often was, it was about eating together and kids need that.

Im the youngest of three. My mam was an amazing cook and my dad was in the merchant navy. He travelled a lot and he had an interest in food and where hed eaten and the herbs and spices that had been used.
My brother and sister are both fabulous cooks and by the time I popped out there was already a well established routine in the house.

The first thing I remember making was soldiers when I was three. I sat on my grandads knee and cut the soldiers for the boiled eggs hed made.

I used to make bread with my mam on baking day too, and whenever we had guests I used to disappear into the kitchen and make sandwiches and cut the crusts off and take them round on a trolley. I suppose at that age I was fishing for compliments but it was always a bit of a giggle.

There was always food about and everyone had an interest in food so my interaction started with the family and there was a knock-on effect. Not everyone is going to be a top chef or cook on the telly but its important to have that knowledge.

And I think its equally important not to get pompous about it. You see these people in restaurants who have a little bit of knowledge about wine and when the sommelier walks away you can see him thinking Are you nuts? I always ask because the sommelier knows more about his cellar than I do, so I ask and I always get great wine.

Back in the garden, weve got three raised beds, two shallow ones and a deep one for root veg. We want to get some salad crops in and have a herb bed and Id like to get some potatoes in too. Theres nothing better than pulling up a load of dirty spuds. But then, Dylan wants to grow carrots, so well have to see.

This month Si will be:

Cooking with his son. Dylan came in the kitchen the other and said he wanted to make a beef Wellington. When I asked him why he said it was because a lad on Junior Masterchef had made one and hed won, so well be making one of those.

The print version of this article appeared in the February 2012 issue of North East Life

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