This month Authors Eat… features Tasmanian writer T.D. McKinnon, a colleague and contributing author at Indies Unlimited. T.D. is the definition of a survivor who has achieved impressive success in many areas of his life. He is an intriguing guy who I fondly refer to as The Asset. He is actively involved with causes near and dear to his heart, and many victims of child abuse have benefitted from reading the memoir of his childhood. I have found him to be kind, witty, and always a class act. Enjoy this glimpse into why he loves to cook, and check out his books on the links provided.
From the author…
I’ve always enjoyed and had an affinity with cooking. I do most of the cooking at home, but that’s probably because I’m the first to get hungry.
When I was ten my mother returned to the workforce and my seven year old sister and I inherited the job of preparing the evening meals; among other things. At thirteen and in my second year of high school we had to take metalwork shop, which I hated. From the very first lesson I always ended the period with a massive migraine from all the banging of hammers, screeching drills, files and hacksaws that scraped my nerves bare, not to mention the various smelting and welding fumes that permeated everything. After suffering this regular torture for two years I petitioned our headmaster to be allowed to swap my metalwork periods for the cooking classes.
At that time, no schoolboys were taking cooking in the UK. Luckily, our headmaster considered himself a bit of a ground breaker; something I’d been counting on. After the summer break of 1963, I was one of eight boys at the Keresley Newlands High School to pilot the new domestic science programme for boys; effectively, we were the first boys in the United Kingdom to take domestic science as a subject.
I did very well at cooking, as did most of the boys. Approaching Christmas time every year, the fourth year cooking students made Christmas cakes, which were displayed before the entire school and then judged in a competition. When it was our turn, I took third place, with two other boys placing in the first ten. I thought seriously about becoming a chef, in fact I was enrolled to attend the prestigious Henley Catering College. I joined the army instead, not the catering corps: the British Parachute Regiment (The Red Devils). You will find details of all the aforementioned, and much more, in my childhood memoir: ‘Surviving the Battleground of Childhood’.
My food tastes have changed dramatically over the years; as a young man I did the usual red meat thing, the spicy and hot thing (Indian curries, Mexican food et cetera) and later I was heavily into Thai, Chinese and then Japanese food. However, my food tastes changed most dramatically when (as a bodyguard) I was looking after a lady, the president of an animal rights group, who had a death threat hanging over her head. To cut a long story short, I became a vegan (consuming no animal products of any description) for about eight years. I haven’t been a vegan for some fourteen years now but my eating habits were changed for all time; suffice to say the only meat I eat is fish. So, without further ado, here is one of my favourite recipes:
‘Lemon & Garlic, Tasmanian Salmon’
- Brown rice
- Tasmanian Salmon
- Black pepper
- Baby carrots
One handful of brown rice per person, bring to boil and simmer for twenty-five minutes. One portion of salmon per person (for obvious reasons I use Tasmanian salmon, but feel free to utilise your most local fresh salmon). Roll the salmon portion(s) in freshly squeezed lemon juice. Crush one clove of fresh garlic (the fresher the better) onto each salmon portion. Grind a liberal amount of black pepper (or to taste) onto each salmon portion. Squeeze a liberal amount of fresh lemon juice into a non-stick pan, apply the salmon to the pan, cover with lid and poach slowly on a low heat (12-14 minutes depending on the thickness of the portions). Steam the vegetables until they are cooked but still crisp (8-10 minutes). Serve the salmon on a bed of brown rice, pouring the pan juices over the salmon (Optional: garnish with a twist of fresh lemon), and add the steamed vegetables to your plate. Sit down and enjoy with a glass of your favourite Sauvignon Blanc.