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An executive chef, a palliative care consultant, a dietician and a speech pathologist teamed up to write an award-winning cook book that ensures that food and drink continue to be a positive part of life right to the end.
Peter Morgan-Jones, Executive Chef at HammondCare, health and aged care providers in Sydney, Australia, and Rod MacLeod, Palliative Care Consultant, HammondCare and Honorary Professor, University of Sydney, Australia, explain. And there’s a recipe for Gin and tonic lollipops too…
Lobster for Josino: Fabulous food for our final days (HammondCare Publishing, 2018 1) is a first of its kind cookbook that recently won first prize in the Gourmand International Seniors Cookbook of the Year award and third prize in the overall Cookbook of the Year award.
(Try out one of the recipes here).
Behind these and other accolades is the very real story of a person facing end of life who, like many people receiving palliative care, wanted to enjoy life to the last, including laughing with friends and family and enjoying even a taste of their favourite foods.
Josino was a loveable Portuguese chef who was dying with cancer when he contacted me (Peter) through his wife, asking me to visit him in hospital. As we told stories from our time together in the kitchens of the iconic Sydney Opera House, lunch arrived and Josino’s shoulders dropped as he lifted the lid.
Complaining that he couldn’t possibly eat the meal on offer, I asked Josino what he felt like. With a cheeky grin he quickly said, “Lobster Pete!”
I spoke to the hospital staff about getting a lobster from the nearby fish markets and preparing it for Josino but this was deemed unsafe and I finished my visit with a plan to smuggle some lobster in next time I visited.
On my return two days later, Josino was in a coma and never regained consciousness.
While Josino missed out on the comfort and pleasure of a much-desired meal in his final days, his story has inspired us (Peter and Rod) along with fellow authors, Prudence Ellis and Jessica Lynch, to try and make sure the story is not repeated.
The work behind this book really is like any good recipe. As HammondCare’s Executive Chef, Peter’s restaurant skills and interest in molecular gastronomy came together with Rod’s passionate advocacy for best practice palliative care and an intimate specialist knowledge of the many obstacles and opportunities involved with enjoying food when dying.
Mix in expert nutrition insights from dietician Jessica, comprehensive advice on swallowing issues from speech pathologist Prudence, and a sprinkle of timely tips from occupational therapist Kate Needham, and we were well on our way to producing a book that was not only clinically sound but, we think, full of tasty, creative and appropriate recipes.
But the vision was bigger than that. We didn’t want a book that would scare off patients and families because it looked like a textbook. But rather our vision was for a cookbook that felt like it belonged with your other favourite cookbooks – full of tastes, colour, texture and life.
The recent Gourmand International recognition confirms what we have already learned, that Lobster for Josino has been lovingly embraced by many as an aid to ensuring the joy and comfort of food and drink continues to be a positive part of life right to the end, even when you are nil by mouth!
Whether it is a tipple such as Gin and tonic lollipops, Scotch mouth swab or Guinness air or a meal like Shredded chicken and ginger congee, a therapeutic drink like Grape slushie or something sweet such as Paula’s Moroccan dessert truffles (recipe from Paula Wolfert) – Lobster for Josino brings many out-of-reach foods to patients who just want to enjoy their final meals and drinks.
And of course, there is a texture modified recipe for Lobster sausage, cauliflower puree and pea and mint foam – we are sure Josino would approve.
- Lobster for Josino: Fabulous food for our final days: Peter Morgan-Jones (HammondCare), Prof Rod MacLeod (HammondCare/University of Sydney), Prudence Ellis (Greenwich Hospital, Sydney), Jessica Lynch (Greenwich Hospital, Sydney), HammondCare Publishing, Sydney, 2018.
HammondCare provides health, aged and dementia care expertise that empowers the people that we serve. HammondCare is passionate about improving quality of life for people in need and has a particular commitment to dementia care, palliative care and research as well as to people who are financially disadvantaged. HammondCare is an independent Christian charity. Find out more here.
A recipe for Gin and tonic lollipops
TIPS: This recipe is suitable for people on regular diets and thin fluids. It may be suitable for people on modified diets with supervision.
Lollipops are sometimes recommended by speech pathologists for people who cannot eat and drink at all. This allows them to enjoy flavour without swallowing anything. Consult a speech pathologist before giving this to someone with swallowing difficulties.
Preparation 20 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon gin
2 tbsp tonic water
¾ cup caster sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup
16 dehydrated lime slices
(see specialized recipes for dehydrating)
¼ tsp food colouring of your choice (optional)
Lollipop moulds or silicone mat. (If you don’t have lollipop moulds, place a silicone mat on a baking sheet).
- Mix together ¼ cup of gin with the tonic water, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a 1 or 2L saucepan until all of the sugar is wet. If sugar crystals cling to the sides of the pan, dissolve them away with a wet pastry brush.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently occasionally with a heatproof spatula until all of the sugar is dissolved. Then boil to 149°C without stirring.
- Remove from the heat, and, working quickly, mix in the remaining 1 tsp liquor and food colouring, if using. Still working with haste, drop the syrup into either lollipop moulds or onto a silicone mat.
- If using lollipop moulds, quickly drop the syrup from the tip of a large spoon into the cavities of the lollipop moulds. Place a lollipop stick in the centre of each disk, and twist it 180 degrees so that it’s fully covered in syrup. Let cool completely.
- If using a silicone mat, quickly ‘plop’ the syrup onto the silicone mat so that it forms 2-inch disks and immediately after place a lollipop stick in the centre of each disk and twist it 180 degrees so that it’s fully covered in syrup. Let cool completely.
- Peel the lollipops from the moulds or silicone and store in an airtight container, preferably at least overnight to allow the flavours to develop, until ready to indulge.
This recipe is reproduced with kind permission of HammondCare Publishing, Sydney, 2018.
Lobster for Josino: Fabulous food for our final days: Peter Morgan-Jones (HammondCare), Prof Rod Macleod (HammondCare/University of Sydney), Prudence Ellis (Greenwich Hospital, Sydney), Jessica Lynch (Greenwich Hospital, Sydney), HammondCare Publishing, Sydney, 2018.
Editor’s note: This post, first published on 24 September 2019, is among the Top Ten most-viewed posts for the second half of 2019.