The Carousel columnist and former MasterChef contestant, Jules Allen, along with children’s services provider, Key Assets has launched an amazing new cookbook called A Taste of Fostering.
The cookbook, which can be viewed for free here, aims to share recipes that help bring families together as well as share stories and experiences as foster carers.
Jules has fostered 32 children over the past 15 years.
In 2013, prompted by a dare from her kids, Jules found herself as a contestant on MasterChef Australia where she put her new profile to good use by emphasising the healing power of good food in raising well-balanced children.
“Over the many years of fostering children, I have come to understand that food is one of the greatest healing tools,” says Jules.
“It consistently provides a sense of comfort and security for these young ones that they may not have known. It is flawless!”
Jules, who has a child of her own, shares why she decided to become a foster carer.
“There is no greater gift you can give your child than the gift of empathy, tolerance and compassion. What greater way to do it than by exposing them to difference and the hardship experienced by others in their peer set.
“I’m going to tread a little carefully here as I don’t, for one second, want to mislead people by saying that this is a walk in the park. It’s not easy.
“The children who come in to your care are scared and have experienced trauma.
“Your children may struggle to know how to accommodate their needs and where to position themselves. What I have, invariably, found happens is that the family, as a whole, comes together to play their various roles in the healing of the child. More often than not, your child adopts a level of responsibility in this. They become the leader in their space and the one with the greater influence in the home.
“My family is made-up of four children, my own, adopted and foster children. They are all incredibly close and over the years the pecking order has moved and changed from time to time.
“I have watched my biological son grow into a young man who has an incredible depth of understanding in regards to the needs of others.
“He has, without a doubt, struggled at times to adapt to the personalities and changes in the house.”
“I think he would be first to agree, however, that the benefits far outweigh the negatives. He has siblings he adores and they adore him. They depend on one another and have a bond that can only be found when one has to strive for a relationship to work.
“I understand that there are many people out there that would not fit the mould of foster carers and I respect that.
“The ones I am appealing to are those who have a sense that this may be something that could work for them. If you have the space, the love, the compassion and are in a position to help a child in need, please contact Key Assets, or at the very least, explore whether this will work for you.
“I can honestly say that the fabric of my life is so colourful and rich for having been a carer and will be until the day I die.”
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer or would like more information, please call Key Assets on 1800 WE CARE or visit canifoster.com.au
Meanwhile, here’s just a taste of one of the many great recipes in Jules’ new book – her chocolate chunk and popping candy cookies!
250g self-raising flour
200g milk popping candy chocolate broken into chunks
1 packet of Smarties
1 packet of popping candy
Melt butter and sugar together; allow to cool
Add self-raising flour, egg and chocolate chunks
Roll into balls and place onto baking tray 3-5 centimetres apart
Bake at 180C for 10-15 minutes or until brown on top