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simple, plant-based food with fresh ingredients, vegetables and heaps of grains

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The Cuisine Collective
Welcome to the Cuisine Collective where we cook mainly simple, plant-based food with fresh ingredients, vegetables and heaps of grains. Now and then, you will also find a recipe for a ‘heart-disease-inducing’ cake or a meat-based stew. We enjoy interviewing restaurant owners, food producers and start-ups to understand how our food is made. We cultivate a little vegetable garden in our house in Amman, and we have our hens for eggs!
We are young and sexy and, if you read our blog, you can be too. Just kidding. Stick around and find out for yourselves.

As well as our recipes, stories, and interviews, we offer a range of food-related services such as food photography, menu development, and marketing advice. Our blog is our portfolio. Feel free to reach out for further details.

If you have some time to spare and want to learn more about us, feel free to read the below section.

First of all, who are you?
Aleksandra’s work involves supporting start-ups in the developing countries in their initial stage of operations. She also does a lot of communications and research. In her free time, she sands planks and makes her lamps or furniture out of scavenged materials. Whenever she is not dreaming of making the perfect burrata, she organises cooking workshops, and in recent years she and four friends co-founded ReTexture furniture workshop, a social enterprise producing furniture out of pallet wood in Iraq.
Michael works in communications where his job involves writing about refugee issues and political affairs in the middle east. When he’s not cooking, he enjoys working on his DIY wood projects: shelves, spice racks, tables and, most recently, a hen house. Mike is passionate about refugee rights and has worked in the past providing free legal advice to refugees and immigrants in Ireland and Italy, and designing online training for refugees in Kenya. Thanks to his upbringing on an Irish farm, he has a solid understanding of where his food comes from and how it’s produced. He’s on a mission to eliminate ‘shite’ food from this world! (Unless he’s hungover or craving a pack of trashy crisps from his childhood).

Why is your blog called The Cuisine Collective?
Depends what you want to hear. There were a couple of ideas in the air while coming up with this name. We wanted it to reflect that cooking is a social activity (Once by herself, Aleks microwaves everything. No solo fine-dining.), but also that so much effort goes into the growing of a single tomato from planting seeds to harvesting, distributing and finally cooking. We know that because Michael tends to plant his vegetables in our little garden in Amman. The Cuisine Collective also because we get inspiration from friends and family who often contribute with recipes.

Photography & Styling?
Aleks does the photography and styling. She has used various cameras over the past ten years. Currently, she sticks to her Panasonic GX 7. It’s a great, compact camera that accompanies her during all her travels. She loves portrait photography and keeping her boyfriend waiting to eat while she finds the perfect close-up shot for the blog. She tries to use daylight as much as possible. However, sometimes, when cooking late at night, she has little gadgets to help out as a soft box. Aleks believes that good light is the key to food photography. A nice piece of wood or stone as a background also works magic!

What do you actually eat?
We like making food from scratch. When we buy food, we pay attention to labels – products containing corn syrup, MSG or palm oil are usually kept out of the shopping basket. Our cuisine is mostly plant-centred. Aleks is a big fan of plant-based diets by Drs Campbell, McDougall, and Greger. She also pays attention to Ayurveda in her cooking, even though Michael could not care less.
Do you eat meat?
We eat mainly vegetables and grains with a bit of meat thrown in now and then. Sometimes, Mike enjoys a good steak or a weekend ‘coronary-disease-inducing’ breakfast: fried bacon and eggs. Aleks can’t resist binging on Pho- or Ramen soup with chicken stock. Mike is a cheese fiend, Aleks mostly tries to stay away from it as she finds that her skin is better without it, but in cheese-rich countries like Italy, she can’t resist.

What can we always find in your kitchen?
Potatoes!!! This goes without saying for a Polish-Irish couple. Beside that: lentils, all types of rice (white, brown, black, long grain and short), a variety of pasta, and middle eastern freekah (cracked wheat) and bulgur. We also buy lots of seasonal vegetables. Plus nuts and dried fruits for snacking and the morning porridge.

Where do you get your recipes?
Our food is inspired by our national cuisines: Polish and Irish. We often share family recipes but also cook with friends from different parts of the world.
Nowadays, because we’re quite mobile thanks to our work, we indulge in fusion cuisine inspired by the places we have lived in or visited. You can easily tell that Mike is Irish by birth but Italian at heart, having lived in Italy for over four years. Aleks has been wanting to live in southeast Asia for some time but happened to stay in the Middle East for the past five years, and it’s also clearly visible in her cooking.


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