A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: cooking

I got my fourth OddBox delivery last week.

I made ‘crack broccoli’ following this recipe that I found on Pinterest.

The broccoli tasted fine but, unlike crack, not that moreish. My fault for believing the hype I guess.

I also tried a couple of different salads. This is rainbow salad with halloumi. It was decent.

My favourite was this griddled peach and goats cheese salad. I didn’t even add the dressing and it was delicious.

I also watched Cowspiracy with my friend Anna. I first heard about this documentary at a talk by Bosh, two middle class guys who set up what they call ‘the vegan Tasty’ (that channel that makes birds-eye views of someone cooking recipes). Apparently everyone that watches Cowspiracy immediately goes vegan. I was genuinely a bit scared.

One thing the documentary did make me think was that I have been approaching zero waste slightly sideways. For example, dairy milk is much more resource-intensive to produce than plant-based milk alternatives. It is probably ‘better’ to consume plant-based milk in recyclable packaging than milk in a glass bottle. I’m going to try switching to barista-style Oatley rather than getting my milk delivered.

Weekly tilt

A disadvantage of trying to reduce waste is becoming hyper-aware of how wasteful society is. Here I share things that have bothered or worried me.

This week’s tilt is brought to you courtesy of Transport for London. Since I changed jobs, I needed to purchase a new annual travel card. This was an opportunity to finally sort out the six Oyster cards I had in a drawer.

I checked my TfL account. Three cards were registered and three unregistered. Annoyingly it was not possible to register the cards since I technically did not buy them- my old workplace did on my behalf. There was a total of nearly £40 on the registered cards, and getting a refund meant the cards get deactivated.

I phone TfL and it transpires that I cannot register any of the three cards I have. I have to go out and buy a seventh card, register it, and then add the annual travel card. In the end, I also couldn’t register this card because I hadn’t used it for a journey. So I had to go to a ‘travel centre’ and buy an eighth Oyster card. I understand that it’s important to protect customers’ data and money, but this this is ludicrous.

We are at a stage where we don’t actually need stupid pieces of plastic to store passes. I have a phone with near-field technology that comes with me everywhere. Why can’t I just have the pass stored on an app?

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After my last attempt at a chia breakfast pudding, I did some experimenting to see if I could come up with a tasty recipe for a chai-spiced pot. I realised along the way that the weird taste, which I had attributed to the maca and lucuma powder in the previous iteration, was partly down to the chia seeds, which have a bit of a weird taste in themselves.

Ingredients

  • 300ml milk, any
  • 2tsp black tea
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 green cardamom pod
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1tbsp sugar, any (e.g. honey, coconut sugar, cane sugar)
  • 3tbsp chia seeds

Method

Measure your milk into a small saucepan. Halve the vanilla pod and add the seeds to the milk. Do not discard the rest of the pod.

Add the tea and whole spices. You can either put them into a tea infuser (apart from the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod) or straight into the saucepan. Put over a low heat, watching carefully so that you do not allow the liquid to boil over. As it comes to the boil, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for two minutes to allow the spices to infuse.

If you have used an infuser, give it a squeeze to release the extra-concentrated flavours lurking within. If you haven’t used an infuser, strain.

Stir in the chia seeds and decant into a container to cool. Refrigerate overnight.

I served mine with a couple of tablespoons of speculoos butter, Greek yoghurt and pomegranate arils.


This recipe is inspired by the rainbow pie with hazelnut crust featured in Straight from the Source, the magazine made by the bulk store I frequent.

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Ingredients

For the crust

  • 1.5 cups hazelnut meal/blitzed hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 3/4 cup flour (I used ordinary plain flour, use tapioca flour to make this pie gluten-free)
  • 1 egg
  • 100g butter
  • A good pinch of salt

For the filling

  • 5 eggs
  • 2tbsp milk or cream
  • 3tbsp pesto (I used this recipe)
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced and roasted
  • 100g gruyere
  • 1 small courgette
  • 1 small yellow pepper
  • 30g spinach/red pak choi if you can get it
  • 1 red onion

Method

Note: You may be able to see from my pictures that I followed a slightly different method. Do as I say, not as I do!

Preheat the oven to 180C

Grease a 25cm pie tin. I used a 23cm one because that’s what I have and just meant the pastry was a little thicker.

Mix together the pastry ingredients until they form into a ball. Do not over-mix.

Press into the greased pie tin and bake for ten minutes. If you haven’t already, roast your diced sweet potato at the same time.

I allowed the crust to rise above the edges of the tin deliberately- the pastry burns very easily. This way, any blackened bits can easily be trimmed off at the end.

While the crust is cooking, finely chop the onion and cook in olive oil or butter until translucent.

Chop the other vegetables.

Layer the spinach, onion, pepper, sweet potato and courgette in the crust.

Beat the eggs with the cream/milk and pesto. Fold in the diced cheese and sundried tomatoes. Pour over the vegetables in the crust.

Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the eggs are completely cooked.

I have to say that if I was going to bother to go to the effort of making a quiche again, I would be more likely to go for a quiche lorraine. But it was fun to try something new.


I picked up some dates on clearance at the supermarket. I wasn’t sure what I would do with them at the time, but at 25p a pack I snapped them up.

While looking on Pinterest for recipe ideas, this recipe caught my eye. I am a complete sucker for anything that purports to be salted caramel. While I was dubious about whether dates could ever aspire to the deliciousness of cream and sugar, I had some tahini in the fridge and decided to give it a go.

Tahini is one of those things that I find it hard to use up. I tend to buy a jar to make hummus, only to have the rest of it sitting in the fridge for the next five years, looking all separated and neglected. However, since I am attempting to reduce my plastic waste, maybe more homemade hummus is in my future, especially since I finally found a satisfactory recipe.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the bite things.

Ingredients

  • 175g dates, pitted
  • 80g tahini*
  • 100g dark chocolate, at least 70%
  • Sea salt
  • Cocoa powder (optional)

*You can substitute any nut or seed butter of your choice for the tahini. For my second attempt at these bars, I only had 30g tahini left so I swapped out the rest for peanut butter.

Method

Combine the tahini and stoned dates in a blender. If you are using a domestic machine, make sure to pulse for short periods of time so you don’t overload your motor! The mixture will come together into a ball. If it’s not coming together, add a little extra tahini.

Press into a container. I found this baking tray too big but I’d already oiled it so went ahead with it anyway.

Refrigerate overnight or freeze for 30minute, then chop the date mixture up into chunks of your desired size. I recommend not making them too big so that you get plenty of chocolate in every bite.

Melt the chocolate and coat each piece.

While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle over sea salt.

I also coated some of my bites in cocoa powder because (I think because of my kitchen being hot) the chocolate had some bubbles on the surface that looked unappetising.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

I was sceptical about this recipe but these bites are delicious. The texture is much nicer than most dried-fruit nut bars, with a nice bite and chew. The dark chocolate adds an amazing bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of the dates and the brightness of the salt is the icing on the cake (so to speak).

I would love to learn to temper chocolate. Imagine how beautiful these bites would look if the chocolate was shiny!


With the festive period well and truly upon us (i.e. it is December), it’s time to foist lovingly bestow gifts of homemade preserves upon friends and family. After my jam– and chutney-making exploits of the late summer, I had a LOT of jars to shift.

In order to jazz up my random assortment of recycled jars, I made some labels.

I was inspired to do the cute faces by one of my favourite instagram accounts, @parade.made, who did an adorable challenge called #100daysofkawaii I recommend checking it out!

I considered making rubber stamps but thought it would be easier just to hand-draw each label.

I had to check the timestamps on my photos to remember when I made the jam and chutney. They should be nice and mature for consumption in the new year.

These look pretty different to the last jars of jam I bothered to label. Aww, past me.

Labelled jars


My gardening for the year has come to an end. I have to say that I struggled to stay interested in it beyond August. My loss of focus was partly due to having a lot of other things to work on (both craft and non-craft), but also because the courgette plants grew unruly, the leaves turned grey and the fruit stopped developing so well. It was hard to be as excited. The tomato vines started to blacken, and the purple sprout seedlings I planted out were immediately consumed by pests. No real loss as I loathe Brussels sprouts.

I captured this time lapse video that shows the progress of my little vegetable patch.

Surprisingly, the courgettes were probably the greatest success of the season. They’re really easy to incorporate into cooking and very healthy. I would definitely grow them again, though probably only one plant next time.

I learnt too late that I should have kept the tomatoes at the front of my house, where there is more sun. This meant that I harvested mostly green tomatoes, which just left me with unnecessary preserving work. However, it was just as well I did preserve them. Many of the fruits I didn’t preserve seemed to have some kind of frostbite that made them rot. If I were to grow these tomatoes again (and I have loads of seeds), one vine would definitely be sufficient.

I decided to try fried green tomatoes following Nigel Slater’s recipe. They were all right.

I ate them with garlic mayo, which meant making mayonnaise for the first time. I was surprised by how easy it was.

Lessons from my gardening attempts this year:

  • Don’t buy plants or seeds from the pound shop
  • Seriously, don’t!
  • Physalis is easy to grow in London, but I’m not hugely fond of the fruit
  • Keeping herbs alive in the kitchen is hard if you live alone and like going on holiday

I’m not sure yet whether I’ll plant anything next year. Even though it was definitely worthwhile this year, you need plenty of time to use the vegetables once you have managed to grow them. Spare time really is at a premium for me at present.


The stars aligned for one of my increasingly rare opportunities to bake. I was hosting a gathering at my house for my quidditch team, one of whom was having a birthday the next day. Since she is lactose intolerant, I decided to have a go at a dairy-free bake. I looked specifically for a recipe that still included eggs, since I’ve had mixed success with vegan bakes in the past. This Nigella recipe popped up on Pinterest, so I decided to give it a go. The cake is also gluten-free.

Cake1

The recipe states that the cake is best eaten warm, so I made the apple sauce in advance to save some time. The apple sauce was delicious- I might well make that again. I enjoyed this cake, especially considering it’s a ‘free from’ type recipe. Not the best pictures I’ve ever taken. I may have already started drinking when I was making this cake.

Candles