A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: cooking

My flatmate and I had a friend coming over for dinner who is also doing Veganuary. I thought this was a perfect excuse to try out some new vegan dishes.

The lentils were flavoursome and my guests commented positively. Even though I added a scotch bonnet (whole during cooking and then discarded) I felt the mix lacked kick. Patties are generally quite spicy. Next time I might add half of a de-seeded scotch bonnet.

I used this vegan pastry recipe since I eat gluten and avoid hydrogenated fats. I added two teaspoons of curry powder to the mixture. Next time, I think I would add some extra turmeric and perhaps a drop of yellow food colouring since patties are traditionally yellow.

I really enjoyed the pastry but I did find it a bit dry and very short. To be fair, I made a mistake in refrigerating the dough before I used it, which meant I had to handle it a lot more than I would have liked. I will probably test again before passing final judgment.

I also know that my grandma’s rule of thumb was half fat to flour so I might up the coconut oil too. I’ve been considering adding pea protein. Not sure what grandma would make of that!

I also made ackee sin salt fish. I can’t lie; I really missed the salt fish. Even though you use only a little amount of salted cod, it’s a huge part of the flavour. I was so immersed in cooking that I didn’t take pictures so these are nabbed from my friend’s Instagram stories.

For dessert we had pistachio ice cream. I might even take some better pictures and write a separate post about it. I thought it was yummy.

As the person who posted the recipe notes, the dates do dull the green colour. I think it’s worth it for the taste.

As a note, I quite a bit less than half a cup of dates (maybe 2/3 cup?) and found that was plenty. If making this, it’s worth tasting and adding as you go. I ended up with a lot more ice cream than expected. Blended with almond milk and ice, it is a delicious mylkshake.

I added spirulina to brighten the colour and I don’t you can taste it. Using matcha might be a great option to add both colour and flavour.

I also made sorrel, which is a traditional Jamaican Christmas drink. They sell hibiscus tea at The Source so it’s really easy. I used this recipe as a base but would note that I don’t think you need that much hibiscus. A cup costs around £2.50 and I think half a cup would be fine.

I’m so proud that this meal was almost entirely free of plastic waste. And really cheap too! The most expensive thing was the ice cream. I’m starting to feel ready for Veganuary!

As an additional note, the leftover patties are really nice cold. They’re a bit dry because I cooked the lentils down a lot- didn’t want to risk a soggy bottom.

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I’m trying out a few new recipes. Changing my diet is inspiring me to cook differently, which has been fun. I also went to an amazing vegan supper club with my flatmate.

I’m definitely going to do Veganuary so I’ve also been getting a few recipes out of my system. Karelian/Carelian pastries (both spellings appear to be acceptable) were one of my favourite foods from Finland and I suddenly had a hankering to try making them last Friday.

Karelian pie sounds absolutely repulsive but tastes amazing. It’s thin rye pastry filled with savoury rice pudding and topped with egg butter. Lots of fat and carbs to help withstand the freezing Nordic temperatures. Or London in November.

I followed this recipe quite closely, using a mixture of arborio and pudding rice. I had around 1/3 of the pastry left, I believe because I put a lot of filling in each one. I considered trying to freeze the dough, but I think it will be a while before I attempt this recipe again so I just binned it.

The only plastic waste generated from these was the chive package. I had purchased the chives for a new black lentil recipe I was trying to use up my OddBox potatoes. I went to a greengrocer and Eat17 but neither place had them unpackaged and I wasn’t willing to go without.

Oh! I nearly forgot that I bought milk in plastic for this recipe too. I trialled making two of the Carelian pies with almond milk and they were nice but I made a slight mistake using a sweetened product. I think oat milk would work better.


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?


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