I’m Clauds, dedicated veg boxer, Abel & Cole-er and mum of two. Would you say that lockdown life is changing the way we cook and eat? It seems the answer is ‘oh yes, very much’. One in five of us are cooking from scratch more frequently, and 23% of us have reduced the amount of pre-prepared foods we eat.* I’ve certainly been honing my scratch cooking skills during this time and here are some of my recipe ideas I’ve learnt along the way.
I generally find if you put the word ‘unicorn’ or ‘dinosaur’ in front of any pink-red or green food, it at least doesn’t get rejected straight off the bat. Amend this recipe to use what you have. Any raw leafy greens and any nuts/seeds will work. A little goes a long way, so one bag of kale can make several portions for the freezer. It’s also lovely through mash or in chicken soup!
Macaroni cheeky sauce
Make a cheese sauce (either vegan or regular) and add cooked cauliflower and cooked and drained butter beans or cannellini beans then blitz. They’ll never know.
Veg pasta sauce
We have cherry tomato passata left over from pizza making on Friday evening, and this uses it up. Take a random selection of vegetables, including onion and/or garlic. Add something sweet; an apple and/or/raisins or a date. Very gently fry everything in a generous amount of oil (olive is best) for 20-30 mins. Add passata and blitz. Season to taste. About one heaped tablespoon = one small kids’ portion of pasta. Freeze in little pots or ice cube trays.
Four steps of pasta sauce
1. Take random veg
2. Chop into cubes
3. Sauté gently for a lovely long time then blend with passata
4. Freeze what you don’t use
Go wild and chuck loads of stuff in porridge. Grated carrot, apple – even courgette! (Use a very fine grater and add cinnamon so the kids can’t see the bits, haha). Raisins, mashed banana, berries, you know the score. Every month I grind up a load of seeds and nuts to a powder and add a spoonful or two to porridge and puddings. All the above combined give the kiddies lots of nutrients for the day.
Chicken bone broth
I make this every other week with chicken bones, garlic, 5-6 peppercorns and any fridge lurkers – the sad carrots, celery and onions that skulk at the back. Gently boil for at least 6 hours. I use enough water that it makes 5-6 batches. (I use cleaned Brown Cow yogurt pots, they’re a perfect portion for cooking grains.) We then have the basis for: ramen, soup, polenta, curry, baked rice, other grains, etc.
After much experimenting, the easiest and quickest way to make a pizza is to get Abel & Cole naan breads, Abel & Cole cherry tomato passata (can you see a theme here?) and some mozzarella. Heat the oven up while the kids spread passata and mozzarella on the naan breads. Then whack in the oven for 10 mins. Done. So easy and they love it.
The best with rice; savoury a la Jamaican rice & peas (don’t worry if you don’t have chilli or herbs, it’s great plain), or rice pudding just top it up with other plant milks (and use any rice – these days no one will mind too much!) It’s also it’s great in dal. And you can use it in baking in place of egg in banana bread.
Peanut/nut butter with almost anything
Apples, celery, raw carrot, bakes sweet potato, in noodles (Yes! With chilli flakes in a miso broth!), in porridge, on rice cakes, in sandwiches, on a piece of dark chocolate. It’s a gift so it is.
Mash it real good
Always make more than you need. It freezes well but also quickly turns into fishcakes or bubble & squeak or other patty-type things the next day. These can then be frozen.
Mix left over mash (potato, sweet potato, swede, celeriac) with sweetcorn and/or a tin of drained fish and quickly shape them into fishcake shaped things. Lay on a baking tray (the cakes, not you) and chill, then pop in a Tupperware and freeze. Chuck them in the oven one evening during the week and quickly steam some greens. Easy, huh?
Chip off the old block
Homemade chips are delicious and so easy. Chop your spuds into chip shape bits, coat in oil and roast in the oven for 20-30 mins at high heat. Turn halfway through to cook evenly.
Each week I make a big rice pudding and that sees us for a couple of days. I add whatever fresh or dried fruit is being neglected/rejected. It’s so easy I actually laugh as I put it in the oven.
No eggs? No problem
Have you met our pal the flax egg? It’s just flaxseeds (also known as linseeds) or chia seeds, if you’re feeling flash, and water. Use in place of eggs in things like cookies, pancakes and brownies. They’re not perfect in cakes but are just about passable in fruit or veg muffins.
How to make a flax egg
One teaspoon of flax seeds + 2 teaspoons of boiling water. Mix with very rapidly then chill in the fridge for 10 mins.
Flax egg almond ‘cookies’
Mix one flax egg with 2/3 cup of ground almonds and 1/3 cup of flour – chestnut or spelt is good. Mix in 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil, a spoon of honey, date syrup, maple syrup or sugar. Add a little more oil or syrup if the mixture is too crumbly. You want it quite dry but firm. A mashed overripe banana adds sweetness but is optional. A little tahini or nut butter does wonders but isn’t essential. Mix thoroughly. Spoon onto a baking try and flatten with a fork or roll into balls and flatten. Bake at 200C for 10-15 mins till browned on the edges.
That’s all for now folks. Here’s our recipe library for more inspiration. We love you. Take it easy.
*Source data: Dunhumby