Monthly Archives: March 2020

Covid Cupboard Cooking: Week 1

While I was working on my last post I ended up getting distracted and creating an inventory of my food cupboards, which seems the ultimate in procrastination but has actually turned out to be very useful in terms of meal planning. I’ve always been a fan of meal planning and food shopping with a targeted list, but in these strange days it’s become even more important than before. Also it means that if I find myself faced with a bargain I can make the impulse buy or not based on knowing exactly what I have in the cupboards that I can cook it with.

As part of this challenge I’m attempting to use up some of the dried pulses and tins that having been lurking longer in my cupboards than I’d like. Also those little ends of packets where I had just too much to fit in the available jar. (The section of my cutlery drawer that houses my freezer/packet clips is full to busting in a way it hasn’t been since I first moved in and still had an empty freezer.) To that end I’ve used up some lurking dried mung beans in my – broccoli and blue cheese – soup, freeing up a jar to keep the rest of my quinoa in, and made giant couscous for dinner one night using up the rather sad end of a packet so that it all fits in one jar. I don’t know that the packet of cheddar and sundried tomato bread mix that I turned into a loaf the other day really counts towards this challenge – as I only bought it as a treat a couple of weeks ago – but it sure does taste good. I’d planned to do more bulk cooking this week but I discovered that there was actually very little free space in my freezer. There were, however, lots of half used packets of things lurking at the back of drawers so I’ve also been trying to use them up. First up were the end of a bag of edamame beans that had frozen solid – I’ve fully defrosted them and chucked a handful of them in almost everything I’ve cooked this week. They work really well in giant couscous and with gnocchi, but less so in an omelette. I also finished off a packet of ‘no duck’ Chinese pasty things which were definitely elevated by being served with some edamame and the Ketjap Manis I unearthed in my cupboard inventorying.

I’d also stocked up on frozen fruit mixes as I’d thought fresh fruit might be harder to source at the moment, but on my last grocery run, I discovered that evidentially lots of people had had the same thought as I was able to pick up a pile of bargains in the fruit and veg section – I got a bag of carrots, a cauliflower and a bunch of spring onions for the princely total of 22p – and other than bananas and tangerines, fruit seems plentiful. So it looks like I won’t need to keep my jam gooseberries for keeping up the vitamin C and can actually make jam with them.

Oh and I did track down those dried black beans, it turns out they’re in a cupboard in my mum’s kitchen – a cupboard that, despite my not living there in six years, is still referred to as ‘my’ cupboard – if they’ve been there all this time I suspect that pickling them will be the only way to still get any use out of them at this stage.

Categories: being veggie, challenges, covid cookup | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Cupboard Living in a time of Covid 19

When I decided to start a food blog at the start of 2014, my original intention was to document my adventures cooking as much from my cupboards as was possible. I had lots of cupboard staples – I’ve always been a sucker for being tempted by new ingredients that are reasonably shelf stable – and I thought it would be a fun way to work through the back log, while hopefully saving some pennies at the same time. The blog has drifted in focus over the last few – six! – years that I’ve been writing it, but in the current circumstances, it feels like a good time to bring the blog back to basics. It might even be helpful, entertaining to other folks stuck in their houses right now.

I should add at this juncture, that I’m not actually in quarantine at the moment, of all things I was supposed to be on holiday this week – my parents were coming up for mother’s day and a friend was supposed to be visiting from Oz – so I had done a certain amount of pre-stocking up and meal planning ahead of time. I’m just trying to be a good citizen and only go food shopping once a week so that means less perishables and no ‘popping out’ for things I’d forgotten.

The idea of bringing the blog back to basics came about as I was making my beloved beetroot risotto, having found some leftover red wine that needed used up I was excited to discover that I actually had everything I needed for the meal already in the cupboard. I’m going to need to do more of this, I thought, and at least I’ll get through some of that pile of beans and pulses in the cupboard.

It’s been a good opportunity to inventory my cupboards to see what I actually have in there. Since I’ve lived in my new flat I’ve been pretty decent about rotating my cans so that things get used up in something approaching date order – just the other day my stir-fry was enlivened by a tin of water chestnuts I’d forgotten about – and the plan of putting the little extras – cashew nuts, pine nuts, flaked almonds and sesame seeds – in pretty little mini kilner jars on my work-top has been great at both reminding me to use them and preventing me finding sad musty packets when I go looking for something else in the cupboard. I must confess I was surprised by how few cans of tomatoes I have – why do I always end up with either 6 tins or 1? And having seen Jack Monroe’s intriguing recipe for sweet and sour beans, I’m mystified as to what happened to my jar of dried black beans…

Categories: covid cookup | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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