Veganuary, Day 3: The Perils of Shopping When Hungry

The Big Guy currently does most of the shopping, for which I’m very grateful. I can always tell when he went to the shop hungry. Our shopping is suddenly spiked with treats and snacks, not all of which are the healthiest options. Of course, he’s definitely not alone in doing this when he’s hungry.

We had a hearty breakfast with the last portion of the kale and mushroom gratin before the Big Guy had to go out to do some chores. On the way home, he was passing some shops that might stock some of the grains, specific dried chilis and some other things I thought would be helpful in our new diet. It was almost lunch time when he got to look for the supplies, and he came home with two vegan saucijnbroodjes, which are Dutch sausage rolls. We wouldn’t buy them when it isn’t Veganuary, so I knew he’d felt tempted by his hunger.

Credit where it’s due; they did look good. Crispy pastry covered in poppy seeds. I actually thought they’d be an interesting foil to the dull celariac soup from yesterday, so I could get away with not having to jazz it up. You know we weren’t going to throw it out.

I was wrong. The pastry was filled with a paste filling that was vaguely tomato-flavoured, which had some scant sticks of tempeh in it. it didn’t distract from the soup. Instead, we added a lot of freshly chopped parsley. I guess a good lesson to remember is that if we don’t like the standard version of a thing, we’re not going to like the vegan version of that thing. And eat before you go shopping!

Dinner was a second helping of the enchiladas from last night. The opposite of lunch: hearty, flavourful and satisfying. It’s always good to end the day on a high.

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Veganuary Day 2: Veganising the Familiar

Enough Energy for a Workout

Tuesday is a workout day. I have a familiar routine to help me keep up with the habit. A light breakfast with protein, but no egg, walk the dog, then start my exercise regimen. It’s one of the few days I’ll have a sweet breakfast; I’m not normally a fan. Perhaps granola with yoghurt and fruit, or higher protein porridge. None of these are normally vegan.

Today, or rather yesterday, I went with overnight oats. We love this easy, versatile recipe – you can pretty much take your pick of fruit and pairings to make it flavourful. This one is chocolate and peanut butter. I veganised it by using soy yoghurt and almond milk. I was surprised at how sweet soy yoghurt is. My brand wasn’t sweetened, yet tasted like it had honey stirred through it. I’ve shared our tried and true recipe below. It’s very adaptable, so you can use whatever kind of dairy or non dairy you like.

Lunch was a simple (and if I’m honest, a little dull) celariac soup. I sweated some onion, leek, quite a lot of garlic and the celariac, before adding some of my sumptuous scrap stock. When the celariac was soft, we blitzed it smooth with my immersion blender. I served it with some chopped parsley and drizzles of a really good olive oil. It relied a bit too much on the peppery olive oil for interest. And there’s leftovers. Can’t wait!

Also over lunch, I decided to sign up to the Veganuary daily newsletter for the month. It’s actually a fantastic resource, with cookbooks, recipe ideas, meal plans, going vegan on a budget, and that’s just in the first couple of emails. I recommend giving it a shot, especially if you’re new to a vegan diet.

Our meal this evening was enchiladas – a pumpkin chili stuffed in a tortilla, wrapped and cooked in a hot enchilada sauce. I was introduced to enchiladas by an American friend. Her preferred way to cook these is as a casserole – layering the dish with the chili and the the tortillas like a TexMex lasagne. We currently don’t have an oven, so we’re cooking everything in our Ninja Foodi Max (this is not an affiliate link). Just for space reasons, we’re sticking with traditional enchiladas. I make this often, and serve it with lots of cheese and sour cream. Of course, now that’s not possible. Instead, it was topped with some oat milk yoghurt and a home made guacamole. The chili was from the freezer. No doubt, I’ll make it again soon and share the recipe with you all.

Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Overnight Oats

Serves: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Soaking Time: minimum of 4 hours, but overnight is best

This recipe for overnight oats is so versatile, and is put together really quickly. Once you have the basic ratio of oats, liquid and yoghurt, you can change up the flavours with fresh, frozen or stewed fruit. You can change You can use your favourite kind of dairy, whether that be animal or plant-based. You could probably use ready-flavoured yoghurts too. I haven’t personally tried this, but I see no reason why they wouldn’t work.

I’m accustomed to making this with cow’s milk and yoghurt. This time I tried it with soy yoghurt and almond milk, which is why it’s also missing my usual toppings of toasted unsalted peanuts and chocolate shavings – I wanted to really parse down on any potential differences with the texture and flavour. You could also use all oat-based dairy, but I find I crash really badly, and without warning if my breakfast is only oats with no additional protein. You can get around this by adding a couple of scoops of your favopurite protein powder.

This is also one of the few recipes that I measure by volume. This is another recipe where the ratio of ingredients is more important than precision.

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened milk of your choice. You can use an actual tea cup or mug here if you like.
1/2 cup yoghurt of your choice
1 cup oats – I like the texture of rolled oats
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 – 1.5 tbsp maple syrup, to taste

Method

Mix together the milk and yoghurt, and stir until it’s all combined.

Stir through the oats, making sure they’re all coated with the wet ingredients

For this recipe, add the peanut butter and the cocoa powder and combine thoroughly.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

Serving Suggestion

Enjoy the next morning hot or cold.

You can substitute for any other nut butter you like. or omit it altogether

You can use fruit instead of the cocoa powder.

Toppings of chopped nuts, more peanut butter, raw or stewed fruit would be a great choice.

How to Store

Overnight oats can be made up to five days in advance as part of your meal prep for the week. Store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.

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Veganuary Day 1: Unfounded Concerns About Breakfast

A Lavosh wrap made with deluxe hummus and salad.
It’s a Wrap!

We started the day with a Kale and Mushroom Gratin, which I’d prepared last night. I sautéed the ingredients together, and set aside to bake this morning. The gratin really benefited from the resting period, and the soya cream really married with the other flavours. The perfect start to Veganuary, and a cold morning. Julie at The Simple Veganista suggests that this is a side dish, or main if you serve it over grains. I thought it was perfect as breakfast, served over a thick slice of sourdough toast. I didn’t miss the unctuouness of an egg yolk at all.

Lunch was a simple hummus and salad wrap. We’d scored some of the various flavours of the excellent hummus and flatbreads from the Lebanese stand in the local market. Very tasty, but not as substantial as I would need for an active day.

We ended the day with the remains of an excellent mushroom bourguinon that I made for New Year’s Eve guests. Served over slippery papardelle (dried, which don’t contain egg, where fresh papardelle might). This is an old favourite, so I’m going to feature this as a recipe post in its own right soon. On NYE, we served it over a bed of creamy mash. Either option is a great match.

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Seven Peas

Seven Pea Pods
Seven Pea Pods


There’s an old military adage, which is frequently shortened to the 7 Ps: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance. I had a very busy day doing the seven Ps in the garden in preparation for the year ahead.

In the kitchen, I went a bit more for an S and six Ps: Some Planning and Preparation…etc. I meal planned for part of the week. The Big Guy  did the shopping for the next day, so that we had something prepared. We’re on another lockdown in the Netherlands. Only food shops and pharmacies are open, and they must close at 8pm.

This evening, I prepared breakfast for tomorrow – admittedly a bit reluctantly. I was tired, and not looking forward to not being able to fall back on the very easy option of scrambled eggs in the morning.

However, this morning I’d been very kind to myself, by setting us up with an essential flavour-builder. An umami-rich and sumptuous vegetable stock. Of course, one that is just from food waste. There’s no point in using whole vegetables, when you can get just as much flavour out of the scraps.

Since my previous post on making stock from scraps, my technique has evolved a bit. The original scrap stock still has a place in my repertoire, especially if what I’m using it in has a more delicate flavour. These days, I do a little more prep before the scraps hit the freezer, because I slice everything up as thinly as possible to increase the surface area available for dispersing more flavour. You can do this when the scraps are frozen too, but doing it before you bag and freeze the scraps saves you a lot of time and painful fingers later.

Keep the peels slice the rest as thinly as you can manage before freezing

In 2020, I watched a lot of YouTube. I’m delighted to say that one discovery was Glen and Friends Cooking. Glen’s an experienced cook after my own heart. He loves to cook the classics with his own twist, as well as cook things entirely from scratch to learn how they work. He’s so inspiring with all of the experimentation he does in the kitchen. I really hope you have a look at his fantastic content.

He also inspired this new and improved stock from scraps. He makes an amazing stock, in which he thinly slices a wide array of whole vegetables using a mandoline, then roasts them hard before adding kombu, miso and tomato puree. If you’ve got the time and inclination, give this luxurious stock a go.

The kombu and the miso make so much difference in the flavour, lending essential umami, and a depth you won’t believe.

However, I’m  usually far too miserly to add whole vegetables, and too easily distracted to spend a day making stock. So I’ve developed a faster version you can make with scraps, still with such deep flavour, but with a quarter of the prep time, especially if the person you are today thinks about the person you’ll be when it comes time to make the stock, and pre-slices the big scraps as thinly as you can manage.

A rich and flavourful stock made from scraps and offcuts.
Tomato-based stock

Recipe: A Quick, Sumptuous Vegetable Stock from Scraps

I suppose this is more of a Freecipe than a recipe, strictly speaking, as the amounts are not exact. As Glen says in his video, it’s the ratio that’s important.

Ingredients

Over time fill a bag with vegetable scraps. If you’ve peeled them from the vegetable, there’s no need to cut them further. If it’s things you’ve topped and tailed, such as onion or carrot ‘ends’ or if it’s something that desperately needs using before it goes over then slice these bits as thinly as you can before freezing them. The contents will depend on what you’re eating. Because I frequently use a mirepoix in dishes, my bag always contains carrot and onion, often the odd celery end. Although there is usually an imbalance in the celery, since it has the least wastage naturally as you use it as an ingredient. So I do find myself thinly slicing a fresh rib or two before it goes in the pot. This is the only time I use the fresh, whole vegetable (but the whole head of celery never goes in).

Items that I don’t use

  • Potato Peel – the starch lends an odd texture to the finished stock
  • Cabbage – it’s too bitter in this application
  • Avocado

Essential Items

  • Onion ends and skins
  • Carrot peel and tops. You can include the greens, but make sure you’ve rinsed them extremely well
  • Leek tops – really, this gives it the most sumptuous mouth feel. Again, make sure they’re washed really well.
  • Celery
  • Mushroom scraps, stalks or ones that got too sweaty in the box
  • Kombu
  • Miso Paste
  • Bay leaf
  • Peppercorns
  • Dried Mushrooms – I’m lucky enough to usually have dried foraged mushrooms like chanterelles and porcini. You can also use dried shiitake or any other edible mushroom. You can often find a wide variety of dried mushrooms in Asian supermarkets
  • Tomato Puree/tomato paste- although I sometimes make a stock without, depending on my intentions for the stock. See method for more detail.

Other Scraps I use

Depending on the season and what I’m cooking

  • Almost any vegetable that is on the turn, especially if I don’t want it for soup. Not any part that is rotting or mouldy, of course
  • Very well scrubbed celariac nubs, leaves and skin
  • Squash and pumpkin ends, and the stringy stuff in between the seeds
  • Bell pepper offcuts – though never the seeds, or the part they come attached to
  • Beetroot ends – although a word of caution. I prefer chioggia and golden beets. You can use red beetroot for sure, but be aware that this will colour the stock, especially in large quantity. Fine if you’re eating a tomato based dish, less so in a white bean one, for example
  • Garlic that got a bit dessicated in the cupboard
  • Tomatoes – or when a recipe calls for deseeded tomatoes, you can add what’s left
  • Trimmings from topped and tailed French beans
  • The occassional pea pod, though I prefer to freeze these separately and use them for wine.
  • Sometimes apple peels and core make their way in, but this is the only sweet fruit that will be OK, and never in huge proportions of the scrap mix.
  • Aubergine ends – with the green calyx removed
  • Radishes that got long overlooked
  • Corn cobs and silk. Since these already have a pretty substantial surface area, and they’re really hard to chop, I usually chop corn cobs into three or four pieces, and not thin slices.
  • Herb stalks
  • Spinach stalks and ends
  • Swiss Chard stalks, if I haven’t eaten them as a side dish
  • Ginger peel
  • Spring onion scraps
  • The outer leaves and tough core of fennel
  • Reserved liquid from cooking beans – i.e aquafaba. I tend not to use aquafaba from cooking black beans, simply because it keeps some of the colour, and then it will make a black stock, and thus black food. You could also use the aquafaba from tinned beans just as readily.

So you can see broadly what I put in. You can use what you make scraps from. There are few hard and fast rules (apart from the three things I’ve listed above).

Method

Once your scrap bag is full, or you know you’re running out of stock, check the contents for balance. If the bag is light on celery, or you feel you’d like an additional element, slice some up thinly, to restore the balance. Also thinly slice any large lumps of scraps that past you didn’t get to.

Weigh the bag. You’ll need to calculate the weight of liquid to use. If I’m starting with aquafaba, I’ll often measure that, and make sure I have the right amount of scraps, or I’ll top up with water for the amount of scraps I already have.

The ratio needs to be 2:3 vegetable scraps to liquid. I’ve summarised this in two equations:


Liquid weight = 3 x (vegetable scraps /2)
Vegetable scraps = 2 x (liquid weight/3)

Heat about a tablespoon of any vegetable oil in a large saucepan.

In batches, add your scraps and sweat them off until they brown. You can do this from frozen. You can choose to add the whole bag at once, but I find you need to stir them more to prevent them catching on the bottom. In turn, this takes the browning process whole lot longer.

Once each batch has a good colour, remove to a separate bowl. You need to get a fairly deep caramel colour, particularly in the onion scraps.

Return all of the browned scraps to the pan. If you intend the stock to be used in tomato dishes, or ones where the colour of the finished dish will be deep, add 1-2 tbsp of tomato puree. Mix throuroughly into the scraps, then cook through on a medium heat, stirring well. The colour of the puree will darken slightly when it’s ready, and will take a minute or two. Omit this step if you want to use the stock in a lighter coloured dish; such as for a white soup, or a velouté sauce.

Pour in the cold liquid. Slowly bring to a vigorous simmer, but not to boiling point.

As it’s coming to temperature, add a strip of kombu, 1-2 tbsp miso paste, the dried mushrooms, 1-2 bay leaves, any other herbs you wish to add, and about a tbsp black peppercorns. Stir to make sure the miso has dissolved.

I never salt stock of any kind. You don’t know how much you’ll need to reduce the stock in the finished dish, or even to prepare it for freezing. You probably also don’t know what ingredients you’ll be using in your finished dish. Salting at this stage risks your dishes being over salted.

Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, then leave to putter away for about an hour or so.

When the liquid has taken on a deep colour, and you’re happy with the taste, drain the stock into a separate bowl. You may find that some types of scraps, especially lots of dried mushrooms, will absorb a fair bit of liquid. Feel free to press the scraps against the seive to get the scraps to release more liquid.

Discard the scraps, they’ve finally worked as hard for you as they can.

You can put this stock straight into a dish. Otherwise, allow it to cool before you store it in the fridge or prepare to freeze it.

Serving Suggestion

This wonderful, rich stock is great in soups, stews, gravies, to cook rice and grains in.
Use it wherever a recipe calls for stock, boullion, broth or even a stock cube.
Can also be used in lieu of a meat stock in many dishes.

How to Store

The stock will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days if you use aquafaba, or up to a week if you only used water. It freezes well as it is. I have a lot of competition for freezer space, so I often simmer the liquid after the scraps have been removed, to reduce it by half, then I freeze it in ice cube trays. Once the trays are frozen, I can remove the ‘stock cubes’ to a bag to store longer term.
This stock can be frozen for up to six months, although mine never lasts that long.

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New Year, New Content

A toast with sparkling wine

Happy New Year!

Well, it’s been a good while since I last wrote here. A lot of life has happened, some things have changed, a few things have changed a lot, and many things have remained the same. How have you been? You look fantastic!

I took a rather long sabbatical, but I’ve been drawn back to writing about my food adventures for you all here. You’re very welcome to get comfy, make yourself a nice cup of tea – or whatever you fancy, and spend a while. I hope that you’ll find some interesting recipes to try, and you’ll let me know when you do.

In the spirit of New Years and new beginnings, I’ve decided to participate in Veganuary this year. I want to get back to a much more plant-focused diet for both health and environmental reasons. I need a bit of a reset, having relied on meat tray bakes for much of the pandemic, because it was easy. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

A tsble full of assorted fruits and vegetables

I’ve also decided that I’m going to blog about it here everyday, as a way to get back into the habit of blogging, and as a record of the things I cooked. Don’t worry, I have no intention of writing huge swathes of text each day; neither do I have time if I’m completely honest. I intend it to be a few short notes each day, more in the style of Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries. Of course, there will be recipes and foodie experiments throughout the month. After this month, I’ll settle into a much less frequent, but more regular posting schedule, so I won’t be clogging up your feeds all the time.

I’ll be starting slowly. I haven’t cooked much with milk and cream substitutes, so I’ll be drawing on expertise from around the internet. I’m also not going to start officially until Monday. We have so many leftovers from our Christmas and New Year’s celebrations (all within the current lockdown rules in the Netherlands, of course) that contain butter, or meat stock and so on. My attitudes to food waste have not changed, and my freezer is fit to burst already.

In the longer term, I have quite a few plans for a blog redesign. I’ll be going through all of the old recipes to retest, and maybe tweak them (I’ll make it clear if I do!). I’m working on this, but I thought it important not to let that get in the way of me beginning to publish new posts regularly.

So, here I am with my resolution to bring you all kinds of recipes, ideas to use your food waste, new and unusual ferments, as well as my updated take on some old favourites. Please let me know if there are any you’d like to see me tackle, or what you’d like to see from my blog. Feel free to share your favourite vegan recipes, and any tips that you might have for the month ahead. I’d really love to hear from you.

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Taking a Break

Well, it’s time for a bit of a reality check at Edible Things. I’m going to have to take a break. I’m finding juggling a full-time job that involves a lot of travel and late night/ early morning calls and writing up all the lovely edible things a bit too much to juggle. So I’m taking a bit of a break.

I hope that it isn’t forever, but I can’t say when my schedule will be any clearer. But I would like to thank you all, near and far, for reading my little blog. I have met some amazing people, joined in some really fun challenges, and grown as a cook and a writer. It has been a fantastic trip so far.

I hope that sometime in the not-too distant future I can take up the mantle again. After all, when you’re as obsessed with finding, farming, feasting and fermenting as I am there are always a million and one new things to cook, discover and taste.

Until then, as the great Douglas Adams once attributed to a dolphin, so long, and thanks for all the fish…

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WNWNW: The Imperiousness of the Imperial, or How Weights and Volumes Encourage Food Waste

Gluten Free Yoghurt Baked Cheesecake

How Do You Get Your Colleagues to Eat Food Waste? Make it Look Like Cake!

(c R. Devit 2014) 

I know that last week, I promised you a recipe, as penance for my confession that I had binned. And to some extent, you will get a guideline to produce a dish but it’s not going to be a traditional recipe. This is something that I’ve been thinking about quite a lot. I often forget to measure amounts when I cook. It took real discipline to get into the habit when I started to publish recipes here. A formula for cookery is a good place to start if you are new to a particular cuisine, technique, or even to the kitchen. But, I find that sticking rigidly to recipes can be limiting when you want to try something new, and especially when using up the contents of your fridge.

Since I decided to launch WNWNW (AKA Waste Not Want Not Wednesday), I have also been trying to reconcile the fact that bunging a bit of this and that into something doesn’t really lend itself to recipe writing in its most common form, but is the best way to use up what you have. In a very timely way, Annie, at Kitchen Counter Culture, posted about how recipes are the antithesis of food waste, since they require exact amounts. She wants to empower people to approach cookery in a freer way. I think this is what cookery really is all about. Let joy (and cooking) be unconfined!

I have always been a visual cook – I start with a picture in my head, and the closer I can get to the picture, the better it works out. Then I rely on taste, and usually don’t measure anything. Cooking with the senses, rather than being bound by weights and measures. I have the confidence to do this, partly because I know what stuff goes together, but mostly through experience. The Big Guy too has learned that mushrooms, bacon, tomato, anchovies and capers should not all  appear in the same pasta sauce, but not before we had to munch our way through his salty, tangy, tomato sour creation (of course, we weren’t going to throw it away!). I hope that this series will encourage people to just try stuff. I learned that dill and mandarin are the perfect foil quite by accident, and I’m sure many of us have similarly brilliant discoveries through a make-do-and-mend way with recipes, and a suck-it-and-see attitude to trying new combinations.

So, for WNWNW, there will be no recipes with amounts and measures. Instead, I’d like to present something a lot more freehand, into which I have bunged a bit of this and a bit of that. A “freecipe”, if you will, that liberates us to chuck stuff in, and gives us permission to omit ingredients that we don’t like, or have. I’ll give a few alternative ingredients, and if you try it or similar, please also feel free to let me know what you used or substituted as well. After all, the best way to use up what you have it to use a basic technique, and ad lib a bit. Or a lot. Depending on what you find in the back of your fridge.

This week; an easy freecipe, made from a mountain of yoghurt from work that was past its sell by date, I am happy to chance it, but my more cautious colleagues would probably have thrown it out. I got around this by making it look like something else entirely. And a bonus is that this recipe is gluten-free. The only thing that I had to buy was the rice flour, but you can just as well use plain. And you can top it with any thing you like, or not at all.

Freecipe: Baked Gluten Free Yoghurt Cheesecake

For the Base:

Some nuts (I used almost half a 250 g packet of almonds. pretty much any unsalted nut will be fine)

Some cold butter (about a quarter of a pat), cubed

Some rice flour (a little less in volume than the nuts, other flours if you prefer)

Couple of tbsp demerara sugar (or granulated white)

For the cheesecake:

Some yoghurt (I used most of a 500 ml tub of plain greek yoghurt. I expect that flavoured yoghurt will also work)

Some cream cheese (also most of a tub. Most recipes say to use much more, but the eggs will set it anyway)

Some eggs (I decided upon 3, but adjust to make a thick custardy texture, depending on how much cream cheese and how thick your yoghurt is)

Some Rice Flour (a couple of tbsp, also to add to the consistency, but not so much that it tastes of flour. Again, the choice of flour is yours)

Some sugar (depending what additions you are using and if they are sweet, taste the mix)

Other additions: citrus zest (I always have some in the freezer), citrus juice, cocoa powder (cut back on the flour), dried fruit, fresh berries, chocolate chips, rum soaked raisins, cold espresso, earl grey tea, flavours you like.

Toppings to choose from: frozen berries, chocolate curls, fresh fruit, coffee beans, candied citrus, candied flowers, whatever you fancy

Method: 

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a springform cake tin with baking paper (or use a loose bottomed one, but also line the outside with tin foil to prevent leaks)

Whizz up the nuts in a food processor, until they are as fine as you like them.

Rub the rice flour and the butter in, until you have a rough breadcrumb texture. Add a little more butter or rice flour until you get it right. Stir in the nuts and the sugar.

Pour the base into the tin, and press with the back of a spoon to compact it and to cover all of the tin. Go up the sides, if you like.

Bake the base for about 15 minutes, or until it is a golden brown colour. Exact times will depend on the nuts you use. Set aside to cool.

To make the cheesecake mix together the yoghurt, cream cheese, eggs, rice flour and sugar. Beat to a smooth batter, about the consistency of thick custard. Add any of the flavourings and mix well.

Pour the cheesecake onto the base and put into the oven for 35-40 mins, or until there is still a slight wobble to the cheesecake. Allow to cool.

Top it with anything you like. Or leave it plain!

 

 

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Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays: Bless Me Bloggers, For I Have Binned!

Kitchen Waste Compost

Gardener’s Delight

It’s confession time. I am a bit obsessed with food waste. I like to think that I am a low waste kind of girl, and can usually find some way of using up leftovers. I like to see leftovers as ingredients for another meal. I love thinking up and reading about ways to use up veg peel (in a nice stock), or butter papers (I use them to grease pans or as cartouches), or stalks from the broccoli (a lovely pesto). Kitchen scraps that are not suitable for stock feed two hungry guinea pigs, or become compost sooner or later. Gardeners, much like the Wombles, make good use of the things they find, and I like to extend this ethos to my kitchen.

However, despite having worked in reduction programmes for many years (in both carbon dioxide and food waste), and proselytising that you cannot manage what you don’t measure, I have been a little reluctant to actually measure my own waste, and have fallen into the trap of believing myself to be much more virtuous than I actually am. It’s a common problem, so I know I am not alone, but now it is come clean about my own waste.

Guinea Pigs help reduce food waste

Waste Disposal Units

Inspired by a free online course about the global food system, I am keeping a food waste diary. This has reignited my passion for sharing, So, I’m firing up the blog again, and am sharing this with you all, in a new initiative: Waste Not Want Not Wednesday. Welcome to the very first post in this series. I hope to post something most Wednesdays.

I hope that this will make me even better at reducing my food waste, and that we can share great tips for using up every last scrap. I will certainly be coming up with some novel recipes, and I would love to join up with some of the really active communities that aim to reduce food waste. One of my favourites is the No Food Waste Challenge, run by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. I have reached out to Elizabeth before, and she was very helpful, so I hope to rejoin in with the round-up. I will also be doing some confessionals over on Facebook and sharing tips on Twitter, using the hashtag #FoodWasteWeds. I hope that you will join in and comment along.

A clean and ordered fridge

Cleanliness is Next to Waste-freeness

To start my food waste diary, I decided that I had to start listing all of the things in my fridge, so that I know what I have to use ASAP. Most professional kitchens and many domestic ones draw up meal plans with military precision as a way of reducing waste. I am a bit reluctant, as I am a fickle foodie, and what I decide upon one day, I may not fancy when the time comes to cook it. Instead, I have listed all of the contents in an app called Google Keep, which the Big Guy and I have been using as a virtual shopping list for ages. Now I always have access to what’s in my fridge, so I can always think up a recipe using what I have. It will probably also save me money too!

And while I am in a confessional frame of mind, I thought I should go for full disclosure. In preparation for the food waste diary, I had a really good clean out of the fridge, and really rooted out the things that are lurking in jars or the things that each person in the household had assumed the other had frozen long ago. So, I confess, here are the things that were lurking that were really a long way past their best.

  • One portion puy lentil salad
  • 3 Bloody Mary tomatoes
  • 1/2 jar black olives
  • Some crumble mix
  • 2 tbsp wild garlic pesto
  • Some japonica jam
  • 1 jar sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • Failed pectin experiment
  • Little bit of bolognese sauce
  • Small amount of yoghurt

As a penance, I will come up with a great food waste recipe for you next week.

So come on, make me feel better. What of your food was gone over but not forgotten this week?

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Rollende in the Deep

Rabarcello: A Rollende Keukens Staple

Rollende Keukens has Rolled Back Around!

It’s the Ascension day long weekend, and the Rollende Keukens has been in full effect. Even bigger than last year, and the weather has been fantastic, meaning that the Mister Kitchens guys have actually been posting that the grounds are full, and asking people to consider going to a different park to enjoy the sunshine. Of course, I got in early, and I got in fast, so I have a lot of photos and food to share with you all.

Butch and Dutch by Mister Kitchens

Nose to Tail at the Butch and Dutch

It’s only fair to start with The Mister Kitchen Crew, without whom none of this would be possible. The Rollende Keukens, and the Rabarcello are their brain children. They always have a tasting menu, and there is always plenty of rhubarb spirit on display. This year, they also offered excellent spit roasts to take away too.  I think this is a great strategy, as it means that people can choose to graze, or have the usual sit down three course menu.

Wall of Duck Face at Rollende Keukens

Duck: A Definite Trend This Year

This year there seemed to be a lot of stalls serving duck, some were duck devotees, and sold nothing else; and some had duck as a highlight. Sadly, none of it seemed to be organic, and none was declared free range, or I would have been tucking in.

Brandt & Levie Blood Hot dog

This Black Dog is Really Fun

Luckily, there were plenty of stalls that offered foods for the welfare-fussy eater, including many vegetarian vegan, and organic meat options, including this excellent hot dog from Brandt and Levie, made with blood sausage, and pancetta, served with a relish of mustard and apple compote.

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There was also a couple of stalls doing game. This one, called Game from the Wild, is right up my street, and the merguez was succulent, well-spiced and tasty. I’d eat this again. My friend from the Morning Claret had a different experience with the Wild Boar kebab, so I’d stick with the sausage if I were you!

Steamed Dim Sum from Dim Sum Now

What Do We Want? When Do We Want It?

We arrived on the first visit really hungry, and these dim sum nicely took the edge off, so that we had the chance to go around and scout out the next tasty treat. I didn’t get too much sauce with these, which was a relief, because it was pretty strong stuff.

Asparagus Cream, Egg and Farmer's Cheese in Ciabatta

White Knight

Among many expats that I know, there is a bit of a gentle joke about how much the Dutch like white food. White asparagus, chopped boiled egg, lightly coloured ham and bechamel is a delicacy here. This original take on the dish from the Gastrovan has made me suddenly look at white food in a different light. The asparagus was pickled in something boozy, and the asparagus cream was definitely my try-at-home inspiration of this year’s festival.

Harissa shelfish, and oysters

If Music Be the Food of Love, This One Really Sang to Me!

There were a lot of oyster bars this year, one of which had a wide variety of oysters to pick and choose from. We lined up here, and while the Big Guy was queuing, I went to the sister stand, Zee en Zuil, because I’d spied razor clams, which I can never resist. They come barbecued with a medley of shellfish, cooked in a white wine, garlic parsley and rose harissa broth. It is the shellfish future.

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As always, the attention to detail on the stands was incredible. I particularly liked the herb table from bloempie, who I reviewed in 2012. I almost wish that I could justify building one of these myself.

Omelegg Stall at Rollende Keukens

This stall Was Calling My Name

Every stall holder that I talked to was really personable, and the sun was shining. All around people were having a great time. Some stalls spoke louder to me than others, however!

One of the most popular stalls, and also one of the most novel, was the Microbar, who were serving insects. Meal worm spring rolls, and cricket lollipops were on the menu. Given that all of the futurists are claiming that insects will be an important global food source in a world with 12 Bn inhabitants, we all need to get a bit more used to the thought of eating insects. With that in mind, I was determined to give it a go. I am not a big fan of slimy foods, like okra, so I decided that the meal worms were a step too far. The cricket was crunchy, and mostly tasted of the chilli and lemon zest caramel that they had been coated in, so that was much more to my taste. A nice little finish to yet another tasty weekend.

Rollende Keukens left us as full as the Westergasterrien has been all weekend, but that isn’t because of the weather!

Rollende Keukens is held at the Westergasterrein, Amsterdam every Hemelvaart Public Holiday weekend. Maybe I’ll see you there next year?

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A Fine Farewell, or Chocolate Cake for Many Celebrations

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Don’t worry, today’s post is not one in the gourmet camping series! Although it is probably possible, cooking a light and airy cake over a barbecue is well beyond my ken!

I made this cake for a leaving party for a friend from work. Knowing that I would be away at Easter, I have kept this post for now to share. It was a fitting farewell cake, but you can easily dress this with buttercream and mini eggs to make a lovely cake for Easter, or any springtide celebration.

This cake also made the most of some extra buttermilk I had in the fridge, after making pancakes. I don’t use buttermilk much, so it would have gone to waste, but actually, this makes for a lovely moist cake, but that isn’t too sweet. Despite the amount of desserts and custards I have posted on ediblethings, I don’t have a sweet tooth. I prefer fruity desserts over chocolate ones, but there are times when only a chocolate cake will do. And if you are like me, then this is the chocolate cake for you.

I am also not the biggest fan of buttercream, so I used whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles to decorate the cake. In the Netherlands, they have chocolate sprinkles for breakfast, or lunch on bread,  but they are just as good on a cake.

If you wanted to indulge a bit more, you could make a chocolate ganache, adorn the cake with jelly orange and lemon slices (the kind that always appear at Christmas), or even make your own chocolate truffles, and chocolate shavings to go over the ganache.

If you prefer fruit, make the ganache, or a chocolate buttercream and then cover the cake in raspberries or cherries. It’s your celebration, after all!

However you choose to decorate it, this is the perfect celebration cake. And what better way to celebrate anything at springtime than with chocolate? So, I am sending a very Happy Easter, and all other spring and rebirth festivals to you all!

Recipe: Chocolate Celebration Cake

This recipe is enough for two cakes to use as a sandwich. Of course, you can halve the recipe if you only want one tier, but that isn’t too celebratory, is it now?

Ingredients

For the cakes:
250 g butter
400 g plain flour
100 g cocoa
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
400 g raw sugar or 420 g caster sugar
450 ml buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract

To make the sandwich:
2 tbsp of fruit preserve – I used pink grapefruit curd, but a jam would work as well
250 ml double cream, whipped until stiff
Chocolate sprinkles to cover

Method

Grease two 20 cm cake tins. For some reason, my two allegedly 20 cm cake tins are 19 and 21 cm respectively, which goes to show you that you should buy your cake tins as pairs from the same place, but never mind. Line the bottom with greaseproof paper. If you only have shallow tins, line the sides, and allow the paper to extend a fair bit over the tin. These cakes rise quite a lot.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Gently melt the butter and set aside to cool.

The only time you will hear me extolling the virtues of sifting anything is when cocoa is involved. Obviously, this is one of those times. While you are at it, bung the flour and bicarb through the seive too. Make sure they ennd up in your largest mixing bowl.

Add the sugar to the mixing bowl and stir thoroughly. Make a small well in the floury stuff in the bowl.

Combine the melted butter, buttermilk, beaten egg, and the vanilla in a measuring jug. Pour this into the well you just made, and whisk in with an electric hand whisk, until the batter is creamy and smooth.

Divide the batter between the two cake tins and put them in the oven for 45 mins, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. You may need to swap the two cakes on their respective shelves with about 10 minutes cooking time left, to ensure even cooking.

Remove from the oven and leave aside in the tins until it won’t completely burn you when you handle it. Remove the cakes from the tins and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cold, place one cake flat side up on a serving plate, and spread over the preserve evenly. Cover this with a third of the cream, the sandwich the two cakes together, flat side to flat side.

Cover the top of the cake with the remaining cream, and then sprinkle over the sprinkles.

Best served to celebrate – even the fact that it is Saturday.

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