How the way I cooked has changed – plus a few recipe ideas

Alice – production and session leader for our online sessions, and East London outreach worker – shares how her cooking has changed in lockdown…

In the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about how being in lockdown has changed the way I cook. Many things have been challenging in the last 12 weeks and cooking has definitely been one of those things. However we have come out the other side with a different approach to shopping for food and cooking that has some very positive sides to it.

First of all we have been wasting way less. We were already very aware of the environmental impact of food waste and we were doing our best not to throw food away. Still, we had the days when, out of laziness, we would eat out or order in instead of eating the leftover pasta in the fridge. Not anymore! Before we braved the outdoors we would finish every last scrap of food in the house.

Out of necessity (couldn’t find what I wanted or couldn’t face a trip to the supermarket) I made do with what I had in the fridge or the pantry. I made pastry with an old Yorkshire pudding mix I found at the back of a cupboard, I made hummus with vinegar instead of lemon (not the best but still ate it), I made stir-fry with leeks instead of spring onions and I made coleslaw with grated apples and turnips (a revelation, especially the turnip).

I come from an Italian family who knows that when it comes to food, working within limitations can be inspiring. My uncle would always say that the sign of a good cook is a half empty fridge. We are so used to getting our hands on whatever we want, whenever we want it and that is just not sustainable. And as necessity is the mother of invention…

I thought I’d give you a couple of my favourite lockdown recipes that celebrate veg like we love to do at Kids Kitchen (I’m about to do one for lunch actually…):

“Everything but the kitchen sink” pasta

  • Get your little one to grate any veg you have in the fridge (carrots, courgette, turnip, beetroot. Even if they are a bit past their prime), put in a pan with some chopped onions (or spring onions, or leek, garlic, any from the scallion family) and some oil (olive or other, I’m quite a fan of rapeseed) and let the veg soften.
  • Add some chopped tomato (or fresh, or tomato paste loosened with a bit of water or stock).
  • Boil some pasta and add the sauce.

“All the veg” stir-fry

  • Grate any hard veg (as above) and chop any green leaves (kale, cabbage, spinach).
  • Heat some oil in a pan and add garlic, ginger (I had no fresh ginger the other day and added ground, it worked…) and spring onions (or leeks, or onions) and chilli if you like some heat and let it infuse the oil.
  • Add the veg and stir-fry.
  • Add some soy sauce and sesame oil if you have at the end.
  • Serve with rice or noodles.

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