Friday, 3 February 2012

Waste not want not...or "Why I love leftovers"

For a lot of people living and working in cities like London the day starts with a takeaway "designer" coffee and lunch could be sushi in a pretty plastic box with all the trimmings. My day often looked like that and more often than not I felt guilty for creating so much rubbish and not using up the perfectly good food we had in our fridge at home. Commuting almost 3 hours per day was my excuse but maybe I was just lazy. Fact is that life was not only an environmental nightmare, it was also costing me a fortune. Fastforward a couple of months and I am sitting here in Wales. Things have changed! These days, tea and coffee is drunk out of proper mugs at home and lunch is more often than not made out of leftovers. It is absolutely amazing what you can create out of those things lurking in the fridge or cupboard. Take today, for example... on the lunch menu is a Kirsten version of frittata... a sort of omelette or tortilla. There were some eggs that needed using up, an open packet of ham, a few mushrooms, half an onion... ta-da! Lunch is sorted! Yes, I have more time now but I wish I had had the inspiration then to make the (little) effort it takes to make my own lunches etc. Better late than never, I suppose.

Behind all this is more than just my "old" wastefulness. A report published last year by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) called "Global Food Losses and Food Waste" makes shocking reading. It found that "roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted", fruit and vegetables being amongst those food items most wasted. Now, if like me, you are trying to grow your own veg and fruit (I have only just started doing this last year), you know how much love and effort goes into growing food. Can you imagine then just taking all of it and throwing it away? No, thought not! So why do we do it with supermarket food? I guess somewhere along the line the relationship with that food has broken down and those packets of tomatoes or tubs of yoghurt are no longer close to our hearts. A lot of the waste appears to happen at source or in the supermarkets themselves but surely, we as individuals can play our role in reducing the waste - for the good of the planet and our wallets. So, let's get creative and see what "meals for free" we can create from the foods that would have ended up in the bin!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


I love the smell of fresh bread! It reminds me of spending time in my uncle's bakery as a child when I was allowed to choose from the different types of bread, rolls and cakes made that morning. He had decided to become a baker during the war when he saw people going hungry and he wanted to change that. What an admirable reason to choose a profession!

I have started baking bread for us and absolutely love it! Kneeding the dough is almost therapeutic and it is so satisfying to have a loaf of bread or a batch of rolls at the end of it. Yes, it can be time consuming but then I suppose lots of things worth doing are. Should you find yourself with a bit of spare time, I can highly recommend giving it a try. What I found immensely helpful was the book "Bread" by Daniel Stevens, River Cottage Handbook No. 3 - it explains every step very well and so far, the results have been brilliant...even if I say so myself :-)! I am in no way as talented a baker as my uncle was - far from it - but with the help of the instructions from the book, I have been able to make bread such as the batch of white spelt & oat rolls and white spelt bread I baked today. How satisfying!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Simple pleasures...

It's the last day of January and finally, winter seems to be arriving. It's cold outside but I am sitting here with a steaming mug of tea and a couple of lemon shortbreads I made earlier this morning. Bliss!

The pond I can see just outside the window appears quiet but I know that the frogs started arriving a couple of weeks ago for their annual rendezvous and are hiding somewhere under the surface, together with a family of newts we spotted the other day.

My attempt at making lemon shortbreads has actually been quite successful - maybe some of them are a tiny bit too brown but overall they taste lovely, light and lemony. I covered half of the biscuits with lemon icing and left the others plain. Obviously, I had to try both kinds... :-)

How lucky I am to be able to sit here, warm and comfortable, watch nature & enjoy homemade food! I feel very blessed indeed!