I took a little week out just lately, went to the country and totally switched off. No phone, no twitter. Not much of anything really. I had a real detox from the noise, tweets and mobile devices of modern living. It was bliss.
When I got back, handsman helpfully pointed out that perhaps my kitchen was in need of a detox too. I took a peak in the cupboards. Loving a culinary challenge, I took his feedback on board, and decided to have a #ShopFreeWeek.
The rules were simple:
- No food shopping.
- Cook/Eat at home.
- Do a little clearing out.
I’ll just get it out there: I had quite a lot more than I realised. Rose water expired in 2012. Persian rose flowers which I thought were still good, but weren’t. Three types of fruit syrup or reduction in the freezer. At least 1kg of flour and 2 separate sealed containers of icing sugar, both of which I had forgotten about.
And while I’m bearing all, I must admit to one cheating moment: I forgot I had a veg box delivery scheduled; and a secret weapon: the massive container of lettuce and rocket growing on my balcony.
But for the rest of the week, I stuck to the rules!
Here are some highlights.
It started with salad
Prep for later
I often do this, just get a whole lot of things prepped. Not knowing what they might be needed for. I roasted two heads of garlic and caramelised three red onions. I wasn’t sure what, but figured they’d come in handy.
With time to spare I decided to bake some bread. Two batches, one with kalamata olives, another with the caramalised onions.
Plenty of pasta
I’ve always got tinned tomatoes in the cupboard and dried pasta. So I mixed a bunch of tomatoes up into a super rich tomato sauce with plenty of smoked paprika and a touch of chilli. I had some on fettuccine, but kept some for later. Such sauces always come in handy.
There were always going to be a lot of beans
Veggie kitchen + using up dry goods can mean only one thing right? Plenty of beans. But they were put to good use.
This roast garlic hummus was sensational. Six cloves of garlic, roasted, then blended with chickpeas, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and tahnini.
Some brie, the garlic hummus, bread and artichoke salad were great picnic snacks, but I needed a lentil, bean and basmati salad to make it go a little further. Dressed with fresh chives (again from the balcony), dried chilli flakes, white vinegar, sesame and groundnut oils.
Waste not want not
And again, not wanting to waste anything. I saved half the basmati salad and made a lentil ragu with the rest of the smokey tomato sauce. It sure did me for lunch the next day.
Let them have cake
Perhaps most shocking, was I had all the ingredients for a delicious cake. Some orange and cardamom syrup was in the freezer, along with some plums I had stewed. Together with my regular dry stores, I had all the makings for a fab cake: Orange and Cardamom almond cake with Plum and Pistachio frosting.
What a week. The scariest thing is, I’ve hardly made a dent in the dry cupboard. Perhaps I should do this again!