Teriyaki salmon

… and my 500th post on Knit Your Own Yoghurt, just as an aside there!

I had a bit of jasmine rice left over from the Black Pepper Tofu the other day. I also had a bit of coconut milk powder to use up. I mixed the powder with some boiling water, poured it over the rice, and heated the lot up in the microwave.

I also used up the teriyaki sauce, cooking a piece of salmon in it. Some steamed broccoli on the side and I had a tasty and almost healthy meal.

20140727_210234

That’s three things checked off the list now, and a long way still to go!

Storecupboard list of shame

Project Storecupboard is underway.  I thought I would ‘fess up and reveal the contents of my cupboard.  Hopefully making this public will help keep me on track!  I’ll update this as I use stuff up.

Dried beans/pulses

  • Split peas
  • Black eyed beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans
  • Mung beans
  • Red lentils
  • Aduki beans
  • Black beans

Tinned food

  • Black eyed beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Sweetcorn
  • Coconut cream
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Mackerel

Rice/pasta

  • Sushi rice
  • Arborio
  • Brown basmati
  • Sticky rice
  • Soba noodles
  • Rice noodles
  • Jasmine rice

Nuts/seeds

  • Cashew nuts
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Milled flaxseed

Miscellaneous dried goods

  • Rye flakes
  • Oats
  • Brown couscous
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Corn chips
  • Coconut milk powder

Flour

  • Spelt flour
  • Rice flour
  • White flour
  • Strong white flour
  • Wholemeal flour

Sugar

  • Icing sugar
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Demerara sugar
  • Golden syrup

Miscellaneous baking

  • Cornflour
  • Semolina
  • Condensed milk
  • Ground almonds
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Wafers
  • Dessicated coconut

Condiments

Too many to list and most are very useful, but I want to get rid of:

  • Sweet soy sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • HP sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Coconut sambol

It really does feel quite shameful seeing it all written out like this.  But hopefully useful – does anyone want to join in?

Project Storecupboard

I had my friend Steph around for dinner recently. We have realised we’ve known each other for almost twenty years now! Old friends can tell you the truth, and when I opened the cupboard to get some sweet chilli sauce out (we were eating The Londonder’s egg fried “rice”) she said “Sarah! You have way too much food!”.

She’s right. This week fellow blogger Foodstinct has been doing a “shop free week” and tweeting the tasty-looking results. I’d eaten almost everything fresh before going away, but inspired by his example I decided to have another crack at working my way through my excess storecupboard ingredients.

I’m moving home soon, so this will mean I have less to pack and hopefully I can save some money in the process. My first meal, the day I got back from holiday, was this:

20140723_195510

Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu. I’d had some tofu sitting in the fridge for a while. There were a few spring onions in the bottom of the fridge, and I had just enough shallots too. I had a bottle of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) but there’s still plenty left – any ideas? And I served it with some jasmine rice – not quite using it up, but stay tuned for my next post and you’ll see what I did with the rest.

A little magical corner of England

I took a little holiday over the weekend. Long-time readers will know of my fondness for Northumberland, where I take part in archaeological digs at Vindolanda. This time I wasn’t there to dig but to visit my friend Erin, who is up there for a month excavating the Roman fort. I’m incredibly jealous.

On Sunday we explored an area with more recent history than the Roman occupation of Britain. Further along Hadrian’s Wall on the border between Northumberland and Cumbria we came across Gilsland Spa, a relic of a time when international travel was inaccessible to most people, but doctors recommended their patients “take the waters” at various spa towns such as Cheltenham and Bath.

We thought we might be able to get a cream tea in the Gilsland Spa Hotel, but a quick walk through its vast and maze-like interior confirmed it has gone straight through “faded grandeur” and into “shabby and dated”.

Paths lead down from the hotel, inviting the curious visitor to explore.

20140720_135513

It seems the area also has some tiny inhabitants.

20140720_135246

If only I could shrink myself like Alice and fit through that door!

The path leads down to the river. Crossing the river will bring you to the Popping Stone, where we met a family out for a picnic. The stone is a traditional spot for marriage proposals, and it was there that Sir Walter Scott proposed to his wife. The couple we met had become engaged at the Stone, and their two children conceived following repeat visits. Maybe it holds a bit of romantic magic?

20140720_143131

A paddle to cure aching feet on a hot day.

Further wandering and a keen sense of smell led us to the spa’s sulphur spring, where I “took the waters” and was instantly cured.

20140720_151925

The path was lined with wild garlic, truly a feast for the senses!

We read that in Victorian times the river bank was lined with food and drink kiosks. The empty shell of a small building remained but it was difficult to imagine how this promenade would have looked a hundred-odd years ago.

Further along the path another curious shape caught my eye.

20140720_153809

Can you see it?

20140720_153727

A little closer…

20140720_153118

A crumbling Victorian swimming pool, in the middle of the forest.

What a magical place indeed! It makes me wonder what other secrets this semi-ancient woodland might possess. Perhaps I’ll discover them on my next visit North…

On running

This is something I’ve not mentioned on this blog before. Let me start at the beginning. I’ve always had problems with my joints – Achilles tendinitis, sore hips, sore knees, and during my student years especially, sore fingers and thumbs. Eventually a name was given to this: hypermobility. My joints move too much due to super-stretchy tendons and ligaments, leading to pain in those tissues and in the surrounding muscle. One slight problem can have a flow-on effect and end up throwing my whole body out of whack.

Over the years I’ve learned self-management – for example, I never knew when I started dancing that it would be really helpful, so I ended up doing it for nearly a decade and becoming a dance teacher.

Two and a half years ago I found myself doing a lot of walking for work, and the old problems came back again. I got to a point where walking anywhere, even the mile down the road to work, was very painful. I got referred to physio and started doing the prescribed exercises religiously. I learned that physio can’t fix you but it can give you the tools you need to fix yourself.

So about six months after my injury I got peer pressured into joining my work running group. My physio said “you can run if you want to”. I’d always thought it was a prohibited activity for people with my propensity towards joint pain. But it turned out that with the right training I could do it. It was also 2012, that wonderful year of celebration and inspiration here in London and I caught the bug. I ran my first 5k in September 2012 in 37:30. A year later I ran the same 5k in 28:18 and won the “most improved” prize.

On top of my work running group I joined the GoodGym and the Lazy Girl Running 10k group. After completing the group I ran my first 10k, the London 10,000, in under an hour. I had a ball.

london 10,000

Yesterday I ran my first half marathon, Run Hackney. It was tough. It took me 2:22:37 to run, but it was a hard slog. The last three miles were particularly hellish, with hills, no shade, and hairpin bends. I had no adrenaline buzz, and no runner’s high after it finished, I was just tired. And hot. Today I found out I wasn’t the only one to think so, and that my time was perfectly respectable for a first half. I’m already planning the next one… I don’t know where it will be yet, but it won’t be in summer!

run hackney

Next week I’m winding down with a 5k on Hampstead Heath – the Race for Life to be precise. I have very personal reasons for doing this race, which raises money for Cancer Research. It’s my only charity run this year. If you’d like to donate, the link is here: https://www.justgiving.com/sarahmoore60/

And if you didn’t think you could, have a go at running. Two years ago I thought I couldn’t run 5k and now I’ve run 21. If I can do it, I think pretty much anyone can!

Cooking with yoghurt*

Last week I took part in a cooking event at L’atelier des Chefs organised by Onken, the yoghurt company. Given that yoghurt is in my blog name and I eat it every day on my granola, I don’t think I write about it nearly enough. At least twice I’ve prepared a post on how to actually “knit” (make) your own yoghurt, but the pictures turned out terribly and I abandoned the attempt. I promise to give it another go.

At any rate Onken, together with Celebrity MasterChef winner Lisa Faulkner and nutritionist and journalist Angela Dowden, have some great suggestions for how to use their yoghurt. Lisa showed us how to make three different recipes – banana bran muffins, French onion dip, and Chicken Tikka kebabs.

20140430_192702

The banana muffins and French onion dip both took me right back to my childhood. Mum used to put her bran muffins in our lunchboxes, usually with apple in them but she would never tell us if they did – so we had to eat them to find out! And onion dip is a New Zealand staple, although there it is made with packet soup mix. Lisa glammed it up by using caramelised onions – yum! Lisa said we must have had very similar upbringings, which makes me want to check out the book she wrote, inspired by her mother’s cooking.

The recipes aren’t up on their website yet so I’ve typed up the banana muffin and dip recipes below.

Banana muffins

Makes 6 large muffins (actually I think this makes 12 – we had mixture left over)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients
– 1 pot of Onken Natural Yoghurt
– 100g Bakers bran
– 260g wholewheat flour
– 4 teaspoons baking powder
– 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
– pinch of salt
– 2 eggs, beaten
– 100g soft brown sugar
– 304 tablespoons vegetable oil
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 2/3 ripe bananas mashed

Method
1. Preheat oven to 200 C.
2. Mix together all of the dry ingredients except for the sugar.
3. Add yoghurt, eggs, sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla extract, then add the banana and mix together, taking care not to over-mix.
4. Pour into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes at 200 C. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

20140430_191325
I love the finishing touch of a slice of banana on top, sprinkled with a bit of demerara sugar. I put one pointy side up so I knew which muffins were mine!

20140430_194025

20140430_201823
Just like Mum’s! I sent this picture to her and she stuck it on the fridge.

French Onion dip

Serves: 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
– 1/2 pot Onken Fat Free Natural Yoghurt
– 1/2 tbsp olive oil
– 25g unsalted butter
– 2-3 large onions, peeled and finely sliced
– 1 clove garlic
– 1 tsp celery salt
– Black pepper
– 2 sprigs of thyme
– 150g cream cheese

Method
1. In a large heavy based saucepan heat the oil and butter together over a medium heat.
2. Add the onions and cook for around 20 minutes until caramelised, keep stirring so they don’t stick.
3. Add garlic, celery salt, a good grind of pepper, the Worcestershire sauce and thyme sprigs.
4. Meanwhile mix together the yoghurt and cream cheese in a bowl until smooth.
5. When the onions are browned and cooked, discard the thyme sprigs and mix the onions into the yoghurt.
6. Adjust seasoning and serve with crackers or crisps (I highly recommend crudités)

20140430_190621

I took the leftovers of both the muffins and dip to work, where they went down very well.

Onken recipe cards

* how do you spell it? I’ve always spelled it yoghurt, Onken spell it yogurt. According to this article, “yoghurt” is used in NZ where I grew up, but in the UK “yoghurt” and “yogurt” are used interchangeably.

How to make supermarket herb pots last forever

Lean in, I’m about to tell you something you didn’t know. Or if you did, you can feel really smug about it. Either way, let me know in the comments below.

Do you ever buy those herb pots from the supermarket, use some of the herbs, and have the rest flop and die within days?

Untitled

Say you’re making a caprese salad. This trick works particularly well with basil, but I’ll let you know some tips for other herbs further down.

Your first instinct is to pull off all of the biggest leaves, right? Then you can wait for the smaller ones to grow larger.

WRONG!

Untitled

See the way the leaves are arranged here? There are pairs of leaves going up the stem. The two biggest leaves are near the bottom. You can also see some tiny leaves growing near the base of the big leaves. Then there is a cluster of smaller leaves further up the stem.

You are going to pinch off that cluster of leaves near the top.

Untitled

If you want, you can go ahead and pull off those two larger leaves now. The stem suddenly looks a bit bare, but pinching out the tips gives the tiny leaves light, space and energy to grow. With basil, water it generously every few days and then wait until it is completely dry before watering it again. Put it in a sunny spot and it can last a good couple of months. Come back in June and tell me how you got on.

Other herbs like parsley, thyme, oregano: pick, pick, pick. Parsley, you can pick the lot right down near the bottom of the stems, and wait for it to come away again. It’s best to plant these herbs out in a window box if you have one. Parsley can last a long time if you do this and keep picking. Mint, I would again grow it in your window boxes (give it plenty of water though) or just buy it in bunches rather than pots and keep it in a jar of water on a ledge or table. Rosemary and sage, buy it from the supermarket as it’s cheaper than the garden centre (London garden centres at least – and wait until they’re on offer at the supermarket), and plant it out in a well-drained spot.

But for now, just enjoy your caprese salad.

Untitled

Tomatoes, mozarella, plenty of basil, a generous amount of salt, and a few good glugs of olive oil.

Three-cornered leek pesto

I received a tip-off last a couple of weeks ago about a patch of wild garlic near my office. So one day I grabbed a colleague and we went for a “walking meeting”. We’re right into that sort of thing where I work. It was a good chance to catch up about his current workload, and the side benefit was picking up some free food on the way.

Untitled

When we got there, we discovered it wasn’t actually wild garlic but three-cornered leek. Three-cornered leek is a type of wild onion, which grows in abundance from early to late spring here in North London. I grabbed armloads of the stuff, while a bemused resident looked on from his balcony three floors above.

Untitled

Running group that evening gave me a great excuse to carbo-load on my return, so I whipped up some pesto and cooked some tagliatelle.

I used a stick blender to whizz up a few handfuls of the (washed) onions with a generous amount of olive oil, some pine nuts, and plenty of Parmesan cheese. I stirred the cooked pasta into a pan of wilted onions, added a spoonful of pesto, and stirred in a handful of peas.

I finished it with a little lemon zest.

016

Easter-time birthday picnic

My young friend Baby Loves Cake, daughter of Lady Loves Cake turns one over Easter weekend. We celebrated her birthday today, with a lovely picnic in Regent’s Park.

Untitled

Untitled

R and I got their early to set up. Waitrose kindly supplied the decor – there are a lot of Easter-themed decorations and party gear at the moment, all very gorgeous and perfect for a little one’s Easter birthday.

Untitled

What a glorious day it was.

Untitled

The birthday girl ate far too many raspberries.

Untitled

And the guests ate far too many cupcakes. These are strawberry cheesecake cupcakes, from the Hummingbird cookbook. Lady Loves Cake and I got together to make them yesterday – though I must admit she did most of the work! I really liked them. With the cream cheese icing they weren’t over-sweet.

Untitled

The birthday girl and her lovely mum.

Compost!

I got back from New Zealand to find that Spring had arrived in the UK. Time to start working on my soil.

Untitled

I might be moving at some point in the next few months (the above photo was taken on the way to a viewing), and a vegetable plot feels like a big commitment right now. So this year I’m focusing on the salad veg – quick-growing, money-saving and the salad mixes I make are better than any you can get in the supermarket.

I started digging my plot a couple of weekends ago. Last year I tried the “no-dig” method, covered my plot with cardboard over the winter and covered the cardboard with compost come spring. This worked quite well, but since spring was so late there was a bit more time for the cardboard to break down and the worms to mix everything together. This year spring is here early. I decided to dig again.

I’ve been a bit physically run down lately, so the digging led to a bad back. Two weeks and £90 spent on massages later, the back is better and I’m digging again. This time I got around to getting the compost out of my compost bin.

I have one of those Dalek compost bins that sits at one end of my plot, next to the mint and comfrey patch.

040

This is a picture from the first growing season showing the Dalek in situ – the paths are much better than that now!

I don’t turn my compost – this is not really by choice, but more because the compost aerator I bought doesn’t actually fit in the bin. So I layer it up instead. Mostly it is fed with the contents of my bokashi bin, layered up with plenty of corrugated cardboard (I have a steady supply, thanks to my internet shopping habit) and nettles weeded from neighbouring plots.

In case you haven’t heard of a bokashi bin, it is a bin for food waste that you keep in the kitchen. You can put any type of food waste in, cooked or uncooked, including meat. I chose this because I wanted to make it as easy as possible for my flatmates. You need to sprinkle a little special bokashi bran over the food waste, about a handful or so a day, and also keep air out as much as possible. The bran is treated with bacteria, which help to “pickle” the vegetable waste. When the bin is full you leave it for two weeks, and then dig it in or put it in the compost bin, whereupon it breaks down very quickly.

The compost bin has a hatch in the front but the easiest way to get the compost out is to lift the whole thing off the base. There were three distinct layers in the bin:

1. The uncomposted bokashi layer. This bokashi has only been in the bin for two weeks.

Untitled

But look at all the worms getting to work! There’s an argument that worms aren’t necessarily a good thing, as they won’t appear in the compost bin running hot enough, but I produce compostable waste as such a slow rate that a hot bin is not the best way for me to go.

Untitled

2. A very fibrous middle layer.

Untitled

3. And finally, the crumbly dark stuff beneath. I got two wheelbarrows full. I’m really quite proud of my efforts! Now to wait for some things to grow…

For more on compost, I can highly recommend my friend Barbara’s site, Clever Composting. Check it out! My composting setup also includes a wormery – I’ll write about that at some future date.