Cooking from Scratch

I’m supposed to have gained extra time from confinement although to be honest it doesn’t really feel like it! Arranging work seems more time consuming than working but hopefully from next week I’ll have more English classes up and running online and can focus on studying.

One of the challenges I’ve set myself has been to make more things from scratch. I stocked up in a wholesale health shop with dried beans, lentil, chickpeas, seeds, nuts, wholegrain pasta and quinoa. I had in my mind that beans took hours to cook and supervise but they’re actually pretty low maintenance! You can soak them overnight and just make sure you get them simmering away for an hour or two before you need to use them. A good plan could even be to choose which pulses or legumes you fancy making a few recipes that week and cook a big batch (or freeze portions). Even cheaper than buying them pre-cooked and also zero packaging if you bring your own containers to the shop.

I was missing the fancy granola we had on board from the US and looked up a few recipes for inspiration, my final concoction was:

Spiced Cacao Granola  

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup pecans/other nuts/seeds
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp honey/maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Add oats to a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and gently toast the oats, stirring for a couple of minutes. Add the seasonings and salt and stir until combined. Then add tahini, honey and vanilla and continue to stir for 5 minutes so it doesn’t burn. Lower the heat and continue toasting until you’re happy it’s fully toasted. It will get crispy as it cools. This is delicious sprinkled on smoothies or with yoghurt/milk. The ingredients are very flexible, see what you have in the cupboard and adjust to your taste.

I’ve tried making nut milks in the past and it’s a bit fiddly, especially if you’re lacking equipment. However oat milk in a 5 minute job! Use 1:4 ratio of oats to water (adjust if you want it creamier or thinner) and whizz it up in Nutribullet or blender. You don’t need to use a nut bag, I found a fine mesh sieve we had at the back of the cupboard and it works perfectly or any clean fabric could be used as a strainer. Add a bit of vanilla extract or honey/sugar if you fancy. It will separate a bit when you keep it in the fridge so give it a shake before use. It will last about 5 days in the fridge.

I have of course jumped on the sourdough bandwagon and so far so good! Again this takes about 5 days of feeding your starter but it’s a quick 5 minutes each time and then you’re ready to go. On the 5th and 6th day to test the starter I made crumpets (well one big crumpet in a frying pan as I don’t have moulds) with great success! It’s an easy way to make use of the starter when you have to start discarding half as you feed it.

 I scooped out few tbsp of starter into a bowl and added 1/2 tsp of bicarb, 1 tsp sugar and pinch of salt. It should rise up and be very bubbly. Melt butter in a small frying pan to make one big pancake or you can use circle moulds in a large frying pan. Gently cook until they are full of holes and setting on top, then flip! Cook for a few more minutes until golden brown on each side.

Next on the sourdough journey- focaccia! This time with fried onions, garlic, herbs and anchovies topping to very good reviews.  Let the dough rise in a fairly flat shape then poke dents all over. Drizzle over the topping and bake for about half an hour. Next time, more anchovies and maybe olives too!

I would have to do a whole separate post for the soups we’ve been making because it’s a great way to have flexible recipes depending on what you have in and what needs using up asap. Further ideas include black bean dahl, roasted red pepper humus and a big sourdough loaf to continue my cooking from scratch challenge. I hope I’ve given you a few ideas for yours!

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