Archives for category: Household Tips



Hubbub is a UK organisation using creative, participatory events to reduce domestic food waste.  Two of their projects are on my mind right now. #PumpkinRescue is all about giving Halloween pumpkins a culinary afterlife.  (I hope to take part in a Disco Soup event in Salford; check out events in your area.) #ExpressYourShelf asks people to prepare meals based on what they have on hand, and take “shelfies.”  Here’s what we got up to last year at this time.

Fun.  Meanwhile, the estimable Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is soon coming out with a new book and tv series on leftovers, “all about creating delicious meals from all those bits and bobs that are leftover from the last meal we cooked, ” says he.

Conversations about “leftovers” are everywhere these days, as concern mounts about food waste and its ecological impact, as well as the moral issue of throwing out edible food in light of local and global hunger– all pretty well summarised in the video posted above.  Food waste is a large and multifaceted problem, with domestic waste being one part of that; I like to think that by not wasting food individuals can save money and be empowered to discuss and act on systemic problems too.  Connecting different levels.

On the whole I’m pretty good at not wasting — except when life and work get busy and I lose focus on the shopping/cooking nexus– but that’s the point.  Not wasting in our world of excess and too-muchness requires a focus and becomes a task and priority in itself that needs to be made easier.

So we might have to do things differently. Read the rest of this entry »

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Well, maybe you feel a little longing when you look at photos of lots of your friends in a city where you used to live. You see their beautiful children, and the making an event of a day pressing apples, fruit that they’ve grown in orchards they’ve planted with love.  Everybody’s pitching in and working toge ther and it’s a productive food-preparation idyll there in suburban Oxford.


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DSCF5248 DSCF5236 Read the rest of this entry »

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Yesterday I made this delicious Moroccan tomato salad inspired by a recipe in Paula Wolfert’s The Food of Morocco.  It’s a great late summer/ early autumn dish, with tomatoes and grilled peppers and onions in a lemony (in fact preserved-lemony) vinaigrette, spiced with paprika and cumin.


But we didn’t finish it in one meal. Read the rest of this entry »

I love the anti-plastic-waste activists in my life. My friend Rina, who founded the brilliant SESI (Schools Ethical Supplies Initative) in Oxford, and Anne-Marie of the website Zero Waste Chef share a vision that we can eat better, fairer, and more healthfully when we eat what comes outside the world of pre-packaged (and over-packaged) plastic.  SESI is a great model for refill shops in that it responds to customer need and desire and keeps it simple and very conscious ethically.  Zero Waste Chef continually teaches us how we can cook and eat beautifully without packaged, processed foods. Yay them!

Wish I could buy more food around here from loose bins, bringing my own containers.

And this film was made by students taught no doubt with inspiration and love by my friend Zoe, video activist extraordinaire, at Film Oxford.

My friends inspire me, and I with this post I hope to inspire you too.   Hey– if you’re reading this and you know a bulk selling group or business, link to them in the comments! It would be fun to see different versions of this work 🙂  I’m pretty sure somewhere I saw a market stall in a food market that offered this service, can’t quite recall where…


These are Kimchi Latkes, a pan-fried potato cake made and served with that ever-moreish Korean fermented cabbage condiment. Here the latkes are served in traditional style with sour cream and apple sauce as well.

And these are Pumpkin Pakora, a delicious treat with Scottish peasemeal and scrummy vegetables, perhaps slightly-more deep fried than other “pan” cakes but not necessarily so.

I’m sure as many of you do, I make stuff like this fairly often.  At some point I conceptualised these kind of cakes/ fritters/ patties as a genre, as something I could fiddle around with not using recipes, using what was on hand so as to use-up and not waste and please everyone around.  There can be a tender-morsel/ hor d’oeuvres quality, or a sense of burger to them as well.

I’ve talked about how I believe a cultural and media focus on fancy food and recipes may be part of the problem in people not cooking, feeling they don’t know how or can’t.  We all learn in different ways.  I think for many of us, there might be empowerment in knowing that perfection doesn’t matter, that you can throw things together with certain principles rather than instructions and specifics.  Certainly a looser approach means less kitchen waste in that you don’t necessarily have to go out and buy ingredients, and you are afforded a creativity in using up what you do have on hand.  I’ve tried to demonstrate this with frittatas and minestrone and some other posts I never quite finish.

Lately I’ve read two great approaches to making veggie pan “cakes”, and I wanted to share them with readers.

The first was this excellent Anna Stockwell article about Maria Speck’s approach to “Veggie Patties.”  It’s truly worth bookmarking for every home cook and food educator, because it’s schematic but leaves loose for the pleasures of experimentation.

And just today the lovely Zero-Waste Chef posted something similar on her thoughts on Vegetable Fritters.  I find Anne-Marie’s use of Sourdough Starter in this way very interesting.

Needless to say, for fermenting enthusiasts, there’s loads of opportunity to throw in our sundry creations.

Whatever ingredients you choose to play with, I find thinking this way liberating and fun– including the salsas and hot sauces you could serve as enticing condiments.

A 24 May 2016 postscript: see this fantastic Guardian piece: Anna Jones’ Versatile Veggie Fritter Recipe.  I love her work.


Upcycle your sprouting potatoes by growing potatoes.  Maybe this is completely obvious to many of you, but doing it last year really drove home this possibility for me.  It was all small-scale — buckets and barrels and nothing too big, but it would be possible on verges and in any space, containers, or ground you might have, at whatever scale is called for.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Oranges: a fermented chipotle salsa; a sour pickle with fenugreek and mustard; a scrap vinegar beauty cure; and dried orange peels for many uses…

Read the rest of this entry »


Mission #pumpkinrescue: Thoughts on the comprehensive culinary flexibility of pumpkin, as well as links on juicing, sprouting, fermenting Harry Potter style and DIY skin treatments… Read the rest of this entry »

I want one or two! And I want EVERYONE to have one or two.  Cuter than any hay box, better insulated than any tea cosy.

Not sure I support the Clean Development Mechanism or Carbon Credits though…

Read this to learn why I’m skeptical. 

And have a look in the comments as well…  and tell me what YOU think…

…whether a fantastic idea, product and project has allowed itself to contribute to Greenwash and ultimately thus more emissions…

Well , a postscript the following day:  I wrote to Wonderbag and this was their very nice response:

“Thanks so much for the post and we are thrilled that you love Wonderbag! As you are probably aware, the Carbon Markets have collapsed so at this stage we are not selling carbon and the relationship with CDM is stagnant until further developments for the better in terms of global carbon policies. The wonderbags are in no way subsidized by Carbon Funding.”

OK, n ow I’m going to buy some!

Less is More

Here’s a household tip: If you have a dishwasher and use tablets, you can cut them in half so a box lasts twice as long. A friend described this long ago as “a green ritual.” It’s money saving, primarily, yet I also dislike using these chemical things– even the natural ones (ie biodegradable) come to us from a dysfunctional, polluting, wasteful industrial economy.

Some friends like dish washing, and I think I would too, the hot sudsy water, the pleasure on the hands, but just in my life there are so many dishes! all the time! never ending! And my husband the energy calculator reckons that if you do your washing up little by little, and if you use hot water, then dishwashers, if you have one, are more energy-efficient. I can only believe him. In our last house,with a solar hot water system, the hot was plumbed into the dishwasher. Before doing this, my mister had rung around to various dishwasher manufacturers to enquire why they all recommended installing the machines to the cold pipe, and heating the water in the machine, not the household system; no one could think of any reasons. So when we had solar hot water, we ran the dishwasher. Loved it. I believe the same appliance is still in that house, a decade later, working fine.

We don’t have solar now, but we still reckon the dishwasher is more efficient, and we do, for what it’s worth, buy our electricity from a renewable producer. Say what you will about the grid system, but this is the best choice we feel we could have made for the moment.

And here I am about every 6 weeks chopping up tabs in half– and then sometimes running cheapo vinegar through the appliance too. All is working fine, so wanted to share this handy household tip.

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