Archives for posts with tag: Zero-Waste Chef


Lately I’ve been having fun with simple, quick, refreshing and naturally bubbly drinks. These “pops” or “sodas” are inspired by fruit and vegetable versions of  Kvass as a kind of fermented infusion, traditional to Eastern Europe and Russia, which uses rye bread as its most basic component. But the name has come to be inclusive of many delicious home-made soft-drinks. Read the rest of this entry »


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The Zero-Waste Chef

IMG_20150715_072741 First flower on my cucumbers

This past week, I was pretty excited when I spied the first flower on my cucumbers and a little bud behind it. Unfortunately, I haven’t noticed any bees.

According to a new report co-authored by researchers at Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley, Earth has entered its sixth period of mass extinction. Within just three generations, pollination by bees could be something kids only read about in textbooks (unless they live in Texas). You can read the full report here or an overview of it here.

While some people may not mind living in a world free of broccoli, cauliflower and lima beans, they will probably miss hazelnuts, melons, squash, cucumbers, lemons, limes, strawberries, persimmons, apples, avocados, apricots, cherries, almonds, cocoa, grapes and on and on. We’ll still have corn and wheat though, which do not require pollinators, until blight tears through these non-diverse and thus vulnerable…

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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.

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