Food for Thought: Stock Tips & Recipes

As a result of the recent acceleration of the COVID-19 virus, I’ve received numerous requests from family and friends this past week on things such as; what dry foods are handy to have in, and suggestions on recipes so people don’t start getting bored with what they are eating! Diet plays such an important part in keeping us healthy and building up our immune systems to keep illnesses away.

I don’t claim to be an expert in quarantine eating and supplies (who is?!), but here are some ideas/ suggestions. Plans are in the making of holding regular Facebook live cooking sessions, as well as answer and question sessions on food or recipe queries that some of you may have over the next few weeks.

Useful Food Items to Have in Stock

Me and Thomas have joked in the past that we’d be ok during any kind of quarantine or lockdown due to our obsessions with food, and our well-stocked pantry/bar, and cupboards! Now it’s not sounding quite as funny, but more of a reality.

Dried Spices/Herbs/Seeds, Oils & Vinegars

Although not essential in terms of sustenance, dried spices, herbs and seeds, are essential in terms of longevity, flavour and excitement! They can keep their flavour for a long time. Over time they will of course diminish in flavour, but they have a good shelf life I have found, well over 12 months. Some herbs I don’t think work quite as well dried including basil and mint. Vinegars and oils for the same reasons last for a while and there is so much variety these days.

We have a double cupboard full of dried herbs, spices, oils and vinegars, and some in the pantry as well (this is standard practice for us, not as result of stockpiling!). Recently we had a sort out and the boxes are now labelled; ground spices, whole spices and various. I’ve found this really handy when cooking as its easier to find things!

Here’s a list of some of our favourite dried herbs, seeds & spices, oils and vinegars that are useful to have in stock.

Dried Spices/Herbs & Seeds:

  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Tarragon
  • Celery Seeds
  • Onion (Nigella) Seeds
  • Cumin Seeds
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Black Pepper
  • Cardamom Pods
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chinese Five Spice
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Garam Masala
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

Vinegars & Oils:

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cider Vinegar
  • Sesame Seed Oil
  • Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Rapeseed Oil

Dried Food: Tinned & Packaged

We all know that people have been bulk-buying items like; Pasta, Cereals and Chopped Tomatoes, However, other not so obvious tinned and packaged food are useful to have in (if you can get hold of them of course). Here are some of the items we currently have in the pantry;

  • Peanut Butter: Meridian is the best make and most nutritious according to the experts! Nice on toast and in stir-fries.
  • Flour: Make your own bread. Most recipes are simply flour and water. Our current stock includes; Plain Flour, Rice Flour, Gram (Chickpea) Flour, Maseca Flour (good for making tortillas), Chapati Flour and Chestnut Flour.
  • Dried Fruits & Nuts: Good for snacking, tasty and packed with vitamins.
  • Dried Lentils: These go a long way, are cheap, and are very nutritious. We usually get them from our local continental supermarket but are usually available in most high street supermarkets.
  • Oats: Incredibly nutritious, rich in antioxidants and are also cheap. There high fibre contents keep you full for longer. Mix in a spoonful of peanut butter and honey and you’ll be going back for more!
  • Polenta: A corn based grain that can be made into mash, baked or fried. Makes excellent chips!

Pickled Veggies:

We both love eating anything that is pickled and usually have at least a jar of Pickled Cucumbers in the fridge (also known as Gherkins). Anything that is pickled last a long time as the process of doing so preserve both the food and the flavour. Home pickling is fairly easy with varying combinations of Water, Sugar, Vinegar and Salt are required as a basic, then you can add your own twist to them (add whatever spices and herbs you have available).

Good veggies for pickling include; Cucumbers, Onions, Peppers, Carrots, Beets, Cauliflowers and Beans. Use empty jam/chutney jars as storage. There are lots of recipes on-line. Pickled veggies go well on sandwiches, toasties, hummus, salads, tacos, or just as a snack on their own.

A Few Recipes to Leave you with:

Thomas’s Dahl!

A few of you I know have enjoyed Thomas’s curries and his Dahl always goes down well.

Cook a big mug of lentils (they may need soaking for a while, or not, depending on what type they are). Finely chop an onion and fry it with a dried red chilli and a dessert spoon of cumin seed. When it is softened and just starting to brown, add finely chopped garlic and ginger (At least 8 cloves of garlic). When the garlic and ginger are cooked, stir in a teaspoon each of turmeric and ground coriander. Add all this to the lentils, along with salt and a tablespoon of lemon juice.

Oat Cakes

Thomas makes these for breakfast sometimes. They are fried porridge, basically!

Mix a mug of oats with a mug of water and a pinch of salt. Leave to soak for ten minutes. Once the oats have soaked, add more water if needed to make a thick but pourable mix. Heat a little oil in a flat non-stick pan over a low heat, and then pour in the oats, spreading them so they are even, around 1cm thick. Slowly cook them until the top of the oatcake looks dry (this will take a while), then gently loosen the oatcake with a spatula. Take a peek underneath – you want the bottom to be just turning darker brown in patches. Slide the oatcake onto a plate and eat with whatever toppings you fancy. You can add things to the oat mix to make it tastier, too – for example parmesan, oregano and black pepper, or a little sugar for a sweet oatcake.

Keep posted on more tips and recipes over the next few weeks. If you don’t already do so, give me a follow-on Facebook for some live videos coming up soon https://www.facebook.com/TheMessyCookTravels/

 Keep sage and healthy (I meant to write “safe and healthy”, but sage is appropriate too!)

 x The Messy Cook x

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