Ok, so one of the things that I always enjoy, especially when I’m stressed or something, is food planning. It helps me organise my thoughts and plan for a point ahead, even if that’s only tomorrow evening, where something, even if that’s only dinner, will be set in stone, and all I’ll have to do is chuck some ingredients together, and enjoy the outcome. As a result, I do a lot of this when I’m supposed to be studying, and I love using shopping lists to get inspiration for cooking for the next week or so. Even if I don’t end up eating the food when I plan to, it chills me out to think about all the fun things I can do with the things I buy. It also allows me to indulge my desire to shop, only shopping for “wholesome” things…like food. Which is a pretty basic necessity. Rather than say, clothes. Or, my big personal weakness, sponsored by Amazon…books. I LOVE food shopping. It makes me excited for cooking, and puts me in a good mood. Especially when I have a reason to check out my favourite veg shop/grocers/thing. It’s a tiny little place on Church Street in Stoke Newington, and sells tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables, along with dried grains, and a bung of other exciting stuff. It always reminds me of a farmer’s market, only it’s open all week, and doesn’t require me to get up before midday…wow, I’m such a slob. Mostly I’ll get all my veg there, and anything else from a supermarket, or from the very convenient Whole Foods store across the road. Whole Foods, I grant you, is pricey for what it is generally, but some of their grains when you buy in bulk, are pretty decent, like their quinoa, which I am a MASSIVE fan of. Same with their Bulgar wheat, and brown short grain rice, which I would live off, if I could work out how to cook it without destroying my mother’s pans (eek).
The shopping haul that you can see here, was almost all from the grocers. I even actually managed to use it all up, which is rare for me. You can also see the cup of green tea that I was drinking by the gallon at this point…see I accidentally transitioned to soya milk too, and still feel funny about drinking tea with milk, either soya or dairy, because now both taste a little weird to me. Either way. I used the sweet potatoes to do wedges slathered in chilli oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and Jerk seasoning. I put the Portobello mushrooms in a massive batch of mushroom risotto. Aduki beans went in beans and rice, tofu went in a curried tofu scramble, avocado ended up smashed with chives in a burrito that the Boy and I munched that evening, raspberries were guzzled by myself at some point, pesto had with pasta, and then on toast, rocket added to pretty much everything. The green leaves there that aren’t parsley I can’t identify and can’t remember what they were, or where they were used. But the big champion of this shop was the quinoa tabouleh that I made almost immediately after getting home. See, as a present to myself, I had invested in the Vegonomicon when I finished and handed in my dissertation, and it most definitely inspired me to experiment a bit more. I’m fairly sure that there isn’t actually a basic tabouleh recipe in the book, since it’s such a simple thing to put together, but I found that reading books like the Vegonomicon, and Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s Everyday Veg, inspire me to try new things. I love just flicking through cook books, in pretty much the same way I love food shopping.
These two are definitely responsible for a lot of the mucking around in the kitchen I’ve done recently. It’s not that often that I’ll actually follow recipes, although I’ve tried several from the Vegonomicon, for dinner parties, and cooking in bulk. As you can see with Everyday Veg, I’ve definitely ear-marked the Sweet-potato and peanut gratin for a try at some point too.
BUT the point I was making really, was to big up my awesome quinoa tabouleh. I have to confess, I’ve never actually had tabouleh anywhere else, only heard about it. Mine was pretty standard; cooked quinoa with garlic granules, salt, pepper, oil, shredded parsley, chopped spring onions, crushed garlic cloves, a handful of almonds, and several dousings of oil, mixed together and eaten while still a little warm from the quinoa. I squeezed some lemon juice over it too, and that definitely helped bring out the flavour of the parsley. I actually made too much, and ended up donating the rest to my mum, which she certainly approved of.
Not gonna lie, I was pretty satisfied with that. I think the thing I liked about it was the simplicity, and the scope for messing around with the ingredients. Walnuts instead of almonds. Mint instead of parsley. Or as well as parsley. More onions. Couscous AND quinoa. God, so many possibilities. I could probably happily eat quinoa ’till it came out of my ears.
Similarly, I had a fair bit of fun with my leftovers of other stuff later in the week and came up with this odd combo.
What happened, was that the Boy came over on a sunday evening after football, and no one could be bothered to cook. Thanks to the miracle of the internet, and the saviour of JustEat.co.uk, we were able to magic up a Chinese take away, and try as I might, I was unable to finish my egg fried rice. So a couple of days later when I fancied rice again, I chucked it in to a frying pan with some oil, butter beans, fresh petit pois, and a generous helping of Jerk seasoning, and essentially double fried the rice. It was magical. No word of a lie. And I love stuff like that. Chances are, I’ll never cook that particular combination again. It’s fairly rare I’d have that little list of ingredients in my house at the same time (or perhaps not as rare as I’d like to think), and the spontaneity of it genuinely made me happy.
- 4 Yummy Quinoa Recipes (mindbodygreen.com)
- Eating Clean: An Interview with Nutritionist and Personal Chef Amie Valpone (smartypantsvitamins.com)
- Getting My Sweet Vegan Fix at Whole Foods (myveganvida.wordpress.com)