Ok, it’s time for a kitchen declutter. Hold on for the ride, it won’t be quick.
Right, so, baking. Everyone has an old bag of flour in their cupboard, or in the flour jar, right? Nope, not the flour that you always use, not the one at the front, reach back further, remove a few old bags of sugar so you can really find out what’s at the back of your cupboard on the top shelf. (Actually, get the sugar out too, doubtless there’s a demerara that needs finishing up.) That’s it, the nearly empty bag, that’s gone a bit manky from you touching it when your hands are covered in dough, and perhaps a bit dusty. I’ll hazard a guess that the flour is perfectly fine inside. So, now you have flour and sugar. Spices? Cinnamon’s always a winner in a crumble, and sometimes allspice too.
Did you once buy chia seeds because they were all the rage and the latest superfood and then realised that actuallly they didn’t taste of anything so they remained there? Vanilla essence? Is yours so old it’s started to smell a little alcoholic? Use a small enough amount and it’ll enhance the flavour.
Now, look for a recipe that uses flour. If you have self-raising and yours asks for plain then look for another recipe. You only have a small amount and the recipe asks for loads? Then lessen the quantities of everything.
Granted, you’re likely to need eggs, butter (insert other fresh ingredient here). Well, ok, you can go out and get those if you need them.
Does the recipe ask for a 6′ round baking dish, and you only have an 8′ square? Don’t worry, your creation may turn out flatter and larger than the perfect one but I’d put money on it tasting just as good.
Last year, we moved out of our home for 4 months, partly to visit Peru and partly to refurbish the house. I made vanilla cookies for weeks. Colleagues, friends, randoms received said vanilla cookies for ages, but none were ungrateful, none said yuk. I used a basic recipe, and added things I thought would work (like the chia seeds, and some almond flakes). When the vanilla ran out but I still had flour, the cookies became a little more boring, but still no one complained.
As I came to pack up the house, I ended up with just a handful of flour, which I donated to my mum, a few chilli flakes and some salt, which I stored for our return.
I now find myself with a shelf full of herbs and spices. There’s no end to my creations, some slightly odd, but none inedible and most have been enhanced with flavour.
I’ve asked my husband not to buy any more food until we’ve finished what’s in the fridge. We have potatoes and mayonnaise. Cabbage and chorizo, celery and peanut butter. Our diets may be fairly odd for a few days but our bank balances will be happier and we’ll have sent no food to landfill.