Meat Free Week

As you’ve probably seen on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere already, this week is Meat Free Week! The global campaign is challenging us all to give up meat for the week, to get us thinking about how much meat we eat, and the impact of that on our health, the environment and animal welfare. It’s not just about red meat (beef, lamb and pork), but all meat, including poultry, processed meat (like ham, bacon, salami and packaged sandwich meats), fish and seafood.

Going meat free for one week is a really positive step for anyone; The hope being that for the other 51 weeks of the year you’ll consider eating smaller portions or fewer meat-based meals as part of a balanced diet, and also ensure that the meat, fish, eggs or poultry you eat is ethically and sustainably produced. I’ve written about my feelings on meat-eating before, and because this means I eat very little meat (those ‘meat-free mondays’ actually work better in opposite in our house as we’re only really likely to eat meat once a week!) I suppose this week will be relatively easy for me.

And that’s why I thought I’d share a load of recipes to encourage you to take part, and to show you how easy it is to eat meat free….really well! I adore my food, and I love meat and fish and all the rest, but because I am now very picky about these (in terms of welfare mostly) the increased cost means that it’s more of a treat than a staple. I’m sure that this has benefitted my health which is of course a bonus too.

Anyway, for our main meal today (we have this at lunch time, with a lighter supper later) I made a super delicious dish that took only ten minutes and didn’t require any special ingredients at all (in fact, all stuff we had in the fridge already). I cut a courgette into small cubes, and finely chopped up a small white onion (both from our excellent organic veg box from a local farm), frying them both in a knob of butter until soft and golden.

I then whipped up a simple four cheese sauce, by melting another knob of butter in a pan and adding a small carton of organic single cream. I grated in some of the AMAZING smoked Mrs Kirkham’s Lanchashire I bought at a farm shop recently, some organic mature cheddar, organic parmesan, and a little left over goats cheese that needed using up. Once that was all nice and melty, I thickened with a little sauce flour and cooked some fresh gnocchi in a second pan. Then it was just a case of combining the veg, cheese sauce and gnocchi…serving it up and scoffing the lot! SO quick and easy…..very satisying….and of course, meat free!

Well hopefully that’s enough to whet your appetite, and perhaps you’d also like to try some of these recipes to enjoy a week of meat free meals…..

I hope that gives you some inspiration to go meat free for the week….if you’d like any more ideas or advice please do leave a comment as I’d love to encourage anyone to join in!

You can sign up to the campaign here….. Good luck, and enjoy!

Ems x

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It’s Pancake Day, It’s Pancake Day, It’s PPPP-PPPP Pancake Day!

Like the man said…it’s Pancake Day! And I for one will be enjoying a day of mostly eating batter based foods! I bally love this day….it wouldn’t occur to me to make a meal of pancakes any other day of the year (with the exception of a breakfast of American style pancakes now and again!) and I love the excuse to gorge. I even made a Pinterest board this year with ideas….I like to have both sweet and savoury options, you know, to make it a balanced meal of course.

For breakfast we had Belgian waffles with banana and maple syrup. Then for lunch I had another go at making Okonomiyake, which is a sort of Japanese pancake. This dish is a favourite of Adam’s and although I’ve never had it ‘properly’ in Japan, I’ve been trying to learn to make it. Last week’s attempt was rather poor, but I think today’s was pretty good!

Home made Okonomiyake, or Japanese pancake for Shrove Tuesday

I based mine loosely on the recipes in my Pinterest board, with (as usual) a couple of changes for my own taste (and to use up things we had in the cupboard!). Here’s how I made it…..

  • I mixed one cup of flour with one cup of chicken stock, then added one beaten free range egg to form a batter.
  • Then I stirred in a large handful of savoy cabbage and one small leek (both finely sliced and from our yummy organic veg box) and seasoned.
  • Next I heated up a large non-stick skillet and sprayed a little olive oil onto the surface before pouring the mixture in.
  • Having spread the mixture out as much as possible, I pressed it all down into as thin a ‘pancake’ as I could, and let it cook for about eight minutes until the underside was golden.
  • Then I slid the pancake onto a plate, added a little more oil to the pan as well as some strips of free range streaky bacon.
  • Next I flipped the pancake onto another plate before sliding it back into the pan with the cooked side on top.
  • It was then just a case of waiting for the bacon to cook well, and the pancake browning nicely before serving it all up!

To top our Okonomiyake I mixed up a dessert spoon each of ketchup and barbecue sauce with two dessert spoons of Henderson’s relish and a teaspoon of golden caster sugar. We spooned this sort of Tonkatsu sauce onto our pancakes along with some mayonnaise, which I believe is the traditional topping. Yummy!

For supper this evening we’re planning some more traditional crepe-like pancakes with lemon juice and sugar….although I think I’ll also make some of these delicious sounding apple, banana and cinnamon pancakes to try, and maybe even some of these fabulous looking cinnamon roll pancakes too!

How do you like your pancakes?!

Ems x

Soup Week (A Week of Soup)

No, this isn’t a fad diet I’m chatting about.

Lately though I’ve gone a little bid soup mad….more mad than a fad in fact. With the cold weather drawing in, I can’t bear to eat something cold for lunch, and now I’m working from home it’s just my favourite thing to cook up a nice hearty soup for lunch.

And I have to say (don’t hate me for being immodest), I have gotten really good at it! I’ve been making my own soups for a while now….sometimes following a recipe and sometimes making up something simple based on what needs using up. But only recently have I taken to planning particular soupy adventures, and working on some ‘proper’ recipes of my own.

Now I’m guessing that most of you are also feeling the chill lately, and are in need of some wholesome hot treats to warm you up….so I thought I’d share a recipe each day this coming week, to inspire you (and warm you!).

On Monday I’ll share my recipe for Red Pepper Soup (which I only made yesterday but was incredibly pleased with!)…. On Tuesday I’ll show you my Sweet Potato with Chilli, Ginger and Coconut Soup recipe….. On Wednesday it’ll be my version of the classic Tuscan Bean Soup….. And on Thursday you can expect my recipe for Leek and Potato soup. I’m going to leave Friday open for now, although I’m planning a curried parsnip soup at the weekend, as well as developing my butternut squash soup too. Do let me know if you have any requests though, and do let me know if you have any favourite soup recipes to share!

It’s probably worth saying too that as I’m on Weight Watchers, each recipe is either healthy and low on points, or super healthy and hardly any points! Oh, and each serving only costs a few pence, so it’s a win all round!

Happy Souping!

Ems x

Food tastes better with Love

The Waitrose Weekend paper has just told me there is scientific evidence that food made with love tastes better. Thank goodness….next time someone labels me a hippy for telling them something I make is all the better for that special ingredient, I can throw that back at them!

Seriously though, the idea that your mum’s spag bol or Sunday roast is better than even the most talented chef can create, has always fascinated me….is it because your taste buds have been brought up on those precise ratios of ingredients and cooking times….or is it because your mum prepares those meals with love? Well, as much as my curious mind may have tipped with the former explanation before, who’s to argue with the real scientists and say that love isn’t an important ingredient?

And in that vein, I’ve decided to share a whole load of ‘Made with Love’ recipes…. things we make at home all the time, and the things I look forward to visiting my mum to taste. Of course, you’ll have your own way of making lots of these I’m sure, but if the special ingredient really is ‘love’ then I hope these simple, hearty recipes will inspire you to add just that as you try them out……

Here’s a quick list of some of the recipes I intend to share:

  • Cottage Pie
  • Spaghetti Carbonara
  • Minced Meat Pie
  • Chilli Con Carne
  • Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Apple Crumble

Watch this space……

Ems x

P.S. Apologies for the drippiness of my most recent three posts…. never before have I spouted on about love and other such gooeyness so much (must be all those heart-wielding teddy bears everywhere)….. Normal service will resume with the next post.