3 day camping trip! What I pack to eat for a family of 4!

Back in June, we had the chance to head off camping for a few days. We didn’t go far – primarily because there’s work ongoing at home and we needed to be able to get back if necessary, but mostly because I didn’t want the whole weekend to be consumed with the drive. We’re going to be doing enough of that over the summer holidays so I really wanted this trip to be about relaxing.

That said, there was absolutely no way that I could afford to eat out for most meals so food needed to be:
– cheap
– easy
– non-perishable because we don’t have a fridge/cooler.

So here’s what we ended up taking along.

So, what do we have here?

  • Marshmallows! I’m taking two children camping. These are the most important item here.
  • 3 cans of sweetcorn
  • 3 cans of kidney beans/chickpeas
  • A jar of flavoured cous cous
  • A 500g bag of pasta
  • A jar of curry sauce
  • A jar of pasta sauce (homemade)
  • 2 packs of easy cook rice
  • 1 pack of chocolate hobnobs (because Rik Mayall and Bottom!)
  • Child’s favourite tea
  • Some emergency oat cakes
  • Apples
  • Breakfast bars (not pictured)
  • Coffee (not pictured)

I chose not to pack lunches – this is probably the cheapest meal to eat out and as I didn’t know what we were doing each day, it didn’t make sense to bank on being at the campsite to cook.

Where I’ve priced stuff below, I’ve used the Morrisons website (because that’s what I’ve got a log in for), but it’s not really a supermarket I shop at now because I try and fit my shopping in around other trips. You’ll see a ridiculous range of brands photographed below because rather than waste fuel, I tend to buy items from a combination of a mid-sized Tesco/Asda and a refillery near my local library.

So, breakfasts!

Rather than pay for pre-made granola/breakfast bars, I had a go at making my own, using this recipe from Pick Up Limes. In an attempt to reduce the cost, I used peanut butter instead of almond butter, I didn’t bother roasting the hazelnuts before blending them, and I swapped out the pecans for walnut halves (the pieces are cheaper than the wholes and since you break them up anyway, it’s a good way to lower costs). I happened to have cranberries in my pantry, but if making these again, I reckon I could get away with using raisins. Normally I wouldn’t bother with the chocolate on top either, but we had some in a bowl, left over from baking so I thought I might as well use it up.

In the past, we’ve taken porridge with us – mixing rolled oats, powdered milk, cinnamon, cranberries/raisins and sugar in a jar to make our own ‘instant’ porridge. You just need to cover the contents in boiling water, stir, rest the lid on the jar, and then wait a couple of minutes. This has the added bonus that after a quick rinse, you can pop the jar into a recycling bin – less to take home, no dishes, and lots cheaper than the jars above. As we do this whenever we travel, though (including the huge walk we went on), I wanted a change.

Dinner #1 – chickpea curry and rice

We started with a super easy dinner – empty some things into a big pan, dish up, and eat. Looking at the Morrisons website, basics sweetcorn can be had for 35p per can, KTC Chickpeas are 45p per can, a jar of plant based Tikka sauce is £1 (though I got this one from Tesco for less than that, I’m sure). The Tilda rice sachets are £1 each, but you can get cheaper ones (i.e. sachets of microwave rice for 35p each and which heat up just fine in a pan). With the expensive rice, that’s £3.80 for four, or 95p each. With the cheap rice, that would be £2.50, or roughly 62p each.

Dinner #2 – chickpea cous cous

For this one, I made my own flavoured cous cous. Again, this was because we happened to have some plain cous cous in the pantry and I’m very stingy. I used 300g plain cous cous, a tablespoon each of bouillon powder and mixed herbs, and a pinch of chilli flakes. And then because my eldest is obsessed with the stuff, I threw in a spoonful of nutritional yeast for good measure. I’m not sure this adds much but…

I then added a good handful of raisins, and one of cashew nuts, and I shook the whole thing up in a jar.

Here again, the sweetcorn is 35p and the chickpeas are 45p. Flavoured cous cous sachets run to 50p per 110g so you’d need roughly 3 for the amount of cous cous I have here. That makes the whole meal at £2.30, or 57p each. Plain cous cous is 70p per 500g, so 14p per 100g, and 42p per 300g (which I’ve used here. If you’re just adding herbs and bouillon, it’s definitely cheaper to flavour your own but as I’ve added nuts and raisins, I’m not so sure. Either way, those are the sums.

Dinner #3 – pasta and sauce

Again, the sweetcorn sits at 35p, and KTC kidney beans at 45p. 500g of wholegrain pasta is 75p – I expect us to use roughly 300g of this, so 45p. I made the sauce myself from random things in my fridge, put it into a sterilised jar while hot and then waited for it to cool. It won’t keep indefinitely, but it’ll last a few days out of the fridge this way. The cheapest pasta sauce looks to be 65p and of a fairly similar composition, so that’s what I’ll price this as (I used 2 sad onions, some celery offcuts, half a pack of cherry tomatoes, a can of tomatoes, some herbs, and a lonely jar of roast peppers and sundried tomatoes which had been in the fridge for about a year, in case anyone is interested).

This is the cheapest meal of the lot, using the store-bought items. It comes to £1.90 all in and 47p per person.

For the dinners over the long weekend, it cost me roughly (because as I said, I used Morrisons costing and don’t shop there) £8, or around £2 per person. As detailed above, this could come to more or less depending on how much you do/don’t spend on cous cous/rice, and whether you make the pasta sauce yourself. I think the stuff that I made probably works out as more expensive than the supermarket option, but as it used up some things I might have otherwise had to bin, I’m calling it a win.

We did also take our own coffee with us, boiling the water first thing and taking that in a flask so as not to have to buy any while out and about. We weighed it into filters before leaving, and took our own collapsible filter holders with us (pictured above). This is pretty much my only indulgence when I’m camping and I make no apologies for it. We save a few pennies by weighing it out ourselves compared to coffee bags, but the main point in doing this is the lack of waste – the filters here are compostable and the site had compost bins, so it just made this luxury a little more earth friendly.

The rice sachets and the pasta bag are the only non-recyclable packaging we took along, though obviously if you’ve not got the time/inclination to make the breakfast bars, these would come in packets too.

Well, that was a massively long post! With bigger trips coming up this summer, I’d love to hear any ideas you’ve got about what to eat while camping! Do you cook on a gas stove, or a fire? If you try any of the above, I’d especially love to hear how you got on! ❤


Raw Cider Vinegar – it’s basically free!

This blew my mind!

For years, I’d been buying expensive cider vinegar, but you can make it from nothing more than apple scraps, water, and a tablespoon of sugar!

All you need to do is fill a jar with scraps – peelings, or cores are perfect, but if you’ve got windfall apples, they’re great too! – then cover with a solution of sugar and water. You need about a tablespoon of sugar per 500mls/1 pint of water.

You might find that the apples float a little here, but you can’t let them get away with that sort of nonsense – that’s how mould happens. I fill a small carrier bag with water to use as a weight and this gets right up to the edges of the jar. In the past, I’ve tried to do this without plastic, but I’ve never been successful. This way has always worked though.

Below is a very bad picture – not of cider vinegar, but of sauerkraut. It should give you an idea of what I’m on about with the bag though (I hope!)

And that’s all there is to it! You just sort of… leave it there for about six weeks. Or longer if you forget. Then filter it through a coffee filter, or a cheesecloth, or… something. And that’s all there is to it!

Have you tried making apple cider vinegar before? If you have, how do you weigh your apples down?

An update on Fryer Soap

Any readers who have been with me for a while, might remember me having a go at making soap from fryer oil.


The oil never really lost the smell of food and though it did eventually lose the melted-toffee consistency in the drying process, it melted again in my soap bowl.

So, I tried a few different things with my second batch, and Oh My Goodness! What a difference it made!

One of the main issues with the soap was the smell. This time round, I filtered the oil the same as before, but then I left it in a bowl on the kitchen side for a week. I think ‘airing it out’ helped a lot, but I also heated it with some lavender flowers in then strained it again. I don’t know which of these things actually performed the magic of removed the smell but I don’t actually care! Chip stink was gone, and I was ready to go!

As I discussed previously, the first batch of soap had the texture of chewy toffee – not something I want from a soap! According to a book about soap making that I have, this was on account of a lower quality lye. So, to compensate, I took the quantity of lye that SoapCalc told me to use, and added 4g more. I just sort of guessed how much extra to add, because I’m not an exact cook and somehow, this just felt a bit like recipe fudging, rather than the science it actually is.

I also added a jar of coconut oil – this was primarily because I had it, don’t like cooking with it, and I wanted to use the jar for something else.

This time round, everything combined to make an absolutely perfect soap.  It smells clean, the texture is perfect, and it lathers wonderfully. I actually feel happy giving this as gifts. I’m so excited to try making some more – perhaps adding in some coffee grounds as an exfoliant, or some oats and camomile for a honey smell?

What are you favourite fragrances for soap? I’d love to try something a little different next time! As ever, you can contact me here, or on Twitter.


Food Waste – the less obvious kind

I’ve learnt so much this year from tending my garden. It has been a gift in so many ways.

I’ve learned to appreciate humble foods again, like peas and potatoes and courgettes (zucchini). These plants have nourished me in mind and body – tending them has given me so much joy.

But beetroot and garlic have educated me in a way I didn’t expect.

We talk a lot about food waste when it comes to environmentalism – a 2019 report stated that as much as a 10th of greenhouse gas pollution could be attributed to lost food.

When we think about food waste, we tend to think about images of loaves of bread, tossed whole and plastic-coated into the bin. We think of nets of mouldering Buy One Get One Free tangerines – unnecessary but desired for the fleeting moment they feel like a bargain.

We seldom think about carrot tops, or beetroot leaves, garlic stems and onion greens. These are all perfectly edible parts of commonly grown plants – why aren’t we eating more of them?


It’s an incredibly frustrating dietary omission – effectively, by using these commonly discarded parts of plants, we’re growing two crops in one space. Take beetroot, for example – we’re growing both root veg and salad leaf. Or root veg and a spinach substitute.

Obviously, some things aren’t to everyone’s taste – carrot fronds really aren’t something I enjoy! – but when you can get packs of fancy ‘raw dog food’ made from cuts of meat people don’t eat, I don’t see why carrot greens can’t become a staple guinea pig food. It might mean customers buying fewer packs of salad to feed to a family pet…

But I digress. I am not a keeper of small rodents.

What I can do, is use this – somewhat simple, wholly unimpressive – revelation to better plan my own garden. I can prioritise foods which will feed me more than one crop.


I’ve mentioned beetroot already – the fat root I pickled and the leaves I ate in salad and sliced thinly into curries. But I’ve used garlic too.


I began by trimming off the leaves and slicing them, freezing them on baking sheets and then decanting into bags for use in place of spring onions in stir-fried dinners.

After this, I pulled the bulb from the earth and chopped back around half of the stem.


I then infused some olive oil with the chopped stems, making a garlic oil for frying in. The bulbs went into the shed to dry. Though they won’t see us through winter alone, in combination with the greens and oil, they should go some of the way and certainly a lot longer than if I’d automatically discarded the greens.

There are all sorts of things we could be eating – arguably should be eating – which we discard. I would love to hear some of your examples of foods with multiple uses so that I can try to grow them in the coming year! You can let me know here, or on Twitter.

An update on the garden

My goodness, my garden has been good to me this summer!


I am more and more grateful every day for the lovely patch of land we inhabit. From giving us a space to meet family in the early days of lockdown easing, to feeding us delicious fruits and vegetables, and drying the constant stream of laundry which comes out of my house daily, the garden has nourished us.




I’ve done my best not to waste a single gift I’ve been given. The beetroot has been pickled for winter – a sweet and tangy accent to hearty stews and stovies. The leafs have been saved for salads and a soup I’ve taken to calling ‘summer borscht’ – a mix of potatoes and beetroot leafs.


The wilds have been fruitful too – mushrooms and berries aplenty. We’ve supped on blaeberries gathered from a woodland carpeted in plants dripping with fruit, and on peppery chanterelles, buried like gold.



I’ve dried camomile, fennel and lovage in the sunlight that streams through the car windscreen – an impromptu dehydrator that we’re so lucky to have.



And the peas and courgettes keep coming – dressed in fine summer mint, they make every meal feel like a treat.


And the salads! They look like sunshine on a plate, sprinkled with petals and agate-slices of radish.


We’ve even had hazy elderflower cordial and blackcurrant schnapps from our wonderful trees and fruit bushes.

I’m not naive enough to believe that we could feed ourselves entirely from the garden – we’ve had help from an incredible Community Supported Agriculture farm a few villages over. If you’ve not looked into this scheme near you, I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough. It has totally changed the way we eat, building our meals around vegetables we’d never used before. The farm near us make YouTube videos about what they’re planting and how they’re doing it, so even my beige-food-loving child is excited to eat the things ‘seen on TV’.

My next step is to start looking into ways I can be good to my garden. I’m already composting everything I possibly can – the next step is to use this as mulch and put it to good use. Other than that, my main aims are to try and remove as much of the rosebay willow herb as I can, and to address the black spot that’s involved itself with my roses.


…and the mystery spots on the gooseberry bush…


…and the spots on the crab apple…


… and finally the rather tragic pear tree…


I hope I can find out what these issues are – I would love to be able to save these plants!

If you have any suggestions, I’d be really keen to hear them!

Beans, beans…

At the beginning of the pandemic, the panic-buying highlighted issues in our food supply chain. In response, there were so many posts online about self-sufficieny.

Whilst I’m sure most of these were well-intentioned, I think it’s unrealistic to expect that people who’ve never attempted gardening before could support themselves completely. That said, there are lots of awesome things you can do to supplement your food shopping with delicious home-grown vegetables, even if you just have a windowsill.

Before I start, I just want to say – I’m not a gardener. This is the first year we’ve tried harvesting more than some herbs, perennial fruit,  and what we can forage. We built the raised beds last November – prior to the pandemic – and have tried to fill them as best we can this season, using what we had on hand (as seeds and seedlings were hard to come by).

So, without further ado, here are the things we grew from the store cupboard.


By putting a bulb of garlic in the fridge for a few weeks, and then planting the individual segments, we managed to start 2 rows of healthy garlic plants. When the plants start to wilt a little, I’ll cut the leaves, chop them and freeze them for a milder garlic taste that I can add to stir-fry etc. Then I’ll let the bulbs dry and store them somewhere dark, and cool, and dry.


I have a large stash of herbs and spices, and basically anything called ‘seeds’ are exactly that (which took me far too long to realise!). I’ve been growing corriander seeds on the window ledge in the kitchen for months now and they’re doing really well.


The peas that I grow are from a packet of dried store-cupboard peas, gifted to us in the early 2010s by Husband’s Norwegian colleauge when she moved back to Norway. I couldn’t think of a way to use dried peas that anyone would actually eat, and my eldest was going through a phase of planting things so I let nature take its course with that one…. and got the most wonderful, prolific pea plants I’ve ever come across. I’ve been growing from them ever since, and even though they’re now (at least) ten years old, they still reliably germinate. In short, don’t overlook dried legumes – they’re a wonderful way to plant from your kitchen.


This one was actually a little mind-blowing (to me, because I’m a numbers nerd)…

A pack of beansprouts at Tesco (correct at the time of writing) costs 70p for 300g, or £2.34 per kilo.

You can buy a bag of dried beans for £2.25 a kilo (already slightly cheaper than the sprouted counterpart).

To sprout beans yourself, all you need is a jar, some cloth, an elastic band, and some water (and some beans, obviously). To be honest, the cloth and the band aren’t 100% necessary either.

Cover the bottom of your jar in beans. What you can see above is around 25-50g, or between 7-11p worth of beans.

Soak them in water for around an hour…

Fix the cloth onto the top of the jar with the elastic band, use it as a seive to remove the excess water and place on the window ledge.

After 24 hours, I could see the start of germination. I added a little more water…

After 48 hours, they looked like this.

After a week, they looked like the picture above! It’s amazing how they can go from just covering the bottom of the jar to filling it.

At this point, just as the first leaves are forming, I normally put the jar in the fridge. This slows growth and make them keep for longer.

The finished sprouts weigh around 200g, which means that per kilo – if my maths is correct – they cost around 35-55p. That’s a lower price per kilo than for 300g of pre-sprouted beans.

If you can buy the beans from a refillery – which I’m lucky to be able to – this results in zero waste sprouts. I use them as a base for winter salads, as texture in summer salads, in stir-frys, and on sandwiches. If you’re meal-planning anyway, it’s very little extra effort to put some ‘beans on to sprout’, and potentially save yourself a few pennies and a plastic carrier.

Even if you can’t buy the dried beans free from plastic, you’re still saving a lot of packaging from landfill. Let’s say – for the sake of easy numbers – that you sprout 50g of beans a time. This means that the 1kg back of beans will give you 20 sproutings. Each sprouting will give you around 250g (I’m saying 250g for easy maths, plus I’ve used the large example of 50g so the resulting sprouts will be slightly heavier). So that’s 20×250=5000g, or 5kg. The equivalent 300g packs of pre-sprouted beans would come in 16.6 plastic bags.

That’s effectively 15-16 plastic bags that you’ve saved from landfill, depending on whether you bought the dried beans loose or packaged.

Hhmmm… I got excited about beans there…

Moving on.

Brocolli & spring onions

Something to bear in mind while storing brocolli and spring onions:

Putting the stem of brocolli in water whilst in the fridge will keep it fresh for far longer. It is the flower of the plant, and needs treating as you would any cut flower.

Spring onions, meanwhile, usually have their roots which means they can effectively be used as ‘cut-and-come-again’ vegetables. All you need to do is pop them in a glass with water on your window ledge, then when you need some, cut down to the leaves, stopping as the colour begins to change to white.

I’ve heard you can do the same thing with leeks, but I’ve never tried it. They don’t last that long in my house. I’m a big lover of leeks…


Finally, I thought I would touch on those videos that seem to be everywhere just now, implying that you can regrow all sorts of things from food scraps. I’ve heard that lots of the ideas don’t work, so I thought I’d test them by putting a lettuce nub in the ground… I’ll let you know how that pans out…

Don’t be discouraged, though. In the past, I’ve had great success as a result of Plants from Pips – specifically with avocado stones.

And that’s all, really.

Have you tried growing anything from kitchen scraps and seeds? I’d love to hear about any successes, either here or on Twitter.

Nettle Soup

Nettle soup is one of those ‘literary’ dishes. It sounds like something lifted straight from Beatrix Potter, or something that Merry Men would ‘sustain’ themselves on whilst hiding out in the forest. I think that’s why I loved it, to begin with – because I could pretend to be romantic and windswept and Tess-of-the-D’Urbervilles-y frugal.

Except that now, it’s just a thing that I eat, because we have nettles and I’m too lazy to go shopping.

To make a hearty bowl of nettle soup you need: 
– some nettles (obviously). I find around two big, fat handfuls works. Try to take the leafs from the top of the plant. You want the small tender ones.
– some kind of oniony taste (slightly-sprouting back-of-the-cupboard onions are fine, as are spring onions, leeks, garlic, and chives)
– some stock (I use a chicken OXO cube or some veg stock I made)
– possibly some diary – I like stinky cheese rinds, but these aren’t essential

I fry off the oniony-component in a little oil. As I’m doing that, I put a seive over a bowl, pop the nettles in the seive, and then pour boiling water over them to rid them of all stingy parts and any muck from outside. Once that’s done, I add the nettles to the onions. (I let the water in the bowl cool – it’s going on my house plants.) To the soup-pan, I add my stock and enough water to cover the nettles. When these have cooked through and gone tender, I blend them and add any dairy leftovers – a teaspoon of soured cream, some creme fraiche about to turn, some grated stilton rinds…

If I want something thicker, I like to add potato to the mix. Leftover mash is ideal, but tiny cubes cook quickly and really help to thicken things.

The taste is earthy – a bit like spinach – and wholesome. And if you grow your own chives and otherwise use up your leftovers as you make it, nettle soup can be one of those oh-so-rare free meals.

If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think. As ever, you can get in touch here or on Twitter.

Soap from fryer oil

IMPORTANT: The contents of this post are NOT intended as a tutorial so do not contain a soap recipe. They are a record of my own experiences. I take no responsibility for any soap related mishaps readers might have after having read this post! 

I’m not going to lie – I love our deep fat fryer. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. Proper chips.

That said, it uses a lot of oil. Much as I half-heartedly justify the extravagence as preventing me from driving to pick up a take-away, I do feel bad about the quantity of oil it eats through. Being honest, we don’t actually use it that often, but I still can’t get over the 5 litre bottles we have to pour into it – bottles which would last us at least 6 months otherwise! And that’s with using oil as a butter replacement in pastry and cakes!

Anyway, with the local recycling centres closed due to Covid 19, I’ve been trying to come up with ideas for the used oil that’s currently in our house. We’d been meaning to take the bottle to the tip for ages, but never got around to doing it and now, for obvious reasons, we can’t.

I’ve read a lot of lovely posts about how to turn used cooking oil into candles, but as we have an enormous supply of these, inherited from my mother in law, it hardly seems like a useful way to employ this resource.

One thing I have done in the past, however, which needed a lot of oil/fat is soap making.

I’ve made soap from all sorts of different fats before now – lard, beef dripping, coconut oil, beeswax… All of them have been a success. As it’s a waste product I’m using anyway, all I have to lose is a little water and some caustic soda.

TLDR: We have a lot of waste sunflower oil. I’m going to use it for soap.

First of all, I filtered the oil.


You can really see in the above picture just how much… material… there is in the unfiltered oil on the right. After filtering, there was still a slight pong of chips so I went up to the bathroom cabinet and selected some essentail oils. Usually the soap-making process does away with any of an oil’s natural scent – this was especially surprising when I used lard –  but just in case, I chose rose wood, cedar wood and grapefruit oils. I didn’t actually buy there specially for soap making – I use the cedar wood to keep moths out of my clothes, picked up the rose wood by mistake in an effort to buy cedar wood, and I use the grapefruit to scent my cleaning vinegar. If you don’t have any essentail oils to hand, you could hypothetically use a perfume, but only add these lovely smells at the end of the process – just before you’re due to pour the soap into a mould.

Anyway, where was I?

After I had filtered the oil and knew how much I had, I weighed it using the Husband’s coffee scales. To do so, I zeroed the scales with a bowl on them, then added the oil. It’s really important to be accurate when making soap – right down to the gram. Once I knew how much oil I had, I entered the quantity into SoapCalc. This is an absolutely incredible online resource which tells you how my lye (or caustic soda) you need to make soap from your chosen types and volumes of oil.

The method is fairly simple. Obviously, your recipe will be completely different to the one that this tutorial details, but the order in which you do things is exactly the same.

Personally, I don’t use plain water with my lye – I use a mixture of ice cubes and water so that it doesn’t take too long to cool down. Also, just to reiterate I ALWAYS ADD THE LYE TO THE WATER. I once did it wrong and nearly melted my kitchen, so take it from me – DON’T DO IT. I am also much too impatient to wait for the lye solution to cool so… yeah. It’s a pretty fast process when I do it…


Anyway… moving swiftly on. When the soap mixture reached ‘trace’, I added my fragrance and poured the mixture into my mould. This isn’t technically a soap mould – it’s a square bit of polystyrene packaging which I really like to use because it insulates the soap in addition to shaping it. Win-win all round.


After I’d done that, and simply because I could, I sprinkled a load of dried flower parts on top – some lavender, and some rose petals, as well as some tiny little white blossoms that I don’t know the name of…


After this, as per the video, the soap needed keeping cosy, so I used an old selection box insert – left over from Christmas and which I sometimes use as a soap mould – as a lid and wrapped the whole thing in a towel to sit in my bathroom over night.


Interestingly, the soap was still soft when I got up the next morning. I mean, it wasn’t liquid, but it wasn’t hard soap, either. I guess the best comparison would be the texture of warm toffee – pliable. I tried to cut into it and internally, it looked almost crystalised. I don’t know if this was because I used only one sort of fat (where usually I use a mixture) or because it was entirely oil based. People have said on various forums that olive-oil soap tends to take longer to set so I removed it from the mould and placed it on top of my freezer in the open air in an effort to dry it out somewhat…

A few days later and the soap remained the same ‘chewy’ consistency so I consulted a book about soap making. Apparently, the caustic soda I used in this batch wasn’t of a particularly high quality (not my usual brand on account of Covid 19) and leaving the soap around 3 weeks longer than usual – 9 weeks in total – will leave me with bars which have a higher fat content than those I’m used to. This is no bad thing – hopefully it’ll make the soap more moisturising for my youngest child’s somewhat fussy skin.

Despite the obvious setback, I’m really pleased with how this turned out. Obviously, in this instance, I didn’t use a lot of oil – around half a litre – , but I still got a lot of soap out of it (or will do, when it finally sets). Whilst I can use some of the fryer oil in this way going forward, it won’t be something I can do with all of the spent fat.

But oh-my-goodness it’s such a cheap way to get soap!

I’ll send you an update on how the soap is doing when it has finished ‘curing’ in 9 weeks’ time!

Do you have any suggestions for what I could do with the next batch of oil? I would absolutely love to hear them, either here, or on Twitter.

Broccoli soup

As I said in a previous post, this was written before the COVID19 outbreak but it seems even more pogniant now…

One of the best things we can do to reduce our environmental impact is to be careful with the food we eat. One of the most wasted items of food – that I see, in any case – is the broccoli stem.

I’m not really sure why this is, to be honest. I mean, sure – if you boil it with the florettes, it ends up stringy, but there are loads of different ways to cook it.

Rather than throw it out, I collect mine in the freezer. When I have 4-5 stalks chopped up and in a bag, I buy a brand new florette and make broccoli soup. Admittedly, you can absolutely make it without the whole, new broccoli head, but it can look a little bit pale and anaemic.

Anyway, here’s what I usually do.

3-4 broccoli stalks
1 whole head of broccoli
1 onion
1 stock cube (I use OXO chicken/beef as it’s plastic & palm oil free, but if you want vegetable stock, you can make your own too)
A dairy product – optional (this is ideal for using up the ends of soured cream, for example, or cheese rinds).


  • Chop your onions and fry them off in a little oil. I tend to use the oil from sun-dried tomatoes for frying things off in as it adds a little flavour and uses up something you’d otherwise throw out.
  • After your onions have softened a little, add the chopped, frozen stalks to your pan, along with your stock and enough water to cover. (Some astute readers might note the asparagus ends and celery in the frozen veg below – I just tend to freeze odd scraps that are about to go off, so I can use them in soup . This lot ended up in with the broccoli.)
  • After these have softened a little, add your fresh broccoli.
  • When it’s soft enough, use the stick blender to mush the lot. Or, if your family likes to actually chew their food (unlike my youngest), blend until there are chunks of your preferred size in there. Afterwards, add any dairy that you’re going to add.
  • Serve, and enjoy.

In the interests of total disclosure, my kids like this more than my husband and I do. I feel like there’s a depth of flavour that’s lacking (which may or may not be improved by the use of ham stock…). That said, in terms of affordability and uses of food waste, this is definitely a winner. And it doesn’t taste bad. Not by any stretch of the imagination – it’s a warming, hearty soup. I’m just used to being thoroughly spoiled with what I get to eat. I married a wonderful cook.

Do you make use of your broccoli stems? I would love to hear what you do! As ever, contact me here, or on Twitter.

Experiments with Aquafaba

A while ago, a friend of mine told me that you could make Scotch pancakes/Bannocks/Drop Scones with aquafaba instead of all the other wet ingredients.



So I thought I would try it. It didn’t go perfectly, but did go better than it might have done.

225g self raising flour
2 cans worth of aquafaba – in this case, half from kidney beans and half from chickpeas.
Optional – rose water and poppy seeds.

Mix everything together. Fry in a pan on a low heat.

It’s the cooking where this method begins to fall apart – in short, the outside cooks far quicker than the inside, even with the pan on the lowest possible temperature. What I think I need to do is use less liquid and whip it into fluffy peaks.


This is the point at which you would flip ‘normal’ pancakes, however with these, the underside wasn’t even solid.

I waited until it was, but even then, the centre was doughy and moist. In the end I baked them in the oven for a time. They were edible, but still not the fluffy pancake that I was hoping for.


As I say, next time, I’m going to try a few things differently. What I am absolutely going keep about this recipe, however, is the floral flavour combination.

Oh my goodness, the rose water and the poppy seeds are absolutely glorious together – sweet and aromatic, perfumed and light. These pancakes taste like the height of summer, and when eaten with sticky bramble jam, they’re so evocative of balmy days foraging in the hedgerows Down South.

So, watch this space – I am definitely going to experiment some more with this!

Do you have any other use for Aquafaba? I’ve already used it in chocolate mousse and meringues  but I’m keen to find other ways to make use of it! As ever, contact me here or on Twitter. 🙂