I’ve always liked cooking and baking and whilst my tastes have never been exotic, I do like to try new things and am frequently buying ingredients for the latest recipe I just saw on TV or read in a magazine. Because I just never know when I might suddenly have the urge to bake a cake or try out a new recipe, I always make sure I’m well stocked with the essentials and, it seems, more frequently these days with the the not-so essentials. And having recently done an inventory of my kitchen cupboards, it would seem most of them are still there. So just what did I need coconut cream and kaffir lime leaves for? Am I ever going to use the jars of raspberry coulis or cornichons? And don’t even mention the balsamic cream sauces that I absolutely had to buy after a French cooking course last year. Even since I started drafting this blog I’ve managed to buy some edible gold leaf and popping candy which I really don’t need.
But whilst this impulse buying is something I’ve been prone to do for a long time now (who else has tinned foods coming up to their use-by dates or 3 jars of paprika at one time?), since being diagnosed with coeliac disease last year it’s got SERIOUSLY out of hand. I now cook mostly from scratch, so I need lots and lots of ingredients, and of course they all have to be gluten-free. I’ve tried to figure out why it’s got so bad and I think it’s a form of panic buying. When you suddenly find yourself severely restricted in your dietary choices, it becomes almost exciting when you find something you are allowed to eat, and you feel you have to buy it. Other times, you see something you like but don’t know when you’ll see it again, or if it will be discontinued by the store or manufacturer. This is particularly true of “free-from” foods; you just don’t know when you’ll be able to get hold of something again. The GF message board regularly has people asking about products that have suddenly disappeared from their local stores.
So consequently I have cupboards full of food going out of date quicker than we can eat it – and it’s got to stop. I can’t even trust myself to go shopping now, I go in for milk, ham and toilet rolls and come out with a trolley full – I can’t be alone in that surely! Only recently I popped out at lunch-time to get a card, and came back with two full carrier bags from Waitrose, and worse than that, my colleagues were not even surprised. I seriously think I am going to have to delegate the shopping to someone else – send them to the supermarket with a list, or maybe I should order everything online – under close supervision!
So now I have all this food to use up and on top of that I need space in my freezer for my allotment harvest. Because of that we’ve had some pretty inventive meals recently, and I think we are definitely going to be having a few more. Cue more “Use it up” recipes! Here’s what I made one day last week when I had some GF sausages, courgettes and potato wedges to use up: I fried some spring onions, chopped courgettes and peppers in a frying pan then threw in some sliced sausages, potato wedges and tomatoes and stirred until warm. I cracked 6 eggs (for three people) into a bowl and added some herbs, seasoning and a dash of GF Worcestershire sauce. I whisked the eggs lightly and poured them over the sausage mixture and cooked until set. Voila, Sausage Frittata à la Debs.
And here’s another little “use it up” recipe for that left over condensed milk and custard powder as well as those oats or millet flakes we all have lying around (you don’t – oh it’s just me then). Anyway, these are a little like a biscuit and a little like cake, but more than a little bit yummy. The original recipe came from last month’s Good Food Magazine, but as ever adapted I’ve adapted it for us coeliacs. If you can tolerate oats, make sure they’re gluten-free, otherwise use millet flakes, they are just as good. This recipe actually makes a pretty big batch, so you might want to try just half the first time – enjoy!
Syrup Cornflake Crunchies
- 250g butter
- 200g condensed milk
- 175g golden syrup
- 175g cornflakes plus a few extra
- 175g gluten-free oats or millet flakes
- 250g gluten-free plain flour
- 100g custard powder
- 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Heat oven to 180c/160c fax/gas 4 and line a few baking trays with baking parchment.
- Melt the butter, condensed milk and syrup together in a large saucepan.
- Very roughly crush the cornflakes in a bowl with your hands, and then stir in the oats/millet flakes, flour, custard powder and bicarb and mix really well.
- Once everything in the pan has melted take it off the heat and stir in the dry ingredients.
- Roughly scoop tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking sheets, allowing room to spread. Crumble over a few more cornflakes (optional) then squash to flatten a bit with your hands.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.
- Cool on a wire rack.
Makes about 30