Monday, 16 March 2020

Store cupboard living.-a menu plan for self isolation

16th March 2020: Dear diary,today I went to the local supermarket where controlled entry(one in one out) with a numbered ticket has now become the procedure.I dutifully stood in line outside and when my number was called I was issued with a pair of plastic gloves and proceeded to do my shopping.Once inside all the fresh food counters had a temporary railing half a metre distant from the actual counter.Self service produce now had to be requested from an assistant who wore a protective mask and gloves.Some shoppers were wearing masks and the mood was silent and sombre.I found it all mildly reassuring and the situation I found myself in instilled me with confidence in the way things were being managed here.It brought to mind what my mother must have experienced in the days of rationing.I was there to stock up without stock piling, what we would need to avoid the normal daily outing to buy fresh produce.Things would change over the coming days/ weeks/ months and I wanted to have a larder that would supply all eventuality.
Our cupboards contain all sorts of things that, with imagination, can be turned into delicious dishes.If coronavirus forces you to self-isolate,or if you are in quarantine, you’ll need to make the most of what you already have in your kitchen and you´ll more than likely be searching for some extracurricular domestic activities.So instead of being a slave to your mobile phone become a slave to the kitchen.Beating the s..t out of a cast iron pan or an energetic ten minutes kneading dough can not only pass the time but relieve any stress build-up as well.
A well-stocked kitchen cupboard is your best friend and that if you look after it, it will look after you. Now, even more than ever, as the coronavirus outbreak forces thousands of us into self-isolation,here are some ideas for what to cook if you are forced to rely on what you already have, rather than popping to the shops for ingredients.Puy lentils are a food of the gods for omnivores and vegans alike, Coronavirus or no virus.By eating our way through our reserves of pasta we do so in solidarity with Italy.Knocking up a store cupboard paella ( with or without meat ) gives us an affinity with our lockdown friends and neighbours in Spain.So before you self isolate, do one big shop that will last you twenty eight  days.To survive your time in solitary confinement you need a well stocked larder of dried goods,canned produce and grains.A salad drawer full of fresh vegetables and a freezer full of freshly frozen meats and fish.Make sure you have plenty of space in your freezer because many of the dishes you cook can be made in larger quantities and frozen in portion control.And don´t forget that box of fish fingers.Nobody is going to knock you for having a fish finger sandwich,soft white bread and lashings of ketchup.A simple supper of fish fingers chips and peas never goes amiss in o cozinheiro´s household.
 So these twenty eight recipes I have given you below will perform absolute alchemy on pantry staples, turning them into soul-warming, comforting deliciousness for you.

Fish cakes
Tinned tuna makes great fish cakes.Made with coconut milk/mashed potato/small onion/chopped chilli and a small spoonful of curry powder...some chopped coriander too if you have a pot growing on the windowsill. 

Patties
One of the most adaptable things around : you need a base (cooked potato or sweet potato, mashed carrots or beans, tofu), bulk (cooked grains, more veg, chopped nuts, breadcrumbs) and flavour (spices, cheese, herbs, onion, garlic, lemon zest, seeds). Mix to obtain something that holds together nicely, then shape into balls and flatten before refrigerating for one hour. Heat some oil in a pan and fry for three to four minutes on both sides. Serve as you would a burger.

Meatballs and burgers
If you have some mince, either pork, beef or a mix of both you can make batches of meatballs and burgers and freeze them.What is more comforting than meatballs and spaghetti? Fight that RSI you have acquired from too much time on the keyboard by rolling and moulding.See,I told you self isolation can become fun and therapeutic too.If you have some day old bread make home made bread crumbs, this will enable an extended repaertoire of dishes.

Jacket potatoes
There are hundred of toppings waiting to be put on top of a jacket potato and most of the ingredients can be found in a store cupboard
tinned tuna
sardines 
sweetcorn
chilli from the freezer
The list goes ever on......


Things to remember: 
You can freeze butter 
If you've got somewhere cool and dark (ie: not a fridge), go get a string bag of onions  That'll last you for ages
Similarly, for big bags of potatoes 
Try not to buy anything you wouldn't ordinarily use, this isn't the apocalypse - you don't want to have a cupboard with a load of old dried milk and freeze dried egg powder in the back in 3 years time.
Look after yourself in the coming days, keep an eye on neighbours if you can, particularly elderly ones and if you go in to lock down, use it as an opportunity for doing the garden or a DIY project!
If quarantine started next week a typical diet could look something like this.
(You may have to adapt according to what region of the globe you are in)

Week 1:
Monday:
Tortilla-esque cauliflower cake
Tuesday: Teryaki salmon with rice
Wednesday: Tinned tuna fishcakes( make extra and freeze)
Thursday: Pasta Putanesca
Friday: Chick pea patties (serve in burger buns with home made tomato sauce or ketchup)
Saturday: Creole jambalaya.(with or without meat)
Sunday: Roast chicken, roast potatoes and carrots.(save carcass for stock and left over meat for risotto a pie or curry)


Week 2:
Monday: Spaghetti aglio e olio
Tuesday: (dried) Mushroom risotto

Wednesday: Aubergine parmigiana..
Thursday: Chicken curry (any which way)

Friday: Tuna and tomato sauce with spaghetti.
Saturday: Cauliflower cheese.
Sunday: Lamb cutlets (from freezer) with chilli roasted pumpkin rocket and salad

Week 3:
Monday: Chicken skewers with satay sauce
Tuesday:Chilli con carne with spiced butter recipe
Wednesday:Leeks a bras Portuguese style
Thursday: Puy lentils with sausages and roasted root vegetables.
Friday: Tagliatelle with bacon and brussels sprouts pesto
Saturday: Pizza bianca.
Sunday: Paella

Week 4:
Monday: Lasagne (chilli lasagne if you have leftover chilli and leftover lasagne sheets)
Tuesday: Cheesy bread pudding.
Wednesday:Beetroot gnocchi with walnut sauce
Thursday: Sardine Fritters with Sriracha-Soy Sauce
Friday: Spaghetti with home made meatballs
Saturday: Thai pork hamburger
Sunday: Duck confit with pancetta puy lentils

Shopping list to achieve most of the above

Fresh meat,fish ,shellfish for freezer

Dried yeast
Plain flour/ bread flour
Several varieties of pasta
Assorted spices 
Chilli sauce/soya sauce/worcester sauce
Honey
peanut butter( can be home made)
rice ( 3 types ) basmati risotto,long grain
Packet of tortillas (different sizes)
Canned items
tomatoes
chickpeas
beans
tuna 
sardines
olives,capers

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