Category Archives: Family cooking

Crimes against peanut butter

Food waste has always been a real bugbear of mine but like most people, I hold a particular bias. Although no one likes to discover some long forgotten food item in their kitchen that has clearly aged well beyond its use-by-date, I absolutely despair when something that was perfectly edible and especially tasty is needlessly wasted. Therefore, for purely selfish – or perhaps, more accurately – greedy reasons, it really pains me when the discarded foodstuff in question is something that I like to eat. Which is why when I read in the media about the recent arrest of a couple of spies for espionage-related charges I shuddered with horror. Not because they had been trying to sell secrets about nuclear powered US submarines in an eerie Vigil-like copycat. But that the spies had concealed an SD card containing highly classified information with a message wrapped in plastic inside half of a peanut butter sandwich. It was used in a ‘dead-drop’ in an outrageous abuse of peanut butter!

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Eat in season to save the planet and reap some tasty rewards

Now be honest…How many times this summer have you looked outside at the utterly disappointing UK weather and complained about it? Is it in the double digits? Or the triple?? It is very telling that the topic I discuss most often these days with friends, family and random strangers while queuing is whether we are having a typical British summer or if this is ‘something else’. With the cold temperatures, fluctuating winds and unexpected outbursts of rain that make the weather forecasts about as reliable as a horoscope, the results of my straw poll weigh heavily in favour of the ‘something else’.  

But many of us in the UK are relatively lucky to only be whinging about the lack of BBQ opportunities and getting rained on again during a run. It may have been easier in the past to ignore the ‘something else’ weather when it seemed to be happening somewhere else. But seriously, when the weather is producing catastrophic demonstrations of severe floods and wildfires in such sheer frequency in places that are increasingly more familiar, it is impossible to ignore the absolutely devastating effects that the climate crisis is having on communities. I have to hope that there aren’t many people left on this planet who still doubt that a fundamentally radical change to how the world is tackling the climate crisis is now essential. Although that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone agrees on the solution…Especially when it comes to food and diet.

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Running injuries bite

With life comes risks and that is never so true as when it comes to running. Because being a runner means that you have to accept the risk that one day, you may injure yourself. But all runners know that the benefits of running far outweigh any risk of injury. Otherwise they’d never lace up. However, that does not mean that being injured is any easier. In fact, as someone who has been forced to take a break from running due to a badly injured knee I feel like a grizzly with a sore paw. Impossible to reason with while equally despondent and impatient by not recovering soon enough. Who wants to RICE all the time when they feel in every bone in their body (apart from their sore paw) that they really should be running? Not this grizzly!   

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Will a pudding protest get its just desserts?

If there is one thing that you learn as a parent it is that children will always speak out when there is even the slightest whiff of unfairness in the air. And this is especially true when it comes to food. And when I say food, what I am really talking about is what many children (and some adults) think is the most important meal of the day, pudding. Warfare can break out in households over the dinner table, sparked by the conviction that someone else is having a sliver more of something delicious. But trying to avoid possible accusations about the discrepancy in portion sizes by employing a ‘one cuts, the other chooses’ the slice of [insert favourite cake etc; here] can also backfire. Children soon learn how to carry off the classic bluff and double bluff of ‘Thanks, this is the piece I actually wanted’ with a smirk or two. Annoying these greedy skirmishes are, learning to share, compromise and the concept of fairness are all important lessons to learn growing up. However, family arguments over who has the largest slice pale in comparison to the outrage and protest provoked when entire puddings are struck off a menu. Especially when those favourites are banished without warning for reasons that seem to be spurious at most. And at a primary school in Aberdeenshire, a change in menu caused some young students to take matters into their own hands.  

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Don’t let food waste give you freezer burn

As we reach the end of this year’s Food Waste Action Week I thought I would add my two pence on the importance of reducing our food waste. Even the basic statistics sound pretty shocking and it can be difficult to get your head around the scale of the problem. According to the sustainability charity WRAP, around one third of food produced worldwide is unnecessarily wasted when it is unsold, unused or thrown out by supermarkets, restaurants and the public. That is simply mind blowing, but it gets worse. The natural resources that go into growing the food together with the production and transportation of it for sale are also contributing to climate change. Food production is now responsible for close to 10% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, globally.

But as someone who cares about the planet and loves to cook I didn’t think I had a problem with food waste in my own home. After all, my family happily hoovered up any leftovers they could get their hands on. However, I also knew that I was far from perfect even if food waste was a particular bugbear of mine. Which is why in trying to cut down further on my own food waste I wanted to help others avoid it in Spoiler alert and shared some more tips for using up neglected and forgotten foods in Waste not, want more. Although I have to come clean…I made a glaring oversight when it came to reducing my food waste which I only discovered once all of my children had left home for university.

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