Caribbean style chilli, 28p [VEGAN]

Winter is coming, the time of year where perpetual colds and snuffles are imminent, the nights draw in darker, and I start to crave a little bit of heat and spice. Usually I spend my winters making long slow curries, but, ambling around the Caribbean section of a supermarket I don’t usually manage to get to, I started to rifle […]

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Heating or Eating?

Imagine having to choose between having a warm home, or having a meal. Regular readers will know that it is a choice I made almost constantly in 2012 and 2013, unemployed and with benefits frequently suspended and delayed, freefalling into debts from bank charges and rent arrears, and unable to feed myself and my young son, and warm my home. […]

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Katie Hopkins losing her job is nothing to celebrate (unedited version)

Unless you have been on a series of long-haul flights recently, or don’t use social media, you will have heard by now that erstwhile darling of the alleged unheard underdog, purveyer of perversions of truth and justice, and dogwhistle dogmatic, Katie Hopkins, has been unceremoniously given the heave-ho from that bastion of truth and fairness, the Daily Mail. Following a series of carefully manufactured outrage-generating (and ostensibly damaging) ‘articles’, it seems Hopkins has been deemed too much for even a publication whose print sibling has been accused of hounding a transgender teacher to her death, has metaphorically dug up Ed Milibands dead father, and dedicated a whole page of fury to same-sex traffic lights in Oxford Circus (after they had been up for several months, I might add, but months behind is pretty good going for a newspaper still mentally circulating in the 1930s). ‘What would Nelson say?’ the headline exclaimed, clutching its black and white pearls. ‘Kiss me Hardy, I presume’, I mumbled as I turned the page. For the past three days, since the news broke, my timeline, text messages and email inbox have been flooded with messages of congratulations, celebration, and asking me how I feel about it. I steadfastly ignored every one, unwilling to add my voice to the public mix of jubilation. I started to type a ‘hoorah’, but deleted it; it felt hollow, and I didn’t mean it. Having famously taken her to court […]

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Sunny broth, 19p

This beautiful, bold, soup is full of goodness and vitamins and vitality, and reminds me of a gentle, grandmotherly hug. It’s a brightening tonic, a perky pick-me-up, and a simple sushine injection for a hangover or a cold or a bluesy day. You can blend it all together for a more substantial meal, but here I have strained it for […]

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Unicorn Slaw, 18p (VEGAN)

This particular recipe doesn’t strictly fall within the ‘bootstrap’ range, owing to its use of ludicrously beautiful blue petals as a finishing touch, but if you’re willing to abandon them, then it’s a different – and simpler – prospect entirely. I try to keep the recipes on this blog to easily accessible ingredients for as many people as possible, but when I posted a photograph of this on Twitter and Instagram, I was inundated with requests for the recipe. Cornflower petals are admittedly a little specialist (once you’ve been cooking for a living for a few years, your shelves do acquire all sorts of oddments…) the more humble kitchen could replace them with chopped parsley or mint for a similar eye-popping colour contrast, without the hit to your wallets. Serves 4 as a side dish at 18p each – including the stupid and entirely unnecessary bright blue flowers A generous handful (100g) of cabbage, kale or spring greens, 14p+ (Sweetheart cabbage 70p/500g, Spring greens 85p/200g and kale £1.20/250g – take your pick!) 1 carrot, 5p (75p/1.5kg, Basics carrots) 1 onion, 9p (80p/1.5kg, Basics onions) 1 beetroot, fresh or pickled, 20p (Vac-packed 80p/250g, fresh £1.65/200g) 1 tbsp red or white wine vinegar, 3p (at a push, malt vin will do if you don’t keep the fancy stuff kicking about…), (£1.15/500ml, Sainsburys own) A few pinches of salt, <1p (40p/750g table salt) 1 tsp/4g sugar,<1p  (80p/1kg Fairtrade granulated white sugar) 4 tbsp […]

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Tw*tbreads, 4p

I joke that ninety-seven percent of the spontaneous conversations that my friends start with me – especially mid afternoon or early in the evening – are panicked cookery conundrums, photographs of burned pans, musings about what to have for dinner based on photographs of their kitchen cupboards, or emergency cake queries. This afternoon was no exception.  It started off innocently […]

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Tomatoey baba ghanoush, 30p (VEGAN)

Baba ghanoush is a popular Middle Eastern dish, often served as a dip with flatbreads or pitta. I sometimes add cooked chickpeas to mine for a simple, flavoursome supper, or toss it through pasta with fresh mint for an easy lunch. I highly recommend cooking the aubergines over an open flame for a deep, smoky intensity – I hold mine […]

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Brown bread ice cream, 24p

I first discovered brown bread ice-cream in an old copy of Mrs Beeton’s Everyday Cookery, and as an avid maker of simple ice-cream and brown bread, decided to combine my two recipes. You don’t need an ice-cream maker for this one, I don’t own one. If you have an electric whisk or cake mixer, it will come in handy, but you can make this without – you just need a little patience and a firm hand.  Makes around 8 portions at 24p each. Prices based on Sainsburys, Basics where available, and correct at time of writing.  100g wholemeal or brown bread, 5p (40p/800g loaf, Basics) 200ml milk, 9p (44p/litre) 3 egg yolks, 56p (£2.30/12 eggs, free range) 100g sugar, 8p (80p/kg, Fairtrade) 300ml double cream, £1 (£1/300ml) A fistful of sultanas, 10p (£1/400g, Basics) For the topping: 2 tsp breadcrumbs  1 tsp sugar, <1p (80p/1kg, Fairtrade) Few pinches ground cinnamon, <1p (80p/100g, Natco) Soak your bread in a little milk and stand to one side for an hour or so. Separate your eggs – I pour my whites into a jar and use them for meringues, egg-white omelettes and egg-fried rice – and beat the yolks in a large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat well. Pour in the cream and whisk until the mixture has almost doubled in size. Run a finger through: it should feel airy, light and fluffy, and not fall off […]

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On Valentines Day…

(With my apologies to those of you who are only here for the recipes – occasionally I digress into other things that I feel are important, too, and today instead of sharing my Love Soup recipe or Come To Bed Carbonara again, this came pouring out of my fingertips instead.) Happy Valentines day…  To every man and woman who ever […]

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Soffritto, 19p

For the last few months, I have been spying little jars of soffritto paste in the specialty foods aisles of various supermarkets. Snuggled next to such exoticisms as ancho chillies, dried porcini mushrooms, and other things that it is ‘nice to have but not essential’ (although Waitrose now feature artichoke hearts in their Essentials range, for the love of God!). […]

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Beetburgers, 18p (V)

  I love the general enthusiasm that Veganuary generates across my social media (an annual challenge to try vegan for January), and this year with 40,000 people signing up and support from Stella McCartney and other fabulous animal lovers, the buzz created has been gorgeously warm and supportive. I am busy finishing my book at the moment – and thank you all […]

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Sprout Scones, 15p (V*)

  Sniff not, leftovers fans, for this is a delicious and delightful way to use up any leftover greenery hanging around from recent festive dinners. Spring greens work just as well, and spinach, or a combination of anything green and leafy, really. Knobbly, straggly ends and rinds of cheese can be incorporated into these too, for a baked brunch or lunchtime treat […]

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Self-Love Stew (V)

I cooked for myself last night. This is pretty good news, considering how blue I have been the last few days… Black dog came home, and cooking is the self-love I need but often the first thing it takes in its jaws. So I hereby christen this Self-Love Stew. I’ll reformat it into a proper recipe later on, with costings, […]

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Warm Chickpea Salad With Bacon And Olives, 47p

Dear vegan and vegetarian readers, please do not despair. I haven’t gone back on myself and am not eating bacon; I have pledged to upload the contents of both of my cookbooks as a free resource to help people to cook on a budget in the wake of the news that the BBC will be removing recipes from its website. This means that a few non-veggie recipes may be appearing in your inboxes over the next few days, and I absolutely do not mean to cause anyone any offence or upset. I’m just trying to be helpful to people who will find these recipes useful in managing their household budget, or learning to cook.  Anyway, this recipe is from my first book, A Girl Called Jack, and was born of the bottom of a jar of sliced olives, some scraps of cooking bacon and a tin of chickpeas lurking in the cupboard. Olives may seem like a luxurious ingredient, but at around 60p for a 185g jar they deliver a strong, punchy livener for pennies if used sparingly. Once opened, they keep in the fridge for a few weeks, and can be used to make a tapenade (a rough paste for dipping things in, smearing on toast, or tossing through – just finely chop or whizz with garlic, lemon and oil), or added to a tin of tomatoes with some chilli and a dash of vinegar for a rough take on spaghetti alla puttanesca. All hail […]

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Oodles of Doodles

Hello! I’ve been busily working on Bootstrap so the blog has been a bit quiet lately – but here’s something I have been desperate to share for a while! The Kickstarter edition of Bootstrap will be illustrated instead of photographed, inspired by the old cookbooks like Mrs Beeton, Dorothy Hartley, and a lot of the 16th century cookery books I […]

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Go on, be a tosser. (9 easy pancake recipes, from vegan to gluten free, leftover porridge and everything in between.)

Apparently we don’t bother with pancakes on Pancake Day any more. That’s what a press release that landed in my email inbox this afternoon told me; that we, as country, aren’t all tossers. We don’t flip out. We no longer belong in the gang of whisk-pour-fry-flip-lemon-sugar-munchers. I simply don’t believe it, and I hope you will all prove me wrong. […]

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Applesauce bread-cake (V), 9p

    This applesauce bread-that’s-a-bit-cakey is based on my original vegan banana bread recipe from my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack. Photographs of that banana bread are sent to me on a near-daily basis, with an especial flurry at weekends, and I am delighted to receive them. It remains one of my favourite recipes, but every now and again a reader gets […]

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