Mayan Roasted Tomato & Pumpkin Dip
Before us Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern and even Northern Europe inhabitants claimed the tomato as one of the fruits defining our food cultures, this divine berry was a staple of the Mayan diet. Its ancient Mayan name is P’ak. In Nahuatl cultures ingesting the seeds of the tomato berry was considered a divine blessing – its name closer to its worldwide term nowadays is ‘tomatl’. This dip or as some of guests called it ‘tomato and nut butter’ hails from the olden times of South American food heritage. My recipe was inspired by the infamous Diane Kennedy, whose books on Mexican cuisine are a precious ethnography of the land’s food culture. You can use raw, un-peeled pumpkin seeds for one third of the quantity of pumpkin seeds used here. If you do be careful to NOT use salted ones and you might need to increase the water quantity used. I prefer to play safe and to use organic peeled and home roasted seeds.
(yields approx. 500g dip)
- 350g ripe tomatoes
- 160g pumpkin seeds
- Half a habanero or Hungarian hotwax or jalapeño chilli pepper (optional)
- 65-85ml water
- 15g fresh coriander leaves finely chopped
- ½- 1tsp salt
- 2 pinches of smoked or plain salt
- Juice of half a lime
- Handful of chives, roughly chopped or some parsley
- Place the washed & dried tomatoes a non-stick pan with a couple of pinches of salt. Preferably use ripe cherry or small plum tomatoes whole. Other tomatoes should be sliced in half.
- Roast the tomatoes on high heat for the first five minutes and then lower to medium heat to cook until soft in the middle, usually for another five minutes.
- Whilst the tomatoes roast, place the pumpkin seeds in another non-stick pan and toast for a few minutes until they start popping. Make sure you regularly shake the pan to avoid burn.
- Set aside the pumpkin seeds to cool down (5 minutes).
- Whilst the pumpkins are cooling down dry toast the chilli pepper until it browns in spots and softens.
- Using a coffee or spice grinder blend the toasted pumpkins to a fine meal.
- In a food processor place the tomatoes, chilli (if using), the ½ tsp of salt, the coriander and some water. Blend until well mixed.
- Transfer the pumpkin meal and tomato mix into a bowl, add the lime and mix well. You can also mix in the food processor if big enough.
- The mixture should resemble a mayonnaise dip in consistency or a thin hummus.
- If you don’t mind a chunkier dip, you can make the dip in a large stone pestle and mortar. Starting with the grinding of the seeds, then the tomato and pepper and then the other ingredients.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Mix in the lime juice and garnish with the chives.
- Serve with nachos as a starter or beer snack.
In May 2021 we were approached to create a summer garden inspired cocktail for the celebration of the work and successes of our friends at Green Squirrel. We spend time at Global Gardens project, a community allotment and growing space, run by some other friends. With cold weather and rains we were unsure whether the herbs and fruits we anticipated to draw inspiration from would arrive in time. Then suddenly at the end of May the global gods and sunlight smiled upon us. We found inspiration in walks and talks at the garden with one of the growers Poppy. Wild strawberries and the many varieties of mint thriving at the sunbathed garden oasis in the heart of Cardiff gave us the idea for a cocktail you can make anywhere with just a jar, a penknife and some good quality booze! Enjoy!
Here is the video we made for Green Squirrel and below is the recipe!
- One small handful of wild strawberries OR a large & ripe strawberry or two
- 6 mint leaves (Moroccan or spearmint are best) OR 4 sprigs of salad burnet
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 large wedge of lemon (1/4 lemon)
- 1 double shot of white rum
- 1 Tbsp. orange liqueur or triple sec
- Sparkling or soda water
- 4 ice cubes
- A pestle or wooden rolling pin for muddling & crushing
- A jar with a lid (250-300ml)
- A strainer or small/tea leaf sieve
- Throw the wild strawberries or chopped Chilean strawberries into the jar.
- Add the herb of your choice, the sugar and whole wedge of lemon.
- Using the pestle or wooden rolling pin edge crush and muddle all the ingredients for a good few minutes to get the lemon juice out, cream the strawberries and help the herb oils and flavours come out.
- Add the rum and liqueur. At this stage you can set the jar aside to infuse for a while. You don’t need to do that.
- Then add the ice and shake vigorously for a couple of minutes.
- Remove the lemon wedge, squeezing all the good flavour and lemon/booze juice out with your fingers.
- Using a strainer (cocktail or mini sieve) pour into a glass (preferably chilled).
- At this stage you have a short and very strong cocktail which you can sip slowly for a quick way to tipsiness and merriment.
If you prefer a lighter and fresher version add some chilled sparking or soda water, at least 1/3 of the cocktail quantity in the glass or to the top of the glass for a longer version.
Behind the scenes
Here is a video of the place that inspired us!
National Vegetarian Week in May 2019 coincided with a new crop of cauliflower from one of our organic vegetable suppliers, so we thought it is best to share one of our best kept secrets. Cauliflower rice is a recipe which became a regular dish in our kitchen since 2015. We decided to share this at Riverside Real Food Roath Farmers’ Market two weeks ago for one of their community events. It is an easy and quick alternative to grain rice and a great additional side dish to your dinner table. It’s versatility also makes it the perfect addition to lunch boxes, picnics and barbeque tables.
This recipe is inspired by south American and Caribbean flavours. Think lots of lime, a bunch of coriander and a combination of caramelised onion and garlic. And did we say its vegan and gluten free? Cauliflower is a wonderful vehicle of flavours and you can adjust this recipe to take other flavour notes. Other cauliflower dishes we love include the Greek steamed cauliflower salad in lemon and extra virgin olive oil, cauliflower base pizza and deep-fried cauliflower nuggets (the current vegan craze).
- 1 large cauliflower head, grated
- 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 30g coriander, chopped
- Juice of two limes
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1-1.5tsp fine sea salt ff
- Heat the olive oil in a wide, non-stick pan. You will need your widest pan for this.
- Add the finely chopped onion with a generous pinch of salt. Lower the heat and sauté for 10-15 minutes, until the onion slightly caramelises. Don’t forget to stir occasionally to make sure the onion browns evenly.
- Cut the florets off the cauliflower and chop the stem into small chunks.
- Grate the whole cauliflower to rice grains size. The easiest way to do this is through a food processor (pulse in batches to reach the grain like consistency). But you can also grate by hand on the large side of your grater.
- Add the minced garlic to the onion stirring well and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium, add the cauliflower in three batches, stirring well to coat the cauliflower grains with the oil and onion/garlic flavour.
- After 10-15 minutes of stir frying add the lime juice and salt, stir quickly and thoroughly and remove from heat and cover.
- Add the finely chopped coriander and freshly ground pepper.
- Taste to check if you need more salt or lime.
Try making a masala cauliflower rice with a bit of chilli sauce and some chopped tomatoes. Or an Italian flavoured one with basil, garlic and parmesan. Yum!
On Saturday 15 June 2019 I am celebrating the return of Lia’s Kitchen World Café. The night returns to a new location at Riverside in Cardiff. It brings some of the Kitchen’s loved dishes from past events to your table.
This means a lot to me. Because the World Café dinners, which were the Kitchen’s first regular public events, back in 2015 told everyone a story of our cultural diversity, fantastic produce and my own homes. They were made possible with help of friends. They also brought so many of us together for more than just a tasty dinner.
In April 2019, Lia’s Kitchen was set up as a not-for profit company, to formalise its social and environmental objectives. As well as low impact food, raising awareness of seasonal and sustainable produce, and focusing on cultural diversity and inclusivity, our beloved food venture is about bringing people together and challenging isolation. Simply speaking we want to built the world we want to live in around our table. We encourage people to come SOLO and in groups by providing ticketing options to encourage you to do this.
Please bear with us on the regularity of events whilst we put our new plan of action and fun together. But I hope that you join our table on 15 June, to help strengthen the restart of the ventures. Our menu is below . Click and book soon.
I can’t wait to see you there.
This summer I am working on a very important project with Oasis Cardiff and Festival of Voice in Wales. It is called Refugee Food Stories. And it is all about recording the recipes of people who work at and are supported by Oasis, and upskilling/mentoring some amazing individuals. These recipes helped create a menu which you can try at the Oasis Food Trailer at the Wales Millennium Centre Hub at Festival of Voice between 7 and 10 June and 15 and 17 June.
This is a recipe from Sudan and most importantly of an amazing lady called Huda who has made Wales her new home. About a year ago I went to one of Oasis’s Cardiff Supper Clubs where Huda showed us how to make and eat these Sudanese meatballs. I left with images of her family feasting in backyards in celebration of their bonds and life. I left feeling a little bit closer to her and with my belly full and happy. This is her recipe, a nourishing and delicious dish. If you have not tried it yet make sure you visit the Oasis Trailer outside the Wales Millennium Centre and between the Pierhead building this weekend. And why not try to make it at home.
Ingredients (yields 5 portions)
- 500g minced lamb
- 1 onion (150g), finely grated or minced in a food processor
- 1tsp ground coriander
- 1tsp ground pepper
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 100g breadcrumbs
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 50g parsley finely chopped
- 1tsp salt
- Flour (approx. half a cup)
- 1-2 cups vegetable oil to fry meatballs
Tomato & yoghurt sauce
- 4 garlic cloves grated
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1lt passata
- ¼ cup water
- Up to 250g Greek yoghurt (strained)
- ½ tsp coriander
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 250g basmati rice
- 500ml water
- 1 small carrot grated
- 1 small handful frozen peas
- 1 heaped Tbsp butter salt (50g)
Yoghurt and tahini dip
- 125g yoghurt
- 1 garlic clove
- Pinch of salt
- 25g tahini
- Pinch chili powder
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Mix all the mince ingredients (apart from the flour) well in bowl with your hands.
- In a flat tray place ½ cup of flour and spread thinly.
- Place the vegetable oil in a deep-frying pan, cover and heat whilst rolling the meatballs.
- Roll the meatballs into small round balls (3-4cm diameter) and place in the floured tray. The recipe should yield around 25 meatballs.
- Flour the meatballs well by gently shaking in the baking tray until they are lightly covered in flour.
- Fry the meatballs between 6-7 minutes on medium heat, until they are browned. Remove and set aside.
- Add two tbsp of vegetable oil in a deep pot, heat, add the minced garlic for the sauce and stir fry for a couple of minutes on low heat.
- Add the passata, coriander, cinnamon, pepper, salt and some water and stir well.
- Once the sauce starts to bubble add the yoghurt, shake to mix.
- Take off the heat and stir quickly before returning to the hob.
- Add the meatballs and simmer for 15 minutes on low to medium heat.
- To make the yoghurt and tahini drizzle, add all the sauce ingredients and mix well in a bowl.
- For the rice: add the rice, water, carrot and frozen peas to the boiling water and simmer slowly for 10 minutes.
- Add the butter and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Serve a portion of rice with a ladle of 5 meatballs, a drizzled of the dip and a garnish of parsley (as would Huda).
On 14 October 2017 the first and pilot WasteLess dinner took place in the heart of Cardiff at LittleMan Coffee Company Café. It was fun, it was epic, it was inspiring and most importantly it was tasty! But what is WasteLess and why am I telling you about it?
WasteLess is a collaborative pop-up event which involves more than one food businesses in the delivery of a feast using food surplus, food that would have been wasted and food that is produced in a less wasteful manner. The pilot WasteLess feast collected over forty kilos of food that would have been wasted in the week leading up to the event. The food was then safely handled, stored, distributed and cooked by the participating chefs/businesses and volunteers to offer a five-course feast presenting eleven dishes. All participating chefs and cooks contributed ideas to the menu as collections went along. WasteLess tapped into their culinary culture, business practices and the creativity of their teams to bring a wonderful menu together .
I co-run WasteLess with Rebecca Clark from Green City Events. And after years of working together on food waste reduction projects through community cook ups with food destined for the bin, roadshows, school lunch clubs and pop up street food stalls, we wanted to set up a platform that helps local businesses tap into their creative and sustainable practices and to showcase elements of Cardiff’s existing and emerging ‘wasteless’ food movement. There are many fantastic businesses already doing great things and many more who could be supported to do more. We want to bring new businesses to the table and to inspire and assist them in taking a wasteless approach.
The fantastic businesses which contributed to the first WasteLess event include Penylan Pantry, a sustainable café and grocery store which implements the low-waste approach in its practices; Mezza Luna, an award winning, independent, Middle Eastern restaurant; the Little Man Coffee company, an ethical coffee shop which is a hub of community activity and of course, moi, Lia’s Kitchen. Many more were involved in other ways. The Cheese Pantry donated cheese close to its use by date. TOAST Ale provided the event with beers and ales brewed from bread that would have been wasted, The Bottle Shop Cardiff advised on the sourcing of ethical wines and Get Wonky Juices, donated their delicious juices made from ‘scrap’ fruit and veg.
‘Food waste is bad business practice- akin to throwing money in the bin. It’s unsustainable for future generations, and breeds bad habits in an already throwaway society’, says Melissa from the Penylan Pantry. ‘Being part of Cardiff’s first Wasteless dinner was a huge honour and a very exciting prospect, working with others to help raise awareness, offer support and encourage businesses, and the public to think differently about food waste.’
Anna and Zac from Mezza Luna said, ‘As a food business, we at Mezza Luna believe it is our social responsibility to be at the forefront of the fight against food waste.And by doing so encourage people to have better awareness of food and the environment. Middle Eastern cuisine is a great example of the WasteLess approach. For example, all parts of an animal are used for cooking in different dishes. We strongly believe in this approach and we aim to encourage greater respect for food.’
It is not just the businesses that we worked with that really believe in what we do.
Celine Anouilh from the Chartered Institute of Waste Management in Wales said, ‘ I much enjoyed this first WasteLess dinner raising awareness of food waste. Lia and Rebecca used of the right ingredients to produce a taste meal and an inspiring event: a partnership between enthusiastic and ethical businesses, forgotten food from super markets shelves, great cooking skills, creativity and passion! I ate a delicious meal, met wonderful people. CIWM Cymru wishes every success to this fantastic project and look forward to attending the next dinner’.
The October event was just a test to see if our WasteLess vision is truly possible. We are now ready for the next step. Partly supported by Sainsbury’s Waste Less Save More fund Green City Events and Lia’s Kitchen will help deliver more WasteLess events in 2018.
The first WasteLess dinner entertained thirty guests and raised over £600 for Cystic Fibrosis in memory of Tom Woollam (Better Life Appeal Llandough Hospital).
We would like to thank all businesses who donated prizes to a charity raffle: John Lewis, Snact, Get Wonky, HangFire Southern Kitchen, Milgi Cardiff, Penylan Preserves, Colourfiled, Twin Made, Nelly’s Treasures, Ellicopter Hoops and Sustainable Studio.
Lia Moutselou, Lia’s Kitchen and Rebecca Clark from Green City Events co-design and co-run WasteLess. Our partnership on food waste and ethical ventures is well established. Over the three years we joined forces to deliver a series of food waste projects and initiatives in Cardiff, in collaboration with Love Food Hate Waste campaigns and other local organisations and businesses. From community cook ups with food destined for the bin, to roadshows, school lunch clubs and pop up street food stalls, we have inspired, engaged and educated to encourage action and behaviour change relating to food waste.
Lia’s Kitchen is an ethical food venture inspired by sustainability, Greek cuisine and world flavours: www.liaskitchen.com. Green City is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company based in Cardiff, hosting a range of exciting and inspiring environmental and sustainability events and workshops: www.greencityevent.co.uk
Sign up to our mailing list for future WasteLess events or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On 21 May 2017 Melissa (Penylan Pantry), Sam and Shauna (Hangfire), Bettina (Brød-The Danish Bakery), Goldie (Samosaco), Ericka Duffy (cocktail and taste expert), Ashli (Spillers Records) and I worked together to deliver a unique night of food, drink and music. What united us, apart from our extremely worthy cause to raise money for Action Against Hunger, is our passion about women leading the way in food business and good, ethical, tasty food. We delivered this event under the banner of Meal Squared, a format that delivers collaborative events and which Melissa set up last year to strengthen Cardiff’s growing independent business community.
The inspiration for Cooking From the Heartland came from the ‘Severn Sisters’ Bristol dinner organised by Romy Gill MBE and Kim Somauroo in autumn 2016. It involved women from different food cultures to create a female feast. ‘We were so inspired by our experience [of attending the event] that we decided to have our own version in Wales. Our feast, ‘Cooking from our heartland’ is inspired by the international drinks, food and music makers we know and love’, say Sam and Shauna. For me and the other women who were approached to participate in this evening there was no doubt that this was going to be our kind of fun.
This is the story of our coming together. It tells you why we chose Action Against Hunger, what ‘Cooking from the Heartland’ means to us and why we think it is so important that women work together…
I would particularly like to thank Oliveology, Blaencamel Farm, Cig Lodor Meat, All Greek Delicatessen, CocoCaravanCocoCaravan for donating ingredients for the mezze platter and dessert I prepared for the event. A massive thanks to all the other women who volunteered and worked hard on the night . And to Kas of Waterloo Tea who gave us access to his amazing restaurant/coffee house in Wyndham Arcade to run the event.
We chose Action Against Hunger because …
‘165 million people suffer from childhood malnutrition. If they joined hands, they could form a complete circle around the earth. I think this says it all.’ (Mel, Penylan Pantry)
‘When we started Hang Fire, we sofa surfed for the first year, ploughing every penny from the last pop-up back into next. Now that we have a roof over our heads, we think if you have two quid, you have a quid to share. It’s important to always give a something back. Action Against Hunger does amazing work all year round, both at home and further afield. It is our chosen partner charity this year. With everything happening in the world right now, we need to keep looking out for each other and help those who aren’t as fortunate as us.’ (Sam & Shauna, Hangfire)
‘We’re told that we’re living in exciting times of such progress and achievements in the sphere of technological development and medical advancements, yet so many children are going hungry and die of malnutrition. That isn’t right. Thank goodness for Action Against Hunger for making it their business to help those who are less fortunate.’ (Ashli, Spillers Records)
‘Nobody is immune to misfortune. People’s lives change overnight through war, unemployment, illness. People go hungry in Wales. Refugees walk thousands of miles to safety, water and food. In Greece people like us bin-dive to find food. Recently, at food community project in Uganda I often drove past international relief lorries transporting food to South Sudan and Yemen on a massive scale. I support Action Against Hunger with all my heart’. (Lia, Lia’s Kitchen)
Cooking from our heartland means ….
‘Seasonal, free thinking, creative cooking inspires me. I love nutritious, wholesome ingredients, that are good for your health, soul and mind. My heartland is wherever I happen to fall. I like to cook with local produce from the surrounding area. I feel strongly that the best way to know a new place, is to get stuck into the local food culture.’ (Mel, Penylan Pantry)
‘We are Celts and experts in the art of slow cooking and smoking. Cooking from our heartland brings those two things together to create our own version of Southern Wales style BBQ using great local produce. We take the best that the UK has to offer and couple it with the cooking techniques we learned in the States all to a soundtrack by Dolly Parton!’ (Sam & Shauna, Hangfire)
‘Baking is an important connection to my birthland. Moving to Wales in 1998, I quickly felt at home but always missed Danish bread. The rubbish Danish Pastries in the UK meant I had to set the record straight. My heartland is with my grandfather (FarFar) who was a baker in central København. My mother, grandmother and I baked to his tales of making bread (brød), pastries and cake. I’ve kept going and now I can do the same for you through Brød.’ (Bettina, Brød)
‘We live in an age where access to “stuff” in unlimited. Every thing’s a commodity. You can hear music from a culture a million miles removed from your own. You have access to ingredients from lands far and wide. Anything goes. This creates an exciting palette for a music fan or food lover. But if something is made with passion, with heart and soul oozing out of it, it hits you in the solar plexus and resonates. That sort of passion is the difference between wholesale, mass produced for the highest margin return and the real deal. I think that the unifying thing about the team bringing this event together is that we are only interested in the real deal. It’s all about passion.’ (Ashli, Spillers Records)
‘The Heartland theme meant exploring my connection to Wales which for me revolves around art and literature. My cocktails are inspired by the Davies sisters who contributed much to the artwork and culture that enthrals me about Wales. They bought whole galleries of artwork (Monets, Manets, Rodins). They established Gregynog Hall as a centre of excellence for the arts, crafts and music. Most importantly, the Davies Sisters took in Belgian refugees including the sculptor George Minne, and the painters Valerius de Saedeleer and Gustave van de Woestyne. All three artists were to spend the rest of World War I largely dependent on the Davies family for support. You can visit the Davies Galleries at National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.’ (Ericka Duffy, Cocktail and taste expert)
‘Cooking from the heartland brings you the taste of my Greece whilst mixing it with world food influences, and good Welsh/UK produce I discovered in the past twenty years living away from the birth land. My platter is about ingredients from some of the businesses involved in the collaboration, whilst I introduce you to some of my favourite Greek and Welsh, UK- based businesses. And every dish reminds me of someone I love. My Yaya (Grandma) for the boozy tzatziki, my Mana (Mom) for the meatballs and my Aderfo (brother) for the fava dip.’ (Lia, Lia’s Kitchen)
Women should work together …
‘Women make up 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, and account for about two-thirds of the world’s 600 million livestock keepers. Still to this day millions of women and girls around the world are discriminated against simply because they are born female. Events like International women’s day send a message of unity, solidarity and compassion. I hope MealSq Menywod sends out the same message on a smaller scale. Gender discrimination should not be accepted in this day and age.’ (Mel, Penylan Pantry)
‘We have always championed the idea of bridging the gender gap in any industry, and the hospitality industry is no different. We’re surrounded by talented, courageous women who are a daily inspiration to us. It’s a great privilege to come together and produce an event that is not only authentic but heartfelt from some incredible women truly passionate about what they do.’ (Sam & Shauna, Hangfire)
‘In the words of Poly Styrene “Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard. But I think “oh bondage, up yours!”. Being a go-getting female with a lot of knowledge in your field, you often have to play down your expertise and shrink below your ambitions. With politics at the forefront of many people’s minds at the moment, it’s important to remember that not so long ago women were denied the basic human right to have our say. But let’s not forget we are the lucky ones. Many women worldwide still do not have the right to exercise their own choice. In the face of regressive steps the world has taken lately we must continue to fight for our rights and demand equality.’ (Ashli, Spillers Records)
‘I like working with inspirational people, both men and women. But I think this is an event that shows how we women can support each other in business.’ (Bettina, Brød)
‘This meal presents females who work in flavour and taste – each of us in traditionally male-dominated fields. Between our different skillsets, point-of-view, and aesthetics there is a collaboration occurring – from baking, Greek cuisine, smoking, cheese pairing, cocktail mixing, and the music selection by the World’s Oldest Record shop.’ (Ericka Duffy, Cocktail and taste expert)
‘I have had fun and struggles being a female immigrant claiming my place in Britain! As a Greek girl, I was often stereotyped to suit the service industry just fine but some people were shocked I was also a law graduate, a young lecturer or that I chose to start my own food venture. I have had many lives. I refuse to be pigeonholed. And women should fight together against prejudice. Antagonism is not a female trait so it’s time to resist being turned into alpha-males. Our global village relies on running it together. There is space for everyone. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.’ (Lia, Lia’s Kitchen)
As the year draws to an end and in the midst of this wonderful festive season it is time to reflect on our food consumption and the amount of edible food that may be wasted. What can you do to love your leftovers and to reduce your food waste?
This Christmas weekend we have had fantastic time in our kitchen using our limited leftovers from Christmas dinner. They went such a long way making us two delicious pie dinners (one with turkey and one with ham), bubble & squeak with our roasted veg, whilst we had planned to use our organic cabbage in a pickled raw salad with seeds because it lasts well over a week! Yesteday we cleared through our cupboards making sure that everything is clearly labelled and this week we will be mainly eating what’s already there.
Make a pledge to join us this year in our effort to help reduce waste, to take care of ourselves better through nutritional meals and to benefit our pockets. There is plenty of inspiration and help from us and Green City Events coming up with Love Food Hate Waste roadshows and cook ups scheduled most of the weekends of January and February 2016.
To stay up to date with booking links and further information, follow us on twitter and facebook, and subscribe to our mailing list.
In the past couple of months I have worked with Green City Events and Cynefin Cardiff to deliver two cooking workshops and a roadshow to help the kind people of Roath to find ways to reduce their food waste. We have done this in the process of delivering the Love Food Hate Waste Campaign  in Cardiff supported by Wrap Cymru.
The week after our last cooking workshop on 21 February I decided to practice what I preach and took my own personal Love Food Hate Waste challenge. I pledged to shop very little food (apart from fresh essentials) and to eat what is already in my cupboards and freezer for the most part of the week.
The challenge was a great creative success and I saved around £30 as I only bought small quantities of milk, some cheese and some salad to complement the meals we made.
The meal I was most proud of that week was a Mexican spice inspired vegetable dish made from frozen cauliflower, quorn mince and spinach (all commonly kept in my freezer), the leftover greens that we did not use at the cooking workshop on 21 February, the final two spoons of yoghurt, a tin of black beans from my essentials’ pantry and the last cup of couscous from that bag that we have not eaten for ages. Not only did that dish give us dinner and lunch the next day, I actually froze a couple of portions in anticipation of the busy week that followed.
During my challenge I looked carefully through my cupboards and my freezer. For example, I thawed just over half a kilo of meatball mix that was leftover from one of our supper clubs and made a linguini ragú with which gave us a couple of meals for two and another frozen meal.
At the Love Food Hate Waste workshops we aimed to empower people to make personal and household changes to their food consumption and wastage. Lots of people seemed worried about getting a recipe right or that they couldn’t cook with random ingredients. So hopefully through making different mixed vegetable Ribollita soups with various herbs and whatever vegetable was available to us at the same workshop we empowered participants to be creative and daring in adapting recipes to what they have or can afford. Experimenting is the way!
I would definitely recommend Eat-What-You-Have weeks like mine as they will help you sort through your cupboards and freezer. Making shopping lists or using the online Love Food Hate Waste App on your smart phone can help you loads with shopping and meal planning. And if you fancy being inspired by seasonal ingredients or what is on offer, why not browse www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for ideas.
One of the most useful tips I could give you to save food and money is to be aware of what you already store in our cupboards before heading back to the shops. Also storing food correctly, e.g. labelling it, using airtight containers or keeping your fridge temperature low will make you yield more meals from what you buy. Using your freezer more and keeping it tidy is another step to help you achieve this by prepping food in advance, storing the right amount of frozen basics or storing extra portions from meals.
The whole process of this project has made me think long and hard about food waste and food poverty. According to the Trussell Trust the number of people using food banks has almost tripled since last year. And whilst this is because of the increase in the number of food banks set up, a noteworthy effort to help an increasing number of people in need, I cannot reconcile this fact with the amount of food still being wasted in the UK. It is estimated that we still throw away 7 million tons of food and drink a year. This is food is costing all of us £12.5bn each year.
Today I was reading about France’s Good Samaritans law which protects those helping someone in need or peril from being sued or accused if something goes wrong. It is important to protect public health and to minimise risk for people in the food sector. But I wonder, would the introduction of a ‘good Samaritan’ legal principle in the UK encourage all of us personally as well as larger corporations or small (food) businesses to do more to address food poverty or to donate food that we would have otherwise wasted?
 Love Food Hate Waste is a campaign that has been running since 2007 and run by WRAP, a well-established not-for profit company that is responsible for a lot of good work in on resource efficiency and waste reduction across the UK.
The last 2014 Lia’s Kitchen pop-up dinner took place on the last full moon of the year . On Sunday afternoon I ‘sat’ tired amongst boxes and paperwork reflecting on the two pop up dinners we completed this weekend. What a success!
Accounted for are a broken box (it happens), a broken gazebo (don’t ask), at least 30 to-S and fro-S between the shed , the living room and the car, hours of cooking , sorting , cleaning, thinking. And also one proud me and endless moments of contentment.
I begun and ended this year’s pop-up dinners at Penylan Pantry a deli/café that has livened up and brightened our area. I have thrown five pop up dinners since May 2014 all exploring foods, cultures and recipe combinations that I love. It’s been quite the journey, fulfilling and always full of surprises.
The next immediate thing on the cards for me is slightly different in that it will involve educational waste awareness workshops to help people reduce their food waste. I will be working with two social venturers I respect a lot. I am very excited and proud I will be using my free time towards such a venture.
As for the future…it holds surprises that I cannot predict but I am sure there will be congregations as beautiful and warm as those of the last two days. So watch this space ! Get in touch! Don’t be a stranger!
Thanks to all who have joined our table and made these pop up dinners so wonderful. It’s the people who appreciate what’s offered to them and enjoy each other that create this wonderful atmosphere that seeps into our life and fuels Lia’s Kitchen.
Thank you old and new friends who help make Lia’s Kitchen happen through your hard work -you know who you are.
Happy birthday to the Penylan Pantry who is one today. Mel and Jo well done you are stars and thanks for hosting Lia’s Kitchen events.
Photos by Jo, Penylan Pantry, Dean Doyle, Lia’s Kitchen and Dan Green.