wastenot

The WasteLess Diaries #1

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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 liaskitchen@gmail.com.

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Waste Not Cakes! Carrot & Banana sweetness and pumpkin & mushroom savoury delight

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This year our dream team consisting of Green City Events, Cynefin Cardiff and Lia’s Kitchen will be organising more food waste reduction events in Cardiff’s Roath/Penylan, Splott and Adamsdown areas. Our first Love Food Hate Waste Roadshow on 21 November 2015 kicked off a series of roadshows and workshops to follow in 2016. We cannot explain how much we believe in what we do so we hope that our enthusiasm and dedication is contagious. Now is a great time to think about reducing your food waste and to join the fight to help do something about this ever increasing problem.

At our November 2015 roadshow we provided advice and tips on how to use our imagination to cook with what we have at home. Our savoury and sweet cake samples inspired many of you to be creative in the kitchen. So here are the recipes below. Remember don’t be afraid to replace an ingredient you are missing with another. The cake recipes were inspired by ingredients most us of are likely to waste and seasonal, affordable ingredients such as squash.

The sweet cake recipe is based on a similar recipe shared with me by a dear friend Wendy Twell about ten years ago. Whilst the savoury cake is inspired by pumpkin and winter squash which is abundant at the moment – it is designed to help people not waste some of the larger pumpkins/squash they get hold off. For more inspiration on pumpkin see here.

Follow @greencityevens, @liaskitchen, @cynefincardiff for information on upcoming events.

Thanks to www.dangreenphotography.com and Luke From Cynefin for the snaps today.

Sweet Carrot & Banana Cake

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Ingredients (8-10 portions)

  • 1 carrot coarsely grated
  • 2 ripe bananas mashed with a fork
  • 100ml/g of fat (vegetable oil or melted butter)
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 150 sugar (caster or light brown sugar or a mix)
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g chopped nuts of your choice or roughly chopped chocolate
  • 1 tsp mixed spices of your choices (we recommend mixing half tsp ground cardamom, half tsp ground cinnamon powder, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg)

Preparation (1.5 hours)

  1. Grease and line a 20cm long bread tin or a 20cm round baking tray with flour.
  2. Mix the flour with the baking powder and the spices of your choice.
  3. Mash the bananas with a fork and grate the carrot in the same bowl.
  4. Add the banana and carrot and mix with the flour.
  5. Make a well in the middle and add the fat of your choice and eggs.
  6. Beat well until blended.
  7. Bake in a medium oven (170 centigrade) for 45-1hr or until a skewer pierced into the centre comes out clean.

Lia’s tips:

  • If you have one banana only add another carrot. If the mixture is tight add 1-2 tablespoons of milk to make it looser so that the cake is not dry.
  • Cool down the butter a little before you add to your mixture. Mix in before adding your eggs.
  • The cake keeps well in the fridge for about a week.
  • Have too much leftover cake? Why not eat some of it for breakfast with Greek yoghurt and honey. Or soak the drier slices win some coffee and marsala or other sweet wine, topping it with sweetened yoghurt and fruit for an alternative trifle desert which will impress all your guests.

Savoury pumpkin and mushroom cake

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Ingredients (8-10 portions)

  • 1 small-medium squash/pumpkin or up to 500g peeled squash/pumpkin
  • 1 onion
  • 300g mushrooms
  • 1 small bunch of sage (30g)
  • 300g cornmeal or polenta
  • 200g plain flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 100g butter melted
  • 50-100g cheddar cubed or grated
  • 300ml milk
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 30g sugar
  • Salt
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Butter for frying

Preparation (1.5hr)

  1. Grease and line a square baking tray (25cm x 35cm) or a deep round baking tray (20-25cm diameter).
  2. Cut and peel the pumpkin or squash removing sweet. Then grate coarsely or pulse in a food processor for 2 minutes.
  3. Finely slice the onion, mix with the pumpkin, add two pinches of salt and stir fry in a little bit of olive oil for 10 minutes.
  4. Slice the mushrooms, add a pinch of salt and fry in a little butter until soft.
  5. Fry the whole sage leaves and their chopped stalk in a little butter until crispy.
  6. Mix the flours together with the baking powder.
  7. Add the sugar, fried veg, the butter, the cheese , the milk and the two beaten eggs and mix into a soft batter that is neither too tight not too runny.
  8. Season with more salt if needed and add the fried sage.
  9. Bake for 45min-1hr in a medium over (175 centigrade) or until a skewer pierced in the middle comes out clean.

Lia’s tips:

  • Raw pumpkin does not in my opinion freeze that well uncooked. Stir frying pumpkin or squash is a great way to preserve it. If you have too much cook it, cool it, freeze it and use in cakes, pies and stir fries later on in the year.
  • This recipe is adaptable to various and seasonal ingredients. You can use carrot and greens such as kale and spinach. Or add more mushrooms and less pumpkin. Ingredients such as carrot, pumpkin, courgette, aubergine are good for this cake because the keep this cake moist and soft.
  • Same with the cheese- why not use a mix of cheeses, or blue cheese or whatever you might have in your fridge.
  • You can replace the milk with yoghurt and a little bit of water.
  • If you don’t have sage tarragon is a great alternative and so is rosemary. And of course you can use dried herbs instead of fresh. 1-2 tsp should be enough for this recipe.
  • Polenta or fine cornmeal is a great ingredient to store in your pantry. Many shops on or around City road in Cardiff  sell big bags for very little money. It will come handy for many savoury or sweet cakes which you can use your leftovers. Introduce cornmeal to your life – it is a great ingredient to cook with! s
  • This cake keeps well in the fridge for about a week. It freezes well too.
  • For the summer version of this cake see here.