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Knowledge, Eat

This Month I’m Inspired By: The Use‘em Up

Sophie Elkan
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Actually, that’s not strictly true. I’ve been inspired by the Use’em-Up since we were housebound last March, and the weekly food shop was suddenly forced to accommodate extra meals as breakfast lunch and dinner were all to be eaten en-famille around the kitchen table. That’s not even counting ingredients for Cake-of-the-Week; a lockdown staple which has outlived social distancing (if the current predictions at the time of writing are correct).

A combination of this shift in food quantity and the regular reading of fellow columnist Manda Tudge’s Carbon Chronicles has caused me to reflect on food waste and embark on a new regime of meal prep, now fondly referred to as ‘The Use‘em-Up’. And what an unexpected delight it has been; I now scorn sell-by dates and go purely by smell and texture. Sweaty ham? No thank you. Slightly hardened ham? Perfect for chopping into some droopy green beans, a tin of tomatoes and a few cloves of garlic for a Middle Eastern-inspired supper. A weekend roast no longer seems profligate for a family of three when I can enjoy it in the knowledge that at some point in the following week, we’ll be dining on a bastardised Chinese style chicken fried rice and lunching on chicken soup – aka Jewish penicillin.

Moreover – and perhaps this is its strongest selling point – Use‘em-Up helps relieve the tedium of deciding what to cook. It’s a daily challenge, my own private version of Ready Steady Cook, but instead of a shopping bag of random ingredients, I am forced to puzzle a delectable dinner out of half a packet of feta, a handful of soggy spinach and leftover rice. Sometimes I cheat and search up my disparate selection, adding the word ‘recipe’ on the end. A squeeze of lemon and a tin of chickpeas added to the above yielded Spanokorizo – or Greek Rice (the chickpeas were my attempt to bulk it out a bit so please don’t @ me). We might have been grounded in Oxford but our culinary adventures have taken us around the world.


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Tue 19 Oct 2021

Eighth Oxfordshire Pumpkin Festival encourages residents to eat – not bin – their pumpkins

Wed 13 Oct 2021

Book your tickets to the first ever food and farming literature festival in the UK, hosted by FarmED and co-curated by Chelsea Green Publishing, which celebrates the words, stories and experiences from the wonderful world of regenerative farming and sustainable food.

Wed 6 Oct 2021

After a whole year of limited exercise, now’s the time to pull on the plimsoles and book a fantastic walking tour.  Ask William has teamed up with some of the best guides in the city, using state of the art sound systems, to offer truly memorable guided tours where you will be delighted by glimpses of Oxford well off the beaten path – with access to sights not normally enjoyed by the casual visitor.   

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Tue 5 Oct 2021

Carbon Chronicles

Reducing my carbon impact one month at a time

My friend and I were discussing how frustrating it is that we recycle pretty much everything apart from cosmetics. She then told me something so cute I wanted to weep: there is an animal rescue charity that uses old mascara wands to rehabilitate injured animals.