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

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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 7 May 2024

By the time this edition of OX Magazine is out, I’ll be on the other side of the world, most likely a little sunburnt and full of a lot of ramen. I’m leaving my very jammy role as Entertainments Editor to go travelling. It recently dawned on me though, that for the first time in my life I have no idea what’s next for me, and I don’t think I mind.

Tue 2 Apr 2024

I still love all things needing petrol to make them work; especially cars and bikes, so I’m a pariah in the eyes of many, which is ironic as the word ‘pariah’ originated from India which is where much of our motoring manufacturing has gone.

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Tue 2 Apr 2024

With all the rain and high groundwater we’ve had recently, it’s an idea to use the water creatively and make your own wildlife pond. Ponds are an oasis for wildlife, buzzing with activity and they provide important refuges and bridges across urban environments.

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Fri 1 Mar 2024

In many areas of life, the top spots are taken by males. This often has nothing to do with talent. The situation is slowly improving but the world would be a better place if more of our global leaders were female. We need fewer testosterone-fuelled males with inflated egos and more level-headed women to help guide us towards the promised land. In our household it's the women who get things done.