- Go Bin-raiding.
I used to work in a large supermarket and huge quantities of food went out every single day. It really hurt me to see crates and crates of fruit and veg going in the bin because they were out of date, not because they were rotten. Many supermarkets keep their bins under lock and key but smaller branches often have large street bins which are easily accessible and I would advise that you have a good rummage late at night. Even if you only get a bag of spuds you’re winning, but it is easy to get yourself bags and bags of food if you are prepared to think outside of the box and -
a) stop worrying that the food is “dirty” because its been in a bin – they just put bags full of food in the bin, what’s dirty about that?
b) stop trusting the “use by” date, trust your nose. Its so basic – you can cut rotten or bruised bits from fruit and veg, don’t eat mouldy yoghurt, and avoid green steak. Easy!
- Carry a few bags or tubs with you so that you can grab anything that you can see in the hedgerows rather than having to pass it by and spend all evening feeling disappointed that you’ve missed out on something luscious, sunwarmed and FREE! An “onya” bag is fantastic as it folds up teeny tiny until you need to fill it with elderflowers or blackberries.
- Save the paper that your butter came in (fold it up, sticky side in, and store in the fridge) and use it to grease baking trays. You’ll get the perfect amount of butter on the tray and you’ll stop your fingers getting slithery.
- Chill cookie dough before baking and you’ll find that they won’t spread all over the place when you bake them
- Get to know your oven. No two ovens are the same so learn your oven’s foibles so that you don’t end up with one side of the cake blackened and the other side raw, or a problem people often experience with fan ovens - food drying out. Protect cakes with a circle of greaseproof with a hole in the middle to let steam escape for some of the baking time, or prevent food from drying out by cooking it in a covered dish. I bake my bread in a casserole dish.
- Check details. It sounds obvious but you need to make sure you didn’t misread SR Flour as Flour, otherwise you’ll have a very flat cake.
- Trust your own instincts and apply logic and you’ll be able to work most things out for yourself, honestly.
- Hold whatever you’re cutting up, with your finger tips so that your fingernails act as a sheild. Its saved me more than a few trips to A &E.
- Taste as you go. When it’s in the pan you can change it and make sure you like it. Once it’s on your plate you can only really cover it in condiments and hope.
- Stop trusting “Use by” dates, they’re for stock rotation and legal reasons and they’re utterly useless. Milk does not suddenly become sour on the stroke of midnight.
- GO FOR IT! Seriously, just try something out. If it doesn’t come out as expected, try to work out what went wrong and do it again. Don’t ever ever ever be afraid of getting it wrong – it’s only food and unless you’re working with shellfish you can’t go too far wrong.