Moving back in with my mum gave us the opportunity to spend more time cooking together which isn’t something we’d normally do. I am vegan and my mum very much isn’t, but I’ve managed to get her to try tofu which is probably one of my proudest achievements during lockdown.
We discovered that a lot of the recipes she used chicken for could be substituted for tofu. I’m hesitant to say that she’ll be doing this once I’ve departed, but it’s been nice to have opened her eyes to the possibility.
Another thing that has been a revelation for me is discovering baking. I’m far too impatient for it usually but I’ve been cooking some vegan desserts through lockdown. I discovered you can make vegan tiramisu using tofu which is delicious. You can also whisk the water from chickpeas (aquafaba) to make vegan chocolate mousse, which was really tasty.
The period at the beginning of lockdown where we didn’t have the ease of access to food which we’ve become so accustomed to was eye-opening. I’m so privileged that this hasn’t been something I’ve experienced before, and that it was short lived. From my work as a volunteer project leader for the charity FoodCycle, I know that the inability to access food - for various reasons - is a daily reality for some people, but it was the first time I’d experienced it first-hand. Before lockdown, I would go to the FoodCycle project in Peckham to help cook for over 60 people using food that would otherwise go to waste. We have many of these set ups around the UK where people come together, not only for the food, but for the social aspect too which is as important because many of the people who attend are socially isolated. But this all changed during lockdown, as group gatherings were banned. FoodCycle were able to adapt very quickly and began not only delivering food parcels to those in need, but offering check-in and chat phone calls to people who would normally attend the FoodCycle project – I’ve been having weekly phone calls with people who would usually attend our centres and it’s been great to be able to still reach out to people who may be feeling isolated.
Being part of FoodCycle has definitely made me more mindful of the way we shop, prepare and eat our meals. One of our main aims is to prevent food waste, so it’s something I keep in mind and have been able to educate my mum on too during lockdown.
The one piece of advice I would give from my personal experience is don’t be afraid to mix things up. I’ve learnt so much from the other volunteers at FoodCycle, and their ability to rustle up the most amazing meals from would-be waste food.
It’s taught me to think more creatively when following recipes – if I don’t have a particular ingredient for a recipe, I’ll now find a substitute from the fridge or cupboard and chuck it in. As I’ve realised tofu can be tiramisu, butternut squash can become mac n’ cheese!
"I’m always optimistic about the amount of spinach I’m going to get through, meaning that I’m often left with a sad bag of it lurking at the back of the fridge. This is a great way to use it up, as well as any leftover bread that’s going stale. I’ve realised just how versatile tofu is during lockdown, and it’s featured in many a dish that I’ve cooked – from tofu scramble to tiramisu! It’s the star of the show again here, and I genuinely don’t think anyone will miss the cheese in this vegan adaptation of this delicious Italian classic." - Sophie WhiteheadView Recipe
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