QUARANTINE DIARIES, COMFORT FOOD & ALL THE SMALL THINGS THAT KEEP US GOING
Have you met Eleni from the Foodie Corner? If you have a slow cooker you absolutely must, her website is a treasure trove of authentic Greek recipes as well as easy and nutritious modern recipes. She takes Westley, her wonderful golden retriever, out for walks too. She is sharing her experience of lockdown and a super nutritious solution no matter how busy or not: nourish bowls, healthy, filling and oh so versatile!
A few words about you, where did the quarantine find you?
Hey everyone! I’m Eleni and I am half English half Greek. I grew up in Athens and I now live just outside the city, on the east coast, with my partner and boisterous golden retriever, Westley! The quarantine found me at home, thankfully.
What did it change for you ?
Well I have been doing the food blogging thing full time for several years now, so I’ve worked from home for a while. In practical terms nothing much has changed. Also, I live a bit far away from my friends and family and didn’t see them all that often so again, I haven’t felt the effects as much as other people. But aside from the practical aspect, psychologically it has taken its toll. I had some pretty major plans lined up, which have now gone down the crapper (sorry!). Oh well, it is what it is!
How many loo-rolls can you count in your cupboards?
Ha, surprisingly we didn’t see much of a shortage in any of the usual suspects around these parts. Loo paper was always readily available and so was flour. I heard some people had trouble finding yeast around Easter time but that’s about it. Oh wait, yes, hand sanitizer. That was nowhere to be found at first. To answer your question though, I think I have about 4 rolls! I need to go shopping pretty soon.
Comfort food, please share your favourite recipe and why you love it.
Ooh, I love eating so much that I can’t choose just one. My favourite cooking gadget on the other hand, that is a straightforward choice. My slow cooker. I love slow cookers so much I wrote a slow cooker cookbook. It’s called The Greek Slow Cooker and yes, it has classic Greek recipes adapted for this method of cooking. One of my favourite recipes in it has to be the Briam (Greek Summer Vegetable Ratatouille, pictured below). I have a similar version on my blog too.
Truth be told the slow cooker has served me very well during the quarantine as – strangely enough – I’m not really a stress-baker or stress-cook. I haven’t really felt the urge to make homemade sourdough bread and homemade pasta! I have spent some time developing a couple of recipes for work, but for my own sustenance I’ve relied on the slow cooker (mostly lentil soup and green bean & tomato stew which is the Mister’s favourite) and on “nourish bowls”.
Here’s an example of a nourish bowl I ate three days in a row and wished I had more. Baked falafel, pan-steamed broccoli cooked with millet and spices, sweet potato, avocado, quick pickled cabbage and vegan mayo. It sounds elaborate and complicated but I assure you, I haven’t been in the mood for elaborate and complicated. To break it down:
- The baked falafel is a simple recipe in which I switched the fresh parsley with dried (wasn’t going to go out just for a bunch of parsley). The rest of the ingredients are mostly pantry staples (dried chickpeas and spices etc). I baked lots in one go and kept them all week in the fridge. They were life savers. There are lots of recipes out there if you don’t have a favourite already.
- The broccoli was dying a slow death in the fridge so I sautéed it with spices until it started to colour then added a little water and put the lid on to steam it. A few minutes later I added some millet and some more water, and simmered it all until the millet softened and absorbed the water. I kept that in the fridge for a few days too.
- The sweet potato is another slow cooker win. Have you tried “baking” potatoes in the slow cooker? You must. Wash and scrub them, pop them in (you don’t add anything else, not even water), and cook them until a knife glides through. You can rub some oil on first if you want but it’s not necessary. Easiest baked potatoes ever. (Same applies to both sweet and regular) If you’re wondering why mine is yellow it’s because it is a Greek variety, not the usual orange one.
- The quick pickled cabbage is another brilliant make-ahead thing that you can pull together super fast and then keep it in the fridge for ages. I mean like months even. Here’s my recipe – just leave out the eggs if you don’t want them.
- Avocado needs no spiel. It works with everything. The vegan mayo is a nice addition (obviously you could also use regular mayo) or you could use a drizzle of nice oil such as pumpkin seed oil or flaxseed oil etc if you can find it. Just a bit, to make things a teensy bit juicier. Don’t forget a splash of lemon or lime.
I love bowls of this kind. And most of all I love making decent quantities of stuff I can keep in the fridge and enjoy over the next few days. These bowls here are also pretty healthy. To balance that out I had crisps or (ahem… and) ice cream afterwards. Every time.
How do you cope?
Hm. Telly and crime novels. These are my go-to de-stressing activities. Recent favourite tv series were Unorthodox and Caliphate (but don’t watch Caliphate if you’re feeling low). Of course I love all the major US shows such as Grey’s Anatomy (yes, still), Law & Order SVU (duh dun), Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, This is Us etc. And I adore good British crime series (hello Happy Valley). These days the Mister and I are enjoying watching The Sopranos again. Brilliant.
Where will you go eat once this madness is over?
Ah, not sure where, but it will most probably be brunch. A good frothy cappuccino and some avo toast maybe. Or a big stack of pancakes. Or both. Ok for sure both. Actually, can I change my answer? I think before doing brunch I will be heading to my mum’s in the city (haven’t seen her since all this began), where we’ll order huge veggie burgers from a great burger place near hers. And eat them while watching Law & Order, hahaha!
Share a wish, just so we can finish on a happy note
A wish eh? I wish for no more death (impossible but I can still hope), and I also wish that we DON’T return to normal after this. Normal is what got us here to begin with. I wish that people will return to their everyday lives a little more conscious of what is happening to nature. What we are doing to nature. The links between new viruses and environmental issues (such as factory farming) are too obvious to ignore now.
So I wish that in future we think more about what we put on our plates, what we put in our shopping bags and what we put in our rubbish bins. Oh, you wanted a happy note? Lol!
from Athens with love,
PS: If you wish to be part of my quarantine cuisine diaries and share your experience on Eat Yourself Greek (EYG), please drop me a line here. Thanks, Eugeniaby