What I've been cooking #14: Tin Can Magic by Jessica Ellis Dennison

Since we went into lockdown, back in April, I have been trying to keep a well stocked store cupboard. Those first few weeks when I struggled to buy anything in the supermarkets will forever be ingrained into my brain. It was awful and made me feel glad I often used to buy random tins so that we could have a nourishing meal. Now I have made sure I keep a larder stocked with things that are actually useful. Hannah had been raving about Tin Can Magic for a while and as we went into lockdown I took the plunge and ordered it. Jessica is the founder of 27 Elliotts in Edinburgh championing seasonal ingredients. Her book is full of recipes detailing how to jazz up store cupboard tins including tomatoes, coconut milk, lentils, anchovies and sweetcorn. I love that each recipe comes with a list of substitutions so you can mostly always make the recipes based on what you have indoors. Everything is so simple to make and has tasted delicious so far. I can't quite believe what she is able to make to a humble tin of tomatoes!

Spiced lamb and tomato flatbreads
I think this is my favourite recipe so far. I subbed the mince lamb for some beef as that's what we had in the freezer. I also defrosted some homemade naan from the freezer for the flatbread. This was so simple to put together and the flavours were utterly delicious. The slight heat from the mince paired perfectly with the cooling mint yogurt. I left the yogurt slightly chunky to help add some texture. It hardly took any time at all so would be great for a midweek dinner.

Indian-style creamed corn with naan, coriander and toasted spices
After eating this I think there is such a thing as too much sweetcorn. A can of sweetcorn each seems like a mountain, It was nice but it didn't blow me away. I think it was a little bit too sweet for my tastes. I did really enjoy the Indian-style flavours though.

Chilled chilli tomato noodles with crispy garlic and sesame
Anything that uses miso and I am there holding my bowl out for it to be filled up. This was so good. All of the flavours went together perfectly. I wish I'd used thicker noodles to help soak up the sauce better. This is such a quick dish and takes less than 20 minutes before you're sitting down and scoffing every last scrap. The toppings really do make it so make sure you do them all.

Carrot and thyme sausage braised lentils
Ah this was the best! The leftover dijon aioli is great in a sausage sandwich the following day. We bought some caramelised red onion sausages from our local butcher and they were superb in the dish. I've recently become a massive fan of tinned lentils as they only need to be warmed through. Great if you're a bit time poor and starving hungry!

Tomato and chilli lentil Dahl with quick tomato and lime pickle
I loved the pickle and wished I had doubled the recipe. It was delicious! Once again such simple tins (coconut milk, tomatoes and lentils) made such a flavoursome meal. I'll definitely make this one again as it was so simple. It says it feeds two but we got four portions out of it so it will be good for prepping lunches for the week. It reheats wonderfully!

Tomato and red wine braised aubergine
This was another great dish! I loved the richness the red wine added to the aubergine. I served it with some homemade sourdough which was perfect for mopping it up. Make sure you proper char your aubergines to get them extra smokey as this really does make a difference to the dish.

Roasted pepper, tomato and lentil soup
There was way too much smoked paprika in this for my personal tastes. I think I would reduce to use a tablespoon because my poor taste buds can't handle it! I used a jar of mixed yellow and red roasted peppers to help make the process a bit quicker. The portions are pretty big and I think you'll get at least five bowls out of this, making it great for meal-prepping!

Deciding on a new routine when you no longer have a weekly routine

Floral cotton dress: H&M (similar)
Brown and gold sliders: Matalan (similar)
Red lipstick: Kat Von D Everlasting lipstick

I got furloughed in the first week of April and I won't going back to work until 3rd August. So when this is all over, providing it doesn't get extended,  I will have had four months off work. Wow that looks absolutely mental now that I see it written down! On paper it sounds like a dream. When else are we ever going to get months off work when all we need to think about is what series to watch on Netlix and what to cook for dinner? The first few weeks were absolutely fab if I am honest. It was a novelty. I suddenly had all this free time and felt incredibly productive. I was cooking elaborate dishes in the kitchen, working out five times a week, going for evening walks and never setting an alarm.

But as it came up to a month my mental health took a bit of a nose dive. I started slacking off the workout routines, ordering takeaways, struggling to sleep and never leaving the house. It picked up again after a few weeks but the month of June has been tough. Maybe it's because it is starting to feel relentless. Maybe it's because I'm struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it has been tough. When work is so central to your routine in life it's bloody difficult to know what to do when it suddenly isn't there. My round trip commute is four hours so I am out of the house for more or less 12 hours a day. I don't have to think about anything during the week as it's set in stone. I wake up, commute to work, do my job, come home, go to the gym, cook dinner and go to bed. As regular as clockwork. I might jazz it up with a dinner after work in London with friends but that's as wild as it gets. I didn't realise how much I craved a routine until it was no longer there. My brain is doing overtime and running at 100 MPH. I like being alone but I don't like being alone to think.

It's taken me a while to realise I need a routine and how much one benefits me. My boyfriend has started working back in Southampton this month so, twice a week, I'm on my own all day. Watching 6 episodes of something in a row was not doing me any good when he is working away. So I started implementing a routine this week after realising I was spiralling. Two days in and I already feel better.

 I've started growing vegetables in my garden so I make sure I get up to water them first thing and check them for the dreaded bugs. I allow myself one episode of something on Netflix when I'm eating my breakfast. I do a work out, usually kettlebells or abs, before having a shower. I choose something to bake and do some pottering around the house. Usually a washing load or some tidying up. I read a couple of chapters of my book in the garden or on the sofa if it's a bit chilly. Then it's time to start dinner,  my boyfriend finishes work and I finally have some human interaction. I'm going to push myself to go on a bike ride at least 3-4 times a week to ensure I get some fresh air in my lungs. Knowing what I'm doing each day is giving me some of purpose and a kick up the backside to get things done. My days will hopefully stop blurring into one. Only six weeks left to go at home...

What is your new weekly routine since we went into Lockdown?

My new skincare routine

Make up is my long-lost friend that I don't see that often since the UK went into lockdown. But despite taking it easy on the make-up front, my skin has been bit temperamental. Blame it on the added stress or blame it on the amount of chocolate I'm inhaling at the minute. So my skincare routine is now more important than ever. I'm really enjoying the extra time I have to look after my skin at my own pace rather than rushing my normal three-step skincare routine. I've been experimenting over the last six weeks with some new products. Some I have been kindly gifted, others I picked up in a beauty sale at work or along my travels. These are the skincare products I'm really enjoying using and are making my skin feel like a million dollars.

Renewed hope in a jar concentrate 
Philosophy is one of my favourite skincare brands. I've used it for years and my skin just agrees with it. I bought this for a couple of quid in the beauty sale at work over the festive period as I had never used this product before. I started used it properly a few months ago and it's definitely going to be a repurchase for me when it runs out. I like it best at night after I've cleansed and exfoliated my face. It feels like it brings my skin back to life after taking a battering during the day, especially now the sun has decided to make an appearance. It glides on so smoothly and sinks into my skin almost immediately. It doesn't work miracles but I've noticed its helped a few pigmentation issues I've been having which can only be a plus! I usually use about 4-5 drops for my whole face.

Avene B-Protect SPF 50
I've read for years that you should always wear sunscreen no matter what the weather. One of the biggest causes of ageing is sun damage so the best way to combat this is to make sure you cover your face in sunscreen. Despite knowing this, it has taken me to the age of 31 to put this into practise. I always put sunscreen on my face whenever I'm on holiday but am pretty slap dash in the UK. I've been trying quite a few out since the beginning of the year and this is the one which works best for me. A little goes a long way and I like the fact it's slightly tinted. It doesn't feel greasy on my skin and  as a result it doesn't encourage break outs. I found so many clogged up my skin.

Gallinée face vinegar*
I was very kindly gifted this earlier on in the year and have been trialing it out ever since. I am pretty local to my Pixi Glow Tonic so was keen to see how it compared. The French brand has released a range designed to nourish the good bacteria already in your skin. I love the fact their products have natural ingredients and comes in recyclable boxes. Their face vinegar is a toner which promises to be perfect for sensitive and oily skin. So did it live up to it's promises? I've been using twice a day, during the morning after a shower and in the evening before I go to bed. I've found my skin to feel fresher and look brighter. It's lost it's dullness which it sadly had due to lack of sleep and a long commute. My skin feels so much softer and less dry. Definitely a product I'm going to keep on using!

Lumene Nordic Arctic berry oil-cocktail*
We had some representatives from this brand come into the office offering free samples and a cocktail. Oh how I miss that office! I don't use it everyday as I don't think my skin needs it but it's great to use a couple of times a week. You really don't need to use much. I usually use it after the weekend when my skin has taken bit of a battering. It helps to bring it back to life and combat any dry skin.

Clinque moisture surge 72-hour auto-replenishing hydration
I am so loyal to this moisturiser and have been using it religiously for the past couple of years. It's pretty pricey but my skin laps it up! The only downside is that it doesn't contain SPF but that means you just have to vigilantly apply it alongside it. It feels so thick and luxurious on my skin, helping to keep my dry patches under control. My skin always feels so rejuvenated after. It's a great hydrating moisturiser if you're a commuter like me.

Gallinée foaming facial cleanser*
This was the second product I was very kindly gifted. I find a foaming cleanser too much of a faff during the morning as I'm not someone who rolls out of bed. But I do love them in my evening routine as part of a double cleanse. This one has great foaming action which seams a weird thing to say but I have had so many half-hearted ones! It makes my skin feel really clean and refreshed, helping to budge even the most stubborn of leftover makeover. It also smells absolutely divine!

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A Essex based lifestyle blogger who lives a champagne life on a lemonade purse!

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