There are a few things in my ingredients cupboard that I would really struggle to live without these days. Spices, a good spatula and a constant, and a probably unhealthy, supply of butter. But at one point in your life I think it is unavoidable, and perhaps a little bit healthy, to experience living off little-to-no money. Not only does it give you a well-rounded view on life, but it also makes you incredibly inventive with cooking.
It’s all well and good buying expensive kitchen gadgets, but you’ve not experienced cooking until you’ve had to figure out how to make something out of Cheerios, ketchup and kidney beans (okay, I’m being dramatic but you understand my point).
I think with quite a few people, especially from my own experience in the UK, this cacophony of creativity comes in the stringent times of University. Now, I hear this collective sigh of “I am so sick of hearing about how students are poor”, it’s old, I understand. But it is unavoidable! When you go to University, there is a very good chance that you will spend a third of your loan in the first two weeks…on beer…and pizza…and excessively large meals for your flatmates…and buying everybody shots because they’re all your new best friend in this exciting new independently-led lifestyle. Not that I was every that irresponsible of course. This leaves very little money left for the little luxuries in life, like food, and change for washing machines, and thus forces you to create meals out of things you never thought could possibly go together (and often doesn’t!).
The point is, looking back on things, it doesn’t take a lot of money to eat well. So, fuck the baked beans off and eat something that isn’t going to void your mouth of tastebuds. I give to thee the very simple instructions on how to make home made chilli and garlic olive oil. If you run out of money for any reason, having this in your house will guarantee a tasty meal, which takes extremely little time to make and is so ridiculously easy, that even a newly fledged first year (who thought you could toast bread on an electric hob – I’m looking at you Joe) can make.
Garlic and Chilli Olive Oil
1l Good Quality Olive Oil (seeing as it’s going to be a main ingredient, you need it to be good quality!).
5 heaped tblsp crushed dried chilli flakes.
2 bulbs of garlic, split into individual cloves, peeled, but left whole.
– Crush the whole peeled garlic cloves with the side of a flat knife, just to get some of the juices out, pop it in a saucepan with the chilli flakes and olive oil.
– Simmer everything on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
– When it’s finished, you can take the garlic cloves out (pop them in a jar and cover with olive oil for use in general cooking). Pour into a large sterilised jar or bottle, or smaller bottles depending on what you fancy.
And that is literally it. That is literally all you need to do. It’s spicy, and garlicky, and rich and delicious. Stir it into hot spaghetti with some pecorino, brush it over barbecued prawns or seafood, make some kicking dressings or season huge piles of noodles with it. It is so ridiculously useful to have around the house. And if you don’t want chilli? Take it out, really love garlic? Put more garlic in. Really, really love rosemary? Stick a bunch in! Easy peasy.
It is also a new staple to my Christmas presents list! So if you are looking for something to spice u-… oh geez I can’t even finish that sentence. It’s just too much, let’s try that again. If you’re looking for something new and exciting to add to your Christmas hamper list away from the usual jams, chutneys and biscuits, give this a go. Look at all your domestic Gods and Goddesses out there, I’m so proud!