To say that I’ve got the Brexit blues is an understatement. Last Friday could be compared to the cruellest of Christmas mornings: staying up half the night but with a feeling of dread rather than excitement. Then waking up in the early hours to discover the worst ‘present’ ever: a divorce from Europe. Den and Angie ain’t got nothing on this.
I’m devastated. I’m genuinely gutted. Even more, I’m angry – with the politicians who lied, the papers that peddled the propaganda and the people who blithely believed the Brex-shit. I’m angry that over half the population voted not with heads, or even hearts, but with hatred – or at least, that’s how it seems. I’m angry that our party ‘leaders’ do not speak for the man and woman on the street and then wonder why there is so much apathy. I’m angry that the Remain campaign was piss poor and I’m angry with myself for not having done more. Too little, too late. Sara Robinson sums up how I (and many others) feel a lot more eloquently here.
Writing about food feels a little trivial at a time like this but carry on we must. Regular meals are one of the few constants in this topsy turvy world – and anyway, when the going gets tough, I tend to reach for the biscuits.
I’m going to try not to let Brexit ruin my appetite. Not everyone agrees that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but I’d be a wreck without my daily dose of caffeine and carbs.
Here are two rather different types of breakfasts: the overnight oats are ideal for rushed weekday mornings, while the baked beans are best enjoyed as part of a long and leisurely weekend brunch. Give them a try; they might give you fire in your belly to fight Farage and his friends.
Beans on toast: straightforward and satisfying, like the most uncomplicated of hook-ups. This is comfort food, pure and simple, and just what’s needed at the moment. I’ve taken this recipe for stovetop beans with a twist from Áine Carlin’s brilliant book, The New Vegan, which is full of easy eats that just so happen to be plant based. These beans might take a while longer to make than simply opening a tin of Heinz but the results are well worth it, plus they doesn’t contain the shedloads of sugar and salt you’ll find in the stuff you buy from the shop. If you can’t get hold of haricot beans, try chickpeas or kidney, cannellini or butter beans.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves
A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
400g can whole or chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato purée
½ tablespoon maple syrup
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 heaped teaspoon Marmite
Splash of chilli or Tabasco sauce
400g can haricot beans, drained or rinsed
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Heat the oil in a saucepan. Finely mince or chop the garlic, ginger and chilli and add to the pan, along with a little salt and gently fry.
- Pour in the tomatoes and if using the whole variety, break them up using the back of a spoon. Fill the empty can half-full with water and tip this into the pan. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes by which stage the tomatoes will have softened further and you can crush it into a passata-like sauce.
- Add the tomato purée and stir to combine before adding the maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, Marmite and hot sauce. Season and simmer for around 45 minutes or until the sauce has reduced considerably.
- Add the haricot beans to the pan, season and stir before simmering for a further 15–20 minutes.
- Serve immediately on toast or, alternatively, reheat the following day,
A brisker breakfast…
Good old Anna Jones. She has a no-nonsense approach to cooking but still comes up with amazingly unique and flavoursome recipes. I’ve been making overnight oats for a little while now but Anna’s take on things is a lot more exciting. The idea here is that your breakfast is pretty much ready for you when you get up in the morning, meaning that you save loads of time. If you’re anything like me though, you’ll faff over work emails/Instagram/the latest in the ongoing Brexit crisis, and end up late for work anyway. These are also great for taking into work (tip: save those houmous tubs as they’re perfect for storing these breakfasts) and eating at your desk. Here are two of Anna’s recipes taken from her original feature in The Guardian.
Roasted strawberry and chia bowls
Don’t let the chia seeds put you off. You can get them dead cheap in Home Bargains. And while the roasted strawberries are lovely, simply mashing some uncooked ones will do the trick if you’re pressed for time.
Makes 2 bowls
For the overnight chia
4 tablespoons chia seeds
300ml almond milk (or other milk of your choosing)
A handful of fresh strawberries
A pinch of sea salt
Zest of 1 lemon
A splash of natural vanilla essence
2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
For the roasted strawberries
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
Toasted coconut flakes
A drizzle of honey or maple syrup
- The night before, combine the chia seeds with the milk and stir well. Mash a handful of fresh strawberries with the salt, lemon and vanilla, then stir them into the chia. Refrigerate overnight so the seeds can bloom and soften.
- For the strawberries, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. It is important to use a baking tray with a lip or a large baking dish to prevent the juices from running off the sheet on to the bottom of your oven. If you are using a baking tray, line it with parchment paper.
- Cut the strawberries in half. Put the berries on the tray and pour over the olive oil, maple syrup and the salt, toss gently around the tray until coated.
- Arrange the strawberries in a single layer and roast for about 40 minutes, just long enough for the berry juices to thicken, but not long enough for the juices to burn. Watch the edges of the pan in particular. While still warm, scrape into a jar and put in the fridge for the morning.
- Just before serving, sweeten the chia to taste with a little more maple syrup, if you like, and top with toasted coconut flakes and a spoonful roasted strawberries.
Anna uses peaches in this recipe, but strawberries, raspberries, blueberries (frozen work just as well as fresh) are good to use as well. I didn’t use rye flakes but only because I didn’t have any.
Makes 2 bowls
For the overnight oats
80g rolled oats
50g rye flakes
200ml almond milk (or milk of your choosing)
In the morning
1 teaspoon barley malt or maple syrup
2 ripe peaches
A dollop of Greek yoghurt (optional)
A handful of almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
- Before bed, mix the oats and rye flakes in a bowl with the zest of half the lemon and the milk. Grate the apple into a little bowl and squeeze over a tiny bit of lemon juice and toss to stop browning then add to the oats. Cover and put in the fridge overnight to soak. In the morning, sweeten the oats with a drizzle of barley malt or maple syrup and mix well.
- Divide between two bowls and slice the peaches over the top. Finish with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and some chopped almonds.
If you’ve lost your zest for life/cooking/shopping, treat yourself to brunch out while you still can. In happier times, I wrote a Wales Online feature about the best places in Cardiff for veggie and vegan breakfasts.
Have a Bloody Mary for me, won’t you? But if you’re one of those people telling me there’s no point crying over spilt (soya) milk, you know where you can go.