I haven't been part of a good chain letter since about 1978. Back then it was all about saving your best friend from a horrible death, or finding out the names of the boys who loved you.
Now, in COVID-19 times it's all about quarantine cooking.
With all of us having a little more time on our hands it's easy to get sucked in by fancy recipes, ones you may have seen online or found in a cookbook somewhere. And sometimes that's a great way to kill a few hours.
But most times we want a recipe that has come from someone just like us, someone short on time, with a family to feed, with better things to be doing.
So I agreed to pass it on. Here's some of the recipes I received in reply. Jenna Price contributed a couple.
"If I sent a round robin letter to 20 of my friends I would be berated for the next year. However, please make the following easy yet delicious recipes in iso," she added.
Another came third-hand from an old hockey teammate I hadn't seen in years. Most were from complete strangers.
If there's one thing isolation has taught us, it's that the world is a very small place.
The initial instructions
Going back to old times with a recipe exchange! As the world is social distancing right now, many of us are experimenting in our kitchens to help pass the time. So you have been invited to be a part of a #quarantinecooking recipe exchange! Yay!
Please send a recipe to the person whose name is in position #1 (even if you don't know them) and it should be something quick, easy and without rare ingredients. Actually, the best one is the one you know in your head and can type right now. Don't agonise over it ... It is the recipe you make when you are short on time.
Set the oven to 180C, cream 180g butter with 180g of castor sugar, beat in 180g of eggs (usually 3 eggs), fold in 180g self-raising flour, pour into tin, squash in 180g of extremely well-drained and dried tinned apricots or peaches and cook for 1/3 of 180 minutes.
I've also used nectarines, fresh figs, fresh apricots, really whatever is in season.
Sometimes it plays up depending how wet the fruit is so check with a skewer. Also, ovens are rather temperamental.
Much better version of Ottolenghi salad
Lots of ripe figs
Proper bunches of rocket and not the shitty little leaves in bags
Either excellent local feta or fresh pecorino
Heap all the rocket minus the tough stalks, rip up the basil leaves and put that on top of the rocket, remove stalks from figs then slice into eighths and put as many as you like on top of the rocket and basil, then crumble feta or pecorino really generously. Dressing of olive oil, lemon and a squidgy of honey. Serve with barbecued lamb backstraps.
Favourite lazy woman's pasta
Cut a dozen or more Roma tomatoes lengthways. Squirt balsamic and oil all over them. Put in oven for three hours at the very lowest you can go.
Bring pot of water to boil. Put in pasta. Roughly chop cooked tomatoes, mix with smoked ocean trout (a big lump in order to flake easily, not slices). Heap as much as you can on to pasta and add Tabasco to taste.
The next two recipes are from Charmaine Solomon's Curry Cookbook which I have now owned for 40 years.
500g white firm fish. I love stargazer but have used blue eye, bass groper and ling
1 very heapy tbsp tamarind pulp and soak in 1/2 cop of boiling water
1.5 tbsp Sri Lankan Curry powder (she tells you to make everything from scratch. Life is short and the Herbie's version is excellent).
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
At least six curry leaves (I've got some in my garden but I think the dried ones are better. Controversial.)
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 medium chopped onion
1 tsp grated garlic
Once you've soaked the tamarind pulp, push the whole thing through a sieve and get rid of seeds and fibres. Keep the liquid and combine with curry powder, turmeric, chilli powder. Marinate fish.
Heat oil and cry curry leaves and fenugreek seeds until golden. Add onion and garlic until translucent/golden. Add fish and marinade and cook until cooked. Rice, veggies. Delicious.
Chicken curry with shrimp paste
Bit over 1kg of chicken thighs on bone
Slice and fry 2 medium onions
Add 2 tsp dried shrimp paste
1 tsp grated garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
Fry until smelling delicious.
Add 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp chilli powder
Add chicken and mix until well coated. Add 1/2 cup boiling water. Turn heat low and simmer until chicken is tender. Fresh coriander, rice, steamed snow peas.
Weet-Bix and banana choc loaf
3 Weet-Bix, crushed
1 1/2 cup white flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup sugar
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup soy milk
1. Preheat oven to 180C
2. In a large bowl combine Weet-Bix, flour, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips.
3. Using electric beaters, cream margarine and sugar together, then add bananas, egg and milk.
4. Add to dry ingredients, blending well.
5. Place in a lightly greased loaf tin. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
6. Cool. Slice and serve on its own, or toast and serve with butter or yoghurt.
Easy banana cake
1 cup self-raising flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup coconut
120g melted butter
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1. Mix together flour, sugar and coconut.
2. Add melted butter, then eggs vanilla and milk.
3. Mix together until combined and then pour into a greased 20cm square tin or lamington pan.
4. Bake 180C for 25-30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
5. When cooled ice with lemon icing .
Isolation zucchini pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 vege stock cube dissolved in about 1/3 cup water
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
flat-leaf parsley (or any herb)
parmesan cheese to sprinkle
pasta (I like fusilli for this recipe)
1. Dice zucchinis.
2. Zest the lemon
3. Juice the lemon
4. Heat olive oil and butter in a pan.
5. Add garlic, onion and chilli flakes.
6. Sauté for a few mins then add zucchini, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice and stock.
7. Cook covered a bit and uncovered a bit until zucchini softens.
8. Spoon mixture onto cooked pasta.
9. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top. Delicious!
Indonesian sweet beef/chicken/tofu/potatoes
1 kg beef/chicken thighs/tofu/potatoes
1 onion sliced/diced
3 garlic (or as you like. I tend to put more up to a whole bulb. Mental I know)
3cm ginger sliced/minced
2cm galangal (optional)
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1 cup of ABC sweet soy (not optional. It's the main ingredient)
3 tbsp dark soya sauce (optional)
1 cube of beef stock
3 tbsp oil
1. Cut the beef/chicken/tofu/potatoes into reasonable size
2. Put all the ingredients together in a pot. Massage gently (not on tofu though). Leave it for half an hour before putting it on stove.
3. Saute it for five minutes and turn the stove into lowest setting, add hot water until it covers 2/3 of the meat/tofu/potatoes. Put lid on and cook it for as long as necessary.
4. Check and stir as needed. It should be a bit juicy but not wet. Ready to serve.
3 packets of oat biscuits or Marie biscuits
8 tbsp of butter/margarine (may need some more to bind the biscuits)
3 packets light Philadelphia cream cheese
1 1/4 cup caster sugar
3 tsp of powdered gelatine
very, very good splash of Bailey's - I often use Espresso Bailey's
600 ml cream
1. In a blender, blitz the biscuits into a fine crumb.
2. Melt the butter and add to the biscuits (as I said, you may need more butter to bind).
3. Lined a large spring-form cake tin with baking paper.
4. Add the biscuit crumb mixture to the cake tin. I put it up the sides as well, but it is your personal choice.
5. Place in fridge to set slightly - this doesn't have to be too long.
6. In a mix master place the cream cheese, caster sugar, Bailey's. Blend until smooth.
7. Mixed the powdered gelatine with some water and put in microwave for 15 seconds. Place into the cream mixture and blend again.
8. In a clean bowl, whip the cream. Then lightly mix into cream mixture
9. Pour into the cake tin. Refrigerate for at least four hours.
1,1,1, 1/2 cake
1 cup dessiccated coconut
1 cup milk
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp cream cheese
1 tsp orange zest
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until just combined.
3. Pour the mixture into a baking paper lined loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.
4. Remove and allow to cool before icing.
5. Add the butter to a bowl and stir to soften.
6. Add cream cheese and beat well.
7. Add zest and sifted confectioner's sugar (start with 1 cup and if you need more add slowly).
8. Continue to beat until icing is a nice smooth consistency.
2 1/4 cups of wholemeal self-raising flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup grated carrot (or sweet potato - whatever really!)
100g grated cheese
chives or herbs of your choice
1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Line 12 muffin pan with silicone or paper cases.
2. Place the flour in a large bowl, make a well in the centre, then stir through remaining ingredients until just combined.
3. Spoon mixture into muffin cases.
4. Bake for 25-30 mins until cooked through.
5. Serve warm or at room temperature (lovely with lashings of butter!)