Stretching the chicken rations: warming smoky chicken with chickpeas

We had a lazy kind of day today. Up late, big breakfast, a drive for tea and cakes to my parents and then home for dinner. We watched The Durrells on TV as well – I love this and it has brought back happy memories of our holiday to Corfu last year. It is the most beautiful place and I would love to return. One day!
I had a couple of sad looking chicken breasts in the freezer. Not really enough for dinner, so I decided to stretch them with chick peas. I got a few ideas from the Internet, then cobbled this together. You could use ordinary paprika but I think the smoked variety added a lovely depth of flavour. I chucked in a bit of cooked spinach too as it needed using up but it isn’t essential.
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed, with a little salt
2 chicken breasts, cubed
1tsp cumin
1tsp smoked paprika
1tsp turmeric
400g can chick peas
400g can chopped tomatoes
Chicken stock cube
2tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil and sweat the onion and garlic for a few minutes, then add the chicken and spices and fry gently for about 10 minutes. Dissolve the chicken stock in a quarter of a pint of boiling water and add to the pan with the tomatoes. Add the lemon juice and bring to the boil, then tip the chick peas in and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook gently for another 10 minutes to make sure the chicken is cooked through. Serve with rice and bread. It
Serves 4.

Could you survive on food bank rations?

I have organised a big collection of donations for the local food bank at work and, as usual, my colleagues have shown great generosity. I just hope that it helps some needy families out over the festive period. Being so poor you have to rely on this kind of charity to feed yourself and your family, especially when you live in a rich country like the UK, must be soul destroying. At Christmas, when there is so much waste and excess, it is too terrible to contemplate. I hope I never experience it first hand.

The food bank requested the following items:

Milk (UHT or powdered), sugar, fruit juice, soup, pasta sauce, sponge pudding, tomatoes, cereal, rice pudding, teabags, coffee, instant mash potatoes, rice, pasta, tinned meat/fish, tinned beg, tinned fruit, jam, biscuits and snack bars. 

This got me thinking. What would I make with these ingredients? I would really need some onions, garlic, stock cubes, cheddar cheese and  dried mixed herbs to make some tasty dinners. I would hope their would be some beans amongst the tinned veg for some good protein. 

Risotto would be a good choice with chopped onions, some canned veg such as sweet corn and tomatoes. If I had canned tuna or beans I would add some of those too. Tuna or vegetable pasta bake with the pasta sauce or tomatoes would be a good option too with a little grated cheese on top. I could make a hash with corned beef but I would need real potatoes rather than instant I think. The addition of some pulses with the veg and some stock could make a warming hearty soup. Spam or corned beef fritters anyone? I haven’t had those since school but they weren’t too bad! I might make a mix of beans and veg and top with some instant mash for a kind of veggie shepherds pie, or make veggie curry and rice if I had some curry powder. I love tinned fish! If I was lucky enough to have sardines or mackerel in my bag I would be tempted to eat this as a simple but nutritious meal on toast, or mixed with a few chilli flakes, tomatoes and garlic to make a kind of Mediterranean sardines with spaghetti. Mac cheese with the powdered milk would be nice too.

It is possible to make your food bank food taste ok I guess but you still wouldn’t have much of it. I am grateful I have enough this Christmas.

What would you cook from food bank rations? Have you ever had to?