Cooking During Self-Isolation from What is Available

Self isolation with rare visits to supermarkets influences cooking strategies. We went through our all cupboards and fridges to learn what we have, paying special attention to the due dates to understand what we have to utilise first and what can be stored for sometime. Fresh vegetables are the critical item, as they can’t be kept indefinitely even refrigerated. To cook lunch yesterday I used Masterchef “Mistery Box” strategy, the other way to characterise it is – mix, cook and eat whatever you have. I used all the left bits of vegetables, some waiting weeks to be used, and brown rice, that was sitting in a cupboard for 2 years. I can tell you one thing, cooking in quarantine situation is so much fun! It is everything I like, it is challenging and provides surprisingly delicious meals with new or sometimes forgotten taste. I thoroughly enjoyed brown rice with vegetables as comfort, nourishing, healthy and delicious meal!

The dish can be served on its own or as a side, can be eaten warm or as a cold salad, it stores for several days refrigerated and it can be a handy takeaway lunch, for those who still work in this difficult time.


  • brown rice (was long forgotten, deep in the pantry)
  • vegetables, all on their last days of being utilisable, except onions

  • celery sticks, from homegrown celery with 8 weeks storage time with roots in plastic bag, refrigerated
  • red cabbage, 7 weeks storage
  • white cabbage, leftovers from making fermented cabbage, 4 weeks storage
  • pumpkin, cut open 5 weeks ago
  • carrots, bought 4 weeks ago
  • cherry tomatoes, getting old in refrigerator, still firm enough
  • onions, we were lucky to see 10kg bags on sale 5 weeks ago
  • olive oil
  • coconut oil (now used to replace butter, as butter is in short supply in the house, I use it only for baking now)
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • caraway, fennel, cumin and sesame seeds

Three types of seeds I usually use in frying vegetables.


  • wash brown rice, place it in plenty of cold water and cook until aldente
  • drain rice
  • while rice is cooking, heat olive and coconut oil
  • add all seeds
  • add sliced onion, chopped carrots, sliced celery, cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes, season with salt and pepper
  • add cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • add pumpkin and cabbages, I sliced them on mandoline slicer
  • it is better to cook vegetables in thin layer, use the largest frying pan you have

  • stir, check the seasoning, cover with lid, if cabbages are hard
  • if excess of liquid appears on the bottom of the pan, open the lid and cook on medium/high to evaporate it
  • add cooked rice, stir, check the seasoning again, let the dish rest for 3-5 minutes, serve

As a result you will get moist and simultaneously chewy dish with pleasantly crunchy cabbage and celery, sweet overtones from caramelised onion and soft pumpkin. Additional fragrant flavours come from the mixture of seeds.

I had my dish with extra spice from homemade garlic, sweet and hot chilli peppers preserve.

You can substitute brown rice with regular or mountain rice, lentils, beans, fresh or canned, millet, quinoa, buckwheat or even pasta. The choice of vegetables nowadays is dictated by what is there to be used before they are gone.

6 thoughts on “Cooking During Self-Isolation from What is Available

    1. I realised that I missed this way of cooking. It was how I started and cooked nearly half of my life. You do with what you have. Taught me well that you can make everything nearly out of nothing, came handy in dietary restricted kitchen.

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