Shieldfield Cooks

Facilitated by Shieldfield Art Works

This is a development of SAW’s Artistory project (free cooking demonstrations led by local individuals who were invited to show how their favourite recipe was made). 

Ready Steady Cook

You know that feeling when you open your kitchen cupboard to decide what to have for tea but nothing jumps out at you? Well here is an answer. Send a list of ingredients from your cupboard to Lydia at SAW and she will schedule a video call and show you, and others watching, how to make a delicious meal together using these ingredients. It’s just like Ready Steady Cook (but with a bit of thinking time for Lydia). We then ask that you teach another friend, community or family member the recipe that you have learnt in order to pass on your new skill. These recordings will be broadcast live on the SAW Facebook page at 5pm on 22 May, 19 June and 24 July and will also be available to watch here afterwards. 

22 May | Jill – watch here

Cooking from the cupboard

Learn how to make an inventory of what you have in your kitchen and then get creative to make meals with these items. Lydia will work with what she has in her kitchen to make some creative meals. Learn from watching her create breakfasts, lunches, main meals, desserts and baked goods – some may succeed and some may fail, but it will always be creative and fun! These recordings will be uploaded here weekly on a Friday evening. 

For more details, contact, putting “Shieldfield Cooks” in the subject heading

Each Shieldfield Cooks video will come with a theological reflection on aspects of our current situation. These are for you to read after watching the video or during eating your meal. Our hope is that this will provide not only physical nourishment for your body but also mental and spiritual nourishment too.

Shieldfield Cooks | Inventory [7th May]

Sharing a table by yourself – the art of commensality in the midst of Covid

Commensality. This is the practice of eating together or sharing a common table. In the Bible we see Jesus either coming from a meal, at a meal or going to a meal. His life was spent around food and often around a common table – this was the way he shared Himself with people and how He lived life with people. So at SAW we often invite people to come and share our table, as a way of getting to know them, of sharing of ourselves and of nourishing body, mind and soul.

But at present we cannot be physically present with those who we do not live with. So what does commensality look like in these current times? There are still many ways that we can share food together. I have dropped off ingredients (for brownies) to a friend’s house without a recipe and then talked her through how to make my famous brownies on a video call and connected during the week on how the brownies were ‘keeping’. You could cook the same meal over a video or phone call and then eat the same food but in your prospective houses whilst being nourished in body and soul as you connect with conversation. You could write a letter to someone who you know is lonely, even a stranger, so that they can repeatedly enjoy your thoughtfully crafted ‘presence’ over a cup of tea. Or just call and have a conversation. A young lady (in her 20s) in our church was worried about her grandmother being lonely, so an elderly lady (in her 80s) in her homegroup said ‘give me her number and I will call her every week’. She is a complete stranger, but hospitality is about turning a stranger into a guest and a guest into family. So sharing your table doesn’t have to be physical – we can eat around the common table of humanity and of seeking connection together – nourishment of both body and mind. Why not invite someone for dinner over that booming video call tool zoom and say ‘Zoom zoom zoom zoom, I want you in my breakout room… I want to break bread with you around the table.’

Shieldfield Cooks | Sausage Casserole (can also be vegan) [15th May]

Standing on the threshold, open all hours

In the Old Testament biblical times people lived in big family communities so there was always someone home to welcome guests. But now we live in our isolated castles in small family units and are often barely home to receive our Amazon parcels, that we loathe then collected from our neighbours. Then came Coronavirus and now the nation is at home – but still unable to receive guests. Or so you would think.

I am now finding that on my daily exercise walk I can pop round to a neighbour or a friend or church family and they will most likely be in. I knock and then step 2 metres back and receive a genuinely broad smile which leads to a good conversation for about 10 minutes. It is spontaneous and I don’t need to look 3 weeks ahead to pencil something in the diary, as the majority of people are at home for the majority of the day. On the other side of the threshold, being the person who opens the door, I no longer see the visitor as an interruption but as the highlight of my day – interaction with a living and breathing human being, connection in person. So when we return to a time where we are not always at home I would challenge us to carve out time when we are at home and to let people know we are home and open and eager for guests – even if it is just for a 10 minute chat.


Originally from Prima magazine, with my own alternative ingredients

Serves: 4 | Prep: 10 mins | Cook: 55-60 mins


  • 1tsp olive oil
  • 8 pork sausages (or veggie sausages)
  • 1 large onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 carrots, thickly sliced diagonally (or try squash)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1tsp dried thyme (or try dried or fresh rosemary/oregano/parsley/chives)
  • 150ml red wine (if you don’t want to use wine use 340ml of stock plus 10ml of red wine vinegar or just stock instead)
  • 200ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 400g can tomatoes (or 6 fresh tomatoes/1 red pepper and paprika)
  • 400g can of white beans (cannellini/haricot/flageolet/butter)
  • handful parsley leaves (or fresh chives/coriander)


  1. Heat the oil in a large flame-proof casserole dish. Add the sausages and fry briskly, turning them regularly until they’re well browned. Remove the sausages from the dish and set them aside, then add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook the vegetables over a medium heat for about 10mins until they are starting to caramelise around the edges.
  2. Add the garlic and thyme and continue to cook for 2-3mins. Put the sausages back in the dish, then pour over the red wine. Bring to the oil and reduce the wine by half, then pour in the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring everything back to the boil, then cover with a lid and turn down the heat. Simmer for 10mins or until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Add the tomatoes and beans, then continue to simmer, covered, for 20 mins. Remove the lid and cook uncovered for another 10mins until the sauce has reduced. Serve with a generous sprinkling of parsley.

Shieldfield Cooks | Seasonal Sweet Treats [29th May]

Hostess with the Mostess

In the Bible, Luke 14 speaks of a great banquet. In this culture you hosted meals and invited people to secure your social status and hopefully to be invited back. But those the host originally invited do not accept an invitation, so the host then invites those who are poor and needy. Those who could never pay anything back. It leads me to ask myself who comes to my house for dinner – just people like me? What drives my hospitality – is it self-interest or service for others? Do I want to be repaid in this life or in eternity? Who are the poor and needy in my life if poor is not just about economic status?

And now in this new context of isolation this question of what drives my hospitality has taken on a new meaning once again. We cannot invite people into our homes out of self-interest, in order to be seen as ‘the hostess with the mostess’. In fact we cannot invite people into our homes fullstop. But there is still that drive for wanting to be seen as a proficient, if not the most proficient, cook. We see this in the numerous photographs on Instagram, that invite you to see the incredible food that my hands have slaved over but don’t invite you to join in with sharing it. We often invite people for dinner so that we can increase our status as the ‘hostess with the mostess’ but ironically when we photograph our food and post it on Instagram, in that moment we actually care more about the loves of our Instagram followers than the souls of those in our presence.

So now that we eat either by ourselves or just with those we live with, having less of a divided attention of whose praise we are seeking, is our Instagram host status all it’s cracked up to be? Or if your status came with being the best host or the most invited guest – where does your status come from now? This would be a good time to think through why we seek to be hospitable, what drives our hospitality and whether our motivations are from a heart of self-interest or service for others?

Recipe for Mince Pies

Originally from BBC Good Food, the Collection, with my own alternative ingredients

Serves: 18 | Prep: 25 mins + 30 mins chilling | Cook: 12-15 mins 



  • 200g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 140g butter
  • grated rind of 1 orange (could try lemon)
  • 50g caster sugar (could try light brown sugar)
  • 1 egg yolk


  • 200g mincemeat (could try stewed apple or jam)
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked
  • caster sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 200C/Gas 6. 
  2. Whizz flour, almonds, butter, orange rind and sugar into crumbs. Add the egg yolk and a tsp of cold water and pulse until it forms a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 mins.
  3. Roll out the dough thinly and stamp out 18 7.5cm/3inch rounds. Use to line a bun tine. Put a heaped tsp of mincemeat in each pastry case. Stamp out 9 more pastry rounds. Cut out festive shapes from the centre of each round.
  4. Cover the pies with the shapes and pastry rounds with the centres removed. Brush the tops with egg whites and dust lightly with caster.
  5. Bake for 12-15 mins until the pastry is crisp and golden. Cool in the tins for 5 mins, then cool on a wire rack. 

Recipe for Hot Cross Bun Treacle Tart

Originally from Sainsburys recipe card, with my own alternative ingredients

Serves: 6 | Prep: 10 mins | Cook: 40 mins 


  • 1/2 x 375g ready rolled shortcrust pastry (or make your own using above recipe)
  • 150g hot cross buns, roughly torn (or any type of sweet bread like brioche, banana bread, cinnamon rolls or panettone)
  • 300g golden syrup
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp single cream
  • 6 tbsp creme fraiche, to serve (or with ice-cream or cream)


  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5 and place a baking tray in the oven. Line a 20cm tart tin with the pastry, prick the base with a fork, and chill in the fridge while you prepare the tart mixture. 
  2. Which the hot cross bun pieces in a food processor (or crumble in with your fingers) until you have breadcrumbs, then transfer to a bowl. 
  3. Pour the golden syrup into a small pan, and bring to a simmer over a low heat. Pour into the bowl of breadcrumbs, then stir in the egg, orange zest, ginger, cinnamon and cream. 
  4. Remove the pastry case fro the fridge and pour in the filling mixture. Carefully put the tart onto the preheated baking tray and cook for 35 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool. Slice and serve with a little creme fraiche. 

Shieldfield Cooks | Veggie Lasagna [5th June]


In March we planted wheat at SAW and around the Shieldfield community as part of Shieldfield Wheatfield. It is a strange feeling to be planting wheat in a time of ‘plague’. It feels very ancient. But this project, as well as exploring urban food growing and food sustainability, is about connectedness. It is looking at how to transform the isolation and self-interest within our communities into connectedness and caring for the whole. 

As Peter Block says in his book ‘Community: the structure of belonging’ “Our communities are separated into silos; they are a collection of institutions and programs operating near one another but not overlapping or touching… The work is to overcome this fragmentation…Those we label “homeless”, or “ex-offenders”, or “disabled”, or “at risk” are the most visible people who struggle with belonging, but isolation and apartness is also a wider condition of modern life. This is as true in our gated communities and suburbs as in our urban centres.” 

We are currently experiencing what isolation feels like on a big scale. But I would implore us to reflect on how isolated our communities already are. Many people feel isolated day by day and we don’t see it. Many of us think of ourselves first and foremost. Many of our institutions do not overlap or collaborate. But what would be the transformation if we became more connected and explored how we care for the whole? The organisations and individuals in our Shieldfield community are trying to explore this together and Shieldfield Wheatfield is one way we are embodying our exploration.

Recipe for Lasagna

Recipe inspired by family friend, Tim Clarke. White sauce recipe originally from BBC Good Food.

Serves: 6 | Prep: 25 mins | Cook: 1h25 



  • 1 large sweet potato, 2 peppers, 1 large aubergine, 2 courgettes (could try a mixture of any of the following vegetables butternut squash, pumpkin, carrots, parsnip, swiss chard, mushrooms, broccoli, beetroot, leeks, kale, spinach, red onions, cabbage etc.)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or other type of oil)
  • 1tbsp smoked sweet paprika (could try paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin)


  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion 
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 sundried tomatoes (could try olives, capers, sunblushed tomatoes, jarred peppers, artichokes from a jar)
  • 1 can peeled plum tomatoes (could use chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 small jar of red pesto/1 small jar of red salsa (could try different tomato based products)
  • 1tsp tomato puree
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (could try fresh chilli or chilli powder)
  • ½ can vegetable stock


  • 1 jar of white sauce OR watered down creme fraiche OR
    • 500ml whole milk
    • 1 onion, halved
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 cloves
    • 50g butter
    • 50g plain flour
  • 1 packet of lasagna sheets
  • 100g cheddar cheese (could experiment with different types of cheese)
  • Fresh green salad to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7.  
  2. Peel sweet potatoes and chop into 3cm cubes. Place into a large roasting tin, drizzle over olive oil and sprinkle over smoked paprika. Mix to coat all sweet potatoes. Roast in the oven for 35-45 minutes until nicely browned. 
  3. Cut peppers into thick cubes. Cut aubergine and courgettes in half moons. Place together into a large roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt. Roast in the oven for about 35 minutes until nicely browned. 
  4. To make the sauce heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan on a medium heat. Finely cut your onion, garlic and sundried tomatoes and saute for 6 minutes until soft. 
  5. Add in 1 can of peeled plum tomatoes and squish whole tomatoes. Add in red pesto/salsa, tomato puree, chilli flakes and stock. Bring to a simmer whilst stirring and then put the lid on the pan and leave for about 10 minutes until reduced down to a silky sauce. 
  6. Remove the vegetables from the oven once lovely and browned and mix them all together. 
  7. Now for the fun part – layer it up baby! In your large oven dish (I used a large rectangular pyrex dish) layer as follows: half veggies, half tomato sauce, half lasagna sheets, half of white sauce, rest of veggies, rest of tomato sauce, rest of lasagna sheets, rest of white sauce, a generous sprinkling of cheese. 
  8. Reduce oven to 200C/Gas 6 and cook lasagna for 35-40 minutes until crispy and golden. 
  9. Serve with a fresh green salad.

If you want to make your own white sauce: 

  • Gently bring 500ml whole milk to the boil in a small saucepan with 1 halved onion, studded with 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 20 mins.
  • Melt 50g butter in another saucepan, then add 50g plain flour. Stir continuously until a paste forms – this is called a roux. Continue cooking for 2 mins.
  • Remove the onion, bay and cloves from the milk with a slotted spoon and discard. Add the infused milk to the roux gradually, stirring as you go, until you get a smooth sauce. Cook for 5-10 mins, stirring continuously, until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste.

Shieldfield Cooks | Veggie Enchiladas [12th June] 

The barrier of busyness

Often busyness is a big barrier to hospitality. We tend to fill our lives so full that we don’t have time to give to people or to welcome them into our homes let alone our lives. During isolation there have been two camps of people: the majority are those who have found themselves with hours of free time because they are without work or external socialising and there are also those who have found themselves far busier because of an increase in crisis management or online socialising. But for the majority of people has traditional busyness actually decreased? What do I mean by this? Much of the Western world used to fly from one thing to the next, always moving, always seeing people, always onto the next thing. The way we did this has now changed – we cannot go out to socialise and we cannot jump from one thing to the next outside the house. But I have not necessarily seen a change in ‘busyness’. Many people are still trying to find ‘stuff’ to fill their time: learning a new language, the latest fitness exercise programme, writing that novel I always said that I would start, tidying every square inch of my house… These are not bad things but I do think that they are busy things when they either take away from soul nourishing interaction or are used to ‘fill’ time or ‘succeed’ and ‘produce’ and ‘do’ something. We want to ‘feel’ something from the numbness that is a lack of purpose. 

STOP! Your life is not valued by how much you do. Your identity does not come from success and production. If it did, this Coronavirus has sure put a spanner in the works and stripped us of our value and identity. In the Bible, David (who went through a serious amount of suffering) sings to God: ‘For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.’ We have value because we are made by the creator of the universe and his works are wonderful.  

But even more incredible is what Peter says, that we are ‘God’s special possession’ and what John declares, that ‘to all who did receive [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.’ God values us highly and says that if we call Him our Lord we are called his children. This is an utterly secure identity and value that will never crumble or be taken from us. So, if you are trying to earn or keep your value and identity from what you do, think through whether it is worth it?  

But how does this fit into busyness as a big barrier to hospitality. Well, as you mull over what you can and cannot do, start with the fact that your identity and value will not change by what you do. This will free you up to love on others and serve others hospitably, as what you are doing will grow to no longer be for yourself but instead for serving others and for serving God. You will start to find time to welcome people and my prayer is that your busy-less hospitality will grow and grow and grow.   

Recipe for Enchiladas 

Enchiladas recipe originally from Jamie Oliver website. Tortilla recipe originally from BBC Good Food.

You really can just make these enchiladas with any filling. This list of ingredients and the 15 tasks in the method may seem too daunting. So just have a look at what is in your cupboard and experiment with what you have for the filling. The key part is wrapping it in tortillas, and then pouring some kind of tomato sauce and sprinkling  cheese on top.

Serves: 6 | Prep: 25 mins | Cook: 1h25 


  • 2 red or yellow peppers (could use pre roasted peppers from a jar)
  • 2 corn on the cob (could use a tin of sweetcorn)
  • olive oil (could use other types of oil)
  • 1 x 400g tin black beans (could use red kidney, black eye, pinto)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin (could try coriander, paprika and cinnamon)
  • 6 spring onions (could use shallots or red onion)
  • 1 fresh red chilli (could use chilli flakes or chilli powder)
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander, (30g)
  • 1 lime
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 x 400g tin quality plum tomatoes (could use a can of chopped tomatoes or fresh tomatoes)
  • 8 small flour or corn tortillas
  • 70 g mature Cheddar cheese (could experiment with different cheese)
  • 40 g feta cheese (could experiment with different cheese)

FOR THE TORTILLAS (if making yourself)

  • 250g plain flour, plus a little more for dusting
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp fine salt


  • 1 Avocado, scooped out of its skin
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped,
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 lime (juice)
  • Sea salt
  • coriander, chopped
  • Serve with a fresh crisp salad


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Place a griddle pan over a high heat to get smokin hot or turn on your grill to high.
  2. Halve and deseed the peppers, then add to the griddle (or for any normal person who doesn’t have one of these just use a grill) with the corn. Grill for 8 to 10 minutes, or until charred and bar-marked, turning occasionally. Remove to a plate to cool.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium frying pan over a medium heat. Drain and add the black beans, stir in the cumin and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, or until crisp, stirring occasionally.
  4. Once cooled, cut the corn kernels away from the cob (or drain your tin of sweet sweet sweetcorn) and chop the peppers into 1.5cm chunks (making sure not to burn your fingers). Reserving 1 tablespoon of the corn, add to a large bowl with the peppers and black beans.
  5. Trim, finely slice and add the spring onions, reserving a small handful to one side. Deseed, finely slice and add the chilli. And remember to keep your fingers away from your eyes cause that is some hot pain! Pick and add most of the coriander leaves, reserving the stalks.
  6. Squeeze in the lime juice and season well with sea salt and black pepper.
  7. Wipe the frying pan clean with kitchen paper, then return to a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of oil.
  8. Peel and finely slice the garlic and finely slice the coriander stalks, then add to the pan for 1 minute.
  9. Stir in the tomatoes and ½ a tin’s worth of hot water, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until thickened and reduced.
  10. Season to taste, carefully transfer to a liquidiser and blitz until smooth.
  11. Divide the vegetable mixture between 8 tortillas and roll them up. Line them up in a snug-fitting baking dish (roughly 20cm x 30cm), with the scruffy ends tucked underneath.
  12. Pour over the tomato sauce, coarsely grate the Cheddar on top and crumble over the feta.
  13. Drizzle with a little oil, then pop in the hot oven for 25 minutes, or until bubbling and golden and glorious.
  14. Serve scattered with the reserved corn, spring onion and coriander leaves. 
  15. For the guacamole mix the avocado, red onion, chilli, lime juice, coriander and salt together until smooth and creamy. 

If you want to make tortillas

  1. Combine the flour, vegetable oil and salt in a bowl. Pour over 150ml warm water and knead to bring the mixture together. Remove from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured work surface for around 5 mins until you make a soft, smooth ball of dough. Cover with a clean tea towel and rest for at least 15 mins before rolling out. 
  2. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (about 75g each). Roll out each ball of dough as thinly as possible on a floured work surface using a rolling pin/wine bottle/or tortilla maker. They should make rounds about 20 cm wide, 2mm thick. 
  3. Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Cook the tortillas for 1-2 mins on each side until golden brown and toasted. Wrap them in foil and cover in a tea towel to keep warm, while you cook the rest. Keeps for two days well wrapped, or cool, wrap and freeze for up to three months. 

Shieldfield Cooks | Pesto Pasta [26th June] 

Agriculture – grow your own and forage

You can’t go more than a few chapters in the Old Testament Bible without seeing some reference to land, water, its health or lack of, and the presence or absence of fertile soil and water. But these words are often absent from our rhetoric. There is a gap between the beautiful attention to the land and its fragility, drawn out by the biblical writers, and the obliviousness that characterises our culture in respect to our use of land. The land on which our very lives depend.  

The first and second chapters of the Bible tell us about our place in the world and the web of relationships into which we are born as a species. We are placed creatures; we are placed within an order and we are commanded to care for God’s creation. To think about how we eat and drink. How we sow a land. How we get food to our plates. How we use other human bodies in getting food to sustain us. 

Being conscious of where our food comes from and who grows it and at what cost, is something that all of us can and must do. The kind of contempt many urban dwellers have had for rural areas and the people who live in them is suicidal for people who live in cities. For our cities cannot be regarded as entities in themselves. They are no more important than the watersheds and breadbaskets that surround them and on which their lives depend. 

[Inspired by Ellen Davis + Wendell Berry: The Poetry of Creatures – November 24, 2011]

Recipe for pesto pasta

Wild garlic pesto originally from BBC Good Food.

Serves: 4 | Prep: 10 mins | Cook: 11 mins  


  • Sea salt
  • 200g pasta (fusilli, rigatoni, cavatappi, macaroni, penne, ziti, gnocchi)
  • 150g wild garlic (you could use spinach, basil, watercress, kale, peas, parsley) 
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • 50g pine nuts (could use hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia, almonds)
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice (could use lime)
  • 150ml rapeseed oil (could use olive oil)
  • 5 sunblushed tomatoes, chopped (could try olives, capers, sunblushed tomatoes, jarred peppers, artichokes from a jar)
  • Toppings (could use balsamic glaze, parmesan, toasted nuts, dried flowers, raspberry powder – think about colours and textures)


  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and season with salt. Add pasta, bring to the boil and cook for 11 minutes.
  2.  Chop up wild garlic (leaves and stalks) and place in a bowl. Add parmesan, garlic clove, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice and olive oil. Use a hand blender to blitz into a chunky paste.
  3. Drain pasta and reserve 4 tbsp of the starchy water. 
  4. Mix the pasta and garlic pesto until well combined. Mix in sunblushed tomatoes. 
  5. Plate up and add some beautiful toppings.

P.S. Make sure you do your teeth well after this gloriously smelly dish.

P.P.S You could use a jar of pesto instead of making your own for an even quicker dish.

Shieldfield Cooks | Pizza [2nd July] 

The fast food culture 

Making dough is a serious business, but it is a very good way of learning how much time and effort it takes to make bread that we usually just buy from the local supermarket for breakfast toast or a lunchtime sandwich. There is no such thing as fast food! From growing the wheat over many months, to harvesting, sorting, preparing, packaging and transporting. To the hours, energy and care that go into preparing all of the ingredients to produce the smell of fresh bread in your kitchen. I repeat no food is fast! So if you get a takeaway, drive through in McDonalds or call up deliveroo, think about all of the people and processes needed for each part of your meal. Even God takes his time with food. Isaiah 30 tells us that ‘He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful.’ God sends the rains and has created the seasons so that we have rest and rhythm within food growing. And Jesus took time to eat with almost everyone that he encountered. Food takes time. Food takes people. So don’t rush your mealtimes and don’t ever think that food is fast.

And what of hospitality? We can ask who are the living embodiments of welcome in my life? We must nurture this practice like we slowly nurture a vegetable garden. We learn it in small increments of daily faithfulness NOT in an instant. As a Benedictine monk once said “in a fast food culture, you have to remind yourself that some things cannot be done quickly. Hospitality takes time.” 

Recipe for pizza

Originally from BBC Good Food.

Serves: 4  | Prep: 25 mins | Cook: 10 mins  


FOR THE BASE (could use tortilla, naan bread, pitta bread)

  • 300g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast, (from a sachet or a tub)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling


  • Tomato base (could use chopped tomatoes, passata, salsa, tomato paste, add green herbs)
  • Pesto base
  • Different types of vegetables
  • Fresh herbs
  • Different cured meats
  • Olives, capers, artichokes, jalapenos 
  • Different cheeses


  1. Make the base: Put the flour into a large bowl, then stir in the yeast and salt. Make a well, pour in 200ml warm water and the olive oil and bring together with a wooden spoon until you have a soft, fairly wet dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 mins until smooth. Cover with a tea towel and set aside. You can leave the dough to rise if you like, but it’s not essential for a thin crust.
  2. Roll out the dough: If you’ve let the dough rise, give it a quick knead (for about 5 mins), then split into two balls. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into large rounds, about 25cm across, using a rolling pin. The dough needs to be very thin as it will rise in the oven. Lift the rounds onto two floured baking sheets.
  3. Toppings: Prep your toppings – get creative because this bit is exciting!
  4. Top and bake: Heat oven to 240C/Gas 8. Put another baking sheet or an upturned baking tray in the oven on the top shelf. Smooth sauce over bases with the back of a spoon. Scatter with cheese and toppings, drizzle with olive oil and season. Put one pizza, still on its baking sheet, on top of the preheated sheet or tray. Bake for 8-10 mins until crisp. Serve with a little more olive oil, and basil leaves if using. Repeat step for remaining pizza.

Shieldfield Cooks | Chipotle black bean chilli [10th July] 

Lockdown Wheat

On 13th March 2020, we spent a day shifting soil, cutting up boards, building planters and finally placing a tiny wheat seed in a patch of warm earth. After the herculean labour of the day, there was only one thing left to do. Wait.

Little did we know that our waiting would be at a distance, as lockdown came into force a week later. We had planned to keep a close eye on the wheat, to check the black earth for any signs of a shoot of green. These checks would be our daily doses of nature in between meeting, emails and exhibition installations. Instead, we waited in our homes for lockdown to be over, in supermarket queues for two metre gaps and for daily news briefings.  Instead of being a daily focus, the wheat was left to its own devices. Occasional watering and photographs of its progress replaced the human eye peering over the raised bed on a daily basis. Despite our distractions, the wheat still flourished. It didn’t need us to watch it for it to grow. At nearly the same age as the lockdown, the wheat reflects a multiplication of our initial efforts, and a steadfast indication of its nature to produce and be fruitful without needing our human eyes constantly upon it. Things grow and develop without our watching, and sometimes we need to have faith that this kind of wholesome growth will come without constant checking or targets. God’s love flourishes with or without human encouragement, and sometimes without us watching. We might only have the faith, or confidence, the size of a tiny mustard seed, but the seed contains the rudiments it needs to grow deeper roots and taller leaves. We’ve all been waiting for lockdown to end, but we may find parts of our lives or ourselves have grown in ways we weren’t expecting or watching for, even though our lives and experiences may have been smaller in outlook.

Recipe for Chipotle black bean chilli

Originally from

Serves: 4  | Prep: 15 mins | Cook: 10 mins  


  • 2 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil
  • 1 red onion (could use white onion or 3 shallots)
  • 1 carrot (could use butternut squash or courgette)
  • handful fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 tsp chipotle paste (to your taste – 3 tsp is fairly spicy) (could use a variety of spices)
  • 1 red pepper (could use peppers from a jar)
  • 400g can black beans (could use other types of beans like kidney, pinto or black eyed)
  • 400g can peeled plum tomatoes (could use chopped tomatoes)
  • pinch sugar
  • salt and black pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a large lidded frying pan or casserole. Peel the onion and carrot, and separate the coriander stalks from the leaves, (setting leaves aside for later). Use a mini-chopper or food processor to chop the onion, carrot and coriander stalks (or just chop really finely) then add to the pan.
  2. Add the garlic and chipotle paste to the pan and stir. De-seed and finely slice the pepper and add to the pan.
  3. Drain and rinse the black beans and add to the pan. Tip in the chopped tomatoes and sugar, then season well with salt and black pepper. Stir then cover with a lid and turn up to a high heat. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  4. Finely chop the coriander leaves and stir through the chilli before serving with rice, fajitas or a handful of tortilla chips.

Shieldfield Cooks | Pasta Puttanesca [17th July] 

Abundance vs Lack of choice

During COVID-19, many of us have found our choices limited. At the beginning of lockdown, we were only allowed outside to exercise (for one hour only!), to go to the supermarket or to pick up medicine. We
have been unable to celebrate birthdays with family and friends in our “normal ways.” For some of us, we have been unable to grieve the deaths of friends or family members together. We have been unable to walk past anyone in the street without giving them a wide birth. When arriving at the supermarket, we have had to queue and even the direction we could walk down the aisles has been limited. Some of our jobs have been limited: limited hours, meetings on zoom or even in some cases, have become non-existent

And yet, I wonder how many of us have experienced some sort of abundance during this time. How many of us have found many new (and old) TV shows or movies to watch to fill our time? Have you found yourself with an abundance of time? Has it been overwhelming, or relaxing? Some of us have had lots of phone calls with old and new friends, with their stories filling our otherwise empty homes. For many of us, I suspect we’ve also had an abundance of silence, and loneliness. My facebook feed has been full of people experiencing an abundance of things: sharing excitement over their new found hobbies, sharing fun new recipes they’ve tried, sharing funny zoom-work stories, or even, in some cases, celebrating the extra hours they have had to pray and connect with God!

I don’t know how you’re feeling today. Are you full to the brim with joy, feeling the abundance of this time? Or, are you feeling a little empty, or a little tired? Maybe quarantine is limiting, lonely and draining?

Christians believe the Kingdom of God is a place where all are welcome, but especially those who are struggling, those that have been overlooked, or abandoned. That means you, who are weary with the limits of quarantine. That includes you, who loves the abundance of time. This means you, who have binge-watched every Netflix show out there. This means you, who feels alone. This means you, however you are feeling, however you have experienced this time, are beloved to God. Writer Nadia Bolz-Weber has written a blessing based on Matthew 5 which I’d like to share with you today

Blessed are the agnostics.
Blessed are they who doubt. Those who aren’t sure, who can still be surprised.
Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. Blessed are the preschoolers who cut in line at communion.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you

Blessed are they for whom death is not an abstraction.
Blessed are they who have buried their loved ones, for whom tears could fill an ocean. Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like.
Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried.
Blessed are they who don’t have the luxury of taking things for granted anymore.
Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else.
Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.”
Blessed are those who mourn. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

Blessed are those who no one else notices.
The kids who sit alone at middle-school lunch tables.
The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex workers and the night-shift street sweepers.
Blessed are the forgotten. Blessed are the closested.
Blessed are the unemployed, the unimpressive, the underrepresented…
Blessed are the meek. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you

Recipe for Pasta Puttanesca

Originally from Waitrose recipe card.

Serves: 2  | Prep: 5 mins | Cook: 10 mins  


  • 150g spaghetti (could try other types of pasta)
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 anchovy fillets (could use other salted tinned fish)
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 400g chopped toms 
  • 10 pitted kalamata olives (could try different types of olives or antipasti)
  • handful basil (could try different types of fresh herbs)
  • 2tsp capers


  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook pasta. Meanwhile gently heat olive oil, garlic and anchovies. Sizzle gently for 2 minutes, then add the tomato puree and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add tomatoes and olives, partially cover, and turn up the heat. Bubble hard for 5 mins until the sauce has thickened and is rich.
  3. When ready, drain pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce with 2tbsp reserved water and mix well. Season, then toss a handful of the basil into the pan to get involved in the pasta party. Divide between plates then finish with the capers, extra basil and a drizzle of oil.

Shieldfield Cooks | Soup and Scones [31st July] 

Creating an outside space for hospitality without house rules 

My [Lydia’s] flatmate Miriam and I bought some plants from Dobbie’s and spruced up our yard. My favourite plant is the Fatsia Japonica with its luscious waxy leaves. The garden is definitely my favourite room of the house – a little haven. Getting close to the earth and nurturing nature to grow is so refreshing and feels very wholesome. It also reminds me of a conversation about a person’s garden holding less ownership and power – a place where a guest can feel more at home and less aware of etiquette and house rules. I have definitely experienced this as both a host and a guest. As the restrictions have eased from lockdown we invited a few friends into our back yard each Saturday evening, when they were not allowed in the house at that time. We always prayed for good weather and even if it rained a little we would put on our best British faces and stick it out. When we host in the yard our guests are always far more relaxed: the noise from other yards down the street adds a sense of life and movement surrounding us and gives chance to pause and listen if their is a lull in conversation; the open space seems less restricting and images the openness in conversation; we are closer to the public domain (the street) and so the space feels less ‘mine’ and more ‘the collectives’ so that specific rules that the host usually puts in place can be challenged and pushed back on more so than inside the house. 

Although cultivated and cared for, the garden is also uncontrollable and wild. I like the cracks in the stone and the flowery weeds; those uncontrollable beauties that help the host and guest remember that hospitality isn’t about controlled perfection but instead making a space of welcome. Often when we invite guests to our homes we like to clean and tidy and prepare the surroundings – sometimes this is a deterrent from inviting people because it seems like too much effort or is never perfect enough. However we don’t see the garden space in the same way. If there are weeds, or the grass is slightly too long, or the temperature is slightly too cold (because let’s be honest, you cannot control the outside temperature unless you go to a pub and they have those fancy oil lamp things that roast you alive) we don’t mind and we don’t particularly notice. Chaos in the garden seems less of a barrier than chaos in the house. There is less pressure on the host to prepare the surroundings beforehand. Jesus did a lot of his hosting and teaching outside, on a mountain, from a boat on a lake and whilst walking. He wasn’t in control of how these outside spaces looked (although he has been a part in making them during creation so you could say he actually had ultimate control – even of the weather). 

Recipe for soup and scones

Serves: 6  | Prep: 30 mins | Cook: 25 mins  



  • Knob of butter (or could use a glug of oil)
  • 1 onion (could use a red onion, 4 shallots, 4 spring onions or 1 leek)
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • 1 stick of celery
  • Any types of vegetables (broccoli, courgette, sweet potato etc)
  • Spices or herbs (smoked paprika works well with sweet potato)
  • 1.2 litres of stock (could use vegetable or chicken)
  • Cheese or coconut milk/cream (coconut milk works well with sweet potato, blue cheese works well with broccoli)


  • 300g plain flour
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 160g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 120g mild stilton, crumbled (could use other types of cheese)
  • 85g hazelnuts, roasted then finely chopped (could use other types of nuts or olives)
  • 200-300ml milk
  • 1 egg, beaten (could use milk)

Method fo soup

  1. Heat up a large pan and add a knob of butter.
  2. Cut up onion and garlic and saute on a medium heat for 8 minutes.
  3. Add in chopped vegetables and fry for 3 minutes.
  4. Add stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft. 
  5. Add your cheese or coconut milk/cream if using.
  6. Liquidise until smooth. 

Method for scones

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/ Gas 5. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Sift the flours, baking powder, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in using your fingertips until it resembles fine crumbs. Add the cheese and nuts and mix until evenly distributed. 
  3. Add 200ml of the milk and mix until the dough starts to come together. Gradually add more milk, adding just enough to make a slightly sticky dough.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out (you could use a wine bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin) to about 3cm thick. Stamp out using a 7cm round cutter (or a glass) and place on the baking sheet. Brush the tops lightly with milk or beaten egg.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until risen and golden brown.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm with butter and soup.

Shieldfield Cooks | Freezer Fiesta [6th August]

Creativity in minimalism

Back when we could have social gatherings we had a Freezer Fiesta at my house. The idea was that you brought a dish that was only made from ingredients from your freezer (but you could use the addition of a few store cupboard items if needed) and then we feasted on the fabulous freezer foods. I have been thinking a lot recently about bring and share meals being good ways of mixing up the host and guest roles so that as host I am not peddlestooled but everyone takes part in feeding and being fed. But there is always the difficulty that some cannot afford to bring a dish and then feel left out or guilty or, worse case scenario, feel like they cannot come. So I came up with a cool solution: most people have random food in their freezer that they never get round to eating so why not ask people to use these random food bits and bobs to make something. That way nobody has to spend any money but bring what they already have. 

In a culture where we take freedom and a vast variety of choice for granted, Covid has meant there is less choice of products in the supermarket. But I view this as a wonderful opportunity to reassess our so called freedom of choice and instead be content and creative with what there is. Let us meditate on what it is to live a simpler and more minimalistic life where we are not enslaved to our “need” for overwhelming choice. Why not create a meal from those back-of-the-cupboard ingredients instead of buying something new?

The only problem with a bring and share is you never know what you’re going to get – so an hour into the evening we only had desserts. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE DESSERT, in fact I choose a restaurant on the dessert menu, but man cannot live off cake alone. So I rejoiced when friends Nathaniel and Nick arrived with a minced pie and I got my flat mate Miriam to quickly run to Sainsbury’s and buy some frozen peas, which I sprinkled with some home grown mint and mixed with butter. 

Recipe for freezer fiesta risotto

The basic premise is to make a meal from ingredients only in your freezer, fridge and cupboards. So get creative and see what you can make with what you have. We would love to see what you come up with!

Originally from my own head!

Serves: 4  | Prep: 10 mins | Cook: 35 mins  


  • Glug of oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 spring onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 300g Arborio rice (could use normal rice)
  • About 1.2 litres of stock (could use vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 apple
  • Minted pea puree (Find recipe here)
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • A good dosage of parmesan
  • Exciting toppings for colour and texture  


  1. Fill and boil the kettle.
  2. Heat a large pan with a glug of oil. Saute onions and spring onions for 5 mins. Add in garlic and fry for a further 4 mins. Add in rice and cook for 2 mins
  3. Add in a stock cube and enough water from the kettle to cover. Simmer until water reduces. Repeat until the rice is cooked.
  4. Cut up and blitz an apple.
  5. Add lemon zest and juice. Add minted pea puree and frozen peas until warm.
  6. Spoon apple puree onto your plates and spread out to make a long mark. Spoon risotto on top. Top with exciting toppings like more parmesan, edible flowers, balsamic glaze and raspberry powder.

Shieldfield Cooks | Shieldfield Stir Fry [13th August]

Gardens out East

But food gathers us together; bringing us to table and fast, 

to land, fruit and fellowship, no longer living as the outcast.

It’s the entire Gospel, embodied: abundance, celebration, 

shared in a living, boundary-busting community’s foundation.

Scripture is the story of food, harvest and land, 

A farmer community surviving grand plans. 

It is packed with tales of gardens out east, 

fruitfulness and famine, fasting and feast, 

Every day we have the chance to but express 

the holiness of the humble meal: so go bless.

Recipe for Shieldfield Stir Fry

The basic premise is to make a meal from vegetables grown in your community. So get creative and see what you can make wit local produce. We would love to see what you come up with! Originally from my own head!

Serves: 4  | Prep: 10 mins | Cook: 35 mins  


  • As many fresh veggies as you can find (ideas include: courgette, aubergine, carrot, kale, beans, radish, spinach)
  • A handful of fresh herbs (ideas include: mint, basil, parsley)
  • A packet of egg noodles (could also use pasta, spaghetti, rice noodles, rice)
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced and deseeded (or 1tsp of cheats chilli/ 1tbsp sweet chilli sauce/ 1 tsp chilli flakes)
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 oranges, juiced (or 2 limes/ 1 lemon and 1 lime or orange)
  • 1 1/2tbsp clear honey
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar/ cider vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp of peanut butter (optional)
  • sesame seeds


  1. Cut up all your vegetables thinly, you could use a peeler for reelable veggies to get really thin pieces. Chop up all your fresh herbs.
  2. Mix the chilli, spring onions, orange juice, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and peanut butter if using (if you don’t have all of these ingredients don’t worry, just use what you have). 
  3. Cook your pasta, noodles or rice to packet instructions. Drain and leave to dry.
  4. Flash fry all your veggies for 2-4 minutes until just cooked but still crunchy. 
  5. Mix in your sauce and carbs.
  6. Plate up. Sprinkle over sesame seeds. Enjoy!