Food and cooking

Christmas leftovers

Posted on Updated on

Here are some ideas for using leftovers in a simple, imaginative way. For more, see http://tinyurl.com/zodf8st

Christmas pudding ice cream

Mix leftover custard with equal amount of double cream and stir in crumbled leftover Christmas pudding. Put in the freezer for 2 hours, then take out and stir before putting back into the freezer overnight. Take out an hour before serving.  Tastes like rum and raisin ice cream, and great with a dash of Bailey’s over the top.

Vegetable stock

Boil turkey carcass in 2 litres of water with 2 sticks of celery, 2 peeled onions chopped in half, and 2 carrots, for about an hour. Strain into bowl and then pour into plastic containers for storage in fridge or freezing. Use for soup, stews or gravy.

Turkey and banana balls ( baby or toddler food)

Steam an unpeeled banana. Chop a few teaspoons of leftover turkey in a food processor and add the banana and a little butter. Remove the mixture and roll into little balls to make finger food for a baby or toddler.

Hot winter fruit salad

Boil satsuma or clementine slices in water, a little sugar and a bit of brandy or Cointreau if you have some to hand, along with anything to hand such as dates, grapes, and dried fruits. Serve with cream or ice cream.

Chestnut and coffee mousse

Mix together leftover chestnut puree, a small amount of instant coffee to taste, and double cream in a food processor or blender until the cream has thickened. Sweeten with vanilla sugar.

Image: http://120dollarsfoodchallenge.com/2010/12/22/leftover-lottery-reader-suggestions/

Crisis diet *plus*

Posted on Updated on

Organic veg box suppliers are having a tough time at the moment, as people are apparently cutting their orders back as they downsize. So this week I tried to think of a way of factoring in an organic veg box into this week’s crisis diet, while still keeping the total around £35. This proved to be too much of a challenge, so we are looking at £27 at Asda and £14 for a medium organic vegetable box (Abel and Cole), totalling £41 for the week’s shopping.

Breakfast is porridge as usual, lunch is tinned soup and bread plus protein as before.

Dinner ideas are as follows, and recipes are readily available on the internet. The veg box items are in bold. They are tasty, and seasonal.

1. Broccoli and cream cheese bake

2. Chard and salmon quiche

3. White pollack fish with boiled potatoes and fennel

4. Roast gammon, mashed potatoes and peas

5. Baked potatoes with bolognaise sauce

6. Chicory wrapped with ham, tinned chopped tomatoes poured over, and grated cheese on top, baked for 30 minutes.

7. Mushroom omelettes

How to Adapt Your Garden in Periods of Austerity

Posted on

book

I have recently come across a really terrific gardening book from the Second World War period, written by Richard Sudell, and while most of it was fairly predictable, there was a excellent chapter on ‘How to Adapt Your Garden in Wartime’, that has some relevance for this blog. I’m therefore looking at the chapter here to see what we can glean about what they call ‘cropping’ round where I live. The idea of gardening wearing a shirt and tie also appeals to me; this is a phenomenon we see in many early DIY books as well. In those days, clearly Britain Had Standards.

First of all, the garden it appears to be based on is large by modern standards (100ft by 35ft), and unless you live in the middle of nowhere, or are lucky enough to live in a house build before 1960, I doubt you’ll have enough space for most of their ideas. He also regards the average family as having 4-5 people, which again is large for present times. However it is possible to work from the same principles and develop a productive garden that might not meet all your food needs, but which will let you harvest something fresh and tasty to eat most days of the summer and early autumn.

Richard starts by suggesting you allocate half to two-thirds of the garden to the cultivation of fruit and vegetables, leaving an area with flowers and shrubs near where you are planning to sit, and near the bits of the garden you see most closely to the house. He also suggests widening the beds and reducing the size of the lawn so you can also grow flowers for cutting fairly easily (garden flowers rather than shop-bought flowers being a staple of this blog, so obviously we approve of that idea). I would add to his advice that there might be a case for losing the lawn completely, as they are high maintenance and the space might be put to better purpose with other things, but if you have football playing children this will be regarded as sacrilegious.

You then lay out your garden  with gravel paths near the house (I would recommend putting landscape matting underneath gravel to stop weeds poking through, by the way), and grass paths in the vegetable area. In the vegetable patch he recommends growing potatoes, cabbage, beans and so on as staples to last you through the year. In addition he suggests adding fruit trees and bushes, and having a good compost pit. A small greenhouse will allow you to raise seedlings (vegetables being cheapest when they are grown from seed), early vegetables, salads, and also force rhubarb (probably the easiest plant to grown in the country, and when you put a cover over it, you get early tender pale stalks that are delicious in a rhubarb fool (recipe in the Austerity Housekeeping eBook if you need it).

He goes further and suggests your Anderson Air Raid shelter might make a good chicken coop ‘on the intensive system’. Please could any readers of this blog discovering an Anderson shelter in their back garden, and who are planning to try this, get in touch immediately as the television production company I word with will most likely be both flabbergasted and impressed enough to send out a cameraman to record it for posterity. From the way this chapter reads, it appears you would be bedding down with the chickens should Jerry fly overhead, so I wonder if he was implying the chicken stage of development would be better achieved after the war.

Now in relation to the actual vegetable patch, you apparently need to divide it into three portions.

  • Greens (cabbages, sprouts, cauliflowers)
  • Legumes and root crops (peans, beans, carrots)
  • Potatoes

You also need a section for salads such as lettuce, celery, onions, small herbs and so on.

The beds are divided this way as each year you will need to rotate the crops, or in other words, only grow vegetables in the same bed once every three years. This is a method of avoiding pests and diseases, and not exhausting the soil. You’ll also need to feed the soil regularly with good compost from your pit, and he also recommends using an incinerator for burning garden waste to create good potash as extra soil nutrition.

Other additions from the Sudell book – a shallow pond can apparently become a watercress bed. I would never have thought of that. Also growing fruit up trellises and walls/fences is a real option to save space.

Overall it’s lovely to come across gardening books like these, as they take us back to a time when the craft of gardening was done in a more earthy way, working from basics, rather than the present convention of going to a garden centre and filling a massive trolley with expensive seedlings and plants somebody else has reared for you. I have a feeling that in the Sudell garden, growing your own fruit and vegetables might even be economical compared to that, which is presumably how he could afford to garden in a shirt and tie.

Incidentally, if you want a copy of this book for yourself, Ebay has several for sale at the moment.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_kw=practical+gardening+food+production

 

Week 2 – Crisis diet

Posted on Updated on

This is a slight adaptation of week 1. Keep to the porridge for breakfast, preferably with raisins or mixed dried fruit in it, for maximum nutrition at minimum cost.  Likewise, keep to the soup for lunch, with a piece of toast or bread and a small amount of protein to stave off hunger during the afternoon. Here are the dinners for the week.

 

1. Ready made lasagne

2. Home made turkey and mushroom pie with shortcrust pastry, serve with cabbage and/or carrots

3. Pasta with sauce and crumbled Lancashire cheese

4. Roast chicken dinner with roast potatoes , carrots and cabbage. You can make stock with the carcass and make a carrot and lentil soup, with spare carrots from this week and lentils from last week, or a pea and ham soup with frozen peas from last week and a bit of ham from your packet.

5. Fishcakes with oven chips (you should have some left from last week – if not make saute potatoes) and peas (from bag last week, if you haven’t used them in a soup)

6. Toad in the Hole made with frozen sausages, served with vegetables of choice

7. Omelettes, served with bread and butter, and a small salad (optional)

 

Still hungry?

1. Apple crumble and custard

2. Home made sponge cake

3. Bananas and melted chocolate sauce

4. Ice cream

5. Semolina and jam

6. Flapjacks, if you have some porridge oats spare, and sugar in your cupboard

7. Tinned pineapple, or pineapple upside down cake.

 

Shopping list: (currently £37.92 at Asda, including the puddings)
Vanilla ice cream

Large bag porridge oats

Large bag plain white flour

Large bag self-raising flour

Semolina

Pasta shapes

Bolognaise sause

Strawberry jam

Lentil soup x 2

Oxtail soup x 2

Pea and ham soup x 2

Tomato soup x 2

Vegetable soup x 2

Pineapple pieces in syrup

4 x 4 pints whole milk

15 mixed weight eggs

2 x 500g sunflower spread

250g Lancashire Cheddar

Mixed dried fruit

Savoy cabbage

Mushrooms

Onion

2.5kg white potatoes

4 Bramley apples

At least 4 bananas

1 kg carrots

125g thin sliced ham

340g diced turkey breast

Medium chicken

8 Smoked haddock fishcakes

12 thick sausages

Bar of milk chocolate

Weekly food spend poll

Posted on Updated on

Week 1 – Crisis diet for when the cupboard is bare

Posted on Updated on

Baroness Jenkin recently announced (admittedly while being ambushed by the Press, but still …) that the poor don’t know how to cook, and went on to claim that you can sort yourself out with a few 4p bowls of porridge. Anne, you are wrong. As an affluent person, you can afford to live frugally, but many people are forced to pay what we call a ‘poverty premium’ for their goods and services. For example, sometimes people live nowhere near a food shop and have no transport apart from expensive buses. Sometimes people can’t afford to buy in bulk as their cashflow is too limited. Sometimes people have no money for the meter (and remember that if you use a meter, you pay more for fuel than people who are able to pay via direct debit). Others have disabilities or depression and are unable to put in the time and effort it takes to organise a healthy diet on next to no money for years at a time. So you would do well to remember that next time you are insulting your fellow citizens.

In the meantime, here’s an emergency meal plan designed for if you really are up against it financially, and need to spend as little as possible for a week or two without missing meals, or compromising your nutrition levels too much. In planning this menu, I am assuming you have access to a cooker and fridge with a freezer compartment.

If you shop very carefully you could feed family members for £1-2 per person per day on this plan, less if you prowl around several supermarkets near closing time for reduced price special offers, use coupons wisely, and ask for free fruit and veg when market stalls are closing down and have overripe things to give away. Other tips include choosing frozen and tinned foods over fresh, as nutrition levels are usually better than with things that have been languishing in your fridge. Also make sure you choose full fat dairy products over skimmed or semi skimmed, to maximise vitamins and calories.

Breakfast

Porridge with full fat milk, optional raisins.

Lunch

Tinned soup – choose a different type every day. Do not substitute with packet soup.

I piece of brown toast with sunflower spread

If there’s no protein in the soup, also allow 25-50g ham, spam, tofu, tinned fish or cheese

Supper

1. Baked potato and full fat cottage cheese, sliced tomato

2. Corned beef hash and frozen peas

3. Vegetable curry with lentils and rice

4. Spaghetti bolognaise made with Quorn, turkey or pork mince and tinned chopped tomatoes

5. Frozen sausages with mashed potatoes and frozen mixed vegetables

6. Fish fingers with oven chips and baked beans

7. Cauliflower cheese with bread and butter

Still hungry?

1. Tinned fruit and custard made from powder

2. Stewed or baked apples and custard

3. Rice pudding with full fat milk

4. Natural yoghurt and a little sugar or overripe banana

5. Jelly

6. Blancmange

7. Home made jam tarts

Shopping list – cost it out at http://www.mysupermarket.com and take note of any ‘Switch and save’ suggestions they make. Currently the best place to buy it is Asda and this costs up at £33.89 at the moment.

Large bag of porridge oats

2 pints of full fat milk per day – make sure you all drink it if it’s not used in cooking, including the adults

Small bag raisins/sultanas/currants/dried mixed fruit (optional)

14 tins of soup – look for multi buy offers, favour vegetable-rich ones

About 1.5 to 2lbs of any of the following: cheese, ham, spam, tofu, tuna or other protein

8 oz tub sunflower, olive or other vegetable oil spread

2 x 800g loaves brown bread

4 large potatoes

8 oz full fat cottage cheese

4 large tomatoes

2 large tins corned beef

3 onions

5lbs regular potatoes

2 lbs carrots

Bag of frozen mixed veg suitable for curry (root veg especially useful, and you can include some fresh carrots and potatoes)

Small bag lentils

Small bag long grain rice (use with curry and also in rice pudding)

Packet spaghetti

1 lb Quorn, beef, pork or turkey mince

12 frozen fish fingers

Tinned chopped tomatoes x 3

12 frozen sausages

Bag low fat oven chips

Bag of frozen peas

2 tins baked beans

1-2 cauliflowers, depending on size

2 tins fruit, eg pears/prunes/mandarins/peaches

Bird’s custard powder

4 baking apples

Small bag of plain flour

1 pint natural yoghurt

1 packet jelly

1 packet blancmange

If the cupboard really is bare, try the Trussell Trust food banks. Their website is here, and you can get referrals from GPs and other community professionals who are part of the scheme, to receive three days’ worth of food:

http://www.trusselltrust.org/

Home made ice cream from your freezer

Posted on Updated on

ice creamHere’s a good way of avoiding children’s demands as the ice cream van comes around. You don’t need a fancy ice cream machine to make your own – the top of your fridge or your freezer can stand in while you create your own recipes and flavours. There are different categories you might try. The most common is what the Americans call ‘custard’, or what the Italians might call ‘gelati’, namely naming a kind of custard mix out of eggs, cream and milk and then freezing it. It’s also possible just to use double cream and fruit, or Greek yoghurt and fruit. Finally making your own sorbets is another option. Here are three recipes to try.

Raspberry frozen yoghurt

This is quite diabetic friendly. Take 1 pint of thick Greek yoghurt, and 8 oz of raspberries, and mix them together. Put in the freezer until it starts to set, and then take it out and stir it to break up the ice crystals a bit. Stir at two hourly intervals or so after that. After about 8 hours you will have the most delicious frozen yoghurt with no added sugar. By the way, any really ripe fruit will lend itself to this technique.

Home made ice cream

Beat 4 egg yolks in a pan until they are creamy, then beat in 2 tbsp of hot milk. Beat in a further 500ml of hot milk, beating the mixture constantly. Add 125g caster sugar, stir it in, and then transfer to a double boiler, or if you don’t have one, use a Pyrex dish nestled in the top of a pan of hot water (not too full otherwise the hot water will splash out). Cook over a gentle heat, and keep stirring it the whole time, until it easily coats the back of the spoon you are using. Whatever you do, don’t allow your mixture to boil, or you will end up with scrambled eggs! Be really, really patient and keep stirring all the time. Once it has thickened, remove from the heat, cool, and freeze according to the instructions for frozen yoghurt.

You can adapt the flavour by adding different things as you add the 500ml of hot milk. These include: vanilla essence, rum essence and raisins (for rum and raisin, unsurprisingly), crushed strawberries, raspberries or blackberries, a dash of any liquers you might have lying around, such as Baileys or Marsala, chocolate sauce, coffee (add a bit of hot water to instant coffee before adding it), or melted Mars bars. Just stir them in.

if you have made the vanilla version, and happen to have a little espresso maker (you can get aluminium stove top ones for as little as a tenner if you shop around), you can make a lovely dessert by putting a small scoop of the ice cream into a tea cup and then pouring a portion of the hot coffee over it. Best eaten straight away. The Italians call this ‘affogato’.

Lemon sorbet

Boil 125ml water with the zest of two lemons and 250g sugar. Boil the mixture, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Cool, chill, and then add 500ml lemon juice (you can use bottled, such as PLJ). Strain, and then freeze as in the above recipes. Soften in the fridge for a little while before serving.

This recipe also works well with oranges (perhaps use a little less sugar), limes, and even grapefruits, although you may need to adapt the recipe a little according to personal preferences. A dash of Cointreau in an orange sorbet, or white wine in a lemon one, makes it very grown up.