Monday, 31 October 2011

Food waste

As we sat down for Sunday roast kindly cooked for us, I felt overwhelmed by comfort and joy.  Next I try to work out when we last had a roast dinner and why did it seem novel and not the norm.  I cannot think of a better way to end the week or a more perfect way to start the week.  Fill your family up with hearty warmth then fill your fridge with leftovers for a busy week ahead.
It strikes me that a traditional Sunday roast is not cheering enough homes in these austerity times.  This is exactly how we should be feeding our families to save money.  A leftover joint should be dinner on Monday too, I have been known to make it to Thursday on Sunday leftovers.  Not just by buying an oversized joint but by making stock and being thrifty.  
At these times reducing food waste should be everyones priority, yet people seem to lack the knowledge of basic house keeping.  Best before dates have played havoc with our eating habits with people throwing away food just because it’s passed it date.  In our house we only don't eat it if it's blue and have all become expert milk sniffers,  and that now gets made into soda bread.  I heard a radio 1 DJ concerning herself that she ate an out of date avocado, when did we become so detached from the food we eat that we worry we can poison ourselves with an avocado.
In order to change what we spend on food, and how much we waste we need to look at how we shop and cook.  A friend has managed to dramatically cut her food bill by buying her fruit and veg from the local greengrocers Bramleys not the supermarket, and there’s no packaging or best before dates on that.  To learn more about food and cooking make it your job to cook a Sunday roast and eat it until there isn't a scrap left. 
p.s, buy good quality bread with as few ingredients in as possible, it will last longer, especially sourdoughs or overnight doughs 

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Feed your family for £60 for a week

Here is an outline for a weeks menu inspired by Sainsbury's  but to be used at the almighty Horsley Community shop.  Feeding a family of four on the finest local and sometimes organic food for less than £60. Eventually  I will write a shopping list and recipes or detailed explanations and recommendations for extras too. 
Breakfast; American Pancakes and honey
Lunch; Mushrooms on wholemeal toast
Dinner; Roast chicken, with potatoes, carrots and cabbage
Breakfast; Tomatoes on wholemeal toast
Lunch; Ham Omlette
Dinner; Hot chicken salad
Breakfast; Porridge
Lunch; Beans on sherston toast
Dinner; Pea risotto
Breakfast; Bacon sandwich on sherston
Lunch; Pea and lettuce soup with 3 seed wholemeal
Dinner; Fish pie
Breakfast; Porridge
Lunch; Ham and mustard sherston sandwich
Dinner; Mushroom and chickpea curry with rice
Breakfast; 3 seed Toast and honey
Lunch; Egg fried rice
Dinner; Horsley sausage with mash, cabbage and mustard
Breakfast; Boiled egg and 3 seed soldiers
Lunch; Hummus sandwich
Dinner; Spaghetti Carbonara 
Example recipe,
Chickpea and Mushroom curry
1 onion 
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp curry powder
200g mushrooms
1 tin of chickpeas
1 tin of coconut milk
Half a bag of spinach (chard or kale as good)
Fry your sliced onion in olive oil, add the chopped garlic, when softening add the curry powder.  Next add the sliced mushrooms, drained chickpeas and coconut milk.  Simmer gently for 25 minutes.  Finally add your torn washed greens and cook till they are tender. Season. 
I can only cook basmati rice one way, it always works, this is how.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan, add the whole pack of basmati rice (there is egg fried rice for lunch tomorrow).  Stir the rice till the grains are all coated in olive oil.  Add twice the volume of water to rice.  Bring to the boil, stir, then put a lid on and leave for about 8 minutes.  When all the water has absorbed turn off the heat and cover with a clean tea towel and the lid and leave until needed, it is fine for up to an hour.  
Serve the rice with the curry remembering to keep back half the rice for tomorrows lunch.
Optional extras* serve with coriander, mango chutney, soy sauce or chilli sauce
*All optional extras take you over your weekly allowance.

Sunday, 9 October 2011


It's not been a bumper year at Quince Tree Cottage year, this is probably the first year I have anticipated their arrival and had a list of recipes lined up.  I of course was hoping to finishing Elizabeth David's, French Provincial cooking as the last quince fell, this hasn't happened.  I could blame it on my shortfall of quinces, but the reality is I was being over ambitious.  Julia took a year and I think I will too.  
I have a bounce in my step for Elizabeth again, now I only have one hare recipe left I think I can do it.  Every recipe continues to be a  success, but I still have to bone a duck and a chicken and cook a partridge in a cabbage, what?!!
Her quince recipes were great, a delicious quince marmalade and a divine quince paste.  I have made quince paste before to cut up into sweet sized portions.  Her recipe cooked the quinces rubbed of their downy skins whole in the oven until they were soft enough to be put through the food mill, then reheated with sugar and cooked in a low oven.  I can't work out how the recipe differs from membrillo, whether the paste is just smoother and typically cooked for longer.  I will have to wait for next years fruit to find out unless anyone has any quinces going spare.  

Welcome home

The husband had been away "Do"ing his thing in Wales.  He was welcomed home by a good fish supper, Elizabeth David of course.  Red mullet cooked in vine leaves, picked from the garden and globe artichokes (down in price in Bramleys).  The fish was good and really took on the flavour of the leaves and was served with melted butter.  The globe artichokes were good served with a vinaigrette.  I like cooking them whole, I don't get the benefit of cutting out the choke and just cooking up the heart.  I love the crescendo of chewing the leaves as they get tenderer until you reach the nectar in the middle.  The chips were courtesy of Hobbs House Bistro.