Saturday, May 7, 2011

Come get your slop!

I'm always going on about frugal cooking and making stuff from scratch etc. Sometimes, though, I just look in the fridge and cupboard and go 'Why don't we have any FOOD?' - you know, stuff that is ready to eat, then and there.

And then I go away grumpily and a few minutes later come back, look in the fridge and cupboard again, and come to the same conclusion. And then sulk.

It happened today. It's not like there wasn't anything to eat. We'd just been to the market. We'd stocked up on vegetables and lentils and rice and tofu. I swear though, at that moment, there was nothing to eat.

Finally I just told myself to get over it and started chopping up some garlic and onion, and putting together the beginnings of a lentil stew. With potato. And cumin. And some brussel sprouts from last week.

Of course, like all lentil stew, it came out looking like brown slop. It was a brown slop. But it was food, and it was relatively tasty. And it wasn't that hard to make, I guess. I have just started to wonder why I don't make my life a bit easier and start buying things that are slightly more convenient. Chickpeas in cans. Pasta sauces in jars. That kind of stuff. When you look in the fridge and all you see is a large cauliflower looking back at you, it's not that inspiring. Especially when you are REALLY HUNGRY. And tired. Or bored.

I shouldn't be angry at the slop. The slop is how my boyfriend and I saved up for a deposit on a house. The slop is how we will actually manage to pay for the house (I hope!). But gee, slop can be boring sometimes. Sticking to your own rules can be hard!

Anyway, I'm going to go make a loaf of bread and hang the washing out now.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Morning Breakfast

My sister and I both woke up this morning with the same idea: Bake up a batch of fresh muesli (granola style), stew the rhubarb we bought at the farmer's market yesterday, bake a loaf of bread and immediately put on a plunger of coffee.


We made the muesli by pouring into a bowl about 4 cups of oats, stirring in a quarter cup of juice, a few tablespoons of vegetable oil and a few heaped teaspoons of honey, and then baking it in the oven (spread out for 25 minutes at 170 degrees, then stirring in a generous sprinkling of linseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds and then bake for another 25 minutes.

So! Muesli, yoghurt and stewed rhubarb! Very yummy but it won't last long around here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

broccoli polenta

I made a broccoli polenta recipe from Veganomicon tonight and it was really, really delicious. I was flicking through the book hoping something would pop out at me, and then, 'pop!' - this stuck out.

It involved cooking up a pot of polenta, stirring through a head of finely chopped broccoli, smearing it out onto a baking tray and refridgerating it for an hour, and then slicing it into squares and pan frying it. The bits of broccoli on the edges went really crispy and crunchy, and it was all round yum.

For the sauce, I cooked up a whole load of home grown tomatoes and zucchini, some garlic & onion, salt, pepper, vinegar, chilli flakes, thyme and a little of bit of honey. I cooked it for about an hour until it was reduced and syrupy, and then used poured it on top of the polenta to serve.

Everyone in the house was really excited by it, I guess because it's totally different from the tofu-green vegetables-rice stuff that I usually make. And it was good!

Friday, December 31, 2010


Lately my interest in gardening has surpassed my interest in cooking. It's not that I don't enjoy cooking what I grow, it's just that gardening is a whole new area of investigation for me with so so many things to learn. I feel like I'm in gardening primary school: my attempts are wonky and haphazard, but the enthusiasm is there.

So far there has been a successful (but short lived) crop of broadbeans, a successful but small crop of beetroot, coriander that bolted after a week, second-attempt basil, a few handfuls of peas, a few handfuls of beans and some deformed carrots. In the more prolific pile there is cucumber which is yielding about 3 fully grown cucumbers a day (I have no idea what to do with this much cucumber), zucchini plants which are growing rapidly and have given a few zucchinis a week so far (many more to come I think), six heads of broccoli of which the first was consumed last night (although about half an hour was spent picking slugs off it first) and 21 tomato plants which are threatening to take over the world (the tomatoes are still small and green but in a month I think we will have boxes upon boxes of them).

Every morning after wrenching myself out of bed I stumble onto the back deck and water the seedlings. Then I put my gumboots on and wander around the garden whilst rubbing sleep out of my eyes. I prod and poke all the bushes to see if anything has happened over night. By the time I've finished my garden observation rounds, I'm pretty much awake.

Gardening is a rather addictive hobby, especially when you start to get the rewards. I can't stop thinking about it!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Using the Fridge

My sister has been staying with us for the six weeks. Since she's been here I've been a lot more organised in planning meals. The best method I've found for doing this is using our old, slightly dodgy refridgerator as a whiteboard for figuring out what to use each ingredient we bought from the market for. This makes sure we don't go hungry (or have to run to the supermarket) during the week and also makes sure nothing we buy goes to waste. Shortly after getting back from the market and stocking up on vegies etc, we plan out what we'll use them for. Andrew usually cooks one or two days a week and my sister one day (for now!). Staples we usually buy to complement the vegetables are plain flour, oil, spices, grains (there's a good grain shop at the market - we go there for chickpeas, lentils, black beans, barley, slivered almonds, cashews), a can of tomatoes, tofu, rice noodles, milk and occasionally cheese. We buy a different spice every week and we've now built up a cupboard full of pretty much every spice you could need to make a delicious dish out of a couple of vegetables. By doing this we've been able to keep our grocery budget to roughly $20 - 25 a week each (so around $75 for the three of us).

We also use the fridge to record our shopping list and everyone can add to it. We all know how to make bread now so if one of us mixes together some dough, another one can come along and see that it's ready to go into the oven and take care of it. It's a collaborative process. We usually have a loaf ready or one on the way. We buy a kilo of flour for 95c so one loaf is worth about 40c and lasts us a few days. Bread baking - a skill for life!

Unfortunately not many fascinating, shareable recipes come out of this process, but we do eat a lot of fresh vegetables and it's so cheap. Someone at work recently made a snarky comment to me about boring ladies who plan their meals in advance and how dull their lives must be - I just laughed to myself. I don't feel bored at all - we are all happy and nourished!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fruit Wine Update

A few months ago I made some pomegranate wine as part of an introduction to winemaking short course.

I left it to settle for a month whilst I was in New York, and drank it when I got back.

It was...well, it was a first attempt. I didn't really enjoy it that much, Andrew did, but it was better than cask wine.

The glass on the left is less cloudy than the one on the right as it had been filtered more carefully, and the glass on the right was poured closer to the end of a bottle.

If I ever have a glut of fruit to dispose of, I'll make fruit wine again. can wait.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Standard Dinners

I have a list of standard dinners I make on weeknights. Most of the time I like cooking dishes that require very little thinking. The meal above appears about once a week - rice made in a rice cooker (with an egg and some soy sauce stirred in once it's cooked), some steamed or stir fried green vegetables (broccoli, zucchini, bok choi and asparagus are on high rotation) and some marinated sliced tofu rolled in some seasoned flour and then pan fried. It's a rather delicious combination and something I can happily make even after 5 minutes of staring grumpily at the fridge with the door open and no motivation to do anything.

Here's a list of other dishes that come under my category of 'standard dinners'.

Barley salad - accompanied with some roasted mushrooms
Beetroot & lentil salad
Noodle salad
Noodle stirfry with tin of mock duck and assorted vegetables
Sweet potato dumplings and sweet potato noodles
Crunchy roast potatoes with some panfried fish* and steamed green vegetables
Potato and dill salad
Thai green curry with tofu, zucchini and eggplant
Brown rice salad with tahini sauce, toasted almonds and some steamed greens
Black bean soup with capsicum and corn
Lentil bolognaise
Oven-full of mixed roasted vegetables and some homemade satay sauce
Green vegetable & barley soup
(* rare. I think I've bought fish once in the last 6 months - and it was that basa fillet frozen crap that costs about 10 dollars a kilo).

We're not vegetarian but we barely ever buy meat - maybe once a month. It's not good value for money and it makes a mess.

It's funny how your 'standard dinners' change over time. Six years ago I always made this chicken and egg on rice dish (Japanese style), mushroom pizza, broth with soba noodles, and pasta with tomato, tuna, zucchini and carrot sauce. For some reason I'd never dream of making any of theses things now.

Have you got any 'standard dinners' you'd like to share with me? I'd love to hear about them!