29 November 2013

Throw out your Leftovers Day ~ no Way!!!

I have noticed a lot of hash tagged national days on Twitter recently, some British, some international and a lot American, some of which are very strange.  Recently they have had …

National Eat a Cranberry Day
National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day
National Pizza with the Works except Anchovies Day

… and last month was ...

Go Hog Wild - Eat Country Ham Month

Funny chaps, the Americans.

The national day that interests me at the moment, however, is today …

Throw out your Leftovers Day

… which is surely a bit foolish to say the least.  

I believe 29th November was designated Throw out your Leftovers Day as a safety measure to remind people not to let their Thanksgiving leftovers malinger too long.  Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the US but as the date is flexible (it’s the 4th Thursday in November) Throw out your Leftovers Day this year falls on the very next day.  All this is academic, of course, there’s really no excuse for throwing away good food.



It does seem a bit daft to give thanks for what you've got and then throw some of it away! How about making the day after Thanksgiving “Plan what to Make Next” day or similar?  
So let me re-iterate …

1.  If you buy two for one and can’t eat both – give one away!
2.  Learn how to store things properly – see here for some help in this. 
3.  Understand the difference between “best before” and “use by” – read my little rant here for more about this. 
4.  Learn to cook, at least the basics. It’s not difficult, honestly, and can bring you so much yummy pleasure for the rest of your life!  
5.  Plan the week's meals ahead, make a shopping list and stick to it. (I do none of these things but do as I say, not as I do).
6.  Don’t overload plates – these leftovers are the hardest to use up (although within the family the technique known as “munging” can be effective). 
7.  Read my book "The Leftovers Handbook". This is a plug but it’s also a good idea as it will be a real help if you  have leftovers and no idea what to do with them, if you are in the UK click here and if you are in America, celebrating, Throw out your Leftovers Day pull yourself together and click here.

Obviously the above suggestions are for Life, not just Thanksgiving.

I am, of course, very much looking forward to 30th December – National Bicarbonate of Soda Day, exciting or what!

This picture is from here - a
very interesting site

Incidentally I read recently that in the UK we throw out 24m slices of bread every single DAY. Apparently this would stretch up and down Snowdon 110 times which would, of course, be pointless!     


  

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26 November 2013

More ******* Windfalls!

A couple of days ago a friend gave me a carrier bag full of windfall apples.  This is the same friend who gave me lots of windfalls a couple of weeks ago and I still didn't feel like peeling the buggers, I can see why she gives them away (lol, to coin an acronym!).  Last time I cut the apples into chunks, roasted them and used them in a number of ways – see here for details. 

This time I decided to make the apples into a sauce, the easy way which is to cut them into pieces with the skin on but discarding the core and pips. Rinse in cold water, drain but leaving quite wet, put into a large pot, sprinkle with caster sugar to taste, cook over medium heat stirring from time to time till they have broken down and gone all mushy.

I strained the whole “mess”, pushing down on the debris in the sieve to extract as much apple flesh and juice as possible.  This resulted in about 1.5 ltrs of apple sauce ...

how-to-make-apple-sauce

... a bit of a challenge especially as I have already written about what to do with apple sauce here. 

So, it being National Cake Day (I wonder which nation) I decided to use some of the apple sauce to bake with.  I tried three things …


Maple Pecan Oatmeal Muffins 

- makes 12

115g soft butter
90g light brown sugar
1 egg
170g plain flour
a pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
 ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
180ml apple sauce
 90g pecans – very coarsely chopped
2 tbsp maple syrup

~   Preheat oven to 350°F/180ºC/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.
~   Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda.
~   Cream together the butter and sugar.
~   Whisk in the egg together with a spoonful of the dry mix.
~   When the egg is full amalgamated whisk in a bit of flour a bit of apple sauce, a bit of flour, sauce, flour, etc. till all merged.
~   Fold in the nuts and divide the mixture between the muffin cups.
~   Bake till risen and bounce back when pressed with a finger.
~   As soon as they are out the oven brush with a little maple syrup.
~   Cool in the muffin cups till cool enough to handle.

apple-sauce-muffin-recipe


 Applesauce Cake


230g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
200ml apple sauce
110g soft butter
180g caster sugar
2 eggs

~   Preheat oven to 350°F/180ºC/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Lightly grease a 23cm cake pan.
~   Sift together the first four ingredients.
~   Stir together the next 3 ingredients.
~   Cream together the butter and the sugar.
~   Whisk in the eggs together with a spoonful of the dry ingredients.
~   Whisk in the rest of the ingredients, a bit of wet a bit of dry, till al incorporated.
~   Scrape the batter in the cake pan.
~   Bake till risen and golden and springy which takes 30-40 minutes.
~   Turn out and cool on a rack, then do with it what you will – ice or frost or fill etc.

apple-sauce-cake

Sticky Ginger Cookie/Cake Things 

-  makes about 10

90g dark brown sugar
40g apple sauce
50g golden syrup
160g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 egg white
1 knob of stem ginger – coarsely chopped

~   Sift together the dry ingredients.
~   Beat together the first three ingredients for a good long while – a couple of minutes at least so a stand mixer is best for this.
~   Beat in the egg white.
~   Add the dry ingredients and whisk for a minute.
~   Fold in the chopped ginger.
~   Chill till really cold for as long as you like within reason, up to a week or so.

To cook …

~   Preheat the oven to 350°F/180ºC/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Line a couple of baking sheets with baking parchment or silicone baking mats.
~   Prepare a shallow bowl of caster or granulated sugar.
~   Now then – take a spoonful of the cold goo and drop it into the sugar.  Gently nudge the dough or shake the bowl, do whatever you can to coat the dough with sugar.
~   Somehow transfer the sugared ball or similar to the baking try and repeat.
~   Make sure the cookies have plenty of space around them to spread – 3” or perhaps something similar in metric.
~   Bake till they have spread and risen a little and are still a little soft in the middle – about 15 minutes.

fat-free-ginger-cookies

 Ginger Cookie Notes and Comments ...


  1. These have no fat in them so are good for those on a special diet. I have heard before of substituting apple sauce for fat when baking but this is my first go at it myself. More info about this can be found at Wikihow here 
  2. I made a terrible mistake whilst preparing the batter; I read 37.5g apple sauce as 375g and only realised once it was being mixed with the sugar and golden syrup!  Did I panic?  No I had a good idea (I hope, more on this in a few days), set the mixture aside in the fridge and started again.
  3. This are sticky and chewy and a little crunchy on the edge and a bit strange in the middle, not unpleasant but unusual in a cakey sort of way!
how-to-read-a-recipe

Talking of cake it was Stir up Sunday last Sunday but I’d already done my cake on Toss Together Tuesday.
stirring-up-crhistmas-cake

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19 November 2013

Food Waste in the Home ~ just stop it willya!

I have just read an interesting article in The Telegraph;

UK yearly food waste: in charts

Britons throw away an average of six meals a week in food waste, according to Wrap, the environmental campaign group. The Telegraph explains the key figures

I am always reading articles like this recently and I have to say they really get up my goat, to mis-coin a phrase.  Apart from abject poverty where people have no cooking facilities or fridges or can’t afford the fuel why oh why do people throw away so much perfectly good food?  Is it laziness, lack of education, lack of inspiration, fear of eating something that has gone off or, probably, a combination of these factors and more?

Here’s a chart from the article showing how much food we in the UK throw away daily.  Actually not “we” I have no part of this. 

                    

So to break this down a bit and comment on it …


Sausages

I’m not sure if this means the common or garden banger or all sausages including chorizo and salami etc. but whichever it is it looks as if we throw away more than 1.5 m a day. If bangers then, yes they are not good keepers but if raw they can be used up in soups, bean stews, stuffing, Toad in the Hole and so on or, if they haven’t already been frozen freeze them whilst you have a think.  If cooked then sandwiches, soups (again), pizza, pasta to name but a few.

Generally speaking dried sausages such as chorizo and salami have a lovely long shelf life (although, of course, do check on the packet). I always keep chorizo in the fridge as a I can think of so many delicious things to do with it!

Bananas

I cannot abide a banana (although I will work with them!) yet I came up with over 20 good ideas for bananas, including overripe bananas, in “The Leftovers Handbook” and at least a couple more in this blog.  If I can do that with my bananaphobia surely those who actually like the buggers would be able to think what to do with them.  They freeze superbly and can be eaten from frozen or make almost instant ice cream (see here)!



Tomatoes

Well really, how ridiculous!  Roast ‘em, they’ll be good for days and are lovely.  Make a sauce. If you don’t need a sauce make one anyway and freeze it!  Add them to soups, sarnies, salads and pretty well anything else you fancy. 






Potatoes 

According to the chart we waste almost 6,000,000 potatoes a day!  A day!!! I am not sure if these are raw or cooked but either way there’s no excuse.  Raw potatoes keep well if kept in a cool dark place and (interesting little known fact coming up) stored away from onions which make them go off!  Potatoes that are going green or sprouting are OK to eat if you cut away the green and/or remove the sprouts. 

There are numerous ways to use up cooked potatoes from Bubble & Squeak to Krumplinudli (see here), lots more ideas can be found on this blog and in my book.

Sliced Ham

Ham can be added to numerous dishes including pizza, pasta, in egg dishes and lots more or it can be frozen short term, say three months, well wrapped.  As you can see it doesn't inspire me much so only 12 good ideas (at least!) for leftover ham in my book!






Eggs

Again - exasperating.  Eggs keep quite well (3-4 weeks), even if not in the fridge in the UK, and older eggs have the advantage of being great for making meringues – my foolproof (honest!) recipe is in my book as are storage and freezing guidelines and loads of other ideas and recipes






Bread

Not shown on the above chart but apparently the most discarded item of food seems to be bread.  According to Wrap we throw away 24,000,000 slices a day!  How utterly ridiculous.  

I have given lots of ideas for leftover and stale bread on this very blog (see here for one unusual, quick, easy, cheap and delicious suggestion), 20 or more ideas in” The Leftovers Handbook” and I haven’t even started yet, I can think of lots more.


Two for One Offers – I have a  Good Idea!

A couple of days ago Tesco was offering Two for One bags of prepared lettuce, just like they said they had stopped doing.  There has been a lot of talk recently about how these offers, particularly on prepared lettuce, causes food waste.  Well not with us, it causes sharing.  If we get two bags of prepared lettuce for the price of one and we don’t need two can you guess what we do?  We give one away.  Simples!  It doesn’t cost us anything, it doesn’t cost the store anything, it doesn’t cost the planet anything and it makes someone happy! 

The other day we bought a box of clementines reduced from £4.00 to £1.20 and gave half to our neighbours.  24 fruit in a box so sturdy it may have cost £1.20 itself!  



PS.  I have also just read that we throw away 86,000 tonnes of cakes, pastries and doughtnuts a year – we must be mad! 

PPS.  “The Leftovers Handbook” has recipes and suggestions for over 450 potential leftover food items and tackles not only food waste but also the waste of good eating opportunity.  Have a look at it here, it is a lot cheaper than the £60 a month it is reckoned we Brits (not me) waste on food per month!

Come on Britain - get a grip!


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17 November 2013

Spice Drops


I recently received something interesting– Spice Drops by Holy Lama an Indian company now branching out worldwide who are, as they say on their website …


They are really pretty impressive – read more here. 





Until recently they have mainly been in the business of soaps, hair oil and body creams etc. but have now released Spice Drops a range of natural spice extracts in oil which are packaged in handy dropper bottles. So as to be accurate when reporting to you I tried a tiny drip of the mulled wine extract neat – phew, strong or what!  But as they say on the packet, 1 drop is enough to flavour 40ml of wine so it serves me right.



I have received four out of their surprisingly extensive range; cinnamon, ginger, mulled wine and garam masala.  


My first real test was whilst making my sudden lunch. I had a little frozen pease pudding in the freezer so made a quick soup and, at the last minute and suddenly I stirred in 3 drops of Garam Masala (equal to ½ tsp of dry garam masala) which gave the soup a lovely warm, curry-ish boost and which I shall definitely do again. I quickly fried myself some poppadom shards to go with it as is only right and proper.









Next, of course, the Mulled Wine which was a good quick fix if you need a pick-me up. I warmed the wine gently, stirred in one drop of extract - which was just right for a small glass of red - together with a teaspoon of sugar. Pretty good, I do prefer my own Mulled Wine Syrup but that takes a bit of forethought and this doesn't so is good for emergencies.


I had intended adding the cinnamon extract to sponge cake mix and making a dessert with leftover roasted windfall apples but it says on the packet “For best results use just before serving” so instead I heated up the apples, added a drop of cinnamon extract to some Greek yogurt together with some soft brown sugar and had myself a sudden pudding too! Very quick, easy and good.

So that left the ginger extract and at first I was stymied until I thought of hot chocolate. Coincidentally whilst writing this “The Mistress of Spices” has just come on’t telly, how appropriate and how pleasant to snug down and watch on a cold November afternoon whilst sipping spiced Hot Chocky!

The only caveat I have with these spice extracts is they are not good for actual cooking so you still need to keep dried spices on hand too. On the other hand they are easy and convenient to use, economical, pure in flavour and composition and have a three year shelf life.  So whilst not a replacement for regular whole or ground spices they can be a useful addition to the store cupboard.  The range includes most normal day to day spices (if spices can be so described) plus more unusual ones such as, tulsi (holy basil), kesar milk masala and tea masala – read the whole list here.

In other news … 3 things

I've just published a new eBooklet "Easy Festive Food for a Stree Free Christmas" which is available here and looks like this.



Apropos of the windfall apples roasted the other day and mentioned above I also made, for my dinner last night, Roasted Windfall, Chorizo and Cheddar Pizza - my real man had minced beef and sausages on his!


Also one of my favourite blogs, Lover of Creating has reviewed The Leftovers Handbook here bless them!


Please Click to Tweet this post ~ thank you! 




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13 November 2013

Roasted Windfall Clafouti

Sorry I've been a bit of a slacker; we've been away for a couple of weeks visiting family and friends all over the place.

My friend Diane gave us a bag of windfalls but looking at them when I got home I didn't fancy peeling them – fiddly little buggers! 


I decided to try roasting them.  At first I thought I’d add a little butter but was worried it would burn. Then I thought I might add a little regular olive oil (which is what I cook with) but thought it might taste wrong.  In the end I decided to add nothing and it worked.

~   Preheat oven to 375ºF/190ºC/170ºC fan/gas 5.
~   Don’t peel the apples but cut into chunks, discarding any rotten bits (obviously) and the cores (after having a nibble).
~   Lay the apple pieces in a single layer skin side down.
~   When the oven is hot roast the apples till they are turning golden and they are tender when pierced with a knife.  About 20 minutes.

Whilst I was thinking what to do with them I ate some Cambazola and Roasted Apples on Toasted  Ciabatta for a sudden lunch which worked very well. 


My next idea was …

Roasted Windfall Clafouti



~   Make one batch of the Yorkshire pudding batter here but add ½ tbsp sugar.
~   And allow to rest for an hour or so.
~   Preheat the oven to 425ºF/220ºC/200ºC fan/gas 7.
~   When the oven is hot put a knob of butter in a shallow ovenproof dish and pop it into the oven for a minute to melt.
~   Arrange the cooked apples in the dish according to your whim. Sprinkle with sugar and return to the oven just to heat the apples through.
~   Pour the batter over the apples and bake (without opening the door for at least 10 minutes) until risen and a deep golden brown which takes about 15 minutes.
~   Serve immediately with cream.


Playing with Yorkshire Puddings!


This quantity of batter would make enough Clafouti for three or four but as there was just us two I decided to hold back a bit r and play with it.  I made three little testers …



In each case I heated a little wincy bit of oil in a silicone muffin case, poured in the batter and then added, granola, chopped chocolate or chopped pecans.  The chocolate sank but the other two floated.  All three were good but the pecan variety with maple syrup was our favourite.

With both the Clafouti and the experiments we had a damn fine lunch pudding and it cost very little indeed – the batter uses 1 tablespoon of flour, ½ tablespoon sugar (for sweet dishes), 1 egg and a little milk and it is a great vehicle for all sorts of leftovers when trying to be economical (or when not!).

I have plans for the rest of the roasted windfalls which include adding them to gravy next time my real man has pork, bacon and apple sandwiches, maybe a cake and so on. More ideas for apples can be found here.


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