Lean Cuisine

I do so love the library. Not only does it provide free internet access for up to two hours a day, it’s also full of books! I’m slowly but steadily working my way through the cookery section, having previously devoured the entire WW2 section. It’s a brilliant way to sample cookery books that I may have been tempted to purchase, but am now relieved I didn’t.

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If I was browsing on Amazon, this delightful book may have fallen into my virtual trolley. After reading it, I’m very glad to have saved the money. Naturally, it was the title that drew me in, focusing on two of my favourite things: Economy Gastronomy. Co-written by Allegra McEvedy and Paul Merrett, it was a dream to read – very witty and humorous, with helpful advice to boot. But the recipes somehow felt out of reach. The idea of cooking once and making the most of the leftovers was solid, but undeniably geared for families. Little old me would be eating lamb for a month if I bought a whole leg! Some of the ingredients listed went straight over my head, but the photography was stunning. All in all, I think you could tell it was written by chefs, a bit out of my league.

But the book inspired me to get in the kitchen and make sure nothing went to waste. The facts contained in the book were shocking, talking about how nonchalant our culture is about throwing away food. I set out to rescue my on-the-turn vegetables into a simple curry.

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The cauliflower and potatoes were set on to steam. I mixed a third of the potatoes with the last bit of light mayo, cress and chopped basil to make a cold potato salad for me to take in my lunch box to work.

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I gently sautéed an organic onion and the remaining half of a green bell pepper in some garlic oil. I folded through the potatoes and cauliflower and went crazy with the spice tin – coriander, cumin, chilli, organic curry powder, salt and pepper all went in the pot. I used the stock created from steaming the veg and brought it up to the boil. Then I added a decent amount of red lentil, put on the lid, turned the heat down and let it simmer for half an hour.

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Basically, I create six meals for the week ahead out of practically nothing. It’s my kind of lean cuisine, lean in terms of monetary costs to make. It was economical on fuel too, and meant that nothing went in the bin, aside from a few dodgy peelings. Thank you McAvedy and Merrett; that is a lesson truly learnt.

PS Tuesday was a no spend day – hurrah!

Urban foraging

“Bye for now,” said a housemate recently. “See you soon.” No one knew how soon that would be, but the next thing he said was music to my ears.

“Help yourself to any thing I’ve left.”

His generosity, and that of other housemates who are indifferent to meal planning, resulted in my practically free lunch yesterday. Potatoes, a sweet potato, carrots and mushrooms were combined with my items from my own stores (leftover broccoli, a small piece of onion, gravy powder and a little cooking fat) to make a hearty bowl of goodness. This meal can’t have cost me more than 50p.

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I can’t abide waste, and the vegetables would have been left to go mouldy if I hadn’t used them accordingly. Waste averted and a lovely meal enjoyed.

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Pay day graciously arrives tomorrow and I am completely looking forward to it. I spent my last few pennies on a reduced loaf of bread this morning, but there is still pleasure to be found without costing a coin. I went for a wander this morning to pick up a stack of books from the library, including more WW2 material. I got stuck into these accompanied by a free Waitrose coffee, courtesy of my loyalty card.

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Simple pleasures don’t cost the earth, but I will feel more at ease when my bank balance looks healthier. Roll on Thursday!

Ging gang goolie goolie

I’ve been having a busy time lately. I’ve been rising from bed in the dark and going to sleep in the light. My body clock is just starting to realign itself again and I thought it was high time for a post. Last week, when my working hours were not corresponding to my natural rhythm, I didn’t feel like doing much. Gaming didn’t appeal, I didn’t have the patience for craft and aside from Bake Off and Doctor Who, there was little to grasp my attention on the television. So I picked up a book.

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(Apologies for the glare in the photo)

This was a glorious find from the library. How The Girl Guides Won the War by Janie Hampton was a twee and sometimes shockingly truthful account regarding Brownies and Guides during World War Two. I must admit, I didn’t realise the extensive work that was performed by these young girls. I feel it should have more acknowledgement than just one book, even though this book is a delightful read. I thought Hampton wove the accounts of former Guides with her own research seamlessly. I was a Brownie during my younger years and certain recollections made me smile, as I too remember singing songs and playing Tag at Brownie Camp. But I also learnt a lot from this text, including the state of various occupied territories. I knew there was stark poverty and starvation in post-war Europe, but I didn’t quite realise the extent until Hampton describes the Dutch roasting tulip bulbs to eat. It certainly added a whole new dimension to my WW2 knowledge.

I would recommend this book to any history buff, any girl guide and anyone else who likes a good non-fiction book.

 

PS I hope to return with more regular posts now that my work schedule had calmed down.