Saturday, December 15, 2007

Use it or Lose it.

A lot of pleasure can be found by just seeing how much we can achieve, and sometimes I feel we have lost the art of making do, be it in or out of the kitchen. Being the age I am, of course I blame television and computors taking up all our spare time. And for those that can remember, wasn't life packed full of activities without them? Oh, those were the days.

There will always be those who do not agree, and many more who today do the fashionable thing and buy their lunch en route to work (plus coffee from a machine during the day) . But think on this (and purely hypothetical, just proving a point) - if lunch was made at home and taken, with a thermos of hot drink to work, at today's prices, a saving of £10.80 per week could be made. Over one working year this adds up to £475 (not a lot you may think, but it would pay for a holiday), over a 40 year working life, give or take a few days off for ill health, and no increase in prices, adding up to a saving of between £15,000 and £20,000, not including interest, and you still get your sandwiches and coffee! What I call a win-win situation.

That is is just an example of how it is worth sometimes looking at the wider picture. By all means buy your sarnies, make cuts elsewhere. By planning any small economies, the savings can be made to work and no better place to start (often the only place left) is in the kitchen.

With that in mind, today's savoury recipe is one for the winter, that can make use of several vegetables you may wish to use up (am beginning to think I shouldn't call them 'odds and ends' any more), is basically vegetarian, with barely a peel to go to waste (only the brown papery onion skin needs to be removed) and the dumplings could have additional flavour added (eg. grated orange zest) if you wish.
Veggie Hotpot with Dumplings: serves 4
1 onion, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
half a cauliflower, broken into florets
5 fl.oz measure chopped tomatoes
1 tlsp oil
half a pint (300ml) vegetable or chicken stock
1 tblsp tomato puree/paste
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
9 oz (250g) frozen mixed veg: peas, beans etc
2 oz peanuts
Dumplings (recipe below)
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and carrots for 5 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes, the tomato puree, stock and herbs, season to taste (add a little salt if the peanuts are unsalted). Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower florets , the beans and peas (or veg of your choice), and the nuts, cover and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the dumplings, then continue as below.
dumpling recipe:
2 oz (50g) plain flour
1 oz (25g) beef or veg. suet
pinch of dried mixed herbs
4 oz (100g) Cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper
4 tblsp water
Put the flour into a bowl with the suet, herbs and 1 oz (25g) of the cheese. Season to taste. Stir in the water and mix to a soft dough. Using floured hands divide mixture into eight and shape each into a ball.
Place the dumplings on the top of the vegetables, sprinkle over the remaining cheese, replace the lid and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve immediately.