Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Aftermath

It is all so easy to give details of my own approach to 'coping' but am blessed with having already built up a well-stocked 'dry goods' store-cupboard, and although have both a fridge and freezer it would be wrong for me to expect everyone has the same. Most people do have a fridge and usually these have a small freezing compartment at the top, but would hate to think that suggestions given on this site are only useful to 'those who have everything'. Please do remember that food processors appeared in our kitchens only recently (like within 50 years) or anything electrically driven for that matter. Since the year dot, cooks have managed with just a knife, fork, spoon and a bowl. It is only time that we save using the kitchen gadgets, we can still do almost everything by hand.
Whenever I can I try to put myself in the worst case scenario (like living at the top of a high-rise flat with windows that have no sills, and a long bus-ride to the supermarket), but often need you to remind me that what I have/can do/afford is not always the same for others, and this sometimes makes it difficult for me to suggest ways to save money unless I have a wider picture to work with.

Even though in the Goode kitchen we have no cold turkey to use up (other than slices saved to add with other cold meats), am pretty sure many readers will have some, so today am giving two recipes to use up cooked turkey (or chicken) as both make good use of the little scraps that can be pulled off the bones.

This first is a salad with not too many ingredients. As turkey and chicken go so well with: ham, diced apples, sliced celery, sliced bell peppers, flaked almonds... some or all of these can be included if you wish, making just a little of each go that much further.
Turkey and Fruit Salad: serves 4 - 6
1 iceberg lettuce, torn into large pieces
12 oz (350g) cooked turkey, diced or shredded
2 oranges
4 tblsp creme fraiche
2 tblsp double cream
salt and pepper
2 bananas
Slice the peel off the oranges, and remove the segments from the pith, capturing any juices into a bowl. Beat the cream fraiche and cream together, then beat in the saved orange juice and add seasoning to taste.
Put the torn lettuce into a bowl, separating the leaves slightly, then pour over the creamy dressing and sprinkle over the orange segments. Peel and slice the bananas and scatter these over, also adding the turkey pieces then lightly toss everything together so all is coated with the dressing. Serve immediately.

This next is a hot dish and quite unusual, and although it does contain canned pimento (myself would use Peppadew) other spices - or curry paste - could be added to give a different flavour. The 'crown' is the shape of the dish, not the cut of the turkey. The cream crackers are often the ones left over in a box of assorted cheese biscuits, but any water biscuits can be used. Always save the dry savoury biscuits for these can be crushed and used instead of dried breadcrumbs when coating chicken or rissoles.
Turkey Crown: serves 4
12 oz (350g) cooked turkey, diced
1 onion, grated
4 oz (100g) cream crackers, roughly crushed
3 tblsp diced canned red pimento
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
5 fl oz (150ml) milk
5 fl oz (150ml) turkey or chicken stock
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
Butter a 2 pint (1 litre) ring mould and butter the underside of a piece of foil large enough to cover and fold round the top.
Heat 1 tblsp butter in a pan and when melted fry the onion gently until softened. Then remove from heat and stir in the turkey, followed by the remaining ingredients. Then pour this mixture into the prepared ring mould and cover tightly with the buttered foil (butter side down).
Place the ring mould in a deep roasting dish, and add enough hot water to the roasting dish to come two-thirds of the way up the mould (the safest way to do this is first put the roasting tin in the oven with the ring mould standing in it, then pour in the water to the level required, then push the tin further into the oven).
Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 6 for 50 minutes or until the mixture is firm to the touch. To serve, slide a knife around the sides of the mould and upturn onto a serving dish. Pour over the hot white sauce and fill the centre with watercress. Serve immediately.

Once this weekend is over, will be 'stock-taking' and making lists of everything in the food cupboard, on the shelves and in the fridge/freezer, right down to the sauces and spices. It is only when we see how much we have (or even how little we have) that we can visualise how much more use can be made from it. This is why I prefer to keep most of my 'dry goods' on open shelves, otherwise they would be stuck at the back of a cupboard being "out of sight, out of mind". Also when jars become part-empty, and others remain full, it reminds me that I am using too much of one thing and not enough of another, so try and work my way evenly through them all. But even if some run out, we should not rush to fill the space with more of the same if we still have something else we can eat instead. It is a matter of preference - either work our way through most of our stores before we stock up again, or re-stock as things run out. Myself prefer to never run out of anything, but this means we always have far too much food in store at any one time. So I have to be very strict with myself.
At least, working through the 'stock-taking' list, it would be rare for me to run out of anything, for I would begin with using foods that I had the most of, then slowly work my way through the rest. With me it is not just a matter of knowing I have onions in my basket, I need to know exactly how many onions, and possibly making them go further by cutting the larger ones in half (one half for one dish, the other half for another). Let us hope I do not get to the stage of counting out every green pea.

Of course all this is not necessary. I do it because it is fun. Why not turn poverty into a game? The more we play a game the faster we gain experience. We all have our own ways to reach our goal, so please share your own cost-cutting hints and tips. Between us we may all end up having a very good (e) year.