Friday, January 18, 2013

Waste Not, Want Not...

Did anyone watch the programme last night about food wastage?  Not a lot different than many other programmes on this theme, but it really highlights the criminal waste of food by the supermarkets who are so obsessed with their fresh produce looking perfect that most agricultural farmers are left with perfectly edible food that usually has to be ploughed back into the land.

Households too throw a low of food away, the average cost of this being nearly £700 a year, and  - like most of the readers of this blog who throw away nearly nothing - this'average'  means hundreds of pounds MORE food is beings wasted in other homes.

A chef was taken to the home of a lady who spent far too much on food each week (and a lot of this then being thrown in the bin), and when he showed her a chicken and told her it would make three meals a week, the lady was astounded, "THREE MEALS" she said, normally she would only expect to get one from the bird.  Then am sure - after she had managed to make it spread to three meals - saw her throw the carcase in her waste-bin.  What an opportunity for the chef to have stepped in to  explain to her how to make stock.

My B raised his eye-brows at the 'three meals from the bird', turned to me and smiled.  Bless him, he really has learned (through living with me) how a lot can be made from very little and strangely - fate maybe stepping in here - yesterday, when sorting out a stack of old magazines to read later, once the discovered a 'Cook's Weekly' (anyone remember this mag?) in which I discovered when reading after the above programme, was an article on how to make one chicken (1.8gk/4lb) stretch to FOUR meals, three to serve four people, one to serve 8 - 10, with the carcase then used to make stock.  So though it's worth giving these recipes again (although am sure they have been published on this blog before, because it was me that wrote the article!). 

When it comes to recipes like these, we have to forget the 100g portions of 'protein' per person, for - like any meal - protein doesn't always have to be in the one serving or dish.  Other ingredients (eggs, milk, cheese etc) can provide this, and could be included in a starter or pudding.  Or eaten at another meal.   A 'balanced' meal could - for economy's sake - be now considered as calculating what is eaten during a whole day.  A 'balanced' day.

To make the following dishes, first roast the whole chicken in the normal way.  To keep the flesh moist and prevent it drying out too much, I put about half a pint of water in the base of the roasting tin, then stand the bird on a rack above this, covering the bird and tin loosely with foil, tucking the foil tightly round the sides of the tin so the bird both steams and roasts.  Make sure the bird is fully cooked, then remove from the grid, and leave to cool (saving any juices in the pan to put towards the stock).
When the chicken is cold, remove the flesh (not necessarily all at once - keep the bird in the fridge, or freeze the meat), and use as in the recipes below. 

The first dish is a type of chicken pie.  Use slices of chicken meat from the breast and thigh, and you can use less if you wish, making up the shortfall with more veggies.  You can if you wish used frozen (cooked) sweetcorn, and instead of adding the peppers, use the canned corn that includes peppers.
Chicken and Sweetcorn Parcel: serves 4
8 oz (225g) canned sweetcorn kernels, drained
quarter of a red bell pepper, diced
2 thick slices white bread, crumbed
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
8 oz (225g) puff or shortcrust pastry
8 - 12 oz (225-350g) sliced cooked chicken
2 oz (50g) bacon rashers, chopped and fried
milk or egg to glaze
Mix together the sweetcorn, breadcrumbs, and egg, adding seasoning to taste.
Roll out the pastry to a 12"/30cm square.  On a sheet of baking parchment or clingfilm, place a layer of chicken, topping this with a layer of sweetcorn, followed by bacon, the layers should be slightly smaller than the pastry so that it can envelop them.  Cover with the pastry square, then carefully turn topping this with a layer of bacon, then repeat - making the layers slighter smaller so the pastry can cover them. Carefully turn over the layered square and fold the pastry edges together to make a parcel, sealing the joints with water.  Place on a baking sheet, fold side down and brush with beaten egg or milk.  Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 4 for 35 minutes, covering with foil if browning too quickly.  serve hot or cold.

Next dish is a sort of Chinese stir-fry, so we could again use more veg and less chicken if we wish. We can also alter the choice of vegetables according to what we have.  The ones used in the recipe were: carrots, red bell pepper, celery, green beans, and sweetcorn.  Today I would include mangetout peas, mushrooms, cauliflower and/or broccoli florets....).  For this dish I'd prefer to use the chicken scraps picked from the bones after making stock - often these alone can weight 8 oz, and this means we then have enough already cooked chicken to make ANOTHER dish.  Or be more generous with the chicken in the ones give. 
Oriental Chicken: serves 4
6 fl oz (175ml) water
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tblsp soy sauce
1 tblsp runny honey
12 oz (350g) mixed veg (see above)
2 tblsp sweetcorn kernels
3 tblsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, cut into wedges, then separated
2 tblsp salted peanuts or cashew nuts
8 oz (225g) cooked chicken, coarsely chopped
1 tsp five spice powder
boiled rice, to serve
Mix together the water, cornflour, ginger, soy sauce and honey, then set aside.
Slice vegetables used into small pieces (carrots into matchsticks, peppers ditto, celery diced, mushrooms sliced, mangetout can stay as-is, slice cauli and broccoli stalks into strips and use these as well as (or instead of) the florets...). If using string beans, break into smaller lengths, then mix with the sweetcorn kernels. Put the lot in a steam over boiling water, and steam for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan (or wok) and fry the onion for about 3 minutes until transparent, then add the steamed vegetables and peanuts, and continue to fry over high heat for a further minute, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the chicken.
Lower the heat and add the reserved cornflour mixture (giving it a stir before adding).  Simmer for 4 minutes to thicken the sauce, turning the veggies and chicken so they are thoroughly coated . Add the five spice powder, giving a final stir, then transfer to a warm serving dish.  Serve immediately with boiled rice.

This next dish is a real party piece as it cut into at least 8 slices.  This is a good way to use those larger, darker, outer leaves of lettuce (which are sometimes discarded).  As 'nutrition' is not the main reason why we serve a dish such as this when entertaining, we can get away with using less meat per portion, but as cheese and eggs are part of this dish, it still provides plenty of protein.  Also this dish could be another way to use up those scraps of chicken taken from the carcase after making stock.
Chicken Terrine: serves 8 - 10
1 large carrot, sliced lengthways into thin strips
8 oz (225g) cooked chicken.
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
salt and pepper
8 oz (225g) cottage or curd cheese
2 eggs, beaten
4 oz (100g) pureed cooked spinach or peas
4 - 5 large lettuce leaves
Boil the carrots for 3 minutes, until 'al dent', then drain and cool. Meanwhile, mince the chicken and mix with the orange zest and juice, adding seasoning to taste.
Blend the cheese with the eggs, then mix two-thirds into the chicken mixture, and the remaining third into the pureed vegetables.
Line a well greased 2 lb loaf tin with the lettuce leaves, making sure there are no gaps, and that the leaves overhang the sides of the tin.  Starting with the chicken, spoon into the lined tin alternate layers of the chicken and vegetable mixtures, pressing a few strips of carrot down the length in between the layer, levelling each layer with a palette knife before adding the next.  Finish with a layer of the chicken mixture.
Carefully fold over the lettuce 'flaps', if necessary topping with a further lettuce leaf trimmed to fit.  Cover with a double fold of greaseproof paper, and a lid of foil
Place in a roasting tin, then pour in hot water to reach at least one-third of the way up the loaf tin.  Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 45 minutes.  Cool in tin before turning out, then chill and slice into thick portions.

Final recipe is a pasta dish.  If possible use the flat pasta 'noodles' (are these called 'fettucini' or 'tagliatelle'?) but we could use a pasta 'shape' such as pasta penne, fusilli, or shells.  As ever, use what we have, it's the only way to spend less if we don't really need to go out and buy what the recipe suggests.
Chicken Meatballs with Noodles: serves 4
1 courgette, peeled and grated
4 - 6 oz (100-175g) cooked chicken, finely chopped
2 slices white bread, crumbed
1 tblsp grated onion
pinch dried mixed herbs
1 egg
freshly ground black pepper
3 tblsp olive oil
4 oz (100g) mushrooms, sliced
1 tblsp plain flour
15 fl oz (425ml) milk
2 tblsp tomato ketchup
8 oz (225g) noodles
1 oz (25g) butter or marg
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
Mix together the courgette and chicken, then stir in the breadcrumbs, onion, herbs, and egg.  Season with pepper.  Shape into small balls about 3/4"/2cm.
Heat 2 tblso of the oil in a large pan and fry the meatballs, shaking the pan so they brown evenly. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Add the remaining oil to that left in the pan and add the mushrooms.  Fry for 1 minute then stir in the flour, mixing well, and cook for a further minute before slowly pouring in the milk.  Stir continuously until the mixture is smooth, then stir in the ketchup.  Cook until thickened, then return the meatballs to the pan and heat through.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta for about 10 minutes, or until tender.   Drain well, return to the pan and add the butter, toss until the butter has melted and coated the pasta, then add the parsley and toss again before placing in a warmed serving dish, with the meatballs and sauce poured over the top.

I've been given details of the 'food allocation' for families who get a supply of food from the Foodbanks.  Also suggested menus to make use of what is provided.  Feel there is much room for improvement, both in type of food supplied (albeit it has to consist of canned or packet foods), and what is made from these.   Will have to have a long think and maybe be able to make some (useful?) suggestions.

Yes Les, at one time did end up with some unlabelled products in the freezer.  Have learned my lesson, and now use my marker pen on everything (I keep this pen in my apron pocket, along with other 'useful' things like a small pair of scissors, tape measure, ordinary pen, and note-pad....).

All the cakes/scones were sent to the Foodbank Alison, B returned home in time to take them.  Had an email from the church today to say thanks.  Seems my scones were gobbled up at speed.  Should have made more.  They were very freshly baked, and I've now found a way to keep them 'fresh' (so they don't get too dry) by first putting the baked scones on a cake airer to cool slightly, then - whilst still warm - place five or six in freezer bags, leaving the end wide open, this way they can still 'breathe' but it keeps them warm, later putting them into another bag and folding over the end.

Incidentally, B got accepted as an 'extra' for a something to be filmed in Barrow in Furness.  He gets paid £80 a day, probably 3 days work - maybe more (and no doubt they will get a free meal from the catering van - he always used to).  Our daughter decided later to go and apply, and she also has been picked.  There will be a coach from Lancaster to take them to Barrow. 
Presumably it will be a TV series, but is set in the 1960's, so they will be fitted up with the correct clothes for the period.  It should be fun.

Driving in snow can be hazardous, but like Campfire said, if you are used to it then you are aware of any problems.  B always said we should keep some old sacks and a shovel in the boot of the car. He also kept a bar of chocolate 'iron rations' for if he was trapped in the snow for several hours.  In the days when we had a lot of winter snow there were no things like mobile phones, so more chance of being stuck for hours.

Think I upset a man (a bit) when I once walked past him trying to get his big car through a snowy gutter.  His front wheels were whizzing round, so he couldn't drive forward.  I knocked on his window and suggested he put his car into reverse, drive slowly back, then turn his steering wheel and then slowly move out.  This he did and he drove out onto the road very easily, but without any thanks.  Nothing like being taught how to drive by a woman!!  I'd learned that trick myself.  With a car with front-wheeled drive, then use the back wheels to do the moving (and slowly) as they won't then skid. 

It's funny how I can go for weeks/months and sometimes years without anything much happening, and now - all of a sudden - a lot of (foodie) things suddenly need my attention.  Not that I mind, but it may be my blog will have to be shorter (or even miss a day now and then) as I have to bow down to my age and pace myself - otherwise I get easily overtired. 
So that's it for today.  More from me tomorrow.  So far no snow here, but plenty elsewhere.  Stay safe!  TTFN.