Friday, January 10, 2014

Taking a Different View..

How easy it is for us to feel we are losing out when we have to cut down on what we buy (whatever it might be).  Yesterday realised that my meals would be considered almost scraping the barrel by some standards, yet deliberately eaten by me purely as an aid to save weight.  The cost didn't come into it.  Yet today, when I DID work out the cost of what I ate yesterday, it came to approx. 50p.   The same 'meals' have been eaten two days in a row, and probably the same today - so £1.50 for 3 days is pretty darn good.

What did I eat?  Well, two hardboiled eggs for breakfast (20p), a bowl of home-made soup for lunch and a bowl of the same soup for supper. Large bowls may I add.
The soup was made using one carrot, one small parsnip, one rib celery, one small onion, and one potato, all diced and cooked in some home-made beef stock.   I did add a dash of  'Fiery Chilli' ketchup just because I find this gives me added internal warmth and in a way gives me a bit of a 'lift' (energywise).   A fairly balanced diet in that I had protein from the eggs, and vitamins from the veggies, suppose that the potato also provided carbohydrate, but all very satisfying and I really did not feel hungry at all.  Lost another lb due to the low calories consumed (that's 13lbs lost since Boxing Day when I began cutting out carbos).

Today it will be more hard-boiled eggs, a bowl of soup (the usual can of chopped tomatoes with a dash of Fiery Chilli) and salad for supper.  I've just the end of a cucumber, and lettuce, mushrooms growing in the box, and celery and mini-peppers that will make up the salad.  To that may add either grated cheese or a little cooked ham. 
As long as I can keep away from eating anything sweet, then I won't want to keep on eating.  Give me one chunk of chocolate and I'd have to eat the whole bar.   Seems we are now being warned that 'sugar is the new tobacco', in that it is addictive, and a lot worse than eating saturated fat.   Being diabetic I do try to avoid eating sugar, but chocolate is my weakness.  Thankfully, Werther's Original toffees now do a sugar-free version that are smaller, but taste just as good, and the diabetic nurse says I am allowed these.  So I end up eating a whole pack in two days.  Lovely!!

Many readers I know are following my 'challenge' of using up only the foods they already have in store and not doing any shopping until they really need to (topping up the 'fresh', such as milk, eggs...).  Every family is different, and there is no definitive 'food store' list that we could all keep to. Feeding a family we often have to provide foods that could be more expensive, especially when some members are on special diets, or are 'picky eaters'.  The ones who live alone are probably the most likely to achieve a good 'challenge' result as they can cut their culinary coat according to their cloth.

Myself do have a slight advantage in that for many years I've been cooking more expensive meals for B and cheaper meals for myself.  This works well and makes it easy to keep within my food budget.  But when cooking the same meals for both of us, this would work out more expensive. 

All I ask of readers is that they think twice before buying more food when they already have plenty.  This may mean having to think about harder about how to put ingredients together to make a good meal, but even this can be fun when tackled with the 'Ready, Steady, Cook...' approach (a bagful of assorted ingredients given to chefs to make from them what they can).

Every time we decide not to put our feet over a supermarket threshold, and make do with what we have, then that is money saved.  Soon I'll be needing to buy more eggs (due to my diet), and normally I wouldn't need to have done that, but at the moment losing weight is taking priority.  Still, as long as I limit my food expenses to no more than £10 a week - for hopefully MONTHS - then my annual food expenditure should drop by nearly a half.  That's the idea anyway, whether I can keep to it remains to be seen.  But I'm in control at the moment.

My Beloved had to go out early this morning, and so I stayed in bed until nearly 9.00am and, if I hadn't been writing my blog, would happily have stayed in bed until mid-day, as was feeling so cosy and warm.  So can relate to you Karen, when you said you find the best way to keep warm is by staying in bed.
How lovely to have worked as a chef, and am sure you will find even more enjoyment working with less expensive ingredients.  The love of cooking (anything) is part of the craft. 
Most top restaurants still have an eye on their profits and hate wasting food, so Karen, if you have any 'cheffy' tips to use up food trimmings etc., that less experience cooks might not know what to do with, please pass them on.

Our new series of 'Taste' Margie, is British, we are not seeing repeats of the US version that you've watched in Canada.  Possibly 'our' French chef may seem a bit of a challenge to our amateur cooks as he cannot speak our language very well, but he is not at all fierce (I like him and would have chosen him given the chance, certainly not the US man, and not Nigella either - it is the French who really know about how to cook good classic meals).

If you are missing having a real fire burning in a grate Alison, you might be able to make a compromise and have a wood-burning stove that lets out the smoke via a big tube fitted through a hole in an outer wall, and then the remainder of the tube (acting as chimney), is fastened to the outer wall right up to the guttering.
I believe wood-burning (or multi-fuel) stoves can have the doors at the front opened as well as being left shut, so almost as good as sitting in front of a fire burning in a grate.  The small (refurbished) café at Half Moon Bay (Heasham) has a woodburning stove (doors closed) and this gives off a tremendous amount of heat, all the easy chairs surrounding it are always full of people enjoying the warm while they wait for their food to be cooked.   Even the other side of the room we can feel the heat, so I know they work.

Once upon a time I had a (Breville) sandwich toaster, but like many gadgets, this ended up pushed to the back of a cupboard, and was eventually given away.  However, I still have its recipe book, and no reason why some of the fillings couldn't be used in sarnies that could then be toasted (on both sides) under the grill, or in those 'toaster bags' that can be used in a conventional toaster.
So, here are a few suggestions taken from the book that I feel could be useful to those who are still aiming to use up the bits and bob lurking in the fridge or veggie basket.

First suggestion uses canned tuna, but just as tasty made with other canned fish such as sardines, pilchards, mackerel, or salmon.  As the amount of fish is less than normally in a can, there will be some left over to use for another meal.  Let us be thankful for that.
Tuna Toasts: makes 2 rounds
4 oz (100g) tuna, after draining
3 oz (75g) cream cheese
1 oz (25g) walnuts, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
4 slices bread, buttered on one side
Mash the tuna with a fork and work in the cheese, walnuts and seasoning.  Place one slice of bread, buttered side down, top with half the filling, and cover with the second slice (buttered side up), repeat with the other bread/filling, and toast under a grill or in toaster bags.

Cheese Dreams:  makes 2 rounds
2 teaspoons softened butter
pinch dried mixed herbs
4 slices bread
3 oz (75g) Cheddar cheese, grated
3 oz (75g) carrots, grated
2 tsp mayonnaise
salt and pepper, to taste
Mix the butter with the herbs and spread onto one side on each slice of bread.  Mix the cheese, carrot, mayonnaise and seasoning together, then assemble as in the above recipe (buttered side out) and toast for 2 minutes.

Cheese and Apple Dreams: makes 2 rounds
3 oz (75g) Wensleydale or Lancs. cheese, grated
1 small apple, grated
half tsp ground coriander, cumin, or curry powder
2 tsp raisins
4 slices bread, buttered on one side
Mix the cheese, apple, spices and raisins together, then - using this as a filling - assemble as shown in the first recipe.  Toast for 2 minutes.

B has come in and urgently needs to use the computer, so I'll have to say my farewells for today, will return again tomorrow, probably giving more toasted sarnie fillings (there are many good ideas in the book that help to use up what we have).  Hope you will find time to join me then.