Archive | January, 2013

Waste Not, Want Not: Bottom-of-The-Fridge Stew

19 Jan
Spicy Chirizo and Lentil Stew

Spicy Lentil and Chorizo Stew

I know it doesn’t have the sexiest of titles but this is actually really tasty. I make this stew (or a variation of it, depending on what I have lying around the kitchen) once every week or two and it always turns out well. And it’s cheap!! I tried working out how much it costs per person but, since ALL the ingredients came from ransacking the remains in my fridge, I have no idea. Also, I want to tell you about my new frugal best friend: Smoked Bacon Off-Cuts. You can get a huge value pack of it in Aldi for under 2 squid and you can cut it up for omelettes/soups/stews/anything really( bacon fudge?) and it lasts for frickin’ ages.

I realised another way I’m saving money and reducing my food waste is generally buying and eating less meat. Though in no way am I a vegetarian (I devoured a rack of lamb only last week and I was still gnawing on the bones as the waitress pulled my plate away), my weekly meat purchases tend to be things like tinned anchovies (fantastic for sauces), the aforementioned bacon and, if I’m feeling posh, some chorizo.

So anyway, this is my Bottom-of-The-Fridge (or Spicy Lentil and Chorizo if you want to sound fancy) Stew, you can change it around with whatever vegetables you have in your fridge or freezer, the main important things are chorizo, tomatoes and as much garlic as social decorum will allow (I take that back, balls to social decorum, throw in as much garlic as you can. Garlic for all!)

Enjoy!

Spicy Lentil and Chorizo Stew

(Serves 4)

Put a large heavy  bottomed pot on a medium heat and add tablespoon of olive oil.

Add a handful of roughly chopped smoked bacon and chorizo, fry until crispy.

Add one onion, one leek, 5 cloves of garlic (yaay, garlic), 1 large carrot, 1 handful of cabbage and 2 handfuls of baby potatoes, all roughly chopped.

Add a tablespoon of dried chilli flakes (less if you don’t want it too spicy, obviously).

Stir and sauté for 3-4 mins.

Add a tin of lentils, a tin of chopped tomatoes (both 400g tins) and a teaspoon of sugar. Fill one of the empty tins with boiling water and a chicken stock cube and throw in as well.

Reduce to a simmer, add a bouquet garni (if you have all the herbs).

Cover and let it cook on the lowest heat for 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Stir in 2 big handfuls of rocket or baby spinach.

Season with salt and pepper before serving.

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Waste Not, Want Not: What’s in Your Fridge?

10 Jan
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The unpromising looking fridge.

This morning I woke up to headlines reporting up to 50% of all food produced is wasted and an average of 580 euros is thrown out per household each year. Crazy stuff, thought I.

We’re all guilty of it, we all look into the fridge and see carrots semi-frozen to fridge floor, half empty cartons of now soured cream and leftovers from a week ago that have turned into their own little ecosystem. So, being skint as I am, I decided to check what was actually in our kitchen and see how many meals I could make out of it.

I braced myself for a bit of dreaded organisation (puke) and ransacked the kitchen in the middle of the week, the usual time when we start complaining there is nothing to eat. I was shocked and almost embarrassed with how much food there was.

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All the contents pulled out and organised.

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Voilà! An ever-so-slightly more organised fridge.

After making a list of all the food we had (sad, I know) I used some online recipe generators, (BBC Good Food is my favourite)  and was able to make enough meals for a week, with only a few extra groceries needed to be purchased.

I was also delighted to find out I had everything I needed to make FALAFELS!! Falafels are little spiced chickpea burgers, usually served, in a wrap, to drunken vegetarian art students from Turkish takeaways, but don’t let that put you off! They are great, tasty, healthy (if you bake them), and cheap as chickpeas ( Ha, see what I did there? Cheap as… never mind, my fantastic jokes are wasted on you lot)

Dinner became a bit of a Indian themed veggie feast, with roasted spiced broccoli and cauliflower, yellow rice (I used turmeric instead of saffron) and carrot salad, all made from things we had lying in the fridge.

So if you fancy saving yourself some pennies then check your fridge, try a recipe finder and get cooking!

Falafel, curried veg, carrot salad, yellow rice and cucumber and mint yogurt dip

Cumin Falafels, Spiced Cauliflower and Broccoli, with Yellow Rice and Carrot Salad.


Cumin Spiced Falafels:

(I followed the Slimming World recipe, as I have folks who are trying to diet here, cough *lame* cough, but it was surprisingly tasty even though they don’t look like much)

( Oh and also, if, like me, you don’t have a food processor an immersion blender will work, but attempting to use a jug blender and a wooden spoon will result in a half processed mixture with chunks of wooden spoon and you driven insane. Don’t do it.)

  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2cm piece root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp very finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 small egg
  • Salt
  • Low calorie cooking spray (If your not on a diet just use bland tasting oil, like sunflower/vegetable/peanut oil)
  1. Place the onion, carrot, chickpeas, garlic, ginger, cumin, chilli powder and the ground and fresh coriander in a food processor. Pulse and process for 1-2 minutes until blended but still fairly chunky in texture.
  2. Transfer the mixture into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg and add to the mixture. Season with salt and, using your fingers, mix thoroughly to combine. Cover and chill in the fridge for 6-8 hours to firm up and allow the flavours to develop.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment and spray lightly with low calorie cooking spray. Shape the chickpea mixture into 24 bite-sized balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Spray lightly with low calorie cooking spray and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and crispy.

Happy Birthday to Me!

8 Jan

Before you ask, no, it’s not really my birthday today, actually, it happens to be my darling sisters ( HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH!!)

However, I am (belatedly) celebrating the 1st birthday of the narcissistic ramblings I call my blog. I’m filled with the same feelings I presume new parents have on their own child’s first birthday, pride, smugness and a slight disbelief that I have lasted a year without killing it.

Alot happened in 2012 for me. I learned how to make scotch eggs, I moved house, 6 TIMES. I learned how to drive, I realised I quite like Dublin after years of being terrified to even walk through it, but, really 2012 was about leaving my terrible call centre job and moving to Italy to work on a farm.

Doing the internship at Spannocchia and subsequently working on a biodynamic vineyard taught me so much about food. Yep, I learned that eating peas freshly picked is one of the sweetest things you’ll ever taste, that you can smell the tell tale signs of a great wine vintage in its first few days of fermentation and that  coughing and spluttering is how to judge the quality of a Tuscan olive oil. But, I also learned the importance of food globally, the horrific practises towards live stock in commercial farming and the unfair, unsustainable and utterly wasteful methods of food production and distribution we have today.

But on the upside it has made me realise what I want to do, so here I am, back in my home town, working in two community gardens and being paid Sweet.Fuck.All, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. (well, unless someone wants to give me more money? Hello? Anyone?..)

So here’s to a great 2012 and hopefully a better paid 2o13.

Happy New Year!

Highlights of 2012;

Visiting the hill top village of Colle di Val D'Elsa.

Visiting the hill top village of Colle di Val D’Elsa.

Harvesting saffron

Harvesting saffron

Visiting a medieval castle in Tuscany

Visiting a medieval castle in Tuscany

Drinking a 10 year old Brunello for lunch.

Drinking a 10 year old Brunello for lunch.

Seeing " The Best Genesis Cover Band in Italy" in a beautiful monestry.

Seeing ” The Best Genesis Cover Band in Italy” here.

Eating at Dario Cechini's butchery.

Eating at Dario Cechini’s butchery.

Making chocolate cookies with a fantastic pastry chef

Making chocolate cookies with a fantastic pastry chef

Getting burgers handed to me with beef from our farm and homemade brioche buns.

Getting burgers handed to me with beef from our farm and homemade brioche buns.

Having to go to class and drink wines.

Having to go to class and drink wines.

Making our own Nocino, an Italian green walnut liqueur.

Making our own Nocino, an Italian green walnut liqueur.

Getting to see inside a porcine Aladdins cave of wonder.

Getting to see inside a porcine Aladdins cave of wonder.

Getting to live here for 3 months.

Getting to live here for 3 months.

Getting to eat vegetable we had harvested in the morning for dinner.

Getting to eat vegetable we had harvested in the morning for dinner.

Getting to battle broody hens every morning for our eggs.

Getting to battle broody hens every morning for our eggs.

Having dinner on this terrece every evening during the summer.

Having dinner on this terrece every evening during the summer.

Getting to make our own pizza in a real wood burning oven.

Getting to make our own pizza in a real wood burning oven.

Having lunches like this handed to you.

Having lunches like this handed to you.

Getting to work with these two fantastic women in the garden for 3 months.

Getting to work with these two fantastic women in the garden for 3 months

Foraging my own Chanterelle mushrooms.

Foraging my own Chanterelle mushrooms.

Working during the wine harvest in Colombaia

Working during the wine harvest in Colombaia

Getting look after these cuties (I never look upon a sausage in the same way again)

Getting to look after these cuties (I’ll never look upon a sausage in the same way again)

Eating the most amazing local food.

Having the most amazing dinners.

Learning that Americans aren't as scary as the movies make them out to be.

Learning that Americans aren’t as scary as the movies make them out to be.

Making pasta for the first time.

Making pasta for the first time.

Getting shitfaced on amazing Chianti Classico before noon.

Getting shitfaced on amazing Chianti Classico before noon.

Going to the local market in Tusany.

Buying amazing local produce.

Tasting the white wine 30 days into fermentation

Tasting the white wine 30 days into fermentation

Getting to harvest the 2012 vintage of the most amazing wine have I ever tasted for the two most amazing people I have ever met.
Getting to harvest the 2012 vintage of the most amazing wine have I ever tasted for the two most amazing people I have ever met.