Monday, 24 October 2011


on a wing and a prayer

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it's something i do. freeze food for later. use up old bits from the vegetable bin. recently, i was on a train (a daily occurrence around here), and two men were having an interesting, if slightly self-congratulatory conversation about wastefulness and food and how people no longer know how to do simple things to conserve, things that people from previous eras would have done without thinking twice. i should probably pause and say i completely eavesdropped on this conversation, but it was a grouping of four seats, so it was hard not to hear. on this particular morning i was knitting. most mornings on the train find me knitting or reading. and i'd like to think of myself as semi self-sufficient. i do try, earnestly, to converse food, and make good use of household products and needs. i'm investigating homemade bath and body products, trying to make informed decisions about the foods we eat, the cleaners we use, the products we buy. 

after a little research i've found that in the uk we throw away 8.3 million tonnes a year of food from our homes, which costs the average family more than £50. as much as possible, we try to throw away nothing. with a little forward planning, and a freezer, most food can be kept good until later. most food can be used for multiple meals, and most food is not bad once it's past it's 'use-by' date. one prime candidate is milk and dairy products.
  • i sniff most days before i pour milk, why? i've had 'good' milk go bad, and i've had 'overdue' milk, that's still perfectly fresh. keep your milk inside the fridge and not in the door, keep your fridge cold and food stays fresh longer. 
  • use veg that is a little 'off' for soups, stews, sauces. the slightly wrinkly red pepper languishing in your crisper can be chopped up and used, maybe not for eating raw, but it can definitely be added to something cooked. wilting celery, stand in a mug of water with fresh cut ends for an hour - and it's revitilised! and in the end, when in doubt, freeze it. spinach (add to sauce), most vegetables (soups and stews), meat bones (stock), ends of bread (whizz in the food processor for breadcrumbs).
in honour of using up old bits: 

chicken soup. 

use as the recipe calls for soup. reduce for chicken pot pie filling.


3 cups chicken stock
1/2 lb cooked chicken, shredded (i had some extra bacon frozen, so i added that too!)
2 carrots, diced
2 leeks, sliced
1 lb green beans, trimmed
2 large potatoes, cubed
large onion, diced
*or really any vegetable lying around the kitchen in desperate need of cooking
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream

 heat olive oil in heavy stockpot, sautee onions, carrots and leeks until soft. season with salt and pepper.

add potatoes, chicken, chicken stock. simmer over medium-low heat for 1 hour. 

add green beans. stir in cream. simmer for a further 5 min.  check seasonings, adjust as needed.

serve hot with toasted bread.

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