Category Archives: Kitchen

Green Living : 3 Tips for Reducing Food Waste

via Bob West on flickr

Ever get that guilty feeling as you toss some good-food-gone-bad into the bin? Realized as you’re cleaning out the fridge that you had enough food for another meal or two, if only you’d thought to check, or been more organized?

Despite my best efforts I often have that realization and it really annoys me. So a while ago Sparky and I started planning our meals a week at a time. It’s really helped cut down on waste, it makes writing a shopping list easier and doing the groceries less of a pain.

But still we get caught and I thought I could give some tips on how we can salvage some of those easily wasted foods:

You can rescue a stale loaf of bread by wrapping it in a clean, damp tea towel for fifteen minutes. Take the teatowel off and pop it into a hot oven for three minutes or so. Not quite fresh baked but better than tossing it.

If you’ve bought too many veges, you can save them from an untimely end in the bin or the compost heap by freezing them. (This works particularly well for onions, carrots, pumpkin, parsnip and other root veges.) Just peel, chop and place into freezer bags, and freeze until you can use them.

Similarly, if you have too many berries, place them in a single layer on a baking tray and freeze. Once frozen you can pop them in a freezer container until you need them. (The first step just stops them from sticking together).

If you have lots of odds and ends of veges rolling about in the crisper, you can always cook up these vegetable quesadillas or this hearty soup. Both are really good ways to use up what’s left and eke out an extra meal from your weekly shop.

I’m constantly on the look-out for recipes like this, so if you know of any, please point me in the right direction!

Green Living : Make Your Own Baby Food

We’re in the throes of introducing little Toby to all sorts of new fruits and veges at the moment (he is such a guts too – would literally eat anything and everything we offer him!) so making baby food is at the forefront of my brain these days.

Making your own baby food is really simple, and I find that if I do it all on a Sunday (my cooking/baking day) then it’s hardly stressful at all. Like most things, if you do it in bulk, the benefits are outweighed by the slightest bit of extra work. Plus it’s a lot cheaper than buying baby food all the time, and I know exactly what’s in it. (Better still when I can get local and/or organic fruit and veges to use, but that doesn’t happen all the time. Or most the time.)

Some good combos, as approved by Toby are:

– pear and apple
– pumpkin, sweet potato and corn
– carrot and corn
– pumpkin, potato, zucchini 
– (rice or pasts can be added to any of these as bub develops)

1. Peel and chop your chosen fruit/veges. The pieces should be around 2cm each.

2. Put in a saucepan with a little water – around 1-2cm.

3. Bring to boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer until the fruit or veges are tender.

4. Use a blender or a stick mixer to blend up the food for young babies, and a fork to mash it up once your little one can handle slightly chunkier food.

5. I freeze Toby’s food in plastic containers and pull it out as needed. 

When you’re travelling or get caught short, there’s now a few good, organic baby food options at the supermarket.

Raffertys garden is a good one, but I’d go for their organic products, as last time I looked I realized there’s no mention of their regular products being GMO free. So best avoided I’d say!

Making Your Own Bread

image: baobread on Flickr

Before Toby came along, I sometimes found myself with enough time to bake a loaf of bread from scratch. It was delicious and ridiculously satisfying. But since around October last year I haven’t had time to think about it.

But the reality is that buying bread from the supermarket is expensive (up to $5 for a loaf of Helga’s) and even pricier for good quality, locally baked bread ($6-8 from the bakehouse) plus lots of brands have additives, preservatives and loads of sugar/salt.  So I’ve known that making your own would be better and cheaper and more in keeping with our new way of living but, seriously, who has the time to bake bread once every couple of days? (And if you do, then hats off, my friend!)

Anyway, I’ve been stalking ebay for a few things for our house recently, and thought I’d check out the breadmaker situtation. $60 later we scored ourselves a big loaf bread machine!

I used it twice yesterday, to make a fruit loaf and a soy and linseed wholegrain loaf, and can I tell you how delicious and easy it was. Just add your ingredients, press a few buttons and three-ish hours later, yummy bread. I’ll freeze half of each loaf so we can use it over the weekend.

The fruit loaf I did from scratch but the soy and linseed loaf I used a Laucke breadmix. Both ways turn out at around $2 per loaf, which is tops.

I know that breadmakers fall into that ‘Christmas present you you use twice and then stick in a cupboard and feel vaguely guilty about’ category (hence the number of them on ebay, I’m guessing) and I also know that they use a bit of electricity and are bulky to store. BUT its a matter of weighing up the pros and cons and we figured, considering we’ll use it 2-3 times a week and save at least $20 off the groceries bill every fortnight, that it was worthwhile.

I’ll let you know how we go, but for now, I’ve got a breakfast date with some fruit loaf and a strong black coffee. The kids have both been up since 5am. Eugh.

Cheap-As Tuesday: Chicken and Mushroom Casserole

This is what Sparky and I like to call, “A bogan special,” meaning it’s a bit low-rent but a lot delicious, so who cares. Plus, I’ve been called worse than a bogan over the years!

It’s easy, comforting, tasty and Isy eats it, so it floats my boat – especially this time of the year!

You’ll need:

nob of butter
1 onion, sliced
1kg chicken thigh, trimmed
a few good handfuls of button mushrooms, sliced
2 tins of cream of asparagus soup
brown rice, to serve

1. In an ovenproof pan (we use a cast-iron one and they are the best things ever) heat your butter on a high heat and add the onion. Cook until soft.
2. Add your chicken, trying to get some of each fillet on the base of the pan. You want to brown it well, to seal the flavour in. It doesn’t matter if some sticks to the base of the pan – that’s where the flavour comes from.
3. Add your mushrooms and soup. Combine and bring to the boil.
4. Pop the lid on and put the pan into a moderate oven (180C). Cook for 45min-1 hour. 

We have ours with brown rice (and some steamed veges are a good idea too – the plate is fairly beige without them!)


K.I.S.S: Organising the Kitchen

I’m not a natural-born organiser. In my natural state I’m more of a seat-of-the-pantser, but I find that ridiculously frustrating and know that I do much better at life if I’m at least semi-organised.

So as part of the Great Experiment I’ve decided to put effort into organising my life, bit by bit.

Over the weekend I tackled the pesky drygoods cupboard. You know the one where you shove random bags of brown sugar, cocoa, flour and breadcrumbs in amongst bottles of food colouring, vanilla essence and loose sultanas that have fallen out of their box? Yeah, that cupboard.

It’s not rocket science, but I had a strategy in place to tackle it, and it meant a grand total of ten minutes (shopping time extra, but it doesn’t count because I went and had a coffee: bonus!) and I was done. And felt amazingly satisfied!

1. Listed everything I had stored in the cupboard
2. Figured out what sized container I needed to accommodate a full bag+
3. Armed with the list I went shopping for the containers I needed (what price is organisation? For me, $30! Thank you, Big W).
4.Transferred everything to its container and labelled each one. (OK, an admission, I haven’t actually done the labelling yet, but I will. Because it is very, very important……)

That’s it. Simple, I know. But even so I had put off doing this for ages because it felt like such a sucky way to spend my time. But now that it’s done, it really does make a difference. It’s easier to see what I have, what I need and what I have inadvertently bought 6 bags of (yes, you, desiccated coconut). Plus now I don’t have to dodge a cascade of cocoa every time I get something off the top shelf!