Archives for posts with tag: Cooking with Leftovers

IMG_20160522_183615.jpgMy son and husband write a film blog for fun, and sometimes my daughter and I join them watching the classics. Recently we all were swept away by Satyajit Ray’s trilogy, “The World of Apu.”  They are soon to post a joint review on their blog, and I felt called to join in.  This is what I wrote: not quite a proper film review, not quite a proper food blog.  Something in between, with a culinary record of how I wanted to celebrate the beauty of this stunning work.

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“Pather Panchali” is a transfixing film with a plot that unfolds around carefully revealed characters and personalities, and big themes like love, loss, kindness and pettiness , meanness and generosity, being young and growing old. The Ravi Shankar soundtrack gives constant goosebumps; the cinematography is both sweeping -exploring landscapes, monsoons, the rural industry of electricity and railroads – and intimate: an old woman’s skin, domestic architecture, facial expressions of joy, anxiety, and grief.  The acting never feels like acting, the plotlines never scripted, the observations never didactic.  It feels to me the most perfect film ever, not least for how I wept towards the end in a state of total lack of separation from the fact of watching a film: I was there, I was “her” in this scene, feeling a mother’s despair at the loss of a child, in this case Djurga, whom the film viewer has watched grow and come to love.

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Because the film observes life so carefully and directly, food culture of course becomes central, and I enjoyed this aspect very much.   Read the rest of this entry »

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FOOD WASTE AND LEFTOVERS ADVICE:

RECONSIDERING TAKEAWAYS, READY-MEALS, GRAVY AND CONVENIENCE FOOD… DEFANCIFYING THE MESSAGE…

Hubbub is a UK organisation using creative, participatory events to reduce domestic food waste.  Two of their projects are on my mind right now. #PumpkinRescue is all about giving Halloween pumpkins a culinary afterlife.  (I hope to take part in a Disco Soup event in Salford; check out events in your area.) #ExpressYourShelf asks people to prepare meals based on what they have on hand, and take “shelfies.”  Here’s what we got up to last year at this time.

Fun.  Meanwhile, the estimable Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is soon coming out with a new book and tv series on leftovers, “all about creating delicious meals from all those bits and bobs that are leftover from the last meal we cooked, ” says he.

Conversations about “leftovers” are everywhere these days, as concern mounts about food waste and its ecological impact, as well as the moral issue of throwing out edible food in light of local and global hunger– all pretty well summarised in the video posted above.  Food waste is a large and multifaceted problem, with domestic waste being one part of that; I like to think that by not wasting food individuals can save money and be empowered to discuss and act on systemic problems too.  Connecting different levels.

On the whole I’m pretty good at not wasting — except when life and work get busy and I lose focus on the shopping/cooking nexus– but that’s the point.  Not wasting in our world of excess and too-muchness requires a focus and becomes a task and priority in itself that needs to be made easier.

So we might have to do things differently. Read the rest of this entry »

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LEFTOVERS; FERMENTS; RESISTANT STARCH; GREAT SALADS

Yesterday I made this delicious Moroccan tomato salad inspired by a recipe in Paula Wolfert’s The Food of Morocco.  It’s a great late summer/ early autumn dish, with tomatoes and grilled peppers and onions in a lemony (in fact preserved-lemony) vinaigrette, spiced with paprika and cumin.

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But we didn’t finish it in one meal. Read the rest of this entry »

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These are Kimchi Latkes, a pan-fried potato cake made and served with that ever-moreish Korean fermented cabbage condiment. Here the latkes are served in traditional style with sour cream and apple sauce as well.

And these are Pumpkin Pakora, a delicious treat with Scottish peasemeal and scrummy vegetables, perhaps slightly-more deep fried than other “pan” cakes but not necessarily so.

I’m sure as many of you do, I make stuff like this fairly often.  At some point I conceptualised these kind of cakes/ fritters/ patties as a genre, as something I could fiddle around with not using recipes, using what was on hand so as to use-up and not waste and please everyone around.  There can be a tender-morsel/ hor d’oeuvres quality, or a sense of burger to them as well.

I’ve talked about how I believe a cultural and media focus on fancy food and recipes may be part of the problem in people not cooking, feeling they don’t know how or can’t.  We all learn in different ways.  I think for many of us, there might be empowerment in knowing that perfection doesn’t matter, that you can throw things together with certain principles rather than instructions and specifics.  Certainly a looser approach means less kitchen waste in that you don’t necessarily have to go out and buy ingredients, and you are afforded a creativity in using up what you do have on hand.  I’ve tried to demonstrate this with frittatas and minestrone and some other posts I never quite finish.

Lately I’ve read two great approaches to making veggie pan “cakes”, and I wanted to share them with readers.

The first was this excellent Anna Stockwell article about Maria Speck’s approach to “Veggie Patties.”  It’s truly worth bookmarking for every home cook and food educator, because it’s schematic but leaves loose for the pleasures of experimentation.

And just today the lovely Zero-Waste Chef posted something similar on her thoughts on Vegetable Fritters.  I find Anne-Marie’s use of Sourdough Starter in this way very interesting.

Needless to say, for fermenting enthusiasts, there’s loads of opportunity to throw in our sundry creations.

Whatever ingredients you choose to play with, I find thinking this way liberating and fun– including the salsas and hot sauces you could serve as enticing condiments.


A 24 May 2016 postscript: see this fantastic Guardian piece: Anna Jones’ Versatile Veggie Fritter Recipe.  I love her work.

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Here’s a story of something nice I made from desperate leftovers populating the refrigerator, with a non-recipe “methodology” I experiment with a lot…  If you are turned off by smelly fishes and even the idea of “herring sauce”, please you really must read on…

Read the rest of this entry »

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There are times when I find no inspiration for the daily grind of family cooking, and feel just as much a novice as anyone.  Mostly however, and especially writing this blog, there are always more food ideas that I’d like to explore than time ever allows. So I woke up last Sunday with 20 projects on the go, and couldn’t conceive how to make progress AND make lunch.  That’s when the Venn Diagram came to mind.  Why not draw some up and decide that way what we would be eating.

Number One: I’m very interested in Peasemeal as an historic Scottish staple, a flour dating back to Roman times, made of ground roasted dried yellow peas.  I wrote to the people at Golspie Mill, a restored Victorian mill way towards the top of Scotland, and asked if I might have a sample bag, and was generously obliged.  The guiding thought was that peasemeal might be a good substitute for gram flour; it’s a relatively local (at least British) staple with culinary possibilities to span the globe. And it’s a Slow Food Forgotten Food included in their “Arc of Taste,”, and interesting for this heritage.  When I asked friends what they made with gram flour, many responses looked to India– not surprisingly! — and flatbreads and pakora.

Read the rest of this entry »

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And Bread Begat Bread, and Pizza, and Cake, OR, How To Use, Not Waste, a Stale Loaf of Bread.

If you are in Mid-Wales, living in or near Llanidloes, and you like good food, there is the wonderful Andy’s Bread — organic, often with Welsh grain, “artisanal,” and truly locally made and enjoyed.  It’s too good, in my humble opinion, always absolutely delicious — mainly and extremely challenging to my wheat problems, because I can’t have just one little sliver– I end up eating half the loaf.

So somehow I must have hidden from myself this hunk of his Vermont Sourdough, because I found it stale- hard as a rock, as pictured above.

I thought to make breadcrumbs, but didn’t fancy grating it, and our food processor is on its last legs.

I could have shaved the stale loaf into pieces, and soaked them in a vinaigrette to use in a salad, or put them in the bottom of a brothy soup, which I imagine as something old-time and nostalgic in France.

Instead, I chose to experiment, and see if I could begin a sponge for a new loaf of bread– in other words, to use it as a mother, or as a baby, I’m not sure which.  So to my children’s consternation, I soaked the thing in water.

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After soaking, as in the photo above, I shredded it, marvelling in the recyclability of bread.  At this point my goal was to make a new, bubbly, yeasty starter– so I added more water, and a little white flour.  Oh, how could I resist throwing in that handful of leftover brown basmati rice, knowing that white basmati is sometimes considered the perfect ingredient in a baguette? –and let it sit, to see if the yeast would come alive.

Two days later, nothing really seemed to be happening, but wanting to take some kind of action I added a hodgepodge of flours: Rye, Khorasan/ Kamut, and Gluten-Free White Flour.  30 years ago, a Goddess of an older Norwegian woman, who herself made incredible, earthy breads, taught me this way, and that’s just how I do it.  Throw it in, mix and match…  Oh yeah, this time I threw in a handful of caraway seeds as I would were I making rye bread.

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Can you notice above, the chunks that remain of the original soaked bread, the brown at the top the crust?

It took more than a day to get a little bubbly,  as the natural yeasts were activated by eating sugars present and doing their emitting of carbon dioxide, at which point I added olive oil, salt, and enough flour to make a proper dough which I could knead and and form into a sweet loveable ball and wait for it to rise.

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And rise it never actually did, I think because maybe some honey or sugar would have helped, or maybe a more vibrant colony of yeasts from the beginning?  But never mind– the original loaf was still NOT WASTED, which was my goal, and I rolled what there was into lovely bases for my childrens’ supper:

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This is to say that bread is a magic ingredient and bread can beget bread, or in this case, pizza dough.

And last year, bread begat cake, a Sourdough-leavened Chocolate Cherry layered cream cake, reproduction of which for the purpose of blogging please stay tuned. x

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The End of the Lime: Some Top Tips

The End of the Lime, or, How Not to Waste that Precious Little Dehydrated Organic Golf Ball That’s Come All the Way from Mexico.

There they were, free for me to take, because otherwise they’d be thrown-out and wasted. Un-pretty, un-sellable, un-loved.

Did you know:  if you cut a lime in thirds, on the vertical axis, you get sections that yield the most juice. Different from the geometry of other citrus fruits.

These were so hard, I wasn’t sure I could even get a knife through them. Then I had the brain-wave to just throw one in with the chicken bones, zest and all, as the acidic element that helps those bones offer up their mineral goodness into the stock that is the basis of so many soups.  Despite my efforts to get this family eating lower on the food chain, when we do eat something with bones, I make the most of them this way.  All scraps (except Brassicas, which get bitter [though that may be a gospel I’m ready to question]) from leeks and onions and carrots and parsnips and bits of herbs and nettles and potato skins (if not green) and and and…

(I love this post on the wonderful blog Foodways Pilgrim on Potato Peel Broth)

In this case, I knew the stock was going to the agent of transformation for the leftovers from a curry my husband made for supper, to become, with  red lentils and some yoghurt, a soup. And there was the lime, looking forlorn, and I wanted to sour up that curry soup, and I wanted some of that calcium out of the chicken bones, and I just, maybe a bit recklessly, plopped it into the simmering stock.

(Here’s a great article on why not to use the word “curry” as I just did.)

In the morning, I strained the stock and examined the lime, and it had rehydrated in a beautiful way, and conferred it’s sharp bright lime-ness into the liquid.  Now I am bemoaning the times in life I’ve tossed Citrus Rocks.  Now I know to reconstitute them this way.

And the soup was delicious.

I wonder if just soaking in plain old water would work?

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PS On the Lime Shortage that’s causing prices to skyrocket:

PPS: A top tip from a very nice lady I met: put dried out lemons and limes briefly in a microwave if you have one for the freer flow of juice….

 

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