Trade Secrets

Day 5 of Shopping-Free Week (Day 10 if you don't count Christmas Eve dash to supermarket and deli for sour cream and smoked salmon):

We are out of eggs, milk, bread, fruit, flour and glace cherries. Crew threatening mutiny. Captain determined to go down with the ship...

Not true. No-one even noticed, though I couldn't have gone another hour without buying milk. Cuppa anyone? is a question that reverberates around the house about fifteen times a day. When we ran out of bread I made cheese and vegemite scrolls, always popular, and when visitors came I made shortbread (no eggs, lots of butter). I used up every vegie in the bottom of the fridge, including the beans I forgot to cook for Christmas dinner, and zucchini and spinach from the garden, in a stir fry, and nobly ploughed through all the left-over Christmas salads for lunch every day (well, not that noble, I love salad for lunch, especially if someone else has made it).

I did finally have to go to the shops today, not only for milk, but because on Monday eight house guests are arriving, and I need to do some cooking before then. With eggs, flour etc. I have learned some interesting things though. My family will happily eat all sorts of things, as long as it is served up in front of them, and they don't have to make any effort. Grapes in a bag are 'yucky' because there are several brown ones among them, and the child in question will have to sort the good from the bad. The same grapes that have been subject to quality control and are presented as part of a fruit platter are 'yummy'. Same goes for garden strawberries with cosmetic defects. This may be a character defect, but it is one I can exploit work with. Also, if I have a plan and can tell everyone what is for dinner, today, tomorrow and the next day, they accept it, but if I don't know, their minds immediately turn to junk food.

I discovered something else. It is possible to serve meals that everyone likes, even when there are no eggs in the house. Sometimes I panic when we run out of an ingredient, and run out to buy eggs....and yoghurt, and chocolate, and crackers, and whatever else is on sale near the checkout. But necessity really is the mother of invention. I could learn so much just by running out of things and having to cook something else, or use up leftovers, or garden gluts. I'm sure that's how most of the world's cuisines developed.

Speaking of which, this afternoon I roasted a chicken, with lots of veg. We ate a little chicken and most of the veg for dinner, and I shredded the rest for lunch on Monday, with our guests. Now I'm cooking up the carcass for soup stock for dinner tomorrow, and it smells divine. It occured to me that it takes a long time to learn how to whip up a roast dinner, to get all the elements well-cooked and ready at the same time. You either learn it by your mother's side, or by trial and error. In my case, the latter. My mother preferred knitting to cooking. And here is a recently learned trade secret that I have never found in a cook book. After much experiment, I have discovered that if you parboil the potatoes and carrots till almost soft, then toss them in oil, butter and spices on a baking tray with raw pumpkin, they will all cook perfectly at the same time in about half an hour at 200C. I always finish them off with a ten minute burst at about 210C-220C to crisp them at the end while the chicken is resting.


Does anyone have any favourite left over roast veg recipes? I put them in mini quiches in muffin trays. What do I do with left over chicken stuffing?


I don't have answers to your questions, but now I'm intrigued by the question of how long could I go without eggs? It would be interesting to see how long I could cook out of my freezer and pantry without having to shop. We could have pasta for a month at the very least ...

Happy New Year!

Jen's Busy Days said…
Well done on your challenge! I was out of milk too but cuppas aren't a huge thing here so I have been able to get away with putting cream in recipes instead and finally today succumbed to using powdered milk.

Fun though, isn't it?

Best wishes
Jen in NSW
Jen's Busy Days said…
Oh, and I don't have to worry about the run out of eggs problem with 8 chookies in my backyard although at the moment I only get 4 a day. :-(

Jo said…
4 eggs a day Jen, that's a feast in itself!
Frances, at least one of my children would be delighted if I served up pasta every day for a month..
Jo said…
PS, didn't have to worry about those left overs in the end, The Man ate them all for lunch. I like stuffing as much as anyone, but all the chicken stuffing? For lunch?

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