Fighting Food Waste and Monday

Today I have done... pretty much nothing. It has been one of those days. It rained. I am trying not to get a cold. You have to feed a cold, right? So I did, all day. Then I had a nap. Now I am feeling like I possibly never need to eat again. I am cleaning up the kitchen while the girls do their homework. Well, I sort of am. Clearly I got a teeny bit distracted from doing that.

Last week was Zero Waste Week, I believe, so true to form, I am writing about it this week. Particularly thought I would write about food waste, because I am trying very hard on that front right now. Today I furthered the cause by making sure I ate up all the cheese, and the nice bakery loaf.

I need to have systems in place for using up left overs, because, as with most other areas of life, without a system in place I am very, very vague. I try to always eat last night's dinner for lunch the next day if there are left overs. I love left overs. That's how I judge the success of a meal - are the left overs yummy? If a pot of leftovers sits in the fridge for days and dies there, probably no one liked it in the first place, so I shouldn't cook it again.

There are things that I should do, but don't. Like chop up the celery into sticks when I get it home and store it in an airtight container. I have a friend who does this religiously, and her celery never dies. Last week I had to compost slimy celery. Sigh.

I did save half a beetroot by making pink salad yesterday, and ate the rest today, between cheese fixes. Pink salad is one of those wonderful dishes that improves the next day, as all the flavours meld. And it gets pinker, too.

Up above are two pumpkins. The Boy's girlfriend brought them over. Her dad bought them, then left the country, and her mum works full time and has no intention of cooking up giant pumpkins. I am glad they thought of me, but I wonder what it is about me that says, 'Bring me your pumpkins, your huddled masses of unwanted garden produce..' Possibly the fact that the kitchen bench is always covered with some kind of vegetable matter, and I make all the children's friends eat zucchini cake and homemade jam. Posy made the pumpkin happy.

Now the egg whites. Chocolate macaroons are what these little beauties are destined to become. I was going to make them today and take photos of the finished product, but... didn't.

Here are some of my food saves:

Chopped, frozen banana. I used to just throw whole blackened bananas in the freezer. They defrost into mush, absolutely perfect for banana cake - no need to mash! But I make terrible banana cake, like bricks, and the family complained they made the freezer smell like banana. Then, after seeing this post, I started chopping bananas, freezing them on trays, then tipping them into the freezer container. Brilliant! Simple ideas are often the best. Now the kids pull out a few slices to throw in their smoothies.

Under the banana is the flavoured breadcrumb box. I save frozen bread crusts, throw them into the food processor with oil, salt, spices, herbs, whatever is in the garden. I use them for gratin toppings and coating chicken nuggets!

Terrible photos! On the left are cubes of frozen cream for cooking, on the right, cubes of lemon juice. So easy for throwing into the dinner.

Something I do a lot. Accidentally dry mushrooms in their paper bag at the bottom of the fridge. These can be crumbled into a stew or rehydrated in a teacup of water. You have to stick a saucer over the top because they float. The mushroom water makes a good addition to stock.

Ok, the photos are getting really terrible, I should stop now. This is not technically left overs. It is a crumble mixture. It is a brilliant freezer staple to have on hand, because any slightly squishy fruit can be stewed up quickly, you can pop frozen crumble mixture on top, and ...almost instant dessert!

This recipe is adapted from one of Jamie Oliver's. I halved the sugar.

Throw 100g plain flour
100g cold butter
50g sugar
100 g oats
1tsp ground ginger or a thumb size piece of grated ginger or orange or lemon zest
into the food processor.
Whiz till crumble-like.
Add mini choc chips if available.
Store in freezer. Try not to use this as a snack food...

I believe this may be called a fruit crisp in the US?

For some really very sensible and motivational ideas for zero waste food, see Frugal Queen's list. She is the bomb.


Anonymous said…
Excellent food saves Jo, especially the eating one ;). I make kefir and don't always use it. The milk kefir that I have to swim my non-dairy kefir babies in to keep them going once a week I use to make cakes for Steve or to make preferments for bread making. Did you know you can make bread with kefir yeast? I just found out and am amazed :). I usually get a fair bit of non-dairy kefir and freeze it for smoothies. I have 2 very large bags of kefir cubes for our approaching summer. I love a good head start. LOVE your pumpkins! I eat pumpkin pretty much every day and love how they tend to prevent their own waste by lasting so long. Love poppies pumpkin enhancement. All in all some great ideas. I keep forgetting to throw my breadcrumbs into the freezer and throw them into the chooks instead...ready made stuffing ;)
Sharon said…
What a awesome idea chopped frozen banana, we just put them in the freezer in the skin and no body wants to make the smoothies but me as its to hard to chop the frozen banana, well from now on Im going to chop it first then maybe some one will make me a smoothie lol.
I have to say my compost bin has made an honest woman out of me. Can't compost dairy or meat, but for the most part those don't go to waste in my fridge. It's the veggies that hide in the bottom of the fridge and are halfway slimed by the time that I remember them ... I used to sadly throw them out, but now I turn them into dirt! I do this with the last of the cereal, ends of bread loaves, and the paper cups that once held muffins.

I'm thinking about about my spring garden as I plant my fall garden. I would love to plant pie pumpkins, but the plants take up a lot of space. We shall see!

Jo said…
Fran, I have just been reading about the wonders of kefir, and how if you use it for cooking it helps predigest those tricky high-gluten grains. It sounds like a wonder food!
Love the idea of pre-stuffed chooks!
Sharon, that was my exact problem with the whole frozen bananas, hope you get a break from being chief smoothie maker!
Frances, I do agree, since I have been composting everything, I do feel a bit less guilty about slimy vegies. But it is rather expensive soil conditioner, if you throw whole fruit and veg in!
I hear you on the pumpkins. I did grow them up over the chook house many years ago. They absolutely loved sitting on a tin shed roof to ripen, and I guess it shaded the chickens in the summer..
Mum used to get me to make crumble - it was always 'apple' but it wasn't really. My younger bro was picky, so we swapped in pears and such.

I must chop the bananananas (I have that song in my head, you know it), before freezing them, though lately, they get eaten or smoothie'd before that stage.

Agh I was too late to get the BF to add our last few mushies to his pizza (I don't rate them), but I will remember the idea to rehydrate them, never thought of that.
Jo said…
Sarah, my kids have to do lots of outdoor ed camps for school, and plan and cook their own meals out in the wild... my daughter discovered the trick to making bland, rehydrated meals-in-a-packet interesting and delicious - add crumbled dried mushrooms. I throw them in every tomato-based stew I make now, and they really are a wonder ingredient, flavour-wise.
i love this post jo! i love your crumble recipe - the addition of ginger and zest is something i'll try next. i havent made a crumble in yonks so it is about time, perhaps.
like you, i love good yummy leftovers; i agree, bad ones are a sign that meal should never be made again.
i must say too i am lucky that i can pass on anything unwanted or undesirable to mum for the chooks and rusty their dog. so i don't feel guilty about anything that has failed.
ps i'm goign to chop up my bananas now too! you are a star.
Jo said…
Hmm, maybe I should get chooks and a dog...

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