A new bread recipe and the last of the apples for stewing.
The curse of the winter solstice plague is back, and has slapped me about this week. I have completely lost my voice which is a disaster, as I always have so much to say! It is just as well that I have this outlet to unleash the voices inside my head..
I haven't been at work this week because plague, which has made it easier to potter about the kitchen and force my children to eat leftovers between taking to my bed with a hot water bottle. I am still continuing my challenge not to buy food for a fortnight, and to eat what we have. So far this fortnight I have bought milk, minced beef for the spaggy bol, and a hand of bananas. Rosy is by far the most calm and stable member of the family, but just try to tell her that there aren't any bananas for breakfast.. today I will buy one more meal's worth of meat. I'm thinking stewing beef to put in the slow cooker, and then I think that we will make it to Tuesday without any more purchases.
Despite not shopping, more food has turned up at our house, because I am a free-food magnet (lucky me). A neighbour brought me half a dozen eggs from his new Silver Laced Wyandottes, which are the most decorative chickens I have ever seen. He also brought me his old newspapers for the fire. I gave him some lemons. My mum brought me some beautiful rhubarb from her garden which I stewed up with the last of the apples from this box. Mum also brought me two bags of food from a friend of hers who is moving house. Mum has been helping her clean out her kitchen, so now I have extra rice noodles, self raising flour, herbal tea, organic rye flour, popcorn kernels, basmati rice and tomato sauce. Also, a huge bag of ground cassia. Until last month I did not know what cassia was, when I was at my favourite shop in the whole world, the bulk bin shop Wholesome House. I was asking David about the difference between cinnamon and Dutch cinnamon and he told me that Dutch cinnamon was from the cassia tree, and was cheaper. Posy and I sniffed both and we liked the Dutch cinnamon better, so we bought that. It is also called baker's cinnamon, and is on every cinnamon baked good that you buy - because it is cheaper. Anyway, I now have half a kilo of it, if anyone local would like some?? Mum also brought me extra milk that was left over from a function at her church. Happy days!
What I have run out of: plain flour, dried fruit, canned fruit, and as I said, I have bought one meal's worth of meat for each of my buy nothing weeks. That's it! We have hardly wanted for anything. I can't make any more muesli without dried fruit, and I love my muesli, but instead I am eating boiled Silver Laced Wyandotte eggs, or stewed apple and rhubarb with home made yoghurt for breakfast, so I am hardly to be pitied.. Posy loves her canned fruit for freezing and making sorbet in the blender (use canned fruit in natural juice. Freeze in plastic container. Tip into blender. Whiz up for delicious sugar-free sorbet). But this week she has had to eat real fruit instead. The horror.
We also generally buy a delicious loaf of sourdough at the farmers market each week, but this week, I made two loaves of French bread from this recipe instead. Folks, this is the best bread I have ever made, barring the sourdough I made twice in 2013 before killing the starter due to shameful neglect. Making bread is the perfect activity when you have the plague. It involves ten minute bursts of activity punctuated by long rests. I followed the recipe to the letter, a thing I rarely do, and it was perfect. A crunchy crust, a beautiful crumb - the loaves themselves were a bit lopsided, but the bread cut so well that it would make great sandwiches, so next time I will pop the dough in a loaf tin. Next time will be after Tuesday as I have no plain flour left. Until then, the only bread-like substitute will be scones as we have plenty of self-raising flour.
What I have learnt from this exercise is that I buy too much food. Even though I only shop once a month for dry goods and once a week for fruit and veg I have this siege mentality that we are all going to starve or something. I have cupboards full of dried beans. We are not going to starve. But instead of eating dried beans I panic if the fridge isn't full, and go out the next week and fill it up again. And that means I waste food, especially the food at the back of the fridge that I can't see. And we cherry pick our favourites and end up wasting what isn't our favourite, but is cheap and seasonal, like brussels sprouts and cabbage.
It is nearly two weeks now that I haven't shopped, and I still have eleven pieces of fruit left, not counting the extra bananas I bought, which would take it up to sixteen. And we eat a lot of fruit. I still have a kilo of carrots in the fridge, half a head of broccoli, half a bag each of spinach and lettuce, most of a cucumber and a capsicum. Oh, and a whole cabbage for making sauerkraut. In the freezer there is a bag each of frozen corn and peas, and a kilogram of blueberries that we picked in the summer. I think that in my enthusiasm for feeding my family fresh vegies I buy way too many, and then waste too many. Our small fridge is always stuffed full and things fall out of it all the time. It is infuriating!
For a more zen approach, here is an email conversation between me and my brother:
Me: What is in your fridge right now?
Brother: Out of date condiments and a punnet of cherry tomatoes.
Me: Really? What other food do you have?
Brother: A bag of brown rice.
Me: Oh. What did you have for dinner?
Brother: Brown rice.
Brother: Cherry tomatoes.
Me: Do you have any more food yet?
Brother: Yeah, eggs, and vegies to go with the brown rice.
And this, my friends, is how you avoid middle age spread..
(I would like to point out that whenever I see my brother he eats like a horse. He parties cheerfully then goes back to his vegies and rice.)
So, here is the thing. I live two blocks away from a green grocer. I do not need to stock up every week like the apocalypse is coming. Because frankly, an extra head of broccoli is not going to help in that situation.
Meanwhile, it is nearly July, and the girls are up for Plastic Free July. We are going to do it! So July will be all about reducing down our garbage to nearly nothing. Goody. Can't wait.. also, July starts before Tuesday, so I can't cheat and run out and buy lots of plastic-wrapped food.. curses. I will have to perfect the home-made cracker in the month to come..
Who would like to be plastic-free with us in July?