Thursday, February 6, 2020

Fun in the kitchen

I fessed up at the end of last year that I had got all stressed about money and wasn't doing so well making ends meet from month to month.

Well, that's all still true, but help is coming and in the meantime I've been having a fun with making food out of what we have as much as possible, with the occasional small supermarket/orchard top up.

There's something to be said for not being able to buy whatever groceries you want. It activates creativity and really gets you prioritising what you put in your trolley.
This week I've made three loaves of overnight bread, and it's been wonderful. Easy to make and delicious to eat. It also uses simple ingredients - just flour, water, salt and a tiny bit of yeast - so it's very inexpensive to make.

We've taken a loaf of the overnight bread to a homeschool picnic, shared it with friends for lunch, and eaten it for lunch at home. The kids all go crazy over it and I'm planning to experiment with seed versions next.
The kids spread their overnight bread with butter. For myself, I topped it with homemade basil pesto and sliced tomato. The basil and tomatoes were both furnished by my garden, which makes them that much more satisfying.
The garden has also been furnishing us with cherry tomatoes and salad greens for easy salads. (Oh, and if you're wondering what's tying my tomatoes up in the photo above, it's an old sock I cut into strips.)
If there's one thing that makes me feel like a frugal homesteading-type mama, it's making chicken stock. I've been making it for years and I still love to do so.

This week I made a big pot of chicken stock using all the bones and vegetable scraps I've been saving in the freezer for the past few weeks.

Some of the chicken stock got used in a chicken, barley and split pea soup we ate for our lunch at home with overnight bread. There was enough soup leftover to freeze for another meal, so we'll be eating that again before the month is out. (Probably with more overnight bread.)

I actually made two batches of chicken stock with the same bones, simply by replacing the water and adding another squirt of apple cider vinegar with the second batch to keep extracting the nutrients from the bones.

I froze most of the chicken stock in one-cup portions, because I like throwing a cup of it into the rice cooker every time I make rice, to give it extra nutrients and flavour. I then whizzed up all the spent bones with water and dolled them out around my fruit trees for a fertiliser boost.
I wasn't sure how this next kitchen experiment would turn out, but it was really scrumptious. Even the kids liked it.

I sliced up homegrown potatoes into wedges, skin and all. Then I cooked them in unflavoured coconut oil until crispy, before covering them in feta cheese (that I got at a discount store), a mixture of baked beans and salsa (which was open in the fridge and needing to be used), and grated cheese.

I baked them again until all the cheese had melted. They turned into a potato-based nacho dinner that I'll definitely be making again, although the kids said they'd prefer it without the feta.
Yesterday, I visited a local orchard and bought plums, apples and pears for the kids to snack on, as well as a mixed bag of apple and pear seconds for cooking. I turned the apples into apple crumble, and we ate that with whipped cream for dinner last night.

The kids couldn't believe we were having dessert for dinner, as that was a first around here, but they loved it and it really captures the fun we've been having with this eating challenge.

Here's the kicker. I spent this lovely Waitangi Day gardening and used up all my energy, so now I have no idea what we're going to eat for dinner tonight. And... it's 6pm. So dinner should be now.

Oh well. You win some; you lose some. Hopefully we'll be winning again tomorrow.

What fun kitchen experiments have you been trying lately?

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