Today I have made a feast of food, but not like the pork belly feast I did the other week- this is more an economical feast as it was very thrifty and used up things I had in the cupboard!
First up, was what we’re having for dinner tonight, which is effectively pork, beans n rice, but that’s just literally what it is, and doesn’t in any way describe the tastiness or thriftiness of this big pot of goodness that I made! The pork was scotch fillet (x 2) that I had in the freezer, and I roasted them in a foil pouch for 1 1/2 hours at 200c, then opened the pouch to brown them for 15 mins. The meat was falling apart delicious all on it’s lonesome- could have gobbled it right there, and will definitely be doing this combo again! I’d put them in the pouch with some olive oil, garlic cloves, seasoned with pepper, and my secret ingredient- pomegranate balsamic vinegar I had in the cupboard from when we went to the Hunter. The sweetness of the fruity balsamic works really well with pork, so it gave it a lovely fruity taste and with the browning at the end a slight caramelisation. So, whilst that was cooking in the oven, I made the bean part. Well, the bean part began Friday morning when I put black beans in a big tub of water to soak. Friday night when I got in from work I rinsed them in cold water, then in fresh water brought them to boil and simmered them away for about 3 hours till tender. Apparently a small amount of bicarb helps make them tender, so I might try that next time to see if it’ll reduce cooking time. Dried beans mean big savings so I am going to try and use them more and rely less on canned beans. Oh, when I boiled my beans I put in a dollop of my pork belly fat I saved from last weekend- this is my secret ingredient for the beans, to give them a delicious seasoning. Anyways, setting beans aside, I sweated chopped carrot, celery and onion (literally all that was in our fridge!!) in some olive oil for about 10 mins. Then added some dried sage, chopped garlic (2 cloves), and 2 bay leaves and cooked for a further 2 minutes. THEN, and this is my super thrifty tip- when I was looking up how to cook dried beans (yes I know, bit sad I actually had to look this up!), everyone said to keep your ‘bean broth’ that they were cooked in cos you’re throwing taste/nutrients down the drain otherwise, and to use them in place of stock- so I did just that- used my bean broth in place of 250ml stock, and then simmered the whole thing inc the beans (1 can of butterbeans from the cupboard and the equivalent weight of my black beans as the recipe I took this from said 2 x cans butterbeans) for 20 minutes till done. Added in my shredded pork once it was finished in the oven, and some brown rice I’d done, and tadahhhhhhhhhh- a dinner that I am really quite proud of! 🙂 Even without the pork, rice and beans makes a complete protein, so if money is tight and/or you’re a vegetarian, this is a good thing to remember! 🙂
Next was soda bread! Two loaves- one savoury with seeds and a dollop of basil pesto in, and the other was like a fruit loaf, I added some cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger and dried fruits (sultana’s, apricots, some mixed citrus peel leftover from Christmas cake). These soda breads are to save us money on bread products, which the boyfriend eats a mountain of- is way cheaper to DIY, esp when you make soda bread compared to yeasty bread, as it saves you time t00- no kneading, no raising, no waiting required! This picture below is my fruit loaf, which I can’t wait to have toasted with butter, or with some jam or marmalade for breakfast! The recipe I base mine on is the River Cottage one- http://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/classic-soda-bread/ For buttermilk, use regular milk and per cup (250ml) add 2 x teaspoons of vinegar, so to make this, 400ml, you use 4 teaspoons of vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes before use. Oh, and I use half whole meal, half white. Do this for all my cakes or anything that requires flour, to make them that bit better for you. I reckon this would work ok with full wholemeal though too.
By the time they were ready was lunchtime, so I had my lunch – homemade pastryless quiche frittata type thing (lunch leftovers- made Thurs night) with a couple of slices of my pesto soda bread, and watched an episode of the Walking Dead cos it’s awesome- oh man, 9th Feb cannot come soon enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Then looked up thrifty tips on Simple Savings and other foodie websites. Discovered you can make jam out of watermelon rind (minus the green bit, that still goes in the bin am afraid), which, since I have watermelon in the fridge that I bought Friday is excellent news- I am trying to cut back on food waste and making something (hopefully) yummy with it at the same time, so this sounds perfect. So once I’ve eaten the melon I’ll let you know how the jam goes! 🙂
And THEN I made some citrus curd- was supposed to be just lemon and lime, but discovered an orange that looked a bit past its best for eating, but perfect for curd, hence citrus rather than just lemon n lime curd. I also have some coconut sugar that came in a roll and I had to grate (tried processing it and broke my little food processor in the process….)- suffice to say, it’s still a bit chunky, so I can’t use it in cakes or anything like that, but anywhere that calls for melting sugar I can use it, so I used it for this curd. It kinda looks like brown sugar, so it is gonna affect the taste, prob will taste more caramelly, but hopefully it won’t overpower the citrus too much. Either way, am sure it’ll taste good, so it’s not a problem if one batch of curd is a bit different to normal- as long as it tastes good is the main thing. Is still in the process of cooling so can’t assess the taste completely now, but I did have a little dip of a spoon and yeah, it’s pretty good! Is also super easy, so here’s how to do it:
- 3/4 cup citrus juice
- 1 cup sugar- c. 180g
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 125g butter, cubed
- Put juice, sugar and eggs in a saucepan on low and stir for a good 10 mins or so till it’s thickened slightly and sugar all dissolved.
- Add butter, a couple of cubes at a time, stirring the whole time until curd has thickened.
- Your curd will still be liquidy, but it will set once cool and in the fridge. It is also likely to have some small eggy bits that didn’t get blended in properly- this is not a problem. Just pour your curd through a sieve or cheesecloth when you put it into your jars!
- Cool on the side, then put in the fridge, and you’re done!
- Eat once fully cold, on toast, on yogurt- as I discovered over Christmas, it’s especially delish on pancakes!
Mine looks darker in this instance because of the coconut sugar, but usually it’s a beautiful light lemon yellow colour! PS. This would be an awesome gift for someone, in a nice jar (label removed of course!!!), tied with a pretty ribbon, v thrifty, and also, one jar spare for you to enjoy too! 🙂 The one with the label on the jar was originally a jar of storebought passionfruit curd actually, and I reckon this recipe would work with passionfruit too (strain the pulp through a sieve to get just the juice), so that might be a good one to try when they’re in season! It wouldn’t even have to be all passionfruit (cos you’d need to buy a lot of passionfruit for 3/4 a cup), just a couple n the rest lemon/lime would be good.
Oh, and for good measure I zested up all the lemons n limes using the small side of the grater and put it in a baggy in the fridge, so now I’ve got some to add to recipes whenever I want. And I put my carrot tops and celery ends in a ziplock in the freezer too- once full I’m gonna make some stock from it. Edible bits of veg scraps go in a separate freezer bag, which when full will be whizzed up and turned into soup- it’s almost like free food! 🙂
I know this post isn’t regarding 5:2, but it is about food, and reducing waste and getting creative with food, which is one of my aims this year. I want to stop throwing money in the bin. I want to eat good wholesome and healthy foods- stuff that I know exactly what’s in it, not full of additives or colours- homemade is where it’s at!