Sunday, October 31, 2010

Food Waste Friday - 29 October 2010

A couple of days late but I didn't think I had anything to dump this week (apart from about five apples - but they were the only ones out of three very big bags of windfalls). And then I opened up my cake tin to have the last of the apple tart I made and it had started to go mouldy. Booo.

I have a very full fridge after the garden yesterday added to calling to the market without having really had a proper list in my head so I will definitely need to dedicate some time to cooking this week!

Food Waste Friday is hosted by The Frugal Girl

Friday, October 22, 2010

Food Waste Friday - 22 October 2010

Few things gone out today, partially due to a couple of unexpected late nights working, which meant grabbing chips on the way home rather than eating what I had here and not having time for the processing I also had planned.

The main culprits though have been as a result of not quite coordinating the food for film club properly last weekend.  Because it was being held in someone else's house, they assumed I was just bringing dinner and went ahead and bought bread and olives and dips to nibble at beforehand.  I intended to cut up the loaf of bread I had bought but when I went to do that on Monday evening it was already rock solid.

So, gone in the bin this week:

Most of a loaf of bread
Some leftover salad leaves (but I did rescue the cherry tomatoes out of the salad and they were delicious!)
Half a zwiebelkuchen (because I was so busy eating all the other leftovers from film club I forgot it was there)
2 apples and a few strawberries that went rotten before I got to them (there was supposed to be apple and strawberry jam happening you see)
1 large tomato and the remains of a bunch of coriander - same thing
The remains of the white sauce I made for the lasagne last weekend which ended up not being used for a second dish after all (due to aforementioned excess of leftovers combined with late nights at work)

I have a lot of apples still to process - need to get into a routine with the dryer again but also want to start making jars of stewed apple for next spring when the fresh apples aren't so good anymore.  I had a half-day today and have Monday off as well.  Hopefully will get lots done!

Food Waste Friday is hosted by The Frugal Girl

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Blown it

Only one day into my good intentions and they're already out the window.

Bought at the market today:

1 kg tomatoes
1 kg onions
5 carrots
All organic, total: 8.10

1 butternut squash (nearly 2kg weight, the smallest they had)
2 medium courgettes
1 bunch coriander
All organic, total: 6.50

750g beef pieces
2 sausages
Total: 9.78

1 smoked chicken breast
1 chicken schnitzel
Total: 7.98

2.5 kg potatoes (anuscka)
1 bottle apple juice
Total: 4.50

All adding up to just over 36 euro.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Budget for this week

My budget for this week is 50 euro.  I am going to try again to keep 10 until Wednesday.  I had a list of things I need to buy for, among other things, making a cake for tomorrow's seed and plant exchange at the garden and later in the week, food for film club, a lot of which I will get from the market tomorrow but some of which was supermarket fare.  Since I need to bake the cake this evening, I decided to go to Aldi on the way home for the supermarket stuff.  I had flour and raw cane sugar but not enough butter and no eggs.  Although I normally buy eggs from the farmer at the market, I know Aldi do organic and free-range as well and that will do when pressed for time.  I went in with the aim of spending no more than 10 euro, which will leave me 30 for the market tomorrow.  As I'll be buying meat I think that will take up about 10 euro and the rest will be for fruit and veg as well as some cheese.

My total in Aldi came to 9.60, which I am pleased with as it was difficult enough to not be tempted to stock up on things just because I was there and it's so cheap.  It's five minutes walk from my house and not like I can't go in and stock up any time! I did treat myself to a jar of olives though.

Aldi grocercy shop
  1. Cornflakes 600g (I don't know the brand but the ones they had in Ireland were nice so hopefully these will be too. - 99c
  2. 1 litre organic milk - 89c
  3. Packet feta cheese - 85c
  4. 2 balls of mozzarella cheese - 69c each
  5. 1 kg white sugar - 69c (I usually buy whole cane or raw cane sugar from the fair trade shop but at 3.10 a kilo, that's a big difference, especially since I'm making a cake for people who probably usually use and prefer white sugar.  Is that presumptuous of me?)
  6. Baking powder sachets - 29c
  7. White flour - 25c (I wasn't planning on getting flour although it was on my list.  I usually buy organic flour but this price is ridiculous in comparison to the nearly 2 euro I normally pay)
  8. Buttermilk - 29c
  9. Olives - 79c
  10. 10 free-range eggs (the organic ones had no mention of whether they were free-range or not) - 1.59
Total: 9.60

I've decided (aided by a timely recipe in today's Mother Earth Newsletter) that a veggie lasagne would be a better idea than a bean casserole so if I can get a butternut squash at the market tomorrow, I'll do that.  That means I still need to buy some lasagne.  I also have a bar of chocolate on my list and would like to get some bananas for eating so if I have money left after the market tomorrow I will go to the fair trade shop too.

Since we are having the seed and plant exchange day at the garden tomorrow it's not likely we'll be doing any harvesting so that means no extra free food this week.

Food Waste Friday - 8 October 2010

No photo today but I have three small pots of homemade yoghurt and half a pot of bought waiting to go out.  I know I bought the pot the week after making yoghurt as I ate the first few pots of it so quickly I didn't think it would last long and as the farmer didn't have any milk left I just decided to buy yoghurt instead of making more myself.  That bought yoghurt has a best before date of 17 September - I tried some during the week (since yoghurt doesn't go off as such, just gets more sour) but it was definitely past being palatable.  So out it goes.

I love yoghurt and yet sometimes I just forget about eating it for weeks at a time or just don't fancy it or, or, or...
When I eat it, I could eat it twice a day.  I'd like to be a bit more consistent about it.  Something to work on.

Other than that, though I have nothing to get rid off, which I am happy about.  There's cheese that definitely needs to be used up soon but hey, an excuse to eat more cheese is good.  No point in trying to eke it out to the stage where it starts to get too mouldy to be usable.  There's making things last and there's being silly!

Food Waste Friday is hosted by The Frugal Girl

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Nearly there

I've just about made it to the end of the week without going overboard on spending next week's money already.  Yay.

I took ten euro out of the bank yesterday but also brought lunch with me in my wide-neck flask so while I did go and meet colleagues in the canteen for lunch I didn't buy anything there.  Of course later yesterday evening I dropped my bag and my lovely new flask, which I have only used four times (although I bought it in May when I was in France) went smash.  I had a quick look on the internet as I was still in work and it turns out Thermos products are all made in the Far East now and they don't ship replacement glass parts as they're too delicate for shipping.  I had to steel myself to throw it out but in the end gave it straight to the guy who was cleaning the office.  I kept the lids, which will be handy as spares if I manage to find another one but there was no point bringing the rest home and trying to convince myself I would somehow clean it of all the little slivers of glass and use it just as a non-thermos flask.  It would just sit there getting in the way. 

On the way to choir I bought some chips and that was dinner along with the one small slice of quiche that was left.  Still less than half of what I would have paid for lunch in the canteen and, as everyone was very tired, we didn't go for a drink after rehearsal either.  So today I still had seven euro burning a hold in my pocket but that was all to the good as I needed to send my sister her birthday present and card.  That, plus a scratch card (gave in to the temptation, didn't win), some bananas from the fair trade shop and an egg from the biosupermarkt have left me with just a few cent in my purse but soon there will be banana bread to eat so it's all good.  As I was coming home a slightly different way to swing by the later opening post office I also stopped into Drogerie Markt to pick up two things that were on my list for this weekend: washing soda and distilled water.  They had  no distilled water (typical, they must be expecting a big order, there were a few cleared shelves) so I bought a bottle of toilet cleaner as well as two packets of soda to bring the total up to a relatively reasonable amount to use my EC-card (debit card - but still lots of places insist on a minimum charge of 5 euro).  It was still only 3.53 but she didn't say anything. 

I have a long list of things I want to buy at the weekend.  Saturday week is going to be a busy day.  The biogarten is having a party so I will be there for most of the morning and afternoon and in the evening, it's the second month of film club.  I'm choosing the flim this month and that means sorting out the food as well.  At least it's held in someone else's place (they have the biggest telly and most space) so I don't also need to worry about what my house looks like.  But as I'll be busy all day I won't have time to cook so I am making stew or shepherds/cottage pie and a bean casserole, which taste better on the second day anyway.  But that means buying everything out of this week's money.  So I've been making a list and trying to write down ahead of time what everything is likely to cost.  This has been a continuing problem in my attempts to budget to date - normally I set an amount of money and just spend till it's gone and then can't get anything else or, all too often, 'borrow' from next week's money.  Hopefully I will manage.  I am telling myself now that I will not buy lots of tomatoes in a frenzied attempt to make the most of the last of the fresh ones available by making more salsa or chutney or something else time consuming and instead will just concentrate on buying a few things to make some lovely meals for eating immediately.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Tired but got things done

When I wasn't home from work until nearly eight I really wasn't sure that I wouldn't just collapse on the couch for a while before crawling off to bed.  But I put some water into the canner and switched on the cooker before I sat down and watched one episode of mad mean online while eating my dinner.  So then I had to get up and start doing.  I washed the last of the dishes from yesterday evening and this morning (and just realised I didn't take my flask out of my bag so did miss something after all).  Topped and tailed beans and packed them into jars.  I thought I would have five or six jars so used three-quarter litre jars to make sure I would have enough space in the water bath.  And ended up with two jars full.  Typical.  I could have filled another one but I decided to keep the older, bigger beans out to use tomorrow.  Hardly worth getting the big canner out for but I still haven't gotten all the burnt bits off the bottom of the stockpot so it's all or nothing. 

Added some garlic and dill seeds and made a brine using a mix of white wine vinegar and ordinary table vinegar with water and salt.  I also added the cayenne pepper to the brine after it had boiled in an attempt to have it dissolved into the liquid a bit better.  It worked but not all that well.  Maybe cayenne pepper just doesn't really dissolve.  Of course there wasn't enough so I had to scramble to make some more quickly to top up one of the jars. 

When that went into the cooker I washed up what dishes I had used and wiped down the table and then starting peeling and chopping windfall apples from the biogarten.  They're in the dryer now and I'm about to sit down with some tea and toast and a slice of cake.  I am tired so it will be bed soon after that for me.

I ate some of the grapes today that I got in the garden on Saturday.  Wow.  Such sweet and incredibly juicy grapes.  I haven't bought grapes for a long time as they're not really produced in large quantities around here (and definitely never saw local grapes for sale in Ireland) and this is my first time eating such fresh ones.  They did remind me why I hated grapes as a kid - not because of the taste but because of the pips.  Luckily as an adult I seem to be able to get over that in order to appreciate the flavour.  It just goes to show though how used we become to things being a certain way.  When I was a kid grapes came with pips in them and that was that.  Then in my late teens seedless grapes became very popular or else you bought grapes that were very big and firm and very easy to pull apart to get at the seed before you eat it.  But these small purple grapes I had today are too delicate for that kind of manhandling.  And despite their small size some of them had two or three seeds in them.  But although it seemed like a bit harder work to eat them, they were definitely worth it. 

I think grapes will have to be on my list of things to grow when I have my own space someday.  Mark Diacono has the right idea, I think.  I'll be posting up a review of his new book, A Taste of the Unexpected very soon. 

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Lots to do today

Went to work for five hours this morning - a pain in the neck but will be a big help to me tomorrow. It's year-end and I have a very, very busy and stressful two and a half days ahead of me. Meant to bring home one other thing to do but forgot as a manager came into my office just as I was getting ready to leave so I just grabbed my bag and ran before I got asked to do anything.

Still, I have more than enough to do here as well:
  • Make and process salsa - 4 half-litre jars in the water bath now
  • Bake a cake - something choclatey since I have no money to actually buy chocolate - changed my mind and made jam tarts, 12 individual ones and the rest a small cake. Buns slightly burnt but don't taste it.  Made the buns with some of the apple jelly and peach jam I made last week and the cake with some of last year's plum jam
  • Make pickled beans - this will have to wait until tomorrow
  • Get a load of apples into the dryer - could do this but have decided that cooking dinner at quarter past ten is late enough, it can wait until tomorrow.
  • Possibly make some stewed apple - I'm actually not sure I have enough apples for this.
  • Make stirfry for dinner (make enough for at least two portions of leftovers) - rice is cooking now
  • Clean floors - done.  And my hoover is giving up the ghost. It wouldn't stay on so I ended up nearly doing the splits while trying to keep one foot on the on button and reach around me far enough in each direction to get the whole floor hoovered.
  • Have bath and wash hair - well, had a shower and washed hair so close enough.  A bath would only have happened if I had gotten to everything else on the list because that would have meant I had time for it!
  • Get up on chair and investigate black marks on kitchen wall - clean it off and keep an eye on it - took the lazy way out and used a slightly damp cloth on the end of the mop to wipe it off.  Came off very easily, now just need to wait and see if it's something that will grow back.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Grocery spend

Returned one glass jar and got 50c deposit back.

Flassrath Apple Farm
750ml apple juice - 1 (returned empty bottle as well so no need to pay deposit)

Organic farmer no. 1
1 kg mixed colour tomatoes - 4.50
Bunch coriander - 1

Organic farmer no. 2
500g onions - 1.20
500g soup tomatoes (i.e. bruised or slightly damaged) - 1
little bit less than 500g plum tomatoes - 1 (half a kilo would normally cost 4.50 but I told him I only had 4 euro left so I didn't have quite enough for a full 500g along with the other things)

And that quickly ten euro is gone. And then I realised that I didn't have any limes left and only one lemon. I took 20 euro out of the bank, which is my book club money for the end of the month. Half has gone into an envelope and with the rest of it I bought:

2 limes - 1.30
3 lemons - 1.20

el Martin
5 fair trade bananas - 2.50

Reformhaus Hilger
750ml organic cider vinegar - 2.10
6 large organic eggs - 2.53

If it's that easy to suddenly be rid of 20 euro it's no wonder that I so frequently end up spending more than I have just through not paying attention and thinking that somehow or other it'll all work itself out!

I also ended up with a huge haul from the biogarten:
Four or five big handfuls of beans - dark purple, purple striped pods and green
4 tomatoes
Small bunch of grapes
Lots and lots of apples, some Cox, some windfalls of different varieties
Small punnet of raspberries (actually, I ate most of these while still there and finished the rest while waiting for the tram. Yum!)
Chinese cabbage
A few oniones, including one small red one with the top still attached, which is apparently also very good to eat.
1 nachi

Friday, October 01, 2010

Food Waste Friday - 1 October 2010

Well, another month has started, may as well try to get back into the swing of things a bit. Last weekend was the first weekend for a long while where I felt able to do much of anything (apart from things which were absolutely necessary, which, thankfully, I mostly manage to get by with doing more or less sufficiently). I went to the garden on Saturday morning and spent the morning peeling and chopping windfall apples for the juicer. Fantastic yoke - I had seen photos online before but couldn't get my head around how it worked so it was great to see one in action. When I think of juicer normally I think of an electric machine that takes up way too much space and is a pain in the neck to wash. Over here though, it's more like a steamer that you just use on top of your cooker with a small amount of water in the bottom and that steams the juice out of the fruit and you decant it as you're going out of a small tube in the side.

I brought home two large jars of that juice to make apple jelly with. I also badly needed to finally use up the two kilos of tomatoes and one kilo of plums that I had bought two weeks earlier. Yes, the first week after I got paid and finally had some money again I went to the market to hopefully get enough tomatoes to make some salsa for over the winter and to dry some. And then sank back into depression and apart from one dehydrator load a week later managed no more than to remember to put them into the fridge so that they at least wouldn't dissolve into a smelly mush on the kitchen floor.

So this week I have had some food waste as, even being in the fridge, I still needed to get rid of a few tomaotes and bits of tomatoes that were starting to mould. The small bunch of coriander I had gotten was also long gone past usable. So I decided to make chutney using could be rescued of the plums (nearly three quarters going by weight, which also includes the stones so not too bad - wouldn't have eaten them fresh though!), topped up to a kilo with tomatoes and the hokkaido pumpkin I had also bought at the same time. I even took my time to make sure and chop the pumpkin up into really small pieces, something I generally don't have the patience for. And then the bloody chutney burnt. After only about two hours cooking. Aaagh. So in a couple of months I may potentially have a lot of food waste. Yes, I did. Trying not to stir any of the burnt stuff back into the bulk of the mixture, I got it all into jars (20 x 230ml). But it's hard to tell how badly affected most of it is. Very frustrating as until it started to burn badly the smell had been absolutely divine.

Otherwise I also had to dump a couple of peaches. Bought a couple from the greengrocer's on the corner as well as a pineapple (pineapple was on special offer at 99c each so I decided to get one to dry and then I misread the sign on the peaches and nectarines and thought I was getting a great offer at 1.49 per kilo but it was 1.49 per pound so really just a very average price) but despite processing them the day after I bought them, a few had already started to rot (at bruised places) and one or two were quite simply rotten through. I'm less and less impressed with the fruit I get at that place and think I will stick to lemons and limes when I need them from now on.

From what I did get from the peaches and nectarines I used some to fill up the dehydrator and the rest to make jam. Added the juice of a lemon and used 1:1 jam sugar but not at a 1:1 ratio as that makes it far too sweet (but it was the only sugar I had on hand and it needs to be used up anyway). I thought it had set fairly well but unlike strawberry jam, rather than getting firmer as it cooled, it seems to have gotten a bit runnier. Oh well. At least it tastes nice.

I used the same sugar, again at a slightly less than 1:1 ratio to make the apple jelly as well. That really stayed runny but I got fed up waiting for it to set so just gave up and potted it up anyway. I had one half-jar of peach jam which I topped up with apple jelly and put some into a very small jar as well for myself. Then I added a shot of brandy and put the rest into very big jars. They're for the garden and they are very fond of their jam 'mit Schuss'.

And my biggest achievement this week has been to actually use up the pak choi and chinese cabbage that I brought home from the garden on Saturday as well. I chopped up the pak choi and sauteed it briefly before putting it into three large freezer bag portions and into the freezer. I'm really not convinced about freezing it since I've generally used very small pak choi leaves in salads or stirfries before. But this thing was massive and everyone else in the garden seemed to think freezing it would be okay. And there was a recipe in my Good Housekeeping book for sauteed pak choi too so it's worth a try and will be something handy to grab and dump into a soup or sauce. I also used up the last of the tomatoes, which had been chopped and put back into the fridge by making a quick tomato sauce and added the chopped chinese cabbage to it. I probably wouldn't have thought of doing that myself but it was one of the recipes in Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book and I have to say it was really delicious. Had a big helping of it today in work for lunch. I heated it up this morning and cooked some wheat to go with it and put the whole lot into the wide-necked flask I bought at the beginning of sumer. That thing is definitely going to earn its keep now that the weather is getting cooler!

Apart from what I've mentioned about I also threw out a really, really rotten apple which managed to be hiding underneath an envelope underneath a piece of paper (of the important type - left out so that I would remember to deal with it at the end of the month, but I forgot/didn't realise there was an apple under it and was somewhat surprised when I tried to pick that piece of paper up and it basically dissolved in my hand - yuck). And a small carton of creme fraiche which was a couple of weeks past it's use by date. At the beginning of the month I obviously thought I was going to do a lot of cooking but my mood wasn't able to match up to my expectations.

I do also need to get rid of some yoghurt too but am waiting until I feel a bit more up to it. It's three or four small jars of yoghurt from the last batch I made myself but as I know I haven't made yoghurt for over a month, the thought of the smell is putting me off dealing with it. Maybe tomorrow. Yoghurt can be surprising sometimes, it doesn't really go off, just gets more and more tart I suppose.

It's a new month but it going to be a very expensive one. I ran out of money well before the end of the week and instead of just holding out for the last few days, some busy evenings and lack of organisation until yesterday mean that I've already spent most of next weeks money. I have ten euro in my purse and I'm going to try and head to the market tomorrow and see if there are a few last tomatoes up for grabs and get that salsa made for the winter. I do still have ten other euro for this week still in the bank but I want to try and hold out until Wednedsay before taking that out as I am due to go for lunch with people from work then. We'll see. The lure of chocolate might be too much for me before then! But it's better for me to have one more week of little or nothing to spend and then have enough for the rest of the month than end up borrowing from next week every week, which just ends up being stressful. Here's to a slightly closer to keeping on budget month of October!