NO Food Waste, Friday

If we eat the leftover soup and salad for lunch, that is. And I get the carrots and turnip diced, cooked and in the freezer before they become too weak and tired to be useful.

We used up a lot of freezer food this week. I used some forgotten-in-the-pantry dried peas and beans, as well. I thought they were navy beans, and planned to make New England baked beans, but they are pinto beans, and they are still in the slowcooker, becoming New England baked beans. Traditionally, this was served Saturday night with steamed brown bread and potatoes, the leftovers used on Sunday, back when Sunday meals were low-work dishes, since it was a Sabbath rest day. My Baptist ancestors did NOT work on Sunday, whether it was earning money, tilling fields, or cooking and cleaning. Only the most necessary work was done and the family kept a quiet day at home.

Planning is the best way to avoid food waste. Know what you have, don’t impulse buy at the grocery store, and have a good idea of how long staples will last and when you must use fresh foods. I depend on a grocery list and a menu; others will keep certain staples in the house and make their meals from there – a good idea if you have uncertain schedules or children going through food-fussy stages. (The night you were planning to serve curried lentils and Little Miss whines about yucky brown food that looks like gravel, AND you don’t have the wherewithall deep inside to tell her to eat or starve, then you have the fixings for tacos on hand. She’ll have to eat the lentils on Saturday, but by then you might have the fortitude to stand up to her. Peace in the family is sometimes more important than Being Right.)

I am still unable to compost – thought I would use the back corner of the fence, but it is near inaccessible to me and very accessible to my scrounging Australian shepherd who loves cucumber ends and tomato cores.  I think I need a covered composter outside the fence, but this is not the time to add anything like that to the household. We do not have a municipal composting programme. I visited a church in BC where they had their own community composter; maybe churches should do that more often. How I miss having a country property where we could have compost piles, and if the raccoons went through it for the eggshells, well, it just helped to turn the pile.

Do people ask why you bother when you are mindful of wasting food, when you recycle even the box the toothbrush came in, and fuss over your compost? I get questioned quite a bit – members of my family think I’m more than a bit nuts! What’s your answer? Is it a point of contention in your circle?

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23 thoughts on “NO Food Waste, Friday

  1. I think once you decide to simplify your life you become suspect! I know people think we are weird, we grow most of food and then can or freeze it, we never use our clothers dryer, we bake all of our bread, I sew shirts for my husband and grandsons, I hand quilt the quilts I make, we compost, we are raising a steer for our freezer, we have kept chickens for years for eggs, and we throw out very little.
    But on the flip side, I think people are weird because they never cook from scratch, have little idea what is involved in food production and don’t want to know, and are happy to spend a large portion of their income in convenience items.
    Over the years people have said how neat it is that we make all of our bread, they then say they wish they had a bread making machine – I then explain that we don’t have a machine, my husband and I are the bread makers and that we make 10 loaves at a time – they then get a puzzled look on their face and ask me how it is possible to make bread without a machine????
    As a franciscan I feel strongly about living life in a simple manner, with God at the center of my life. I have noticed that a lot of people say things to us such as, I wish I had a wash line, oh it is so neat you grow your food, boy I would love to know how to quilt, etc. etc. but they never seem to do more than just day dream – we didn’t always bake our bread, sew, garden, can, keep chickens, compost, but it was something we were interested in doing. You have to move beyond feeling that people will think you are weird, as Nike says, JUST DO IT!

    • We have often had to live in other people’s homes over the last five years, as I have taken work as a housekeeper. (At times it’s like living in a religious community and at other times it’s like being a servant.) The downside is that we can’t live as simply as we do on our own. I would love to go back to gardening, raising animals and having time to spin, sew, knit and weave, but until somethings get settled, here we are. I just try to adapt, do what I can (put up the clothesline, bake bread, shop at farmer’s markets), and try not to criticize or judge. Most people simply can’t get their heads out of the world. Yes, I found a long time ago, that people will say,”Oh, I wish I could do that!” and when you tell them how, they don’t want to. It’s just a flattering remark.

    • I learned to make bread by hand but since I wanted fresh bread more than I wanted to make fresh bread by hand, I bought a bread machine. Now it seems I’ve come full circle and want to make it by hand again. One of the problems with bread machines is that you make one loaf at a time. By hand I make 3 loaves at a time (hard core too – I have a dedicated wood bowl for the dough and stoneware loaf pans).

      As for people thinking you’re crazy – I’m there right now. I’m coming out of the plain closet and one of my friends just thinks I’m nuts. She says it’s just not me and that even though I’m crazy she still loves me. Sigh. With friends like that ….

      It does hurt my feelings though.

      • yes, that’s pretty hardcore baking! I use a small stoneware casserole for round loaves, but they are fiddly to cut, and no one wants to bother but me. I could never get the bread machine to make a proper loaf – it would be half-risen, half-baked, crumby – and so on. Since I make prosphora – altar bread – occasionally, it needs to be a fairly smooth loaf with little crumbing. That takes at least twenty minutes of kneading, no cheating. The bread machien can’t do that.

        I wonder why my family thinks this is all so crazy – they were raised by the same parents. I really think I absorbed the traditional messages better than they did. They are all quie worldly, even the one who is ordained. (I don’t think she would deny it,either.) Maybe it is because at a young age I realized that I had a choice between following my Lord or following the world. Many people don’t see that.

  2. Magdalena you seem to have a good attitude about your situation and you bloom where you are planted 🙂

    I like that you adapt to each new situation and yet remain true to yourself.

  3. I had some waste today, I threw out a hotdog from yesterday. We bought two differents variations with different spices and one was OK and we ate all of them but the other kind was not good at all. We both managed to eat one but one was left and we both decided to not even try to eat it as we really did not like that sausage. I will never buy it again and if there is a positive it that is that I know how horrible it is and I will never waste money buying it again no matter how much it is on sale… The company it came from usually make good sausages of different kinds but not this time.

    I will dive into the freezer soon trying to empty it as much as possible before we move to another apartment in August. We have already started with the cupboards using up flours and grains (from two homes as R and I have lived in different places) as much as we can. My freezer is tiny though so there is not that much interesting in it but I know that some things will amount to meals for us.

    • I have some turkey bones in the freezer to make into stock, and I hope i can get to it tomorrow, alogn with the vegetables that need to be cooked. Sometimes we try something new and dislike it so much we don’t eat the rest, but we have dogs.

      • I added acid to the water (I used lemon juice, but others use vinegar) with the bones in and let it soak for a couple of hours. I learned this on the internet – that the acid will leach the calcium from the bones. Don’t know the theory behind that (it is the internet after all), but I did it when I made chicken stock.

        BTW how cool is it to go out into your garden for fresh bokchoy for your breakfast egg?

      • Very cool. I love bokchoy!

        The acid in stock trick is something I have done for many years. I learned it when young, from a doctor’s wife. It’s been around since before the internet, cause that didn’t exist when I was a young married thing!

  4. When I was young, my father would often prepare baked beans on a Saturday, and we’d put them in oven before we went to church on Sunday. Personally, I looked forward to those baked bean Sundays. We had different versions, and sometimes we would have two versions on the same day.

    • I used a slowcooker, and not my bean pot, since I didn’t want to heat the kitchen all day with the oven. Did you ever have “bean-hole” beans? It’s kind of like a clam bake, but with beans buried on the hot coals, not seafood.

  5. I have a husband that refuses to eat left overs. He not only refuses but absolutely detests them. I on the other hand think they are handy to keep around. If my husband had his way we would eat out every night. He loves when I get tied up at work and bring home a pizza or subs or burgers.
    I have been making an effort to not have to get take out, but he makes it sound so enticing. I have been working harder at reducing the grocery bill and to live a more financially modest life. I do not however believe I would ever have the time or patience to make bread and wash laundry by hand. I give you alot of credit not only for your talents but also for the way that you go about living your faith.

    • A lot of why I do what I do has to do with my personality as well as my living circumstances. I grew up in a rural household, so we almso tnever ate away from home. My husband’s mother was from a working class English family, and ‘eating out’ was a rare and special occasion. He doesn’t feel pampered by restaurant food – homecooking reminds him of his Mum.

      • Same for me. I grew up in England in the 70’s, there were constant power outages due to the coal miner strikes and high inflation, so my parents bought a large freezer and put in several large vegetable gardens, my dad starting baking all of our bread. We had a clothes dryer but it was only used if it rained. Out of all of my school friends we were one of the few families that had a clothes dryer and a second car, and this was in the mid 70’s in England. I grew up in a frugal household and so did my husband, he was one of six, both parents worked and there was no money for extras, he learned to take care of himself and as he never had money he learned how fix/repair things himself. I think we make a good team!

        On a side note, when I was a kid in the 70’s I loved the english sitcom The Good Life, about a suburban couple who ditch the rat race to grow their own food, raise a pig, and some goats – they have shown The Good Life on PBS and my husband really enjoyed it too. SOmetimes I think that show helped form my opinion that frugality is a fun lifestyle!!!

      • Yes, we loved that series, too. Many of the BBC comedies ran on CBC (Canada) and we saw them before PBS had them. My parents had a large freezer and gardens, and we picked potatoes and gleaned pea fields as well. My parents would wild-gather fiddleheads and Dad would catch and freeze brook trout. I thinkw e ate better as children than we did as prosperous adults.

    • Djannon – compromise is the best thing in your situation – Have you ever read The Frugal Zealot by Amy Dacyzyn – I would recommend finding it at the library – it is an easy read – but is does have tidbits on working things out when one spouse is frugal and the other a spendthrift.
      Experiment making homemade pizza together – it is fun to do together and you can be really creative!

  6. djannon

    It isn’t just that your husband does not like to eat the same food two days in a row? I am sometimes like that and then I put the food in the freezer and have it like a week later.

    Or is it the whole idea of heating something that has already been cooked? That is harder to get around, but many restaurant re-heat at least some of their food…

  7. We’re blesed in Australia with, even in Tasmania, our most Southerly state, excellent weather for line-drying laundry, which, unless it has rained 3-4 days in a row, is the norm, rather than the exception. Even friends I know who live in flats use common clotheslines provided and theft is less common than one would expect.

    making bread by hand is made, by the prevailing culture, to seem like it is shrowded in mystery and an unattainable skill for we mere mortals. Pish!! it is ridiculously easy if a few simple rules are observed re preparation of yeast (dry or fresh), type of flour used, climate for proving etc). It is only a bother in tropical and subtropical weather as experienced here in sydney through February, March and a large portion of April). Then the rise will be rather dismal, but bearable. In hot dry weather, a bowl left outside, covered with a tea-towel, out of direct sunlight will rise to fill an entire earthenware mixing bowl in around half an hour!! In slightly milder conditions, three risings will take around an hour each, and, while this is going on, one can leave it to its own devices (also while it is cooking) and do other things.

    We in other countries find the North American dependance on pre-packaged convenience foods rather disturbing and peculiar, taking it for granted that cooking from scratch is normal, and finding adverse comments from the world-afiliated mob rather bizarre.

    What is in their heads that they consider one who cooks from scratch, bakes the occasional loaf of bread, dries their washing on the line and has a vegie plot to be unusual?? this is 3/4 of the population, and those in flats (apartments) usually use communal clotheslines, still cook from scratch, and if they don’t have a pot of herbs or two on the balcony, are increasingly involving themselves in community gardens and common allotments.

    For the lady whose husband finds not only left overs, but home cooked meals not to his taste, if a person has been raised on restaurant/convenience/takeaway food and used to eating that, the tastebuds will find it difficult to adapt to home-cooked meals. If he likes pizza or even burgers, how’s about making these at home every now and again… for pizza, make a basic bread dough, roll, or more traditionally, pat out into shape (cut some dough for use, freeze some), crank your oven to 250 degrees C, place a pizza stone or UNVARNISHED teracotta tile on your oven base.

    Make your tomato paste (before hand, even the day before, freezing batches if preferred) just good quality tomatoes or tomato passata if tomatos are out of season, plenty of garlic, onion, oregano, a teaspoon of sugar, good pinch of salt and cook down. Spread onto the waiting pizza base, place olives or anchovies, some good italian saussage etc (but the purest form is simply the tomato) and bake for around 7-8 minutes, with a wooden slide sprinkled lightly with semolina, you can slide the pizza onto the stone or tile in the hot oven, and cajole it with impliment of choice back onto the slide when baked. Once baked, tear fresh bocanccini or buffalo mozarella onto it, along with fresh rocket or basil, a good drizzle of olive oil and there you have it, excellent piza!!

    another recipe (and this works beautifully, I have had it), very finely slice a good waxy potato such as Nicola or Deseree with a mandalin or knife, if you don’t wish to lose your fingers to the mandalin, place onto the prepared pizza base along with salt, pepper, good slug of olive oil (always use extra virgin) and fresh rosemary. Bake for 7-8 minutes as before; potato must be sliced very thinly for this to work) and when done likewise add torn bocancccini or buffalo mozarella (a good cows milk mozzarella will do, but not that horrible hard stuff), another slug of extra virgin olive oil, perhaps a lemon infused one, and more rocket or water cress (a good strong herb).

    For birgers, if you live near a lebanese/middle Eastern/hal Al butcher, purchase 250g Kafteh (beautiful lamb mince prepared with an over-abundance of fresh parsley, mild spices such as cummin, corriander cinamon etc, salt… I love this so much I (as with Kibbeh, that I don’t like so much) occasionally serve this tartair…

    In a bowl, combine Kafteh with half a finely minced medium onion, as much garlic as you like, an egg, salt and pepper, a slice of stale bread or two rubbed into crumbs, tomato paste if wished, and form this into patties (Rissoles for Australian/UK/New Zealanders) Take a lovely roll or pitta, add garlic aeoli, good tomato relish/sauce (home made is best if you can), few slices of preserved beetroot (no Australian hamburger is complete without this), a slice or two of turkish pastrami (this is just like preschuto but made from beef, not pork), fresh tomato, good cheese, good leaves, rocket, any lettuce, spinach etc and sauteed onions till golden. THIS is a hamburger!! 🙂

    If making for fast days or vegetarian diners, substitute a fried or poached egg instead of meat. Aussies will add an egg to the meat version if we are feeling particularly ravenous!

    Forget hotdog, use Cherizo and serve with fresh tomato salsa, (finely sliced red and yellow peppers, tomato, red onion, corriander, lime, a few tobasco drops and chillies for those who love it hot), avocado, a good cheese, plenty of fresh leaves and garlic aeoli or even good French or Dijon mustard (I know it sounds like a clash, but…)… in a nice bun or length of baget (nicer)

    Here you have it; ‘fast food’ staples that make for good summer low-cook meals that will help the cook get used to making from scratch, and with their colour and flavour, entice even the most fickle of eaters. If more recipe ideas are required, I’d be happy to give them. , ,

    • I am going to try some of this ont he household myself – I make pizza about twice a month. We have halal butchers here, and I love lamb. I should, if I didn’t have an overabundance of other things to do, sort out all the cooking comments and pput them in plaincook, but not now. I’ll revive that blog at a future time.

  8. Wonderfully rich post which I am just now getting to on Sat. morning as I sit to write my sermon. I am thinking of your comments about composting–we have the same problem with pets! So . . . we’re considering purchasing a small tumbling composter. Many good ones abound, and small ones aren’t terribly expensive.

    Have a good weekend.

    • This isn’t a permanent residence, so I don’t want to start composting and then leave it. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to start a small pile, but you know how dog noses are!

  9. Magdalena,

    I guesss I should include measurements if you are looking to give these a go; for four, you will be able to get away with 1 tomato, half the yellow pepper and half the red pepper for the salsa; use lime, tabasco and corriander (celantro to your liking).

    With the pizza dough, it should be formed into a very flat round, rectangle or freeform shape and should be whisper thin and crispy when cooked. use tomato paste moderately; it shouldn’t be thickly applied. The natural heat from the cooked product (be it the potato or tomato variety) will be enough to warm and gently melt the bocanccini. Re cherizzo for hotdogs, these are best when split lengthways prior to frying; choose hot or mild as per your own taste. if you would like to ring the changes, a good bratworst and homemade sourcraut would work, though the bratworst shines in its own right with a good blaucraut mashed potato and a nice home-made gravy (no gravy-browning please…)

    Here’s a recipe for sauteed red cabbage.

    Take your measure of red cabbage, shreaded, some good bacon; gamon (if you can get it), panccetta or preschuto, a small, peeled and thinly sliced pear, a little brown sugar, few cloves, twist of cinamon, good slug of perry (Pear vinegar) and/or an equal good slug of pear cider (adorable; very very good drink, though go sparingly because it has a bit of a kick) and a good slug of chicken/vegetable stock. Saute.

    Saute a little onion first if you like, as well…

    Red cabbage and pear is mightily good with roast pork, turkey or goose, venesson or a rich german sausage such as bratworst.

    Tonight we’re having an easy Sunday night dinner; saute onion and some old cooked potato in a little butter or butter with olive oil until nice. to this, add some camembert or equivalent that has not been allowed to go runny, its rind peeled, layed over the onion and potato in the pan until cooked through; look at http://www.abc.net.au/iview ‘Cheese Slices’ for this recipe; it is from around Alsaice and uses the local cheese, but camembert will do nicely. It is a bit rich, so not to everyone’s liking, but a lovely dish nonetheless. Serve with a rocket or watercress salad dressed with olive oil and lemon, a good vinegar, virjuice etc to cut through the richness of the dish and if one is permitted wine, a Gerwerz Traminer (the traditional wine of the region served with this dish). Caccina Povero; ‘Food of the Poor’ but so lifegiving, hearty and wonderful!!

    Magdalena, if you have the time to revive ‘the Plain Cook’, I will be more than happy to contribute!!

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