Clever Cooks, Gen DIY-er

The best cookbook I’ll ever own

Who doesn’t love a good cookbook? Big and bold with page after page of beautifully plated food, they’re a feast for the eyes of the food-obsessed.

Last time I checked, however, ‘oohing and aahing’ over a photograph of Gelato Messina’s rum baba gelato or Annabel Langbein’s slow-roast lamb with herb crust does not constitute as cooking, and a cookbook that doesn’t inspire a meal belongs on a coffee table, not the kitchen bench.

Most titles I own have a handful of bookmarked recipes. Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Footnote Frivolity***, Thrifty Asian

Leftovers – Mum’s way

Last weekend, my Aussie mother-in-law showed me her photos from her Vietnam trip. Amongst the scenery shots of Hoi An and Ha Long Bay were the photos of food. The food, she said, was lovely and healthy, though the soup that was brought out with each meal was ‘very bland’.

While the tour guides had been very careful to explain the stories behind the sights, they had not bothered to explain the method to Vietnamese dining. Soup is usually brought out in a large communal bowl. Instead of serving it at the start of the meal as an entree, it is poured over rice and served with a salty dish (i.e. stir fry). There is also a dipping bowl filled with fish sauce for the bland bit of tofu that you’ve fished out of your soup.

Explaining this to my mother-in-law made me reminisce over the family meals Mum cooks. Mum doesn’t reinvent leftovers like I do. Instead, she batch cooks her food and then dishes it out over several nights. Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Glut(tony), Reviews

Relaxed cooking on a budget: Save with Jamie

Save with JamieI’ve collected a few Jamie Oliver titles over the years; none of them get used very much. Jamie’s Kitchen horrified me with its egg-laden Baileys and Banana Bread and Butter PuddingJamie’s 15 Minute Meals and 30-Minute Meals demanded too much multitasking for me to really stuck into them. Still, I’m a sucker for budget cookbooks, so when I found a discounted copy of Save with Jamie, I had to have it.

This time round, Jamie Oliver focuses on ‘delicious, exciting food that’s not hard on your wallet’. He’s also enlisted the aid of nutritionists, giving his recipes a transparency that’s sometimes missing from similar titles. Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Glut(tony), Going Green

Your pumpkin for my onion?

Many moons ago, I wrote a post about veggie swaps, meets where you swap your excess homegrown produce with others. Being a lazy gardener, I haven’t planted many annuals this year but that doesn’t mean I can’t swap my food.

In order to minimise waste, I’ve been splitting my bunches of spring onion and coriander with my friend Sarah. Yesterday, she returned the favour by giving me a chunk of her pumpkin, corn, and some coriander:

Food swaps don't have to involve homegrown produce
Food swaps don’t have to involve homegrown produce

She even gave me a soup recipe that uses up the pumpkin, the coriander plus the short-dated peanut butter jar that she offloaded to me the other day!

Food swapping doesn’t have to be limited to fruit and veg. Make two trays of lasagna and exchange one of them for some of your neighbour’s casserole. Swap short-dated stock with friends and family. Set up a ‘free shelf’ in the pantry and the fridge between housemates.  Bribe your local grocer with banana muffins and end up with an armful of free, overripe bananas. Not only will you cut back on waste, you’ll also nurture a sense of community amongst all those involved.

Clever Cooks, Footnote Frivolity***

Saving money with weekly grocery boxes from your local

There’s been a discussion on mustbethrifty about the virtues of fruit and veg market shopping; unfortunately, I rarely go to markets but end up at Coles instead due to a combination of Flybys incentives, a weird work schedule and possibly laziness. The problem with Coles is that I believe its fresh produce is overpriced and doesn’t have staying power. I really need to stop buying fresh food from Coles.

Meanwhile, a new grocer has opened near my work. I thought I’d take advantage of their weekly home (and work) deliveries.

Organising a weekly fruit and veg drop off ticks all the right boxes Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Footnote Frivolity***, Thrifty Asian

Okonomiyaki: as you like it pancakes

Since it’s Lunar New Year Eve, I think a Thrifty Asian post is in order.

A few months ago, Cheap Geek and I honeymooned in Japan. Most of the trip was spent eating our way through Tokyo and Kyoto. We had the usual: sushi and sashimi at Tsukiji (the world’s largest fish market) and fancy s&*% overlooking the Shirakawa Canal in Gion. However, my favourite dish came from more humble establishments Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Glut(tony)

Crumbed

Cheap Geek likes his sliced bread but he and I rarely finish our loaves before the use-by date. We could buy smaller loaves, but they cost nearly as much as the regular-sized ones, so we end up buying the big loaves ‘just in case’ and throwing half of it away. It’s a prime example of how much good food goes to waste in our society. According to Food Wise, ‘Australians discard up to 20% of the food they purchase’ or $1036 in an average household, money that could have been better spent on six months worth of electricity bills. Continue reading