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.
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 →
I’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 Pudding. Jamie’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 →
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:
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.
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.