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SIMpifying getting food on the table (cheaply, too)
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bruja
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 11:16 am    Post subject: SIMpifying getting food on the table (cheaply, too) Reply with quote

Warning: I'm not a 'foodie', and I've hardly ever followed a recipe exactly in my life, certainly not after the first time I make something. Most recipes, in my opinion, use too much salt and/or too much sugar, or involve futzing around with arcane techniques or implements, using valuable time that could be spent simming. Or reading. Or sleeping.

On the other hand, although I can live without homemade "persimmon pomegranate coulis drizzled artistically on pan-seared medallions of grain-fed venison", I like to eat tasty food made from scratch, without all the chemical preservatives that commercially prepared food seems to come with.

And I'm frugal (okay, I'm Canadian and I'm downright cheap). The thought of spending $8.80 a kilo ($3.99 a pound) for a tray of melon and strawberries cut up by store staff because some of the melons had soft spots makes me crazy. I can cut up a bit of fruit in a couple of minutes, and save real money.

Kids will almost always choose fruit salad over pastry, I've found. And when there's a bowl of fresh fruit salad on the table at breakfast or after dinner a couple of times a week, everyone eats it without being nagged. It's healthy and cheap, especially if some of the fruit is on the reduced rack because the pear or the apple or the melon has a little bruise. Reduced fruit is not a good buy unless you're going to use it within a couple of hours of buying it. (I made the amazing discovery about the magic properties of fruit salad when I was working my way through university by running a boarding house, feeding 8 people dinner 5 nights a week. No one would eat an apple with a tiny bruise, but cut up the apple and melon and serve them in a bowl - never, ever have to worry about a place in the refrigerator for leftover fruit salad. biggrin )

MORE THINGS TO DO WITH IMPERFECT APPLES:

I keep a bowl of apples on the kitchen counter. (When it's not tomato season locally, put the unripe, cardboardy supermarket tomatoes in the bowl with the applr, and they will ripen and develop some flavour.)

If I notice an apple or 2 with a bruise or a nick in the skin, I peel, core and cut the apples into slices or chunks. If I'm frying meat, the apple slices go into the pan as the meat comes out. It takes only a minute or so for the apple slices to cook, and then you have a second or third veggy to put on the plate. If I'm making mashed potatoes or mashed turnips, chunks of peeled apple go into the pot about 2 minutes before the potatoes or turnips are removed from the stove. And a few years ago, trapped on a island and out of other veggies, I discovered that adding apple slices to fried cabbage takes away the sharp taste of the cabbage.

to be continued...........

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bruja
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BUYING VEG IN LARGE QUANTITIES

Where I live, in southern Ontario (Canada), it's the height of the harvest season for most veg. Over the years, I've done a lot of experimenting to find out which veggies freeze well after cooking, and some of the best ones are the ones that are cheap right now: winter squash; beets; turnip.

Good-sized turnips are 50 cents each now. Cut into inch-thick slices, half the slices, peel then, and cut the turnip into inch cubes. Boil covered on low heat until tender. Drain, mash, add brown or white sugar to taste. Fill ziplocs each with enough for a family meal. Cool. Freeze. (The seeds can be toasted in the oven for a tasty snack. as can pumpkin seeds.)

Whole winter squash is about 25 cents a pound now. (I like hubbard best, but butternut or buttercup will do. Acorns are comparatively nasty) Cut the squash into easy to peel chunks. Set seeds aside. Peel chunks and cut into chunks about one inch square. Put chunks into the largest bowl your microwave will handle. (A large squash should be cooked in 2 or more batches.) Add no more than a tablespoon of water for 4" of squash chunks. Cover. Microwave on high until squash is tender. Drain if necessary. Mash. Add brown sugar to taste. Cool, pack in ziplocks. Freeze.

Yesterday an 8 pound bag of beets was $1.77. Look for smallish beets - large one might be woody. Wash off soil. Use largest pot or dutch oven, filled to halfway level with beets, then add water just to cover. Cook on low hear, covered, until just tender to the fork. Scoop out cooked beets with slotted spoon. Add next batch of beets to hot water, cover, cook next batch. Cool cooked beets, and cut into slices or quarters. Pack a meal's amount into ziploc bags. Make sure you get the air out of the bags. Freeze.

I spent just under $9.00 for beets, squash, and turnips yesterday. I won't need to buy any more until this time next year. And if I feel like simming an hour before dinner, that's fine, because the veg (and rice and meatloaf, but that's another chapter) are all defrosting on the counter, ready to microwave for a fast meal with no preservatives in it.

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patos
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds great, except for the fact that I only have an apartment size fridge....so freezer space is quite limited. blush
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

patos wrote:
Sounds great, except for the fact that I only have an apartment size fridge....so freezer space is quite limited.


Where you live, Ceci, you can probably buy locally grown food for a much larger part of the year. So it makes sense for you to save electricity by using a small refrigerator. While I use a large chest freezer for convenience, to save money, to avoid processed food, and to avoid buying veg flown in from Peru during our winter.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is true, though I wish the variety was as great all year as it is some seasons! laugh
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What I find interesting reading this is the emphasis on different vegies. I guess northern hemisphere veggies are going to be different to southern hemisphere veggies. some of it's semantics though. Turnips for eg. Turnips are not common here, and tend to be a bit pricey. The old swede turnip (a yellow thing) is more common in winter as a "soup vegetable".

Beets - what are these? Do you mean beetroot? Do you guys have tinned beetroot? which is slices of beetroot in a mild pickling vinegar? It's very Aussie to put a slice of this pickled beetroot on a burger (better than the stupid pickle!)

And I always get a giggle over the use of "squash". To me a squash is the little button squashes that are either green or yellow and in season during summer. Anything else that has a hard skin and orange flesh is a pumpkin! Maybe it's not technically correct but another example of the regional differences.

When I have to be extra tight with the food budget I never buy fruit and veg if they're over $2.00 a kg. Which means buying whatever is cheap and in season on the tables at the front of the local fruit & veg shop and not going inside to where the more expensive stuff is. The rule only gets broken occasionally to allow for things like mushrooms and grapes.

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bruja
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both true turnip and yellow turnip are called turnip here, though the yellow ones are more correctly rutabaga (called swede in the UK because they were introduced n the 18th century from Sweden). I never heard them called swedes until I came across the word a few years ago in a book, and had to get out the dictionary. I was referring to rutabaga, not what is known here as 'white turnip'. laugh

And they're grown locally, but except in the autumn are more expensive per kilo than bananas - go figure!

Pumpkins are cut up for Hallowe'en. Seldom eaten. Even pumpkin pies are better made with winter squash. Those little buttons are patty pan summer squash here, but not as common a summer squash as zucchini. Winter squash comes in dozens of varieties. The Hubbards that I like can weigh 4 kilos, and have blueish-green skins and a nice nutty flavour. (true pumpkins have a square stem - that's how you tell them apart)

Beets are what you call beetroot, while beet greens are the tops, eaten early in the year when they're tender and mild. I put almost 3 kilos, cooked, peeled, and quartered into the freezer today. I have another almost 2 kilos cooked, and tomorrow I'll pickle those. We like them both ways. They're nicer cooked at home and frozen than they are out of a tin. But they do take hours to cook. A friend says she washes hers, slices them, lays them on aluminum foil, adds some butter and either a bit of vinegar or lemon juice, then puts them under the barbie lid when she's cooking a roast on the barbie.

We eat a lot of other veggies. The ones I mentioned are local and cheap right now, as is cauliflower. Cabbage just started to be picked locally, but last year I made about 10 pounds of cabbage rolls, and I don't think I'm ready to do that again this year. jfade's psycho

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
called swede in the UK because they were introduced n the 18th century from Sweden


Well given Australia's colonial history that explains why we call yellow turnips swedes. I'd heard of rutabagas but had no idea what they were.

Beetroot is only starting to make inroads here as a regular vegetable. For years (decades/generations) it existed only in the pickled form as something added to a salad. Now with better cuisine in the restaurants it has become more common (and gets quite cheap - always a sign of "commonness") I think also that's thanks to the turkish migrants and their beetroot dip - which also helped to make the vegetable more widely known. Beetroot leaves appear now in fancy mesclun salad mixes (now sold in supermarkets) thanks to improved cafe/restaurant cuisine.

So I take it pumpkins in Canada/US are not eating pumpkins - only fit for animal food? Those large ones are grown here for agricultural shows but the standard pumpkins are eating ones and a popular vegetable - Kent, Queensland Blue, Butternut, Japanese and Golden nugget are the varieties you see for sale. Heirloom seed nurseries sell a ton of different strains. I don't know if the stems are square or round - but if true pumpkins then they are varieties developed for flavour.

All veg & fruit available in Oz is thanks to the different migrants populations. eg it wasn't until after WW2 that things like eggplant, zucchini and capsicum (pepper) arrived with the post-war European migrants. Then with SE Asian migrants in the 70/80s asian vegies became common.

You never see real cold weather stuff like kale here. Some brassicas, eg brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower yes, but never kale.

But I'm digressing from the theme of this topic -sorry!

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But I'm digressing from the theme of this topic -sorry!


Not really possible in off-topic threads. laugh

I think the off-topic forums were set up so that we could learn a bit about each other's lives and homelands, as if we were real human beings instead of one dimensional simmers. smile

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
So I take it pumpkins in Canada/US are not eating pumpkins - only fit for animal food?


Here in the midwest we eat the pumpkins. This time of year we have pumpkin everything! Pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin butter, muffins, pies...it goes on and on! But only small pumpkins are fit for eating, the ones that are grown to large sizes are too tough and fibery, they are used for carving, and the especially huge ones are usually grown for contests.

Even those people who only buy one to carve always salt and roast the seeds for munching smile
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
So I take it pumpkins in Canada/US are not eating pumpkins - only fit for animal food?


No. I live in PA (eastern coast of the U.S). We eat pumpkins, just not... erm... raw. It is also rare for anyone to make a dish with pumpkin that is not a baked good, and in that case we buy pumpkin-pie-filling becasue it's just eaiser.

We use the word beet not beetroot, but specifiy what kind of beet it is, unless it is a read beat.

Pumpkins are concidored a subset of the gourd family of fruits (on the theory fruits don't have seeds, because that is what your elementry school techer will say about tomatoes even though it is not correct and the distinction is more moral, but I disgress).

Frozen veggies tend to be better than canned, but some canned veggies (potatoes!) tate great (the preservites add a special flavor).

We should get togther and make an SO cookbook (then turn around and hack a fridge so we can all eat eachother's favorite foods) whistle
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

laugh
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DamonDamore wrote:


We use the word beet not beetroot, but specifiy what kind of beet it is, unless it is a read beat.
(on the theory fruits don't have seeds, because that is what your elementry school techer will say about tomatoes even though it is not correct and the distinction is more moral, but I disgress).




Damon, sweetie, do you know what you said in parenthesis? I'm sure you know what you meant to say, but that's not how it's reading. Fruits by definition have seeds inside them; vegetables do not. Thus a gourd is a fruit, while a sweet potato is not.

fruit
n noun
1 the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food. Botany the seed-bearing structure of a plant, e.g. an acorn.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sine_sim_fan wrote:

Damon, sweetie, do you know what you said in parenthesis? I'm sure you know what you meant to say, but that's not how it's reading.


Oops! blush I swiched the words "fruits" and "vegeatables" around laugh
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reason there is such confusion in the US about wether the tomato is a fruit or a vegetable is because it was considered a fruit until the late 1800's. In the late 1800's imported vegetables were taxed but imported fruit was not, so at that time the Supreme Court judged that the tomato is a vegetable in order to tax them, so people who were born in this century have been taught that they are a vegetable regardless of the technicalities.

The idea that one has seeds and the other does not always confused me. Are green peppers a fruit? What about cucumbers, green beans and peas? Peas are seeds...so what does that make them? Where do legumes fit in? I would think if it grows it has to be one or the other jfade's psycho
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