In the Kitchen Tips - Seasonal Buying
Costs are rising but that does not mean we cannot eat well. What it means is that we cut down on the refined treats and buy the basics that we need to eat plenty of:- in season fruits and vegetables, plenty of bread, whole grains and then lean protein in small amounts.
Forget imported fruits from the USA that abound in the shelves.
Buy canned fruits. Once we preserved and we look back with rose coloured glasses on how great these were yet we think canned foods are bad. They are the same thing and they really help the budget.
Buy dried fruits and soak in a flavoured sweetened fruit tea for a change. Serve warm for a fruit pud.
Buy frozen vegetables. Once we did not have freezers at all and now we can buy produce like peas that are picked and packed within 90 minutes - that’s fresh and healthy.
Cooking frozen veg is best done in a microwave with no added water for best food value.
Steam vegetables. I can’t even find a small saucepan and steamer unit these days, but if you can, use a steamer, then you only need to use one hob (fuel) and the veg will be tender and keep all their nutrients.
Baking at Home
Forget making your bread - it’s false economy. Bag of bread mix is $11.00 and that makes 4 - 6 loaves, plus you need yeast, power, milk, and time. Buy bread on special and freeze. Big brands run week on week off specials.
Bake economically. Loaves and basic cakes and certainly not packet mixes.
Tip Keep a cake moist by adding a quarter of a cut apple into the cake tin.
Never store crispy biscuits near softer baked goods, like muffins or loaves, as they will become soft.
Forget the muffins, they are high in fat and sugar and too often over-sized and cost more to make. Go for scones, easier, cheaper and easy to rollup into pinwheels for a flash look.
Bake quick cook breads like pikelets and serve with something simple like jam. They’ll be loved and variations are endless.
Tip If you get your self raising flour and flour mixed up, put a spoonful of flour in a bowl and stir in vinegar to make a thin smooth belnd. If the mixture foams and thickens, then it is self raising, if not and the mix remains smooth and thin, it is plain flour.
Tip If you have milk or cream that is on the way out - do not discard, use it to make scones, pikelets or cakes and save money of buying products like buttermilk or yoghurt.
Tip If you over whip the cream or it goes stiff and dry in the fridge after a couple of days, use it to make scones or cakes too.
If you are going to bake, make good use of the oven to save on power. Cakes like banana freeze and defrost well. Ice after freezing to prevent the icing going slimy and coming off.
Make double the amount of basic biscuit mixes and roll one half into a log, slice and then wrap in paper and freeze. Then you can get them out and bake from frozen if needed.
Muffins can be frozen in the raw state in their muffin tins and baked from frozen at a later date.
Tip For any of those women out there who still save the dripping from a roast, if you want to re-use it, heat and strain and then add 1 tsp lemon juice to each 250 grams to help soften any strong flavours.
Tip For those people who wish to substitute margarine for butter, you need to look for a margarine that has the same or very similar fat content to get an acceptable result. Butter has a fat content of around 81%. Often though when we buy margarine today we buy spreads and lite table spreads. These are spreads not margarines in that they do not have enough fat in them to be called margarine and they vary but go between 55% - 70%. Recipes where butter is imperative to success can fail, eg shortbread, basic biscuits etc.
When it goes wrong baking tips
If you bake a cake and the centre dips badly as it I not cooked, cut out the centre and make it into a ring cake. Ice or serve with warm with custard will hide any moist areas.
If the top of the cake burns, when cold slice it off and ice or turn it upside down and ice the base.
If cake is over cooked and dry, pour over a simple flavoured syrup and allow to soak in and serve it as a trendy café style cake.
Left over dry cake, crumble it and add some Xmas style fruit mince and make into truffles. Roll in coconut or chocolate hail and keep refrigerated.
A dry cake, cut into squares and toss in a flavoured cooled jelly and coconut and make into jelly lamingtons.
Make a trifle.
Puddings help fill hungry children and should not be looked down upon. They should be basic puddings and not flash café style or restaurant style tarts. A pudding helps fill the gaps and stops young ones getting hungry and eating rubbish later in the night.
Make old fashioned Icecream Pudding - very very kiwi.
Tip Keep a packet of jelly on hand to make quick puds for kids, like the Carnation milk flummery or fruit flummerys, rice pud or jelly rice pud.
Main Meals - Roasts
Shop around for best meat prices. My local small shop has lamb for 9.95KG and a roast will feed several meals, slice for sam sams and maybe small pies.
Pork is the cheapest roast at the mo and the bone in shoulder is at 5.99kg, even a small roast will make around 8-9 meals - with crackling yippee.
Tip For crackling rub dry skin with salt and oil or lemon juice and cook on high for 20 minutes then lower and cook away
Tip It is not the amount of fat that makes the best crackling on pork, it is how dry the pork skin is. Once the butcher’s hung their pork and so it dried out. Today we have it under plastic in a supermarket and that keeps it moist and it will not crackle. If you buy, take out of the plastic and keep in the fridge under a paper towel for a day or two to dry the skin out. It also needs to be well scored.
Tip Cook roasts on a slower temperature and you will not have as much shrinkage.
Tip Place roasts on a rack so that the fat falls away and allows the heat to penetrate evenly.
Tip Always allow roasts to stand after cooking to relax the meat and ensure that the juices soak back into the meat. If you carve the meat and the juices run all over the place and you need to reach for a cloth, the roast has not had sufficient resting time.