Bad vs. Worse

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You would think that a single-use plastic take-away food container would be the last thing I would post about during Plastic-Free July.  Bear with me while I explain.

During the week there was a meeting at work which I was not involved in but this was some of the leftover lunch catering.  At the end of the day someone mentioned that if anyone could use the leftovers to please take them.  I am one of the last to leave the office so I had quite a pile to take with me.  The first stop was to leave a tray of sandwiches and wraps at the park for some of the homeless who are often nearby.

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This container had not been opened and contained a mix of pumpkin, onion and baby spinach.  It seemed to have a seasoned oil dressing on it.

This morning I decided to make a vegetable curry.  The pumpkin chunks had not been peeled so I removed the skin.  I know that it is edible, however, I choose not to do so.

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I fried a couple of small chillies (diced) and some curry paste, added green beans and capsicum (bell pepper), some coconut cream and finally the pumpkin and spinach.

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This was our dinner which I served with some brown rice.

So, I have acquired a plastic container.  However, I saved perfectly good food from landfill.  The container will be used many times over.

I also salvaged some fruit from the same event.  The container on the left is my lunchbox which I filled with fruit that was on skewers (kebab-style) and the other container was provided by the caterers.  This is now in my recycling bin.

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I put all of the fruit in the blender along with some frozen pineapple, passionfruit and mango from the freezer.  This made enough for 4 large semi-frozen fruit smoothies.  Here is mine which I had for breakfast.

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I could have refused to have anything to do with this excess food because of the plastic waste, however, I chose to take responsibility for it and use the food as well as doing the best I can with the plastic.  Much better than it all ending up in landfill.  Do you agree?

 

 

 

 

 

Too Much Food

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I am sure you have seen the statistics which indicate that we discard between 20 and 50% of all food that is produced.  Although this is from the UK, the situation is similar in all developed countries.

It is disgusting that so much food is wasted while there are millions of people on this planet who go hungry every day.

When I first read these figures, a couple of years ago, I found it unbelievable.  However, since then I have realised that many people have very different ideas to me when it comes to food usage and storage.

I work in a city office of a large global corporation and from time to time there are catered events.  I understand the difficulties of predicting quantities when catering for unknown numbers and tastes.  However, the fate of the leftover food is disappointing, to say the least.

This week (Tuesday) there was a large tray of untouched green salad – specialty lettuce, red onion, cucumber, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrot and corn kernels as well as breads, dips and fruit.  This was placed on the bench in the kitchen area and generally announced in the open office.  I decided to have a plate of salad with hommus and basil pesto for my lunch and save my packed lunch for another day.  There may have been one or two others who had a little salad but there was still a substantial quantity left a few hours later.  I did not want to see it spoil so I packed it in the fridge.  I put as much as I could into a square plastic container that I had plus I filled this container that was on the bench.

2015-03-05 01That accounted for about half of the salad so I put the rest in 2 large noodle bowls, covered them and placed them in the fridge.

I brought the 2 plastic containers home which provided enough salad for 4 lunches plus dinner for both of us tonight, alongside our hamburger patties and some fried mushrooms and onions.  The salad remaining in the container is enough for my lunch tomorrow – last of the 4 lunches.

I was not in the office yesterday and when I arrived this morning the 2 bowls of salad were untouched but the midday they had disappeared.  I cannot be certain but most likely they were discarded into the bin.  I am constantly astounded by the lack of interest in using up perfectly good food.  I am not suggesting that people gorge themselves on the excess but rather use it for future meals.

On a similar note, I went to a small community gathering yesterday evening and the request was to bring a plate of supper to share.  This is what I took.

2015-03-05 02Does it look meagre?  I constantly witness over-catering at events where there is ‘bring a plate’ catering..  If you think about it logically, you should really only contribute the equivalent of what you or your family group would reasonably eat if there was no other food to choose from.  If everyone adhered to this principle, rather than bringing huge cakes or platters of sandwiches, there would be minimal wastage and less over-indulging.

What do you think?

A Christmas Table & Leftovers

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Each year I review my Christmas catering efforts to see what worked, what didn’t and what could be changed.

As I have explained, this year was quite different as I catered for a small family gathering of 4 in an unfamiliar kitchen with limited ingredients.  I shopped with a view to minimal leftovers as well as a very simple menu.  You can see the menu in my previous post.

Entree
This was the entree – grilled asparagus and prosciutto-wrapped haloumi.  There was a roasted capsicum sauce to accompany it.

Main course
Here is the table set for the main course with grilled salmon, chestnut and cranberry stuffed chicken roll and 3 different salads.

It was very enjoyable and there is nothing that I would change.  The menu could easily be used for a bigger group with minimal additional effort.

We visited relatives on Boxing Day so the leftovers had to wait until the following day when I used them to  create a main meal salad.  I do not have a photo but here is the ‘recipe’.

Potato & Salmon Salad

6 tiny potatoes
1 small piece of grilled salmon
1 stick of celery
1/4 red capsicum (bell pepper)
Herb mayonnaise

Boil the potatoes until just tender.  Cool and cut into small pieces.  Flake the salmon and add to potatoes.  Add finely sliced celery and diced capsicum.  Toss ingredients and stir mayonnaise through.  Chill and serve on a bed of salad greens with tomato wedges.

The recipe is based on exactly what I did and it served 3 adults for lunch.

What creations have you made with leftovers during the festive season?

Time To Think

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Sometimes I have a precise menu plan for the week and other times I make it up as I go along.  Today I had not even taken anything out of the freezer so spent a little time while I was on the train this evening planning what to eat for dinner.  I decided on grilled sausages with vegetable patties and fried mushrooms.  Of course we have home-made tomato sauce with the sausages.  This was all prompted by knowing that there was some leftover sweet potato mash and some leftover cooked rice in the refrigerator.

Leftovers

I picked some bok choy from the garden.

Bok choy

I chopped and lightly stir-fried the bok choy before adding it to the mash/rice mixture.

Stir-frying

I added some herb salt, black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin to the mixture along with a small egg and some chickpea flour.  The mixture was very soft so it was a matter of placing dollops of it into the pan and frying both sides.  Finally, I fried some mushrooms and dinner was ready.

Dinner

A filling dinner and the verdict from The Duke was, “Yum”.  You can’t ask for much more than that.

How do you deal with leftovers?

Slow Living – April

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Here we are with another month ended and it is time to for a review in the spirit of Slow Living Essentials

I must say that a do feel like a bit of a fraud as there does not seem be anything slow about our lives.

Here are the Slow Living categories:

{Nourish}  We have continued to be very diligent with making our packed lunches every day.  It is now 9 months since I changed my diet to one which is gluten and mostly grain free.  I am feeling much better and as an added bonus have lost 8kg.  My main focus has been ensuring that we do not waste any food.  This makes for some interesting but nourishing meals.  This was made from some leftover bits in the fridge last week.  You can read more about it here

Lunch served

{Green}  We are starting to reap the benefits of SAM – our Solar Air Modules.  It is essentially solar airconditioning and we are using it to very effectively keep the bathroom and bedroom warm and dry.  I can reduce the humidity from 90% to 65% in the matter of a few hours.  You can read more about it here

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{Grow}  It is well into autumn but I have still been picking cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.

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{Create}  We have made 2 more raised garden beds.

New garden beds

{Discover}  I have made a start on putting all of the family history research into a computer program and getting rid of a pile of paper in the process.  I am discovering new facts and remembering some previous discoveries as I do it.

{Enhance}  I have gifted 2 pairs of boots via Freecycle.

Boots

{Enjoy}  I have celebrated my birthday, met a friend for lunch and spent a morning with another friend – morning tea and then window shopping.

Now I am off to check out some of the other slow living blogs.

Til next month………..

Leftovers for Lunch

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Every day The Duke and I take a packed lunch to work.  Since I do not eat bread it is often leftovers or a salad.  The Duke will sometimes take some homemade bread, cheese and tomato and make a sandwich at work.

Today, however, I was at home so was not constrained by what I could pack.  At lunchtime I looked in the fridge and pantry and found an assortment of leftover ingredients just begging to be used.

2013-04-26 01There was a small amount of mashed sweet potato from last night as well as some refried beans, 1/2 can of crushed tomatoes, an opened packet of corn chips.  As part of my planned gourmet delight I also have some yoghurt, cheese, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.

In the interest of minimising the washing up I decided to use the glass dish that the sweet potato was in.  I spread it evenly over the dish, spooned a layer of tomatoes over it, then added the refried beans and the seeds.

2013-04-26 02I topped it with corn chips and grated cheese and browned in under the griller.

2013-04-26 03This made enough for 2 serves so I will be having the same again tomorrow.

2013-04-26 04Served with a dollop of natural yoghurt this was a quick and easy meal which used up a couple of things that could easily have been wasted.

Friday Favourites – Trifle & Lemon Delicious

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This week I have 2 desserts for you to try.  They would possibly be regarded by many as ‘old-fashioned’ but that is not necessarily a bad thing – they have stood the test of time.  These recipes come from a time when dessert was created from basic ingredients from the pantry and leftovers, along with seasonal produce from the garden.

LEMON DELICIOUS

1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add flour, juice and rind.  Mix well.  Separate the eggs, add yolks and milk to mixture.  Place the whites in a separate bowl and beat until stiff.  Fold the beaten egg white into the mixture.  Pour into an ovenproof dish.  Stand the dish in a tray of water (about 2-3cm deep) and place in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is firm to touch and golden.

The finished product is like a lemon self-saucing pudding.  This can be served warm or cold with ice-cream, cream or custard.Now for the trifle.  I am writing the specifically in response to a question from Jeni.  I make trifle about once each year and do not use a recipe.  It is the result of my memories of eating trifle when I was a child.  So, here goes:

TRIFLE

Sponge cake (a little stale is better)
Jelly (red or green)
Custard (cold  and thick pouring consistency)
Coconut
Tinned peaches
Jam
Orange juice/peach juice/sherry

You do need to plan ahead and make the jelly the day before.  Use only 375ml water instead of 500ml to make the jelly a bit stiffer.  Pour into a shallow dish to set.

Slice cake into thin slabs, spread with jam (strawberry is my preference) and sandwich together.  Cut cake into small pieces and set aside.

Cut jelly into cubes (bite-sized pieces).

Cut the peach slices into bite-sized pieces.

Assemble the trifle in a glass bowl starting with a layer of cake pieces.  Drizzle with a little of the juice or sherry.  Sprinkle with coconut and pour a small amount of custard over the cake layer.  Add jelly, then peaches with a little coconut and custard between each layer.

Repeat the process until all ingredients are used up.  Finish with a generous sprinkle of coconut.

HINTS & TIPS

The coconut can be toasted or slivered almonds may be used as well.  I used some sliced glace cherries to garnish the trifle this time.  Many trifles includes cream but I do not eat cream and prefer to serve it as an optional garnish.

Trifle originally evolved as a way of using up leftovers.  If you want to know more about the history you can read it here.

There is nothing definitive about making trifle.  Just do as you please and enjoy!