Monthly Archives: July 2013

New Booties

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Digging through the freezer compartment for one of my frozen vegetable stew portions, I found another small foil-wrapped package, and remembered the attempt at a vegetarian African meatloaf I’d made a few weeks ago, which for some reason I’d not got round to blogging about. As both packages were small, and it’d been a long day, and frankly, because I’m an unashamed hog, I decided to defrost and cook both for dinner.

The http://www.allrecipes.co.uk website has quite a list of “African” recipes (authenticity unknown, apologies to any genuine African cooks). I’d had success before with several wonderfully spicy stews, and with a pack of quorn mince littering up the freezer I thought I’d have a go at “babotie”, which is a South African recipe…..

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A little bit more

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So the menu for the week is sorted; the left-over broadbean hummus will go into Tupperware boxes along with some more chickpea flatbread, a bit of tomato and some sweet-potato falafels (more of those below). When that runs out, it’s back to spiced lentils in pitta breads (cheap pitta breads safely stored in the freezer). I’ve got a vegetable and kidney bean stew in the oven; that’s tonight’s dinner, and the rest goes to the freezer as well. The left-over mix of stock and coconut milk will make a day-or-so’s worth of thai-style noodles (sorting out the tofu and any random bits of veg), then again default either to the frozen stew, or baked beans on toast. For breakfast there’s bread, eggs and marmite. The aim is not to purchase any more food now, between here and the next official food-shop on Friday.

No matter how many pretty, pretty recipes I find on the internet (*howls*).

I’ve also splashed out on a bottle of wine, one of the fine vintages available in the sub-£4.00 per bottle range. This particular bottle of Chateau Chunder has hints of pear, lemon, the sun-soaked Californian landscape, and apple-based toilet bleach. An excellent accompaniment to pretty much anything, as the damage to your taste-buds will make even Linda McCartney sausages taste great.

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Little bit of what you fancy

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So with a decent back-up of the basics already in the cupboard, I get to decide what regular habits get the chop. Smirnoff vodka and expensive coffee-shop lattes are easy victims (and it can’t hurt the Anxious waistline to drop these). Quorn is off the menu. Vegetables and pulses I buy as normal (although the focus is more towards carrots and potatoes than aubergines and asparagus). Tofu adds a bit of protein balance (and a £2 pack can make 3 meals) so that stays. And I allow myself one “luxury” (this week, a small pack of own-brand black olives), and an “experimental” (pack of frozen broad beans) so I still have an excuse to try out recipes in this blog, which I enjoy very much, (even if everyone else reading has given up and fecked off to McDonalds… 😉 ). So I bring to you, broadbean hummus and chickpea & tomato flatbread…

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Marilyn Munroe

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Been tripped up financially. Nothing horribly life-changing, just that the next couple of months will be a bit tight, especially as I would like to live the glamorous high-life in August, by spending a couple of days camping with my sister and nephew, and maybe do another day hike, perhaps this time on the North Downs Way. The problem is mostly self-inflicted (Bad Anxious! No Biscuit!). And so the food bill is one of the things that’s easiest to trim.

Fortunately I have a decent stock of oils, rice, flour, spices, pulses and beans in place. So the diet (in the week before payday) of beans on toast, rice, vegetables, lentils and cheap pitta bread, was at least a week of beans on toast (with marmite for the B Vits), the delicious http://fueledbyvegetables.com/2012/07/26/farmers-market-fried-rice/ and http://inpursuitofmore.com/2013/04/08/spiced-lentils-indian-chapatis-food-bloggers-against-hunger/ spiced lentils in pitta bread with a little grated carrot.

There are worse ways to be eating cheaply.

There’s a stuffed courgette in tomato sauce recipe below the cut, utilising cheap tinned toms, own-brand cheese spread and left-over rice, but in the meantime I’d like to bring your attention to the blog of Jack Munroe, whose determination to feed herself and her child well, healthily and as cheaply as possible, in the face of grinding poverty, makes my own attempts at economising look frankly amateur.

http://agirlcalledjack.com/

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South Downs

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Just cogitating another post about money and food. Will hopefully post later today (possibly with Bonus!Recipe, if you’re really unlucky). In the meantime I’ve been working, hanging out in the sunshine with friends and family, plus I chose a scorching July Saturday to walk a few hours on the South Downs Way  http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/southdowns/text.asp?PageId=2 , which meanders over the chalk downland between Winchester and Eastbourne (approximately 8-9 days walking if you do the whole thing).

From previous experiences of hiking for 4+ hours a day, I’ve found it actually kills your appetite (I once spent 3 days on a New Zealand hiking and kayaking trail with little more than dehydrated, reconstituted scrambled egg, trail mix* and cheap noodles to keep me going, and I don’t remember feeling particularly hungry). Certainly the vegetarian-sausage and tomato baps I’d prepared so carefully the night before, lost their savour, and ended up in a waste bin in Winchester at the end of the day. I did however step into a supermarket by Winchester train station on my way back, and picked up a bottle of cool, sparkling pear cider and some strong cheddar, which I heartily enjoyed back at Anxious Towers. A very English snack, steeped in the ancient landscape I’d spent the day wandering, and one a Mediaeval Anxious would have similarly enjoyed.

*dried fruit/nuts/chocolate

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Fennel in the Funnel

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Apologies for the radio silence. Very busy and it is easier to revert to recipes I’ve cooked before than try out new ones for your edification and amusement/terror. However can recommend a new herbal tea I’ve tried, fennel, with a dash of honey added. It smells very strongly of liquorice (best stored in a box on its own! And then within a second box, to make sure) but when brewed has a nice subtle lemony flavour.

Hope to return soon, with further assaults on your tastebuds….

The Noodle Panic

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Now I know I introduced you to http://www.101cookbooks.com quite a while ago, as a beautiful vegetarian cookery blog. Was casting a tired eye over my store cupboards yesterday after a punishing session at the gym, looking for something quick but filling when I remembered her Slurp-tastic herb noodles recipe, and hey, I have coconut milk, tofu and noodles, plus I live on my own so can slurp, slather and salivate as much as I want, so why not?

Except I had no curry paste. Rummaging brought up some ancient curry powder, which I put to one side out of respect for its near-sentience. But I’ve got a cupboard full of other spices so, never fear, I’ll just Anxious it-up as I go along, right? So I heated up some coconut milk in the wok, and added a bit of golden cumin and coriander. Bit of ginger? No, too sweet with the dairyish coconut. Bit of scarlet chili powder. Mix it up, let it heat. Get over enthusiastic and throw in some garam masala as well. Check the ingredients label on garam masala. Spot both the ginger AND the cinnamon included. Meanwhile the coconut milk was starting to smell somewhat familiar. Oh glod, it’s https://theanxiouscook.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/i-say-aubergine-you-say-eggplant/ all over again. Confronted with Eau de Rocking-horse a second time I swung (rocked?) into action, doubled the chili powder, added hurriedly-chopped spring onions, and then stunned the new species of Curryus Powderitis Ancientus with a metal spoon and fed it to the wok as well.

After a certain amount of simmering and salting the recipe finally came out fine, albeit a little richer than normal….

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<!– The recipe, without the panic –>

Dried or fresh noodles (I used Sharwood medium egg noodles)
Tin coconut milk
Firm tofu, cubed
Spring onions, sliced widthways into pieces around half a cm long
Curry paste OR combination curry powder, chili powder, cumin, coriander
Chives, chopped finely
Basil
Salt
Hot vegetable stock

Boil a kettle.

Pour the tin of coconut milk into a wok and simmer, then add either the curry paste or the spices. Mix until well combined.
Make up a jug of hot vegetable stock with a stock cube and the water from the kettle. Add about the same amount in stock to the wok as you did in milk.
Bring to the boil.
Reduce to a simmer and add the tofu and salt for taste, plus additional spices if needed.
Add the rest of the kettle water to a pan, add salt and the noodles. Cook as to packet instructions and then drain.
Add the Spring onions and basil to the wok, simmer for a minute or two then add the noodles. Simmer for a minute more, then take off the heat.

Serve with a decent helping of kitchen towel to mop up the mess (she named it slurp-tastic for a reason!).