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Monday, 5 September 2016

Zero Waste Week - 2016 - Day One

Yesterday I spent the day at Wychwood Forest Fair at Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire, talking about how to reduce food waste and how to compost at home with the help of my colleagues, the Master Composters.

It was a long day, and I had something important to finish off yesterday evening.  I think it was about half past ten when I eventual took off my walking boots and my Love Food Hate Waste apron (standard uniform for talks about food waste in the middle of a field!) and fell into bed.

Why did I wake up feeling like a six year old child on Christmas morning? Yes, because it was the start of Zero Waste Week 2016, which is all about reducing your food waste.  And this year, Zero Waste Week will be a bit different for me, because it is the first time I will be reading the emails for the first time each morning.

For the last few years I've seen the emails in advance, discussed them, lending my editing skills and my humble opinion and generally helping out in preparation for the week.  But this year, I've been totally in the dark about what's coming up in the daily emails, because I've been busy cooking up a little something... all will be revealed later in the week!

Earlier in the year, along with the rest of the merry band of Zero Waste Week blog ambassadors I set out my pledge for ZWW 2016.

I pledged to go "shopping in my fridge and my freezer" for the entire week.  My plan was to avoid buying any more food and just to see what I could rustle up with what I already had.

That, along with weighing and documenting any food waste is now my challenge for the week.

Wanting nothing to go to waste, I scurried off to the kitchen before an early start at my desk, to forage around for a waste saving breakfast.  There was a lonely scone, a bit past its best, but twenty seconds in the microwave, and some butter and home-made blackberry and elderberry jam and I was sorted.

Scone for breakfast? Of course, why ever not?
I read the Zero Waste Week email for Day One before even getting out of bed, so I knew that salad was on the agenda.  That couldn't have been more perfect for me, because guess what I had loads of in my fridge other than way too much milk.

My fridge on day one of Zero Waste Week- Hmm! that's a lot of milk.
I also needed a very quick to prepare lunch so I pulled out a tub of pre-cut salad of spring onions, cucumber, tomatoes, and peppers and added a handful of green salad leaves of various sorts from one of the many tubs of salad leaves (left over from that thing I'm "cooking up" for the middle of the week), pulling out a few leaves that were starting to wilt.  Inspired by today's blog post suggestion of salad soup, I decided to pop these wilted bits into a soup from the rest of the salad - a mix of leaves and herbs picked last Wednesday from my garden. I looked at the soup recipe, grabbed an onion, thought about peeling it and changed my mind. I roughly chopped it, peel on and sweated it down in some olive oil.  I then went to pull out all the bits and piece of salad from the fridge and look for anything that was a bit past its best in the salad drawers.  I shaved off the slightly browning edges of a cabbage and the same for a quarter of an iceberg lettuce.  I kept the rest of the iceberg lettuce for tomorrow, but popped it into some water to keep it fresh. I found some potato peel that I was saving up for making crisps and decided that would be quicker than chopping a potato but do the same job.  One thing I didn't have was any stock, but I did have some apple juice (left over from that project I've been working on for the middle of the week!).  I remembered that my aunt used to make a very nice leek, lettuce and apple soup so I thought I'd give it a go as a replacement for stock.

Salad lunch with a pot of dressing that was lurking at the back of the fridge
 from a pizza delivery a while ago, that Junior Daughter shared with her friends.
 There are carrot sticks hiding under the salad leaves, perfect for eating with the dressing.

Back to my desk with my salad lunch, the smell wafting from the kitchen, notes of mint and fennel, was divine.
Soup ingredients

I then had to dash out to the dentist this afternoon and rather regretted the spring onion!  When I got back I went to taste the soup - fortunately I'd remembered to turn off the hob before going out!  It was ok, but not delicious.  I tasted it a few times to try to detect what was wrong with it and decided that it had quite a kick of lemon grass and was slightly acidic.  What to do?  I decided to add a bit of sea salt and black pepper, and cook it a bit longer which improved things greatly, but it was still lacking a little something.  The recipe I'd remembered was leek, lettuce and apple but I had only added some onion and the green tops from some spring onions as I didn't have any leeks in the fridge.  But then I remembered that I'd saved some green tops from some leeks and a quick rummage in the freezer and I found a bag of these.  I popped these in just as they were, added a half teaspoon of chilli powder and left it to simmer while I went back to work.

When I went back to have a look at my soup - well have a taste really, I found it much improved, but there was still something wrong.  It did taste nice, but my head was still telling me it wasn't delicious and I realised the problem was the rather murky brown colour - green salad, brown potato skins and red onion is always going to end up a murky brown colour.  I felt it looked like mushroom soup, but with no mushrooms in it, the taste didn't fulfil expectation.

What to do?  Chop up some mushrooms.  I decided to leave them whole so it looked like an obvious mushroom soup.  I was a bit worried that I hadn't whizzed up the leek tops before throwing in the mushrooms - as the leaving them whole idea was an afterthought.  However, fifteen minutes later when I went to have another taste the leeks were totally cooked down, and the taste matched expectation.  It tasted of mushroom soup with a pleasant herby note on the finish.

I decided that would be tomorrow's lunch, as I was feeling a little stressed out by the four pints of milk in my fridge, one of which was dated today and definitely on the turn.  So I decided dinner would need to feature a cheese sauce: pasta with a blue cheese sauce, some quartered tomatoes from the garden and some black olives with a few leaves of basil on the top.

A quick use-it-up pasta supper
Total food waste today:

1 tea bag
the tiniest bit of the bottom of the onion
some olive stones

weighs in at 24 grams.


Rachelle Strauss said...

Wow, I was exhausted just reading your post! I love all the rescue missions you did where others would have just given up. I learned so much too - I didn't know you could leave the skin on the onion, and neither would I have thought about adding apple to soup. Thanks for the inspiration and enjoy the rest of the week

Anna Pitt said...

Ha ha! Thank you. I didn't know until I tried it yesterday that you could leave the skin on, but I was a busy bee and didn't have time for faffing with peeling my onions. Anyway, now I know that it works, I'm going to do it again. What a time saver! All discovered through the inspiration of #ZeroWasteWeek.

The apple juice was a guess. I've made leek, lettuce and apple soup several times over the years and when I realised I had no stock, I just thought, well, it would be the same as using water and adding some apple. The apple juice wasn't commercial apple juice, it was just the cooking water from making apple membrillo - more about that tomorrow!