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Monday, 15 May 2017

Guides cook up a feast

Yesterday evening 2nd Kidlington Guides were challenged to cook up a feast from the food they could find that needed using up in their fridges.  It was suggested that they bring any leftovers or odd vegetables and that the idea was they shouldn't buy anything specially.  This was about foraging in our fridges or cupboards to make a meal from what we already had, with the idea that we could reduce waste as we did so.

We talked a bit about the food waste issue and the extent of the problem.   It was encouraging that 17 out of 27 households were using their kitchen caddies for their food waste, keeping it separate from general waste.  We discussed some of the reasons behind why others didn't use their kitchen caddies.  Three families didn't have one, so I suggested that they contact the local council to ask for a kitchen caddy as they are free to all households and they can ask for one to be delivered. Another family didn't use a caddy but put any food waste always straight into the outside brown compost bin, so that's perfect.  Maybe the others might have a think about whether they could use their food caddy too.  There are people who don't like the idea of using food waste caddies in their kitchen. Putting their food waste straight into their outdoor compost bin after every meal might be a solution for them.

On to the cooking...

We had a table full of ingredients to work with and the Guides split into four groups each picking some ingredients and talking about what they would make with those ingredients.

We had dried egg noodles in various forms - clearly a popular store cupboard essential.  These made a great base for various dishes.  We had some leftover cooked vegetables which included mashed potato, peas and carrots.  We had an iceberg lettuce, 5 tomatoes, two thirds of a pepper, about three quarters of a cucumber, some fresh broccoli florets and stalk, a potato, one and a half avocados and half a lemon.

We had some tinned carrots,  part of a tin of sweetcorn - correctly stored in an airtight container rather than in the tin and a pack of chopped tomatoes.

We had some cauliflower and broccoli cup-a soup, some pancake mix, some Orio cookies and some white chocolate chips and a box of cheese crackers.

I brought the green leafy ends of some leeks, some green ends of spring onions and a box of assorted vegetable peelings which included onion skin, the core and seeds and stalk of two red peppers, some celeriac, swede and carrot ends and peel.

Here are some of the things that were made:

Dips with crackers and potato wedges
This group made an avocado dip and a yoghurt dip to eat with the crackers and some oven cooked potato wedges. They made sure they scraped out all of the avocado from the skin before putting the skin ready for the compost bin.
The potato wedges were cooked in a little oil with a sprinkling of sea salt.

We missed a trick here as a perfect accompaniment to the dips would have been the stalk of the broccoli. You peel off the tough outer edge of the stalk and then cut the inner bit into strips like you would cut carrot, celery  or cucumber and it is delicious and very good for you.

Avocado salad
The avocado salad was made from mashed up avocado, chopped tomato, lemon juice and chopped up ends of spring onion.  It was very tasty.

Pasta salad
This was made from a "mug shot" instant pasta dish combined with some chopped ends of spring onion.  The spring onion really added to it visually and taste wise as it gave it a lift. A good twist of black pepper was a nice addition to this too.

Pancakes with Orio cookies and white chocolate chips
The pancakes were using up a packet of pancake mix, which was a just add water kind of recipe, but it became so much more with the addition of Orio cookies and white chocolate chips.  Some interesting lessons were learnt here.  The cookies turned the mix a light brown colour.  This meant that it was hard to tell when the pancake was cooked.  The girls doing the cooking also had their doubts about whether it would be nice.  The colour didn't look appealing. We decided we needed to taste it, so I was the guinea pig.  On tasting I could tell the pancake wasn't cooked enough.  So we cooked it some more and then I tasted it again and it was good to go.  The girls weren't totally happy with their creation, so I suggested they cut up small pieces and take it round to people to taste.  The came back saying people loved it.  Taking a small piece and tasting meant people were judging by taste not look and they enjoyed what they tasted so that gave the girls confidence to cook two more pancakes to share round.  "Don't judge a book by its cover" was an important lesson here and we talked about the importance of tasting your cooking as you go.

Noodle soup with sweetcorn
The base for the noodle soup was a packet of super noodles with a stir in sauce. Then the vegetable peel stock and some of the leftover peas and sweetcorn were added. Some carrot was peeled and pre-cooked in the microwave before adding into the soup.  I heard the word delicious get mentioned but didn't get to taste it myself.  It did smell very good.  I added the carrot peel to the vegetable stock.

Mixed Salad
The mixed salad was chopped iceberg lettuce, cucumber, tomato and sweetcorn.

I took on the challenge of making sure nothing got wasted from what was left. Here is what I have made so far.

I mixed the rest of the yoghurt - about a desert spoonful - with some porridge oats for breakfast.

I used one of the packets of pasta in sauce and cooked the rest of the broccoli.  This made a tasty lunch.

Last night I kept the remaining stock and added in the mashed potato, the rest of the peas.  There were a few stray noodles in the stock as we used the same colander to strain the noodles and then the stock.  There were a couple of loose florets of broccoli on a chopping board as we cleared away so they went into my soup pot and there was some of the cooked carrot left, so that will be a nice addition to give sweetness to the soup.

I brought all this mix to the boil,  and then simmered it for 15 minutes to let the flavours come together and then whizzed it with a hand blender.  The next important step was to taste it. It needed some seasoning so I added about a teaspoon and a half of salt, tasting after each half teaspoon, and a generous amount of black pepper.  I then added in the egg noodles, cooked carrot and leek ends that one group had prepared.  The soup was lovely and I now have two portions in the freezer and one in the fridge for tomorrow.

This evening I am cooking another batch of soup using the cooking water from the broccoli I cooked for lunch and the salad off-cuts from Guides.   I have also put in the ends of some asparagus that I had in the fridge.  The ends take a long time to cook, so I always trim them otherwise you get either overcooked asparagus tips or chewy bits on the end.  I think the ends work better blended in a soup.  

I have added the remaining lemon juice to a lemon cake and then I put the lemon in the freezer as I will candy the lemon peel when I have a few more used lemons.

I read the ingredients of the remaining pack of pasta and because it contains cream powder I can't eat it due to an allergy. When you find yourself with food that you can't use for whatever reason you can offer it on the food sharing app Olio