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'Eating in- the Good Life in SE23?'
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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #1
24-01-2009 07:10 PM

We are trying to cut our grocery bill as its become extortionate and although we eat in a lot, we buy mostly Taste the Difference stuff as its easier to cook and tastes good, hence its still fairly expensive. Like a lot of people who worked /work long hours, we were (relatively) cash rich and time poor hence wanted good food on our plates as easily and as fast as possible and tried to forget that we were probably paying over the odds.

Times have changed and habits need to. I have recently discovered the art of the casserole and am looking to be able to cook better using cheaper cuts of meat and fish without losing too much flavour. Unfortunately I never really learnt to cook from scratch so its a bit hit and miss. It doesn't help in my view that decent tasty ingredients still cost a fortune compared to France where it tends to be standard fare.

I was wondering whether anyone had any interesting recipes to share on this thread?

Although we only have a small garden we are also considering growing our own food this spring and summer in patio containers adn raised beds ie new potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, salads, any other vegetables- is anyone else thinking of doing this and had success? It would be good to hear from someone who has started from scratch with , like us, no previous experience or particular skills in this area.

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shzl400


Posts: 729
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #2
24-01-2009 07:59 PM

Roz Wrote:
Although we only have a small garden we are also considering growing our own food this spring and summer in patio containers adn raised beds ie new potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, salads, any other vegetables


In my experience, the best "dividends" (i.e ratio of product to effort involved and cost/flavour vs. supermarkets) are to be had from tomatoes in growbags and runner beans. Raspberries are good too. Grew pumpkins last year too, but they took over the entire garden!

Re the TTD food, did you see the Jay Raynor (sp?) programme on Ch4 about the difference between basics and TTD stuff. What he neglected to mention is that there's often a middle choice of just "own brand". In the old days "BK" (Before Kids), when I also had a higher disposable income, not being crippled by school fees, we also used to eat a lot of ready meals, now I work on an average of ?1 per person for the main meal ingredient!

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Applespider


Posts: 283
Joined: Feb 2006
Post: #3
24-01-2009 08:17 PM

Soups, stews, pasta sauces that can be made to go further and frozen for easy use are generally pretty easy and can be very cost effective. And using everything when you do buy ingredients- prime example being a roast chicken where you use the carcass (plus some cheap veg) to make stock and then the stock and remainder of the chicken to make risotto - with lots of stock left over to freeze. Left over herbs/wines can be frozen to cook with later and you can make soup (or at least stock) with pretty much any old vegetable that's looking past its best.

Here's one quick recipe for a Tomato/chorizo/bean stew that goes well with rice or pasta. On occasion, I've even served it over a toasted chunk of slightly stale crusty bread. Since I tend to cook by feel, quantities are slightly vague. One great website for some good recipes is Waitrose.com where I quite often look for inspiration.

Tomato/Chorizo/Bean Stew (serves 4-6 depending on how it's served)
Chorizo-style sausage chopped into quarter inch rounds.
(alternatively buy a ham hough and cook it 'whole' in the sauce' til it falls to pieces and add a single red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped)
3 400g tins tomatoes
Glass of wine (red ideally but white will do)
Cannellini or butter beans (one tin or a couple of handfuls cooked from scratch in advance) - drained and rinsed
Chickpeas (one tin or couple of handfuls) --drained and rinsed
Garlic (3-4 cloves) - crushed/chopped
Oregano - good pinch
Pepper
Oil

Heat the oil to a moderate heat, lightly fry the garlic, add the chorizo (ham) and seal it. Add the tomatoes, the beans, the chickpeas, the oregano, the wine and some black pepper, cover and leave to cook on a very low heat for 2 hours or so.

Sometimes I'll throw a handful of spinach or peas or rocket or courgettes in for the last few minutes (unless I'm freezing most of it) to get some more greenery in there!

Another of my current favourites is a Crab and Chilli Linguine
Crab (fresh or a from a tin)
A lime
A red chilli
Olive Oil
Splash of white wine
Linguine/tagliatelle
Garlic
Some form of green veg (peas, rocket, spinach, mange tout, sugarsnap peas)

Put the pasta on to cook.
Lightly fry the crushed garlic and then add the crab, the lime juice, the chopped chilli, the splash of wine and warm it all together. Then get the veg, stick the lid on the pan and wait for the pasta to finish cooking. Drain the pasta, toss the crab mixture over it and add some black pepper.

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Bonnie Blue


Posts: 131
Joined: Jan 2009
Post: #4
24-01-2009 08:30 PM

I firmly believe that if you can read you can cook

I am obliged to be careful about the food I eat so low fat is good and I love vegetables
I also love Asian.Arabic type dishes
I can recommend two books

Indian Cooking without fat (this is not strictly true but it is low fat)
by Mridula Baljekar

No pictures but really tasty veggie dishes and the best Chicken Korma I have tasted
(I don't add the salt)
half and half is some American dairy product which will be mentioned a lot in this book. I use Sainsburys basic low fat yoghurt

Cardamon and Lime is a new book
Lovely presentation and again very tasty dishes
I bought a few for Christmas presents because I liked it so much and my friend bought it to cook authentic dishes for her iraqi husbandThumbsup

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Bonnie Blue


Posts: 131
Joined: Jan 2009
Post: #5
24-01-2009 08:39 PM

The best places I have found to buy Iranian/Indian/Turkish type ingredients is
The Turkish Deli in Penge opposite Sainsbury's
They have things like Dried Limes and Black Cardamons and Sabzi herb misture which supermarkets don't

The organic shop/greengocer in Lordship Lane opposite Barclays bank has an excellent range of Indian spices. Things like Pomegranite powder and Mango powder among others


There are two Chinese supermarkets for the more unusual ingredients
One in Peckham in the side street by primark and one in Camberwell high street more or less opposite the Butterfly Centre


Lewisham has a good Italian Deli and has Italian ingredients that the place in Lordship Lane doesn't

The Turkish shop in Bromley road Downham has Iranian Icecream which is delicious

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Contrary Mary


Posts: 124
Joined: Oct 2008
Post: #6
24-01-2009 10:40 PM

Couple of places nearer to home and not in West Peckham -

1) I don't know if it's still there, but there used to be a good Iranian grocery on Sydenham High Street, selling stuff like pomegranate concentrate and harissa

2) The Thai mini-mart in Crofton Park

Recipe (ish)

Cous Cous is really quick, and very tasty if (once it's done) you chuck in some toasted pine nuts, chopped up tomatoes and herbs/chopped french beans or such-like, then dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Has the advantage of partially hiding veggies (or at least looking prettier than a portion of boiled broccoli) if you have kids who turn up their noses at such things. Can be made while grilling some fish or lamb or chicken, for a nice meal taking less than 20 minutes.Thumbsup

I'm also attempting to grow my own veg. Can recommend Perpetual Spinach (Spinach Beet). You can cut leaves off regularly, and unlike true spinach, it doesn't 'bolt'. The stuff I planted last summer is still going - unhindered even by the snow! Pak Choi also does well.
Word of warning: get some bird netting - not so much against birds, but squirrels.

Good book for a novice gardener:

The Gardening Which? Guide to Growing Your Own Vegetables by Liz Dobbs, ISBN 0-85202-834-2

Loads of useful info in digestable form on veg and herbs from A-Z, with good stuff on best varieties to grow, loads of ideas for things like making good use of space and avoiding diseases. Also has info on how to store, including how to freeze vegetables from your garden properly.

Good luck!

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Londondrz


Posts: 1,538
Joined: Apr 2006
Post: #7
25-01-2009 08:33 AM

Try BBC.CO.UK/GOODFOOD for recipes for slow cooking. I also recommend going to WH Smith and buying a book on slow cooking.

Sainsburys also have little recepies for free buy the checkouts (the ones you see on TV). They are very easy to do and are less than ?5.00. I adapt the casserole a bit so get three meals out of it which for ?5.00 for two greedy people is superb.

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Bonnie Blue


Posts: 131
Joined: Jan 2009
Post: #8
25-01-2009 11:02 AM

Can I just raise a question about Slow cookers and leaving them on while you are out?

Any firemen about?

I saw a programme on Television the other night and the fireman said one of the common causes of fires in the home was leaving mobile phones charging
Would this not also apply to slow cookers?
I personally never leave anything on but the fridge The story illustrated on this programme was the fridge catching fire during the night Scared
The old couple involved did escape but slow cookers have always worried me (as have washing machines and dish washers) If you are out that may seem OK but most of us are attached to other homes n London

If such a thing did happen then I am assuming home insurance would be invalidUnsure

I did once check with the Fire brigade about leaving appliances on during a thunder storm and they told me everything should be switched off and unplugged

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Bonnie Blue


Posts: 131
Joined: Jan 2009
Post: #9
25-01-2009 11:05 AM

I bought my husband a book about growing Vegetables last Christmas 2007 but he hasn't opened it yetGlare

I thought the Thai mini mart in Crofton park had closedUnsure
I may be wrong

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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #10
25-01-2009 10:44 PM

Actually the element in our already temperamental oven blew up last year with a heck of a bang - being cautious types we had to call out the FB as it was smoking incessantly and looked like it was going to catch fire. They advised us the same thing- never go out and leave the oven on or even one of the appliances which can be programmed to come on when you are out.

Ovens apart, I tend to rely on having a modern ccu with circuit breakers to prevent any major incidents. I thought that this dispensed with the unrealistic need to unplug absolutely every appliance every time you went out. It would take all day.

Thanks for the recommendations re slow cookers. I have just cooked a lamb tagine in 2 hours at a fairly low heat, and it was delicious. I believe its a good way to cook a whole chicken so thats next on the list...

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Bonnie Blue


Posts: 131
Joined: Jan 2009
Post: #11
26-01-2009 08:05 AM

I am liking this threadSmile

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Bonnie Blue


Posts: 131
Joined: Jan 2009
Post: #12
26-01-2009 08:08 AM

PS
Speaking of leaving things on when you go out
My very first computer blew up and it was only a year old
The 'Motherboard'
anyway it made a hell of a bang and was very smelly I have special things on that but as far as storms are concerned i always unplug everything

My Grandparents were farmers and had big open fires. I can always remember Grandfather telling us of a big bolt of light coming down the chimney and going round the room................I don't know where it went after that thoughScared

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jon14


Posts: 145
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #13
26-01-2009 10:12 AM

Roz,

I find that a cassrole really benefits from browning the meat first - if you have stewing steak, seal it in a frying pan, and don't be afraid to let it go really brown. Brown = flavour. You can then cook it for however long it needs (which depends on the cut - something like beef shin will take about 3 hours on 120-130 degrees, chuck steak abut 2 hours). But don't brown too much at a time as a crowded pan will trap water and everything will just boil instead of brown. You could do a lot worse than pouring a whole bottle of red wine over some steak and vegetables (onions, carrots, celery). Cook it for 2,3,4,hours (depending on what meat you've got).

Also, I find that supermarkets are quite clever in how much they charge for 'cheaper cuts' - I actually think their 'cheaper' cuts are still quite expensive. I can get shin of beef from the butchers for about ?4.50 a kilo - 'stewing steak' from Sainsbury's I found to be in the sixes and sevens.

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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #14
26-01-2009 10:26 AM

I think we are a community of closet chefs and bon viveurs! Keep all the great recipes coming and we will never need to eat out again!

Our favourite dish is still shepherds pie- made with lamb (with the fat drained off before putting it in the casserole dish) and a Schwartz packet mix. An edible lasagne has been a challenge so I'm working on that but Irish stew is next on the agenda.

Which butcher do you go to, Jon14?

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Londondrz


Posts: 1,538
Joined: Apr 2006
Post: #15
26-01-2009 10:45 AM

I would be suprised if a slow cooker has caused fire. We leave our on during the day on a regular basis after all it is the same as leaving a 50 watt bulb burning.

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Bonnie Blue


Posts: 131
Joined: Jan 2009
Post: #16
26-01-2009 11:37 AM

Well I was surprised about mobile phones and fridges so i imagine anything attached to electricity is a possible fire hazard


Jon - doesn't pouring a whole bottle of red wine over cheap beef neutralise the benefit of cutting costs.. I suppose it does tenderise it but so does slow cookingUnsure

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Bonnie Blue


Posts: 131
Joined: Jan 2009
Post: #17
26-01-2009 11:43 AM

I am currently on a very low fat diet to lower cholesterol
This one is tasty and very very filling


3 large onions
1 green pepper
1 head of celery
1/2 white cabbage
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
1 x packet onion soup (I used Ainsley Harriots cuppa soup)
3 stock cubes (I used Marco Pierre Whites Knorr Jelly jobs because they dissolve easily)
Cook Blitz and eat

Makes enough for a week!!!

You could make your own veggie stock and use more onions I suppose instead of the soup mix and cubes
The soup mix and cubes give a degree of seasoning which I am sure Jon will approve ofSmile

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Bonnie Blue


Posts: 131
Joined: Jan 2009
Post: #18
26-01-2009 11:51 AM

Being of an Italian family this is our Lasagne recipe

Make Sugo with ;

small onion
piece of beef or a boiling chicken (or any chicken)
2 cans of tomatoes and 2 small cans or puree
A dried Italian sausage from the Deli in Lewisham
some water
Chopped parsley or Oregano or Basil

You can brown the meat and onion with olive oil if you want to or just put everything in a pot and bring to the boil
Simmer unil meat is tender and sauce is rich and thick

For Lasagne

Sheets of pasta depending on how many you are feeding
cook the pasta and layer in a dish with

Sugo
Mozzarella
Ricotta
Italian Sausage
Boiled Eggs

Finish with the sauce
Cover with foil and finish in the oven for about 45 minutes on Gas 4 or equivalent


Use the rest of the sugo for a pasta dish and sprinkle with parmesan

Serve with salad

Finish the meal with Water melon
Depends how big it is

You will notice there are no real quantities becuase this is how Italians cookSmile

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steveb


Posts: 113
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #19
26-01-2009 01:38 PM

If you are growing veg in limited space then french or runnner beans are very good and easy. I'd recommend growing the climbing type rather than the dwarf varieties.

Courgettes are also easy and you'll probably only need one plant as they are prolific.

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jon14


Posts: 145
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #20
26-01-2009 02:25 PM

Roz Wrote:
Which butcher do you go to, Jon14?


If it's a weekday, one in Holborn, Central london. On a Saturday, or any day I was home, I would use the one on Ewhurst Road, SE4 - it's about a mile and a bit from HOP train station and the chap is really nice - I think he's only open Wednesdays to Saturdays though.

Bonnie Blue Wrote:
Jon - doesn't pouring a whole bottle of red wine over cheap beef neutralise the benefit of cutting costs.. I suppose it does tenderise it but so does slow cooking



Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall assures me that alcohol actually has the oppsite effect - it draws moisture out of the meat and makes it dry, especially if marinated in it..I think beef can take being cooked in it though...but you're right, it's not really a cheap option necessarily!

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