Fermenting fresh produce is a great way to combat food waste, save money, while also reaping the many health benefits fermented foods provide. Survival for a family on a budget can be very difficult, or a vision of life beyond narrow materialism.
We could write poetry about Mum’s soup, great pots of leftover everything boiled up with the bones from Sunday’s hot lunch, plus whatever was available from Dad’s vegetable garden. I have never been able to equal its flavour.
Yes, you can eat ’em. Radish tops are edible but rather prickly.
The lacto-fermentation process removes the prickles and fills them with gut-lovin’ bacteria.
Radish tops from 10-12 radishes, ¾ teaspoon salt (can add a few sliced radishes) massage.
Taste test at 2-3 days.
“It is often said of a person that he or she is ‘beautiful inside’.
A browned banana, a bruised fruit still has a huge potential in terms of smell, flavour, texture.
Therefore, responsibility of the chef, as well as that of all of us cooking at home, is to find that inner beauty in each product.”Massimo Bottura
Ferment to store the harvest + health benefits + use the waste bits
- Fermenting is the perfect way to pre-digest plant foods and get the benefits without the anti-nutrients.
- Pre-digestion, nutritional enhancement or augmentation, detoxification and live culture replenishment.
- Pre-digestion is when all foods during their fermentation get at least partially digested by the fermentation organisms themselves.
- So, basically fermentation acts like an outside gut.
PLANT FOODS by their nature are very difficult for humans to digest.
- Plants contain:
- Cell walls made of fibre, are unable to digest
- Enzyme inhibitors, such as trypsin, interferes with the absorption of protein
- Phytic Acid, contained in grains, beans, nuts and seeds – binds minerals, preventing their uptake by the intestine
- Oxalic acid, contained in many foods especially spinach, chard and rhubarb also bind minerals, preventing their uptake by the intestine
- Phyto-endocrine disruptors, such as the phytoestrogens in soy foods, which can lead to hormonal imbalances.
- Goitrogens in kale and the Brassica family. These decrease the uptake of iodine, critical to the optimal functioning of every endocrine gland in the body.
- The answer = we ferment ’em to be easy on the digestion.
- And with radish leaves – the fermentation process eliminates the prickles.
- …watermelon rind pickles, fermented citrus rind, weed ‘Kraut, Scrap Kvass, pickled grape leaves, scrap vinegar and wine – apple peels and cores / pineapple skins / Achacha skins and pips / cherry seeds / weeds, left-over wine.
- Foraging and fermenting wild food. … recipes in Bush Food and foraging and fermenting books.
- Love being able to transform goodies to make them tastier, healthier, and keep longer and to re-purpose the scraps, all at the same time
- Bok ‘n Broc... The tasty stalks from Broccoli and Bok Choy, fermented in a brine and ready for a probiotic snack or toss through a salad.
- We love to make a drink with the watermelon juicy innards, use half pureed watermelon and half brine (Himalayan salt added to water, to taste like a salty soup).
- Ferment on shelf for a couple of days and it is ready to drink.
- Not sweet but very refreshing, especially nice topped with fizzy mineral water and ice cubes with added fresh mint leaves.
- The watermelon rind fermented with banana skins and cabbage.
We don’t advocate climbing into the nearest dumpster or rubbish bin; but we must admit, it is a trend that is certainly catching on.
- Organic waste such as food produces methane as it breaks down.
- Methane is 20 times as powerful a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide so recycling food waste is a great way to take personal action against climate change.
- There are some government bodies and organizations that are providing a recycling collection service for food waste to recycle into compost.
Extreme Dumpster Dining
- Protest against waste is taking many different forms.
- Once upon a time, environmental idealists could make a statement simply by giving up steak.
- But today the ante has been upped, and taking green to the extreme with freeganism answering the call.
- As the name suggests, freeganism is an off-shoot of veganism, meaning that most practitioners avoid all products made from animals.
- But the “free” part refers to how freegans get their victuals.
Method No. 1? Digging through the dumpster
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans pitch 245 million tons of waste a year, much of which is salvageable.
- In addition to unfashionable furniture and clothes, plenty of edible food ends up in the garbage. According to unofficial freegan spokesman Adam Weissman, that waste is directly tied to capitalism, which freegans see as an oppressive economic system.
- To avoid contributing to it, they become scavengers—collecting the vast majority of what they eat, wear, and use from other people’s garbage.
- Often, these “urban foragers” will meet in designated locations at designated times to rummage together in a group, typically focusing on dumpsters behind retailers, offices, schools, and other places of high-volume disposal.
- It’s not as beggarly as you might imagine.
- Most freegans aren’t homeless, and many of them have 9-to-5 jobs.
- Food poisoning is a risk, but smart freegans know to skirt bacteria-prone produce and avoid canned goods that are bulging or oozing. (Would be a bit difficult with my organic ideals – I will stick to frugal organic means and using all leftovers, fermenting, composting, gardening and creating no food waste to go to freegan’s or landfill).
- Second Bite, an Australian food rescue group, in Victoria, launched in 2006, collects unwanted food from restaurants for redistribution to refuge centres.
One Umbrella, in Australia, use donated food to make nutritious food for the homeless and hungry. One Umbrella will collect excess food, or food that is close to use by date.
- The food must be safe to consume.
- Donors are protected from legal action under Victoria’s ‘Good Samaritan Act’.
- Acorn House, a fashionable London restaurant, is famous for producing just one bag of rubbish per service and for composting leftovers on the roof.
Just 75 years ago…In Britain, Noel Coward had a popular success with a song titled – There are bad times just around the corner.
These were the hungry years.
Depression days – Could it all happen again?
- My mum grew up in the difficult years following the war, when everything – including money – was either scarce or non-existent.
- I have often given thanks for the lessons in frugality which I learned from my parents, who never bought anything if they could make it themselves, or threw anything away if it could possibly be used again.
- Survival for a family on a budget can be very difficult, or a vision of life beyond narrow materialism.
- We could write poetry about Mum’s soup, great pots of leftover everything boiled up with the bones from Sunday’s hot lunch, plus whatever was available from Dad’s vegetable garden.
- I have never been able to equal its flavour.
Recycle Food Safety Tips
- Label all leftover food with the date.
- Store securely, containers with fitted tops are best.
- Keep all left over meat and eggs for only one day after that either freeze it , feed to the worms or throw it out (yikes!).
- never refreeze cooked meat!
- Never leave meat out overnight even on cold nights.
- Cooked Rice, potatoes you can keep for two days.
- Even if it doesn’t smell it can still be bad, don’t take chances.
- The best way to save left over meat is in a soup, stew or curry or chili and then freeze it.
- You can keep it in the freezer for about a month if the temperature is steady.
- Remember: When in doubt compost or feed it to the worms! Don’t take chances with food.
- Be creative with leftovers and compost what you can’t re-use!
- Slice your best quality organic loaf and freeze straightaway in a Ziploc bag. You can toast it frozen, and it defrosts in minutes.
- Using stale bread in salads, where it absorbs dressing in a manner little short of sublime.
- Breadcrumbs, livened up with a touch of paprika to dress up turkey or chicken breasts.
- Make croutons for soups and salads.
- Breadcrumbs for stuffing’s, meat loaves and veggie and bean bakes.
- The old fashioned bread pudding, bread fritters and Welsh Rabbit (or Rarebit).
- Welsh rabbit is what the Welsh housewife fed to her husband when he came home, cold, wet, weary, disappointed and rabbit less.
- It is made from staple foods, that she was sure to have in the cottage – beer, cheese and mustard and, of course, bread.
- You toast the bread, pour over half an inch of beer into a small saucepan (about two egg size), add mustard and scraps of cheese until you have a substance with a creamy consistency.
- There are no hard and fast rules for the amounts.
- Some cheese is hard, some soft, just use your judgement.
- It has the advantage that you can add more of anything as you go along.
- The result is a hot meal from the most unlikely ingredients.
- If you have organic bacon, a good thick slice turns this into Devil on Horseback – toast, and a slice of bacon with the ‘rabbit’ poured over it.
Our favourite recycled recipe is for impossible pie, we have never created the same one twice and have made many, served with a green salad or a sweet version.
A easy all in together preparation…
4 organic eggs + 2 cups milk of choice + 1/2 cup flour + seasoning if desired + dash of organic coconut oil
sweet add – honey + 1 cup coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg
Lovingly beat together for sweet version, stir in additions, pour into lightly oiled pie plate and bake until set for 35 – 40 minutes.
Savoury Creation – add any leftover additions eg onion + 1/2 cup grated cheese + chopped herbs, leftover canned fish or seafood combinations or sliced tomatoes, herbs, onion, asparagus, leftover cooked pasta, cheese. All your leftover veggies and cheese.
We love diced cooked potato, pumpkin, zucchini, spinach, pasta and cheese.
Leftover pasta baked in a macaroni cheese-style sauce with cheese on the top.
Soggy Vegetables + Leftover Veggies
- Vegetables are the most wasted food type, according to the Wrap report, and we certainly suspect that the weekly “unidentifiable scary root vegetable” in all those well-intended vegetable boxes + veggies are not at their fresh best when bought from supermarkets and green grocers, might be adding to the problem.
- Soup is quick to cook and one of the most nutritious foods you can eat, ideal for winter too.
- When blending, add a spoonful of Kefir, crème fraiche / yoghurt or coconut milk for a richer soup. If you’re not in a soup mood for now, simply freeze them until you are. Also for soups, freeze the liquid left over when boiling chicken or turkey. Thaw it, add whatever seasonings needed, and it makes a great stock for soup. A left over ham bone will keep in the freezer until needed for flavouring a pot of beans.
- Left over veggies from the hors d’oeuvres tray? Throw them in a large stockpot or crock pot and make vegetable soup. The same can be done with cooked veggies, such as corn, green beans or peas. Any vegetable can be used.
- You create many yummy versions of soup from left overs, that you never can quite repeat for flavour – one of our favourites was left over baked pumpkin + stock + grated potato + grated carrot + grated onion + grated beetroot, with a dash of yoghurt, coconut milk and Celtic / Himalayan salt.
- Use left over cooked veggies from the baked veggie platter + shredded cabbage etc, mix through a white sauce, top with cheese if desired and grill until brown.
- Shephards Pie – Left over veggies add to casserole dish, top with a tasty sauce, top with mashed veg – potato or sweet potato bake until crisp.
- Vegetable Rolls – These can mask many veggie sins eg silverbeet stalks, are very easy to prepare and great for finger food entertaining and the kids love ’em.
Thicken with organic arrowroot some finely chopped, seasoned and sauteed vegetables.Can also add some sauce to the sauteed vegetables – fruit flavoured ketchup + any left over cooked or canned beans are a tasty addition – lentils. When the mixture has cooled a little, wrap in spring roll skins or filo pastry.
Roast in baking pan with organic coconut oil, turning them over so that both sides are brown. Do not let them touch each other in the dish as the sides will stick together and tear away when moved.
- Pickles are simple to make, if you use some pretty vegetable pieces, eg vertical slices of button mushrooms and horizontal slices of carrot and zucchini. Another handy way to dispose of unwanted stalks and cauliflower that without disguise is a bit sparce looking for the table. Pickles are handy as a basis for dips and are also good used sparingly in stir-fried vegetables.
- Leftover Vegetable Pancakes
Use leftover veggies or lightly steam excess combination of veggies and roll them in wholemeal pancakes with grated cheese. The pancake batter can be flavoured with garlic and or herbs. Arrange the veggie rolls in a shallow dish and dot the tops with organic butter, or cover with a tasty sauce. Heat in a moderate oven.
- Don’t feed all the outside green leaves of lettuce to the compost or the chooks, as they contain the most goodness.
You may not have tried cooking lettuce leaves, but they’re good chopped and added to curries and casseroles, mashed potato. Dad loves it put on top off his steak, towards the end of frying.
- Save the water in which the veggies were cooked, if not using straight away, save in a container in the fridge and use as liquid for gravies, sauces, stocks, dressings, soups.
Bubble and Squeak
- Cooking this dish is easy, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Approx. 1lb of left over boiled, mashed or roasted potatoes
- Approx. 1/2lb – 1lb of left over cabbage or Brussel sprouts
- A little organic butter or coconut oil
- Celtic/ Himalayan salt and black pepper if desired.
- Adjust the quantities in your recipe for bubble and squeak to suit your personal taste as desired, some people like half as much cabbage as potatoes, some like half and half.
- Now, either mash, or roughly chop the potatoes…you can use leftover roast potatoes and rough cut them into bitesize chunks but traditionally you mash the potatoes. Chop or break up the cabbage into bitesize pieces too and mix both these together, adding a little celtic salt or pepper to the mixture if desired.
- Then, add a little coconut oil or butter to a frying pan or skillet and heat on a medium heat.
- When the oil/butter is heated, add the cabbage and potatoes and form into a patty and let cook.
- You will hear the distinctive squeak and the ‘bubble’ part probably comes from the first stage of cooking the potatoes and cabbage which are typically boiled.
- When the bottom of the patty turns a golden brown colour you’ll need to flip it over to cook on the other side…and then, you’re done.
- Bubble and Squeak is typically served with cold meats (more leftovers from Sunday Lunch) and pickles as an evening meal but is also often served with breakfast with eggs, baked beans, fried tomatoes, sausages, bacon, and perhaps black pudding…a typical fry-up with the bubble and squeak replacing the potatoes or hash browns.
- Fadge … left over boiled or mashed potato (or use other root veggies) and rolled oats. Put the mash in a bowl, add 1 egg yolk (or 2 teaspoons organic arrowroot dissolved in 1 dessertspoon boiling water if you do not have or use eggs), half a finely chopped onion or shallots and stir well. Sprinkle on oats and keep adding oats until the mix forms a dough. Roll out and cut into rounds or form into balls in your hands and flatten. Fry in a little coconut oil until brown all over.
- Use potato cooking water as the liquid in making bread — it’s a great flavour enhancer. Speaking of potato water, mashed potatoes have a lighter and fluffier texture when the drained cooking water is used in place of milk. Adds less calories, too.
- Reheating rice is widely believed to be the culinary equivalent of Russian roulette. Uncooked rice can contain spores of bacillus cereus, which are not killed by cooking. But, according to the Food Standards Agency, “It’s not actually the reheating that’s the problem – it’s the way the rice has been stored.” Allowing the rice to stand around at room temperature causes the spores to develop into the bacteria, which can cause diarrhoea and vomiting. But if you chill any surplus immediately it can be reheated safely.
- A good way to use day old fridge rice is to add it to your veggie soup as a yummy filler. Makes a thin soup thick and hearty.
Add to meatloaf, compost, reheat with a little additional water and add some tex mex spices to it and put in tortillas with veggies and beans.
Blend with liquid and sweetener of choice for a rice milk – 1 cup cooked organic brown rice to approx.. 4 cups water.
- Rice pudding, rice salad, risotto, fried rice, paella, vine leaves, bulgur, as a stuffing for vegetables, fish or poultry.
- 1. Cooked organic brown rice + leftover soft breadcrumbs + onion + herbs + tomato + egg + cayenne – blend all together.
2. Combine leftover cooked rice with some leftover soft breadcrumbs (put through food processor) + diced onion + diced organic dried apricots + almonds + seeds + egg + orange juice and rind.
- If your into home brewing add it as an adjunct grain (like Budweiser), also freeze any leftovers and when you have enough make sake (fermented into wine).
- If in doubt …Let it dry out a bit, then put it in a blender and grind it into flour. Mix smoothly in cold water, then simmer until thick. Makes a good all-purpose paste, especially for joining porous materials like cardboard.
Don’t discard those end pieces of cheese. Grate them and freeze in a zipper-style freezer bag. Use in any recipe calling for the addition of shredded cheese before cooking or baking.
- Cottage Cheese Bread
- Here’s a recipe for your left-over cottage cheese. Mix together equal quantities of cottage cheese (very dry) and organic wholemeal flour. Add honey and raisins or chopped dates for sweetness and some spices like ginger, vanilla powder or cinnamon or poppy seeds. Knead well as for bread dough. Form a loaf and bake it in a tin or on a tray the same temperature and time as for your bread. You don’t need a rising agent because the cottage cheese will do the job.
- Those 1/2 full tubs of yogurt. Add to smoothies, baking – cakes, scones, muffins etc. Add to soups, curries, bean loaf, fruit and nut balls, dips etc.
- Tin Fish
- Traditionally, good quality tuna / salmon / sardines is packed in oil and cooked for several hours in the can. The resulting “confit” is a remarkably efficient way of preserving an already oily fish. Remove the fish from the tin and keep it airtight, preferably under a layer of fresh organic olive oil and it should keep for several days.
- Canned tuna / salmon / sardines (Fish 4 Ever – sustainably-fished sardines in organic olive oil).
Created quickly into casseroles, add to stir-fry, soups, salads, one-pot meals, omelette fillings, top a baked potato, frittata, impossible pie, fish cakes / patties, noodles, rice,etc.
- Fry tomatoes, add vegetables of choice ( grated / cubed carrot, zucchini, corn, squash)
- Add a couple of tablespoons of corn meal, slowly pour in milk of choice and stir til thick
- Add canned fish + chopped fresh herbs
- Serve with rice
- Pantry Bake
- Base …3 cups soft bread crumbs + 1/3 cup orange juice
- Filling… pantry fish, drained + celery + capsicum + grated apple + chopped mint
- Sauce… 2 tablespoons corn meal (maize) 1/2 cup apple juice + 1/2 cup milk of choice + 3 egg whites
- Bring slowly to boil, except the egg whites, simmer ’til thick, add stiffly beaten egg whites
- Press combined base into dish.., place combined filling over base and spread over sauce
- Bake ’til set approx. 35 – 40 minutes
Ditto tin baked beans
- Never store open beans in the can – we buy organic baked beans without added sugar (sweetened with fruit juice). Any leftover beans can be made into a bake, omelette, frittata.
- ‘whole earth’ organic baked beans (has no added sugar)
In oven-proof dish add to beans, grated zucchini + fresh corn from cob
- Top with mash (potato / sweet potato or mixed with pumpkin etc)
- Bake until crisp
- Baked beans + fresh corn + grated cheese + grated zucchini is nice as an omelette filling
There are times when you buy extra food with the intention to make it last for two meals. It is perfectly fine to prepare a large roast on Sunday to serve some cold on Monday. Make enough for the dinner meal to always have leftovers for the next day lunch or to fill school lunch bags. A thermos of soup or pasta is always tasty for school lunch.
Another time-saving trick is to make extra fruit juice and smoothies and freeze in icy-pole makers for quick nutritious snacks.
- With a little creativity, and containers of different sizes with fitted lids, recycling leftovers will save you a lot of time and money. Containers of leftover food often get pushed to the back of the refrigerator, where they become unrecognizable, or resemble some sort of mutant Chia Pet.
- Left over spaghetti sauce freezes well, and makes great sauce for meatballs, lasagne etc.
- Turkey – there so many leftover recipes for turkey…. turkey sandwiches, turkey hash, turkey pie, turkey casserole, turkey soup – there’s more turkey recipes than Bubba Gump’s shrimp, with a Google search you will find inspiration to reuse your turkey!
- Worm farms are a great fun way of disposing of food scraps and the worm castings are a fantastic garden fertiliser.
Two Best Friends – Dehydrator and a Juice Extractor
- The dehydrator is the natural way to preserve. Ideal when your garden has a surplus or when foods are in season. The list is endless. Fruits, veggies, herbs, nuts, berries, blossoms (make your own potpourri), roll-ups that are great for lunch boxes and for snacks.
- Juice extractor – masticator that not only juices all excess fruit and veggies, but grates and homogenises as well as makes nut butters, yummy frozen fruit ice-creams from excess fruit, purees, sauces, baby food, some have grain mill attachments to make your own fresh flour and for cracking grain.
- We use The Champion Juicer, there are other quality masticators available eg Green Power, Norwalk, Wheatanna (also for wheatgrass).
The Versatile Scone Recipe
- Mum became pretty good at baking her own bread, she more often fell back on a stand-by which was popular with us all – – scones. In the never ending battle to stretch the housekeeping, scones can be a very valuable ally. Made with organic wholemeal flour, they are quick to make, economical, nutritious, and filling. Served with a good recycled vegetable soup and topped with cheese or peanut butter, they make a satisfying lunch.
- Scones can be baked in an oven, or on top of the stove in a heavy based pot with a firm fitting lid. Although the latter method alters their texture, they are no less enjoyable. Wrapped in foil and buried in the coals of a campfire, scones become damper. The uncooked dough becomes dumplings when popped on top of a stew or stewed fruit and gently simmered for 15 minutes. (Don’t lift up the lid during this time or they will go soggy).
- In the unlikely event that there are any left over, scones that have lost their first flush of youth are delicious toasted, or can be rejuvenated by steaming for about 15 minutes over boiling water in a pudding basin, just like a steamed pudding, or dipped in milk, wrapped in foil and reheated in a hot oven for a few minutes. Used instead of bread, leftover scones are lovely in bread and butter custard. Crumbled and rubbed with a little organic butter they make beauty topping for casseroles. Add a little honey and coconut, spread on top of stewed fruit (recycled fruit) and bake until the crumbs are golden. Old fashioned bread pudding is improved when the bread crumbs are replaced with crumbled stale scones.
- Mum didn’t use a written recipe, just two or three cups of self raising flour, depending on the number of hungry tummies she had to fill, a knob of butter about the size of a walnut shell rubbed into the flour, pinch of salt and milk to mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board, gently roll the dough about in a ball until it is coated with flour, then press out with floured hands until 1 1/2 cm (5/8 in) thick and cut as desired, handling the scones as little as possible. Mum cuddled them up together on a greased tray and baked them in a very hot oven (about 250 C / 480 F) for ten or fifteen minutes. You can add a tablespoon of organic rapadura sugar /organic icing sugar and a couple of handfuls of organic dried fruit if you like them sweet, or perhaps stir in some grated cheese and herbs from the garden, a great way to reuse herbs if you bought a big bunch from the farmers market.
Other Recycled Feasts
- If you like marmalade with your scones you may like to try Mum’s recipe using only the peel of your oranges or citrus fruit. It is a nice firm marmalade and won’t run down your sleeve when you try to eat it.
- Or perhaps you would like to try making a Boston bun, using leftover mashed potato.
- This is OK if you have mashed the potato with milk and butter / oil, but not if you have used onion, herbs and pepper.
- Use your leftover bread with Mum’s yummy asparagus and corn creation.
Orange Peel Marmalade
- Before you eat your orange, scrub the skin clean, then peel and store the peel in the refrigerator in a closed container until you have the skins of about eight or nine oranges. Shred the skins finely with a sharp knife then measure the quantity. For every cup of finely cut, tightly packed orange peel, allow 3 cups of water, then add 1 finely cut lemon. Put it all in a large bowl and allow to stand for 12 hours. Transfer to a large pan and boil for half an hour, then leave to stand for a further 12 hours.
- Measure by cup. For every cup of pulp, allow one cup of organic rapadura sugar.
- Bring to the boil gently so as not to burn the sugar.
- Gently stir now and again with a wooden spoon.
- When the marmalade comes to the boil, keep it boiling at a gently roll.
- After about half an hour start testing it every ten minutes or so, by taking a little out of the pan and dropping it onto a cold saucer. When it is ready the cooled tester will frim on the saucer like honey.
- This is my Mum’s recipe, I would experiment with fruit juice and honey instead of sugar – eight orange skins will make about 3 cups of sliced peel and use about 2 kg (4 1/2 lb) of sugar.
Potato Boston Bun
- Beat 1/2 cup mashed potato with 1/2 cup honey, add 1/2 cup organic dried fruit, then add 1 cup SR flour (or flour of choice), alternately with 1/2 cup milk.
Bake in an 18 cm (7 in) sandwich pan in a moderate oven (180 C /350 F) for thirty minutes. If you double the recipe and use two tins, it will still only take thirty minutes to cook. Test it like any other cake with a long skewer, or gently press the top with your finger. If it springs back it should be done. You can spread the top with a little frosting and sprinkle with coconut. Serve with fruit spread if desired.
- Mum’s Asparagus & Corn Creation
- Trim crusts from bread and lightly oil / butter. Place oiled side down in oblong dish, sprinkle over grated cheese. Arrange layers of asparagus spears, corn, chopped shallots. Top with mixture of 4 eggs + 1 cup of milk + teaspoon mustard, seasoning if desired.
Sprinkle with grated cheese, bake until set – 40 minutes.
Can be prepared the day before and kept in the refrigerator ready to cook.
- Combine grated veggies or leftover cooked baked veggies and meat, and onion. Zucchini + the flowers + corn + herbs + goats cheese are our favourite fritter combination.
Although I fondly remember Mum’s banana fritters and the corn meat fritters that followed from Sundays hot lunch for the leftover evening meal and the next day lunch as well!
- 400g small to medium zucchini, preferably a mix of green and yellow, and 1 or 2 zucchini flowers if available
1 freshly picked corn cob
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint and parsley. If you’ve washed the herbs, make sure they are quite dry before cutting them
½ cup cheese, chopped coarsely. We use marinated organic goats cheese because its easy to keep a jar in the fridge but you could use a piece of fetta or grated cheese
½ cup plain flour
1 egg, beaten
freshly ground pepper
organic coconut oil for frying
- Coarsely grate the zucchini without peeling it (the flecks of skin add texture and colour). Mix about ½ a teaspoon of sea salt into the zucchini and place it in a colander that you sit over a bowl for about half an hour. The zucchini will expel quite a lot of liquid and this stops the fritters becoming too watery. Discard the liquid.
- Carefully peel the corn cob removing all of the silky threads and cut off the base so that it can stand flat on the table. Stand the corn cob on its base then, using a sharp knife, carefully cut the kernels from the cob. Twist the cob and repeat until most of the kernels have been removed. Warm about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the kernels and cook them for a few minutes, turning them all the time. They should quickly caramelise. Be careful. They might start to pop. Remove from the pan and allow to cool a little.
- When you’re ready to make the fritters, squeeze the grated zucchini gently to remove excess fritters. Put the zucchini in a clean tea towel and roll it up. Twist both ends in opposite directions (it’s easier if two people do this) to remove more liquid. Now it should be quite dry. Add it to a clean bowl.
- Add the corn, cheese, the chopped fresh herbs, chopped zucchini flower if using, and the egg. Stir the mixture gently to combine.
- It’s a flexible recipe. Alone, or with a simple mint and yoghurt sauce and a few slices of ripe tomatoes or with slow-roasted tomatoes, it would make a great breakfast. With a salad, it can easily become a light lunch or dinner.
- Marinated goats cheese is excellent for its storage time in the fridge and is just divine in salads accompanied with the oil for a salad dressing. The cheese blended with avocado, garlic and a touch of lemon juice and rind, for a very tasty dip. Marinated goats cheese is also very tasty added to impossible pies and quiches.
Old fashioned Bread Pudding
- A great tasty Grandma’s favourite way to use up old bread – even the fruit varieties of bread is nice.
- Remove crusts from bread, cut into triangles, lightly oil or butter.
- Mix milk of choice, vanilla, honey, small amount of oil, sultanas, cinnamon, eggs.
- Pour on top of bread and sultanas, sprinkle with nutmeg and bake.
Economy Pudding – from an old wartime magazine
170 g (6 oz) SR flour
125 g (4 oz) each grated raw carrot and potato
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 level teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 cup dried fruit
60 g (2 oz) butter (or your choice)
3 tablespoons sugar (or your choice of sweetener) optional
From what my parents told me, hard times can be faced and overcome if there is a positive, happy attitude in the family. Simple pleasures, simple food well prepared, more time spent on people than things. Mum’s ability to rise above the occasion stemmed from thick soups (for example, barley, vegetable and dumpling), lots of singing, reading, gardening and keeping chickens and keeping busy.
- We buy bulk organic rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, pasta, dried beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, flours, coconut – share and split the cost with friends.
- Adapt recipes to suit the budget and contents of the pantry.
- Store fresh herbs, eggs, sprouts, garlic, ginger, veg and fruit properly to prevent father time with a quicker spoilage.
- Love to ferment – always have a store of relish, Sauerkraut, Kim Chi, Water and Milk Kefir and Kombucha.
- Storing a few basic essentials in the pantry can make it quick and easy to create all kinds of wonderful creations. More expensive items can be stretched out, if you don’t have a supply of dehydrated tomatoes, sun-dried organic tomatoes may seem expensive, but will go a long way and good to have a supply for when fresh is not as available. Jazz up a pizza base or pasta sauce or sparingly add to pesto for salads, pasta or grain creations.
- Canned – fish – sustainably-fished sardines in organic olive oil (great mashed on toast fingers), salmon.
- Beans – there are varieties of certified organic beans packaged in enamel-lined lead-free tins. A range of already prepared bean dishes. This is a much more expensive way of buying beans, good for pantry stand-byes. Try adding extra veggies, cooked potato and pumpkin etc or pasta. Organic canned soups are a good stand-by for a flavour-base for pasta sauces and veggie casseroles.
- Organic taco shells, a good quick and a favourite stand-by.
- Jars – organic nut butters, tahini, honey, fruit spreads, peanut butter, tamari, coconut oil.
- Buy honey, tahini, tamari and coconut oil in bulk and refill the containers.
- Extras – miso, ground herbs, vanilla, milk of choice.
- Until recently home preserving of home-grown and produced food was common and the careful housewife would have a pantry or store-room with a wide variety of goods lined up on the shelves.
The positive aspects of keeping food include saving money, self-reliance, security, quality and an antidote to a monotonous diet.
When you have a basic stock of food on hand, you have a hedge against inflation and a safeguard against any food supply crisis, caused by a breakdown in sources of supply or distribution.
Some foods, like pumpkins, store well enough naturally.
- Tender, “short-lived” foods like peas, cucumber and asparagus should be bottled, frozen or pickled. Others are best dried. It’s easy enough to see that preserving home-grown fruit and vegetables (or food bought from the local farmers market) makes sense and saves you money. Here’s to a good growing summer, a happy preserving autumn and a well-fed winter!
Food like Grandma made
- Jean Hewitt was born in England, but lived in the United States, where she was in charge of the New York Times test kitchen and wrote for newspaper’s women’s page and the Sunday magazine.
- The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook, Jeap Hewitt, Souvenir Press, London, 1972.
- “Around the turn of the century”, says Jean Hewitt in the preface to this book, “before the advent of large-scale mechanised farming and modern food production methods, people took the special pleasures of fresh, natural and unrefined foods for granted”.
- “At least once a week the fragrance of bread baking filled the house … farm animals were allowed to roam and develop without man’s interference …
“Sacks and barrels at the general store were filled with unrefined and unprocessed ingredients that had short shelf-life, but lots of flavour”.
- Grandma’s day may be gone forever, but the 700 recipes selected by Jean Hewitt made it easier to recapture the goodness and real flavour of the old-time style of cooking.
- The recipes call for basic, fresh, unrefined and “non-highly-processed” ingredients.
A comprehensive section on bread baking, with dozens of different loaves, muffins and pancakes. Chapters cover fully yoghurt making, growing bean sprouts, preserves, grains and cereals as well as the more expected soups, poultry, fish and vegetarian dishes.
- Jean Hewitt made no claims for natural and organic eating as miracle cures for any diseases or condition.
- “The emphasis is on the flavour potential and nutritional value of the ingredients,” she says, “And not on any specific benefits that may be attributed to them”.
- Thanks to my parent’s- Annette & Stan Stein, for the inspiration for this article.
- Who still have their productive chook yard and veggie garden.
- Fruit trees from which Mum still churns out endless bottles of lemon butter, marmalade and chutney.
- A store room with shelves full of fruit leathers, dried fruit and preserved vegetables.
- The Freegans would be proud of my Mum, who made jam from the pie melons that grew wild in the paddocks.
- Fish soup was made from cod heads.
- Everybody did their own shoe or boot repairs – a boot last (a model for shaping the shoe) was a necessity.
- No one could accuse my parent’s of polluting the atmosphere or poisoning the soil.
- Plastics were unavailable, the only fertilisers used were the natural waste products from the chooks and animals.
- All paper was salvaged, some to be cut into little squares to serve as toilet paper and the rest as an underlay for floor coverings.
- Made interesting reading, many years later when floor coverings were replaced.
- The chooks and dogs cleaned up any table scraps and the smaller bones were chopped up to be used in the bottom of the tins which plants were grown in.
- A rubbish dump was hardly necessary.
- Times were indeed hard, but in retrospect, little damage was caused to the environment.
- Perhaps another Depression wouldn’t be such a bad thing in some ways.
- Goods would have to be recycled.
- It would be a case of survival at all costs.
- A throw-away society would be a thing of the past.