Cooking Day

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Today I cooked.  I was inspired by the large pumpkin I was given yesterday as well as the chickpeas I had cooked yesterday.

The first job was to pack up the baked beans I had cooked overnight in the slow-cooker.  I had some for breakfast as well as these 3 jars to go in the freezer and half a jar which are in the refrigerator to be used in the next few days.

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I then cut up the pumpkin.  The 2 trays of sliced pumpkin have been basted with a mixture of olive oil and balsamic syrup.  These will be used on pizzas. Some of the larger pieces will be cut up and added to the chickpea and vegetable curry while the remainder will be become pumpkin soup.  I pre-roast the pumpkin as it is easier than peeling it and I find that it also enhances the flavour.

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Meanwhile I moved onto the curry.  As well as the chickpeas and pumpkin this also had stalks of choy sum and half an eggplant diced.  I ended up with a total of 8 serves (4 meals for GMan and me).

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I had other plans for the choy sum leaves and the other half of the eggplant.  Using this recipe for Eggplant Lasagne Rolls as inspiration, I made a dish of lasagne using the finely shredded choy sum leaves mixed with half a tub of ricotta that I had in the refrigerator layered with the sliced eggplant and a rich, herbed tomato sauce.  This is ready to be baked for dinner tomorrow night.  I will add a mixture of flaxseed meal and parmesan cheese to the top when it is almost cooked.

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One pizza was for our lunch today which we enjoyed.  The other one is ready for the cheese to be added, cooked and eaten another day.

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All of these dishes were made using a combination of ingredients I had on hand in the pantry and refrigerator with produce I had been gifted and what was growing in the garden.  One of the most important aspects is to ensure that nothing goes to waste.

Finally, I made some more spreadable butter blend.

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Although the title of this blog post is ‘Cooking Day’, it occurred to me when you have access to fresh produce from the garden (either your own or kind friends) there is always something to do.

More about my other food adventures another day.

Cooking Up a Storm

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I didn’t sew today (or this week) but today I cooked.  More specifically I cooked this afternoon and evening as I went shopping this morning.

Last night I cooked pumpkin with vegetable stock in the slowcooker.  This afternoon I cooked potatoes, fried some onion and added the pumpkin mixture.  This made 7 large serves of soup.  I had one for dinner and here are the others ready to go in the freezer.

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With the remainder of the pumpkin I sliced it up, brushed with a mixture of oil and balsamic vinegar and roasted it.  I will use the roasted pumpkin slices on pizzas for dinner on Tuesday night.  Two trays ready to go in the oven.

2015-05-17 02Once the pumpkin mixture was finished in the slow cooker I cooked the chickpeas which had been soaking over night to make hummus.

2015-05-17 03The next thing into the slow cooker was honey soy chicken.  8 chicken thigh fillets, 3 tablespoons honey and 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce.  Once the chicken was cooked I removed the pieces with a slotted spoon and poured the juice into a small saucepan and thickened it with arrowroot.  4 serves ready to freeze.

2015-05-17 03After the chicken was done I washed the slow cooker then added kidney beans to make refried beans which you can find in this blog post.

I make my own gluten-free pizza bases and normally make enough for 6 bases and freeze them.  There were none in the freezer so it was time to make another batch.  Here is the dough divided into pieces.  The first 2 bases were already in the oven by the time I took the photo.

2015-05-17 04Here are 6 pre-cooked bases ready to be bagged and frozen.  I use opened out cereal packets to separate things that I am freezing.  The dividers can be washed and re-used many times.

2015-05-17 05I picked lemons and made lemon cordial.  You can read more about it here.

2015-05-17 06I also  made more butter mixture and 8 serves of chilli con carne (no photo) as well as dividing up the meat which I bought and packing it into the freezer.

Cooking and preparing meals is a never-ending task but it is good to have a few meals and ingredients prepared to make the job a bit easier each evening.

Something from the Garden

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Back to one of my favourite topics – eating what is in season.

Last night we had salmon for dinner.  While the salmon is not strictly local, it does come from Australian waters.  It is farmed in the clear water of the Huon River estuary in southern Tasmania.  The salmon could hardly be considered a budget meal as it costs about $10 for enough for 2 serves.  We always barbeque the salmon and season it with a little salt and some lime juice to enhance the flavour.

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I served it with pumpkin mash, stir-fried pak choy, balsamic roasted cherry tomatoes and avocado slices.  I poured some of the balsamic/tomato juice over the salmon as a glaze to finish it off.  All of these ingredients came from our garden so you can’t get much more seasonal or local than that.  It also means that a meal of salmon is quite a reasonable price.  What would you pay in a restaurant for a meal like this? $30 – $35 perhaps?

Not every meal contains as much of our own garden produce but I do try to include it as much as possible.  Tonight we are having pizza which will be spread with mango chutney (made from the neighbour’s mangoes) instead of tomato paste and have balsamic roasted pumpkin as the main topping.

We have had a bumper harvest of pumpkins this year so I am constantly looking for creative ideas to use them.  As well as the ubiquitous pumpkin soup, pumpkin mash and being used on pizza topping I have also made some pumpkin scones recently.

What do you have a glut of?  Do you have any pumpkin suggestions?

Surprise From the Freezer

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This morning I took a lidded Pyrex dish from the freezer which contained 2 serves of lasagne.  I left it on the kitchen bench to thaw.

When we were on our way home this evening The Duke asked what was for dinner so I assured him we were having lasagne.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was one of my creations which was actually pasta (2 different types), re-fried beans and a little shredded chicken topped with grated cheese.  Considering the pasta and cheese it is not entirely surprising that I mistook it for lasagne.

I use a random selection of containers for freezing meals, leftovers and produce and have never come up with a really effective method of labelling items for the freezer so I simply don’t do it.  This does lead to the occasional blunder but generally nothing that cannot be solved reasonably easily.

My funniest experience was the day I took a small container of frozen pumpkin soup to work for my lunch.  I also had a slice of home-made bread which I was going to toast and have with my soup.  The soup was still partly frozen at lunch-time so I loosened the lid and popped it in the microwave.  After a period of time I decided to check if it was warm enough.  I dipped my finger in to check and it was only warm.  Upon licking my finger I discovered that the pumpkin soup was mango puree!!  The toast was already cooked and I did not want to waste the ‘soup’ so lunch that day was warm mango puree and a slice of toast!

How do you keep track of what is in the freezer?