Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Take one chicken...

Ever noticed how expensive portions of chicken are? Buy a whole chicken instead. First make sure it isn't one that somes prestuffed or pre injected with all sorts (they usually come in an oven bag ready to roast). Then roast it. Easy. Make the gravy with cornflour and the meat juices from the pan - it really helps to season the chicken and stuff it with an small onion and a bay leaf! If you are going all out for excellent gravy then 1/2 a celery stick, a couple of peppercorns and some sticks of carrot in the cavity help.

Then slice all the meat - and tear off the bits from underneath and dig into the wings and everywhere on the carcass - you'll be amazed how much there is if you don't normally do this!

So go for it with a roast dinner. Make it easy by doing dry roast potatoes, kumara, carrots, pumpkin and parsnips at the same time as the roast chicken.

So what do you do with the leftovers? Ideas...

have another roast dinner in a giant yorkshire pudding
eat in sandwiches
warm and make a mushroom and white wine sauce to top it
toss with pasta and pesto
add to pizza (if thats your thing)
throw it at your neighbours
puree it then freeze it into bullet shapes and then shoot fat people with it
make it into a hat
sell it on trademe
try to clone it and re-create the original living organisms
use it to lure homeless people into your car and then sell them on trademe
parcel it up and send it to Ethiopia

Is anyone reading this?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The deli counter at the supermarket

This is not a friend of anyone who is trying to avoid food additives! It all looks so good - but when you read the labels they go on and on: salts, nitrites, honey, MSG...

I have never found anything that is really ok to eat and doesn't contain heaps of the nasty chemicals! We do indulge in ham on the bone occasionally.

Really it seems that you get what you pay for. Budget end is sausage and luncheon. Dare you look at the ingredients? Top end is prosciutto and ham on the bone. Even sundried tomatoes usually have preservative in.

A lot of hams contain honey - how many parents read that label before giving it to the kids? Most contain MSG and are bulked out with water/brine. Ever had real ham? It is drier and slightly sweet and a different shade of pink than the average. And totally delicious. Unfortunately it is now very hard to get hold of here. I know. I've tried. If anyone knows of a place here in Christchurch that does it properly then please reply!

Bring back the old fashioned butchers!!!


One of the questions I get asked the most is just what I put in sandwiches for the kids. I think we eat a more varied diet than most because of avoiding certain products. So here is a list of the regular fillings - with or without salad of course:

cream cheese
tuna and mayo (with sweetcorn sometimes)
poached salmon and mayo or tinned salmon
ham (occasionally - and the best quality I can buy)
fruit spread
almond butter
nutella (occasionally) - and always on wholemeal grainy bread
leftover cold roast chicken
leftover beef joint

There are plenty of other options too that my daughter doesn't really like

cottage cheese
peanut butter (sometimes with fruit spread)
smoked salmon

And then there's the toasted sandwich with a salad garnish:

cheese and onion or pineapple or tomato
mashed up baked beans ( protein and fibre!)

I love that daughter will eat these as they are a really quick and easy balanced meal - if you put some cherry tomatoes, celery and carrot sticks, cucumber stars (use cookie cutters)and lettuce on the side too.

Who said that avoiding food additives was hard?

Food additives

So how widespread are food additives? Particularly the ones that the latest research tells us our kids should avoid at all costs. They are in just about every processed food from bread and spreads to canned goods (once upon a time didn't canning actually eliminate the need for preservatives?), drinks, puddings... Frozen foods even contain them.

I make my own bread. I confess - I do own a bread maker to help things along. All the recipes use surebake instead of regular yeast. It took trial and error to work out the actually quantity of yeast I really needed. It's half. So by omitting the additives I get to buy just yeast (which is cheaper) and use only half the quantity. You also don't need the milk/dried milk. Real bread. Oh -don't expect it to last. It's wonderful on the day and great for toast the next morning but then use it as breadcrumbs as it will be too hard and dry. I wonder how the manufacturers manage to make theirs last 3 or 4 days? Oh that's right ;-)

Not all cheese is equal...

Cheese. Now there's a topic. Nowadays not only do we get 'normal' cheese, but processed cheese triangles, processed cheese singles, squirty cheese in a tube, cheese string... I see so many friends hand over a flat shiny square fresh out of the plastic to their kids and explain that it's "cheese".

Well that isn't cheese. Real cheese is a living organism and doesn't keep well unless in the correct conditions. Here in Christchurch we have a brilliant shop called 'the canterbury cheesemongers' and if you think that 'cheese' will cover it - pay them a visit.

My eldest daughter knows her cheddar from her edam and her fresh mozzarella from her parmesan. And gouda. And so on. I think I used the word "cheese" when she was under 18 months - and then it was "try this...." type. It's fun and the flavours are amazing - goats and sheeps cheeses, blue, waxy ones, ones with holes... She even helps me choose!