Afternoon eKa CIRCLE
Yesterday I had half a day that was a little quieter so decided to do a market shop with hubby. We got back loaded with all sorts of fresh goodies! It was mostly produce, some dried beans, spices and other things for the pantry. For the time it spent me to pop a chicken soup in the pressure cooker for the family I decided to prep a lot of the fresh produce to store for later. I am not talking about the steam the salmon and broccoli type of food prep either that has become popular with the gym crowd. I’m speaking of fresh food saved for a rainy day that has been spiked with delicious spices or fresh herbs for full convenience and full flavour additions to meals and snacks. I speak of currency often but there is also a reason for the spice trade right as herbs and spices were also considered currency worth warring over. Not just for the taste but for the healing benefits they offer.
Food preparation is something that needs to be discussed if you are looking at living a more self sustained lifestyle, it is cost effective, healthier and environmentally friendly as we are choosing to eat seasonal local produce. As nature intended. The trade off is that you will need to plan ahead much like our grandmothers did.
So in a little more than an hour I had some pickled chillies, pickled onions, pickled cucumbers, a sauerkraut started, stored some garlic in olive oil, frozen some bananas in a recycled ziplock bag and made a batch of my tomato chutney (this time trying a variation using some left over pineapple and currants)- search the eka circle blog for some of these recipe ideas.
This is the secret to budget living and entertaining without planning much. You will notice that fruit and vegetables in season are not only cheaper, but often sold in larger quantities so that the seller moves the stock quickly before spoiling. This is what you should look to take advantage of. Yesterday I saw a whole case of ripe tomatoes for $5 and that can make jars and jars of chutneys, tomato puree and sauce for when you might need some. I also went to buy a single head of garlic and noticed that the bag of garlic was near the same price so I chose the bag! I set aside what I felt we will use and bottled the remainder in pure olive oil. It was the same with the bananas the price for a large bucket of ripe bananas was the same as buying just a few, so I bought the bucket and froze some peeled in a recycled ziplock bag. These can be used for baking and smoothies and will keep for a year or more this way.
Same with the chillies- they were selling a rather large quantity for $4.99 so I bought them all. Set a small amount aside in my mesh fridge bag to keep them fresh and I pickled the rest. The pickled ones will keep for 6 months or more so that will be wonderful when chillies are not around much during the winter months. See my recipe below to pickle them.
1 kg fresh chillies, rinsed
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup raw sugar
1 tsp salt
3 bay leaves
1 tsp peppercorns
Warm the water in a saucepan with the vinegar, sugar, salt and spices until the sugar dissolves, allow to cool slightly. Place the chillies into clean jars and pour over the pickling liquid. Make sure the chillies are submerged and seal the lids. Store in the refrigerator once opened.
few head of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
dried bay leaves
Using a sharp knife cut the base off the garlic heads ( you can use these in soups or casseroles for flavour) Peel each clove of garlic and arrange in a clean glass jar. Top with olive oil to submerge completely and top each jar with a bay leaf. Seal the lid and store in the refrigerator. The oil will solidify but scoop out what you need for cooking; the oil can also be used for cooking.
While we all might use the excuse that we are too busy for such planning ahead I feel the cost for convenience is a pay off that I am no longer willing to trade. Have you not noticed that convenience costs your health, wealth and state of mind? Anything that is convenient sadly has that trade off.
We are forced to buy ready made items that are made using inferior ingredients that affect our energy levels so that we can then work harder, longer hours to pay for the expense of these inferior items. Utter madness if one takes the time to consider it carefully. Think about a home made pesto made at home with a glut of home grown basil- you reap the benefits of grounding, breathing fresh air, getting some natural vit d, add some tasty organic olive oil and enjoy the rewards of taste and good health for months ahead. Or you work longer hours in fluorescent lighting to be able to afford your pesto made with canola oil and additives that you cannot pronounce. While this might seem dramatic as an illustration- it isn’t really if you add up each ingredient and the aftermath of each decision.
So what is the secret to getting organised and using your time wisely? I like to multitask in the kitchen. Don’t just turn the oven on for a cake; think to yourself the ovens on, what else can I pop in there? It is easy to prepare a flatbread from scratch while the cake is cooking then slip it in on the bottom shelf. While the ovens on pop a pot of vegetables scraps on the stove to make some stock. Use your freezer, use your pantry to store pickles, chutneys, sauces and jams that make a meal tasty or a lovely gift for friends. Gather some friends and make a day of your food prep if that is something that appeals to you? Make it fun again.
It is equally just as easy to make a huge batch of pickling liquid and flavour each jar with a different spice. Yesterday I choose fennel seeds and peppercorns for my cucumbers, cloves, peppercorns and bay for my chillies and mustard seeds and chilli flakes for my red onions. The time I would take to make one pickle is now giving me three different pickles to store for a rainy day. Make sure you save and recycle your glass jars and bottles so that when you get this urge to prep ahead you have what you need for storage.
Simple fresh ingredients don’t require too much added to them. The idea is to store them to keep at their peak freshness. This helps avoid any waste. Saves your budget and helps you plan ahead for interesting meals and flavours without any effort. PIcture a simple cheese sandwich loaded with pickles, chutney and sauerkraut. I like to use them to sparkle up a dull salad or serve with a protein for an easy family dinner.
Let me know what creations you come up with and how you have implemented some positive change into planning ahead?
love & light
M + E
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