20 September 2008

Waste not, want not

Am I the only one who finds this seemingly newfound frugality fad mixed distrust of the food industry with a bit comical?

I mean...it just seems like a few years ago most people I knew were more interested in loading their shopping trolleys with loads of processed foods or simply just getting coffee, bottled water and snacky foods, leaving their meals up to office cafeterias, restaurants and fast fooderies. These were the same people who would mock me for baking my own bread, brownbagging my lunches, buying "family packs" of meat and *gasp* using the produce weigh scales when buying fresh fruits and veggies.

Today colleagues ask me how to make the breads and pastries they used to buy at the shops, the lunch hour microwave queues are longer (while caf lines are shorter), total strangers stop me and ask me about portioning with family packs and what on earth they can do with all those pork chops (do I have a forehead tattoo signalling a passing familiarity with cooking?) and I actually have to wait to use the scales.

Don't get me started on the food boors.

As someone raised on home-cooked foods by budget-conscious people, I think I've done well enough with sticker shock--I've always looked for bargains and bulk cooked to avoid the "there's nothing in the house to eat/make and eat quickly" as often as possible. I was also taught to figure out what to do with scraps. I'm not always the greatest at this, but every once in a while I'm quite pleased at the silk purse I've fashioned.

Take, as an example, my latest creation, born of the drawn salty-sweet peach juices from the peach chutney I last blogged about. I turned it into a satay-like peanut sauce. Unfortunately, I can't give you exact measurements--in my experience, silk purses rarely get them--but I mixed in some chunky peanut butter, sesame oil, powdered ginger, garlic and onion powder, chilli oil, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and a pinch of brown sugar, put it in a jar and stored it in the fridge

I've used it a couple of times and it tastes great with shrimp or chicken. Of course, you don't have to make your own peanut sauce to make my peanutty shrimp and noodle dish--store bought will work just as well. Again, no quantities--just use as much as you have/want/need/suits your taste.

Peanutty shrimp and noodles
slivered onions
slivered carrots
slivered bell pepper
minced garlic
cleaned and peeled uncooked shrimp
chilli sauce
peanut sauce
soy sauce
cooked rice noodles

Heat oil in a wok and tip in the onions, carrots and peppers and stir fry. When they are about half-way cooked, add in the garlic and stir for a out 30 seconds and then remove to a plate. Add more oil if necessary and add the shrimp. Cook for a few minutes, add the sauces and then the cooked noodles and stir until the shrimp is fully cooked. Return the veg to the wok and just toss everything together before serving.


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Anonymous said...

That looks amazing and I completely understand about silk purses. My dad was a master, but it was frustrating because if you asked him how he did it he would shrug and say *I don't remember*.

Wandering Coyote said...


I'm single and live on a small budget, so I bulk cook and bake all the time and take advantage of sales and my family's fruit & nut trees. I also can at the end of the summer with my family. I do well, and I eat very well. I used to work somewhere where the staff ate atrociously all the time. I'd bring in my homemade left overs and they'd be shocked to pieces, telling me how gourmet my chicken & rice looked, etc. It was comical, but sad, too. My mom made all our baking and cooked from scratch, and she shopped and cooked in bulk. I learned from her, and it was a real gift. Now it seems that cooking and baking is almost a lost art.

K and S said...

what a wonderful and delicious way to use up leftovers.

giz said...

What I love the most - besides the dish of course - is the quick shifting to home made. People who would never cook at home are really making an effort. Between gas prices and food prices, our dollars are just not stretching far enough. It's amazing what we can do when we really put our minds to it.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

One of my specialties is making soup from whatever I find in the fridge and pantry. I never can duplicate them, of course, but there's always another great soup waiting to happen.

Jenny said...

I agree with the change in people's attitudes when it comes to cooking - I've been meal planning wit a budget for years and people always thought I was crazy. Now they are all coming to me with requests for help on how to meal plan!
Good use of leftovers.

Aimée said...

This is my kind of cooking! The little guys love peanut butter too, so I can't go wrong. Yummy!

Deborah said...

I, too, grew up in a house where meals were home-cooked and budget friendly. It sure makes me grateful today, because I have that knowledge that my mom passed on to me!

This looks great - a wonderful way to use leftovers!

Anonymous said...

I think anything that brings people back to the kitchen is a good thing -even if it's a tight economy at least it's a silver lining to a bad situation.

Katerina said...

It can be so hard sometimes to use up leftovers but I always feel extra satisfied when something creative comes out of it. Your noodles look delicious.

Fitness Foodie said...

I totally understand your comical view on people's past and present outlook on food...although sometimes I find it a bit sad. I guess I can count myself to be lucky, as I was influenced by my family, particularly my mom, who was and is a great cook, baker, budgeter. Today I am still reaping the benefits of my dads ever growing garden.