Anything you don’t like or which makes you feel bad.
Anything you don’t like or which makes you feel bad.
This easy meal I’ve been making for years is apparently not called “Bacon and Egg Spaghetti”, as I had always assumed. It is, in fact, spaghetti carbonara. It is sacrilegious because extra things get thrown into it depending on availability.
Source: A Readers Digest cookbook called Midweek Meals Made Easy (before I mutilated it)
50g Frozen Peas
50g Bacon, sliced
3 Spring Onions, sliced (optional really, but do try to eat some veggies!)
25g Grated Cheese (Parmesan if you want to get fancy)
50g Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream
As well as anything else in the fridge you think might go with an eggy, creamy sauce. I’ve had luck with gherkin (diced) and frozen corn (is there anything it can’t do!). Perhaps toss in some capers or olives if you’ve got some left over from experiments in real Italian cooking.
1. Cook the spaghetti according to packet directions. Throw in the frozen peas in the last couple of minutes.
2. While the pasta’s cooking, fry up the bacon until crisp, then add the spring onions and fry for another minute.
3. Combine cheese, eggs and sour cream in a bowl and season with black pepper. Beat with a fork until well mixed.
4. Drain spaghetti and peas and return them to the hot pan. Add in the bacon and spring onions, then, off the heat, add the egg mix and stir thoroughly until the eggs thicken to create a creamy sauce. Ensure everything is mixed thoroughly.
This is my “oh god it’s two days till pay day and I’m out of money!” dish. I wouldn’t claim the flavour is amazing, but it’s dirt cheap, filling,quick and nutritious. Lentils and rice are a combination you’ll find often, and that’s because the kinds of proteins found in rice and the kinds of proteins found in lentils complement each other, giving your body a fuller selection of the proteins you require than if you just ate one or the other. It’s a good trick for vegetarian dishes, and might head off some of the concern trolling about where on earth you’ll get enough protein from if you start eating vegetarian meals (Ha!).
Anyhow, here’s the recipe:
Source: Not sure
1 1/2 cups dry lentils
1 cup brown rice
1 large onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, sliced
7 cups water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp black pepper
To serve: Any of lemon juice, sour cream, plain unsweetened yoghurt
1. Heat the olive oil in a scaucepan and brown the onion. Then add the water and bring to the boil. Add the garlic, lentils, rice, paprika and pepper. Cover and simmer about 25 minutes until it is all soft and sludgey. Add salt to taste.
2. Serve with whatever you have on hand.
There you have it! You have successfully kept starvation at bay for another day!
Spring is here! How do I know this? Certainly not from the weather, which remains terrible. Nope, this is how:
Japanese quail are fun-size chickens. When they get enough light, they’ll start spamming eggs like nobody’s business. But what to do with a bajillion quail eggs? The conversion is 5 quail eggs to 1 chicken egg, so have fun cracking 20 to make a cake.
Well, we can start by hard boiling the first wave. From there we can pop them in a salad or get really artistic if we’re in the mood.
First let’s examine the eggs and toss any that are damaged. I always use the “float test” as well, in case these are actually eggs the birds have been hiding from me for a month. Prick the remaining eggs in the base with a pin.
Then grab a pot and pour in some water. Add some vinegar to soften the shells and bring to the boil. Don’t add too much or your house will smell of a combination of eggs and vinegar and you will have to go outside. If the dots come off your eggs, you added too much!
Drop in the eggs once the water is boiling and leave for 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.
To peel, smack them soundly on the base with a teaspoon to crack the shell and peel off under running water. You should be able to peel off the whole shell in a nice neat circular pattern. I say “should”, but if you’re like me you’ll wreck a couple, probably because you were impatient!
Now they’re ready to halve and chuck in your salad. Or you could try something more creative.
So ends round one. Round two coming soon.
The idea of a “Fat Tax” has again appeared in the media. To which I respond, as always: “What an ass-backwards way of approaching this issue!” It is widely known that low-income earners turn to junk food because fresh healthy food is simply too expensive, or as 3 News condescendingly phrased it “perceived as more expensive”.
Okay, 3 News, I’ll concede that on a purely dollar-for-dollar comparison, fresh food is cheaper than eating junk food every day. However, once you start to calculate in the labour cost of menu planning, shopping around, travel to food outlets, food preparation, bulk buying, recipe research, cooking and freezing etc, it becomes blatantly obvious how junk food comes out cheaper.
Now let’s look at our low income earners: heavily weighted towards the disabled, single parents, the mentally ill, the inadequately educated…I am none of these things and still the tasks above involved in maintaining a healthy, cost-effective diet are monumental for me. Add in the fact that I live in a low income area and have no vehicle – I have to walk 1.5km at minimum to the nearest decent fresh produce. Whereas pies, fish and chips, and liquor are right on my doorstep. What do you think I’m going to get if I’m caught short preparing dinner one evening? The food desert is real.
So here’s some alternative suggestions to approach the issue:
There you go. Five constructive ways to tackle the obesity epidemic without penalising the ones already struggling most to feed themselves.
At 18, I left home for a tiny student flat. I’d never cooked for myself before. Some thoughtful relative gave me a recipe book called Food for Flatters.
I was astonished by the immense disconnect between the authors of this book and the situation of the average young flatter.
“You don’t need to break your budget buying a whole lot of fancy equipment!” One page proclaimed. “Here are a few things you might find useful!” This caption accompanied an image of a vast array of items that I’d have to work for years to afford.
Hey authors, I have one used pot, one lumpy frying pan, and a knife. That’s all I will have for quite a while yet.
Between the equipment I couldn’t afford, the enormous lists of ingredients I definitely couldn’t afford, and the techniques that baffled me, I don’t think I ever used that book.
Part of the idea of Easy Tuesday is harking back to those early days, when I didn’t have time, or money, or equipment, or skills. What was it that worked for me then?
One of the recipes, listed under snacks, was for baked potatoes. “I could go for a baked potato!” I thought. Then I noticed this would take an hour to make. Who can wait an hour for a snack? Are there people out there who plan for wanting snacks an hour in advance? Yeah, I didn’t end up making those either.
Here’s a proper baked potato recipe for flatters. You can have it as a snack, as part of a meal, or as a whole meal if that’s all you’ve got.
Source: My mum for the potatoes, and an old flatmate for the brilliant idea of eating them with yoghurt.
Serves: 1-2 depending on whether this is a meal or a snack
2 biggish potatoes
1 tomato, diced
1 spring onion, sliced (optional)
1/2 cup grated cheese
Salt and pepper
A little pinch of paprika or cayenne if you have it
1/4 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt (use sour cream if preferred, but the yoghurt truly is perfect and delicious)
Anything else that you have on hand that looks like it could make a decent topping (tinned tuna or salmon, chives, salsas or relishes, random leftovers – go nuts!)
1. Stab the potatoes all over with a fork, then nuke them in the microwave on high for 4 minutes.
2. Turn over the potatoes and nuke for 4 more minutes.
3. The potatoes are now ready in well under an hour. Cut almost through in an X shape, then gently pull the potatoes open to make room for the filling.
4. Sprinkle on all fillings in the desired amount. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle some cayenne or paprika over the top (this makes it look pretty). Serve with lashings of yoghurt.
See, Food for Flatters, that’s how you tell a student to bake a potato.
Being the child of hoarders, there’s one thing that really cramps my cooking style. And that’s when a recipe says “Remove a perfectly good part of the vegetable and throw it away.”
Peel the tomato? No!
Discard the broccoli stem? Never!
Remove the woody part of the asparagus? You’ll have to fight me for it!
That, you see, is WASTE. And waste is a very bad, no good, evil thing. Even if my meal turns out all wrong because skinning the tomatoes was actually a very important step.
However, I do have some good news. I have found a way out of this mess! A useful And productive way!
The bits you don’t use become stock. This also applies to veges you didn’t use in time and went all wilty. I’m looking at you, celery.
It is super easy. All your scraps go into a special box in the freezer, and every time it gets full (or every time you want soup) they get turned into stock. Now, don’t you fall in to that old hoarder trap of keeping things you have plans for and never following through. You only get one box, you can’t have 500.
Here’s your basic veggie stock method:
1 load of veggie scraps
Enough water to cover them in a pot
1 sprig of thyme (or a sprinkling of dried thyme)
1 handful of parsley
Don’t add salt to this, you want to save that to control when you’re creating the final product – even though shop stocks are full of salt. We’re being healthy and thrifty!
Throw all your scraps in the pan and pour over the water. Throw in the herbs and spices too. Turn the heat up to high until the water boils, then lower to a simmer for forty minutes or until you have a flavourful yellowish liquid. Strain liquid, pour into 250ml (1 cup) containers and freeze.
Now not only do you have ready made vegetable stock, but you can easily grab however many cups you need at any time.
Okay, let’s talk about what we shouldn’t use. Potato scraps just aren’t right for this. The crunchy part of onion skin will apparently make the stock dark and ugly, but I often use the tops and tails and layers that are half proper onion and half crunchy brown skin with no problem. Chilli offcuts will predictably make your stock spicy, but that isn’t always a bad thing. And while wilty past-best veggies are perfect, if they’ve actually gone bad, it’s time to throw them out.
Yes, in the bin.
All the way in the bin.
Is it just me and my single person household, or do you constantly find yourself buying delicious fresh ingredients for one recipe only to have half of them go to waste because you’ve no idea what else to do with them? That’s where meal matching comes in: recipes whose ingredients compliment each other, but which aren’t so similar that you’re left moaning “Not this again!”
Also, everything is soup. Why? Because soup is awesome. You can never eat too much soup.
Source: Thai Cooking Class Cookbook
Thai is one of my favourite cuisines – all about the combination of intense flavours which will give your taste buds a real wake up call. There’s some specialised ingredients here, but if you love Thai as much as I do, the investment will be worth it.
1 Cup butternut squash, cut into 1cm cubes
1 Medium mushroom, sliced thinly
500ml coconut milk
250ml vegetable stock
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp roasted white peppercorns
2 medium coriander roots
2-3 roasted small dried chillies, crumbled or wholle
40ml lime juice, to taste
50ml light soy sauce
4-6 slices ginger
4-6 shallots (round red things, not long green things), roasted in their skins until tender, then popped from their skins
1. Grind peppercorns and coriander roots into a rough paste using a mortar and pestle.
2. In a saucepan, warm vegetable oil on a low-medium heat and fry paste until fragrant. Add squash. Add coconut milk and stock, shallots, ginger, dried chilli and mushroom.
3. Bring to a low simmer until squash has softened. Add light soy sauce and simmer a further 203 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Correct seasoning with light soy sauce if required.
4. Garnish with coriander leaves and crispy fried garlic.
No gastronomic foray to Asia would be complete without a stopover in Japan. From the sharp flavours of Thailand, we’re going to change it up a bit with the salty and umami flavours of dashi and miso – both of which are ever-present staples in my house, making this soup a quick and easy dish to pull off after a busy day. Read the recipe at the original location.
Let’s finish with something rich and homely. This wholesome soup is just the thing after a long week’s work. Read the recipe at the original location.
Never fear! Roast some up with feta cheese. Trust me, it will be amazing.
Yeah, me too. Does it come in anything other than 1kg bags?
Ugh. I’ve just come home from work, I’m hungry and I’m tired. I need something simple and easy before I accidentally order a pizza.
This recipe is my oldest easy meal friend. I learned it back in my first year of University, when I’d only just moved out from home and was thrown unprepared into the challenge of cooking for myself. I made it at least once a week for years – half for dinner and half for lunch the next day. This recipe is easy, yummy, and best of all – cheap! It is necessarily vague as this is whatever-I-have student cooking.
Source: Alas, I have no idea!
Serves: 2-4 depending on level of student starvation
3 cups whatever kind of pasta is available
2 or more vegetables (I usually one carrot and half a head of broccoli – they are the cheapest veges I can get round here)
1/2 cup Frozen Peas and/or Frozen Corn Kernels
1 Small Can Tuna in Spring Water, drained
1/2 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
3 tbsp Cream Cheese
Grated Cheese as desired
Salt to taste
1. Cook pasta in salted water according to the packet directions. Go ahead and throw the non-frozen veggies in with the pasta. This isn’t fancy time.
2. A few minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the frozen peas and/or corn.
3. Once the pasta has cooked and the veggies are soft, drain the pasta and place in a casserole dish. Add the tuna, cream cheese, tomatoes and lemon juice and mix until lovely and creamy. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top.
4. Cook in a 180C oven for 20 minutes.
Devour with cheap white bread butty-style.