January’s Frugal Foods…

Ah, it’s January! It’s cold (I like that actually!), I’m super-skint (xmas & no job) & I’m hungry. So, what to do apart from relying on care parcels from family and friends or the benefits office? Well, I eat a lot of noodle soups, omelette & beans, and this kind of stuff, made with veg from the market.

The number one discovery of the month: Brussel tops! Much tastier than the sprouts, me thinks!

Brussel tops from the bottom!

And tasty with tofu ‘steak’, mustard and mash. The salad is made from grated celeriac, grated apple, coconut yoghurt and lemon juice.

Here is another ‘mustardised’ tofu steak (supplied by my mum – thanks mum!). This time with carrots and celeriac sticks, baked in the oven with a dash of oil, a dash of water, thyme, salt and pepper.

One of my all-time favourites: plaintain fritters of any description. This is my favourite base so far: grated green plantain, crushed garlic, oregano, salt, pepper. Shaped into patties (the mixture is sticky) and fried in oil.

Goes very well with red pepper sauce. For this sauce, I skinned peppers (after putting them under the grill until the skin started to go black and peel off), simmered them for a bit with a little water and tomato puree, blended them into a sauce and seasoned it with cayenne pepper and salt. Make sure when you use peppers that you get tasty ones. Usually they are very watery. I’ve found that the peppers with brown crackly ridges (that sounds gross I know, but I’m serious!) taste the best. Maybe those are outdoor peppers?

This was an excellent xmas present from my friend Nicole. A ‘lucky pumpkin’! I need luck this year – badly!!

I roasted the flesh as well as the seeds…

…and then turned the roasted pumpkin flesh into a tasty pumpkin & carrot soup (with garlic, some veggie stock and lots of luck!). Ate it with some home-made bread with veggie pate (supplied by mum, too!).

I have made more soups in the last few weeks. My favourite one was green lentil, leek, potato & veggie sausage soup. For this soup you pre-soak the lentils (you don’t have to, but I do it to reduce the cooking time or to revive particularly ancient lentils!). When you like the look of your soaked lentils you fry some onions, finely chopped leek and potato cubes with a bit of oil in a pot. When those have simmered a bit, you drain the lentils, add them to the pot with some grated caraway and cumin and pour in some new water.
Let the whole thing simmer until the lentils and the potatoes are tender. You can then blend the whole soup or take part of it out before you blend most of it (for added texture). I usuall fish some of the potato cubes out and put them back in after blending. Before serving, you fry some ‘veggie bangers’ (or meaty ones), chop them into roughly five pieces each and add them to the soup! Warning: the colour of the soup is an unflattering green-grey. But the taste definitely makes up for aesthetic shortcomes!

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