February has been my first full month at home this year, after being lucky enough to have an amazing break over Christmas and New Year in Australia and New Zealand. The builders have pretty much gone, and the extensions almost finished, although work is due to start on the kitchen soon (not looking forward to all that dust again)
I’m disappointed with how much I’ve spent in the chain supermarkets this month, and I think it is a combination of needing to buy ingredients for some recipe testing which have either not been available or out of stock at the local farm shops, and then getting distracted when I’ve been in the shops and buying things I didn’t need. I’ve visited Waitrose twice, spending £7.37 and £5.16, and Co-Op once £3.52. I’ve gone in for crème fraiche, samphire, coconut milk, black beans and quick cook oats, but I’ve ended up also buying avocado, coconut milk, butter and apple juice!
I’m putting February behind me and I getting back into a better routine. I’m still have my weekly veg box, although at this time of year the pickings are getting a little slim. My new favourite ‘store’ is the Lichfield Food Assembly, launched in January I feel it is a real alternative to supermarket shopping. It is a collection of independent suppliers, offering seasonal, artisan and fresh produce online. It couldn’t be easier; I place my order online at my convenience (usually with a glass of wine on a Sunday evening), and collect my items on a Thursday from the lovely Ruth at Hunnypot Cottage. Each local food assembly has different suppliers and ours is growing all the time, I love to sit and look through what’s available and get inspired for the week’s menu, and there are also lots of options for those nights when you can’t be bothered to cook. The Committed Carnivore has been away for a few days, so this week my basket was full of lovely fresh fish from The Fresh Fish Shop I’ve thoroughly enjoyed trying out some new fishy recipes, my favourite being Easy Crab Linguine.
I treated myself to a juicer in January, we had some amazing juices whilst we were on holiday, and I’ve been enjoying lots of beetroot and ginger-based juices this month, however I was surprised by the amount of pulp left. As you all know I can’t stand waste, so I’ve been collecting the pulp in big freezer bags, without much idea about what to do with them. I now have a recipe which uses the pulp to make vegan burgers, and I’m experimenting with a cheese filling and adding chorizo to the mix (keep an eye on the blog for the recipe) the veg pulp has gone, but my freezer’s now full of Veg Pulp Patties; I am taking them as random gifts to anyone’s house I visit!
I love game and am always sad when the game season finishes. We’ve enjoyed some lovely rabbit and pheasant dishes this season. However, my favourite was a small venison joint that I got from my butcher. The deer was raised less than 5 miles from our house, in the grounds of the home where we got married over 20 years ago; which it made it even more special. We had it for a very luxurious Sunday lunched, cooked medium rare, and the leftovers for a tasty cottage pie on the Monday – delicious.
My most successful shopping trip (if you discount the fact that I forgot the coconut cream) was to Johal Indian supermarket in Walsall, I bought tins of beans, peas, spices and dried goods and it came to less than £20, although I might make meat curries and sauces with some of the ingredients, it reminds me how cheap pulses and beans are and that eating vegan can be very cost effective.
My slow cooker is still the most used item in my kitchen, when it’s cold I can’t get enough of slow cooked cheap cuts, and as I’m writing this whilst the snow is falling I can’t see that changing soon. Tonight, we are going to be enjoying a slow cooked beef ragu with pasta, and then I think I’ll make the leftovers into meat pies, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.