Friday, August 2, 2013

Too much choice?

A couple of months ago I signed up for a Vege Co-op.  Heather talks more about our local scheme here.

In brief, each week we get a bag of seasonal fruit and vegetables.  (A great seasonal calendar and recipes can be found over at Destitute Gourmet)

This little change has saved me around $20 a week in fresh (or from our supermarket not-so-fresh) produce, but what's really interesting is the way I plan meals and cook has changed entirely.

It was pointed out to me the other day that it type of arrangement, where you get what you get each week wouldn't suit everybody.  A friend I was talking to said "Oh we couldn't do that - as so-and-so doesn't like broccoli  this-other-child doesn't like....." and so she felt it would be a waste.

Lucky then, that in our family there isn't a vegetable we adults dislike and Lala (the recovering fussy eater) doesn't like much of any vegetable but she is learning to try things, plus she is mad for fruit - we totally get the value of $10 worth, and I get to pass on what we can't eat in a week to friends and family.

The 'pre-co-op' me would plan meals and shop for the same old things every week.  I'm sure I'm not alone here?

Faced with overwhelming choice; because we are presented with not only seasonal, but hot house grown and imported produce at the supermarket; I'd stick to the things I know we love and buy those (potato, kumara, red pepper, salad greens, spring onions, mushrooms).  I would tend to make the same meals and combinations too.

These days I am consulting our massive collection of recipe books and scanning online sites for inspiration. I've surprised myself with the realisation as I write this - we haven't had a potato dish in two weeks (which is frankly a good thing for my waistline!) and we don't miss it.  I'm getting more creative with using vegetables in other ways too - beetroot chocolate cake?  Yes please!  Carrot muffins and banana bread are great uses for produce that can't be eaten that week as they keep well in the freezer.  Chutney is another goodie for preserving fruit and it further saved us money at the supermarket - win!

Each week there is a free recipe included in our bags - this one inspired me to give chutney a go (although I made some substitutions to suit what I had in the pantry).  If you haven't tried chutney, do - its easy and it turned out great!

 Kiwifruit Chutney

2 onions, chopped
2 apples, peeled cored and chopped
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup of Billington's muscovado sugar (or brown)
1/2 cup of white vinegar
1/2 cup of Balsamic vinegar - can use 1 cup of malt vinegar instead of the two vinegars mentioned
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
500g kiwifruit peeled and chopped (this is about 6-7 kiwis)

Put everything but the kiwifruit in a large heavy based pot on a medium heat.  Bring to a gentle boil, stiring occassionally and boil for 30 mins or until the mixture is soft and has thickened.  Add kiwifruit and cook for another 20 minutes or until the chutney is thick and jam like.  Bear in mind as it cools it will thicken.

Pack into sterlised jars and seal while still warm - I made 2 x large babyfood jars and 1 x mustard jar worth.

To sterilising in the microwave, add a little bit of boiled water to the bottom of each jar and microwave on high until water boils (a few seconds in my machine) - continue for at least 2 minutes - but keep an eye on them, you don't want the jars to completely dry up.  Remove with tongs and pour out any remaining water. Sterilise the lids by submerging them in freshly boiled water (from the jug) for a few minutes.
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  1. I hear you, it can get quite monotonous the same I'm dabbling into gluten free again, as its been mentioned time and time again over the years for improving behaviour in Autistic kids, its a challenge but it certainly is encouraging us to eat healthier. Baking is the hardest part! Been a few flops...but in the long run its better for my waistline. Thanks for sharing the chutney recipe..sounds yummy :)

  2. Yay for you! We've been getting a box of seasonal fruit and veges delivered for the last year and it has changed the way we do things too... rather than stick to a plan it's make do and think up (or research!) new things! Our diets and tastes have expanded and we've adopted many new things we wouldn't have otherwise! Thanks for sharing the recipe x

  3. mmm that sounds nice, am pinning. Have you come across a recipe for onion marmalade?

    1. Actually, the last onion jam I made was really yum, but it had loads of butter in it, so the leftovers once chilled in the fridge had chunks of clarified butter through it. Still tasted good, but do you need that much fat in your life? Not me! I've just 'pinned' a River Cottage one which only uses a knob of butter to do the onions in. This is a aromatic version (nutmeg/clove/paprika) with chilli - so easy to drop the spices if you didn't want to - the main ingredients should be good quality raw brown sugar and balsamic and long slow cooking.

      Thanks for asking that question - we got a bag of onions in last weeks veges, so guess what I'm making on my day off (Monday) :)

  4. The Vege Co-op sounds great and it's obviously making your creative cooking interests grow :).


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