Jun 18, 2010
Grr, I'm so frustrated with my Double Dinner Challenge! I was so looking forward to experimenting with cooking and freezing extra meals. I had even designated one day a week to making a bulk dinner - Double Dinner Friday! I knew exactly what I was going to start with too - Fiona's Iron Curry and Apricot Vegetables (with a dash of Chicken!) from this month's newsletter. There I was, proudly regaling to Noel the stunning repertoire of meals that I, Penny the Wonder Chef was soon going to be able pull out of the freezer whenever the mood took me. I would have gone ahead and made them too, had Noel not pointed out a rather large obstacle just in the nick of time. 'Er - I don't mean to burst your bubble but where exactly are you going to PUT all these dinners? The freezers are all chocka!' Darn it, he was right! That very week we had taken delivery of a whole beef animal from the butcher. Even though we had given some away, our three freezers were full to the brim. So full in fact, there's not even room for an ice cream container at the moment! I know I should be grateful but isn't that just typical?
So at the moment I have to content myself with trying to use up as much as I can until I have enough space to poke in some freezer meals. I found four stray chicken wings in one of the freezers this morning so I've cooked them up so I can make Ali's very favourite dinner tonight - 'Pasta with chicken, white wine and cream' from the $21 Challenge book! It's delicious beyond belief and one of the few recipes I know where you can use up 300ml of cream when it's about to expire, which is another reason for tonight's choice! The boys are both really into cooking at the moment and it's really given my own enthusiasm a boost too. They each have their own recipe folder and the latest addition to Liam's folder is funnily enough also from the $21 Challenge book - Beans and Rice! This is basically a meat-free version of Chilli con Carne. It's really healthy, quick to make and soooo yummy. It's Liam's very favourite meal at the moment and he asks to make it almost every day, which is pretty funny given the fact that when I first told him it was vegetarian he didn't want to touch it!
Yes, after a couple of years off the wagon I have gone back to being vegetarian. Ali blames himself but to be honest I had been wanting to make the change for a while. The clincher was when he took me on our recent marathon bush walk. No sooner had we set off than he pointed out the most magnificent stag, standing proudly in the scrub, just looking at us. That was it for me I'm afraid. I just thought 'what right do I have to put an end to any animal's life, especially one as beautiful as this?' I haven't touched meat since and I'm not missing it at all. In fact I get so full just from my meat-free dinners, I'm wondering how on earth I used to fit the meat in! It did take me a couple of days to adjust though, during which time I was ravenously hungry. It was a freezing cold day and I felt like something substantial for lunch. 'I'll make Beans and Rice!' I thought, and asked if anyone else wanted some. When I told them what it was made from I was met with 'ewww, no way!' Oh well, their loss I thought. At least I'll have plenty for my lunches for the next few days! However when the boys saw me sitting down with a steaming bowl, topped with grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream, one by one they changed their minds. 'This is good as!' declared Liam, scoffing his second bowl. Ali followed suit and before I knew it, the whole pot was empty! 'You know what?' Liam said, patting his very full tummy. 'I reckon that's even BETTER than the meat version!'
Ali currently has a cooking class twice a week at school and is always bringing home the recipes so he can try them out himself at home. You can often find him in the kitchen making anything from poached eggs to Ambrosia (for any English people reading this, it's a dessert, not the tinned rice pudding you might be thinking of!) His favourite cookbook however is a NZ one called 'Crimpy's Cooking For Kids' by Daryl Crimp. It's full of great recipes which have names that really appeal to boys. For example, for dinner a few nights ago we were treated to 'Gutted Dogs in Underpants' (sausages stuffed with egg, cheese and capsicum and wrapped in bacon) and Erupting Volcanos (towers of mashed potato, filled with creamy cheese 'lava')! Yummmm!
Of course it's also typical that I should decide to give up meat at the exact time we get a freezer full of it - now it's going to take me even longer to make enough space for my freezer meals! I don't mind though, as far as I'm concerned it will be a great saving - in more ways than one! I must just share with you the last meat meal that I had, as it's really simple, cheap and makes a little go a long way! It's a creation that Noel made up on our last day in the bush. We were almost out of food and were a bit stuck for breakfast ideas. There were six sausages but with five of us to feed, including three hungry adolescent males, they weren't going to go very far! 'Leave it to me', Noel insisted and got out the frying pan. Minutes later we were all sitting down to what we call 'Noel's Breakfast Smash!' Basically, you heat a little oil in a large frypan. Squeeze all the meat out of the sausages and add to the pan. Add one finely chopped onion, a generous squirt of tomato sauce and sizzle away, stirring frequently until everything is cooked through. Serve on toast. This turned out really yummy and proved to be very filling. So filling in fact, we couldn't even finish it all, we were too stuffed!
It's amazing what you can come up with when you put your mind to it and I was really impressed by a new hint I saw this week about a member called Mandiii who hosted a $21 Challenge style birthday party for 30 people! In my absence of Double Dinner do-ability I've been reacquainting myself with the Vault and am loving all the new hints! I don't know about you but I am sometimes guilty of not checking in with the Vault often enough, which is a real shame because it's just so motivating. It really gets your brain ticking and makes you think 'Wow, I could do that!' or 'Ooh, what else can I do?' It's got me wanting to peg up my photos, learn how to bone a chicken and I've already started wrapping up my avocados. As for Wordle, don't even get me started on that. If I hadn't run out of printer ink I would have covered the house by now, after reading this hint! I used it to make an artwork of one of my favourite quotations, 'Desderata'. Give a fresh new look to something which is already beautiful!
Talking of a fresh new look, here's my own 'Hint of the Week!' Well actually it's kind of my mum's. Mum is one of those people who just always looks lovely and really knows how to accessorise. Unfortunately she didn't pass those genes down to me. But this tip is so easy even I can do it and it's saved me a bundle on winter clothes too! I was in desperate need of some new winter jerseys as my old ones had got so shabby. However I hadn't got around to buying any because I hadn't been able to find any really warm ones for under $80. Eek! Then I met up with Mum the other day and she was wearing a gorgeous, striking scarf in that sort of fluffy, scruffy wool which is so popular at the moment. I commented on it and she said 'I got it from the hairdresser! There's a local lady who makes them and sells them in there. She gives all the profits to CanTeen. You should go and look, there are heaps of colours!' So we trotted down there together and there was a beautiful array of colours to choose from. I put one on and was amazed at the difference it made to my plain old jumper! The colours just jumped out and gave it a whole new lease of life. I realised that if I had a couple of these, they would dress up ALL my existing jumpers and I wouldn't have to buy any new ones! I happily purchased two at $15 each. For just $30 I've got a whole new wardrobe - and donated to a very worthy cause too!