Sorry it's been so long. We've all been sick with the flu. I've had it for 26 days so far and there's no sign of it disappearing - in fact I'm getting worse! At least I don't feel so lonely now the whole family has joined me. We have officially declared today a Family Sick Day and are spending it in our pyjamas by the fire. At first I really was convinced I had the Swine Flu but as time has gone on I realised I must have a different strain so in case nobody else has named it, I've called mine Wine Flu. So-called because I've been living almost solely on a liquid diet - soup by day and wine by night!
Living on soup is extremely good for the budget I've found. We've been able to exist almost totally on leftovers for days. If I don't have a recipe for using something up in a soup, I just head for the Forum and find the answer there. I've been so grateful for all the comforting food threads on the Forum, such as 'Mimi's favourite winter warming recipes' and 'Soup, soup, glorious soup' Never a truer word spoken! I'm a soup fiend from way back but the sub-zero temperatures also had Noel craving soup faster than I could make it so he bought some cans the other day. Alas I fear we have become too spoilt! Being as accustomed as we are to home made soup, the canned soup was just bleurgh! It tasted so bland and artificial we couldn't bear to eat it by itself and had to hide the taste in shepherds pies and potato bakes instead. Won't be doing that again!
After his canned soup horror, Noel decided to take matters into his own hands and make a huge pot of pumpkin soup. It was delicious and he couldn't believe how easy it was to make something so good out of a few simple ingredients. This recipe comes from the trusty NZ classic Edmonds cookbook and is a winner every time!
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
750g pumpkin, peeled and chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
4 cups liquid chicken stock
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook until clear. Add pumpkin, potato and stock. Cover, bring to the boil and cook until the vegetables are soft. Puree the vegetable mixture in a blender or push through a sieve. Season with a pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. For extra flavour, a ham hock or bacon bones can be added when cooking the pumpkin.
So yummy, so simple and so cheap to make - especially when you have free pumpkins growing at home! Out of interest we decided to compare Noel's pumpkin soup recipe with the ingredients on a canned version. We were pleasantly to surprised to find most of them contained pumpkin, onion, potato and nutmeg, same as ours. However the canned version also contained maize thickeners (which Liam can't have, being maize intolerant), at least three artificial flavourings (so determined by their numbers) and colouring. Colouring! Why the heck would you need to colour pumpkin soup?!! Isn't it orange enough? And how come our home made pumpkin soup is lovely and thick without any need for thickeners, when the canned version uses thickeners yet is runny? Either way, the whole experience made us never want to eat pumpkin soup from a can again!
Talking of revolting foods in a can, I have been meaning to share this new convenience food with you which has recently been launched in NZ. 'Mr Cheese' is the super easy way to enjoy cheese - squirted out of an aerosol can. If the thought of that alone doesn't make you heave, check out the list of ingredients! CHEDDAR CHEESE 35% (PASTEURISED MILK, CULTURES, SALT, ENZYMES), WHEY, CANOLA OIL, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, NATURAL FLAVOUR, EMULSIFYING SALTS (339, 331, 341), SALT, FOOD ACID (270), THICKENER (401), YEAST EXTRACT, PRESERVATIVE (200), EMULSIFIERS (322*, 306*). *CONTAINS SOY. Compared to the ingredients in a block of regular cheese (milk, salt, rennet and cultures) that's a heck of a lot of extras to get it squirting out of that can. Sorry, but to me that's just plain yuk - and no, I haven't been brave enough to try it!
Being sick for so long is really frustrating. I know it sounds like I'm having a real pity party for me and I'm well aware there are others far worse off but there's so much I want to do! It's almost the end of Get Organised month and I achieved hardly anything I set out to do. However one achievement I was really happy to get out of the way was organising our chest freezer. Noel and I braved the icy depths at the weekend with our Icelandic strength gloves and an impressive collection of reuseable shopping bags, which had been sitting unused in the boot of my car forever. We had never thought of doing this until reading the enlightening thread 'How to organise a large chest freezer'. With National $21 Challenge Month just around the corner, we had to get our bums in gear and find out exactly what food we have. We unearthed the following:
2 venison roasts
11 lamb roasts
27 packs of sausages (that's PACKS, not individual sausages!)
86 venison steaks
10 beef roasts
7 packs of beef steak
3 packs of stewing steak
22 packs of smoked fish
1 whole ham
24 packs of beef mince
3 corned beef silverside
1 unopened box of lamp chops
1 whole roast chicken
2kg chicken pieces
2 loaves bread
2 packs of pork schnitzel
2 packs of beef shin
3 packs of lamb shanks
2 oxtail (oxtail soup, yum!)
1 tongue (eww!)
1 liver (double eww)
2 kidneys (triple eww!)
3 mysteries - could be lamb, beef or venison, no idea!
I think that should keep us going for a while! I still have our upright freezer to sort out and the pantry looks like a bomb site but anything we are able to achieve in our current state of health is a bonus. The coloured shopping bag system has made finding things in the chest freezer sooo much easier. I have everything written down in an inventory and stuck it up next to the freezer. As well as the food item and the amount, I also have written which coloured bag they are in, so it says 'Beef Roasts - 10 - Blue'. All I have to do is find the blue bag. It doesn't even matter if it's at the bottom of the freezer, I simply lift out a couple of bags and there it is! So much easier and faster. Thank you wonderful ingenious SS'ers!
PS: Liam has been making the most of his sick spell at home to list even more of his worldly goods on Trade Me. He is now up to well over $700!