Sunday, February 27, 2011

out of the frying pan

Has been a horror week in NZ- tradgedy on epic scale as a loved historic city crumbles under the forces of nature, indicriminately robbing us forever of treasured people and places. For those who are left the losses this week are incalculable,mind numbing and energy sapping. When grief is at its most acute even mundane tasks seem monumental. Hunger is no respecter of grief though, nor will go away simply because you have no kitchen or water. So how do you feed the family or the neighbours or even just yourself with no running water, no power and little or no equipment? One pan on the barbecue if neccesary will do - in fact if you have no frying pan available a foil roasting pan from the supermarket will suffice.

Tin Pan Tucker- Chicken with Couscous

Couscous is light, filling and trebles in volume when cooked which takes only a few minutes so its ideal camping tucker.
This dish is easy to do in an Aluminium roasting pan on the barbecue or campfire, you can also of course do it in the oven at home in a roasting pan.

Serves 4 – 6
1 disposable foil roasting pan – available in supermarkets
1 sheet of aluminium foil to cover the pan
8-10 chicken drumsticks with the skin removed or skinless thighs
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 rashers of bacon with the fat removed chopped
4 carrots peeled and sliced
1 head broccoli or other green vegetable chopped
1 tsp thyme
2 cups sterilised hot water
4 teaspoons chicken stock
2 cups couscous
Cooking spray

Pre heat the barbecue grill to a medium flame Spray the pan with cooking spray or rub lightly with oil and add all the ingredients except the couscous.
Cover the pan with the foil crimping it tightly around the edges and place on the prepared grill. Cook for 40 minutes giving it a gentle shake half way through the cooking time.
Remove the pan from the heat and take off the foil cover. Stir in the cous cous and cover with the foil for 3-4 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous fluffy. Serve immediately.

Cooks Tip: Aluminium foil pans weigh next to nothing and are reasonably inexpensive however if you want you can re use the pan and the foil covering over and over. Just wash them carefully as you don’t want punctures.
Frozen meat will stay frozen in a well packed chilly bin for two days, gradually defrosting during day two.

Tin pan tucker - Hoi sin Chicken and rice

This cooking method is so easy, just throw the ingredients in the pan and cover with foil. Sling onto the Barbie then no pans to wash as you can crush the pan up and put it in the rubbish.
I allow two drumsticks per adult or 1 for littlies, adjust the amounts according to what you need.

Serves 4 or more
1 disposable aluminium Foil roasting pan, – available from supermarkets
a sheet of foil large enough to cover the pan.
8 Chicken drumsticks with the skin removed or skinless thighs
4 carrots peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 head or broccoli broken into pieces or other veg
¾ cup long grain rice per person – I use basmati (45 g per person)
1 1/3 cups sterilised water allow 1/3 cup per person, hot if possible
2 tsp chicken stock powder
3 tbsp Hoi sin sauce
1 heaped teaspoon grated ginger
Big pinch of Chinese 5 spice
Cooking spray

Heat the barbecue grill or set a grill. Spray the pan with cooking spray or rub with oil. Place the chicken and vegetables and the rice into the greased pan.
Add the ginger, Hoi sin sauce and stock powder to the water to help distribute them and pour into the pan. Sprinkle in the 5 spice and give it all a little mix.
Cover the pan with the sheet of foil, crimping it tightly around the edges to ensure the heat doesn’t escape.
Place over a medium heat on the barbecue grill.
Cook for 40 minutes. The pan will need a gentle shake after 20 minutes to mix it a little. Serve piping hot.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

boy food

Was talking to Pete about his boy who is doing Farming Internship. Up at 4.30 am, solid day of hard physical stuff, sports all evening, and fed large mountains of good plain food throughout day. Boy, not surprisingly, completely knackered but also content.

Is strong similarity between farming college and military training. Strategy appears simple - keep em busy and exhausted, so no energy for fighting, shagging or arguing. Is excellent plan to my mind, as by some miraculous feat, boys also suddenly able to make own beds and fold clothes instead of sleeping in squalor and dumping on "floordrobe".

Strategy succeeds or fails on food. Hungry tired boys are dangerous species, capable of great evil. So food is stuff my mum refered to as "Boy Food", meat and spuds, meat and pastry, meat and gravy...As was only my sister and myself , boy food was reserved for boyfriends, builders and brothers in law. But we also loved simple filling Old School type meals.
Meat and eggs are great muscle building protien, with high satiety factor - protein makes us feel full. Starchy carbs are all about energy, also comforting and cheap!Unless you are v. active boy, keep serving to size of fist.

As we are not on farm and don't have military budget, but have high energy boys to feed, is necessary to choose carefully, or teenager taming comes at great financial cost. One of cheapest and leanest meat cuts is brisket or Corned Beef. Is great boy food, wonderful with mashed spuds. Also good in sandwiches with relish or chutney it is underrated "old school" food, easy inexpensive and simple.

Slow cooker corned beef

The slow cooker is invaluable when you are out all day, corned beef is tasty however you cook it so is less likely to be bland than many other slow cooked meat meals.

1 piece of corned silverside- whatever size best suits your household, adjust cooking time according to the weight
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, sliced lengthways- can include other veg if you wish but may get a bit soft
1 bay leaf
1 cup ginger ale
zest and juice of an orange
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Place the meat into the crock pot, add the spices and vegetables, juice and ginger ale. Cover and cook on low 7-9 hours or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations for meat by weight.
Remove the meat from the liquid and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Serve with mashed spuds, green veg and a good chutney or relish.

Classic Corned beef

Corned beef, silverside or corned brisket – whatever you call it this is a lean cut of meat with a salty flavour. Serve hot with veg or cold in slices. Make sure you allow plenty of time as it needs to simmer for an hour or more.
I piece of corned beef – whatever size best suits your household, adjust cooking time according to the weight
1 onion peeled but left whole
a few 3-4 whole cloves
6 peppercorns
1 tbsp brown sugar or golden syrup
1 tbsp malt vinegar
Cold water to cover
Place the meat into a large saucepan, add the spices and cover with water. Stir in the sugar or syrup and the vinegar and bring to the boil. Simmer the meat allowing 25 minutes per 500g.
Remove the meat from the water and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Serve with mashed spuds, green veg and a good chutney or relish.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

our daily bread

My nephew El once ate his toast into shape of lion, roared at himself with it, then was too frightened to eat it. He is funny boy, but I am thinking is not bad idea to give toast a miss for a while as is getting scarily expensive to have bread from shops.

Have watched price of basic wholegrain sliced loaf increase from $1.99 to over $3.00 over last couple of years and set to rise higher after disastrous year in Queensland.

Bought some extra flour before price goes up, but as loaded cupboard with 5 kg bags felt like crazy US apocalypse fanatic from mountain compound. Type who hoard food, have eleven wives, most of them cousins, big beards (even the wives) and large cache of semi automatic weapons! Had to apply copious lip gloss and mascara to counteract effect of hoarding as felt self slipping into serious checked shirt territory.

When kids were little I made all our bread by hand as were too poor to buy nice bread and am bread snob - cant abide pappy bread even if very cheap. As never owned bread making thingy have done this always by hand. Bread repertoire now increased to include many treat type breads and scrolls, loaves and buns, but standout breakfast fave these days is toasted homemade English muffins.
Was camping a week or so back at annual Parachute music festival, no cooking facilities except camping burner and 4-5 teenagers to feed. Toasted English muffins were ideal brekkie for all of us. 2 batches made roughly 26+ muffins for less than $5 bucks.

Since developing recipe, price of milk also soared, so if wanting to make without using pricey fresh milk either substitute with milk from powder, or I used 1/4 cup condensed milk. Made up balance with water, didn't need to add sugar as condensed milk V. sweet.
Left me with 3/4 can condensed milk - perfect amount for chocolate caramellow brownie which also went down well with young-uns. Saving on basics means treats still possible too.

English muffins

My family all like English muffins as a quick breakfast or snack, but boy they’re expensive to buy for such a simple thing! These homemade ones are lovely and easy enough for a novice baker.

4 ¼ cups plain flour
1 sachet instant yeast
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups warm milk or milk from powder or 1/4 condensed milk + 1 1/4 cups water-omit sugar
1 egg beaten
50 g butter

Dust 2 oven trays with flour
In a large bowl combine the instant yeast, sugar, flour and salt.
In a small pan, melt the butter then add the milk and heat gently. The liquid should be warm but not hot. If you are not sure, hold your little finger in it and count to 10. If it’s uncomfortably hot by the time you get to 10 allow it to cool a little, if it doesn’t feel warm at all, heat it up.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the egg and the butter and milk mixture. Use a large metal spoon to mix to a soft dough.
Knead lightly for 2 minutes then place into a large greased bowl and allow to rise. Either by z9i setting aside in a warm place until doubled or by using the microwave method.
Pre heat the oven to 190°
When the dough has doubled in size knead it lightly and roll on a floured bench to 1 cm thickness. Cut into circles using a large cutter (I use my favourite “tuna tin” cutter to make 10cm circles). Re roll the trimmings and you should end up with 15 muffins. Place on floured trays and rest for 10 minutes.
Bake them for 7 minutes then turn them over and bake a further 7 minutes, until lightly golden.
To serve split muffins in half and toast lightly, top with jam, honey, ham or whatever else you fancy.

Cook’s Tip: If you are planning on freezing the muffins, split them first, they’ll defrost quicker.

For spicy fruit muffins

Add to the dry ingredients
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp mixed spice
½ cup sultanas soaked in boiling water for a few minutes to plump them up

Or develop your own spicy fruit blend