Thursday, 12 August 2010
Return of The Frugal Cook and some musings on veg
Well, here I am back again. You might well wonder why when I already have two other blogs (Food and Wine Finds and The Cheeselover) but the fact is that more people still visit this blog than both of the other two combined. Which some might say is an reason for not blogging at all but, ever the optimist, I'm not taking it that way.
The other reason is that we're by no means out of the woods economically. A lot of people are losing their jobs. Even more - and I'm thinking of recent graduates - are having trouble finding them. Money is tight for many people who have never had to think twice about what they spend or may never have got round to acquiring cooking or shopping skills.
I'm not going to be overly ambitious about this. I probably won't post more than two or three times a month but I hope it will be useful and occasionally inspiring - not least for the very helpful comments that visitors have always left on this blog.
So, to start with, a reminder about the virtues of farmers' markets which are at their best at this time of year. And here (above) is what I bought at ours the other day. It came to £6.60 which I think is pretty good and will certainly keep us in veg for the week. To give you a price comparison a small vegbox from Abel & Cole would cost £7.99 + 99p delivery. The 580g of runner beans I bought for £1 would have cost twice that in Tesco and I doubt would have been half as fresh. So it's a good deal.
I also like the fact that having such great produce I can build whole meals round them, cutting the costs of the other food I buy. The onions actually cost more than I'd pay in a supermarket but because they're large and sweet I can use them for an onion-based dish like Jill Dupleix's baked stuffed onions with parmesan cream or even, given this unseasonal weather, make a creamy onion soup.
The cabbage witll make a slaw and a stir-fry, the courgettes can be grilled, anointed with oil and served with feta and the beans can be cooked as a veg or sliced and frozen for less plentiful times. Or use them as I did today, to make this variation on a salade niçoise for a quick, healthy lunch for one
Mackerel, tomato and bean salad
150g runner beans, trimmed and sliced
4-5 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 tinned mackerel fillets, roughly broken up*
1 tbsp finely chopped onion, spring onion or chives
About 2 tbsp oil from the mackerel can or jar if it tastes nice, otherwise use olive oil
A few drops of wine vinegar or lemon juice
Salt and pepper
A heaped tablespoon of parsley or a little chopped mint if you have some
Trim and thinly slice the runner beans, put them in a saucepan and pour boiling water over them. Bring back to the boil add a little salt and cook until tender but still crunchy (about 4 minutes). Drain and rinse with cold water and pat dry. Put in a bowl with the cherry tomatoes, mackerel, chopped onion or chives. Drizzle with a little oil a few drops of wine vinegar, season with salt and pepper and lightly mix together. Scatter over some parsley or other fresh herbs if you have some.
*Another economy. Mackerel is cheaper and more sustainable than tuna!
Any other good ideas as to what to do with runner beans which are at their peak - and lowest price - right now?