Friday, 7 March 2014

No Austerity Here

This business of using up what I have has brought a few surprises. I already knew there would be a sense of satisfaction and an odd feeling of wealth, the sense of having everything I need and more. 

I still practically throw a party each time I toss an empty bottle, use up an ink pen or scrub the last of a bar of soap into oblivion on my wash cloth. I wonder, with the popularity of shower gel, if soap bars may become one of those antiquated things people shake their heads at. I still have a fair supply, what with having collected hotel soaps on my travels and being gifted a few as well. Though I'm currently using some nice vanilla scented soap in the shower, the ordinary soap may soon be finished because of a new trick I've learned (and then there are a couple of Christmas bottles of yummy smelling shower gel).  

Rather than buy the laundry soap Bill put on the shopping list, I tried Rhonda's laundry soap recipe.  (See Concentrated Laundry Powder). I went without the borax, not because we put our grey water on the garden, but because I didn't have any and if she says you can go without, why buy it? The upper body training has come in handy for employing the grater, something I've always hated in the past. So far as I can tell the laundry soap works just fine. 

Chicken breast with Asian chili jam, kale, peas and
green beans, whipped swede with butter.

Using up the food has required us to be a bit more adventurous. Vivien gave us some of her homemade Asian chili jam a while back. I initially opened it thinking it might go on my breakfast toast, but found that wouldn't taste right. It had a lovely sweet and sour/spicy flavour that made me determined to find a use for it. Brits like chutney (what I might call relish) with cold meat and veg, but I don't often do cold meat and veg.  If I have cold meat it is on a sandwich and the only cold veg that comes to mind is potato salad. 

Anyhow, it was a chicken night so I cut a breast into strips, browned them in some oil, then topped them with dollops of this chili jam, added water and a lid and steamed them for a while. The kale came from our back garden, the peas and green beans from the freezer. I was (am) fed up with the taste of swede / turnip / rutabaga but it is in season and incredibly inexpensive, so  I decided to try something different.  I steamed the heck out of it, chopped it up and then blended it with a bit of butter.  Bill was very excited about this new experience and I was pleased to note that being pureed brought out more of the sweet rather than the bitter side of the swede (and butter never hurts the flavour of anything). 

I was fairly proud of this meal, towards the end of the month. I'm quite looking forward to the next Asian chili jam chicken night.


Gam Kau said...

It's funny you mentioned bar soap because I just was looking at a stack of 12 bars of soap and wondering if they could be put to use washing dishes. I think in India they use bar soaps to do dish washing, but I don't know if the soap is very different from our washing up soap. I might try putting a bar in a soap dish next to the kitchen sink and seeing if it would work. Maybe body soap is not strong enough for the kitchen. I'll have to experiment.

Shelley said...

Gam Kau - I did a homemade dish soap experience a while back

I wouldn't say it was a success. The result was very thick and weird to use. I neither melted into the water nor did it rinse easily. It left a film on the dishes and I eventually gave up and discarded it. There might be other recipes that would work better than this one. I have had better luck with just using less of the commercial dish soap, loads of suds aren't required to get dishes clean, so much as wiping food off. Brits haven't in the past been much on rinsing their dishes (I saw this on TV, not just watching Bill). If the dishwater is relatively clean one doesn't really have to rinse particularly if there isn't a great deal of soap suds. I'd love to hear if you find a recipe that works for you!

sanda said...

Always nice to use up what we have on hand. Your meal looks delicious. I like turnips and rutabagas have never heard of swede.

Shelley said...

Sanda - I didn't write this well, but swede is the same thing as rutabaga. I'd heard of them before moving to England, but never seen one. Now they are a regular part of my winter diet.

Beryl said...

Asian Chili Jam sounds terrific. My husband loves chutney on chicken. but I am ready for something different. I'll start looking for a recipe. Not a clue what a swede is, but it looks good all blended. All in all, a great looking dinner.

Shelley said...

Beryl - Watch this space tomorrow! A swede is a kind of turnip; in the US they call it a rutabaga.