I've written a lot about the various things I choose to do with my days now and apart from not being able to work in the garden, I'm a peace with my daily choices. What I've never talked about with you though, is what I choose not to do. Recreational shopping, smoking, reading fiction, flying, making soap, vinegar and yoghurt from scratch, growing food, travelling, sitting in front a some sort of screen day in and day out and hundreds of other things. I believe the things I do not choose are shaping my future just as much as what I choose to do.
When I get up each morning, I'm not catapulting myself out of bed like I used to but getting up slowly, thinking about my day, making decisions about the hours I'll spend within these walls, having breakfast, tidying up, drawing, talking to myself and Gracie and writing. I think that time weaves its own strange web and without me realising, the hours become another ordinary day. Another day I'm thankful for; another day in my past.
Today I'm writing about the process of feeding ourselves. I suppose we know this process as cooking but it also involves preserving, fermenting, preparation, shopping, baking, and depending on the type of cooking you do, a variety of other processes that delivers food to the table. I'm currently working out ways to keep cooking from scratch and eating the foods I love without wasting what I buy. I was pleased to see many responses to the information about the Zwilling vacuum-packed food. It's a good way to keep fresh food available for a long time.
But today's main topic will be some of the recipes I have on rotation in my own home. I'm not giving the recipes for each meal because writing out recipes is painful and the main reason I didn't write a cook book. But all recipes you choose should be edited to suit your own taste. When you find the meal you want to cook, look for a few different versions of the recipe and then edit your chosen one to your taste. Here is my list of 40 favourite easy meals.
All the recipes here are for four servings. I used to serve two portions for Hanno and I and either freeze the other two portions or eat them the following day. Cooking this way helps you build up a stockpile of frozen home-cooked meals to eat on the days you're busy or too tired to cook. If, like me, you're cooking for one now, you'll either halve these recipes before you cook, then eat one portion and freeze one. Again this helps by building a small stockpile of home-cooked meals. Work out which spices you'll need to have on hand when you're cooking. If you're eating mainly European food - German, Italian, French etc., you'll need salt, pepper, paprika, and herbs, either fresh or dried. Asian food requires soy sauce, chilli paste or flakes, cumin, curry paste or powder, coriander/cilantro, turmeric, ginger etc. You'll probably find the meals you like will use the same or similar seasonings. Grow your own herbs, it's easily done in containers and it will save you a lot of money over the year. Currently a bunch of herbs is between $3 and $4.90, depending on if you buy organic herbs.
If you're a solo cook, it might be better for you to buy your meat at the local butcher shop instead of the supermarket. The supermarket has only trays of meat and apart from $70 per kilo fillet steak, generally the trays are too big for a solo cook. However, if you want to buy a bulk tray of meat, that will save you money as long as you repack it into meal sized portions to freeze at home. A butcher will give you what you ask for - 2 sausages, 200 grams minced beef, two chops, a small piece of corned beef, a small whole chicken or a rack of 4 prepared chops suitable for roasting. They also have a range of bones for stock.
If you're new to this kind of cooking, set up your systems first because it is having a stockpile with a variety of food, having your kitchen well organised, and your list of meals that will support your cooking and make things easier for you. Here is some extra reading all about home cooking and providing nutrition. It also contains my own list of 40 meals I cook on a regular basis. If you're serious about home cooking, it's helpful to build your own list. It will provide constant and long-term inspiration.
To find more recipes on my blog, go to the side bar under my photo and search for simple terms such as chicken, not roast chicken, or just click on Home Cooking in the list of topics on the bottom of the page. Good luck with this. If you can organise a list of favourite and easy meals, get your kitchen ready and create a small stockpile or pantry, cooking will be easier for you. Don't forget to delegate jobs too. Kids and partners love to cook, peel, chop and test taste. 😉