Friday 13 November 2020

Thinking about vegetables

 I've been using a wayside vegetable stall for some of my fresh food.  It's several miles away but I go as my fortnightly run to keep my car in order.  I can get lovely fresh seasonal vegetables and eggs and they also sell a few plants and pickles.  Today they had stalks of Brussels sprouts for sale at £1.25.  Last year I decided not to grow sprouts as I wasted far too many so I bought a stalk.  It looked as though it had been cut this morning.   

A few weeks ago I did an exercise in costing chicken thighs bought "bone in" as compared to chicken thighs bought ready boned.  I thought it might be interesting to compare ways of buying sprouts.  I took Sainsbury's as my comparison point.  They sell stalks at £2 so as mine was just £1.25,  I was in the lead.

First my stalk had 975 grammes of sprouts on it which works out at £1.29 per kilo.  Sainsbury's has sprouts for £2 per kilo this week so I was still in the lead.  However, assuming that a Sainsbury stalk yields the same as mine did, I also noted that it is cheaper to buy loose sprouts than it is to buy a sprout "tree", as Sainsbury calls it.  

I weighed my sprouts after I had trimmed them and found that I have 780 grammes of trimmed vegetables.  That means that the ready-to-cook price is just over £2 per kilo.  Some of these I have frozen, some I will eat over the next few days.

As a matter of interest I checked the price of frozen sprouts at Sainsbury.  £1.30 per kilo.  If cost is one's only criterion, frozen sprouts are the way to go!  They win over both sprout trees and loose sprouts.  

PS I have kept the top to use as spring greens as well - I think of that as free food!

Wednesday 11 November 2020

The marrow part 4

 And now for something completely different.

So far I've done two versions of stuffed marrow, I've made a soup with marrow and I've had marrow roasted with meat.  All those are fairly predictable and commonly done with marrows and I wanted to try something completely different so I googled and found a recipe for hazelnut and maple syrup marrow.  That is something I would never have thought of in a month of Sundays so I decided that's what I would do with the final chunk of the monster.

I peeled, deseeded and chopped the marrow and put it in an oiled dish.  I covered it with foil and roasted it for forty minutes at 200C.  I then removed the foil and added a drizzle of maple syrup and topped the lot with a mixture of breadcrumbs and chopped hazel nuts before returning it to the oven for 15 minutes to brown the nut and breadcrumb  mixture.

I served it with a jacket potato and sour cream dip and really enjoyed it!  If I made it again I would probably have it with pork.

You may remember the soup which I made in part 2 of this project.  At that time I decided that it was too bland.  I reheated the remaining portion and added a little harissa paste (needs using up!). It was an improvement but not enough for marrow soup to enter my repertoire.  

So, the marrow is no more.  I've rather enjoyed doing this project though.  It is sometimes difficult to avoid waste when living alone because something which is large can become very boring.  I've made myself eat the lot without getting bored.  I shall try a similar project with a different sort of glut.  

Monday 9 November 2020

The Marrow Part 3

 The comments about my marrow have been fascinating but rather than reply to each I’ve decided to write a little more about marrows. 

Anyone who has had to organise a Harvest Festival will be very familiar with Monster Marrows.  There are sometimes grown competitively and weights of over 200lbs have been recorded.   Botanically they are very close to courgettes (zucchini) but according to Auntie Beeb (the BBC)  “courgettes tend to be bushy and thin-skinned whereas marrows tend to trailing and have a thicker skin”.    According to me, marrows have less flavour and are more watery and the skin is very thick.  I’d eat the whole courgette but discard skin and seeds from marrow. 

Anyway, my not-too-monster marrow is disappearing.  Today’s offering was marrow stuffed with sausage meat, apple and onion.  I peeled it first, (unlike the minced beef stuffed one where I left the skin on for cooking but left the skin on the side of my plate when eating).  I'd cooked extra vegetables yesterday so I had them with my sausage stuffed marrow. 

There’s still a big chunk left but I won’t be cooking it for a couple of days as I have found an interesting recipe for which I need a few ingredients from Sainsbury - maybe I ran down my basics a little too much!  

Sunday 8 November 2020

The Marrow part 2

 I don't plan on having an extended relationship with the marrow but I don't want to end our friendship with the marrow and I still un-united so today I cooked some more of it.  I cooked a slice (peeled and deseeded) with my lunchtime pork chop, rather like Mother would cook some with the Sunday roast.  It was OK.  I had a sense of virtue on not wasting it but it would never be at the top of my personal hit parade.  

Yesterday I showed you a roasting tin filled with vegetables.  It was peeled and deseeded marrow, chopped and chunked potatoes and some sage from the garden along with some oil.  I roasted them whilst my yesterday stuffed marrow was cooking then today I sweated an onion, fished out most of the sage and discarded it before I added he marrow and potato mixture to the onions to make marrow, potato and sage soup which sounded good but wasn't brilliant.  I ate some and will eat it all but may experiment to add a little more flavour.  However, I could add marrow to other vegetable combinations to get another fruit-and-veg-five-a-day.  We shall see.  

About two thirds of the marrow has now disappeared.

Saturday 7 November 2020

The Marrow part 1

The green one is the marrow!
 Readers of my other blog will know that I have been given a marrow.   I've never been given a small marrow but this one isn't one of those monster marrows which appear at Harvest Festivals.  It's quite a civilised size and I feel I can take on the challenge of eating it.  

Stuffed marrow, mashed potato, broad beans

I am a child of the fifties,  a time when austerity as still the order of the day.  Marrow was often cooked with the Sunday joint because it would take up the flavour and make that flavour last a bit longer.  Marrow itself is rather flavourless so something else needs to be added.  Some thrifty housewives make marrow and ginger jam but that won't be appearing on my table as I don't like ginger in sweet things.  I have made marrow chutney in the past but its not one of my favourites and I won't be making it this year.

Today I've had the first piece of the marrow.  I chopped a generous chunk off one end, scooped out the seeds and filled the cavity with a small portion of mince, onion, tomato and beef which I cook in bulk for various dishes.  I covered it with foil and cooked it for about an hour at 200C then removed the foil, topped it with grated cheese and returned it to the oven for ten minutes.  I served it with broad beans and mashed potatoes and it was rather nice.  

Now what will that be?

While that was cooking I started on the next chunk of marrow.  But that's a story for another day!

Sunday 1 November 2020


 This has been a year like no other!  None of us could have predicted the turn of events, no-one could have foreseen the problems to be faced.

You probably think I'm talking about the pandemic and indeed I could be, but actually I'm talking about budgetting.  No two years are ever the same, we will always have unforeseen expenditure, there will always be problems.

Since January I have had to buy a new freezer (£430), a laptop (£570), a fridge (£320), a (refurbished) iPhone (£234), blinds (£505), major repairs to my mobility scooter (£600) as well as the usual round of car servicing and repairs, appliance maintenance etc.  I make that £2659.  

But it will ever be thus.  The fridge and freezer should be good for many years now but the dishwasher is twelve years old and the tumble dryer over twenty years.  My car could need major repairs, my mobility scooter will eventually need replacing or any number of other emergencies could arise.  My pension income is assured but since March I have been unable to earn the fees which normally put a generous coating of jam on the bread.  Fortunately I have made savings by not going out, hardly moving my car and generally cutting back.

I am so glad that I budget properly.  I also track rigorously so I can work out how to cut down and can see the result of my economies.