Eating with seasonal ingredients has brought some surprises. The menu is more diverse but has required an investment in time and effort. When time is at a premium, I crave an instant fix with a ready prepared meal and yet I know that this can be achieved with planning.
Seasonal food means being open to trying out new ingredients and to be willing to not have strawberries all year around. It brings with it an appreciation of the ingredient and a realisation that without preserving them you will not taste them again until next time around.
The most useful book I have on my shelf to help cooking from scratch is the More with less cookbook which includes recipes and suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world's limited food resources. The recipes are varied and you need to take an attitude about whether the ingredients are going to work but the test recipes have been really well received in this household. This would be a great book for students on a budget too.
In order to increase the intake of vegetables and decrease meat intake I have made the following adaptations to a cottage pie. Usually this is made with minced beef, gravy and onion under a topping of mashed potatoes. If you boil carrots with the potatoes and then mash them, you get more vegetables and a little less starch. Gradually adding a percentage of mushrooms from 0 to 50% adds texture and taste. Even leftover cauliflower can be mashed with potatoes as a different topping.
Food with attitude requires a willingness to experiment and be creative with whatever presents itself and using leftovers in the next dish.Most fruit that is looking past its best from the shop gets transformed into a fruit salad. Wrinkly vegetables make a rather satisfying soup.
Creating convenience meals include casseroles bubbling on the wood burner, soups, and making use of technology. The cooker in my kitchen has the ability to programme a start and finish to its cooking cycle and that enables me to go out for the afternoon and come back to a meal ready to eat.
Living simply and eating seasonally is not about going back 100 years in the way we do things but combining those skills with energy efficient technology available today.
In a nutshell:
- avoid additives and processed foods
- reduce consumption of animal products and consider food miles
- a vegan diet using locally produced organic produce is a a desirable sustainable model.
- Use wholefoods, farmer markets and local box schemes in preference to supermarket purchases.
- if you use imported goods, consider fair trade.
- eat more raw foods, sprout beans, smoothies.
- simmer on low heat instead of boiling, look at heat generated by woodburner as option.
- recycle all leftovers, compost and bokashi leftovers.
- eat seasonally
- update your cooking skills and try something new.