Pickles and Pasta

Pasta Bake

Pasta Bake

What do you do when the fridge is bare but dinner still needs put on the table? Use up all the pickled and frozen odds and ends and create a delicious pasta bake. That’s what! Faced with half eaten jars of pickled guerkins and red peppers, I had to engage in some creative cooking to turn them into a meal.

Taking in the aroma of the pickled guerkins I was reminded of dill. Aha! I have fresh dill growing on my windowsill. Hmm… what goes with dill? Thinking Scandinavian style, I remembered a had a couple of pieces of frozen pollock in the freezer. Pickles and fish are not a bad combination, but would the vinegar be a bit too full on? Well, I could counter balance that with a white sauce. Oh wait, there’s a little dried up bit of mouldy parmesan in the fridge. Taking the peeler to the bit of cheese I was able to salvage enough cheese to add an extra dimension to the white sauce. With the discovery of a few frozen peas and a dawn raid on the kale in the garden, a pasta bake was coming into sight. From the most unlikely of beginnings, I created one of my best dishes to date. It might not be up there with the gourmet recipes I read in books, but I might create this again in the future.

Pasta Bake

Pasta Bake

Here is the recipe. The quantities depend on what you have lying around. It may not take your fancy, but it may inspire you to create something new with your own odds and ends.

Ingredients

  • Frozen white fish
  • Frozen peas
  • Guerkins
  • Preserved red peppers
  • Kale
  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Flour, milk and butter/oil to make a white sauce
  • Grated cheese of any variety
  • Pasta

Method

  1. Boil the pasta
  2. Create a white sauce from the flour, butter or oil and milk and most of the grated cheese
  3. Fry the garlic, frozen peas, sliced guerkins, peppers and kale
  4. Cut the fish into cubes and add to the vegetables
  5. Add the vegetable and fish mix to the pasta, mix well and turn out into an oven proof dish.
  6. Cover the mix with the white saue and sprinkle with any remaining cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven at about 180C for approximately 25-30 minutes until slighly golden
Pasta Bake

Pasta Bake

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Food and Flowery Delights

Tonight I savoured a simple but delicious salad of rocket and preserved red peppers. The sweet vinegar of the capsicums and the pepperyness of the rocket complimented the grilled salmon I had for dinner. What made this salad all the more special was that it came direct from my garden.

Kale, chard, rocket and chives

Kale, chard, rocket and chives

Over the last month I’ve been enjoying purple kale, rhubarb chard and rocket, all of which I planted from seed in my garden. There’s nothing more satisfying than growing your own. Not only do I know how my food was grown and where it came from, I have also saved myself a few pennies. I might not be able to grow enough to be self sufficient, but I’m enjoying a bit of the ‘good life’!

I feel I’ve almost become addicted to growing things. If I don’t have a little pot somewhere planted with seeds, I feel as if something is missing. As it turns out I now have more vegetable plants than space in the garden. I’ve resorted to replanting my broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts into bigger containers. I’ve even planted extra seed potatoes into large bags. Feeling that my little tent propagator was empty, I recently planted coriander, turnips, lettuce and mizuna seeds. All of them took only a matter of days to poke through the soil. Where will I put them? Maybe I’ll put the lettuces in plant pots on the windowsills.

But it’s not just vegetables I’m growing. I’m very proud of the lupins I grew from seed last year. The plants are even bigger this year and have even more flower heads. I love them. They have such a presence, not only in their size, but also in the variety of colours and the beautiful shape of their leaves. I’ve also noticed that some of the plants have a lovely perfume.

Lupins in the evening sun

Lupins in the evening sun

Not content with my lupins I’ve scattered a meadow mix of seeds as well. It looks like I’ll have cornflowers, poppies, marigolds and a number of little surprises to look forward to. What is growing in your garden? No garden? What have you got growing in pots and other random places?

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Baking on a Budget

The warm, toasty smell of baking has filled my house this morning. I’ve just taken some fruit scones out the oven. There’s nothing more satisfying than taking a bite out of something delicious you’ve made yourself.

Fruit Scones

Fruit Scones

If you are one a tight budget, then the idea of baking might seem a bit expensive. It can mount up at the till when you go to buy all the ingredients. While it would be lovely to buy the best butter and organic milk and flour to bake with, it’s not always possible money wise. However, even with the most basic of ingredients, it’s still possible to make delicious treats.

The cost of all the ingredients in the quantities needed for this fruit scone recipe comes to about 27p. A bargain indeed. However, to buy the full packets for the ingredients at the till, I spent £5.49, although £1.89 of this was on 6 pints of milk. We go through a lot of milk in my house. You could reduce your till spend by over £2 if you bought smaller quantities and omitted the fruit, upping the cost of the scones slightly. Although a bit of an investment at the beginning, you’ll be able to make another 4-5 batches of scones or other baked goodies with what’s left.

Ingredients At Till For Recipe
Basic SR flour £0.65 (1.5kg) £0.09 (225g)
Margarine £0.95 (500g) £0.07 (40g)
Milk £1.89 (3.4l / 6 pints) £0.08 (150ml)
Caster sugar £1.05 (500g) £0.01 (1 tablespoon)
Mixed fruit £0.95 (500g) £0.01 (1 tablespoon)
Salt In cupboard £0.01 (pinch)
TOTAL £5.49 £0.27

How to Make

  1. Set oven to 220C (200C fan)
  2. Sift flour and then rub in the margarine with fingertips
  3. Add the sugar, salt and fruit and mix
  4. Add the milk and mix with a knife until it comes together
  5. Handling as little as possible knead the dough until it forms a rough ball
  6. Flatten a little with hands until about 1.5 cm thick
  7. Cut with a pastry cutter or the end of a wide glass dipped in flour. With the end scraps, shape into a little ball and flatten slightly for your cook’s treat! Put on baking tray.
  8. Put on top shelf of oven and bake for about 12-15 mins until golden. Put on a rack to cool.
Cook's treat scone

Cook’s treat scone made from the final scraps

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