Sunday, 24 April 2016

Day 9

Well, I've started to pull some things from the freezer today.

I have about a cup of frozen left over cooked Moroccan Chicken that I used for B'Stilla's a few weeks ago (and yes! I even made the ras el hanout spice mix and need to use the rest of that, too! Aromatic deliciousness).

And I've always wanted to try Arancini.  I don't have a deep fryer (I really want one of these!) so will opt for an oven bake version.  The question of what rice to use in place of calasparra rice, as this isn't easily bought in my town?  I think I'll just use a short-grain rice - perhaps even the Japanese sushi rice of which I have a couple of cups left in the pantry.  This recipe will turn into a bit of a mashup by the looks.  It will certainly be an experiment.  I want to maximise the Moroccan flavours in the pre-cooked chicken mixture by punching it out with a citrus palate.  Dry white wine, chicken stock with some lemon and lime zest and juice and perhaps some cumin and sumac are potential suspects.  I have tri-colour capsicums (bell peppers for the Northern Hemisphere folk) to use up and will chop these quite fine. AND to make things really complicated, I have a miniscule amount of canned beetroot still left in a glass container in the fridge that should be used by hook or by crook.  I'll drain the little pieces and chop these up to get tossed into the ragu too.  In fact, instead of wine, the beet juice might be just as effective but will have a bit more of a think about that because...colour!

Inside the Arancini? Well, I have this jar of baby bell peppers stuffed with cream cheese unopened in my fridge!  I am going to drain these and use them as the surprise ingredient inside the rice/chicken ragu mix.  There is also an opened jar of Mango Chutney and this might be fantastic to serve them with!  Hmmmmm?  It all sounds pretty great in theory.  Proof will be the bite test. Fingers crossed!

Looking through recipe books to use what I have is becoming time-consuming and taste.com.au is coming to the fore because I can look up recipes by key ingredient, which is helping enormously.  I will likely have to shop for some very basic fresh ingredients this week as I am always missing at least one or two staple ingredients from the lists. Frustrating and then some. Cakes a'plenty could be baked but one can't live on cake as much as one might like to.

The lack of fresh vege lately is starting to wear thin.  I have *plenty* of carrots and a big bag of apples.  Things to do with those are a must.  The carrots are likely to be dressed with various spice concoctions and roasted to accompany meals.  I may also make a carrot cake once I have that promised ANZAC cheesecake out the way.   I also plan on making an apple pie (with the blueberries thrown in, maybe - because they're still waiting in the fridge for some cooking love).

It was impossible to foresee just how challenging this project would be - even in this first 9 days.  Eating my way out of my fridge has been at the forefront of the task.  But now, I have to do something to "fill" my fridge (within acceptable limits of use) with certain things that will get me through the freezer phase.  The aim is to whittle down my freezer to near bare. This way, I can begin the process of restocking it with things cooked and baked in the pantry de-clutter phase.  As a person living alone, a freezer is handy for those times when going shopping is a chore and there's no money in the kitty for eating out or pizza delivery!  I need to figure out what sort of useable things are required staples in the freezer.  Much of the time, the freezer just gets filled up with lots of leftovers from cooking binges.  That's great, but if one forgets to access these left-overs in a reasonable time frame, the food can end up tossed anyway because of freezer-burn, lack of flavour, and general disgusting'ness.  A good freezer, I think, should be a workhorse offering staple ingredients and convenience home-made meals every week.  It will be a bit of a long term research project to see what I genuinely need in my freezer that can work to my gastronomic pleasure and advantage.

There is overlap of course, between fridge, freezer and pantry in that things from each do get used but I've been thinking linear so far, by whittling down fridge first, then freezer and then to really bust the pantry into submission. Innovation is having to come into play; hence, the experimental Arancini idea.  The thing is of course, is that once the Arancini are made I won't be able to freeze those, so I am hoping I can give some away to friends - as long as they taste good.  I'll be really bummed if this gets the bin treatment *pout.*   I may have to prepare myself for this eventuality, though.  It's an experiment in downsizing and not every experiment is required to succeed first time.

It's Day 9.  I'm impressed that so far, I've only needed to spend just over $20 on food.  In truth, I've also scored some "freebies" along the way to supplement the experiment, but even so, this is a vast improvement on my decades of unmindful spending on "groceries" every week.  I don't think I've spent $20 on Groceries for an entire two weeks since I was in my early 20's (when one lived on potato chips and booze, ya know? *roll eyes*).

Booyah!

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