Foodie thoughts…

Spoonie-Friendly Ingredients…

I need to simplify my life, particularly the amount of time I spend on my feet. My leg ulcer is out of control, bigger at every dressing change, and the pain is monstrous. Which means changing my kitchen habits.

This is also the reason why the cooking videos I promised have failed to materialise – unfortunately the process adds too much to the time I spend standing.

I was putting together my Sainsbury’s order for next Tuesday, and I spotted a couple of newish (to me, anyway), frozen items that might be useful, depending on the quality.

The first was Sainsbury’s Finely Chopped Vegetables 700g currently part of an any 2 for £2.50 offer. The mix is Carrot (34%), Celery (33%), Onion (33%), to which I’d need to add more onion and maybe more carrot, but it would still mean less work.

The other is Sainsbury’s Vegetable Stewpack 1kg same offer. This time the mix, chunkier, is Carrot (40%), Swede (17%), Turnip (17%), Onion (13%), Celery (13%). Why swede AND turnip I have no idea, they’re not that different.

The first would be ideal for soups, the second for casseroles, in which I prefer chunkier veg.

Along with much else they also do pre-prepped fresh bags of carrot & swede, and onion, but as I prefer specific types of both (Sweet Spear carrots, Echalion shallots and/or their cooking onions), they don’t appeal. Not yet, anyway though the time might – probably will – come.

Also worth a look – as potential additions to my roasted cauliflower and parsnip soup,** are Sainsbury’s Chargrilled Mediterranean Vegetables 500g, same offer, and a mix of Aubergine (30%), Courgette (30%), Red Pepper (20%), Yellow Pepper (20%). Too heavy on the peppers, perhaps, for my taste.

**Since I first published the recipe I’ve made that soup several times, and I’ve only just realised that what I’ve been making from memory is very different. For a start, there were no parsnips in the original, but potatoes instead, and Aunt Bessie’s Carrot & Swede Mash. Oh well, the parsnip version is, I think better, but now I have two versions. Oh joy!

***

Powdered Porcini – DIY v Shop-bought…

A little while ago I mentioned that I was buying some powdered Porcini. Well, I did. It is, I have to say, a considerable disappointment, smelling of very little. On the other hand, the smell from a jar of dried Porcini in my cupboard is almost orgasmic in its intensity, and they impart a fine depth of flavour to any dish I use them in.

I also wondered, at the time, whether grinding my own Porcini would yield a better product – just thinking out loud, as I had no basis for comparison then, but now I do.

So I hauled a spare coffee grinder (a Krups GVX2), from the depths of the hall cupboard, brushed out any loose coffee I could see, then ground a good handful of Basmati rice – if there’s anything better for cleaning a grinder’s burrs, I don’t know what it is. Oh, there are proprietary products available, but they are viciously expensive – Amazon would like you to pay £85 a tub but most sources charge about £20 for the same product, same size tub. Me, I’ll take the free option every time, if it works, and this does.

There were a few awkward recesses into which ground coffee had been compressed, but loosening it with a long needle and blasting it with a CO2 keyboard cleaner – eyes tightly closed – did the trick. Everything came up bright and shiny, with not a hint of coffee about it. Smelled slightly of Basmati which isn’t a bad thing at all.

So I took some dried Porcini, tore it into coffee-bean sized bits and ran the grinder.

Result, perfectly-ground powdered Porcini, which still smelled as good as it did when whole. I hadn’t made much, about a generous teaspoonful, so it went into a pot of spicy lentil soup that was simmering on the induction hob.

I did that on the finest setting, and there was some loss as it was so fine it escaped from the machine. Easily fixed, though, with a coarser setting.

So that’s my question answered, in spades – DIY is vastly better than shop-bought. Those I ground were nothing special, just Sainsbury’s own brand, but the results could hardly be bettered. And the whole kitchen smells amazing!

And now I’m off to add a pack of Porcini to Tuesday’s order.

***

And finally, Savoury Bread…

I like to make a herby focaccia occasionally, and it’s occurred to me, typing that last segment, that alongside the rosemary, olive oil and sea salt, a couple or three teaspoons of powdered Porcini, and some chopped black olives, would make a wonderfully savoury bread.

Watch this space…

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