Monday, 4 April 2011

Susie the fearless forager

At the moment chez Useless Beauty we are practising Thrift, Thrift in all things, whipping up corsages from the bits of fabric only a lunatic would keep, and making dinner from nettles, (especially after seeing the gas bill which came today). So I would like to turn your attention to Mumma Troll’s blog where she is going to be co-ordinating a thrifty food challenge (Challenge 35) on the week beginning May 8th. The challenge is to feed yourself and your family for a week on the number of people in your household in pounds per day. So for partner and I, that would be a week of groceries on £14. Mumma Troll has some rules on her blog here, and Partner has invented a special supplementary rule which is, wine is excluded from the £14. He and I may have to discuss that nearer the time. I almost invented a further supplementary rule for myself which was, veg box veg are also excluded from the £14, but then I decided that was cheating a bit and I might as well decide that it doesn’t count if it comes from Waitrose or something. So I will be doing the challenge properly, but with some trepidation; because I literally cannot think of one meal which costs under £2. I hope Mumma Troll will be gentle. If you would like to sign up too, I am sure she won’t mind having more people. And it will be fun! (says she nervously).

However, having said that, I did actually make dinner from nettles over the weekend and I imagine the meal I made was not expensive at all. Firstly I went out and picked my nettles. I was a bit nervous that I would pick something that wasn’t a nettle but was in fact deadly nightshade in disguise or something. I found these growing in the border I am digging over at the moment
With the luck I have re gardens, this is probably Japanese Knotweed
And to test whether they were nettles or not I grabbed them to see if they stung me. Well, they didn’t sting me, which was very strange, as they look like nettles to me, apart from the white flowers. So I thought I should not risk it, and I went and picked some nettles (wearing my gloves) from under the apple tree and put them in my colander.
Scary nettles
Then I made dinner as follows: I fried an onion and garlic in a pan, and added thyme (just dried, from a packet), and some jerusalem artichokes chopped into discs. I cooked them for about 5 minutes, then added the nettles and wilted them, then I added a splash of double cream and some vegetable stock, boiled it for 5 minutes to reduce the liquid, and put in an oven dish. Then I topped it with breadcrumbs (just torn-up bread), some oats, some butter, and some grated cheese, and cooked at 190 degrees C for about 30 minutes.
The reason this looks unappetising is because I took the photo under artificial light
This is my bastardised version of the proper recipe which you can find in River Cottage Everyday, which is an excellent book which you should buy (or be thrifty and get from the library). And actually, it was completely delicious, and cost practically nothing to make as the nettles were free, the jerusalem artichokes came in the veg box, and everything else was just bits of leftovers that were hanging around. As I make more of an effort to plan meals properly and not have any waste, I realise just how many recipes have been invented to use up leftovers, indeed some weeks I feel like we only eat leftovers created anew into exciting new dishes but there must have been an original meal – an Ur-Meal – at some point. Possibly some time in 2008.

Anyway I have more leftovers now, because I couldn’t eat all the jerusalem artichoke and nettle bake in one go; so I have stashed it in the freezer from whence it will reappear in splendour one day when the cupboard is bare.


Vivianne said...

That looks like it might be white deadnettle ....
Did your OH eat this ??

Susie said...

Ha ha ha. No he didn't ;-).

Would white deadnettle have killed me?

Rachel said...

Sounds delicious! It seems that white deadnettle is also edible:

I'm considering that challenge. Sounds tough, but I really ought to have a go...

Mumma Troll said...

I'm so glad your in Susie, although wine most definately does not count,lol. You could buy 7 bottles of Lambrini mind you, but you may be a bit hungry by Sunday,