Homemade(-ish)

I am not good at anything food related. I love food and am a willing assistant in the kitchen, but if I’m in charge of the salad, I’ll burn it.

Enter my partner. She isn’t a professional cook, but her food equals and exceeds that of the nicest restaraunts I have ever been to.

We’re both eager to spend less money and are always reviewing our purchases. One regular slice of our expenditure cake that we are actually very happy with is our food. We regularly buy individual food components and build a meal from them, rather than buying something pre-made and ready to cook. There are exceptions to this, though. For example, we don’t buy the ingredients to make bread (…yet) we just buy damn bread. It’s cheaper to buy it than make it in our case anyway. There are other instances of this, where it’s easier and/or cheaper to buy pre-made than make from scratch. Often, these pre-made things become one ingredient in a bigger meal, the rest being home made (and even home grown in some cases!) and quite often the leftovers of the meal or ingredients form part of the meal for the next day. For example, slow-cook a whole chicken, use the breasts/legs in a meal then use the rest of the meat on a delicious pizza, with the carcass being used to make a delicious soup!

Homemade(-ish) Chicken & Sweetcorn pizza

We’ve found ourselves with quite the collection of go-to meals. Meals that we can recreate easily and cheaply that taste great and are healthy. Well, healthier than the store-bought versions anyway. And yes, occasionally we’ll have chicken a few days in a row, but when it tastes as good as it does, you really don’t care.

We should probably share these recipies… Rather than having 100% home made food, which quite frankly is more effort than we’re willing to put in right now, perhaps we should publish our homemade-ish food recipies with the focus on taste, money, health and simplicity. I’ve found it can be difficult to get all four of those into the same meal, and sometimes we don’t (just check out that pizza above) but we try.

As we grow more food in the future, hopefully we’ll be able to experiement more and come up with some even tastier, healthier, cheaper and simpler meals. If we do, we’ll post them here.

Grow your own… food!

Although we’re nowhere near complete with our house renovations, we couldn’t resist growing some of our own food in our garden over the summer.

I haven’t updated on the progress of this venture, so here’s how it went!

Tomato

Wow. Huge success here. We had them on the floor both outside the greenhouse over the summer as well as inside the greenhouse as it got colder. Unfortunately this resulted in slugs and other pests eating their way through a significant portion of our stock. Even so, starting with just six plants we ended up with hundreds of tomatoes which we barely managed to keep up with. We ate them with almost every meal, and even had to give some away!

We will absolutely be growing these again. We want to try some different varieties as well as get some form of shelving to keep them off of the ground next time. I think with half the number of plants on raised shelving, better protected from the cold, we would end up with more tomatoes than we had this year.

Cucumber

Another huge success. Not only did we get over a dozen spikey cucumbers, they tasted great too. They soak up water like a sponge, so after we went on holiday for a week we came back to a dead, crispy plant 🙁

Next year we will grow another plant (or two) as we know we can get much more fruit from it. As long as we remember to water them…

Cucamelon

We planted two Cucamelon plants in the same pot as the Cucumber (similar name, same pot. Makes sense, right?) but unfortunately they didn’t really grow many fruits. Interestingly, once the Cucumber plant died, the Cucamelon bumped up production of both fruits and shoots. I didn’t get a picture of any of these – they were so rare that we picked them and ate them almost immediately.

The few fruits we did get tasted good. It’s just a shame there weren’t many. We might try these again in a different pot, but possibly not next year as we have some alternative fruits we want to try our hand at growing.

Strawberry

We were gifted a strawberry plant by family but unfortunately the cat decided it would be fun to dig it up and play with it, ripping it apart almost immediately after planting it.

We can learn to forgive him. In time.

I’m very eager to grow and eat fresh strawberry, I don’t think I’ve ever had any that weren’t purchased in a store.

Lettuce

Ah, lettuce. This would have been a resounding success if it weren’t for the ultimate failure on my part to read the instructions properly.

I planted a whole packet of what must have been at least 40 seeds into a single tray. It turns out you are supposed to plant a few of them at a time, spreading them out so that when you eat up the first batch, the second is ready to go. By the time I realised my mistake, the tray was almost solid with the entangled roots of baby lettuce. There was no saving them, although we tried. They went into the compost.

Sorry, lettuce. I failed you. Next year we will grow more, but properly. I promise to read the instructions next time!

In conclusion

This was the first time we’ve grown something edible in our garden, and overall it was successful. We certainly learned a lot and will absolutely be growing more next year. As we clear out more and more of the garden, we should be able to bump up the volume of edibles that we grow. I don’t expect to be able to completely feed us all year around – we just don’t have the land nor the time for that to be feasible – but I do want to have something on the go as often as possible.

We have also tried growing some herbs and other plants, which I might write a bit about in another post.