Some cooking lessons I learned the hard way..

I used to live with my Gran when I went to university. She taught me a lot about making good food, eating simply and making do. It has had a strong influence on how we live now.

Start from ‘waste nothing’, and learn a trick or three.

One weekend, when cleaning up the kitchen in the evening, I made the fatal mistake of tipping out the cooking water from corned beef we had for dinner – “Aaaah, stop – what are you doing?! That’s liquid gold going down that sink!” – oops. Sorry Gran.

This is not actually a recipe, but a lesson I learned about seeing past the recipe and looking at foods as resources first and meals second. Gran’s influence means I see vegie scraps as stock, citrus as peel first flesh second, and meat bones for the flavour they still hold. It must reduce waste as much as possible, save time and taste fabulous.

Here is my three-trick pony.

Inspired by Gran’s horror at my wastefulness, and the subsequent lesson about corned beef water, here is a cooking routine my family now knows well:

Trick 1: Roast Chook >>> take your favourite roast chook recipe (or like us when we are in a hurry – buy a roast chook), take all the meat off to eat or use right away, and KEEP ALL THE SKIN, BONES, AND ANY BITS, JUICES etc in the bag it came in and pop into the freezer.

Yes, not glamorous, but the real photo of the actual chook bits.

Trick 2: Corned Beef >>> on the next night, or another night, cook corned beef. There are lots of recipes, and I will share ours some time soon, but for now, choose your favourite (best if some veg is cooked in with the meat), BUT DON’T TOSS THE COOKING WATER. It is the basis of an AMAZING broth. Let any left over beef cool in it, refrigerating together overnight. Next day, remove the left-over beef to use separately in sandwiches, and take any hardened fat off the top of the water.

Trick 3: BROTH >>> Take your beef cooking water and add the frozen chicken carcass from the fridge/freezer. You can add some extras here, like ginger, lemongrass, garlic, miso, chilli… but frankly the point of this is the speed and ease, so half the time, I don’t bother. Boil it up for an hour or so, then strain off all the bits to compost, leaving the tasty broth.

…and finally…

Add Veg & noodles >>> Any goodies you happen to have in the fridge, like carrot, leafy greens, mushrooms, boiled eggs, chilli, Chinese BBQ pork (left over in the freezer from last week).. herbs like parsley, coriander or rocket.. and noodles. In our case, that is usually Ramen, or Udon.

Mr 15 loves corned beef.. because it’s YUM!!!… and because it means noodles are not far away.

Look wide; grow well, folks 🌿