Cooking with Jack – Sausage and Lentil One Pot Dinner

I often make a sausage casserole loosely based on a recipe from this book.The Student Cookbook

I used to use fresh carrots and potatoes, turning my nose up at tinned veg, until I started to read A Girl Called Jack.

I wanted to make Jack’s recipe as I have a cupboard full of lentils that need to be used. I wasn’t sure that The Gamer would take to lentils so I made both versions. All left overs are used for lunches so, don’t worry, there was no waste.

All my ingredients are from Aldi although I get most of my fresh and dried herbs from a local grower, Urban Herbs. Ingredients gathered

The sausages I used are from the Aldi Specially Selected range and are high in pork content. I will not compromise and buy nasty cheap value range sausages. You may as well just mush up some bread, lard and salt. If I cannot afford good meat I would rather not eat meat.

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I am experimenting with a lot of recipes and noting prices of everything as I am planning for my week of living on a £1 a day for the Live Below the Line Challenge. It was while looking at the recipes suggested by the organisers that I started to write more about food. I was shocked to see how unhealthy some of them were (think of value white bread and sausages) so set out to come up with a healthier way to eat and drink on a pound a day. I wish Jack Monroe had been blogging then!

One of my very early posts was written for Blog Action Day 2011. Written at Heathrow Airport waiting to fly to San Francisco, those taking part had been given a theme to write about, in 2011 we were asked to focus on the many issues related to food, such as health, hunger, quality, culture, farming, access and waste to coincide with World Food Day.

So back to the sausages.

Sausages with baked beans

Student sausages with baked beans

My version uses baked beans instead of lentils and tinned tomatoes with a bit of mustard, tomatoes puree and Worcester Sauce to give it a bit of kick. A bit of flour was added to the sausages and onions before adding the other ingredients to thicken it up.

Sausage and Lentil One Pot Meal

Sausages with Lentils

The lentils in Jack’s recipe absorb the liquid from the stock, which as well as thickening the casserole, give it its texture.

As ever, I decided to tweak the recipe, and added some curry powder to the one with lentils, as I thought it would work. It did. I am sure Jack won’t mind.

The verdict, The Gamer still prefers the original as it is sweeter (that will be the baked beans) but he didn’t hate the lentil version. Vinyl Man loved the lentil version as did I. 2-1 to Jack. And I am at last using those lentils.

Night off tomorrow as The Gamer is cooking.

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Cooking with A Girl Called Jack – Pork Kokkinsito

After last nights success with the Mango and Chickpea curry from this book,

A Girl Called Jack

A Girl Called Jack

I asked The Gamer to choose a meal tonight as curry and chickpeas are not his thing.

He chose this. DSCN0754

The only shopping I had to do was to pop to Aldi and choose the pork. I had the option of belly or loin. The cookery snob in me wanted the loin, yet at £5 something for 400g (I think) that seemed a tad expensive, so pork belly it was at £1.99 for 500g. Everything else, bar the wine, I had in the house. I have rosemary growing in the garden.  I don’t need an excuse to buy wine.

This is a doddle to cook, all in one pan, browned off the pork, added the onions to sweat and then chuck everything else in. I did add a bit of flour in to absorb the fat and to thicken the sauce, before adding the wine and tomatoes, but I always tweak recipes. That is what I do, control freak that I am. DSCN0755

It says it serves four, but with a generous portion of mashed potatoes it served three adults tonight and there is enough for two lunches tomorrow.  DSCN0756

Not only delicious, jolly good value too.

Thanks, Jack.

James Martin – Home Comforts

I have been watching a lot of telly this week as I have been laid up with a cold.

Thanks to modern technology I can watch what I want and when I want – and having recorded Home Comforts, Saturday Kitchen and Operation Hospital Food, I have been able to see a lot of James Martin. And that is not a bad thing.

Feeling better today, I actually cooked for the first time in five days. Inspired by James, this was breakfast in bed.  DSCN0668

And this was Sunday supper.DSCN0671 DSCN0672

The Best Crackling EVER.

The recipes can be found here. Yes, even for the bacon buttie. 🙂

And don’t you just love my vintage plates?

And if you are a regular reader you will know that I have cooked with James Martin.

Have you ever cooked with a TV chef?

Planning meals around the food hoard

Earlier this week I wrote a post about how shocked I was at the amount of food I had in the house that I wasn’t using. It was written following a discussion on how we would behave if there was a blackout.  I thought that I probably had enough food to survive a short while and decided to do a food audit to see if there was a blackout could I survive.

I was shocked at quite how much I actually had in the house. Here is the food list and my mission is to plan meals around this, limiting my food shopping to staples and ingredients needed to make a meal from what I already had. This week is all about using left overs, store cupboard ingredients and cooking on a budget. More Jack than Jamie.

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Tuesday

Lunch was leftover items from pizza night and ham and bread. No spending on lunch today.

I made carrot soup using up stock and most of the carrots and Apple and Sultana crumble with ingredients I already had.

Dinner

Pasta bake made with pasta I already had, left over passata in the fridge and onions and peppers. I only bought Steak Mince that day, used 250g of 500g. The rest will be used on Saturday.

Spending £3.69. Expensive mince, yet I think it is worth it as goes further as there is so little fat. It fed three adults today and will do so again on Saturday. Just over 60p each for a portion of meat.

Wednesday

Lunch, sandwiches with existing ingredients.

Dinner

Sausages from freezer (10 Black Farmer) with frozen peas and fresh carrots and courgettes from a neighbours allotment. I bought bread, potatoes and baked beans from Aldi.  The bread will last the week for sandwiches and the potatoes will last about a fortnight.

Spending £3.23

Thursday

Lunch was ham sandwiches for two of the family. I had some of the leftovers from last night sausages.

Dinner

I used up the curry kit, chicken breast and prawns, with rice. This meal was made with ingredients I already had, so no spend on meals for those of us eating the curry. I bought butter, milk, a pizza (as one of the diners doesn’t like curry and quite honestly I couldn’t be bothered to make two different meals) and tinned chopped tomatoes for the curry. I ended up using fresh tomatoes that were very ripe instead.This fed two of us and there is a leftovers for lunch on Saturday.

Spending £4.26

Today (Friday) is fish and chips night so no cooking and no shopping.

Lunch for me was left overs of the sausage meal. the others had sandwiches and soup.This fed three for dinner on Wednesday plus two smaller lunch portions for me so feeling very frugally smug.

I am getting to the end of the meat supply in the freezer so it may be a veggie week ahead. Lots of lentils and rice.

If anyone has any meal ideas based on my food list, please share.

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Still not Living Below the Line

Living below the line is not really a lifestyle choice for me, it is a necessity. Since returning from travelling, I have not yet found a job and my husband works part time. It is one of the reasons I chose not to join the Live Below the Line challenge, as I guessed I was pretty much already keeping to a very low food budget.

Instead I decide to blog about food, cooking  and how to live well on a limited food budget and see how much exactly I lived on. There are three adults in the family and we eat together most of the time, so most meals are for three with leftovers usually for lunch the next day.

One way that helps is to work on economies of scale. I don’t buy one onion I buy a bag. The one above cost £1.69 from Asda and I guess there are 50 small onion in it, so I sometimes use 2 for a  meal at an approximate cost of 3p each.

Tonight dinner is toad in the hole.I will be using a recipe from this book.

The sausages were 2 packs of 6 for £4 which does not make them cheap, however cheap sausages are mainly water and rusk, these are 97% pork and gluten, wheat and dairy free and I would rather have high quality meat and less of it than eat mush.

Today I had tea first thing and accepted a croissant at a friends house for my late breakfast. Lunch was left over Chicken Macaroni from yesterday.

What it cost today.

Tea and milk 4p

Croissant 25p

Lunch nothing as it was left overs accounted for yesterday

Good quality sausages 66p

Egg 5p (from my chickens)

Milk 5p

Onion 3p as per yesterday

Courgette 11p

Carrot 3p as per yesterday

Potato 6p from an Aldi 69p bag

Mushroom 25p

Flour 5p

Total £1.58 as the pictured baked beans will not be on my plate. They cost 30p.

The Croissant was an unusual indulgence, and the mushroom was expensive at 25p, from  a pack of 4 for 99p I had bought to go with a meal last week. It will make me think twice about spending that much on a mushroom in the future!

Yet the purpose of this blog is too see how much I spend on food for myself,  rather than meeting the Live Below the Line challenge. My personal challenge is to see how cheaply can I can eat well without resorting to low quality ingredients, making real savings be made by buying fresh, seasonable food and using supermarket value lines such as tinned tomatoes and ketchup, instead of buying premium brands.

I realise I have a better life than those living in real poverty around the world, who have nowhere warm to sleep, no schools with young children forced into sweatshops and separated from family.   Yet with the rise of food banks in the UK are we, by giving away food without support to learn to cook meals that are nutritious, tasty and cheap,  just handing out the fish and not the fishing rod?