Frozen Gems

Since living in Jakarta I have discovered my freezer. I never really used my freezer well in Australia mainly, I think, because there was no need to.  If I needed something and didn’t have it I could jump in the car, go and get it and be home in around 20 minutes. Not quite the case here in Jakarta!

As I now think about my freezer and how I use it, 2 people come to mind. Firstly my  mum. She could always dive into the freezer (of which we always had two) and pull out cakes, preserved fruit, all types of meat, and complete meals that just needed defrosting and heating. It seems that no matter what came up or who popped in for a visit or meal she could go to her freezer and pull out what she needed.

Secondly is my girlfriend.  Her freezer is jammed packed full goodies – broths, stocks, leftovers and hidden treasures. I can remember always thinking “How is she going to fit that in the freezer? or “Where did she get that from?” Her freezer help her cook a yummy meals.

In my opinion, they are two very different types of freezers – old school and new school. Both are well used and I think I have a bit of both in my freezer. If you open the door and have a look inside my freezer you will find a variety of items such as pesto, broths, meat, veggies, fruit, leftovers, tomato pasta sauce, and fats. All of the different freezers help to save with food waste which is important I think.

I have worked out that it is very convenient here to have some staples in the freezer as popping to the shop for me can be quite a journey. I have also learnt that when you see an item in the store you grab it and one (or more) for the cupboard or freezer.

One important area to remember is food safety so here is a guideline from Sarah Wilson’s website –

How long to freeze your food for:

•Meat soups: 2 months.

•Vegetable soups: 3 months.

•Cooked meat: 2 months. (If possible, slightly undercook any meat that is going to be reheated.)

•Cooked fish: 1 month.

•Partially cooked and frozen vegetables: 3-6 months. (Generally they don’t need to be defrosted prior to cooking, although some leafy green vegetables are much easier to separate if defrosted a little bit first.)

•Baked muffins: 3 months. (Freeze in individual bags or in a single container with sheets of freeze paper between the muffins so they can be easily separated.)

Here’s how I do it:

•Use snap lock bags for freezing – meat, veggies and fruits.

•Par cook my veggies until they are about 60% done, then put in cold water to stop the cooking process and finally, place in zip lock bags – take out as much air as possible then freeze. I buy up big when veggies and fruit are in season and freeze them in this way.

•All leftovers are frozen ready for another meal or someones lunch

•If I make too much rice or pasta it is frozen

•When I make big batches of pesto, wrap them in cling wrap in a sausage shape then freeze them. When I need to add pesto I cut off the amount I need.

•Freeze leftover sauces, small amounts in cube trays and for larger amounts I use old jam jars that Ive collected.

•I get big blocks of cheese here so I grate them and put them in ziplock bags to freeze

 

A few other ideas from Sarah – 

cleverhacks

In writing this post, I realise that one area I do need to work on is labelling and dating my ziplock bags and containers so that I know what it is and when I put it in the freezer. That way I will know what gems I have hiding in my freezer!

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A final bit of information; how you defrost your frozen gems is also quite important. One should defrost foods in the fridge, not on the kitchen bench as the slower you defrost, the closer it resembles its pre-frozen state.

Sarah has some other good tips on this webpage – http://www.sarahwilson.com/2016/04/14-fave-freezer-hacks-you-can-pin-on-your-fridge-now/

My freezer

A few photos of some of the gems I keep in my freezer….

Oil to reuse in a jar, veggies in ziplock bags, my pesto sausages, tomato pasta sauce, and grated cheese.

 

 

 

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“That was one of the best things you have ever cooked!”

I’m sitting in the car on the way to my school for a meeting and wondering what I should write about for this week’s entry; waiting for some kind of inspiration to fall from the sky! My mind is also thinking about what I’m going to cook for dinner tonight.  I can still hear my 13 year sons words that he said after dinner last night “that was one of the best things you have ever cooked mum.”  It then dawns on me that that is what I am going to share with you this week.

A bit of background – I find meat in Jakarta hard to buy, but think I over think it! I have discovered a place where I can source organic chicken and when I’m at Hero supermarket and see Australian mince, I stock up. From the embassy I can also get some Australian beef sausages. It certainly pushes my kitchen creativeness to the max to come up with new meals using 3 types of meat only.

On Tuesday, I was staring at my pack of sausages trying to think of what to do with them. In the past, I did either sausages, mash and vegetables, sausages, mash and salad or sausage and pasta. I didn’t really feel like any of these, so what does one do when they have a problem? Turn to google!  I saw these –

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This made me think that perhaps I could turn my humble sausages into sausage rolls – one of my son’s favourite things to eat and something that you can’t find in Jakarta.

So here is what I created.

My Sausage Rolls

Pastry

*You can use store bought puff pastry sheets but it is easy to make your own. This is David Gilespies pie pastry recipe. I usually make the whole amount and put the leftovers in the freezer ready for my next creation.

Ingredients –

  • 225g butter
  • 2 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of ice cold water

Method –

  • Place flour and salt into food processor
  • Cut butter into small cubes
  • Add butter
  • Blend until it looks lite breadcrumbs
  • While the processor is going add the ice cold water until dough comes together – you may not require all of the water
  • Take dough out of food processor and wrap it in plastic and place into the fridge until its required

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Filling

Ingredients –

  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary (dried or fresh and could be substituted for any herb)
  • tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 10 crackers or equivalent breadcrumbs
  • 4 fat beef sausages (Once again they could be a different meat)

*You could add in other veggies likethifnly sliced beans or zucchini

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Method

  • Bash your crackers until they are like breadcrumbs (I usually put mine in a ziplock bag to contain the mess)
  • Grate carrot
  • Dice onion finely
  • Take the skin off of the sausages and place in a bowl
  • Add in all of the ingredients into the bowl and mix very well – I like to get my hands into the mixture!

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Making

  • When both parts are ready take your dough out of the fridge and cut it into 4 pieces.
  • Roll out one of the four pieces of dough thinly
  • When it is ready add your meat in a long sausage shape along one edge of the dough.
  • Roll the the dough around the meat
  • Place sealed edge on the bottom when placing it on a baking tray.
  • If you would like to get fancy you can do an egg wash to seal it and to add some sesame seeds or poppy seeds to the top.

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Cooking

Depending on how thick you like your meat to how many sausage rolls you can make. With my mixture I made 2 rolls. Cooking time will also vary depending on meat amount and thickness of your pastry. As a guide, I cooked mine for 25-30 minutes.

Eating

They are yummy both hot and cold, and can be served with a salad or hot veggies. I plated mine with mash and a salad and of course some homemade tomato sauce!

I’m about to make my second round for school lunch boxes if they survive the afternoon snack time rush.

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Hope you enjoy them as much as my son did and that you are lucky enough to get a comment like –

“That was one of the best things you have ever cooked!”

 

 

After school snack idea

The food area I have been struggling with while living in Jakarta is after school snacks for my teen kids.  They walk in the door after school and the first thing I hear is –

“Im starving!!”

So here is an idea I came up with to help with the after school munchies!

Crepes

pancakes pile against white background

My Crepe mixture

Ingredients –

  • Flour (wholemeal or white)
  • oil (coconut or olive)
  • milk
  • salt

Method –

  • Place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix.
  • Add more milk if batter is too thick
  • If batter is lumpy give a quick mix with a hand blender.
  • Heat some oil or ghee in a frypan and spoon in batter – spread it out to make thin crapes.
  • I have discovered that I can make them in my sandwich press with no extra oil or butter needed and they cook in a flash – no sticking!!

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I usually make a small amount as it goes a long way.  If the kids are still hungry it only takes a moment to make more batter. The amounts I have given are based on 6 large crepes.

Toppings –

This will depend on your child and what they like.some ideas are –

  • Fresh fruit, yoghurt and muesli
  • Grilled banna and yoghurt – add a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Ham and cheese
  • Bacon or chicken, cheese and tomato … and pineapple
  • Salad veg – tomato, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, herbs etc…
  • Marinated meat and veg

There are endless combinations – be creative!!

You can put the ingredients out and let the kids make their own. I’m sure they will come up with combinations you never thought of!!

I have also used the same ideas for a quick evening meal.

Its healthy and fun to eat.

Hide and Seek

Come out, come out wherever you are..

Do you remember saying these words when you played hide and seek? This week I thought I would go in search of some of my favourite foods and find find out how much sugar they have hiding in them. Once I know how much sugar there is I can calculate how much is fructose and whether it is on the “naughty or nice”list.

Fructose is the unhealthy part of sugar making up 50% of table sugar, with glucose being the other 50%. I have been reading the nutrition facts found on the back of products to deduct whether the foods are ok or not.

In my daily eating I aim to avoid eating any added sugar but I know this is not always achievable, especially when you eat out.  When this happens I try my best to order foods which I think will be lowest in sugar.

 I do not consider fresh fruits and vegetables as having added sugar.

This is how I go about reading labels.

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Step 1:

This item has 22g of sugar per serving which in this case is a 36g serving.

There are 4g of sugar per teaspoon

Therefore this product contains 5.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving

Step 2:

We then divide this by 2 and find out that 2.75g of the sugar content is fructose.

Step 3:

Sugars can be included in with the carbohydrates: This tells you how much of the total carbohydrate is sugar. This includes ‘added sugar’ as well as naturally occurring sugars from fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose) if they are ingredients in the food.

Remember ….

Check the serving size, then look at the number of servings at the top of the label and assess whether you’re likely to eat more or less than this. If you’re likely to drink a whole carton of juice, for example, and the servings per carton is 2, you’ll need to double the amount of sugar.

Ingredient List

All packaged foods must have an ingredient list on their labels. All ingredients are listed in descending order by weight (ie: the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last). This allows you to work out roughly how much of the ingredient the food contains, which can help you decide whether or not you want to buy the food.

http://diabetesnsw.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/DA-30-Reading-food-labels.pdf

I  see you!!

Lets have a look at some of our foods and the amount of sugar in them –

(From Sarah Wilson’s website – https://iquitsugar.com/how-much-sugar-in-food/)

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Healthier drink options such as iced teas, coconut water, juices and smoothies can be a big culprit when it comes to added sugar. Some medium-sized smoothies have up to 14 teaspoons of sugar (63.5g) in a 475ml drink. Flavoured milks can also be high in added sugars so its worth reading the label before you buy.

image-20160523-9531-1imi8lnMy family struggled with this for quite a while as we were big breakfast cereal eaters.  We now often chose another option or choose weetbix or cornflakes.

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This is another area that we have changed quite a bit in – we all loved our tomato sauce!! Instead, we now add fresh tomatoes to our food.

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Once again you can easily think that you are doing the right thing by choosing what appears to be the “healthy” option of snack only to discover it is full of sugar.  Also watch the snacks that are made with dates – they are more than one third fructose and their total sugar content is over 60 per cent.

image-20160523-9562-hjf1y4Well we knew that these were never going to be good – but here are the facts!!

It is so easy for the hidden sugars to sneak up on you – before you even realise, you are over your daily limit. I see this as another good reason why I like to cook my own food – I know for sure what is going into it and therefore into mine and my families bodies.

I hope you win the sugar game of “hide and seek!”

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Feature image – sugar-in-food.jpg

Bear image – http://media.topito.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/huf-fire.jpg