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help me learn about good simple food. . .

(35 Posts)
CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Tue 12-Feb-13 12:35:29

Just wondering if anyone can recommend any basic cookery book? Or help with questions below?

Basically I didn't have a great childhood and didn't learn cooking by osmosis as a child. I can bake well (not exactly healthy though!) I can follow a recipe and haven't bought ready-meals but do rely on quite a bit of processed stuff I think. I always used to think the main guiding factor was price - so would buy asda basics mince etc and cook the same few meals (mince based, roast chicken, risotto,).

I've been recently getting bored of what I eat and craving fresh food and more variety but don't know where to start. In light of recent horse news I've also got more urge to buy 'well' . Not so worried about eating horse as much as not knowing what's in anything and want to be more careful what I eat.

Any ideas where to start? Or how to educate myself?

Also - should I buy from a butcher, or wait,rose? Or gr supermarket meat ok if its British or finest or organic? I honestly don't know where to start. We normally get the 3 for 10 quid, chicken mince and bacon.

I'd like not to eat crisps and other junk too - and just eat more interesting food. And know what's in it all.

Sorry its so rambly!! I overeat and overeat crap and really want to change!!

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Wed 13-Feb-13 23:31:07

And thanks for the ideas Trucks!

I heard today that even Waitrose mince is dodgy....

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 14-Feb-13 06:23:06

There are lots of interesting things you can eat as snacks. Dried/fresh fruit, nuts, seeds,... really easy to make your own cereal bars and fruit cakes, for example. Crispbreads and crackers are a good base for simple savoury toppings. Dips like hummus are good with raw veg crudites. All kinds

But the occasional packet of crisps or bar of chocolate is fine too. 'There are no bad foods, only bad diets' so if the majority of what you eat is unprocessed and home-prepared, a few convenience foods or things containing a lot of salt or sugar are not going to do you any harm.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 14-Feb-13 06:24:24

BTW... I don't think Waitrose's fresh mince is under question. They've withdrawn their beef meatballs because they were found to contain some pork.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Thu 14-Feb-13 07:26:02

Thanks Cogito - was my husband who heard it on the radio so I suspect some chinese whispers happened in between!

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 14-Feb-13 10:03:15

If you want a nice recipe for meatballs.....

8oz each lean beef and pork mince
1/2 onion, chopped and fried
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons rolled oats
1 tablespoon grated parmesan
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
Plenty of salt and pepper

Mix all the above either by hand or using the dough hook/blade in a food processor. Knead and squash the mixture well and this makes the meat stick together. Then shape into walnut size meatballs using wet hands.

Heat some passata in a wide, shallow pan, add a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper and some more mixed herbs.

Place the meatballs on top of the sauce, put on a lid and simmer gently for about 20 - 25 minutes. Wait at least 10 minutes before stirring the dish very carefully. This gives the meatballs chance to hold together.

Serve over cooked pasta.

(The recipe makes enough for four people. If you make extra quantities of the finished raw meatballs they can be frozen for use another day. They will cook from frozen in the sauce when you need them. )

looseleaf Thu 14-Feb-13 10:10:08

Like Mrs Villiers Riverford has been revolutionary for us- I just love the positive change it's brought us, and we eat some much better. We're on quite a budget but order the combined meat and veg box often then I'll try to stretch the meat over different meals eg a bit of bacon on top on veg soup made from our chicken carcass. Also another one who finds slow cooker great.
So glad you're getting more interested in basics as the more you get the hang of it the more satisfying and I do think our whole family feels better for it!

defineme Thu 14-Feb-13 10:16:03

I don't think it's where you shop so much as reading the label when it comes to meat.

I've had organic and/or British outdoor/free range meat from Asda and it's a lot cheaper than Waitrose- bigger Co-ops too. A whole free range chicken can do 2 meals and is a lot cheaper than free range chicken breasts, pack of free range drumsticks/thighs somewhere in between.

A good tip for me was read the label of something and if there's anything in it that you wouldn't find in your kitchen cupboard then don't buy it.

Some things I've demoted to treat status eg bacon is now a rare treat because processed meat is not good for you and not advised for young kids.

Pop your own popcorn as an alternative to crisps-then you control the salt you add?

Make your own ice cream so you know what's in it?

keely79 Thu 14-Feb-13 10:21:32

I would recommend the River Cottage Family Cookbook. As it is aimed at getting parents and kids together to cook, the recipes are nice and simple (and include things like nutritious snacks for kids) and clearly explained. Plus there's lots of background information about food aimed at giving you the tools to go forward and experiment yourself.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Thu 14-Feb-13 10:40:24

Ok. Amazon will be bringin Delia, river cottage veg and Jamie olivers one.

Useful to know about asda organic free range being ok. Asda is our closest supermarket but we have the bug now so will shop wherever!

We already make a chicken last but need some planning if we're going to pay double!

tigerlilygrr Thu 14-Feb-13 14:34:10

A great book for cooks of all levels is Lorraine Pascale's Fast Fresh and Easy food. It's written in a different style to all the other books I have - rather than having a list of ingredients which have been prepped eg chopped garlic, peeled veg, it has a simple list of ingredients (eg one head garlic, two carrots etc) and then the recipe instructions spell out exactly what to do in what order (literally at the level of "put the kettle on, and start chopping onions"). The recipes all take about half an hour and without exception are delicious! I think if your budget will stretch to another book for weekend or special meals, it will be well worth the investment.

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