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Archive for February, 2013

When I first started my recent job I realised I was spending quite a bit of money on fairly manky sandwiches from various supermarkets when hurrying to work in the morning. I also spotted the odd over priced ‘veg pot’. They looked tasty but I also thought there is no chance I’m paying that much for something I can make myself for a quarter of the price. Then bought a £3 ham sandwich instead…

After repeating this same daft move on a number of occasions I thought I’d actually give it a shot and make my own healthy, tasty and cheap lunch. So here is my recipe! It’s really nice to have with rice and any sort of flat bread. Or any bread actually. I bloody love bread.

It may look ingredient heavy but the main bulk of it is actually pretty cheap and it’s easy to cook loads at once and box it all up for a later date. It freezes very well, and you can include some rice if you freeze it quickly.

Ingredients – Makes 4 – 6 servings depending on what you serve it with.

  • 250g red Lentils
  • 1 medium Onion – finely chopped
  • 2 -3 cloves of Garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 inch cube of ginger – finely chopped
  • 1 chilli (if you want) – finely chopped
  • 1 medium Sweet Potato – chopped into chunks
  • 1 head of Broccoli – cut into florets
  • 150g of Peas – I used frozen peas
  • Roughly 1 litre of stock – this is partly to taste. I started with a litre and added more as I went along

Spices and other bits (I cook a lot of curries etc so I have all of these in stock, if you don’t I’m sure a curry powder of your choice would work well)

  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp onion seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • handful of fresh coriander – optional 
  • juice of half a lime – optional 
  1. Chop up the onion and fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes (the longer the better to be honest, just don’t let it burn). When it’s softened nicely chuck in the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add all the spices apart from garam masala and fry for a 30 seconds to a minute, being careful not to let it burn. Then add the sweet potato, red lentils and stock and let it bubble away for a while. I think I usually leave it around half an hour or so but I think time is important to bring out the flavours. I prefer to have my lentils disappear completely so they are effectively a thick sauce.  Keep checking on the stock and make sure there is enough to let everything cook through.
  3. When the lentils are cooked, partly cook the broccoli (don’t cook it fully as it will be cooked in the sauce too). Stir this, the frozen peas and the garam masala  into the sauce and cook for 5 – 10 minutes (until the broccoli is just soft enough to pierce with a knife but don’t let it go soggy).
  4. Stir in the fresh coriander and lime juice.
  5. Now you can serve it fresh and it’s lovely, or as I said before store it in Tupperware and it will save in the fridge for a few days or you can freeze  it.

Veg Pot

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So, the 2nd part of my photos of being green. This collection of photos was from a conservation group that I spent a day with, Lothians Conservation Volunteers. This is something that I used to so myself when I lived in Aberystwyth so I knew a bit about it and thought it could make a good subject. The group were really friendly and welcoming, letting me having a cup of tea (check out their amazing kettle further down) and generally just chatting with me.

I like the fact that working to help protect our countryside is also a good social outing and as a good as a session in the gym. One of the volunteers was talking about why they do it and pointed out he didn’t do this purely for altruistic reasons, it’s a good way to help with getting fit and you definitely feel better for doing it.

 

Volunteers_0171

I can’t remember what this little beast is called apart from the generic “Wood Cutter” but I really liked it’s hard aesthetic, especially when it was lying the crunchy snow.

Volunteers_0016

I know from experience that it is pretty tough work, from chopping down the trees to trying to shift them after you’ve finally got them down.

Volunteers_0146

This is the amazing kettle that the volunteers used. The water is in there (somewhere) and they burn some bits of the wood that they’ve cut down during the day, and any scrap paper such as tissues or receipts can be chucked in.

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Going to baking classes last year forced me into trying lots of new recipes that I would probably have otherwise avoided. One of these was Almond Biscotti which I ended up really enjoying, especially with an espresso (and some Amaretto). They take a bit of time due to the double baking, but are actually pretty easy.

I cook a fair bit but I don’t bake that often. I’m quite comfortable winging it when I cook but that doesn’t work so well with baking so I try and follow the recipes pretty strictly. I guess when I become more experienced I’ll be happy to to experiment a bit more but lets not run before I can walk eh? We all know how that ends up…

The recipe I followed for this particular photo was one provided by the teacher at the baking classes and it was a great recipe and I followed it precisely and it worked brilliantly. Then I lost it. Wonderful. So the next time I try I’m gonna use the good old BBC recipe found here!

Now I think this will be really nice with different nuts, fruits or different bits and bobs added. Cranberry and pistachio would be pretty good I reckon, or even a peanut butter and chocolate one… I might have to try that last one actually!

So here is the photo and I definitely recommend having them with an espresso to hand.

Biscotti

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