Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Frugal February - indoor foraging

Foraging is fashionable right now, so there must be lots of frustrated foragers out there waiting for the new season to begin.  Here's an idea to keep your spirits up (and save money, live sustainably and all that)- forage  indoors, in your own home, in your own cupboards and freezer.  Now is the time- during Frugal February- to pull out all those jars of strange condiments, the pickled walnuts, the date expired buckwheat grains, the tin of reindeer meat which a friend brought from Finland as a joke, the evaporated milk (how did that get there?) and use them up.

I think some celebrity chef has brought out an app where you can search for a recipe by ingredients, but I'm not sure whether it can deal with the sort of strange products lurking in most people's cupboards.  I mean, if you're looking at a red pepper, a bit of fish and some rice it's a bit like a less glossy version of "Ready Steady Cook"- you can make a meal from that.  It's the unusual stuff which is more challenging. 

Here's a few ideas
  • seeds which are a bit old- pumpkin, sunflower- might still be fine for birds.  Same for nuts
  • jam can be used instead of sugar (it's about 50% sugar anyway) in fruit crumbles or other puddings.  Nigella has a great recipe using marmalade in a chocolate cake
  • Tinned salmon makes delicious fishcakes
  • old bread you found in the back of the freezer makes breadcrumbs (ok, it's only useful if you actually use breadcrumbs- you could coat your salmon fishcakes)
  •  pesto goes with lots of things- rice, cooked vegetables, stirred into soup 

Another idea is to leave jars or tins (not date expired ones, they're usable at one's own risk only) on local doorsteps for your friends and neighbours to enjoy. This is the flip side of frugality- generosity.  Pass on stuff or cook up a frugal supper and invite friends round to enjoy reindeer hash.

The orange jelly and evaporated milk have reminded me of those strange milk jellies we used to eat as children (I know, I'm coming over all Nigel Slater, in his book "Toast".  Nothing wrong with that though, it's a great book if that's your era, or even if it isn't).  Anyway, there was an obsession with getting as much milk into children as possible, and milk jelly - particularly if made in a rabbit shaped mould- was better than rice pudding, semolina and tapioca.  Of course it wasn't long before Angel Delight and Instant Whip were invented and all this cooking with milk became a thing of the past.

Back to the foraging.  For real outdoor foraging information check out one of the Transition Towns websites- we're covered by Transition Kensal to Kilburn.  More thoughts on foraging when the outdoor season begins, but to be going on with, have a look at Celtnet for wild food recipes.


  1. With the BBC website you can find recipes by ingredients. 12 for buckwheat but none for reindeer. What is the licence fee being spent on these days? Michael

  2. Michael, I completely agree, but luckily I've just come across a US site (thriftyfun)choc-a-bloc with suggestions. How about - mix the tinned meat with cooked macaroni and tinned cream of mushroom soup (yikes) or quesaDEERS (gedddit?). This thriftyfun site deserves further study as some of the comments are from people who have been canning their own deer! (I have been canning it all weekend....I think we are aloud (!) 3 deer a year.... my husband hunts and we usually have a bunch of meat that we're not sure what to do with....) We may be straying into Palin territory here, but Chris (I canned a whole deer this year)... gives his address as W1. Maybe it's Wisconsin rather than Hyde Park though


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