Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Fruits of the Cookathon

I have to admit, I wasn't sure I would do it. I had a horrible feeling that the enthusiasm for marathon cooking sessions might fade overnight and I wouldn't get to the supermarket, or even worse I would buy all the ingredients and then lose interest until they had all gone mouldy.

But none of those things happened, thank goodness. Just under an hour of shopping followed by four and a half hours of cooking, washing up, portioning out and clever rearrangement of the freezer and I now have food for at least the next month.

Advance warning for those of you who haven't already glanced further down the post: my digital camera is broken and taking photos with it is an exercise in guesswork that I couldn't face, so instead I snapped some pictures using my truly appalling phone camera.

Spinach and mushroom lasage
The spinach and mushroom lasagne took the longest to make, both in terms of oven time (about three quarters of an hour) and also preparation. I bought a kilo of frozen spinach from the supermarket, since the market stall I usually shop at didn't have any spinach at all, and its neighbour only had overpriced bunches flown in from Spain. This meant I had to defrost the spinach before I could even start, but I spent the time wisely by standing and stirring continuously as directed by the cheese sauce mix packet, instead of leaving it to burn onto the base of the pan as I might have done in the past... The lasagne divided into six, and I had to freeze it in doubles with a piece of kitchen foil dividing the slices as I am totally out of plastic storage boxes, even after buying an extra ten this morning.

At the same time, I also made some scalloped potatoes, which is basically just cheese sauce and slices of potato, but it is still cooking in my slow cooker. I'll add photos at a later date if it seems worth doing, but I suspect you can imagine what slices of potato covered in cheese sauce would look like.

Baked macaroni and cheese
 The macaroni and cheese was made properly from scratch, rather than using a cheese sauce mix, partly because I had run out of packet mixes and partly because I felt ashamed of my laziness and the recipe looked fairly easy to follow. The recipe called for 450g of grated cheese. I did not use 450g of cheese, and not just because I didn't actually have 450g of cheese but also because no one needs that much cheese. I think in the end I used about 300g. There was so much mac and cheese that it was baked in two casserole dishes and produced six portions of the cheesiest macaroni I have ever tasted (definitely no need for the remaining 150g of cheese!).

Tortilla spinach pie
This was rather a wild-card recipe that sounded like an interesting way to use up my remaining spinach. It's a flour tortilla sprinkled with grated cheese and a layer of spinach, then a bit more cheese and finally a mixture of egg, milk, crushed garlic and a pinch of salt. The recipe also suggested all kinds of other spices which I didn't have, and in one case had never heard of, but I didn't bother with those. It looks good, apart from the singedness of the tortilla. It should have been round, but the mac & cheese pilfered the second round casserole. I divided this into six as well.

Portioned out and ready for the freezer

Every time I cook a big batch of food I'm convinced that I will never be able to fit it into the freezer. Today I was genuinely worried that there wouldn't be room for even half of it, and there really isn't any room for the potato bake, but somehow I managed to rearrange everything and cram the new boxes in with millimetres to spare. The only casualty was a single serving of chilli which I made in February and which is now defrosting in the fridge to be dinner at some point in the next few days. The potato bake might have to be kept in the fridge and eaten fairly soon because there absolutely isn't space for it now.

Once I've made a bit of a dent in the current contents of the freezer, probably by eating up a few of the more processed things like potato waffles and Quorn fillets, I will cook a batch of spaghetti "meat"balls as I have some blue cheese maturing in the fridge, and maybe a shepherd's pie. Thankfully the "meat"balls and meatfree mince are already in the freezer, so it will be more a case of replacing than trying to find additional space.

The final thing I cooked today was a miniature fruit crumble. I discovered that I had an entire crumble's worth of topping frozen in the "spare crumble topping" tub but only a handful of frozen berries and not another piece of fruit in sight, so I just did a single serving in one of my dinky little individual pie dishes and ate it for lunch with the leftover cream from the mac and cheese sauce. I'm looking forward to making a rhubarb crumble soon, the first local stems have appeared on my favourite market stall but I (thankfully!) decided not to bother today.

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