Sunday, 21 February 2010

it all began with a jar of beans...

I am challenging myself to have zero food waste. We have been doing this for a while, and really don't waste much OR SO I THOUGHT.
well, it includes what is in the cupboard and does not get eaten too, and I have only been counting what actually goes in the bin.

Today, I decided to cook some of the large jar of mung beans that have been looking at me reproachfully from beside the cooker. I have a really good recipe for mung bean casserole. We try to eat beans once a week. Any more seems to interfere with my digestion and I get well, er, bunged up.
The lid of the large (10 litre/4pint) jar was stuck. We both tried to no avail and I resorted to pouring boiling water over the lid in the hope it would loosen. It loosened so much that water got inside before I realised.

MUNG BEAN COOKING MARATHON...This meant that some of the beans inside got wet so I decided to cook them all, and freeze the remaining bean casserole. (Goodness only knows when I will eat all that but never mind.)
I put the beans into 2 large pots and poured boiling water over them. WHAT WERE THE WEE BLACK THINGS???
I thought they were rougue seeds but closer inspection revealed they were some kind of insect. Very dead ones, but once I had given the pot a stir there were about 12 in all. Not weavils, but something insectivorous.

So now the question was this:
Do I chuck all the beans in the bin or not?
I decided not to, as the insects were well and truly dead and there were not that many (is that actually possible with insects, or were the rest just lurking...)

I decided (in between cooking mung bean stew) to do a stock take - how much other food in there was too old, or was simply not being used?

Now we are veteran de-junkers and thought we were good at using things up, not buying things we don't need and so on. Not the case. Clutter, including the kitchen and bathroom kind, creeps back in the night, I swear it does, even when you have a 'one in one out' policy. Except that our one in one out policy has somehow managed to by-pass the kitchen.

So I spent the afternoon doing a stock take and made a list of all the things in the cupboards that have not been getting used up. See if you can spot a theme here...

    1.  Sprouted broccoli powder - unopened packet use by Nov 08
      2. Pollen tablets use by Mar 08
      3. Kelp powder - slowly going down but elderly - Date unknown
      4. Cardamoms - very old.  Why do these come in such large quantities I 
           use about 12 pods a year, and do like them - but the famiy don't.
      5. Cajun powder Bought in a large quantity but we don't use enough of it.
      6. Fenugreek seeds smelled off, age unknown and don't like the way I 
          smell of them the next day! These went in the bin. The only thing to do 
          so so far.
      7. Wine yeast. Oh dear. I chucked this out and then bought bread yeast.
      8. Bread yeast - managed to use it up but the bread was a bit solid. Was
      past its best.
      I HAVE JUST FOUND THE ECHINACEA. I nearly bought more, but there it was under all the stuff I don't use.
      9. Brown chick peas, large quantity. YUCK. I really do like most things,
      incuding ordinary chick peas. These still have their coats on and I find them indigestible and the coats just won't come off. I have some in the
      freezer all cooked and ready to use, too. Maybe I will make chick pea flour,
      in my state of the art grinder/processor, or try sprouting them.

      10. Xanthan gum. Apparently good for making non-gluten flour stick
      together to make better cakes and bread. I don' eat cakes and bread often.
      When I did try this it had a dramatic effect in the wind department...
      11. Dried onions. Rescued from a holiday cottage. Now I know why they were
      there. How can they taste so different to ordinary onions?
      12. Carob powder. Why do I keep buying this? The last packet went in the
      bin, and it is highly likely this one will too, but not today.
      13. Cocoa. Probably bought when I made a birthday cake but nobody uses it
      for anything else.
      14. Shitaki mushrooms, dried. Best before Mar 2009
      15. Pollen granules. Was going to use these on cereal but they make it go
      all yellow and too sweet for me.
      16. Almond butter, 3 jars. Best before 2004 (ouch) still fine, actually and
      very tasty but also very fattening and I am never sure what to do with it.
      17. Glutinous rice. (see later!)
      18. Rice noodles half packet (got forgotten)  Half a packet is not enough for 2 of us. 
      We used to use these a lot but somehow we forgot about them.
      19. Sesame seeds. I used to put these in seed mixes as a snack but they are
      impossible to eat without shoveling them directly into your mouth and always
      end up at the bottom of the jar. I have ground some and added to a flour mix
      for baking (except that I don't often bake)
      20. Powdered Wasabi use best before 2003. (where does the time go?)
      21. Aduki beans. Same story as the other beans, only these are even older.
      22. Poppy seeds. What exactly are you supposed to do with these? You buy
      half a pound (450g), sprinkle them on 2 loaves of bread and are stuck with them
      for the rest of your life. My mother had some and I bet you've got some too...
      23. Popping corn.
      24. Red Quinoa. Never used this. Same as the white stuff with its skins on.
      25. White quinoa. I do try and like this. Each time I cook some it
      goes off in the fridge because no one else will eat it. And no, it doesn't make
      a good alternative to porridge.
      26. Various sprouting seeds. Actually I do sprout a lot, so I get to feel a
      tiny bit smug here. These jumbo packets were a bit over-ambitious though.
      27. Hatcha miso. Good intentions but packet never opened.
      28. Brown rice miso in fridge, opened. forgot I had it when I bought the
      above. Not sure how long its been there. Never seem to have the chives and
      parsley cut to go with it.
      29. Buckwheat. Must make this into flour too...I bought it to sprout but it
      is a challenge. You have to soak it in water and rinse every half an hour for
      4 hours before sprouting or it goes stinky. And no, it doesn't make a good
      alternative to porridge either, even with cinammon.
      30. Ground mixed seeds for porridge. Keep forgetting and, well it is nicer
      without it. I prefer whole sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and DO use them.
      31. Several half packets of rye bread in the freezer.
      32. TEA: Green tea (wrong make) 4 packets, Blackcurrant tea bags 3 packets,
      choco tea, lemon verbena tea Pau D'Arco tea (hunted long and hard for this).
      All need using up.
      33. 2 packets and half a jar of linseeds in the freezer.

      DID YOU SPOT THE THEME?Yes, I have been reading those healthy eating books. All of these things are supposed to change our lives and make us healthier.
      Well they don't make your wallet any healthier.
      Here is my take on it:
      Keep the money and you won't need to work so hard to pay for all those expensive promises. Then you can relax more and be less stressed. That is better for your health than anything else.

      We all know how to eat healthily. Your mother tells you, you learn it at school, on TV, in books and newspapers. That doesn't make you do it, any more than buying expensive supplements and super foods does.
      If you want to be healthier:
      * Eat 5-9 fruit and veg a day. (not all fruit some green stuff too)
      * Exercise half an hour 3 times a week
      * Take time to relax.
      * Simplicity leads to less stress, as we get out of debt and begin to exercise choices in spending and lifestyle.

      Nothing new there then, huh? Bet your mum could have told you that.

      So now I have 2 vats of mung bean casserole (amazing how those beans swell up) with shitaki mushrooms and dulse. (Forgot about the dulse and several other kinds of seaweed I have.)

      I have also cooked the glutinous rice.
      Neglected to tell hubby what it was and he spent a while trying to rescue it and make it non-sticky by rinsing it through the sieve. The sieve may never recover, and we now have a large quantity of cooked glutinous rice. Amazing how that swells up too.
      It was great when we had it in that Thai restaurant but what to do with it at home? Glutinous rice and mung bean casserole for a week could lead to plumbing problems...

      Have also managed to:
      Use up one blackcurrant tea bag.
      Start lots of seeds sprouting.
      Make a variation of peanut butter cookies (sugar free peanut and almond butter with gluten free flour that needs using up cookies). These have had a lukewarm reception.

      PS: I also forgot about the 2 large jars of apricot kernals, one in the fridge and one in the freezer. I have doggedly eaten 2 seeds a week (ish) for the last 3 years and the jar is NOT going down...These may well end up in the bin. I feel guilty every time I open the fridge.

      1 comment:

      1. Very interesting! I've been sucked into the health food/supplement marketing machine and spent a fortune over the years. Just finished The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and I'm now convinced that supplements are mainly unnecessary. Amazing book. Simple foods, sunshine and exercise, and hopefully everything else will fall into place.