Posts tagged "food"

How can I reuse/use up really, really old coffee beans?

I mentioned in passing on my simple/frugal living blog that we’re having our kitchen ceiling replastered at the moment.

Ahead of the plasterer starting on Monday, we had to tidy off all the work surfaces and tops of cupboards – quite a challenge for hoarders like us with many, many culinary hobbies! Anyway, among our tidying, I found a couple of half-used bags of coffee beans in an old biscuit tin. My boyfriend John bought them from an expensive coffee bean shop but didn’t really like them – he couldn’t bring himself to throw them away though, better to keep them as a back-up just in case he runs out of his preferred ones. That sounds like a good plan, doesn’t it? Except they’ve been waiting in reserve for quite a while now. So long so that I had to search my old email to find out when we went to the place we bought the beans from (Lincoln). 2007. Five years. Gosh.

They do still smell quite coffee-ish but I suspect they’re long, long, long past their prime!

They could go on the compost heap but I’d rather reuse them in some other way rather than just letting them rot.

They could be ground and used in the same way you can reuse any coffee grounds — the magical internet tells me I can use it for dyeing fabric/yarn or even my hair, and I imagine these virgin beans would result in a deeper colour than already used once ones.

But does anyone have any ideas for ways I could use them whole? Crafty ideas or practical ones?

How can I reuse or recycle leftover chips?

Mari has emailed asking about leftover chips – as in English chips eaten hot, thick fries not potato chips/crisps – saying her family nearly always have “eyes bigger than their bellies” when they order fish’n’chips and end up with some leftovers:

Good thick chips not just tiny hard scraps. It’s such a waste. Can anything be done with them?

Obviously the first thing here is to reduce the amount she & her family buy in the first place – but I realise chip portions are a variable thing. I read about a study recently that found that portion sizes could vary from between 250g (half a pound) to 1kg (2.2lbs!) depending on the shop and server. I think most families would have leftovers even if they bought just one bag of the latter!

Whenever my father (not) in law has leftover chips, he wraps them back up in their paper again and freezes them for a snack at a later time. I’m not sure how he defrosts/reheats them (and admittedly, he’s not got particularly high standards when it comes to cooking) but it might be worth experimenting with if you have them leftover regularly.

At the end of the day though, they’re just leftover fried potato – and can be reused like any other leftover potato. Mash up the softer ones – they could be used in fish cakes or a hash/bubble & squeak. The little hard ones could be chopped up and used as a crispy coating/topping.

Here, they’d go in our “misc stuff for the chickens” pile.

What would you do with leftover chips?

How can I reuse Sunday roast/Christmas dinner leftovers?

Most food scraps are great for a compost heap – they tend to rot down quickly and can help keep a brown-heavy compost heap balanced, particularly in the winter when there is less fresh green matter around the garden.

But care should be taken with cooked veg and the like – if it’s been cooked with meat, fish or dairy, or soaked in a rich meaty gravy etc, the smell of that may attract undesirable vermin to the pile. Some people (particularly people with sealed bins or wormeries) are happy to chance it but other people are more cautious.

Anyway, we all know it’s much better to use them up in some other way first rather than just slinging them into the compost.

Sunday roast leftovers were always the basis of Monday night dinner in my house when I was growing up. The meat would be the star of another meal – chicken curry sticks in my mind most clearly but there were other things too – and I remember my mum used any leftover veg to make bubble and squeak.

What do you make with your Sunday roast/Christmas dinner leftovers?

We’re not really roast eaters now and steamed/boiled veg is an area in which we’re actually pretty good at only cooking what we need – but any leftovers we do have usually go down to the chickens as treats. I’ve heard you can also use them in homemade dog food.

Do you do anything else with your leftovers?

How can I reuse, recycle or use up floppy celery?

Several bloggers I follow take part in the “Food Waste Friday” meme, in which they post pictures of their food waste from the week and a few have featured the same thing over the last few weeks: floppy celery.

We don’t eat celery here very often (because my boyfriend John has … issues with it) but if it looks like I’m not going to eat it all before the floppy stage kicks in, I slice it into small rounds and freeze it to include in the mix next time I’m making stock. If John didn’t have his issues with it, I’d probably be happy to include no longer crisp celery in a stew/casserole – since it’ll soften up during cooking anyway. (I don’t tell him about putting it in stock, ssssh, don’t tell him!)

There is some debate on whether/how it should be fed to chickens – some people advocate chopping it up first so the “strings” don’t get caught in the chicken’s crop, others say they enjoy the challenge of breaking it up themselves. The similar yes/no debate seems to exist for rabbits and other small furry pets – just because like with people, some animals like it more than others – but all advocate that it should just be used as a treat in addition to other food, not in large quantities.

A good few people around the ol’ interweb also say you can revive soggy celery by leave it to stand in some ice water for a while – or more effectively, slice into smaller sticks and float them in a bowl of the same.

(If it’s too far gone for reviving or even cooking, it can, of course, be composted.)

What do you do with floppy celery sticks?

How can I reuse or recycle well out-of-date red lentils?

The other day I was making some tomato & lentil soup for lunch when I found the pack and a half of red lentils in our store cupboard actually went out of (best before) date in January 2008. That’s pushing it even for our very lax attitude toward best before dates – and is especially special considering we moved house in September 2009 – we brought those packs with us from our own store cupboard to our new one even though they were already 18 months out of date…

Thankfully, we had a newly bought pack that I could use for my soup but I’m left in a typical Recycle This situation with the others: what else can I use the old lentils for?

Given dried beans & pulses do generally last forever, I’ll probably try the ones from the sealed pack but the open-for-God-knows-how-long pack are definitely passed being cooked & eaten.

So what else can I use them for instead of just throwing them in the compost bin?

Apparently, they can be used to make exfoliating facemasks – crushed and mixed with a little water until they reach an “oatmeal like consistency”, then rubbed onto the face and left for about half an hour. Similarly, Lush sell a “lentil shampoo bar” – not sure whether there are actually lentils in it or just the water from soaking them for about half an hour but the latter is a technique used as a conditioner in India – so either using the water in a shampoo bar or just as a rinse are options too.

Any other ideas?