Posts tagged "food"

How can I use up buffet sandwiches?

We’ve had a “clever idea” email from Jos, telling us about their personal battle against food waste at work:

This sounds so cheap but I regularly “steal” the last of the sandwiches after meetings at work because they’d go in the bin if I didn’t take them. I eat some fresh, freeze others to eat later and grill the cheese ones. I rarely make my own sarnies these days!

Ah yes, free lunches. I used to organise academic conferences & courses as part of my job and the scavenger in me loved the leftover buffet. The best I managed was a very fancy meeting which included both sushi & steak (in too-big-to-be-easy-finger-food pieces, so very little was eaten). Later on in my buffet foraging career though, the catering people started getting more aggressive about health & safety and we weren’t allowed to take anything unless we could promise it would be eaten immediately — and that is something to consider when taking sandwiches or whatever: they’ve already been out of a fridge for several hours so some fillings may already be getting a bit past it. Consume at your own risk.

Assuming they’re still good though, I like Jos’ idea of grilling some of them and certain flavours may lend themselves to being made into an interesting bread and butter pudding (perhaps not egg mayo but we used to get wacky fillings like cream cheese & strawberry, which would be quirky but not insane in a pudding).

Anyone else a buffet womble? Do you eat them fresh or revamp them?

How can I use up “past it” frozen vegetables?

We’ve had an email from Joanna:

I found some part-used bags of frozen peas, sweetcorn and broccoli at the bottom of my chest freezer – expiry date 2009! My hubs is happy to ignore expiry dates but we tried some of the peas and they were tough and tasted washed out, not good! Any other options than just giving them to my worms?

I know what you mean with “washed out” – even stuff in date sometimes ends up tasting like freezer ice in our freezer.

If I was sure it was just a texture/taste issue, I’d probably give the veggies to our chickens and let them turn them into more palatable-for-us eggs. Wild birds would probably nom them up too.

Depending on quite how “freezer” they taste, they might still be fine for turning into soup or for use in long-cooked casseroles. Any washed-out flavour disguising recipe suggestions?

If you’ve got the freezer space to spare, it might be worth keeping the peas or sweetcorn as an emergency cold-pack for injuries – they could then be given to birds/added to a wormery afterwards.

Any other ideas?

How can I reuse or recycle a chicken carcass after making stock?

We’ve started getting a meat box delivery from Swillington Farm – a local organic farm. All the meat is organic, the animals have been treated well during their lives and the food miles are very low — in fact for the chicken we had over the weekend, the only food miles were the ones delivering it here to us (about 15miles, and they deliver to other people in the area during the same trip) – but it is considerably more expensive than buying from a cheap meat from a supermarket. We’re careful about food waste anyway when it’s expensive, we’re doubly careful about making use out of every single bit of it!

So the main meat portions have been eaten or frozen to be eaten later this month, the giblets & skin cooked into a pate for the cats, and the carcass has been picked over for meat then slow cooked into a stock. But is there anything I can do with the bones after the stock?

I know some people with sealed composting systems/bokashi bins add bones to that. As we have an open (or at least not full sealed) bin and live near woodland, I’d worry about foxes (especially as our live and considerably more meaty chickens are nearby). But to get the bones into the garden, I know some people make their own bonemeal fertiliser from old chicken/other animal bones — has anyone done that? If so, any advice or things to avoid?

I’ve also heard about people using chicken carcasses for catching fish or crayfish – but I think the idea is that they’re raw and a bit stinky; these picked-clean cooked bones might not be enticing enough. Again, anyone know?

Any other suggestions?

How can I reuse or recycle out of date packet soup?

Karen left a question on the Suggest an Item page:

Hi! I found out of date instant soup packets. Any ideas?

I presume by “out of date” Karen means its beyond the “best before” date – and if so, chances are, that soup is just fine and will be just fine for a good while after the marked date. (The UK government has announced they’re going to get rid of “best before” dates to reduce food waste – let people make their own judgements about whether stuff is fine to eat/drink or not, however long it is since it was produced. “Use by” dates on fresh food will remain but “best before” and “display until” [a stock rotation guide for shops] are disappearing. Anyway, back to Karen’s soup…)

If the soup is still good despite being “out of date”, then as well as being used as just soup, it could be used in place of stock in certain recipes – the flavour of the soup will obviously dictate where it can/should be used but it’s quite commonly used in casseroles and Google tells me that some people use (presumably beef-y, onion or mushroom) mixes to add flavour to meat when making hamburgers or tacos etc.

I know a lot of people reading this will prefer to make soups from scratch at home but does anyone have any other ideas for things Karen could do with the soup?

How can I use up/reuse/recycle cakes that haven’t risen?

We’ve had an email from Janet:

I love your site – it really inspires me to go to lengths to reuse and recycle things I never thought I could, and since I’m a student, that’s wisely frugal too!

I have a bit of a blind spot with cake baking, and they always come out unrisen and heavy, and doughy in the middle. Any ideas how I can reuse this (and other) lemon flavoured brick-cake?

You did cakes before, but focussed mainly on dry and stale cakes (breadcrumbs, biscotti etc)…obviously this is not going to work for me :D

Since the 3Rs always starts with reducing, we should think about reducing the occurrences of these sad brick-cakes ;)

I don’t make sponges that often so can’t be specific with my advice but one thing I will say that’s good general baking advice is check the temperature of your oven with a separate thermometer. Borrow one if you can but they’re only a couple of ££/$$ on eBay if you have to buy one – and they’re well worth it — everyone I know who has used one found that their oven thermostat was rather wrong: ours was off by about 30°C! That sort of temperature difference can make a heck of a difference when baking. Any more cake-specific advice on why Janet might be hitting the not-rising/doughy middle problem a lot?

As for reuses, could they be served as a heavy tart like pudding with cream? Or warm with custard as a pudding? A few sites also suggest bodging it by slicing the cake in half then stacking one piece on top of the other and adding a layer of cream & jam or buttercream in the middle to fake a bit of height. It still would be rather dense though.

Any other suggestions for using it up?