Sunday 18 July 2021

Substitutes Accepted

It's still too hot. I'm dreading driving tomorrow. It should be okay first thing in the morning, but I reckon I will be a sweaty, red-faced, unpleasant mess by pickup time. For those who live in hotter climates, please snigger quietly as I'm complaining of around 30C or 86F. Air conditioning isn't common in private houses in the UK, and is completely missing in my south facing, big windowed house. I can't wait until I'm complaining about the cold again.

The summer holidays are looming. Bear has one more week of school left. Then I will be facing the dreadful prospect of feeding him lunches. When we were in lockdown, I managed with all sorts of different snack food. Unfortunately, he has gone off most of those and now wants to eat healthier and less meat. He is sneering at the noodles that he actually insisted on previously. I had a quick look in a cookbook by Hamlyn. It's called, '200 Fast Midweek Meals' and Hamlyn have always been reliable. I don't think it's brilliant for lunches, but I thought that the mains could be good. 

My mother and grandmother had their little ways. One of them was the complete inability to follow a recipe. That is, they could rub in, roll out and beat as instructed, but they substituted. They substituted a lot. I've followed in their footsteps. When I read a recipe I'm always mentally substituting stuff like bacon instead of proscuttio and onion instead of shallot. Bear is much better at sticking to an ingredient list, which has left me with a 500g of Kashmiri Chili powder that is still almost full and needs using up. I'm planning on trying one of the first recipes in the cookbook, which is turkey, chilli and lemon stew. 

It starts off with 875g or 1 and one half pounds of turkey. First of all, the men won't countenance turkey, so I would be substituting diced chicken straight off. Also, that seems a lot of meat off the bone for four servings. I usually find that 500g or around a pound is more than enough and sometimes 3/4 pound or even half a pound would be better. So the 875g of diced turkey is getting switched to 500g of diced chicken that I already have in my freezer. I'm in favour of (in general) more veggies than meat. You need enough, so that you are not playing 'chase the protein' but these days you need to be aware. The veggies are 8-10 baby onions (I'll be slicing up a large one, or perhaps two and adding them to the meat when browning instead of the stock later), two carrots and two potatoes. I'll definitely add another potato or two and perhaps some celery to add some veggie goodness. The recipe also calls for plenty of garlic, chili flakes - I mentioned about the Kashmiri Chili powder I need to use up, didn't I? Another substitution there. Then there's a tablespoon of smoked paprika. That's a lot of smoked paprika for a dish that's only going to be simmered twenty minutes. I can see that getting pruned on the first try, with potential to increase later. There's stock, salt and pepper, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and oil, all of which seem good to me. 

Then there is the 6 tablespoons of finely chopped flat leafed parsley. Six tablespoons! I think that would need around two of those living pots they sell in the supermarket, because if you chop parsley finely, you need a lot of the original plant to fill a spoon. Even if you keep in all the stalks and the dry, straggly bits, that's still a lot of plant. My garden is still under stress and there is no way that I could regularly provide six tablespoons of finely chopped parsley. Also, that's a lot of chopping, even with scissors. My dilemma is do I cut back on the fresh parsley, or do I use dried? At the moment, I'm considering using dried until I can provide enough from my garden. 

I'll share if I try the recipe and let you know how it goes. I think I may serve it with some broccoli on the side. Also, the weather would have to change before I would consider stew.

Here is a pic from Unsplash, taken by Brett Jordan, showing parsley that isn't yet finely chopped. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

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