Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Wednesday 26th October 2016 - Decluttering! Challenge 5 begins....

As Autumn sets in, the weather is definitely starting to get colder and needing more layers first thing in the morning for my walks, however the views everywhere are stunning, what with the leaves fallen all over the ground, in their abundance of different colours, it sure is breathtaking.

View at 7.20am

View at 2pm

View at 2pm
Yesterday morning was a quiet day in our Virtuoso kitchens so we utilised the time to clear out the shed in the garden which was over stuffed with lots of unused and un-needed items.  It took 3 back breaking hours to clear it out, clean it and then reload it, this time in neat areas so next time we are looking for something, we know where it can be found - that is the theory anyway!

Through the decluttering process, I came across a wonderful spiritual book which reminded me on how being simple is great for the soul, the body and the mind.  This took me back to a challenge I did some time ago where I would only cook with 5 ingredients.  The benefit of this was to think less about all the ingredients needed to create a dish as well as using up all veggies, herbs and foods already in the fridge before they go off and giving them each their moment of glory without over crowding them!


So for the next few days I want to re-start the 'Challenge5' cooking project for myself and of course anyone else who would like to join me in this.

I will be posting at least 1 main dish a day focused on using only 5 ingredients, without losing any taste or flavour whilst still ensuring a good balance in all the nutrients we need.

However there are some tricks to maximise the use of your 5 ingredients.

For example, I cook fresh EVERY DAY, at least ONE MAIN dish daily.

Therefore, being vegetarian, I use a lot of veggies and make a huge pot of fresh vegetable stock once a week, which I use throughout the week for different dishes.  This helps when bringing fresh flavours to your dishes.

FREE additions you can add to your dish in addition to the 5 ingredients:
-  Stock
-  Oil (any you wish to use for cooking i.e. sunflower, coconut, olive etc.)
-  Salt & Pepper are also FREE ingredients you can add to your dish (although be careful as this has already been added to your stock).

I hope this makes sense so far and I haven't lost you :)

So basically my tip for you is to make a big pot of fresh stock.  Here is my recipe:

Fresh Vegetable Stock

In a large sauce pan put the following with 1 tsp of coconut oil:
-  2 medium potatoes, diced
-  2 medium carrots, diced
-  4 stalks of celery sliced thinly
-  1 tsp of black peppercorns
-  Mixed peppers - 1 of each colour (red, green, yellow), diced
-  1/2 small red scotch bonnet pepper sliced into small pieces
-  1 fennel bulb, sliced

*  Saute for about 10 minutes and then add the following and sauté for a further 5 minutes:
-  4 bay leaves
-  1 small bunch of parsley, chopped finely
-  1 tsp Himalayan salt
-  2 tsp Nutritional yeast

Fill the pan up with hot water and turn the heat down to low and let the mixture simmer gently for a couple of hours.

Let the mixture cool and then transfer to a glass tupperware (ideally glass but plastic is fine) and put in the fridge until you are ready to use.

You can blend the stock before you put in the fridge or keep it simply chunky.  The decision is yours and of course will depend on the dishes you will be preparing throughout the week.  If you keep the stock chunky, you can always blend the mixture as and when you want to use it.

You can add any vegetable you like.  Here are some additional options:
-  Parsnips, cabbage, mushrooms, beetroot, mixed herbs (thyme, coriander, fresh turmeric, tarragon, mint etc), butternut squash, kale, spinach, chard and so on.  Whatever you have in the fridge, stick it in the pot.

What the stock can be used to make:
-  Soup, risotto, casseroles, veggie bolognese sauce, veggie chilli, the list is endless.


Ingredients for 4 servings

(1)  4 large maris piper potatoes (boil in salted water until soft for mash)
-  When the potatoes are ready simply mash with 2-4 ladles of pre-prepared blended stock until the mixture becomes a smooth mash like texture.

(2)  2 medium carrots peeled and diced
(3)  1 cup of frozen peas/ sweetcorn
(4)  1 cup of soya mince (OR 1 cup of brown cooked lentils)
(5)  1 large beef tomato cubed (keeping a few slices for the topping of the pie)

1 tsp of sunflower oil or 1/2 tsp of coconut oil


Gently sauté the carrots for 5 minutes.  Add peas/sweetcorn and mix for another 5 minutes.
Then add the soya mince/lentils and mix for a couple of minutes before adding 2 ladles of pre-pared stock.  Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes whilst all the ingredients come together.  If the mixture is too thick, add another ladle of stock.  Add tomato and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Put the mixture in a glass oven proof dish and cover with the mash potato and then the slices of tomato.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes @ 190oC until the top looks crispy and golden brown.

Serve with a nice green salad and citrusy dressing.

Here is the one I made earlier for lunch.  It was delicious and full of flavour from the stock.

So have a go yourself and please let me have your comments and any tips you can offer me and my readers..............

Now I need to get back to a few admin activities and business planning before 4pm creeps up on me as I have a 'Bowen Therapy' session for work to continue on my lower back and ankle.  I will tell you more about 'Bowen' later this afternoon or tomorrow so stay tuned.

Until soon, I will leave you with todays Thought for Today xx

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