When things get tough, we have to go back to the basics. I will be taking a break from my weekly column and did not want to leave you without some handy tips and a couple of basic recipes. Thursday Life readers have become my family for the past five-and-a-half years, and much of the correspondence we have shared has driven this column. When I started out, many of my recipes were super fancy, but as the economy changed I tried to simplify. It's hard sometimes and there are days when I do want to get carried away, but have to bear reality in mind. Writing recipes weekly is very challenging; fellow recipe writers and developers can attest to this fact. It's impossible to please everyone, but always ensure that what you do comes from a pure place, because food is love.
The recession is really 'biting' people and many of you have shared that you are going back into the kitchen. Some of you have never cooked before, others used to rely on box lunches and take-out, but rising costs have made you scale down to a few days per month. I am sure many of you have other reasons which you have not shared with me, but trust me, I understand the pinch and am very grateful to my own sponsors MegaMart.
Today I am going to repeat some of the tips I have shared with you in the past to help you with your cooking needs. Number one: buy your essentials first. On my shopping list, I always put the 'need' items first and the 'want/wish' items last. If I have enough money to cover my needs, I may then choose one or two items from the wish list. This approach helps me to keep within my budget. As a food professional, when I enter a supermarket I feel like a child in a toy store and would love to buy everything I see, but I must restrain myself. Keeping a list allows me to be consciously responsible. I must purchase the most important things first, and then indulge only if I can afford it. I feel good if I can treat myself to an ingredient which allows me to prepare something special.
Stocking the pantry
Many of you would like to cook 'exotic' dishes but feel intimidated. Believe me, you can do it! It's just strategy. For example, as I mentioned above about setting your priorities straight, treat yourself to a new spice or unusual condiment from time to time. As you do this, you will slowly build your collection since most of them have a decent shelf life. When you feel adventurous, at least you know you have in your possession the ingredients ready and waiting to be utilised, taking your curious palate on a culinary adventure. Make sure to invest in quality vinegars and oils, and try to grow some herbs. Instead of buying ready-made sauces and marinades, prepare your own fresh ones from your stock of key products. Not only will your sauces taste better, they will be fresher and healthier too.
Buy the essentials in bulk and other items you use frequently. It saves dollars over time both in value and shopping trips. Shop for fresh produce at the market when you can. It's much cheaper than the supermarket since you are buying directly from small farmers, and in supporting them you are also helping families and the economy. Get creative with whatever is in season because those items are likely to be more reasonable in cost as well.
So, until I see you again, spread the food love and continue to eat well. Happy Cooking!
Mayonnaise is an all-round pantry staple. It's used as a spread on sandwiches, as a base for dips and dressings, and you can even make it yourself! Nothing is more delicious than freshly made mayonnaise. It's simply the emulsification of egg, oil, vinegar and lemon juice with a pinch of salt -- things you already possess, and it's cheaper than buying the ready-made kind. This recipe gives your arm a good workout. You can take it up a notch and add garlic to make aioli which is a great accompaniment to seafood and crudités. This recipe contains raw egg and should be consumed within a couple of days.
Home-made Marinara Sauce
One of the most popular requests from readers over the years is for pasta dishes. Pasta by itself is bland without the sauce. Marinara is the most typical, and something you can easily make at home. Once you have this base, you can add hot peppers to turn it into Arribiata sauce, or ground beef for a meat Bolognese-type sauce. This recipe is great for when there is a glut of cheap tomatoes on the market.
A warm thanks to my weekly sponsors MegaMart.
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