It’s easy to get out of habits. One I’ve just remembered to revive is the sprouts and microgreen habit.
At this time of year (summer in NZ) they grow really fast.
These photos both of the sprouts and microgreens are 3 days after planting. 3 days! That’s just amazing.
There are bean sprouts, alfalfa and radish sprouts. For the microgreens the greener one on the right is rocket (otherwise known as arugula), and a mix called “Vitablend”.
The microgreens will take a few more days to be ready to eat, but once they are, I’ll be able to cut them, and they will grow again to be cut some more.
Both are absolutely full of goodness, and hugely cheaper than buying packet sprouts or baby salad leaves. As well as being way cheaper, they taste heaps better too, and because they’ll be freshly harvested, will have more vitamins too.
I do have a sprouter I invested in some years ago, which has well and truly paid for itself now. This has a 5 tier system, with a layer to put the water in, and a layer to catch the water in at the bottom too. However, you don’t have to fork out for a sprouter, you can just use jars with a muslin or breathable fabric cover.
For detailed instructions on growing sprouts look here.
It may be grey and stormy enough to have whipped the waves into galloping white horses, but in Auckland in January, it’s still hot and muggy enough to have the sweat dripping off you if you so much as look at a flight of stairs.
Still Salad weather then.
I found a gorgeous recipe for a Peach and Goats curd salad in my Xmas gifted Taste Magazine. It suggests rocket and watercress salad, with yellow and white peaches, parma ham, goats curd and pine nuts. I priced the watercress in the supermarket and it was $3.79 for a bag. Hmm I thought. I know where there’s a little stream…..
So I found proscuitto and goats cheese on special, picked three varieties of lettuce from my garden, along with chives, mint and lemon balm, and then went on the hunt for watercress. I usually have rocket in my garden, but haven’t planted it this year, so I thought my own salad leaves would be perfectly adequate for this, and I wasn’t wrong.
Watercress grows in shallow running water. It grows wild. I thought I knew a stream where there might be some, and sure enough there was! Neither of us had foraged for watercress before, but I’d taken a good look at what it looked like in the supermarket bag, and had a feeling I’d seen it growing before. We had a taste, and voila!
So, these ingredients don’t look exactly cheap do they! The secret is firstly buying on special. Secondly, don’t use it all, unless you’re feeding a lot of course. We just used half the packet of proscuitto, and half the goat’s cheese, so I can feel yet another salad dinner coming on. At the Bin Inn, you can buy tiny amounts of pine nuts. I think my two tablespoons was NZ$1.26 or something ridiculous like that. One tablespoon would actually have been enough. If fresh peaches aren’t in season or cheap for you, you could probably use a sale priced tin of peaches in juice. So by being smart, you can make a meal that would probably cost you NZ$35.00 each in a restaurant and be happy that it cost you NZ$5.00 each.
Once a year, I allow myself a special treat. No, it’s not Chocolate! It’s WHITEBAIT!
Now there is no way, that Whitebait, even in NZ, counts as cheap – unless you catch it yourself that is!
I remember in my childhood, standing in the icy running water in the mouth of the Waikanae River, right beside where my grandparents were living at No 1 Field Way, with a Whitebait net and a bucket.
How exciting when you lifted the net and tipped all the little wrigglers into the bucket. It was normal to go home with half a big metal bucket full of whitebait. I know we had fritters packed with whitebait, which is why it’s always been disappointing if I’ve ever ordered Whitebait fritters when out, to find a big lump of dough with a couple of whitebait somewhere in there!
However, there’s got to be a balance doesn’t there? If you’re constantly eating on the cheap, it can become a bit of a grind. You start to feel a bit blue and fed-up – so guess what happens then?
You have a blow out. You end up spending more than you really ever wanted to, on things that you don’t really need, and all because you’re feeling deprived.
So, every so often, if I’ve been tight enough with the rest of the budget, I allow us a treat! Having the odd treat stops you feeling so deprived, and so you’re less likely to go on a binge shop!
Whitebait is so expensive, it’s a once a year treat. Scallops might also be allowed once a year. While they’re not exactly cheap, if you compare it to the price of going out for dinner, you come out way on top. That’s how I justify it to myself! And I do have to be extra stingy for the rest of the week, so that it can happen.
Anyway, there’s not much to cooking whitebait. Usually an egg, a tiny bit of flour, mix and cook on a non-stick surface.
This year, however I tried a recipe which separated the egg, and only used the white, which you beat until stiff. I actually really liked these fritters, because the whitebait have such a delicate flavour, that an eggy taste can dominate it. However, without the yolk, that flavour comes through much more strongly, so that you get much more of the whitebait taste.
Whisk egg whites to form peaks. Add salt, flour and whitebait and gently fold to combine evenly.
Heat the oil and butter and cook heaped dessert spoonfuls of the mixture over medium heat until golden and puffy, adding extra oil and butter to pan between batches as needed.