Tag Archives: Facebook

The One Hundred and Second

No, I’m not talking about an airborne or infantry unit! It’s our one hundred and second post here on notjunkfood.net

Prize draw Prizes
Prize draw Prizes

Yes, our one hundredth post slipped quietly past on Monday, we’ve never been ones to mark the round number anniversaries, it just seems so arbitrary. Oh alright then, I missed it, but in order to mark the occasion of our one hundred and second post I want to take a few moments to look at how far we’ve come since we launched back in January of this year and that first recipe, scrambled eggs.

Since then it’s been great to see how the web-site and our presence on both Facebook and Twitter have grown and continue to grow. With over 400 individual visits per week and one thousand links to our site, 343 followers on Twitter and 125 likes on Facebook, it’s safe to say that things have grown faster than we expected. It’s also great to know that we have attracted an international audience with readers from our nearest neighbour the UK to places as far flung as the USA, India and even Australia. I’m so happy to be able to thank all our readers for helping us get this far :)

So to mark the occasion of our one hundred and second post, we’re having a draw with a great prize, a copy of “Easy Entertaining” by Darina Allen of the Ballymaloe Cookery School and also a Ballymaloe Cookery School apron, both pictured above.

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling us what your favourite meal is and we will pick a winner at random from all the entries after the closing date – Wednesday 30th June at 5pm GMT – so get your entries in and tell your friends, families and loved ones to do the same 😉

My Experimental Kitchen

Some of the top restaurants and chefs in the world keep a seperate “Experimental Kitchen” where they try out and develop new recipes and dishes until they are happy and ready to add them to the Menu and transfer them to their main kitchen.

This was something I never really thought that much about until I watched Heston Bluemental’s cookery shows and it became clear that he wasn’t cooking in a studio or The Fat Duck’s Main Kitchen. It makes some sense, why distract the rest of the Kitchen with edible insects and the like, when they should be getting on with preparing the dishes for people in the restaurant.

My Experimental Kitchen is the same kitchen I use every day, well it’s not like I have dozens of diners and a staff of chefs is it? :) Some days, I try to create something from an idea I had while eating, the memory of a dish I ate in a restaurant, a recipe I’ve been using for ages but have decided to try and make better or like my most recent experiment, something I’ve never tasted and only ever heard about.

That latest experiment was rather adventurous, I tried to make a meat based ice cream (bacon to be precise), I mentioned it on our Facebook page much to the horror of one of our vegetarian readers. Unfortunately this became the first batch of ice cream I’ve ever made that even I could not eat, it was horrendous, salty and sweet all at the same time, just too many things going on for the tastebuds to cope with so I’m back to the drawing board with that one.

A few months back I was trying to re-invent my Ragu (aka Spag Bol) recipe as it was essentially my “Italian tomato sauce” with some vegetables and mince thrown in, great to have this recipe as I always have the sauce in the freezer and I can rattle the rest together in a few minutes but it’s not something I would dare serve to a lover of Italian food as Ragu, if you get where I’m coming from.

So a few attempts have been made to refine it and I’m almost ready to invite Gino D’Acampo round to see if he approves :) I am going to try one last little tweek to the recipe in the next week and if that works well you can expect to see the recipe arriving shortly afterwords.

I’ve wandered a bit on this post but what I’m trying to get across is that anyone can be an “Experimental Cook” you don’t need a special kitchen or rare, expensive ingredients, I find myself being less adventurous in this situation for fear of wasting them. All you need is an idea of what you want the end result to be, a little imagination and a willingness to not reject an idea without at least trying it once.

The last part has been the longest lesson for me to learn, but since I’ve made that leap of faith, I’ve found that my enjoyment of cooking, my ability to surprise myself (and others) with my results and the diversity and difficulty of the dishes that I’m attempting and succeeding with has multiplied exponentially.

So what about you? Do you consider yourself to be an “Experimental Cook”? Let us know your best successes and worst failures in the comments below.

The Weekly Shopping

On Thursday last, I gave you all an insight into how I plan meals for the week, This process is (usually) quickly followed by the weekly shopping.

Having an outline of your meals for the week is a great start to making a shopping list. I used to be one of those “ah shure, I’ll remember it when I get to the shop” types but what I’ve discovered is that tends to lead to a few problems.

  • I’d always forget something that I really needed
  • I’d buy things that I didn’t want or need
  • I’d buy more ‘treats’ and less actual food
  • I’d spend more than I intended to

These days, once I have my meal plan done up, I’ll make a shopping list of all the items I need, including the quantities required, even if I think I have it in the kitchen already.

Being the geek that I am, I use google tasks for my shopping list. It’s actually much better than a paper list because I can type into google tasks quicker and more legibly than I could ever write it. it’s easy to organise the list, once you have an idea of the locations of the items in the shops and it’s much easier to tick things off as you go round the shops than carrying a pen and a piece of paper, plus I can load the list on my mobile phone.

So once I have my list made up, I start the shopping at home by ticking off all the items that I don’t need, which leads to me discovering that I’m out of marmalade or coffee or whatever other items aren’t actual ingredients of the recipes I’ve planned. Once that’s done I’ll organise my list as per the shops I’m going to have to go to and a rough order that they appear in as I walk around the shops and off I go.

The first stops are usually the Fruit and veg shop and the butchers, why not buy everything in the supermarket?

Time was I’d buy all my fruit, veg and meat in Superquinn but since the change of owner, I’ve found the selection and quality have reduced while the pricing has remained the same. It’s taken me some time to find them but a good fruit and veg shop and butcher will be as good, if not better, quality produce than the supermarket has available and they’re usually no more expensive. Plus I get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that I’m supporting a local business :)

After that it’s off to the supermarket and this means Tesco or Superquinn for me usually, as they are the two that have the easiest access locally although I’m finding myself in Tesco (Maynooth) more and more, as my favourite fruit and veg store as well as my favourite butcher are across the car park from them :)

With most meals, I can find all the ingredients by doing this, but there are some speciality items that need to be picked up elsewhere. A while back I was pointed towards ‘Fresh’ for Tipo 00 flour. I was disappointed with the fruit and veg selection (all organic, but very expensive even compared to organic in the supermarkets) at the Dublin food co-op. I did find a good selection of herbs and spices, some unusual cheeses and a great selection of oils and vinegars there. I’ve also been surprised by how useful Google has been to find some ingredients and also both the Not Junk Food Facebook and Twitter pages, so if you’re having trouble finding something specific don’t be afraid to ask and we may be able to help.

So to sum up, make a shopping list and stick to it, buy only what you need (saves money and waste), check out the local fruit and veg store as well as the butcher (they may surprise you), anything you can’t find between these and the supermarkets ask us on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll do our best to help you find it :)

Some stats and a short survey

Hi all, Notjunkfood.net has been up and running for a little over a month now and I’m very happy to see that we have a growing number of regular visitors, a Facebook page heading for 100 followers and more than 100 followers on twitter, that’s way more than I expected at this early stage, so I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you all for stopping by and I hope that you find our little project either interesting, entertaining or useful or all of the above :)

In order to help this site grow, I’ve put together a short survey, which will hopefully give me a little more insight into you, the readers, so I can get a better idea of what direction to take.