This morning I emptied all the vegetable drawers in my fridge and washed them and the ever-so-useful green sponge cushion I bought from Lakeland. The leftover vegetables went into the soup pot and the clean drawers were filled with the contents of yesterday's organic vegetable box.
Before you fall back in admiration at my efficiency, let me assure you that it is not aways so. All too often I leave the fruit and vegetables to lie in their boxes until I need them, only to find that they have suffered, sometimes irredeemably, from neglect. I regret that I have, more often than I care to admit, thrown away food that would have been perfectly fine had it been stored properly, but that had rotted in a plastic bag or wilted in the dark recesses of the box.
However today was different and I'm hoping will be a sign of things to come.
Soup is an excellent vehicle for using up odd bits of vegetables, including anything too sad to be presented whole on a plate. I started by sweating a chopped leek in a glug of olive oil and a knob of butter. To this I added a wilted head of kale, a runt of white cabbage, an odd spring onion and a couple of potatoes. When the vegetables had softened and were just beginning to colour I covered them with water and a bit of milk, added a few teaspoons of Marigold bouillon powder and left them to simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Finally I blended them to a smooth puree, poured the mixture into a plastic container and put it in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch.
While I was making the soup I baked a couple of old beetroots in the oven. They went into a low (150 C) oven in a casserole with a tight fitting lid and a couple of tablespoons of water for 3 hours. When they were cool enough to handle I skinned and chopped them and tossed them in a couple of tablespoons of honey and mustard dressing. I ate some of this salad for lunch alongside a couple of slices of cold meat that had reached their use by date. The rest went into the fridge for another day.
I went out to a party in the evening so I didn't eat with the rest of the family, but they tucked in to a stir fry which included, among other ingredients, a handful of carrot sticks recovered from my daughter's lunch box on Thursday and a portion of lightly boiled green beans left over from dinner that same day. Sir fries are another excellent way of using up leftover, raw and cooked and my husband is very skilled in rustling up a delicious meal using nothing more than a packet of noodles, the leftovers from the fridge and a couple of store cupboard essentials (ie soy sauce, pad thai paste and sesame oil).
So today's items for the bin were:
5g breakfast cereal
265g vegetable peelings
1 used tea bag
50g grape waste (stalks, pips and squidgy ones)
90g sweetcorn husks
65g beetroot peelings
1 large tomato
The raw vegetable waste fed the worms. The tea bags went into the compost bin. The beetroot peelings were cooked and went into our council household waste bin.
The only items of real waste were the breakfast cereal, broken pieces from the bottom of the bag, and the tomato, which came from our own plant but which was bruised and had sat on the work surface for a day or so longer than it should have and had gone too soft to be edible. On reflection I could have fed the cereal to the hamster but it went into the brown bin instead.