Wednesday 14 September 2011

Playing with Your Food

How many times did your Mum say 'don't play with your food ' when you were little?   Mine did, frequently, I said it to my own boys on many occasions.  It's no bad thing really, true we shouldn't say it, to really learn about food children have to play with things, turn them over mess about a little, poke, explore and understand.   I would never say it now!!

And in this post I am saying to you.....loud and clear.....PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD. 

Experiment, don't be afraid to try things, whatever you do to it it will usually be edible, it's not going to turn to plastic because you've cooked it too long, or added the wrong ingredient or looks a funny colour.  If the family object to your offerings tell them to go and make themselves a piece of toast!!

Fancy making jam, go out and pick yourself some raspberries, don't have a raspberry cane,  nip to the Farmers Market or the shop and buy a punnet or two

You get there and they don't have raspberries, buy whatever they do have, tip your purchases in a pan with water and sugar, don't have enough white sugar use some brown, use some syrup, PLAY.  If after all your work it doesn't set.....label the jars 'Raspberry Sauce', drizzle it over your made it!

Don't know what to cook for tea at the end of a long day, look in the fridge, what sad remains do you have lurking in the vegetable drawer....a bendy carrot, half an onion, a sad wrinkly pepper.  Fish them out drop them in cold water to revive them a little and chop them up, put them in a pan with a dash of oil and let them sizzle away for a bit then chuck in a couple of over ripe tomatoes or a can of tomatoes from your storecupboard.  Cook some pasta, or some rice, or some cous cous or whatever...are you getting the idea, improvise.  In fifteen minutes you've gone from having no idea what to have for tea and a fridge that looked almost empty, to having a satisfying meal on the table.  If it's just you and there are leftovers, next day tip them into a flan case with a couple of beaten eggs and a sprinkle of cheese and you have a completely different meal, half for that nights tea and then half to take for lunch the next day.

Good food can be cheap and satisfying and we can all learn to use everything of what we have and spend less, it just takes a different mind set.  Something I will admit that has come back to me only relatively recently.  I used to do this so much more in my past, then I got lazy.  I got sucked into prepared meals and things done for me, and that's when you lose the urge to cook, you forget to use your imagination in the kitchen and see only the packets of food. 

You can quickly get into the habit of handing over your hard earned cash to the supermarkets or the chippy or the Chinese takeaway to buy food that has been prepared for you.  You sit down and eat it and, yes it may be tasty and it may be nutritious but do you sometimes have a little niggle about how it was prepared, where it was prepared what exactly was in it.

Step out of your comfort zone and try new things, do new things to old ingredients, to use that terrible saying 'think outside the box', only this time you are thinking outside of a food box!!

I decided to do my current challenge, the How Low Can You Go challenge to encourage me to experiment even more.   I really do want to get to the back of the cupboard and the bottom of the freezer, using all that we have.  I may learn some new recipes on the way, I may discover that we do just like old favourites but it's an interesting journey.  At the moment it seems a little perfunctory, but soon we will get to the more obscure things that lurk  in the deep dark corners of the cupboards, the iced up packages of UFOs (unidentified freezer objects) that have been buried beneath layers of more day to day foods, and then we will see if I can manage.

If you run out of inspiration, do as I do and  'Google' the name of the main food item you want to use, hopefully you will find lots of recipes and things to do with it.   When I wanted a picture of a sad carrot, I didn't run to the garden and pull one up, wash it and photograph it, no I Googled 'sad carrots' and  when I chose 'Images' I got the picture I used above I also got....

...but you can just get recipes!!

Go on ..... have fun .... PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD.... tell your Mum I told you to !!

Sue xxx


  1. Sue this post is a delight. I have just trudged back from our local store with the ingredients for our meal this evening, many pounds lighter. Did I look in the fridge first to see what I could make with any existing ingredients ? No I didn't, at the same time I inwardly niggled at the enormous cost of keeping a family of four these days. I am getting there , we managed to empty the freezer recently, now I need to attack the cupboards full of sundry packets and jars.Keep up with the advice.

  2. Hi Sue

    Great post! That is exactly what I have been doing over the past couple of weeks. Enjoying the extra space in the cupboards. My husband has just found out that he has to change the way he eats. No yeast, dairy, sugar, corn and others. That is making looking at what I buy in a whole new light! Quite a challenge.
    Your advice is good, lets hope many follow it as they will be pleased with the results.
    Isabelle x

  3. What a brilliant post Sue, please keep em coming!
    You are an inspiration to me and Im sure many others as well! Kind regards, Lynda xx

  4. My Dad was a chef. He encouraged me to play with food from when I was little.He encouraged me never to be afraid of changing things.
    Jane x

  5. I'm definitely continuing to say "don't play with your food". After all, the gooseberries disappeared. Many of the raspberries disappeared. The sorrel disappeared. The chives are disappearing. The cabbages and lettuces continue to lose leaves. And it's not the slugs. Or pigeons. Or rabbits. No, it's those pesky children playing with food again! :D

  6. Brilliant, Stonehead......your children must be so healthy, better a stolen raspberry or half a lettuce than a tube of blue smarties!!

    Sue xx

  7. Brilliant post Sue. I'm going to make a veg soup tomorrow with EVERYTHING in it !

  8. Fun post :) My mum encouraged playing with food and a lot of my recipes evolve from not having x so using y instead...sometimes it works ;)


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