Day 20 – dinner party!

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June 21, 2009 by missmegany

We had some people over for dinner last night. This is the first time since we started this diet. Mac made LOADS of food, I tidied up the lounge, and we got out our nicer dishes that I got as a leaving present. Mac made a couscous salad and a potato salad with a gorgeous mustard dressing. I put together a Riverford-and-garden salad and made some soda bread. One of the fastest and most filling breads you can make. I never have self-raising flours or buttermilk, so I’ll put in the substitutions I used. I wish we’d been having people over more often–it’s not that bad, because we only count what we eat–our guests can pig out and eat nice cheeses (see our nice cheeses?)

We have some gorgeous oak smoked cheddar from Lyburn farm, blue vinney from Dorset, and some goat’s cheese from Loosehanger farm. Most of which we’ve barely touched this month. Sharing it out with friends seems a good plan. I had 15g of the oaksmoked with a piece of bread.

They brought some really nice savoury corn muffins with basil and linseed. I love corn muffins! I should make some corn bread and we could make homemade fake baked beans. I bet we could do all that on our diet as long as I didn’t use a super-dairy heavy recipe.

We had peanut butter and oatmeal cookies for dessert (they really need to be eaten before we consume them all) and broke out our massive box of assorted teas. We ended up trying for the first time some cinnamon tea and cardamom tea. I was a bit dubious of both, but they were really nice and light and not too spicy. Plus, they were light enough that you didn’t need milk, which was a good thing because I used it all up making the soda bread. Oops.

What was organic/local?
Organic: couscous, red onion, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, potatoes, walnuts, white wine vinegar, milk, plain flour, oats, raisins, peanut butter and flour in the cookies.

Local: wholemeal flour in the bread, rapeseed oil, butter (for spreading on bread), and the parsley from our garden that Mac had cunningly saved in our freezer.

Couscous Salad
1.15 total, about 5 servings for 23p (It was a dinner party, so there were quite a few seconds and we still had some left over)


225g/8oz couscous (49p)
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped (garden)
1 red onion, very finely chopped (Riverford)
30g sunflower seeds, toasted (7p)
10g sesame seeds, toasted (5p)
20g Pumpkin seeds (9p)
3 tbsp rape seed oil (45p)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Per person: 10P

Toast the sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds together in the oven at about 180C. Keep an eye on them and shake occasionally–you don’t want them to burn and it can happen quite quickly.
Cover the couscous with twice its volume of hot water and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
While you’re waiting for the cous cous, finely chop the red onion and chop the parsley.
Mix all ingredients together and leave to stand for 30 minutes to let the flavours develop.
Serve at room temperature.

Potato Salad
Serves 5 (or so) for 69p (excluding the potatoes and onion, which are from Riverford). Per portion, 14p

2 tbsp walnut pieces (11p)
1 tbsp cider vinegar (4p)
1 tsp coleman mustard powder (4p)
1tsp white wine vinegar (4p)
3 tbsp rapeseed oil (45p)
1 tsp honey (1p)
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
900g/2lb new potatoes, such as Jersey Royals or Charlotte, washed or scrubbed (Riverford)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped, and soaked in water, (Riverford)

1. If you’re using the walnuts, place in a hot oven (about 200C/400F/Gas 6) for a few minutes until beginning to colour slightly. This gives a fresher, less bitter flavour to the nuts.
2. Place the vinegar, mustard, oils, honey and salt and pepper in a screw-top jar or in the bowl of a small hand blender. Shake or blend well until creamy. Add more seasoning if preferred.
3. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for about 15-20 minutes until just tender. Drain well and, when just cool enough to handle, cut into halves or quarters, if quite large.
4. Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl shallots and walnuts, if using, and toss in as much or as little of the dressing as you want. Serve just warm or, if you’re not eating straight away, refrigerate and return the salad to room temperature before eating.

Irish Soda Bread
79p total. (about 10 slices, so 8p each)

Preparation time less than 30 mins
Cooking time 10 to 30 mins

170g/6oz wholemeal flour (20p–I’m guessing. It’s Winchester City Mill flour and I can’t remember what I paid)
170g/6oz plain flour (14p)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (3p)
1 tsp salt (1p)
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (less than 1p)
290ml/½ pint milk (37p)
1Tbsp lemon juice OR white wine vinegar (4p)

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6.
Add 1Tbsp of white wine vinegar OR lemon juice (not both) to milk. Stir and set aside for 5 min. This will create a buttermilk-substitute.
Tip the flours, baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff or more flour if it’s too sticky.)
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.
Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.
Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Breakfast: oatmeal and with honey and cinnamon 10p plus a cup of tea 3p
Riverford: 75p
Lunch: leftover haricot bean and aubergine for Megan, 44p and leftover Aubergine curry with couscous for Mac: 57p…and then Megan had some of Mac’s leftover couscous with some cinnamon and raisins (about 14p)
Plus probably 4 cookies throughout the day for each of us – 26p
Dinner: couscous salad (23p) plus garden salad (nil!) plus potato salad (14p) plus savoury muffins (from our guests) plus bread (16p for two slices) and butter (5p) and a little cheese (about 10p)

Megan: £2.40
Mac: £2.39

We’re pretty terrible at the whole not-going-over thing, but not bad having a dinner party AND all our other meals during the day plus a ridiculous number of cookies all for under £3.

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Less and Less and More is all about enjoying more, all whilst worrying about less. Whether enjoying better health because you eat less junk, having more time for friends and family because you spend less time on acquiring, or lots of other big and little things that we want more of, I look at examples of people doing more.


Less and Less and More

Finding more in our gardens, our plates, our communities

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