Last night, my brother and SIL came over for dinner. They don’t live all that far away but it’s rare for us to get together, so I decided that, although it was Tuesday, we’d have dessert with our dinner. (Pudding nights in our house are generally on Wednesdays and Sundays.)
I used to have a little treat of some kind handy for every night after supper. It happened sort of incidentally, without my giving it any thought – a Chomp or a couple of marshmallows or a cookie each. And then I started playing with dessert recipes and making more intricate stuff. And then, one day, when I’d had a long day and wasn’t in the mood, we had all hell break loose because the kids wanted pudding and I hadn’t made any. So I told the entitled little sods off and laid down the rule that we would only have pudding twice a week. Which, frankly, is plenty!
But having guests over changes things a little bit, and I made an exception for last night.
Since our cleaning lady was off sick, cooking dinner for 10 people plus cleaning was going to be a bit of an ask, so I bought a couple of Woolies’ rotisserie chickens for the occasion, which I served with skillet roasted sweet potatoes and salad. And then I made individual chocolate lava cakes/chocolate volcanoes, using this recipe. I didn’t have any bittersweet chocolate, so I used a combination of ordinary cooking chocolate and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Other than that, I followed the recipe to the letter, but found that my volcanoes, although softer in the centres, were not as gooey as I would have liked. When I bake them again tonight, I’ll shorten the baking time to about 7 minutes and see how it goes. Despite being a bit overcooked, they were utterly delicious and I served them hot with vanilla ice cream on top. They were so good, I didn’t even have time to snap a pic!
Yesterday, I also finally made it to the Joburg Market, where I registered, picked up my buying card and dipped my toes in the bulk produce buying waters. I came away with a box of bananas, a box of apples, two boxes of grapes and a box of spinach. And I learned a couple of things:
1. A trip to the market to buy bulk fresh produce requires excellent advance planning. I’m going to have to research and find out what fruits and veggies can be packaged and frozen and have my meal plans worked out in advance. They don’t sell anything in small quantities – you can’t pick up a bag of apples, for example, or a punnet of tomatoes. You buy a BOX of bags of apples and a CASE of punnets of tomatoes. And yes, they work out WAY less expensive than buying individual bags or punnets at the supermarket but then you have to figure out how to store them so that they don’t go off before you have a chance to use them.
2. A smile and a greeting can make ALL the difference to the service you receive. This is obviously not a new lesson but just something I was reminded of when dealing with the customer care official and sellers at the market yesterday. Also, if you approach people in a calm, friendly manner, they’re likely to go that little bit further to help you.
3. If I am going to be buying fresh produce in bulk, our grocery bill may very well be significantly lowered and we will be eating a lot more fresh stuff at breakfast and lunch as well as supper. Which is fantastic, because I have been nagging at David about getting the kids off bread for ages! I can TOTALLY live with having a variety of salads for lunches every day. Also, I’ve wanted to buy the kids those cooler bag style lunch bags and now, if we’re going to be eating fresh stuff instead of bread, they’re going to need them. It also means that I will be able to pack them more stuff to school, including their water and juice bottles and snacks for sports after school.
4. If you’re going to shop at the Joburg Market, pick a day to go and GO EARLY. The market opens at 5:00 in the mornings and runs until around 11:00. I went after 9:00 yesterday and, for a first time, I think it was perfect. There weren’t too many people around and I could fumble my way through and figure it out at leisure. But if I’m going to be doing this regularly, I’d rather be there when the doors open, be well prepared and get out before the day gets going full tilt.
Right now, though, I need to figure out what to do with 18kg of bananas and 12kg of apples. For a start, I’m going to take a whole bunch of them and cut them up and package them into individual smoothie bags for freezing. I’m also going to bake a few banana loaves and I’ll probably try out some of the paleo pudding recipes I’ve found and pinned on Pinterest recently. And perhaps I’ll try my hand at a gluten free Apfelstrudel or two.
Hmmm…. I can taste it now – thick, doughy pastry filled with piping hot, cinnamon coated apples, topped with vanilla ice-cream, chopped almonds and maple syrup…
Do you have any tips for storing and/or using up bulk produce? Have you ever considered doing it?