Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Save with Jamie – Book Review

 I am a fan of Jamie Oliver. I think it was more than 10yrs ago when I picked up a book of his at a friends home and read it in bed at night. Superman and I have also watched a few of his TV series, when I was still watching TV that is. And every now and again when I feel like it I will watch something of his on Youtube.

That was how I found his series on saving money with food without compromising on taste and health. (Go to Youtube and key in “save with Jamie” for a whole range of saving tips.) I only had to watch a few of his videos where he cooks the meals from his book by the same title: Save With Jamie, to know that it was a book I wanted in my collection.

Having used the book now for about 6 months I feel that it brings such enrichment to my home that I have to encourage others to add it to your shelf.

The top eight reasons I love this book:

We have slowly moved to a low carb diet since 2009 when Superman was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I struggled for a long time to give up baked treats and puddings as I love/d baking. There is also something so satisfying about a big bowl of pasta or creamy mashed potatoes. It’s not that we never eat these foods, but they are rather eaten rarely.

Giving recipes based around cheaper cuts of meat like pork shoulder and beef brisket and showing how to cook them for maximum taste and tenderness can help any other omnivore to save a little on what is always the most expensive item in a food budget.

The way we have worked with this book is that either on a Sunday or Monday evening we make a big roast – 2 chickens or 1 large shoulder of lamb or pork or a beef brisket – and we enjoy that with all the trimmings. For the chickens we will eat the dark meat and save the breast meat for a meal through the week and the carcass for stock. For the lamb, beef and pork, we will save half the meat for a meal later on in the week.

For instance, on Monday my son made a gorgeous roast lamb with savoy cabbage, peas and roast potatoes. Half the lamb was saved and used in Jamie’s biryani recipe on Tuesday, which was stupendous. The winner meal so far is left over beef brisket in Korean stir-fry. Nom Nom Nom!

Stocks & dripping!
Obviously these roasts have bones left behind and he encourages the home cook to make stock and use it in later recipes and soups. Always a high scorer on the nutrition scale! Dripping is also saved and used to add extra flavor to risotto, soups, gravy and stir fry.

Buying and storing bulk!
At the beginning of the book (like most of his later ones) he has a pantry and stock list. These things may seem pricey to buy up front (sesame oil etc) but you use so little of it that they last a long time. You can also spread the pantry stocking over a few grocery shops so that the first is not overwhelming on your wallet. His freezer tips are also a winner and as he rightly points out, buying frozen veg (if you don’t grow and freeze your own) is often cheaper and has more nutrients than 5-day-old grocery store fresh veg.

“Old” fashioned tips
Truly the age of our grandmothers is coming back when it comes to thrifty food. Waste not want not is a big thing in this recipe book. How to use up sagging veg in pickles, soups and stocks…how to freeze chillies and herbs…why dripping is a delicacy and needs to be saved…so much more!

He also intersperses shopping tips and why supporting the little butcher or fishmonger shop or the local farmers and markets is a wiser choice than the big chain stores.

Saving money!
This is not a book on how to use beans for protein. This is whole foods, across all the food groups but how to do it frugally and without waste. So if you are a vegetarian or vegan this book is not for you and if you are not prepared to rethink how you shop and cook, then skip this one. However if you are like us that enjoy food, love making it, smelling it cooking and try to do it in the most ethical and organic way, then give it a go.

Time saving – sort of!
Sort of, because some of the meals take long slow roasts in the oven but the finishing off is quick and also as he uses all the leftovers, you can do one big meal on an evening when you have more time and then have 2 quick meals from left overs on other nights of the week.

The nom-nom-nom factor
A friend once told me I am obsessed with food…and I am. Not any food though – good food, tasty food, food that makes my family smile, food that I can serve to dinner guests, food that’s funky for my younger fussy eater, food made from scratch and leaves my loved ones and I saying that was a good meal.

We have a saying in our kitchen, when I am making a recipe that asks me to do something that raises my eyebrows (like making a rice pie crust!!!): “Don’t argue with Jamie”. To date there has not been one recipe in this book we do not like, even though we are half way through testing them.

So if you are feeling a little despondent or unenthused with your culinary skills at the moment, I encourage you to give this book a try! And if you need to see a meal take a look at this favourite of ours

Happy cooking! Oh and if you are a Cape Town reader and you are looking for high quality affordable organic meat, take a look at my elder children's business Funky Chickens

1 comment:

Vikki said...

I have this book too, its great.
Ive got the left over pickles in my fridge, its a great ay to use those lonely veg in the bottom of the fridge.