Food waste Friday!

Filed in Blog by on May 29, 2009 21 Comments
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help me use up a cauliflower for a zero waste food week!

help me use up a cauliflower for a zero waste food week!

It’s Friday and there’s not an item of food waste in sight!

Breakfast is porrage (fresh, not reheated; you’ll be pleased to hear!) with fruit and yogurt. There is half a tin of pineapple which needs using up, left over from the curry I made last night.

For lunch there is a tiny scraping of shepherds pie and curry left over. My two can argue over what they will have and I’ll serve whatever they like with some home made cheese bread or fried rice and salad.

Zero waste takeaway food

Tonight we will be out. We’re meeting up with a group of friends and they are ordering a takeaway. It will be fish and chips for the Green’s because we know it’s zero waste. We’ll be taking our own cutlery and drinking bottles, so there won’t be anything left over apart from paper which can go into the compost bin or be burned on the campfire. I’ll take my own food and tuck in, as I don’t eat takeaways.

When you’re in the company of good friends, actions like this don’t raise an eyebrow. In fact, it’s often a good excuse to spread the word and help people to reduce their waste too.

I was thinking, as I was writing about our takeaway choice that I needed to justify it. A few years ago I wanted to ‘fit in’ and I would let my principles slide in order that I didn’t stand out. Now I realise that I don’t need another’s approval. I live a zero waste lifestyle, so if that means being ‘different’ when out and about, that’s ok with me.

And let’s be honest; it’s a great way to figure out who your friends really are!

Freezing cooked rice

The only potentially ‘scary’ item now is some cooked rice. I rather over did it and there are three or four portions left. Tomorrow lunchtime we need to use that up and I do have a rather delicious savoury rice cake dish I can pull out of the hat. It’s a one pot meal, which always gets the thumbs up from me, BUT it will only use half the amount of rice I have in the house.

One thing I’ve never done is frozen cooked rice. I’d like to hear exactly how to do it, if anyone can share their experiences. How do you freeze it and use it up safely?

I also have a huge cauliflower and an avocado which need using. I’m not sure about the cauliflower and my two don’t especially like it. I can happily eat it on its own, cooked or raw as a side vegetable, but I don’t think I’ll get through it alone. I’m not sure about cauliflower soup because over-cooked cauliflower has that horrible bitter / sweet taste.

We don’t like cauliflower cheese, so I need to think creatively on this one.

Cauliflower and avocado

What would you do with it? I’m sure you’ll come up with a delicious solution for me. You all sorted out our parsnip phobia back in the winter!

The avocado is pretty straight forward, it’s just remembering to use it and it is a bit soft now. I’ll pop it on the worksurface when I go downstairs to remind me to eat it. Little Miss Green can eat half of it mashed into yogurt for breakfast tomorrow morning, or as a snack today and perhaps Mr green can have the other half with some cooked rice for lunch tomorrow.

Failing that, my hair needs washing and mashed avocado makes a great zero waste hair conditioner when mixed with an egg yolk. Because I’m worth it, you know!

I think Kristen will be doing a happy dance with me this week on my bin’s substantial weight loss. If you blog about your food waste, don’t forget to join in with Kristen’s food waste Friday each week and post up a link to your story with your comment.


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (21)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Cooking for the family, Zero Waste, is a constant challenge, with all the varying tastes/appetites. Taking a break from cooking and eating out is a pleasant change of scene. Zero Waste Fish & Chips are an ideal choice.

    My food issues are settled but the latest thing for me is cooking other meat types, from the butcher as usual. Liver is a difficult meat to cook well as it hardens quickly. Tomato & Basil has again been a versatile combination masking the liver taste well, but the texture remained a challenge.

    Soaking in milk for 2 hours is recommended, with the discarded liquid not reused! The colour should be worth noting. Removing impurities is another aspect. Lamb’s liver is more tender but ox liver, a cheaper cut, is the target. Cooking with bacon or beef sausages and the standard onions are other possibilities.

    Tripe and onions was a horror story from a relation, while eating at the grandmothers, in the early 1960s. T&B may be the answer. With Anna’s business finally coming to a close, I have been very busy, also dealing with some of 20+ relatives.

    I hope you all enjoy the fish and chips, no eating hazards there!

  2. Kira says:

    We struggle a bit with the odd bit of veg and salad left over too. I think that cauliflower makes a good curry along with potatoes and chick peas – would probably go well in a veggie chilli as well. We also often freeze rice and re-use it. It’s not a problem as long as it’s cooled quickly and not left sitting on the worktop at room temperature. It freezes well and just needs re-heating to a hot temperature to make sure there aren’t any nasties in it, add a drop of water if it looks a little dry.

    It’s really good to be able to read about your journey and compare it to our own (a few steps behind you).

  3. I often cook too much rice and then freeze it down in portion sizes tubs.

    The trick is to chill it quickly, I put a bowl with the rice in into iced water.

    To reheat, I put into a bowl in the microwave and nuke.

    The cauliflower I would blanch very quickly and freeze, for using in a curry or such later.

  4. Deb from Boston says:

    I’ve never frozen rice, but have also heard it is possible. I’d make rice pudding for dessert or breakfast, or make chicken soup w/ Rice. Cauliflower – I’m not a fan either, so I’d have to hit the cookbooks for ideas – Curry sounds good.

  5. Alea says:

    I freeze rice all of the time. Actually,I intenionally double a rice recipe, so that I can freeze some and have it ready for those rushed, don’t know what to feed the kids, nights. I don’t do anything fancy. I just pop it in a glass container with plastic lid (pyrex and anchor makes these) and freeze. When I need to use it, I pull it out of the freezer, pop the lid off and microwave until heated (this why I use a glass container – I don’t have to transfer it to nuke it). If it seems a little dry I add water 1 teaspoon at a time until it reached the desired consistency.

    I also use leftover rice in white chili, chicken and rice soup, or add salsa and make Mexican rice. You can also add 1 cup of rice to 1 lb. of hamburger to make leaner patties when you barbecue.

    My mom makes creamy mashed cauliflower. It sounds odd but it is really good. Here is a link to the recipe she uses:

  6. Rachel says:

    Just found your blog – it’s fab. Just wanted to say that Nigella recommends cutting cauliflower up into florets, dusting it with cumin, and roasting it in the oven. Totally dry – no oil, just the cumin, as a side dish for curry, but it would probably work as a side dish for all sorts of stuff.
    She does start off saying this is a dieters side-dish, but then confesses that it’s now the only way she eats cauliflower. Might not use up all of yours, but good for a first stab at using it up?

  7. Just remembered you don’t have a micro, but the same rice could be used for fried rice as this should be cold anyway.

    Or it should be able to be steamed over something else to reheat.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: John, you had me in hysterics I’m afraid, reading about your liver challenges. I only buy it for the cat; she doesn’t seem to care how tough it is. I’m wondering if a slow cooker would be the answer, with onions, spices and cooked for a long time in gravy. It’s pretty fuss free once everything has been browned.

    Tripe – oh my; that brings back memories; I used to feed it to my alsation. It’s only fit for dogs, surely!

    @Kira: Hi Kira, thank you for adding your thoughts – the curry sounds delish; I’d quite forgotten how good cauliflower could be in curry – thanks! Good tips on the rice too 🙂

    @maisie dalziel: Thanks for the rice tips, Maisie. I hadn’t thought to cool it quickly. I always leave it at room temp to cool down over a couple of hours before refrigerating. I’ll get a bowl of iced water on hand for future freezing then 😉
    Steaming over something else to reheat sounds fab and would prevent it drying.

    @Deb from Boston: Deb, I was wondering about scooping out some cooked rice for instant rice pudding too. As the clouds are gathering and it’s getting cooler; that might be just the ticket!

    @Alea: Hi Alea, welcome to the site – great to see you and thanks for your comment. It’s great that you deliberately cook too much rice. I think I really need to try this now after reading all the responses. I do this with jacket potatoes, so we can have instant fried potato slices – these keep for about a week in the ‘fridge.
    I’ll check out the cauliflower recipe – thank you 🙂

    @Rachel: Hi Rachel, lovely to see you; welcome! I LOVE the sound of this gorgeous sounding recipe; it sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing!

  9. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: Liver can be fun but try eating it when over-cooked, Mrs Green. My stomach ached for 2 days, on 2 occasions. The things I do for Zero Waste!

    Joking aside, it is worth finding a good recipe so others can ‘enjoy’ it. Milk should help soften it, and remove the ox poisons so damaging to my digestion. Cooking with sausages or bacon and cooking less 5-6 oz instead of 8 ounces of liver may be one choice, with oven cooking for 1 hour on low gas. Tomato&Basil liver may be better with the milk soaking. The basil can keep until the first leaves are cut to save waste.

    I will certainly try other cheap cuts, including tripe, with a view to making acceptable recipes. Pigs head and trotters are another 2 possibilities but I think I will pass on eyes and brains, though never say never.

  10. I always cook liver in the slow cooker unless its for the dogs then I nuke it.

    I flour the liver and brown the sausage, add in a tin of chopped tomatoes or similar, some sauteed onion and mushroom cooked in the sausage fat, then some stock.

    Bung it all in the slow cooker and leave to cook on low for most of the day, if need be some thickening can be added approx half hour before serving.

    The liver is so tender it melts; the boys don’t like “liver” but happily slosh this gravy over the rest of their dinner so get the goodness anyway.

    I usually serve with either jacket potatoes or mash and veggies. or sometimes make a cobbler topping and finish in the oven.

  11. John Costigane says:

    @maisie dalziel: Thanks for the recipe, Maisie. I had planned to brown the links, then slow cook in the oven, but the pot sounds more practical. The tender liver sounds perfect. I saw that soaking in milk is useful too. Have you tried that?

  12. @John Costigane: John, I’ve never soaked any liver in milk before and have eaten all 3 main types – pigs, lambs and ox, the favourtite being pigs.

    My main reason for using the slowcooker is that it is alot cheaper to run than a conventional oven, obviously if you had an Aga or Rayburn then that would be different as you could use the slow oven I think its called.

  13. John Costigane says:

    @maisie dalziel: Thanks for that. Maisie. Ox liver is far cheaper than lambs’ due to its age so the challenge is to make this type palatable. Liver’s function is to purify the blood and this may lead to toxin build-up eg cirrhosis in humans. The milk may dissolve out such impurities. The best option will be to try with/without milk soaking for comparison.

    Your recipe is a good example and suitable for anyone to try. Slow cooking is a new thing for me but is worth learning and perfecting.

  14. @John Costigane: John, I do all sorts in the slow cooker.

    Even whole chickens, just put a sliced onion in the bottom and approx 1 inch boiling water sit chicken on the onion, cook on high for 1 hour then low for approx 4-6 hours depending on size of bird.

    Result – succulent chicken which falls off the bone.

    The bones were then put back into the slowcooker covered with water and left to cook overnight giving a lovely chicken stock.

    This is especially good if you are going to be out all day but want to come home to a nearly ready dinner.

    Basically anything you would slow cook in the oven can be done in the slow cooker just remember that the steam does not evaporate so less liquid is required.

  15. John Costigane says:

    @maisie dalziel: You seem to have slow cooking as a major part of your repertoire, Maisie. It is a real culture shock for me with timed cooking/baking standard, using hot settings. Since liver is a particular problem, slow cooking is well worth a try. Is slow cooking the same as slow stewing or is there is special equipment?

    Cooking whole chicken has always been a roast, with the resulting dry meat needing a sauce. My mother’s cooking style has stuck firmly in my cooking practice.

  16. @John Costigane: John, when I say slow cooker I do mean a stand alone plug-in slow cooker if you look on you’ll get the general idea.

    The one I have and use is my late mothers, which was purchased in late 1970’s but still works perfectly.

    As to having it as part of my repertoire, I suppose I’m going for the easier option in that I start things off then put them in the slowcooker and leave them all day, no messing about and no rushing when in from work etc.

    I make up my basic bolognese sauce on the hob by sauteeing the onions and garlic in a little olive oil, add in the mince , and fry until no pink remaining, then add in the tomatoes , give a quick stir put it all in the slow cooker, add in the oats stir again then leave on low all day maybe stiring once approx halfway through, and to check the liquidity.
    If I’m bulking out with veggies then these would be sauteed along with the onions.

    Curries are done similar fashion, adding the spices to the onions etc.

    For a casserole type dinner I always dredge the meat in pl flour as it helps with thickening just as it would in the oven.

    I also do roasts as well John but the trick is to not have the oven too hot so the meat drys out.

    I hope that helps a little but any other questions just hollor

  17. John Costigane says:

    @maisie dalziel: Maisie, Thanks for the further details. A busy lifestyle is helped by slow cooking as both cooking and working happen at the same time. My mother gave up work for her 4 sons so this was never an issue though in the present day it must be a consideration.

    My plan is therefore to 3/4 grill sausage links, use the fat to fry onions. Add these to uncooked, chopped liver in a pot and top with tinned tomatoes (sweet basil could be used). Cover and cook on a low gas, for as long as it takes, testing the liver periodically. Dinner time can be altered to give a known cooking time for future use.

    It will be worthwhile investigating other cheap cuts to help budgets. Another aspect is Zero Waste since if this material is not used for cooking what happens to it?

  18. John, I only work part-time and then only at lunchtimes, but still find it invaluable to use my slowcooker as I can pop all in before DS2 heads off to school and go run my errands.
    Knowing the meal just needs finishing off when it gets to dinner time, also means if there are extra things to do one day there is no rushing about.

    Your idea sounds a good one giving you an idea for future cooking of same meal.

  19. John Costigane says:

    @maisie dalziel: Maisie, the slow cooker is very useful for a busy lifestyles.

    A neighbour also uses the flavoursome ox liver I mentioned. Without prompting Chrissie spoke about soaking it in milk for softening. I will definitely follow suit tomorrow and report back on results and stomach status.

  20. John Costigane says:


    I cooked the liver as promised with 1.5 hours stewing on a low gas (that will reduce to 1 hour next time). The liver was tender, such a pleasant change from my previous 2 efforts. The milk soaking must have helped as well so I will do this as part of the ox liver routine. The links were fine but grilled bacon might be better. I will try that next Tuesday. Streaky bacon could be the best type to use.

    One funny thing was the ‘liver milk’ drained into a jug. It looked a bit like strawberry milk shake and it would be a devilish prank to offer the liquid as the sweet favourite. Joking aside, I wonder if anyone has cooked this type of liver milk but it may be full of toxins, even though oxen do not drink alcohol.

  21. John Costigane says:

    My next effort was to slow stew the liver for an hour. This was fine except I reverted to type and had a full stew for some of the time. The liver was a bit overcooked but not disastrously so. It takes discipline to keep the stewing light but it should produce the tender texture which makes liver eating comfortable, if not enjoyable.

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