People who meal plan baffle me. I’m far too spontaneous for that, I was telling my husband yesterday. I couldn’t bear knowing in advance what I was going to be eating every day of the week. What if I didn’t fancy having what I’d organized on the day I’d planned it for – how dreadful would that be!? Eating is weather-dependant, mood-dependant and most certainly depends on what food is available at the time.
I suppose I’m rather spoilt, somewhat. We get a veg box delivered every week. When I say delivered I mean it’s dropped off at a bus shelter in a top-secret location midway between the croft the produce is grown on and our house. I have to nip down the road to fetch it. I’ve asked for whatever happens to be ready at the time to get put in the box. No requests, no refusals, the more unusual the better. I like the surprise, the not knowing what we’re going to be eating that week. Every veg box is like Christmas morning! Meal planning, to me, is like knowing what’s in each and every one of your presents before you open them. Where is the fun in that?
Our last veg box contained chard, spinach, green beans, that weird fractal cauliflower/broccoli thing, regular broccoli, regular cauliflower, green pepper, a cucumber, green peas (always eaten raw like sweeties), mixed salad, fresh coriander, spring onions, a half dozen free range eggs, two punnets of gorgeous soft fruits (which the children promptly devoured as soon as my back was turned – honestly, I’m going to need to padlock the fridge to keep my fruit-mad children away from the next lot!) and a brown paper bag of freshly picked broad beans.
Broad beans were introduced to my diet some years ago after I’d received a chicken cookery book through the post – some sort of junk mail scheme designed to get you to buy the rest of the books (I never subscribed) but I did try their Moroccan chicken tagine recipe.
That recipe was the first one I ever made requiring broad beans, but it called for frozen broad beans which I managed to source in my local supermarket.
They were awful; chewy, hard, flavourless. I never bought a second bag and was put off the notion of broad beans forever.
That was until my veg boxes started appearing last year containing fresh broad beans. I confess to inwardly groaning when I first spotted them but what a completely different experience they are to the frozen ones! These giant pale green beans are encased in a huge pod, but to get at the little bright green beans hidden even further inside you need to blanch them and shell them again. My children love double shelling broad beans and it keeps them entertained for at least ten minutes. Win!
So back to spontaneous cooking – this time of year all of our veg comes from our veg box supplier and I tend to buy whatever meat I can find at a reasonable price. No plan; just what ever is affordably priced. I’d picked up some diced British lamb for a whopping £2-12 the last time I went to the shop and popped it into the deep freeze for later use.
The morning I made this meal I defrosted the lamb with no idea what I was going to do with it. Come 4 pm I had a quick scour of the fridge contents filled with lovely veg box produce and decided on a Moroccan lamb stew. Loosely based on both the chicken tagine I mentioned earlier and a Moroccan lamb stew recipe in Jo Pratt’s Madhouse Cookbook (2013) I concocted my own take on the warmly spiced dish.
They key is to use freshly toasted spices. Dried spices have been ground up and sitting in a jar for goodness knows how long, but toasting whole herbs and grinding them yourself imparts a wonderful depth of flavour to a dish. Honestly – try it, you’ll never buy ground again.
The lamb stew was rather nice indeed. There were no leftovers. Husband suggested I should blog it. 🙂
MORE LAMB RECIPES
Moroccan-inspired Slow Cooked Lamb (for the crock pot) by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
Nigel Slater’s Slow Cooked Lamb by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
Leftover Lamb Curry with Mushrooms by Dinner with Crayons
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