Reduce food waste while eating what you actually need / 5 rules

Today is 21st of August and I threw in the garbage the first potato after 3 months of been in charge of the kitchen while managing a hostel. I feel proud that my methods worked and I want to share some (maybe well known) tricks but not really followed by the most of the people. That happends beacuse we need to live fast on the end and some advises for washing up or preserve something imply efforts or time. We don’t want to put an effort on the food cause when we come back home we want just to relax and eat something quickly. We don’t take “time” for food cause the last thing we want to do after work is standing up in front of the stove, unless you have a serious passion about it. We can cook for lovers, we can cook for friends but on the end we don’t put this effort for ourselves and even the best intention ends up with lots of side effects such as waste of money, food or time.

Since I hate to spend time cooking I applied some tricks to reduce it while I committed to eat things that are good for my own mental and fisical health.

Rule number one : Don’t buy compulsively.

Some of us, once in a market or super market get the fever of stocking up. This is dangerous for our wallet and for our time. Going in a supermarket to watch around and buy chips or drinks with friends has nothing to do with a proper shopping. I love to do both and I love to go shopping with a plan. I observe myself or those who I’m cooking for and I have a clear idea of what I want every time I’m shopping. Maybe you can get wrong once, but twice is hard if you just do yourself the favour of having a “quite” specific diet. Doing this mistake is intolerable especially when you end up in a supermarket and you spend 3hours there, watching the emptyness most of the time. As I said, it’s fun, when you step into it just for fun. Leave the stocking up issue for stuff on sale and that can’t expire, soaps or shampoos but not for food. Observe what you need in one week and go at the market with a clear vew once per week. If you do so, It takes no more than 15 minutes to check out.

Rule number two: being aware.

As long as it might seem boring, tidying up makes yourself aware of what is going on in your fridge and when you do it frequently you will notice it is not that hard. Put the new stuff at the end and the old ones ready to be used as first. In This way you won’t deal with stinky, sticky, messy crap. By the time your going to have the next shopping you’ll realize things have been shifting in the fridge with a meaning and this organization is clear in your mind and you won’t feel the panic of not knowing what’s going on behind.

Rule number three: Don’t cook following recipes

This is a tough one, because it touches our feelings or perhaps our wickenesses.

Following a recipe is the first step through a organic bag full of waste and the impossibility of learning the properties and the behavior of some foods. If your mind, eyes and hands stick always at the plan, soon or later your dishes will become boring and static and you will never see the beauty and risk of acting “outlow”. Some food just need to be handled differently by different people. I’ve eaten more creepy things coming out from recipe then from creativity.

I stopped to follow recipe when I started to understand the food better and how I like it, but, most important, I always found recipes something you can afford to follow when you can afford to buy all the ingredients from the scratch. I Never really got the chance to afford it, while other kind of food is dying in the fridge. It turned up that this was an essential skill, travelling and especially sailing wild. I still love sometimes to make some beautiful cake or tiramisú especially when I’m cooking with my friends.

Rool number four: Cook on forehand.

One thing I hate doing while I’m starving is cooking. When I’m hungry I want to eat, not to cook. I guess this is one of the main reasons why we end up eating junk food. Well, I admit I love junk food too but I try to keep it for fun not to feed myself with it. So, instead of feeling guilty because I put rubbish on my body I’ll feel good because I did my job and I fullfilled that need of crashing it sometimes. And here is how I fullfill my duties: I cook when I have time to do it and when I’m not hungry yet. I noticed that when I do this I’m focused on what I need/want to put on my dish. I also multitask instead of praying in front of the pan, because I can’t wait to eat. We have a proverb for this in Sicily : “pignata taliata un vugghi mae” that means “pan is never going to boil if you watch it”, so make sure you get busy with some other stuff while you cook. Cooking is also multistasking and being patient. I love to have the food ready when I’m hungry, I don’t like that feeling of not being hungry anymore when I cook for a long time and somehow I feel full just by the smell. I love instead to prepare several dishes to share or save for the next meal. I even love more when I take care of the leftover because I know that next meal, than, is going to be various.

Rule number five: make a choice

Don’t go out for dinner if your salad is going to die in the fridge. Or don’t buy the salad if you are lucky enough to know when it’s going to be a busy week. If it is totally unexpected and I can’t help with it, I prefer to leave the food cooked so I can give it an other chance the day after (boiling eggs up to expire, using the yogurt for cakes or desserts, cutting fruits and turn them in a salad, baking veggies)

Liqueurs: a rustic, yet fine way to produce them at home

Every year I have a very important appointment: going to collect fruits and herbs to make my own liqueurs.

In some countries this process is forbidden, and this is something that I do miss when I’m abroad.

Since, little by little, I started to have some customers, what was an home-made activity became also a funny job.

What I love the most is the beginning and the end of the process, also because in the middle there is nothing (which is actually the “whole” thing) or just waiting patiently that the alcohol has absorbed all the flavours from leaves and/or peels.

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The beginning is collecting the ingredients. Most of the time I go for fruity digestives so I collect tangerines, oranges, lemons around. I often find people who support me offering their trees since I haven’t been so lucky to have a piece of land and have my own resources.

Some people do understand the meaning of sharing, especially when they know that they can’t use most of the product of those prolific trees, unless they have a farm, and in the end some of the fruit would be wasted.

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When I finish this part I rinse everything with a sponge and I start to peel in a fine way. Lemons are the hardest in terms of stress for your fingers but tangerines are the worse because it is very important to avoid the white part of the peel which is always very attached to the peel itself talking about tangerines.

I won’t tell how important is that every fruit, after been washed, is clean and dry, cause I believe is obvious. Once this thing is ready to go in a jar with the alcohol, all you need to do is just wait (for some liqueurs 40 days, some 30 days and some others a week or a couple).

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After the maceration I’m ready to prepare the syrup which is normally just water and sugar, boiled, cooled and finally rejoined with the alcohol. The filtration is also a sensitive process: it’s nice to find some imperfections (brown dusty dots) in a home-made liqueur, but it’s better to avoid most of the impurities released by the macerations. To do that I just use a funnel with a little linen sheet on top. It slows down the filtration but the result is remarkable.

This year my specialties will be

Finocchietto (Funnel Liqueur)

Arancello (digestive based on oranges)

Limoncello (digestive based on lemons)

Aurum (citrus fruits mix)

Mandarinetto (digestive based on tangerines)

Allorino (digestive with laurel leaves)

[text me for recipes]