Tahini on toast for breakfast again. I ran out of Marmite on the first day of the Challenge, which was very bad timing seeing as I live on the stuff. Mind you, being me I only eat the English version, which they call 'Our Mate' over here and it costs something ridiculous for a tiny pot. 'Are you SURE you don't want any Marmite?' Gareth always asks when we walk past the supermarket aisle. 'No, I have my tahini, that will do me for the week', I reply in a saintly fashion. I console myself with the fact that it's healthy but I don't really mind. A jar of 'Our Mate' would have taken around a quarter of my $21 Challenge budget! And it's not that hard to go without, as it turns out. Diet Coke, however, or anything fizzy for that matter is different. The lack of delicious bubbliness in my present existence is causing me great distress. And why not? I don't smoke or drink, I don't even eat meat and I don't drink tea or coffee. Fizzy is my thing and right now squeezing a lemon into a glass of water is just not cutting it. But when you guzzle the amount I do, even $2.29 for a cheapo brand bottle is too much of a dent in the budget, so I can't justify the expense. Still, only a few days to go and I keep telling myself how gorgeously clean and detoxified my body will be with all the bloody lemon water!
Today's mission is to find a recipe for corned beef that doesn't involve cabbage. I never realised it was such a St Patrick's Day thing but an in-depth recipe last night brought up pretty much nothing else! Corned beef and cabbage soup, corned beef and cabbage rolls, corned beef and cabbage tacos (really?) - you name it, it had cabbage in it. Which in theory is very helpful as I have no less than nine cabbages in my vegie garden right now. There is a reason for that though. None of us are really too fond of it! In case you're thinking 'what the hell did you plant them for then, you daft moo?' I didn't mean too. I bought a couple of those punnets of mixed brassica seedlings, which are technically supposed to be a mixture of cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. No prizes for guessing what most of them turned out to be.
Needless to say, I will use one of them in tonight's dinner, but not in corned beef and cabbage soup! I think I'll stick with the original plan of turning them into potato cakes. Ali absolutely loves these and will happily have them for lunch as well, which is good because there is a LOT of beef to use up. They are sooo delicious with chutney or pickle! Plus I can make a vegetarian version for me too. With cabbage in. The recipe for these is on page 151 of the $21 Challenge book and you can put pretty much anything in them, another favourite is to use smoked fish in place of the corned beef. And thanks to the sackfuls of green beans in the freezer from Mum, we'll be having beans, carrots and cabbage with them. Normally I would make a cheese sauce to go with it but the cheese is running a little low so might have to see what else I can come up with to dress it up.
When it comes to food the three of us are definitely not fussy. There are very few foods in the world Ali doesn't like, namely avocado, meatloaf and kidney beans. Even at 18 he still picks them out one by one if he comes across them in his minestrone soup. As a result we are rarely allowed to cook anything Mexican, which is a shame because Gareth and I love Mexican food. I'm a huge fan of Indian and Asian food though, which Gareth hates, along with seafood, which Ali and I adore. And we all hate brussels sprouts, despite trying every way imaginable to make them appealing. Still, most of the time finding something for everyone is not a problem. The biggest problem is the food we like that unfortunately doesn't like us. Gareth loves tomatoes and mushrooms, but the price he pays for eating them has meant they are now off the food list. He also seems to be pretty intolerant to dairy, which is very sad for him as he loves cheese and ice cream in particular! Sometimes it can make cooking challenging, as we can no longer resort to speedy favourites such as macaroni cheese, spag bol and other tomato based dishes but we manage. I remember Liam being gluten free for several years and we managed to get through $21 Challenges no problem when he was growing up. I can't believe how many more GF products there are available now, even gluten free Weetbix! If only they had been around back when we needed them!
From tomorrow my challenge is going to get a little harder. I know I have that flipping great chicken in the freezer that will last us no problem, but I really want to save it if I can. I could use the bacon bits I found in my freezer inventory to make bacon and egg pie but I only have two eggs. This means I either have to pay 60c each for the extra eggs I need from the Corner Store - or I can barter. I'm actually pretty keen to do this. I still have eight cabbages in the garden after today, I have oranges, lemons, mandarins, tangelos, sorrel (delicious in salads!), rosemary and coriander off the top of my head I can barter with. Hopefully someone will be lacking in some of these and would like to swap me for some eggs!