One of the biggest sources of inspiration for my musings on Stonesoup is the Stonesoup-by-Request Survey I setup earlier in the year. Or questions that come in via email.
The thing is, I’ve been blogging for 7 1/2 years so there’s a whole heap of tips and recipes that if you’re a new reader, you won’t have seen. And of course there are many questions that have already been answered over the years…
So today I thought I’d take you on a ‘tour of the Stonesoup archives’ and go through 10 questions that have come in recently that already have answers on Stonesoup…
1. REFRIGERATOR BLINDNESS
Q. I would love to hear your favorite way to clean out the fridge…what do you make out of those odds and ends when you need to go to the grocery but haven’t, or are headed out of town, and would like to leave the ice box empty?
A. This is one of my favourite topics of all time! I like to think of it as ‘refrigerator blindness’, something we all suffer from time to time. Here are 4 steps to cure refrigerator blindness including some general ideas to turn the bits and pieces into actual meals.
2. DIABETIC FRIENDLY
Q. If you could post some diabetic-friendly recipes, that’d be great! My dad was just diagnosed and I have a very strong family history of the disease so it’s time for me to start eating healthy, preventatively.
A. Love that you’re being proactive Melissa! Basically most of the recipes on Stonesoup for the last 2-3 years are diabetic friendly, except for the sweet treats. Basically my eating style is mostly low GI, perfect for diabetics. And if a recipe doesn’t fit, look at the variations, usually there will be a ‘paleo’, ‘slow carb’ or ‘low carb’ option that will be suitable for your situation.
3. COCONUT YOGHURT
Q. What is coconut yoghurt, can you make it?
A. It’s dairy-free yoghurt made from coconut milk. There’s recipes for both coconut and regular yoghurt included in ‘What you should never do when making yoghurt at home‘.
4. RECIPES FOR 1 PERSON
Q. I’d love some recipes for one person – or enough for 2 portions with one suitable to freeze.
A. Most of the recipes on Stonesoup are written to serve 2 people. I do this because that’s how many I’m usually cooking for. But it also makes it super easy to halve recipes if you’re cooking for 1. They’re also easy to double or triple if you have more mouths to feed. So you can pretty much just browse through the recipe index to find something suitable.
5. MAKING SOUP THICKER
Q. I made a really yummy soup that was supposed to get thick because you added half & half. I was trying to be good so I bought fat free half & half that still used milk and cream. The soup was kind of watery even though it tasted really good. We froze some of it. How can I make it thicker? There are potato slices in the soup and they didn’t help it get any thicker.
A. Firstly, we really need to get you away from thinking that fat is bad! Please please pop over and read The Truth about Fat. And then promise me you’re going to stop buying ‘fat-free’ or ‘low fat’ products. They are NOT healthier options.
(Sorry about the little rant there). Back to the question of thickening soup. There are basically 3 options.
1. If you don’t want to change the soup you can simmer it until it reduces and thickens. But this can take hours.
2. My preferred option is to add more solid ingredients to the soup. If you’re short on time, a drained can of beans, chickpeas or lentils will instantly thicken things up. OR if you’ve got longer you could add a few handfuls of couscous or quinoa or rice and then simmer until they are cooked and thickened.
3. If the soup has solids in it – like your potato slices, you could puree some or all of the soup and return to the pan. Be careful with pureeing potato though because the starch can end up making your soup thick and ‘gluey’.
6 KEEPING LEFTOVERS SAFE
Q. I would like to know more about keeping food for longer and just how long certain things can be kept in the fridge, etc. You touched on it a while back and I became more confident at using leftover bits and pieces together in a dish. If you could provide some recipes and hints and tips on leftover bits and pieces that would be great. I hate throwing out leftovers, but there’s never enough for another meal and I never know what to do with all the bits! Thanks for the great site… I look forward to your emails when they come… they inspire me…
A. Great topics Heather! In terms of maximising the life of your leftovers see The Dos and Don’ts of Keeping Leftovers Safe. And then for tips on what to do with leftover bits and pieces, the best article is 4 steps to cure refrigerator blindness which has 4 different ‘types’ of meals or I use the bits and pieces to make whole meals.
7. COOKING QUINOA
Q. What’s the best way to cook quinoa? I’ve heard you have to soak it first to remove the bitter taste. I tried this, soaking overnight, but then because it had swollen I wasn’t sure how much water to add to cook it, or for how long. I ended up with quinoa porridge! I’d love to know how I should be doing this!
A. I LOVE quinoa Isobel. And it’s actually super easy to prepare. No need to soak quinoa. But you should rinse it thoroughly because the surface of quinoa contains a chemical called saponin that has a bitter soapy taste. Most commercial quinoa will already be washed and have the saponin removed but it’s a good idea to rinse it just before you use it in case there are residues.
Once it’s rinsed, just cook it like pasta in a pot of boiling water for 10-15 minutes (I usually set my timer for 12 minutes) until it’s tender. Then drain and it’s ready.
For more info see 12 things you should know about quinoa.
8. RECIPE ORGANISATION
Q. How do you organise your recipes?? We are dairy-free and sugar-free and I’m trying out gluten-free at the moment too! So when I come across a great recipe, I will make some sugar or dairy substitutions. If it’s really great, my ideal scenario would be to write this recipe out and file it somewhere in a really great filing system! The reality is that I’ve got heaps of cookbooks, with some recipes that are great in each of them. And then a few different folders of trying to collect ‘favourite’ recipes that never quite come together to serve the purpose. Any suggestions?
A. One of the reasons I started Stonesoup was to keep track of my favourite recipes. My trusty assistant, Sarah, is working on a project at the moment to make sure all my recipes from my blog, online cooking school and all my books (both print and ebooks) are all included on my cooking school website so my students (and me!) will have access to ALL my recipes on the one searchable site.
Of course, if starting a blog is a bit extreme, I highly recommend getting an account with Evernote to keep track of everything. For more details on how to make the most of Evernote for recipe organisation see The Art of Recipe Organisation.
9. RSS FEATURE
Q. Great site and content. Keep it up. Would love to see an RSS feature in addition to the email service.
A. For my RSS reader you can just search for the feed for a particular website and add it to your feed. Or go to www.feeds.feedburner.com/stonesoup/zQie
10. COOKING ON A BUDGET
Q. How to eat well on a poor uni student budget!
A. I’m so glad you asked this question because it’s a topic close to my heart. We all go through times when we don’t have as much money as we’d like and healthy eating can be one of the first things to slip… Just when you need it most!
To get you started, check out 18 Tips for Minimising Your Food Costs.
But if you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend taking the ‘Mastering the Art of Cooking on a Budget‘ program at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School.
Like to learn more about Cooking on a Budget?
The program is ‘pay what you can afford’ and I created it as a chance to help people who can’t afford my other programs.
While cooking real healthy food on a budget may seem difficult, it’s not impossible and in this class I’ll show you exactly how to do it.
For more details go to:
ps. I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to keep offering the class as a ‘pay what you can afford’ so sign up today to make sure you don’t miss out.