The last few administrative and decision making hurdles have been safely jumped, and we are now on the last leg of this waiting game. The number of sleeps until we meet our little ones is now much less than 20. Whoop!
So naturally, this has inspired some heavy duty nesting instincts in me. First up has been the need to fill the freezer. We're very lucky to have a chest freezer under the stairs, which we use seasonally to preserve fruit and veg from the garden. At the moment it is stuffed to the gills with home-made ready meals: The sort of thing that you can warm through in the microwave or saucepan and eat with simple accompaniments such as bread, rice or pasta. I thought it might be of interest to share some of my favourite recipe sources for this type of large-quantity cooking.
First up was Lentil and Bacon Soup for Lots of People from The River Cottage Family Cookbook. This is a recent book purchase, and I've loved reading through it. There are lots of ideas for cooking with your family, which we will definitely be trying out. It's sadly currently out of print, but I found a secondhand copy online without any trouble. I upped the quantities a bit - I bought a bag each of red and green lentils, poured them into measuring jugs and then adjusted the other ingredients to use all of the lentils. We've actually already eaten a few bowls of this and it's really tasty - definitely one to add to my normal repertoire. I think we have around 15 portions remaining in the freezer.
I then started to work my way through the Cooking in Advance chapter of How to Eat by Nigella Lawson. This is one of my most-used recipe books, along with her How to be a Domestic Goddess, which I hold solely responsible for the stone I gained in my first year of marriage!
Beef Stew with Anchovies and Thyme has been cooked and frozen in two person portions for Jim & me to eat. I think that the rich red wine sauce is probably a bit too grown-up for all the family, but I might be wrong.
Next up was a double quantity of Chicken and Chick Pea Tagine - you can see that I had to break out an even larger pan as I was making this! But well worth the washing up for the many, many portions now stowed in the deep-freeze. I think this will be good for all of us, as it's a nice balance of tasty, but not too spicy. Jim and I can add Harissa to taste if we want a bit more kick to ours!
Finally from How to Eat, I made about 20 portions of Greek Lamb Stew - a recipe that I adore, as it combines two of my favourite things: lamb and cheese (in this case Feta). The only way this could be more of a favourite would be if I could find a way to add some aubergine to it... Which would probably work really well actually! I've got a box of this defrosting for us to have for supper tonight, with some macaroni and lots of coriander sprinkled on top. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
My other go-to recipe book for simple, but delicious, large-quantity cooking is The River Cottage Meat Book, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I've got a couple of tupperwares of the following recipes tucked in the freezer from previous cooking binges:
Picadillo - a lightly spiced meat sauce, made with minced beef and pork. We eat it like Chilli con Carne in tortillas or with rice. This is another real favourite of mine as it has sultanas, almonds and olives in it. Yum!
Chilli con Carne - Having made Hugh's recipe, I'll probably never make Chilli any other way. This recipe can easily be made in double quantities, providing you have a pan big enough (the recipe says that it serves 8-10 and I froze 24 good portions last time I did a double batch). It's got pork shoulder, beef mince and chorizo as well as kidney beans - Heavenly!
Finally, I really love the recipe for Spaghetti Bolognese in The River Cottage Meat Book. It seems more tasty than any of the other recipes I've tried (I've never quite forgiven Delia Smith for making me put chicken liver in a Bolognese sauce - I've tried, but I'm really not a fan of any type of offal!). Again this can be made in double quantities very easily, and the serves 6 label gives portions larger than I usually eat, so it goes a long way too.
As well as all of the cooking I've done, my brother and his family came to stay last week, and they too have cooked up a storm for us - the chest freezer is almost completely full to the top! The temptation now is to eat it all before we start introductions, but we're resisting so far.
Finally, following the news that Google Reader is to cease to exist in a couple of months time, I have migrated over to Bloglovin' for my blog reading. If you want an easy way to keep up to date with the posts from your favourite blogs, I can really recommend it. I'm actually finding it much better than Google Reader, as there's even an app for my phone too. You don't have to, but if you want to then you can follow my blog with Bloglovin'.