Recipes – Food Matters
When I was a teenager, I showed no interest in doing household chores. Nothing, zilch, nada. I didn’t help cleaning, my room was a mess, and the laundry was not for me. I never contributed to cooking. I have few regrets in life, but this is one of them.
I never cooked together with my father, so he never shared any of his recipes with me. My father was an excellent cook, and he always provided us with simple healthy meals.
Because of this lack of interest, I knew nothing of cooking when I moved out to live on my own. The first time I cooked rice, the fast-boiling type, I burned everything. Especially those first few years were a struggle. Not only did I have to figure out what my preferences were, but also how to construct them and create a somewhat healthy meal.
I picked up information where I could get it. This was in 2002/2003, so I didn’t have access to many websites filled with recipes like we have today. My partner at the time helped me a little, as did the cookbooks I picked up.
Straight from the Jar
Now you must know something of the Dutch culture: we love ready-made sauces and instant mixes. The ones where you only have to add water to create a sauce or where it is ready-made in a jar. The first ten years of living on my own, this is what I used. It’s quick and convenient, it feels like you’re cooking, and the result is somewhat healthy. Yes, the meals are riddled with too much salt, sugar and additives, but they taste good.
The last ten years, I’ve alternated between cooking with these packages and cooking from scratch. I’ve discovered that some of these sauces, I can easily make myself. When I make my leek-casserole, I mix an egg with some cream and curry. I don’t need to pay Mr Maggi for a packet of powder which leads to the same result.
Not When Depressed
It all depends on my mood, though. I’m still not a fan of cooking, so when depressed, I tend to go back to the pre-made packages and pre-sliced vegetables. My consideration is that in that fashion, I still make something that resembles fresh food, and it’s better than take-out pizza or hamburger with fries.
Right now, you’ve caught me in an upswing. Since two months, I order from a company who distributes produce from local farmers. I think it’s unfair that supermarkets force the farmers to minimal prices, so this is my little way of protesting. I can order separate products from them, or a ready-made combination of organic vegetables and fruits which are entirely in season.
It’s so much fun! Receiving the delivery (free shipping) feels like a gift every time. They publish a week ahead what will be in the package, so it’s not a literal surprise, but it still feels like one.
The difference in taste between the yoghurt and cheese that I order through them from local producers is mind-blowing to what I buy in the supermarket.
It feels so adult to cook with to me unknown vegetables like winter purslane (Claytonia perfoliata), turnips or fresh beetroots. I look up recipes online and make exciting new dishes every week.
I also love that I now have fresh organic fruits every week. I used to buy seedless grapes in the supermarket to eat with my breakfast, but I was dissatisfied with them for a long time. Often they only tasted of water, and I doubted there were any vitamins in them still.
Now I eat tangerines, pears, apples, and even oranges. I’m not used to eating fresh oranges, but that too feels so adult and healthy. It’s probably a placebo effect, but I feel better after eating organic yoghurt combined with fruit like this, instead of what I ate before.
But, the purpose of this blog was to share a recipe. Considering my background with food and cooking, I was hesitant to do so. I’m a basic cook at best. Most of my recipes are from the Internet and most I still look up online before making them. I feel uncomfortable sharing one of those since they’re not mine. I have one recipe I’m willing to share though. Originally, it’s also not mine, but my ex’s.
When I moved out after our relationship, I asked him for some cheap recipes, since I was poor at the time. This one has always stuck since it is straightforward and tastes really good. Combine it with the vegetables you want, and you can make it reasonably healthy too, apart from the ingredients of the ketchup, ketjap and the curry ketchup. My husband loves it when I make this dish.
Marinated Ground Beef with Vegetables
- 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
- 2 tablespoons of curry ketchup
- 2 tablespoons of ketjap manis
- 1 teaspoon of sambal badjak
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon of onion powder
- 400 gr. roughly chopped vegetables (pre-sliced mix or a combination of carrots, broccoli, leeks, red onions and zucchini)
- 250 gr. ground beef
- 300 gr. pasta
Mix the ingredients for the marinade.
Add the marinade to the ground beef and knead it through.
Let it marinate for fifteen minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil with some salt.
Add pasta and cook for the length of time per the packet.
Stir-fry the ground beef until brown. Add the vegetables until tender.
Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Add ketchup or curry ketchup if desired.
Stir together briefly and serve immediately.
Have a great meal!
I often make this dish with spätzle pasta, since it’s tougher than the fusilli I usually choose. You can combine it with any pasta you prefer, or even with rice. The last time I made this dish, I left out the soy sauce, which made the marinade more balanced.
You can add any vegetables you like. I prefer to chop them bigger than with, for instance, a tomato sauce, so that the flavour of the vegetables combines better with the ground beef.
I love this dish since it’s cheap to make, relatively healthy and you’re done within half an hour. Perfect for me!