Sunday, September 26, 2010

Waste not, want not!

I am sick of throwing food out. It looks to me that food goes off a lot faster here than it does in France. Take milk for example. Use by date: next week! My mum buys milk by packs of 6 bottles of 1 litres. They don't drink milk and she only uses it for cooking. But she can afford to buy them because the use by date is anything from 3 to 6 months away. I know that it is because the milk is pasteurised and some people would argue that it does taste differently. But what would be better? A slightly different taste and a longer shelf life or the way it is now? How much milk goes down the drain and gets wasted because it has gone off? It has happened a few times here. Not so much since Noelie has arrived but before it would be a regular occurrence. Buy smaller bottles I hear people shout. Yes, I would. But then I would decide to cook something that involves a nice bechamel sauce, or I'd want to make some crepes and, bam, not enough milk in the fridge. Such a dilemma!

Bread would have the same tendency sometimes. I have often bought bread that within a few days had either developed green mould or that pinkish dusty substance. There is nothing nicer than a nice fresh loaf of bread. But, I hate the fact that within a couple of days you can taste that it is about to go off. It's quite difficult to describe the taste. It is a dusty, cardboard-y kind of taste in the crust. Once again, in France, the equivalent 'Pain de Mie' wouldn't develop that taste, let alone mould unless you have had it for months in the cupboard. But that being said, it is not half as nice as the bread you can find here. It is a lot drier for a start and a lot less tasty.

But my biggest grudge is to do with yoghurts. To start with, there isn't half as many varieties of yoghurts here as there would be in France. Secondly, my child is allergic to strawberries. It is not very uncommon to be allergic to strawberries. So why, oh why do they insist on selling mostly strawberry yoghurts for children? Packs of 8 or even 16 strawberry yoghurts. I can steer clear of those. But even, the multi flavoured packs of yoghurts still have more strawberry yoghurts than other flavours. 2 x banana, 2 x pear and 4 strawberry! I want my child to experience different tastes but I am stuck with either buying a pack of 4 of the same variety. Or a pack of 8 and Marie (or god forbid me) who also likes banana and pear yoghurts is stuck with having to eat the strawberry ones because her sister can't eat the other ones. Hardly fair, is it? There is nothing more boring to eating the same type of yoghurt day in, day out. That and my apparent problem with use by dates. I can't seem to find yoghurt with a use by date of more than a week, a week and a half if I'm lucky. So guess, what happened to us again this week? Well, we are left with 5 yoghurts off a multi pack to eat by today. And Noelie has been eating one of them everyday since we bought them.

So I was racking my brain as to what to do with them. And I remembered a recipe from my childhood that would be using some of them up. It is a great recipe that is extremely easy for kids. It is so easy that I let Marie do it all by herself. The great thing about it is that the (empty) yoghurt pot is also used as the measure for the other dry ingredients. So without further a do, let me present to you the recipe for the 'Gâteau au yaourt' (Yoghurt cake).

Gâteau au Yaourt:

- 1 yoghurt (125 grs) (flavoured or not)
- 1/2 a yoghurt pot of vegetable oil
- 2 pots of sugar
- 3 pots of self raising flour
- 2 eggs (if you are allergic to eggs, you can substitute them by an extra pot of yoghurt I have read somewhere, however I haven't tried it yet).

- Mix all the ingredients in the order stated above (don't forget to wash and dry the yoghurt pot before using it for measuring though!)
- Pour the batter in a greased cake tin.
- Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes at 180°C (To check if your cake is ready, just insert the tip of a knife into it. If it comes out dry, then your cake is ready).
Cooling by the window
The possibilities are endless (well, about as endless as there are varieties of yoghurt). We used one of the orange and melon yoghurts we had and added the zest of an orange for a little bit more zing. I also then made a syrup with the orange juice by adding 70grs of icing sugar to the juice and letting it thicken over a low heat for a few minutes (I wouldn't recommend that children do this as the liquid is very hot and runny and they could very easily burn themselves as they pour it over the cake, just like I did!). You could also just use a plain yoghurt and add some chocolate chips to it. Or add some melted chocolate to half the batter and roughly mix it in the remainder of the batter for a lovely marble cake.

Let me tell you, once it was cooled, there wasn't much left off it! Hope you and your kids enjoy making it! If Marie's reaction is anything to go by, they will be extremely proud of having baked a cake all by themselves!

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