Cold Wet Winters Days call for hearty meals…

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Today the weather has been a typical winters day.  Complete with thunder and lightening.  The kind of day where you don’t want to go out in it.  But, if you have school aged kids, then you do.

I got soaking wet legs going from my Dad’s house to my home, and seriously considered changing my jeans before heading back out into the weather to get my 5yo from school…  then I realised that *if* I was to do that, I would end up having to change again when I got home, as I would be wet again.  One of those wet days.

I had absolutely no inkling what I would make for dinner tonight, this morning when I was on the way home from my Dads.  I knew that, because of the weather, I wanted to serve something that was comforting, warm, hearty, and delicious.  And of course, something that everyone would want to eat…  I was fortunate to purchase a 1.2kg lamb leg at the supermarket for $20; it wasn’t the whole leg just the meaty bit before the shank. It had a good amount of fat on it (not too much, just enough to keep the meat well basted), and very little bone.

So, tonight we had Roast Lamb, with roasted potatoes, orange kumara, carrots, beans (just to change it up from peas or broccoli), and gravy. Followed with Chocolate Mousse and Brandy Snaps.  Cooking the lamb and veges took less than 2 hours from prep to serving.  And the gravy is just packet gravy with some dried rubbed rosemary (thanks Greggs) in there too.  Yum!

The chocolate mousse was one that I found in the Reduced to Clear Chilled Section a few weeks ago, for $3.  It is simple and easy (and usually retails for double the price) to make, you simply whip it with an electric beater for 3 – 4 minutes on HIGH, then scrape down the bowl, whisk again for a few more minutes, then spoon into dishes or serving bowls.  You can add all sorts of other flavourings to the mousse before you spoon it into the dishes (try finely grated orange zest, or finely chopped glace cherries, or fresh (or frozen and defrosted) berries).  I chose to make ours plain, but serve with bought brandy snaps.

Each time I go into the local supermarket, I scour the reduced to clear area in the chilled section.  You can pick up some really good deals there.  Today there were 6 pack of yoghurts for $3, cheesecake filling (same brand as the chocolate mousse) for $4, cream cheese for $2…  All of it is perfectly fine, the packaging might be a bit damaged (a cream cheese pottle the other day was missing it’s clear plastic lid but was sealed with foil), or it might be coming up to a best before date, etc.  Please use your common sense when choosing to consume these items: if the item is off, mouldy, or sour (and it’s not meant to be) then don’t eat or drink it.  Sealed pottles of yoghurts though will last several weeks past their “best before” date (often 6 weeks is not unusual), cheese will last for a long time, etc.  When you are shopping on a budget, the reduced to clear section is a great way of adding a few extra luxuries to your budget.  But don’t just restrict yourself to the chilled section for reduced to clear bargains!  Try the meat and seafood departments, fruit and veges, bakery.  Non-fruit-and-Vege items (and a lot of veges and fruit with careful preparation) can be frozen (yes, even yoghurts and cheese) for future consumption if you have the freezer space (this is where having a chest freezer is a great investment)…

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