Wok about this, then?

20p cabbage, free wok...

For some time I have been stashing oddments of kitchenware in my porch; I knew that as the Offspring started to wander off, they’d need bits n’bobs and it seems daft to buy new, cheap stuff that will fall apart & need replacing in no length of time, when they could have decent cookware to experiment with that’s actually cost even less, it’s just not brand new. Two of them have flown the nest lately and both have taken some of the stash off to their student kitchens. In fact, they’re not the first to do so; a couple of friends have raided the stash in times of dire need in the past, too, so I’m glad I’ve had the space free to store it.

Needless to say, virtually all of the items in it have been unwanted & unloved by their previous owners. It includes Le Creuset & Cousances cast-iron casseroles, frying pans and saucepans, stainless steel saucepans, a stainless steel pressure cooker, Pyrex bowls & dishes, Sabatier knives, a Spong mincer and goodness knows how many other things that originally cost a fortune, as well as things that haven’t cost so much but are still very usable, useful and hard to track down like glass lemonsqueezers. Today, the stash currently being devoid of woks, I rescued a virtually brand-new Ken Hom carbon-steel wok from the arms of its previous owner. “I’m afraid it’s no use now, ” she said sadly. “My daughter’s burnt the non-stick coating and it started to come off when we tried to clean it…”

Hmmm – a good soak in bicarb soon loosened the rest of the burnt food, then I’m afraid I set about it with wire wool! I don’t like Teflon-coated cookware & it doesn’t like me, either; the non-stick coating has been known to peel off on the way home from the shop. I think it knows what I have in store for it… Anyway, I scrubbed away as much as I could, washed it all off thoroughly and wiped the wok with clean cooking oil, which I carefully & gently burnt on over half an hour or so, then cooled it and repeated the process a couple more times. This produces a natural non-stick coating which will develop as the wok is used, provided you don’t wash it with detergent; a scrub with a dishcloth in steaming hot water is all that’s required.

I also rescued from the same lady an armful of biscuit tins. Every time we visit one or other of our students, they politely ask whether we might happen to be able to supply some of their sister’s famed Chocolate Fudge Brownies. So we do, gladly – but we never seem to get the tins back! I think we’ll have to institute a tin-return scheme. But at least we’ve got some in reserve now.

Then on a quick trip up to town today, we happened to hit the moment when one of the supermarkets had just massively reduced all of its on-the-sell-by produce. So into the new wok went a 20p cabbage & 10p worth of spring onions, along with a little fresh kale left over from the weekend. 40p worth of new potatos in herb butter and a pack of very-tasty giant sausages that cost just £1.25 completed a satisfyingly inexpensive meal.

My older daughter has just challenged me to feed the family (currently numbering 5, all of adult size, give or take a couple on any given night) for a week on £50. I might just take her up on that…

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