09 August 2013

More Cooking with Cans

Following on from my Taco Soup recipe, it is time for some more experiments cooking from cans. Cooking from cans will come in handy living on a boat - its cheap and there aren't always supermarkets in isolated anchorages. 

Although Scott's eyes tend to glaze over when I start talking about cooking from cans, I actually know someone who is a "fan of the can" and has been living almost exclusively out of cans. And he lives on land! Here is what he has to say about cans:

"I like the 'efficiency' of them in every aspect - efficient to store; efficient way to bring ingredients together; efficient to dispose of; efficient on the wallet; and efficient on the food value - because they are good quality! I like cans."

So in his honor, here is another recipe from cans. I've even costed it out so we can check and see if cooking from cans really is good value. For those Americanos out there, if you want to do the math the Kiwi is currently trading at about .80 to the US dollar. And keep in mind, everything in New Zealand is really expensive so when you do the math, it might not seem like good value to you. And if this doesn't seem like good value, don't even think about buying a house in Auckland.

Scott - if you can manage to stay awake throughout this entire post, I'll put in a bonus picture of a snapper at the end.

Corn Chowder

Here are the ingredients and how much they cost (all prices in NZ$).

  • 1 300 gram can of creamed corn ($1.85) - I used a can of Wattie's creamed corn. There are generic versions, but Countdown was having a "can sale" so I went "premium" with Watties. I feel comforted in my extravagance because the corn was grown in Hawke's Bay. It says so on the can.
  • 1 410 gram can of whole potatoes ($1.89) - I went "downmarket" for my potatoes and bought the generic Homebrand kind. But I feel reassured by my decision as the can explicitly states that there are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Good to know. Because it is a generic can, the label is much less aesthetically pleasing than the Wattie's can. But I guess you get what you pay for.
  • 2 cups of milk (25 cents) - I made this using skim/trim powdered milk. For me it qualifies as a "can-like" ingredient as you can store powdered milk for a long time on a boat. I just estimated the cost based upon 400 gram packet of milk powder going for $7.99.
  • 1 onion (30 cents) - Onions, like powdered milk, theoretically last a long time so this is another one of my staple "can-like" ingredients. Again, I just estimated the cost based upon 1.5 kg of onions going for $3.00. My original estimate was 27 cents, but they don't have pennies in New Zealand so I rounded up. Imagine living in a world without pennies. Once you've gone without, you realize you don't really need them. (Hey! Listen up US Mint - I'm talking to you!)
  • 1 tub of Continental chicken stock pot concentrate ($1.25) - I don't actually like these but they come in packs of 4 and since I had already bought them, I feel compelled to use them up. I am truly embracing my new frugal lifestyle. The old Ellen would have chucked them out and bought the super expensive and better tasting Campbell's chicken stock instead.
  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil (5 cents) - Another estimated cost based on a 500 ml bottle of Homebrand canola oil going for $2.39.
  • About 1 teaspoon of pepper - Sorry, I didn't price this out. Way too complicated to count each individual grain of pepper and calculate a cost per teaspoon. I didn't add any salt to this recipe because you get enough sodium from the stock pot concentrate.
  • 1 bay leaf and about 1 teaspoon of thyme - Couldn't be bothered to cost these out either. I have some already so I'll call it free. If I didn't have any, I wouldn't put it in.
  • 1 cup of water - free!
So the total cost is $5.60 (I rounded up, remember no pennies). I figure you can get 3 servings out of this so the price per serve is approx. $1.85. For comparison, you can get a 600 gram pouch of Signature Range Chicken and Corn Chowder for $4.70 or if you want to splurge you could get a 600 gram pouch of Pitango Smoked Seafood Chowder for $6.39. I think you can get around 2 servings out of each 600 gram pouch. So the pouches are more expensive per serve, but they do have meat in them (chicken or smoked seafood). But the good news is if you live on a boat and have your very own cynical sailor, he can catch snapper for you which you can add into your chowder to turn it into Snappy Snapper Chowder. Yum! (Hang in there Scott, bonus picture of the snapper coming soon.)

Okay, here is how you make the chowder:
  • Chop up the onion and sauté in a pot in the oil until soft.
  • Open up the can of potatoes*, drain and slice them. Then chuck them into the pot.
  • Open up the can of corn and chuck it into the pot.
  • Add the stock pot concentrate, milk, water, bay leaf, thyme and pepper and bring to boil. Then reduce to a simmer and let it bubble away for about 30 minutes.
  • If you have snapper, you could chop it up and add it to the pot at the end and let it simmer until it is cooked. I don't have snapper so I haven't tried it out, but we'll give it a go this summer on the boat.
And finally, the moment Scott has been waiting for. A picture of one of the snappers he caught last summer (as well as a shot of his foot).

*Note: When opening the cans, do not cut yourself on the jagged edge causing you to have to wrap a towel around your finger to keep the blood from dripping on to the floor, which means you have to try to get dressed and call for a taxi with only one hand in order to get yourself to the local White Cross clinic to get stiches put in and have your finger wrapped in such a way that people call you ET for a week. Also, don't stick you finger into a light socket to check what type of light bulb it takes while the lamp is still plugged in.

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