Brimful of …

Tenuous link in the title again. Brimful of Asha by Cornershop was one of those one hit wonders that takes me back to a time and a place. When I then try to put a date to the memories I end up shocked. Has nearly a quarter century elapsed!

Talking as we do the other night about our childhood, even though we grew up at  opposing points of the compass (east & west Wales); we have shared memories of family life. One such memory is Sunday tea. Canned ‘Fruit Cocktail’ with lashing of “Ideal Milk” – how very 1970s!

Before mega-marts, out of town retail parks, & Amazon; we used to ‘shop at the cop!’ Our local, cornershop was one of 3. VG Stores, LLiedi Stores & the Co-Operative (the COOP or COP as we’d pronounce it).

We still use the COOP as that cornershop. Walking in and chatting with staff on first name basis, getting almost everything you could possibly need in store whilst taking 5 minutes to get around (not 2 hours), and what is more, it was a lifeline during the Pandemic. When you compliment them you always get a “thank you” but also the most humble of responses “it’s what we do!”

I don’t usually use ready ingredients but for our Tuesday night treat I have rewound the clock back to the 1970s & made supper using the tins, packets, and fresh produce from our local COOP.

Our main course consisted of 5 items, Mexican chicken, savory rice, a side salad, sour cream dip & a large wholemeal tortilla wrap (giving the option of burrito). Dessert was a memory lane individual Fruit Cocktail trifle. SYN value for the slimmers, yes its huge … 8.5 SYNs the meal!!!

Mexican Chicken

One of the easiest dishes to prepare. The Coop has a meat offer whereby the more you buy the cheaper it is, so its 2 for £7 or 3 for £10. I went for the boneless chicken thighs. Next I spied the “Maggi So Tender” Mexican chicken sachet at £1.15. Basically you have a sealable bag with separated area which contains the spice mix. Add the meat, recommended vegetables, and lastly the spices, next seal the bag as per instruction, shake it up a little for everything to mix and pop it in the oven – job done! I used coarsely chopped red, orange, & green peppers, red onion and some just passed best whole mushrooms.

Rice – long grain white, cooked in the steamer with 1/2 a thinly sliced red Jalapeño peppers and spring onion together with a teaspoon of Turmeric (I wanted a nice yellow shade to my rice).

Salad – 1/2 long red sweet pepper chopped, medium tomato chopped, 1/2 a courgette diced with a handful of rocket, placed in a bowl and tossed with a fine spray or 2 of extra extra virgin olive oil.

Salsa – approximately 50ml of Fat free Greek Yogurt, 1 tablespoon of Lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of dried Coriander leaves – place in a ramekin and quickly folded in with a fork – done!

For the trifle, again its 4 ingredients. 

Strawberry jelly or whichever is your preferred, but its the sugar free crystals not the block of gelatine. Diluted in boiling water as per pack instructions. Decanted to 4 (minimum) individual trifle dishes – I use ‘short tumblers’ aka whisky glasses, which I keep purely for desserts.

Next add 50g per glass of drained fruit cocktail in juice (not syrup). There is 1/2 a syn difference plus the sugar content. Yes – preserved fruits, cooked fruits, puréed fruits, and fruit juices all have SYNs – only fresh (peeled and chopped) is without SYN.

Refrigerate for an hour or 2. When the jelly is set add a layer of custard. Ambrosia ‘Devon Custard Reduced Fat” was on promotion (think it was 2 for £1.50). You don’t need a lot I would suggest approximately 4 dessert spoons per glass. Back to the fridge go the glasses.

Last of all is the cream topping. In the 1970s we had “Dream Topping” in a can. I think its still about. With the modern supply chain fresh double cream is both easily available and competitively priced. Unfortunately its full of SYNs. Time for a little fakeaway logic. Place 100ml of Greek fat free yogurt in a bowl (if you have a stand mixer then its time to rock n roll) add 3 tablespoons of sweetener and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Vanilla flavoring (if you like vanilla). Start the mixer on the slowest speed. after about 5 minutes turn up the power, and mix for a couple more minutes. The yogurt has not only fluffed up but thickened like double cream and now tastes considerably less sharp. 

Spoon over the glasses and serve.

SYN values recap: 8.5SYNs for the whole meal which breaks down like this, for the main dish the tortilla wrap was 6 SYNs – so the main course was basically Free Foods.

Dessert was 2.5SYNs where the canned fruit provided the SYNs.

What did I achieve and was it worth it? 

I put myself in the shoes of many people who need to prepare a meal after the working day and need to do a ‘quick’ shop to get the job done. 

I used products readily available, used with minimum cooking skills to produce a healthy, hearty meal for a family who are not all slimmers. Two courses made with 30 minutes of preparation time. Cooking time is around the hour for the chicken. So I did manage to  ‘sit down with a glass’ to unwind for 30 minutes before things were ready.

Tastier, healthier, and cheaper than takeaways with the one ingredient it is impossible to find in any cornershop – extra large buckets of ‘Gratification

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