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Cooking For Christmas In A Recession

It’s amazing how quickly this year has gone by. We are once again in the period where buying of gifts is considered serious business. Children are happy to receive the gifts and adults are not as happy, to spend the money. Not so sure how buying of gifts will pan out this year considering that Nigeria is in a recession, though …

Another thing that tends to be at the top of the list during a festive time is food. The sheer abundance of different delicacies. From the drinks to entrees to snacks. Creating or buying all these can be very expensive even when there isn’t a recession, so I am here with simple pointers to help us spend less even while having yummy delicacies this Christmas.

Two years ago I was to bake a twenty-two pound turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, for my family. I got to my brother’s house where everyone would come for dinner, only to realise that I had left the stuffing at my own place. The first thing I said to myself was, “I live an hour away.” I could not go back home and none of the nearby stores was open because it was a federal holiday. Replacing turkey with fish or chicken would not fulfil the Thanksgiving tradition, because turkey is the main symbol during this time alongside sweet potato, apple pie, cranberry sauce and all sorts. I sat in my car for a while, what to do. Everyone had told me they would be coming on empty stomachs, so they were looking forward to enjoying the delicacies they were sure they would be served.

I got out of the car and went into the kitchen to see what was available for me to use. And there, I found a solution to my problem; a solution that became a mainstay I now use always – so I stopped buying stuffing for Thanksgiving turkey. So what did I find in my brother’s kitchen? I found some potatoes, onions, red bell pepper, tomatoes, and some seasoning (garlic, basil leaves, Knorr powder, salt, thyme, and black pepper). I did not have to spend more money or time trying to figure out what to do.

So you want to cook up a storm this Christmas and your bank balance is a bit …
Let’s work together; if you improvise like I did, we can have you smiling.

Say you need to prepare some chicken for the family with jollof rice and some side orders.
What do you have in your kitchen? Some potatoes, onions, fresh pepper, tomatoes, yam, corn, other fresh vegetables or maybe you can buy them for fresh from the market (consider buying seasonal vegetables).

vegetables
Peel if necessary, wash and cut them into appropriate sizes, using your discretion. A typical Nigerian kitchen will have vegetable oil (if you don’t, you can use butter), salt, Knorr cubes, dry pepper and other seasonings. Add seasonings to already cut vegetables and a little bit of vegetable oil, mix well and let it sit for a while. If the chicken is whole, clean it. Cut off the head, legs and cleanse inside out (organs) without cutting open the chicken. Mix up some seasonings in a big bowl, then soak the whole chicken in it to marinate.

raw-chicken
Remove whole chicken from seasoned water, place on a rack to drain out excess water.
Stuff in the veggies until it’s full. Fold up some paper towel or use a piece of lemon as a cover, so the stuffing doesn’t fall out while baking.
Rub the whole chicken down using the liquid from the seasoned vegetables. Cover with foil paper so it gets brown and bake at 350 degree F/175 degree C oven temperature.

baked-chicken
When done, carve chicken and serve with jollof rice .

Fresh veggies used as stuffing can also serve as side dishes. For other side orders, make moin- moin, and fried plantain. You can also sautee the kidney, liver and gizzard from the chicken or use it for fried rice. For those who don’t have an oven, you can slow cook the whole chicken with very little water in the pot with a lid on it.

Next week, I’ll be talking about how to get your drinks cheaper …

Adebisi Ibrahim (BSc, MS< RDN, CDN) is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist based in New York City. She is a Food, Dietetics, and Nutrition graduate from the Herbert Lehman College, NYC. She can be reached HERE or you can just comment below.

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