Sunday, 18 March 2018

Experimenting with butternut squash

A butternut squash has been lurking in my fridge for a few weeks and this snowy weather has prompted me to use it.  

First I experimented with a sausage and butternut squash slow-cooker casserole.  I'm a bit of a handful-of-this and splash-of-that sort of cook so the quantities are vague but that's the joy of slow cooker casseroles.

So, brown 6-8 sausages and chop into chunks and put into the slow cooker.   Chop a couple of onions and sweat them then plonk them in the cooker as well.  Peel and cube about a third of a butternut squash and add that to the rest.  Add a large can of sweetcorn and about half a pint of stock then cook on high for 4 hours or until the squash is cooked and very soft.  This was OK but I think I may make a squash puree if/when I make this again

The rest of the squash went into soup.  Finely chop an onion and sweat it in a little olive oil in a saucepan.  Meanwhile peel and chop the remaining two thirds of the butternut and bung that in with the onions.  Peel and chop a potato and add that.  You could add half a teaspoon of chilli if the mood takes you and about half a pint of stock. Cook slowly for about a hour then check seasoning and blitz it.  More water or stock can be added if needed.  This was definitely the more successful recipe

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Determined not to waste

I hate wasting food!  Just want to make that clear.

Last week I decided to make some soup and started with a sort of minestrone in mind.  I checked the fridge for stray vegetables and then chopped onions, carrots, celery and a stray pepper which was looking a bit unloved.  I fried some bits of bacon and then slung everything in the slow cooker with a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes, a glug of olive oil and some spaghetti broken up small. 

I think I went a bit overboard on making sure it was a good hearty soup because it was more like a stew but none the worse for that.  It was wonderful!

So a few days later I tried the same sort of thing but this time I had no bacon and I omitted the olive oil.  It wasn't a patch on the previous effort.

But I don't like wasting food so I threw in a couple of spoonfuls of pesto.  That improved it but it still wasn't a success.  I dithered and thought about freezing some of it to see if I like it better in a couple of weeks but I know from hard-won experience that I would just avoid eating it.

But thinking about the freezer reminded me that there was some Stilton left from Christmas so I fished it out and melted it into the soup.

It was wonderful!  It still is wonderful but it won't be wonderful for much longer.

The weather outside is grim so sitting inside seems like a good idea.

And funnily enough the soup seems to be disappearing.

Friday, 9 March 2018


There can't be many homes where "disposable" plastic food packaging gets disposed of automatically - I hope!  It's too easy to think that recycling is enough - it's not.  Stuff put in the recycling bin still takes energy to be recycled even though it is not bulking out landfill.  Don't miss out the "reuse" part of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" - please.

Most people, I think, use (disposable) plastic containers with lids in the store cupboard and freezer.  I think butter or margarine tubs are great for single portions of soup, for example.  An old ice cream tub corrals my spice jars and another keeps the jams etc tidy in the fridge.  Craft supplies are neatly hoarded in hummus pots which are transparent and so I can see at a glance what's in each.

Old milk cartons often get cut in half, the top section making a handy scoop (with handle) if the cap is screwed back in or it will make a funnel if there is no cap on it.  The bottom half gets used to keep pencils neat and I roll my tights putting one pair in each bottom half so they can stay reasonably neat in the drawer.  Being square the pots sit together well.

Large circular plastic dishes make great microwave covers.  I rarely need to use clingfilm as these are much easier to use.  Smaller dishes are great plant pots and also get used for growing seeds which can then get potted on into yoghurt or cream pots.

Anybody got more ideas as to how more plastics can be reused?

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

First win of the year - and a bonus

I'm still distinctly un-energetic and in need of the odd boost and a boost was what I found in my inbox today.  I've won this lovely selection of games.  Some will go in my own games cupboard and some will be kept to use as Christmas presents.  

And the bonus?   I've got a smile on my face - best bonus there could be.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Dream a little dream

Readers of my main blog will know that February was not a good month here at Frugal Follies.  I had the worst cold that I can ever remember having and it has left me feeling very weary.  I just don't bounce back as well as I used to!

Most of the month has been spent either in bed or my arm chair.  The new feeding station for the birds has been a great boon as I can see it through my sitting room window.  I keep it very well supplied with various seeds and mealworms and, although it's not the busiest bird table I've ever had, the starlings have entertained my with their squabbles and I've enjoyed watching the blue tits working out how to get what they want.

But that is outside my window.  Inside. the house needs a lot of attention and even more I need to give myself a little bit of TLC.  And so I have been dreaming a little dream of actually getting my life back.  It really feels that way - all I have been able to think about is how ill I feel!

So March is going to be a one-thing-a-day sort of a month.  "Trundling through life", my main blog, is going to be about looking after myself and seeking joy but here life will be a little more purposeful.  I'm not promising anything big, just one thing every day.  Maybe write a letter, or tidy a drawer, or visit someone who rarely gets a visit.  They may not be the most exciting posts I ever make but they could be the key to my well-being. 

Monday, 5 February 2018

Proud? Ashamed? Which?

I tackled the Dyson!  I feel proud about that.  It wasn't easy.  (Can you tell that I'm talking myself up?)

When I got it up on the table there were three screws which needed removing in order to get the soleplate off.  Two came out easily.  One didn't.  

Feeling resourceful I looked on line and found that the technical name for my problem is "a screw with a stripped head".  If nothing else this experience has expanded my vocabulary.  Sole plate.  Screw with stripped head.  

The recommended method for removing said screws is to get a large rubber band and lay it over the screw in the hope that the rubber will fill the gaps and allow extraction.

So I way-laid the postie.  Fortunately I feed him ice lollies in the summer so we get on very well.  He gave me a band and one extra for luck.  

Even my lucky band didn't work.  The screw remained firmly in place.  I was feeling like a helpless woman, a feeling which I deeply resent.

I also worked out how to use my new camera!
But then I had an idea and raided my crafting stuff for some long nose pliers.  Using those I managed to grip the screw and turn it.  Off came the soleplate and from then on it was a doddle to clear the blockage.  I've ordered new screws which will be delivered tomorrow.  I hope I still feel proud when I can finally use The Thing.

Because I also feel ashamed at how much I managed to get out of my blocked machine.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Fulfilling Dreams

I had to take early retirement (on the grounds of ill health) when I was fifty eight and I wasn't a happy bunny.  My early retirement income was inadequate and I didn't like not earning my living.  Things had to change.

It's now eight years since I retired and other pensions have now kicked in so I have an adequate pension income and, strictly speaking, no longer need to earn.  However, for me, that is only half the story.  I like the feeling of earning, I still have dreams to fulfil and over the years I've found ways to supplement my income.

I've written about two of those ways here - surveys and comping (entering competitions).  Surveys are very tedious to be honest, but I spend quite a lot of time on my own and with my feet up, so I've got time to do them.  The hourly rate is very poor.  I'm quite quick at doing them but I am screened out of the vast majority which I start and I reckon I get about £2 an hour overall.  Still, it's £2 which I wouldn't otherwise have.

Comping is very hard to quantify as, of course, it's largely down to luck.  As far as earning an income is concerned it's not really a good idea.  However, the prizes I win give me a bit of fun, they replenish the birthday present drawer and sometimes I am able to sell prizes on E Bay.

My biggest source of non pension income is when I fill in when no regular clergy are available.  The pay rate isn't huge but no-one ever went into Christian ministry for the money, I hope!  I get a huge buzz from doing the work and the fees pay for treats.

My earning potential isn't huge but it means that I can continue to fulfil a few dreams even in retirement.