Sunday, 17 September 2017

Spuds I like

Today I've been out at North Willingham, a village about five miles outside Market Rasen which is itself no metropolis but it counts as a town in these parts  as it has a population of almost 4000.  We have small towns, small supermarkets in these parts but sometimes there are wayside stalls when someone wants to sell their surplus stuff.

As I was on my way home I saw this box outside a cottage.  It is brilliant!  Someone has created a slope on the top of an old plastic box and attached a plastic bread tray with a hinge fixing.  Inside they have screwed a cash box firmly to one wall and the spuds are in plastic bags ready to be taken. 

The potatoes are Marfona which is a good bet for boiling, roasting and baking - a useful all rounder.  The sign says "10lbs for £1" which is a bargain.  When I got home I weighed and checked them,  I had got 11lbs for my £1.  Spuds with butter, spuds with cheese, spuds with beans.  Yummy!

I still have £16.76 in the kitty.  

Friday, 15 September 2017


What to spend my precious £19.56 on, that is the question.  A special treat?  Cream buns, maybe, or a couple of juicy chops?

Sorry, nothing so risque.  My indulgence - apples!  I've been given quite a lot of apples recently but they have all been cookers so I splashed out £1.80.

I love Braeburn apples.  I often have one (or two) for breakfast with some peanut butter, a combination I have discovered only recently.   I'm not a cereal girl.  I like variety in my breakfasts as much as I like variety in other meals.  I've got a cunning gadget which makes slicing them beautifully a total doddle.

£17.76 remains.  As do fifteen days.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Have a cuppa

Despite having spent most of my working life in Christian ministry I have never been a "More tea, Vicar".  I loathe the stuff.  I used to tell my parishioners that I drink my coffee naked, which is not a pretty thought until you realise that it's the coffee which is naked i.e. black, no sugar.

Anyway, I digress.  Tea.  I never drink it but I am an Englishwoman so it's always in the house.  Except when I forget to buy any.  Because I need so little I don't buy any until just before I run out and then I buy a small pack of teabags.  This is a dangerous policy as sometimes I do run out and I find inability to offer tea to a guest to be embarrassing.

However, most hotels have a hospitality tray in the bedrooms and there are always teabags and sachets of instant coffee.  I therefore remove a few teabags each time I am away from home and keep these for "emergencies".

Yesterday I used the last regular teabag for a friend.  This is now an emergency as I don't want to spend any of my precious £19.56 on something I don't like.  So I searched out these.  Saved!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Reviewing things

This eat-down of food stocks was well overdue and, I can promise you, it is no hardship.  I'm using it as an opportunity to try new recipes using odd things in my stores but I'm also enjoying meals that I have cooked and frozen over the past few weeks and months which has meant that I have not been cooking every day.

My fridge is the neatest and tidiest that it has been in months and my bank account is feeling happy. 

One thing which I have noticed over the past few years is that I have been getting better at organising the shopping once I get home.  At one time I would come home, put stuff in the fridge/freezer/cupboard without too much care and then flop down with a coffee/coke/gin depending how shattering the shopping expedition had been.  These days I spend at least as much time putting shopping away as I spend preparing to go shopping.  Vegetables are removed from poly bags (or the bags pierced in several places), cheese is grated and frozen, meat is split into usable packs etc before the drink is poured by which time I have definitely earned a gin.  Maybe this portioning is more important for me as I live alone, but unpacking groceries carefully seems to get very little mention in advice for canny shoppers. 

I haven't been shopping again yet - the coffee purchase from Amazon has been my total expenditure so far,

This virtue will be the death of me.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Fifties Fast Food

When I was a child, back in the 1950s, fast food just hadn't been heard of.  Mother's idea of a convenience food was a ready made loaf of bread.  Everything I ate at home was cooked from scratch at home.  Mother baked bread, cakes, biscuits and pastries. We ate seasonal vegetables often grown by my Father.  Mother made copious quantities of jam so that hunger could be satisfied with thick slices of bread covered with jam.

Mother didn't go out to work but she worked very hard at home.  Open fires created a fair amount of dirt, children coming in from playing brought in more, and a husband who worked on the steelworks did his bit too, even though he was a "white collar worker".  Cooking, baking, mending, gardening, and looking after a family all took time and shopping had to be done almost daily in homes where there was no fridge.

The busiest day of the week was Monday.  On Monday every self-respecting housewife did her washing.  We had an electric washing machine and mangle and when I was about eight Mother acquired a spin drier, quite a feather in her cap!  But even with those "labour saving devices" washday was hard work.  There were no easy-care fabrics, tumble driers were still in the future and if the weather wasn't kind laundry had to be dried indoors which meant an endless rotation of clothes horses so everything got its time near the fire.  And don't get me started on the joys of ironing!

All this meant that meals on a Monday had to be easy so well organised housewives planned ahead and made sure that there were leftovers from Sunday dinner.  (I'm a northerner, the midday meal was always called dinner.)  In our house that meant that on Monday we had either cold meat and fried potatoes, pancakes and gravy, or bubble and squeak.

So yesterday I had bubble and squeak.  I'd cooked some extra cabbage yesterday when I made stuffed cabbage so I fried a few bacon lardons and mixed mashed potato (from the freezer), cabbage and bacon and made patties and fried them.  Scrummy!

Monday, 11 September 2017

I've spent some money!

Well, you know how it is!  The offer was too good to resist.  Amazon had six bags of my favourite coffee for £10.44.  The same thing from Tesco would cost £18 and that's on special anyway!  It would normally cost £3.59 for just one bag at Tesco so I was buying it only very occasionally.  I've recently been buying an acceptable coffee for about £2.20 a bag from Lidl so six bags there would have been £13.20 and I like this sort better.

I would need coffee in the next week or so anyway.  I get through a bag a week so even though this is "hoarding" in one sense, I am convincing myself that it is sensible shopping.  I have now reduced my available budget to £19.56 so maybe by the end of the month I may regret it.  We shall see.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Further in to the Savoy

That savoy cabbage isn't going to beat me!  I decided today that a little more would get used in some stuffed cabbage, a dish I'd never made.

Googling came up with quite a few recipes and they all had a lot of ingredients - and I mean a lot.  I decided to make it up as I go along.

So I sweated a finely diced small onion in some olive oil, added a little garlic, parsley. cumin and cayenne and when the onions were soft I added some frozen minced lamb.  I like frozen mince,  It's the same fat content as fresh mince, it's cheaper and as it's a free-flow product there is no waste.  I covered the pan and left it to cook slowly.  After about ten minutes I added some cooked rice and again left it to meditate.  

Meanwhile I took several large cabbage leaves and removed the bottom part of the central rib.  I boiled the leaves for about five minutes then removed them from the pan to drain.  Then I heaped each one with the mince mixture, folded them over tightly and put them in a dish,  I covered the whole lot with a tin of chopped tomatoes.

I cooked the whole lot at 170C for about an hour.  I left it uncovered as it looked very moist

It was delish and it's a one dish meal with protein, carb and veg all in the one dish.

I still haven't spent any money!