Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Avoiding food waste is something most of us are going to have on take on board. Food has been very cheap for a long time and now very quickly all that is changing. I am lucky enough to be able to remember some of my Mothers thrifty ways but I still need reminding every now and then. A timely reminder came with the organic fruit and veg box delivery last week. I love receiving my deliveries from Abel and Cole, not just for the food but also the wonderful newsletter which always has a couple of yummy recipes on it. This time Rachel de Thample has written a brilliant piece called "The Food Waste Manifesto" something to pin on the fridge and I hope she doesn't mind me putting the gist of it on here.
1) Identify items you are always left with at the end of the week and either add them to your dislike list or use them as soon as they are delivered.
2) Keep a list of things to be used up such as leftovers, jars of preserves that have been hanging around, stick this on your fridge as a constant reminder.
3) Choose some items to freeze each week for a supply to fall back on.
4) Make a soup of the week or a salad of the day to get your 5 a day.
5) Add pureed veggies to everything: pancakes, pasta, into a pate, simmered with stock for a soup, On Monday I cooked and pureed aubergines, courgettes, runner beans, tomatoes and peppers in a jar of passata with herbs and a good slug of red wine, we had this with some pasta and it was lovely and have 2 more containers of this still to use, the photo above shows the result of this in the slow cooker.
6) Make stock every week; the author has a paper bag in her fridge which she fills with veggie off cuts - bits of carrots, leek trimmings and the night before the next box is delivered makes a stock by pouring water over and simmering for half an hour.
7) Have a pasta or rice dish every week. Easy to sneak fading veg into these dishes. We tend to eat rice and pasta a fair bit.
8) Have a financial fast day or as we call them no spend days, where you don't buy any food (no top ups) Try the Ready Steady Cook approach.
9) Have a freezer day - taking out food already stored.
10) Have a tapas night. Making lots of little dishes is a great fridge clearer. Another idea from the Tightwad Gazette I think is to have a "party tray" night using up all the little bits as treats rather than boring leftovers.
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
I am still trying to get to the bottom of our chest freezer, then I can defrost it and start to store the summer produce. amongst my freezer bounty are many frozen bananas (in their skins-works very well for making banana bread) and lots of assorted frozen berries. Put both together into a blender with some orange juice and it produced a big jug of ice cold dark cerise coloured yummy smoothies all round. there was a bit leftover so I made a couple of ice lollies, a bit Heath Robinson - using a washed out empty push up lolly container and an empty cod liver oil capsule tub and a swizzle stick! I wonder how much money that saved?
Monday, 28 July 2008
A lovely surprise which has made my day! Sharon J from Finding simplicity has passed this onto me among others, I really don't think I deserve it as I haven't been blogging for long but I'm very grateful. I should pass this straight back to you Sharon as your blog has inspired me the most but I know that is not the point of the exercise so anyway I now have to pass it along to 7 other bloggers who have inspired me so here we go:-
1) Making Good Use is where Elizabeth has inspired and encouraged me to not only make more of what I have about the house but also what I find at the charity shops and car boot sales. I love the way Elizabeth writes and she is a very talented sewer and knitter (I won one of her lovely dishcloths) she also encouraged me to start blogging.
2) Home Matters Most - Jennifer's blog is about how she and her husband and daughter are livng a greener and more organic life and also about their superb square foot gardening. Jennifer inspires me to become more organised.
3) Down to Earth - where Rhonda Jean and Hanno share their simple living knowledge with so many of us who are now totally addicted to seeing how their garden is getting on and to check in on those lovely airedales and chooks.
4) Move to Portugal - a very organised look at paying down the mortgage in order to, as the blog says, move to portugal and a new life. I love the way she sets out the finances - puts me to shame! I will do better though one day!
5) Urbania to Stoneheads - Kethry from mse old style shares her life and some very good recipes
6) Nostalgia at the Stone House - this is just such a lovely blog to look at, with lots of pretty things!
7) Vintage Pleasure - This lovely blog has inspired me to become a bit of a collector or at least to see that I can furnish the house on a budget from charity shops and car boot sales in an eclectic way and still be stylish. I now love to collect the old johnson bros dawn dinner service in all 4 colours.
To be honest there are so many more blogs out there that I love it was hard to stop at 7 :)
It is so very hot today and it would be so very tempting to go out to B & Q and purchase an air conditioning unit but I can't really afford to buy or run it and they are not really environmentally friendly. I need to try some alternatives!
The idea is to cut down on the sources of heat and to get rid of the heat that has already built up inside the home.
Fans: a ceiling fan can make a room feel a few degrees cooler and they are cheaper to run than an air conditioning unit. We have one of these in the conservatory other than that we have portable fans which are also very good as even air movement of 1 mph can help you to feel a few degrees cooler. Open windows on opposite sides of the house and use the fan to pull the air through. Failing that I can always dig out that souvenir fan from our last Spanish holiday!
Curtains and blinds: white curtains or blinds to reflect heat away from the house would be best, we have cream so almost as good. As the sun moves around the house covering those windows facing the sun will help to keep the suns heat out and enable the fans to work more efficiently. You could place wet sheets over the windows and let the breeze blowing through evaporating the water cool you down.
Cut down internal heat: Remember the common sources of internal heat are from appliances
such as the computer, television and other electrical appliances. Also lighting, replacing bulbs with compact fluorescents can cut the energy and heat used dramatically. Try to avoid ironing and cooking during the warmest part of the day (I don't need to be told that one twice!)
Re-hydrate: a lovely cool shower is very refreshing, keep some cold water in a spritz bottle and use that every now and then. Drink plenty of water, I keep a thermos of chilled water with me most of the time and plenty more in the fridge, try not to keep sticking your head into the fridge though as nice though this is it will make the fridge overwork and of course send out more heat into your home. Eat foods with a higher moisture content like salads, fruits, vegetables and of course ice cream! Wring out a clean flannel in cold water and keep it near by to cool off your face.
Cook outside - any excuse for a barbie! this will stop your kitchen getting even hotter and maybe someone else will volunteer to do the cooking (well you can live in hope)
Open Windows: Opening your windows in the coolness of the morning and evening can help keep your house at a more reasonable temperature. Night-time temperatures tend to drop considerably from those in the daytime, so take advantage of it, and let nature keep your house cool.
Now to put it all into action! Our puppy loves eating ice cubes to cool off, might give that a try myself!
Friday, 25 July 2008
Thursday, 24 July 2008
I am going to be brave here and show you what I hope is beginning to look more like a pennypinchers fridge!
Top shelf is soya marge, pro active spread (my bp has been a tad high so I am being careful) butter in the pyrex dish and cheese in the arcopal dishes.
Middle shelf - yellow stickered reduced price wheat free bread, home made yogurt in the mason cash bowl (sorry about the cling film - have another roll to use up yet) the small jar of mint sauce and the leftover cucumber (plus more cucumber in the other fridge) mean I can make tzatziki salad, various part used jars of preserves,
Bottom shelf - blue and white container with hm choc crispy cakes (using up cheap cornflakes, cooking choc and nearly past it dry fruits), floral dish with lid has 2 huge Costco mince pies in defrosting, found when sorting out the larder freezer, I am quite mean with these and cut them into 4 so we aren't too greedy! They are yummy though! The tin foil is covering some corned beef left over from Mr C's sandwiches and will make a lunch for me, the stainless steel thermos has chilled water in and goes out with me every trip - I can only guess at how much money that has saved me on buying bottled water when out and about but I am sure it has paid for itself. A part used box of soya milk because at my age it is meant to be good for me :) Has anybody tried freezing soya milk? I have failed with freezing soya yogurt - it separates! :( behind are yet more part used sauces and preserves including last years blackberry preserve (really easy recipe).
Painful joints mean I find the bottom draws are hard to reach, I cannot bend too easily and if I get down on the floor I have problems getting up again! So only infrequently used preserves and sauces go in there.
Plenty of room for improvement, I could do with controlling the amount of preserves that are open at any one time, but I am getting there, I am lucky enough to have a 2nd fridge in the utility room which is handy when I have all the family down, this is used for storing meat (bottomshelf), fruit and vegetables (middle shelf), and any taller stuff on the roomier top shelf, I need to work on this one. Instead of 2 individual fridges I would have loved to have had one of those super american huge fridges but our kitchen is too tiny!
I dislike the rigidity of menu planning but can see that it would save us a lot of pennies so I am off to make another of my lists!
Tonight will be a spending night as we are eating out with friends - Mr C's treat (from his entertainment budget) so I only have to worry about lunch!
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
We were sitting outside enjoying a glass of red wine in the sunshine and just when we were starting to worry about where all the butterflies were and was it down to global warming, this little beauty appears on cue on our back wall.
I was left "talking" to the butterfly :) while Mr C went rushing in for his camera! I think it's a peacock butterfly says I, Mr C was in doubt so in I rushed for my little Observers book of butterflies to confirm it was indeed a peacock butterfly (is it sad that I knew that?) and a perfect example with fantastic markings. They like clover and as we don't have a perfect lawn we have quite a bit growing in our garden.
A perfect summer evening!
It was also the 2nd no spend day in a row!
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Sunday, 20 July 2008
Time to confess I was tempted by the sales! For ages I have wanted/needed a more suitable coat for dog walking. I have a lovely thick and warm coat bought for only £10 in Wales some 7 years ago, it has done its duty, kept me warm and dry but sometimes a little too warm. I have hankered after one of those coats with a zip in/out fleece that was more adaptable to our varying weather conditions. Regatta have some lovely versions including one with so many pockets for doggy treats, balls to fetch, doggy doo bags, whistle etc., the sleeves of the fleece can be anchored in with poppers so the jacket is easy to take off and there is a zip away hood for the inevitable rain that always seems to start when you are far away from shelter. This one is normally £75 but I found it at £35 and couldn't resist! While at the retail outlet we also found the pale blue mules in cotton traders reduced from £25 to £5 and super comfortable too, 2 t shirts reduced to £4 and £3 and some cotton hankies for £3 in Marks and Spencers. Mr C also found some shirts and ties for work at only £6.99 and some trousers for £9.50. So yesterday was very much a spend day! We do try to buy from charity shops when we can but have found the prices there are getting higher and in some cases (with t shirts) items seem to cost more than for new!
Friday, 18 July 2008
6 oz/175g butter or margarine (I used "pure" soya spread)
1 tablespoon golden syrup
5 oz/125g demerara sugar
8 oz/225g porridge oats
pinch of salt
Line the base with a disc of magic non stick liner (I used a lakeland loaf tin re-usable liner)
Melt the butter, syrup and sugar together in a large saucepan, stir well, add the porridge oats and salt and mix thoroughly.
Put the mixture into the remoska and pat down with the back of a wooden spoon. Replace the lid, switch on and cook for 20 mins until the mix is golden brown. (I cooked the mix for 25 mins as I like the top to be crisp)
Switch off, remove the lid (carefully, it gets very hot) Using a plastic spatula (I used lakeland plastic lettuce knife) score into 12 pieces (I greedily did 8)
Leave to cool in the pan before turning out ( very important this as I tried to do this too early and they started to crumble)
Result - lovely and chewy just like the ones you buy in the shops. Fuel costs about 3p against about 20p in the electric oven.
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Even the Cockapoo! I guess at 13 months she won't be a puppy for much longer, try telling her that though! She is so full of fun and loves to play fetch, we alternate between pulling up a weed and throwing a ball!
We didn't get an organic veg box delivery today, either they messed up or I ticked the wrong box probably the latter! Never mind we saved £12.80 and have enough fruit and veg in the freezer plus things are starting to grow in the garden and some of these things are edible, including some green peppers - yum! the rhubarb has gone mad, the courgettes are giving me a couple every other day and I am picking about half a dozen tomatoes a day. We are raw beginners though as you can probably see from the photos, more luck than judgement but we are learning. Hopefully next year we will have the main vegetable garden up and running.
Another no spend day and I have saved(rescued) 6 sweet potatoes from the bin which are about to be made into soup using Arkonites recipe. I had to throw 1 away though as it was beyond help, must make sure to remove produce from any plastic packaging as it doesn't keep so well, I normally use old flour bags to store potatoes in and that works really well.
My grocery challenge (www.moneysavingexpert.com old style board is brilliant for support for this challenge) this month is to stick to £150.00 for the month - so far £82 spent so £68 for the rest of the month and I haven't started on the lentils yet! :)
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Monday, 14 July 2008
Sunday, 13 July 2008
Monday, 7 July 2008
I was quite restrained at this weeks car boot sale! The 2 Mason Cash pie dishes were only 10p each, the tupperware 20p, 6 banana split/melon dishes £1 and a teddy for the puppy 20p. We also bought 4 Penstamons, which love the soil around here, for only £5, 2 for us and 2 as a gift for a friend.
The small pie dishes are going to be essential for making leftovers into useful meals, and although I want to reduce the plastic around here I feel the tupperware is good quality for the freezer and at least it is not going into the landfill.
I have also managed to get 1 large crate and 1 large bag of "stuff" to the charity shop this week!
We have also discovered the joys of freecycle this weekend! A single bed, a puppy harness and a bag of puppy training pads have now found new owners. They say what goes around comes around and although we haven't yet found anything on freecycle for ourselves, we have been given some office furniture, for the new home office and a portable tv for our son as his is playing up. We are blessed with some very good friends.
I and many others like me will never forget that day, the horror on realising that the "power outage" the media were reporting was obviously much more serious and the painful task of waking my daughter to tell her what was happening. Although she didn't graduate until the next day, many of her friends were graduating that day and were travelling across the city to get to the venue. With the phone networks on overload it was an impossible task to check everyone was ok. My sons phone was working ok out in spain and as he hadn't seen the news he was very puzzled about the many text messages he was receiving to check if he was ok.
The following day, with my daughters graduation going ahead (the university said they would never let terrorism win) we like many others decided to drive into the city. Another day I shall never forget, people still in shock but all determined to carry on with their lives, the blitz spirit lives on in London!
We were very lucky that day and so were my son and daughters friends but many were not, you are all in my prayers and will not be forgotten.
Thursday, 3 July 2008
This weeks organic delivery! £12.80 I forgot to cancel it, oops! On the plus side the strawberries were lovely and sweet though! I will cancel next weeks and do a farm shop for comparison. I already have plenty of carrots in so will make a carrot cake!
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
Life can be a roller coaster ride as my Grandparents discovered!
In 1936 after years of struggling my Grandparents had to reluctantly accept that their drapers shop was no longer paying and had to close down, times were hard and it seemed that life couldn't get worse. Grandad took up a laundry round to put food on the table.Then in 1937 Grandad won a magazine competition with enough prize money to buy a large but ramshackle house for the family to move into. The house had been made into "bedsitters" and needed a bit of work to make it into a family home and with next to no money they did the best they could. There was however a large garden and Grandad soon got to work and made a beautiful garden filled with some lovely roses and fruit trees. With the advent of war, Grandad joined the ARP and in any spare time he had, set to and a lot more of the garden was made over to an air raid shelter, vegetables, fruit, chickens and rabbits but still the roses survived.
I remember playing in the garden as a small child, it was a wonderful place, full of secret paths and trees to climb.
Sadly, in the early 1970's about 10 years after my Grandmothers death, my Grandad's house was compulsary purchased and he moved in with my aunt and uncle. The house was knocked down and for many years until recent re-development, the land lay bare, except for the garden. Every summer the roses continued to bloom and one year I took a cutting, sadly it didn't take but I still have the photo of one of Grandads roses. I found the photo recently and it got me thinking that the truly good things in life can and do survive the hard times just like my Grandparents and their roses!