Food

An Actual Day Off…And I Baked!

dav
A perfect pastry

Now that the weather is so much colder I’ve found myself wanting stews and dumplings and crumbles and lots and lots of hot custard! The slowcooker has certainly been earning its keep and after some luck at the supermarket I picked up a reduced piece of beef and made a simple barley and beef stew Saturday.

It was not a hit with the family.

Personally I felt it could have done with a little more depth but honestly, it was a decent enough stew and now I had enough for four more meals….well, it was portioned up and popped in the freezer. Throwing food away is wrong.

Fast forward to today and I’ve experienced the luxury of an actual day off with zero commitments. I blitzed the house (we are still doing really well on not letting it slide into an utter mess) and after the Halloween cookie success made another batch, this time with shortbread.

So the oven’s on and I have a brainwave – I can make pastries with the unloved stew!

I whipped up a pastry with 125g butter, 125g lard*, 500g plain flour made into breadcrumbs with a splash of cold water.

After chilling I made the simplest form of pastry – proper Cornish pastries have the crimping at the top I’m told – where I popped a spoonful of cold stew in the middle of a circle of pastry and sealed it up with the help of an egg – to make it stick – and a fork to ‘prettify’ the edges.

After baking at 180 till golden they were devoured. And I mean DEVOURED. The unloved stew was transformed to “the best dinner ever mummy“,** “can I have another one please” and my favourite “you can definitely make these again“.

Not bad, eh?

 

*I have a habit where any usable fat from cooking is kept in a jar in the fridge. Used when cooking it adds amazing flavour and doesn’t go to waste. I have rendered pork fat in the past to make lard…..the smell has thus far put me off from doing it again!

**I promise we didn’t just eat pastries for dinner! There was lots of veg and super thick gravy to go with them, have to get some vitamins and minerals in the kids.

Financial Freedom · Food · Organising

The insidious nature of convenience

bank blur business buy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Buying lunch from the local shop doesn’t seem like much does it? A few pound here and a few pound there adds up but it’s worth it as it reduces my morning stress and fills my stomach, isn’t it?

It’s been busy – when isn’t it, I hear you cry – and apart from the cookies for Halloween I’ve been choosing convenience. Buying lunch instead bringing in my own – yes. Eating out/getting a takeaway even though there’s food in the house– yep. Ordering a meal box for the week – done that.

Thing is, that even when I have the time I find I just don’t have the headspace to want to deal with the everyday hassle of checking we have the ingredients, meal planning, batch cooking etc.  So the meal deals, the easy dinners…the convenience creeps in and our costs mount up along with that niggle in the back of mind that we should do better.

That £3 meal deal may not seem like a big deal, after all we are not living hand to mouth, but it does add up and I find that by buying lunch I relax on the other ‘easy’ options. And going out for pizza when there’s actually pizza in the freezer is madness, utter wasteful madness.

So in an effort to combat the busyness that comes from being a mum, a worker, a homeowner, a friend I’ve started saying no. No, I can’t work overtime. No, homework is not high on my list of priorities (sorry school). No, you can make/do/get it yourself. No, I can’t make it.

So I hope to be a more active blogger where I can share my cooking, cleaning and I really need to get round to gardening sometime too.

P.S. You know I was going to title this post as The Price of Convenience but when writing I realised that it’s not so much the money that bothers me. Yes it all adds up and we are poorer for it but when I consider that I’m paying for time, for actual time, then when considered and manged I figure it’s a fair trade. Its the gentle creep of going from buying convenience at busy times/once in a while to then continuing to buy convenience regularly because it’s become your new normal.

Food

Happy Halloween Cookies!

dav
Spooky Snacks

Good mornings, just feast your eyes on our gingerbread cookies. We had so much fun making them and well, doing various taste tasting and licking of fingers. It’s been a busy few months and what better way to get back into blogging than to say HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I was very impressed by the ginger biscuit recipe I found on allrecipes.co.uk I had all the ingredients which is a must when baking with the kids.

Here you go:

  • Heat oven to 180
  • 50g plain flour, 100g butter, 5 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda – breadcrumb.
  • 175g light brown soft sugar, 4 tablespoons golden syrup, 1 medium egg – mix into breadcrumb mixture
  • Roll, cut and bake for bout 12 mins

It was such an easy recipe to follow, especially as the kids lost interest in less than 5 minutes (after pestering me to make cookies for ages) I had a quiet hour in the kitchen baking batches as the mixture made 5 trays of cookies – maybe I have small trays – and then wandered in little hands and open mouths as the warm ginger scent wandered through the house.

After a clean up, biscuit and milk I then had a little help making the icing and decorating the biscuits, with surprisingly little mess!

 

Have you been baking or making crafts this Halloween?

Financial Freedom · Organising

Be a Tart “oe er” a Bank Account Tart

bank blur business buy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If I were to be a tart I think I’d like to be a custard tart all full of flavour with a bit of crunch, not a patisserie tart which is beautiful to behold but generally lacks depth of flavour. Oh now I’ve made myself hungry……

Anyway….. apparently often switching a current account makes you a bank account tart and as I change my bank account at least every 18 months I am now, officially, a tart!

Why do I switch my accounts? Because I make money for a few minutes work (£100 this year and my friend made it too) and ensure that I get the best interest rates available. For the next 12 months I’m guaranteed 3% up to £2500 with a regular saver at 5%. In the now those are pretty good rates as the base rate is at 0.5% for a little while longer at least. Can’t quite believe I’m saying this but..gone are the days when 5% interest was a standard…god I feel old all of a sudden!

Switching accounts  is so easy online that  I’m always taken back when people don’t want to take advantage of introductory offers. Hubby is a prime example; he’s been with the same bank since a teen and has no interest at all in changing. For him the convenience of knowing the system and having the app on his phone trumps any cashback or interest earnt, after all he has yours truly to scramble around for decent interest rates.

Money Saving Expert recently did a poll to find out how often their readers switch accounts and – seeing as it’s a site where you’d think money savvy people go – the results show that the majority of people just don’t switch!

Now loyalty is a wonderful thing but not to companies ok? Companies exist to make money. Banks wants your money, hell they’ll even pay you to switch accounts! The trick appears to be able to take advantage of introductory offers is to read those pesky T&C’s, to have a good credit rating and not to get suckered into the wonderful products golden handcuffs.

What’s your reason for not switching current accounts?

 

P.S. Because I’m a tart, naturally, I have experienced the current accounts of eight different banks thus far. You know what? There’s only one that I wouldn’t go back to so that’s a pretty good record for the switching service and the banks themselves imo.

Uncategorized

Do You Enjoy Stretching Chicken?

pexels-photo-616354.jpeg

One of my favorite simple meals is roast chicken. Put it with salad, fresh bread and I’m in heaven. Roast potatoes and stuffing..drool…it’s soo good!

Hubby and I can easily eat a whole bird in one sitting and the kids love the drumsticks* but with meat being the most expensive part of most meals we’ve learnt to stre—-tch our roast over a few meals.

Did you know that some people call it rubber chicken because they focus on getting every last tasty nutritious morsel from the bird, even the bones? I’ve always stripped the carcass bare of meat, urgh, and while I’m not keen on chicken under my nails it’s worth it every time. Not least because I then get to nibble on the tastiest bits – tip: it’s the oysters every time.

This week I went all out with a full roast complete with stuffing as I had a hankering for a chicken stuffing sandwich. Stuffing is a great way to bulk up a meal and I added some cranberries I found in the cupboard for a touch of sweetness. Lots of veg and gravy with the juicy chicken – tip: roast the bird upside down for the first half an hour to keep those lovely juices in the chicken breast so they don’t dry up.

A family of four – fed.

Then the next day I got to have my chicken stuffing sandwich with a drizzle of gravy – if you haven’t tried it you should. I’m pretty sure the office was in awe with my amazing sandwich.

Me – fed.

IMG_20180327_125319604As the roast dinner was such a hit the first time hubby and I had it once more and again I made work jealous. I promise that it was much prettier (though just as tasty) the first time round.

Two adults – fed

Last but not least I boiled up the chicken carcass to make a quick stock for noodle soup. Not a slow cook for a concentrated stock but a quick boil for an hour with plenty of seasoning. A few grated bendy carrots and celery tops snuck in to use up a few bits in the fridge. Today I chose garlic, ginger and soy for flavouring which always goes down well.

A family of four – fed.

Have you been counting? That’s eleven individual meals I made with one chicken as the star. How do you stre—tch your meals?

 

 

 

*It’s a sign of our love that we let the kids have them!

Uncategorized

Out of Odour

pexels-photo-264870.jpegI ran out of my perfume this morning and when I went to hunt for another I found…nothing, nothing, NOTHING…eek!

Now I walk to and from work averaging an hour total or at least 10,000 steps a day, I shower/bath daily, I use deodorant (although currently not my favourite brand) and I’m sure I don’t smell. However not having a quick spray of perfume in the morning is just odd, it’s such a part of my routine that I really missed it this morning. (and I did keep sniffing myself all day, work probably think that I’m acting odder than usual)

The whole idea of Make Do March is to do just that – to make do – and so I won’t be buying myself a new perfume. I do walk past seven shops selling fragrances on my way to/from work* and amongst the brightly coloured adverts and enticing proclamations of SALE! Up to 50% off! I noticed that not one of the perfumes supposedly on sale were under £25. A quick online search shows that I can buy bottles of branded perfume for under £15 although I’m sure that postage will bump up the price.

I did hit jackpot in work and found a cheap body spray in my locker and a mini perfume in my gym bag meaning that I’m not entirely out of fragrances. They come firmly under the need to use them up regime so that I’m not producing needless waste, am saving money and am decluttering my many, many items as I go. It’s a win-win all round as far as I can sniff see.

I’m going to make a deal with myself. If I can go without perfume for a month then I can go without for a while longer and for my birthday I’m going to ask for, you guessed it – perfume!

*Seven! I never counted them before and I don’t even walk through the main high street.

Food

Baking bread is worth the bother

pexels-photo-263168.jpegFresh, warm, crunchy bread, doesn’t it just make your mouth water? That sound when the knifes cuts through and you slather it with butter, just to taste test it obviously. If it is as tasty as it looks, smells and sounds then I applaud you if you only eat the first slice… that’s some serious self-control you have right there!

But where there’s bread making there’s kneading and kneading is a skill that I don’t have or have the inclination at the present time to work at. In fact, the last time I tried to make bread by hand I got so sticky and there was so much flour involved it actually looked as though Dr Who had run through the kitchen in pursuit of a flour monster.

However I’ve recently found a no knead bread recipe which has become a firm favorite in the house. “Crunchy bread pleeeeease” ask the kids as it’s a dense, crunchy loaf that takes 5 minutes to make, an hour to prove and then…here’s the magic… 3 minutes in the microwave to cook!

It’s so easy! 1.tsp yeast dissolved into 150.g warm water plus 1.tsp salt and mix in 200.g bread flour. Either quick rise for an hour or overnight in the fridge and micro-zap for 3 minutes. I do like to crisp it up in the oven though and as I have silicone bowls I do all of this in them so the absolute minimum of faffing is required.

What have you made this weekend?