Financial Freedom · Food

Blimey, Now That’s What I Call a Bargain!

dav
A bargain from the local.

Hello, hello, it’s me again. I just had to pop on and share my joy.

Now you may not find discounted food items particularly exciting but I was over the moon with the above haul. It’s not unusual for me to be able to find discounted bread if I pop to the shop in the evening but tonight I hit just the right time and – voila – I picked up tomorrows lunch, enough for four main meals and the obligatory bread for £8.00.

Eight Whole English Pounds.

Hell, I could spend that at lunchtime easily… just point me towards some sushi.*

Hubby finds it somewhat amusing that picking up food bargains excites me and I am equally confused by the fact that it doesn’t excite him.

I’ve saved money! Fed my family! Stopped food being thrown away! Stuck my tongue out at the corporate giant!

I can just about squeeze the pies, pizza and bread into the freezer to use at a later date. The freezer is so packed full that I’ll be playing freezer jenga for a few days till we can make some space.

I hope you all find some bargains this week.

 

 

*I drool just thinking about sushi. Yum. But good sushi is reserved for a special treat so when I have some I enjoy every mouthful.

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?

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?

Financial Freedom · Food · Organising

Make Do March and A Quick Catch Up

jam-preparations-jars-fruit-48817.jpegMake Do March

The philosophy Mend and Make Do may bring to mind wartime rationing but looking through my house there’s an awful lot of stuff that just isn’t getting used. Who needs 5 deodorants? Lasagna sheets dating back to 2011? Scales with no batteries? 7 jars of jam?*

We’ve started from ground zero in regards to savings this month which gives me the chills but one consistence throughout financial freedom/independence blogs is the need to live below your means. Hell, it’s just good sense but over the past few years I’ve taken my eye off the ball. Cooking good food from scratch, using things that you already have rather than buying more and fixing what you can is good for everyone and something I feel we’ve lost.

I’ve decided that the simplest way to start is to simply use up the easy stuff first, the low-hanging fruit I heard it referred to the other day. So far Hubby has been asked to drink the random herbal teas I found and to use up the bubble bath that we have which happens to be a pink sparkly wand! I’m working my way through the deodorants that Santa always pops in my stocking despite them not being the brand I actually use and researching what you can use cornmeal for apart from cornbread since there’s a large bag in the back of a kitchen cupboard.

Can we make do in March with what we have or will that must have item lead us astray?**

A Quick Catch Up

Yes I know we’re in the second week of March already and I’m just coming up for air. Seven birthdays in one week together with the unexpected amount of snow we had is sure to scramble anyone’s brain but add an energy sucking virus into the mix and I’ve been concentrating on simply putting one foot in front of the other. Feel free to sing ‘Just keep swimming’ with me if you like, or shout ‘I’ve lost my Mojo’ Austin Powers style if that’s more up your street.

I do feel like I achieved Domestic Goddess status in February though as I made my first successful lasagna, baked bread and even made my own butter! I have lots of half written food articles/posts/whatever-you-want-to-call-them to finish and publish when the old grey matter gets up to speed again.

*It’s bloody good jam though. Blackberry Jam made by Mum and Apple Jam made by my fair-self.

**I’m joking, promise. Although I did see……

 

 

Food · Organising

Ugly, but Scrummy Freezer Food.

Some plates of food just make your mouth water by looking at them. And others do not, yet the taste and comfort of a bowl of rice and lentils is hard to beat.IMG_20180224_165549226

We’re having a cold snap at the moment where the days are bright and frosty. The kids and I venture outside wrapped up warm (today we went and played poohsticks) it’s too sunny to stay indoors and too cold to stay out for long.

So chilly and having built up an appetite we want something warm and comforting but quick to prepare and 10 minutes later there’s a bowl of beige goodness on table. It’s even vegan, one of the few vegan dishes that I can make without someone asking “where’s the meat?“*

Originally cooked for us by MIL from a recipe in Good Housekeeping I’ve cooked a variation of this cauliflower curry at least once every month. I often soak my own lentils to keep costs down, forget about the lime and coriander and double the ingredients because if you freeze it without the cauliflower then it reheats like a dream.

There’s really no need for rice as I can happily eat mild lentil curry by itself although hubby would protest. We ended up stuffing the pitta with the lentils as it was far more fun than eating with our forks!

The way I tend to make my lentil curry now is to:

  • Fry an onion
  • Add ginger, garlic and curry paste
  • Stir in cauliflower, green beans, lentils, coconut milk and stock
  • Simmer and add creamed coconut if it’s in the cupboard
  • Taste, season and maybe play with some spices like cumin and ground coriander, a spoonful of mango chutney is nice if you fancy some extra sweetness
  • Eat all the cauliflower the first day and freeze the rest.

What freezer foods have you eaten recently that warmed you up?

 

*I used to add chicken to the dish so the carnivores would be happy until one day I didn’t and nobody moaned.