Sunday, January 21, 2007

Too much too Soon?

Today I put on my accountant's hat and totted up what has been spent during the week. From the supermarket: 6 packs of Ryvita @ 34p ea., 2 packs of chicken livers @ 99p ea., and one pack of (3) peppers £1.48p. That totals £5.50. As to the oddments 'bought from myself' these were flour and porridge oats, so under 50p's worth. Plus 70p for bread.
So far so good. However, to be completely true to the Challenge, I also have to deduct the cost of the fish and chips (which came to 2 x £3.65 plus 55p for mushy peas = £7.85p). Making a grand total of £14.55. Hanging my head in shame I have to admit that in one week I have spent almost three week's allowance. At least it makes the Challenge even more of one. And that, at least, pleases me.

Some very good news. My husband went to the gym yesterday and came back quite upset because he had gained 3lbs. So he has asked me to serve him smaller portions. So yesterday evening we had a light meal, mainly dips with crudites. Strips of dried bread crusts also make good 'dippers'. Cheese and grapes to follow.
This means all the food I still have should now go further, maybe much further that I originally expected.
Tonight I plan to make a beef casserole, so now there will be enough left to freeze away two extra portions instead of one. Although not the recipe I will be using, the following hob-top recipe is a worthy one as it makes plenty.

Winter Casserole: serves up to six people
3 onions, each cut into 8 wedges
15 oz (450g) carrots, chut into chunks
6 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
1 lb (450g) minced beef (or less)
2 beef stock cubes
1 1/2 pints hot water
400g can baked beans (extra if you wish)
dash of brown sauce*
In a large pan, brown the mince adding a little oil only if necessary. Stir well until fully browned. Mix the stock cubes into the hot water and add to the meat. Finally stir in the prepared vegetables. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the beans, add a dash of brown sauce and simmer until heated through. Season to taste.
Tip: to cook mince quickly, fry a layer at a time so that it browns evenly. With this casserole
you can include other vegetables: parsnips, butternut squash, peas (add the peas towards the end), a dash of tomato puree helps to thicken and give depth to the flavour.
*Use basic brown sauce for an average boost, Worcestershire if you want more zing, and/or Tabasco for a real spicy kick.

The following recipe is for Drop Scones, a real family favourite. I would stand making these six at a time and they would all be eaten before the next batch was ready. There is something very pleasant about waiting for the bubbles to appear, when the first one bursts, flip the pancake over. Incidentally, for the price of a pack of 6, you can make 5 times the amount.

Drop Scones: makes about 20 (F)
6 oz (175g) self raising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 oz (25g) caster sugar, add a little more if you wish.
1 large egg
approx 7 fl.oz (200ml) milk
Put the flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl. Beat the egg into half the milk and add to the dry mix. Beat to a batter, then add enough of the remaining milk to make it the thickness of double cream.
Lightly grease a large heavy frying pan or flat griddle (usually called a girdle), and drop the mixture in spoonfuls (a soup spoon is the right size), leaving space to spread. When bubbles appear and pop, then flip over using a fish slice. Cook for a further minute then put each drop scone onto a cake airer, overlapping each and covering with a clean cloth. Cook more scones in the same way until the batter is used up. Serve warm with butter, jam or honey.
Tip: when cooking pancakes (of any type) always heat the ungreased pan for several minutes before using. This helps to prevent them sticking.
Don't leave out the sugar, this gives them a healthy tan, without the sugar they end up looking pale and uninteresting - and rather tasteless too.
Although best eaten freshly cooked and whilst still slightly warm, they eat well cold, so can be frozen and then thawed back to room temperature.

Week four coming up. It can only get better.