Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Yesterday for supper I had mushrooms (lightly fried) then added these to some freshly 'quick-cooked' pasta penne along with some tomato (pizza) sauce I had saved back (frozen and thawed). Sprinkled over parmesan cheese and it was good. Well I enjoyed it anyway. With Beloved still away I am now eating for one.
This of course seems to mess up my budgeting, but as my friend was here last week, no problem there, and - as I costed the budget down to £12.50p per person per week for the period of the Challenge, all I need do is add that amount as if I'd spent it.

First to the seemingly bad news. Halfway through the challenge I have spent £13.51p on food 'bought from myself', and £30.67p from the shops (fresh produce: fruit and veg. plus Ryvita etc.). Although I bought extra sausages, these took up the remaining balance of my meat money, so they can be ignored. On paper, this leaves a balance of £16.85 (from the starter budget of £120 for groceries) which now has to last the second half of the Challenge. Help !!
But totting up bills and scribbling furiously, I found that over the five weeks I had spent only £41.23p with the milkman (instead of the budgeted £50) so that means an extra £8.62 in the coffers. Not only that, I have cancelled all of this weeks milk deliveries as I have plenty of everything - the milk will last that long - so that means a further £10 will be saved, so now I will have £35.47 to last the remaining weeks. The best news of all is that there should be quite a few things that won't have been used up within the ten weeks (Marmite, Bovril, Branston pickle, olive oil, bouillon powder, sardines, meats) so the cost of these can be deducted. I may even end up with money left over, not just a few pence, but hopefully several pounds. We'll just have to wait and see.

Dried Mushrooms - Mushroom Powder:
Use fresh mushrooms, wipe them with with a damp cloth. No need to peel. Spread on trays leaving a space between each and place in the oven at 50C, 110F, gas 0 leaving the door ajar to allow ventilation*. They could instead be placed in an airing cupboard or any warm dry place. Dry until crisp - this could take half a day. Cool, then store in airtight containers.
These can be used as-is in soups, casseroles etc. But for quick-cooking in an omelette,or strogonoff etc soak for around an hour in tepid water or milk. Dry off in a kitchen towel before using.
For Mushroom Powder dry as above, and - when very crisp - crush to a powder. Store in an airtight jar and add 1 teaspoon at a time to flavour stews, casseroles, soups, gravy etc.
Tip: If you have a drop-down oven door, then tuck a folded oven glove or something similar between the top of the door and the oven to keep the door slightly ajar. This is a good way of finishing baking profiteroles as they also need a 'dry' oven.