Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Keep Checking!

As you know I have got into the habit of lying in bed in the hope of having another dream (which usually happens), but this morning decided to get up early as needed to get the washing in the machine and was I pleased I did.

As I have to stay close to the washing machine to help it through its cycle, decided to do other things between turning the knob to move to the next cycle, so once the machine was in action made a litre tub of EasyYo fruit yogurt (this should be set by mid-afternoon), and when that was in its 'thermos', made myself a cup of coffee (followed by another shortly after), then set about clearing the kitchen table. Under all the clutter discovered a small booklet with Jamie Oliver's tea bread recipe, so decided to make that today and trotted into the larder to get a bag of dried fruit (reduced to 50p but still within its b.b date) and also pulled out a box of fruit-flavoured tea-bags that I rarely use. The fruit was supposed be soaked in Earl Grey tea, but decided instead to infuse orange and cinnamon tea-bags as the flavour was perfect for a fruit cake/loaf.

While the tea bags soaked in boiling water, collected the rest of the 'makings' for the tea-loaf (the pre-weighed bags of flour, sugar etc) and put them together on the table with the egg, spice and other ingredients. Poured the tea over the fruit to soak and this afternoon will then make and bake the tea-bread. Felt very chuffed I'd managed to do quite a lot in a short time.

The recipe said to use a 1lt (1 3/4 pint) loaf tin. As I have no idea of the volume capacity of any of my tins, then filled a 1lb loaf tin with water and measured that, which proved this tin was exactly the right size. So - if you still use imperial weights you now know that a 1 lb loaf tin holds a litre of water (actually very slightly more that gives more room for baking to rise). Just hope I remember in future.

Whilst in the larder thought I'd bring out a packet of jelly to make up for B to snack on (with the yogurt and cream etc), after discovering the storage box of jellies contained 18 (yet, EIGHTEEN) packs of assorted flavours, so these won't need reordering for many, many months. (memo, make jelly more often). Put the cubes in a little water in the microwave for 1 minute until melted, then made up to the pint with cold water. Put into the fridge to set.

Still waiting for the washing cycle to come to the spin stage, once the table had been sorted, decided to do all the washing up, then hunted for all the containers that I'd be using for the 'social desserts'. Saved me looking for them later. hey were clean but gave them a wash anyway.

When the spin cycle began (it now carries on so have to stop it manually), had to stay close by as had allowed 4 minutes spin-time (it should take three but the more water removed the quicker the laundry dries), so instead of twiddling my thumbs, sat at the table and sharpened all my kitchen knives with the long steel. It's taken me years to learn how to sharpen knives properly, previously blunted them even more as I tried to sharpen, but getting better slowly and today got it just right, so now have a wooden block full of assorted sized knives, all very sharp. This block I keep on the kitchen table as this is where I sit and chop/peel/carve rather than stand at the unit to do this.

After the washing had been hung up to dry, came in here and sat at the computer trying to work out the cheapest way to buy chicken. This took some time because it is not as easy as it first seemed. Reason why was because yesterday my eye had been caught by "buy 3 (chickens) for £10"££2.52 kg), even adding this 'offer' to my virtual shopping basket, but then later deleted it (as still have some chicken breasts in the freezer).
Incidentally, have now managed to delete so many products from my initial order than I've managed to cut the original total down by half!!

Anyway, back to the chicken....Scrolling down the list of whole and portion chicken prices noticed the the 'Market Value' fresh chicken was being sold for £1.99 (£1.99kg). 1 kg is a lightweight bird but it was possible to choose different and heavier weights, but discovered that the price per kg is not the same as the weight increases. For instance the Market Value bird weighing 1.52 kg would have cost me £3.02p, not £2.50p as I would have expected working on the 'price per kg' (as shown). Seems the heavier the bird the more we are asked to pay per kg. Possibly still good value as a heavy the bird has more proportion of meat to bone than a lighter one.

Then tried to compare the 'offer' against the Market Value birds, and found it is works out slightly cheaper if we bought FIVE Market Value 1kg chickens (total £9.95.) instead of the 'three for £10'. Another possibility would be to buy three of the heaviest M.V. birds (1.8kg & £3.58p each) even though 74p above the offer price, we would end up with a lot more weight of chicken flesh for our money.

Obviously 'market value' does not stand for quality, and there will be readers who prefer to buy only free-range birds, possibly with their fingers poised over the keyboard ready to send me a comment saying I should be ashamed to suggest otherwise, and although I understand the moral issue, at the moment am writing from the viewpoint of a mother who has small children and wishes to provide all their nutritional needs, and if 'market value' chicken flesh is (nutritionally) as good as organic free-range (or very nearly so), the only loss would be with flavour, and doubt children are that fussy. If they were they wouldn't keep demanding Turkey Twizzlers and Chicken Nuggets that we know (from Jamie Oliver's demos) are made from 'pre-formed' bits of meat that - although edible - and bits we'd rather not know about. OK for pet food perhaps, but not for our kiddiwinks.
If we buy whole chickens and portion them ourselves, at least we can use solid chicken meat to make our own 'nuggets', and that HAS to be worth something.

Buying several birds in one fell swoop also gives us plenty of carcases to make stock with. Plus all the cooked chicken meat left on the bones that we can peel off and use in pies, or mince up to make burgers. Just imagine - £10 worth of chicken - with canny cooking - could provide meat for almost every main (even sarnies) for a family for a whole month.

Maybe, once this current grocery order has been delivered, and next week the 'social party' over, might well buy a number of cheap chickens, portion them out, then compare the weights against supermarket price 'packs' (drumsticks, thighs, chicken breast, 'fillets', wings etc). Have a feeling 'doing-it-ourselves' will prove to make yet another huge saving.
Although it is always possible to prove a point just by comparing costs and writing them down on paper, with me like to do it 'for real'. Otherwise how can I find our even more ways to save?

Thanks for the comments. The petrol voucher will come with my statement Les, but no use to B as there is no Tesco petrol station in this area (not even in Carnforth). If there is enough time usually send the voucher to Gill who can make use of it.

Enjoyed reading about your comparative pricing Lynne. As mentioned above it really does pay off if we can spend a little time working out the 'best buys'. Even within one store it can often be cheaper to buy something when not on 'offer', than assume the same on 'offer' will always be the cheapest.

Didn't like the sound of the prawns Campfire, do hope you make the point it has cost you in time and fuel to return them to the store. You might then get a bit more given in return than the original money spent.

In a way agree with you minimiser deb, as although I feel rioting can cause more money to be spent 'clearing up all the mess', the only way the powers that be take notice is for everyone to make their feelings known in the loudest way possible. But it shouldn't mean setting fire to things, there are better ways.

Watched a very few moments of the end of a programme yesterday on the 'starving children of America'. Hope to watch it in full when it is repeated. Apparently the financial crisis in the US is so bad that many people are now homeless and having to live in 'tent cities' that are just outside many city boundaries. They have no money for food and eat at soup kitchens. Well, that's the bit I managed to catch. I thought the poor all had food vouchers given, but seems there is another side to the story. We too have people sleeping in card-board boxes under railway bridges and who beg for money for food (but more often used for drugs), but these are more the people who opt out of living the normal life, many preferring this rather than go into a hostel. The programme above seemed to be about perfectly normal families who were now unemployed due to no fault of their own.

I've started early so will now finish early. With the groceries being deliverd this morning (can't wait!) quite a bit of my day will be taken up with putting the food away, plus making the tea-loaf and maybe other things too.
Tomorrow Norma the Hair arrives early, and if I can rise as early as today should be able to write and publish my blog before 9.00. Otherwise it will have to wait until Norma has left. Much depends on what time I go to bed tonight I suppose.

Not sure what the weather is doing over the rest of the country, here it is still cloudy, cold and occasionally wet. Could be worse I suppose.
Enjoy Valentine's Day even if it is you who will be doing the cooking. Let us hope an OH will be giving something nice in return. Are you listening my Beloved?
As ever, hope to meet up with you all again tomorrow. See you then.