Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day Two...

Problem with me is that when I begin a new challenge enthusiasm takes over. For a few days (maybe even weeks) I go merrily along doing what should be done, then I either get bored or don't wish to continue any more.
Yesterday began well, I wrote down what I'd managed to accomplish in just one hour and felt very smug (more about this later). Then realised that if I continued at this speed doing so much each day I'd soon give up. Think there is a story about the tortoise and the hare where slow and steady wins the race, not (like the hare) starting with a mad rush and ending up too tired to continue.
So today will aim to accomplish only one thing 'deliberately useful'. This may be filling several plant pots with seed compost BUT - only sow one with seeds. Maybe sow another pot tomorrow with different seeds, another the next day. That way a money-saving 'chore' will be able to be done within almost seconds - yet still end up with something to show for it. So that is the way I intend moving through the future. But you know me - full of good intentions but never quite getting there. This time I must try harder.

Much of what we do anyway we would probably normally be doing. By 'we' I mean me and most readers of this blog and it is the DIY we attempt ourselves that we can count towards a 'saving' made because in the 'real world out there' everyone else would normally go out and buy it over the counter. So if already a 'scrimper' then don't feel despair if there is no further savings we can find to make, just acknowledge the ones we already do (by writing them down) to refer to later, and prove (later) to offspring and grand offspring how much money it saves when we are creative.

A wonderful lot of comments came in during the last 24 hours and I do thank you from the bottom of my heart for these. Replies will be given after I'd written my main 'content', this being about yesterday's 'challenge' attempt.

Began working at 10.30am yesterday by putting the gammon on to boil (then leaving it to simmer for a couple of hours), also the pan of orange peel was drained, refreshed and put on to simmer. Watching a pot boil is something I don't do, so next took time to get on with the next 'chore', this being taking one and a half large packs of white cheddar and putting them into my food food processor to grate (this took all of 3 minutes, my f.p' always clean and ready plugged in on my table for when needed). The cheese - being a 'freebie' (from 'buy one get TWO free - so I'd bought two and got FOUR free!!!), obviously made a huge saving compared to the cost of buying the same amount of pre-grated cheese (which I admit to buying in the past).
Once the gammon is cooked (then to be called ham) and sliced, another massive saving will have been made compared to the packs of sliced ham.

Only a few minutes work done so far, so spent some time sitting and thinking what to do next and decided to make an EasyYo Strawberry and Cream yogurt and also a strawberry jelly for B's future 'puds' and snacks.
Incidentally, was able to save time with this as B had (as he always does despite my pleas) filled the empty electric kettle full of water just to make one mug of coffee, so used the remaining boiling water to fill the EasyYo thermos and make the jelly.

Washed up the various bowls and implements, turned off the orange peel, tidied the kitchen table and other parts of the kitchen and it was still only 11.15, put five eggs on to hard-boil, went and got a pot of soil from the conservatory (dry as a bone), broke up the soil and wet it with hot water, then into it planted 2 orange pips and (to the side of the pot) one avocado 'seed'. Covered the pot with a 'plaggy bag' and put it on the shelf over the radiator to keep fairly warm (then once the shoots of the orange pips appear will put the pot in the conservatory). The avocado will take longer to shoot.

The hardboiled eggs were done (8 minutes simmering), then put into cold water, shells cracked and then put into fresh cold water to sit until needed. It was then 11.30, exactly one hour since I began and so worked out had already had made a great saving (grated cheese) with more to follow with the ham (this was left to cool in its cooking water, then transferred to the fridge to chill - and it will be sliced today).
Candied peel will also be far cheaper than any of that mixed peel' that I normally buy, and a very rough tot-up of savings already made this week (and this does not include the 'house-plants' and other seeds that will eventually grow) is in the region of £40 - £50! Not of course that I would now trot off to purchase same from the supermarket, but I HAVE bought pre-packed sliced meat, and pkts of grated cheese, and pots of growing herbs from the supermarket in the past (even during the last 3 years) so even I can fall for the temptation of the 'readies', this means that even if now 'making it ourselves' has become a habit, we still can think of it as a 'saving'.

Today am planning have a trial run with making macaroons. Have found what looks like a very simple recipe and as it makes 40 'singles' (20 when sandwiched together) will begin by making half that number as have two egg whites to use up as later yesterday decided to make some lamb burgers with around 6 oz/175g lamb mince, one small white crust of bread, a small onion, two teaspoons of mint sauce, and two egg yolks. All but the mince blitzed together in the food processor, then the mince added, a further pulse or two, then tipped the mixture onto a floured plate and formed them into five 'lamburgers'. Fried these off in a little oil, then finished them off in the oven (where I was also cooking some sausages - to eat cold today). B had three 'burgers' for his supper with new potatoes and peas, and I had two with a few spuds and peas. Think they needed a bit more flavouring, next time I will add tomato puree and plenty of seasoning, but they were good.

Today am planning to serve cold meats with salad (sausages, ham, cheese, maybe corned beef and maybe a cheese quiche, plus hard-boiled eggs).

Watched the final 'Superscrimpers' yesterday evening, mainly things that had been shown before, with an update of some of the challenges given to families a year ago. The one lady who had previously spent a fortune on making Christmas dinner for her large (and extended) family, now appeared to have her spending under control during the rest of the year, although I have to say I was very surprised to see her buying not two but FOUR bundles of asparagus because they were 'buy one get one free'. Asparagus is too expensive for me to even consider buying at any time, bogof or not, but suppose if she had a budget and could stay within it - why not?

Also couldn't understand why the lady used up the dregs in her tomato ketchup bottle by adding a little vinegar, giving it a shake, then adding it to a casserole. Certainly I do this 'add and shake' myself to get every last drop from a bottle of sauce, but use water, not vinegar. For one thing water is 'free' (if you don't count the cost of our water rates). Vinegar isn't.

Because of the possibility that at some time all readers may have some cooked meat 'scraps', here is a recipe that originally was made using cold cooked turkey and sausage meat, but would work equally well using those cooked chicken 'scraps' from the carcase.
Also this 'terrine' is made in a mould lined with rashers of streaky bacon. Myself would probably not use as many, maybe none at all. Possibly thin slices of home-cooked ham could line the mould instead of the bacon.
Once cooked this 'meat loaf' will turn out and slice easily enough, the bacon is just there for appearance (and taste). So why not just put a couple of strips along the length of the tin to at least gain the lovely flavour?

Chicken and Sausage Meat Loaf: 6 - 8 slices
12 slices streaky bacon (or less, see above)
8 oz (225g) pork sausagemeat
8 oz (225g) cooked chicken, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
Grease a 1lb loaf tin with butter, then line the tin with the bacon (see above). Put one third of the sausage meat into the tin and level with the back of a spoon. Mix the chicken with the thyme and seasoning to taste, then put half this on top of the sausage meat, cover with another third of sausage, the final half of the chicken, and top with the last of the sausage meat. Smooth the surface, cover with foil and place in a baking tin, pouring in enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the tin.
Place in the centre of a 180C, 350F, gas 4 oven and cook for 2 hours (or until the meat has 'tightened' and begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin). Then remove from oven. Take the tin out of the 'bain marie', and leaving the foil on top, cut a piece of thick card to fit inside the tin and then place this over the meat with a heavy weight on top. When cool enough, place in the fridge to chill overnight, then remove weight, cardboard and foil and upturn onto a serving plate. Cut into slices for serving. Good eaten with salad. Very thin slices could be used to fill sandwiches.

Why not bite the bullet and have a go at making a souffle? Despite how difficult it may seem to make, these are really easy being nothing more than a white sauce mixed with egg yolks and beaten egg white folded in - with of course the chosen 'flavouring' (could be grated cheese, cooked/pureed veggies or minced cooked meats/fish). The only problem with a souffle is that if not served immediately it begins to sink. This doesn't affect the flavour, so practice on the family first. Entertain later once you've got the timing right.

This souffle is uses both left-over chicken scraps AND left-over white sauce, so if you have only a bit of each, then make one teeny souffle just for yourself, then you will need only one egg and one white for your 'one portion'. If nothing else this proves that we can still make and serve 'posh nosh' from food 'stuffs' that many people today still discard.
Chicken Souffle: serves 4
2 oz (25g) butter
8 oz (225g) cooked chicken, finely minced
8 oz (225g) thick white sauce, cooled
half tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)
4 eggs, separated
Grease a 2 pint souffle dish with 1 tblsp of the butter, then tie a band of greaseproof paper around the outside of the dish so that it sticks up 2" (5cm) above the rim.
Put the white sauce in a pan with the remaining butter, salt and pepper, and fold in the chicken. Heat gently, stirring constantly, then when at the simmer, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add one egg yolk at a time, beating each in well before adding the next.
Put the egg whites into a clean (and grease free bowl) and whisk until they form stiff peaks.
Using a metal spoon, very gently fold and cut the whites into the chicken mixture, then pour this into the prepared dish and bake in the centre of the oven 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 30 minutes, or until the souffle has risen and lightly browned on top. SERVE IMMEDIATELY.

Now to your comments:
A welcome back to FrugalMum. Regarding the price we are expected to pay for chicken stock - can only assume that the 'fresh' has a short shelf life so wastage has to be accounted for when it comes to pricing the product, also 'real' stock - being far superior to that made from stock cubes - is almost counted as 'quality' foods, gourmet etc, so command a high price just because.
WE all know that it is easy to make home-made and excellent stock ourselves, but it does take a little time, and so we have to pay for someone else's time. Also like any 'home-made' or 'hand-made' on sale we see everything marked up at prices you wouldn't believe. All because many of the younger folk today (below the age of 50?) have perhaps eaten nothing the 'bought readies', and so haven't ever tasted anything so good before. If it tastes good then charge more!

It was good to read that Bets has taken advantage of the chicken offer and will also be hoping to get the gammon on offer. Also Lurpak was a very good buy. Bought loads of this myself (it will freeze and unsalted even keeps longer in the freezer, up to 6 months). Will try adding tomato ketchup or puree to my next batch of lamburgers like Bets.

Thanks for letting us know the price of those small jars of meat paste Jane (54p a jar). We can now 'comparison-price' our home-mades. And what a lot of money we can then save. In the past I often bought meat paste because I liked it. Now will always make my own. When slicing meat (even using an electric slicer) there are always a few scraps to gather up at the end, so next time anyone slices cooked beef, ham, turkey, chicken, we should turn these into 'meat pastes' (they will freeze) and when we eat them (in sarnies or spread on toast/canapes...) gloat over the money we have saved.

As ever, your comment has much to inspire us Lisa. Loved the sound of your sarnie fillings, and also the other dishes you make. Can understand 'green soup', but what is 'posole'?

As you say T.Mills, baking cakes, jointing chickens, probably something that more and more of us are now doing. This is the way to really save, not mess around with silly ways as so often shown in Superscrimpers. But better this programme than none. We all have to start somewhere, and it is often better to gain interest by explaining something that relates more to a way of life as lived today (like painting finger nails with spots etc), as this then will lead to more interest with other ways to save.

Loved hearing how you've managed to cut your food budget by 40% since January Lyn M. Am sure that keeping a diary of your expenditure really helped to make that difference. Do know that great way to help lose weight is if we write down every morsel of food and drop that we drink each day, as we are far more likely to be able to reduce our intake once the shock of seeing just how much we HAVE eaten.

A welcome and group hugs to Mary Clare. My own copy of More for Your Money has also dropped to bits - almost every page now a loose one and turned a pale shade of brown (and put that down more to the way these paperbacks are glued together, with cheap glue and cheap paper used), for it's not as though I have any need to use it myself as I already know the recipes.
Think the other (BBC) book mentioned was possibly 'Goode for One' as this was (I think) the only one that did have a 'shopping list' and also prices paid for the purchases.

There is a comment from an 'anonymous' (no name given) who enjoys reading my blog, so maybe a welcome there if a new 'commenteer'. I get several comments appearing that are sent as 'anonymous', but do include a name at the end, and this does help when replying. Please give names if you can (even if a made-up), then I can 'see' you when I reply.

Another query re 'across-the-pond speak'. This one to Margie in Toronto. What are 'perogies'?
As to being tempted when shopping at Barton Grange, well was very tempted the first time I went, but as it is close enough to visit several times a year am now able to visit just to have a good look round and buy only what I really need.
It has to be said that at the end of the year (from Oct onwards) their Christmas display of trees and decorations is out of this world. Don't know this is able to be viewed on-line on their website, but worth looking up if it is.

Didn't realise that sites such as B.Grange were able to be viewed from abroad. Does this mean if I wanted to look at Macey's in New York (if it is in NY) I could get 'a good look at it' here in England? Are all sites via the Internet/Google-search open to everyone who has a computer whatever part of our globe they live?

As it is Day Two of this current challenge, will make sure that I do at least one thing that helps me save money (suppose slicing the ham would count, but was doing that anyway, so will have to think up another 'money-saver' to prove the sense of doing any of this at all).
As I said, it is cold meats and salads for supper. The macaroons are not meant for thrift (more a luxury), but having seen the price of those on sale now realise that a box of 'assorted' could make an excellent gift and this then would become another good way to save.

It seems all we have to do is just make, bake and create. Many of us probably do this all the time anyway, but even when we do there must be something we haven't yet done that will add a few more pennies to our already bursting-at-the-seams purse. Am sure today will discover something so obvious that I'll be ashamed to admit "I'd never thought of dong that". But admit it I will. Join me tomorrow to find out what it was. See you then.