Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Weekend for Celebrating?

Apologies for my late start today (it is nearly 10.00am!). due to me going to bed very late last night (about 4.00am) and also I've spent almost half an hour checking various recipes for making candied peel as my pan of peel has now been simmered, refreshed and simmered again over the last couple of days and now needs cooking in sugar to finish off.
Some recipes use twice as much sugar to water, others the opposite. Some finish the job in a very short time, others take longer, others several days, so not sure which way to go yet, probably use equal amounts of sugar and water, and when dissolved simmer the peel in this until the syrup is reduce by half, then do the same tomorrow, and so on and so forth.

Yesterday was a lazy day when it came to my 'deliberate' savings. Not that I didn't manage to 'save'. With the chicken pieces needed using up (a few of the larger bits had been added to B's 'meat platter' the previous day), some were used for B's 'stir-fry' yesterday, the remained made into a 'chicken and ham paste/spread' (from the recipe given previously), and a pot of just 'chicken spread' with the remainder. As the chicken was 'free' (using scraps from the cooked carcase), only needed to cost the butter and ham used. Most of the ham was the bits scraped up after slicing but still costed as 'per 100g' (this being 40p home-cooked).
To cut a long story short, my 'meat pastes' worked out a quarter of the average price of any on sale. So this was a true saving. Some is in the fridge to spread on toast this weekend, the rest has been frozen.

Yesterday baked a loaf of bread. As this was needed can hardly say this was a 'deliberate' saving, but even so around 50p less than the price of a bought loaf. Did not experiment with small shapes/rolls etc as I intended, but as I said: a saving was made.

Today am not sure what I will be doing, although definitely some work in the conservatory sowing up pots of seeds and preparing other pots to sow later this week. If I do everything at once will run out of idea of 'what savings to make next?'. Why do I keep thinking up challenges when I so easily run out of steam before the first week is over (tunnel vision, keeping on track, and now running out of steam, I definitely must have been a railway engine in a previous life)?

Am a bit depressed today, have gained back several pounds that I thought I'd lost over the past few weeks. But then have eaten more than usual the past few days. As 'new weight' is easy come, easy go, shouldn't find it too difficult to lose it, and by this time next week hope to be down to what I was before. Really do want to weigh at least a few pounds less than when the practice nurse weighed me six months ago. In all that time I could have lost two more stones, but then Christmas got in the way, B's 80th birthday, not to mention comfort eating now and again (have been worried about the health of two of our daughter's plus other family affairs).

Loved your suggestion for the name for Eileen's scooter ('Cormac') Urbanfarmgirl. From a later comment from Eileen seems this is what it will now be called. Perhaps I should re-name mine 'Gladys' (short for Gladiator) then we could meet up and race our two 'chariots' along the prom.

Those macaroons are easy to make MimSys, so do hope you have a go. All the ones I made have now been eaten up, and have found the unfilled tended to soften slightly over this time, mainly in the centre, the tops staying crisp. Perhaps this is how they are meant to be (not having eaten one of the new 'fashionable' macaroons we see and read about I don't know how they should end up - can anyone enlighten me?), or maybe I needed to allow a further minute or so in the oven. Doesn't really matter, we should never expect perfection the first time. What I ended up with we both found enjoyable and they certainly are pretty to look at. A mixture of different pastel shades and flavoured fillings would make a really attractive gift.

B's 'dessert' yesterday was strawberry jelly with 'strawberry and cream' EasyYo, a couple of sliced fresh strawberries, some double cream poured over, and served with a few pink macaroons. Very cheap, but very tasty and extremely attractive to look at.

Yesterday B went to the supermarket to buy 'his' lemonade (I don't drink this, the bubbles give me wind!), and returned with the lemonade AND a mixture of 'Mediterranean vegetables' in a clingfilm wrapped metal tray. He bought it because it was reduced in price to 50p "and you can use the metal tray again" he said gleefully. Bless! He does realise now how useful these trays can be for 'cooking things in' (I have now got far too many, but too good to throw out).
Unfortunately the veggies he brought seem to be are mainly courgettes and aubergines, neither of which he likes, but he'll have to bite into that particular bullet when it comes to his supper for he will be served these with one of his steaks (or maybe a lamb shank). I didn't ask him to bring them, so he'll have to put up with them for once.

Other than preparing the veg etc for B's stir-fry yesterday (fresh root ginger, onions, red peppers, mushrooms, chicken (scraps), cashew nuts), with a marinade of soy sauce and sugar added to the chicken, and a pack of 'duck-flavoured' noodles ready to cook, was able to leave him to do the cooking.
Reading through that stir-fry book bought for B last Monday (reduced from £8to £3) I was a bit disappointed. Very few recipes appealed to me, many required ingredients I didn't have (rice wine, hoisin sauce, lemongrass, spring-roll wrappers etc, but - as with most stir-fries - it is more a matter of using up what veggies/meat/fish we have, choosing whether to serve with rice or noodles, and then just 'stir-fry' together. B had chosen one recipe but even then couldn't follow it to the letter, but nevertheless he enjoyed his meal.

Thanks to Alison for explaining how we can save text/comments. As I rarely read other blogs (I'd be glued to the screen all day if I did), and even when I do have never sent a comment (so why should I expect you to send one to me??), did not know this could be done.

Lisa's comment re the possibility of the cocoon once the home of a silk moth, reminded me of those days when everyone wore knitwear made of pure wool, and even though carefully packed away during the summer months, when brought out again we found many with several holes in them eaten by the moth grubs. In those days the only way for protection was to liberally sprinkle 'moth balls' into the storage boxes. And so often we would go out in late autumn/winter and pass by someone who was wearing something made of wool (could be a coat) and they would smell strongly of moth balls (camphor - is that the right spelling?). Took ages for the smell to disappear, and it was a needless expense to have a coat cleaned if it didn't need it. For that matter it took ages for a knitted garment to dry for it had to be hand washed, carefully wrung out (couldn't be mangled or - later - spun-dried).
Despite the usefulness and easy washing/drying of the acrylic and other man-made fibres, none have been as warm as real wool. Maybe one of the reasons why we feel the cold these days and use more central heating than we should. If we wore pure wool we would need hardly any heating at all.

With the supermarkets occasionally doing a 'buy one get TWO free' offer on cheddar cheese (and how I take advantage of THAT!), today am giving a couple of cheese-based recipes that are slightly different to make use of this 'free' cheese. You could say this is another way to save (well certainly cheaper than if made with cheese you have paid for).

First recipe is for cheese and sweetcorn scones. You could use canned sweetcorn kernels, or cooked frozen corn. Mustard powder is best to use, but today most people have the ready-made, so if using this add with the liquids.
The lemon juice is added to the milk to 'sour' it, but instead of the milk/lemon you could use yogurt.
Cheese and Sweetcorn Scones: makes 10
12 oz (350g) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp Colman's (English) mustard powder
quarter teaspoon paprika pepper
half tsp salt
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or to taste)
2 oz (50g) butter, chilled and diced
6 oz (175g) Cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz (225g) sweetcorn kernels (see above)
6 fl oz (175ml) milk plus...
...juice of half a lemon (see above)
Sift the flour, baking powder, mustard powder, and paprika together into a mixing bowl, then add the salt and thyme leaves. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like fine crumbs, then add most of the cheese and all the sweetcorn. Mix the milk with the lemon juice (or use yogurt) and add to the dry ingredients to make a dough that should be slightly sticky. Do not over-work the dough or the scones will end up 'heavy'.
Tip the dough onto a floured surface and very lightly knead it a couple or so times before dividing into 10 equal portions. Shape each into a ball then place on a greased and floured baking sheet, then flatten the tops with the fingers or rolling pin (and do this lightly). Brush tops with a little milk and scatter remaining cheese over. You can add a dusting of paprika as well if you wish.
Bake for 10 - 12 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6 or until scones are risen and golden (and like bread - sound hollow when tapped underneath). Remove from oven and place scones on a cake airer to cool.
Eat warm or cold served with soup, or - for a snack - spread with butter and topped with what you choose: Marmite, cheese and pickle, ham and mustard, chicken and ham paste etc.

Cheese on toast is a pretty obvious way to use 'free' cheese, but this recipe is slghtly different, is and if we can get a bogof of onions, then even more savings made. Once the onions are cooked these can be stored for up to 3 days in the fridge before continuing with the recipe.
These 'toasties' can make this with just cheese and onions, but myself like to include the pickle just so that I can give it this name:
Ploughman's on Toast: serves 6
2 oz (50g) butter
3 onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp caster sugar
salt and pepper
6 thick (toasting) slices bread
11 oz (300g) Cheddar cheese, sliced
1 tblsp pickle of your choice
watercress for serving (opt)
Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the onions, give a stir then sprinkle over the sugar. Cook over a low heat for 10 - 15 minutes until the onions have softened and begun to turn a golden brown and become 'sticky'. Add seasoning to taste.
Lightly toast the bread, spread with a little pickle, top with onions and finish with a layer of sliced cheese, then put onto a baking tray and grill for 2 - 3 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and turning gold. Serve hot with a handful of watercress.

Started late so have finished late. B tells me that there are footie matches he wants to watch today on TV, so this will leave me time to do more saving (as long as I can come up with useful ideas). Join me tomorrow to see if I've managed to accomplish anything worthwhile. See you then.