Monday, January 27, 2014

Another Week Begins....

Another bit of 'catering' all done and dusted.  Seemed it went very well, food much enjoyed.  The club is having an extension to the club house so they will have a much larger kitchen - so there won't be any more evening meals provided until completion (expected to start in a couple or so weeks and take about 3 months).  So I'll have to find something to do (that's of  any use) to keep me busy.

Had quite a few comments in since I last wrote.  Several won't be seen as they referred to past posts (using a comment box on an early post will be shown only at the bottom of that post, not the current one).
Also had one or two from 'anonymous's, and not needing a reply.  A couple more just promoting their own site.  So today my replies are to the genuine readers.

Not actually sure who the first  comment was written to or by.  It came from 'shabbychic...' and began with 'hello julie'... and signed off 'Eileen', but it seemed to refer to some things I'd written about in the past, so perhaps if a Julie or a new Eileen (we already have an Eileen) you could write again.

Seems your US milk is more expensive than here in the UK Pam.  If we buy the milk in small containers (pints or nowadays usually litres) it is more expensive than the usual offer of 'cheaper if you buy 3 x 4pint containers (often £3 for the 3).
It's just crossed my mind that your pints are only 16 fl oz whereas ours are 20fl oz.  So a US gallon (8 pints) would be about six and a half pints compared to our 8 pints.  Making the US milk even dearer.

Do hope the cleaning/room fresheners recipes worked Jo.  Please let us know if they did, or failed dismally.

Lynne's request for more tips to help lose weight came on the right day, for yesterday there was an article in our Sunday supplement (to the newspaper), that was talking about weight.  Seems that being overweight is not always bad.  Problem is more to do with the amount of bad fat we carry (esp around our organs), and many slim people have more of this that would be expected, while some plump people carry it more on the outside of their bodies.  The only way we can find out is by having a scan.

However, it seemed that the one thing that works well to remove bad fat is to exercise regularly, and it did give a list of calories that would be burned off PER HALF HOUR for different activities.
Personally I find the list hard to believe.  Not just how many calories burned for the more active work (house cleaning, brisk walking, cycling, sports etc...) but how many we burn off when asleep and watching TV (not much difference between the two).
Apparently we burn off 30 calories per half hour when we sleep (37 watching TV).  Just working on sleeping it is one calorie per minute.  Over 24 hours that is 1440 calories, and that is a lot more than I would normally eat during a day.  And still no weight loss (now).  

Perhaps I don't eat enough and my body has gone into starvation mode.  Dare I eat a bit more each day and hope that my personal pounds will drop off?  Maybe give it a try.  Actually I did eat more yesterday (still within the calorie level for the 'sleep' limit), and today my scales show no gain.  That's something I suppose, I really did expect to have gained back at least 2 lb).

Some time back Cheesepare I said I'd decided it was too much hassle to 'buy' food from my larder, and had decided to base my savings on the amount of money NOT spent on food during the challenge. So far have managed to go a full month, so that's saved over £100 that would normally have been spent on both fresh foods and top-ups for the larder.

With plenty of meat/fish in the freezer, and still enough canned food to last for at least another month (probably longer), also quite a few long-keeping veg (carrots, celery, onions, potatoes...) there is no real need to buy anything at the moment although B did bring in a container of milk (which we didn't need as I have UHT).
Tomorrow will be the first of a monthly delivery of organic food from Riverfordl.  More expensive than supermarket 'fresh' but will be locally grown as I'm trying to be more patriotic when purchasing fresh foods.   Believe the price is around £12 a box, but that is only £3 a week which won't make much of a dent in the £10 a week I'm allowing for topping up the 'fresh' (milk, eggs, and cheese will be occasionally want buying).

So now I'm working out how much is actually NEEDED to be spent during the challenge.  As I said, just one container of milk so far.  Am planning to use UHT this month.  Will need more eggs this week.  Have plenty of bread mix in plus extra-strong bread flour that I use to extend the mix, so we will be OK for bread, and I still have plenty of butter in the fridge/freezer.

It is almost impossible for anyone to follow my version of the challenge as I am on my 'eat very little' diet (mainly protein - eggs being the cheapest - plus veggies), drink mainly water, so at the moment am very cheap to run.  So obviously the food in store is mainly for serving one person, not two and naturally last a lot longer.  l
The main thing is - however few or many we have to cook for, using only the food we have already in store (and buying no more other than milk, eggs...), the fact we are controlling our food budget, keeping our purses tightly locked, should prove to us that it is possible to make ends meet by using food that we might normally throw away, and by doing so still manage to serve really tasty meals.

Perhaps all we need to do is - next time we decide to go to the supermarket to stock up - is to ask ourselves "have we food in the house that we can use to make a meal?"  If so - they just use it.  Save the shopping for another day.  The next day do the same.  As long as we can make a meal, then there really is no need to buy food is there? 

It's easy enough to day this, but I'm like everyone else - I get into the habit of buying food regularly from the supermarket.  When I had a car I'd go food-shopping at least once a fortnight, now - with no car and house-bound, I would normally order once a (calendar) month, on-line, and have the food delivered.   My monthly budget would rarely be exceeded, and once the reductions/offers/vouchers taken from the total, would be less.   So no real reason for me to cut down (other than to have money left to cover rising fuel prices).

What is important to me is to stop taking the wide variety of foods on sale for granted.  We could probably feed ourselves extremely well if 80% of the food disappeared from the shelves.  All we really need are the 'basics', and then learn how to use them to the best advantage.   That's how things used to be, and can still be now.
So, when money is needed to other things than food, the only way to save for this is to cut the food budget.  This doesn't always mean we buy less food, just choose different foods.  Instead of steak, buy cheaper cuts.  Instead of eating meat every day, serve a vegetarian meal on alternate days.

The recipe today is one that can use up oddments of winter (long-lasting) vegetables.  Choose from any (or all) of the following:  celeriac, carrots, potatoes, leeks, or sweet potato, parsnips, swede, onions, turnips, butternut squash.... 
If you wish to freeze this casserole do so at ***, then thaw overnight in the fridge, and bake as given.

As with any recipe of this type, especially when we are aiming to use up what we have, obviously we have to leave out what we don't have, but might be able to add a reasonable alternative.  Cream cheese instead of crème fraiche (or even yogurt). dried mixed herbs instead of a specified one, and just any very dried out bits of hard cheese will grate down to use as 'parmesan'.  If no ground almonds use more flour.  If no butter, use marg or oil.

Crumble-topped Veggie Casserole: serves 6
14 fl oz (400ml) vegetable stock
approx 3 lb weight of assorted veg.
1 x 200g tub cream fraiche
2 tblsp plain flour
1 tblsp mustard (pref whole grain)
half tsp dried thyme leaves
crumble mix:
2 oz (50g) butter, diced
2 oz (50g) plain flour
2 oz (50g) ground almonds
salt and pepper
2 oz (50g) grated Parmesan cheese
1 oz (25g) flaked almonds
Put the stock into the pan over a medium heat.  Peel chosen vegetables (if necessary) and dice all (slicing the leeks). Add the veggies to the pan, leeks on top, and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile beat the crème fraiche with the flour, mustard and herbs, then stir this into the vegetables until thickened.  Spoon into individual dishes (or one large if you wish).
Make the crumble by rubbing the butter into the flour and ground almonds.  Add seasoning to taste then stir in the cheese and flaked almonds. Sprinkle this over the top of the veggies. **** (can be frozen at this point. Wrap in cling film, then foil.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  Thaw in fridge overnight then bake as below).
To bake: Place in a pre-heated oven (190C, gas 5) and bake for 30 - 35 minutes until golden.

After a spell of fairly mild weather, strong winds and some rain, it seems that winter is about to give us a visit. Much colder weather and maybe some snow as well.  It certainly seems colder this morning, but so far only a few spits of rain on the window and the sun is trying to break through.  Certainly the time to serve a warming casserole, so will probably be making the one given above for both B and myself to enjoy tonight.  But who knows, I've been known to change my mind (several times) during the day. 

Will be back again tomorrow and hope you can join me then.  TTFN >