Saturday, 31 August 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 31-8-13

Breakfast:  boiled egg and toast
Lunch:  baked fish with a salad
Dinner:  Out to the Hare so goodness only knows!  The last for a while though.

Snacks:  Plum, tomatoes
Drinks:  loadsa water

From Monday I am going to have another store cupboard week or maybe even a fortnight.  I will buy the weekly eggs because that's a fixed point in time and space and I may need to buy milk, but that should be it with any allotment stuff from Beth, runner beans and tomatoes.
This holiday hasn't been dreadful but I have spent more than I ought to have spent so it's time to slow down and get organised again.  These next two weeks should do that for me.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Recipe: Pappardelle with slow roasted tomatoes and peppers

This recipe landed in my mailbox as a notification from the Great British Chefs website and looked so simple and so delicious that I decided to try it.  Being me, I had to modify it and here's my comments.

Ingredients:  amounts are deliberately vague to match what I had and served 1 (there was left over pasta dough)
Pasta dough:
100g pasta flour (I used ordinary which isn't as nice to work with but it's very much more frugal)
1 egg
splash of olive oil

olive oil
clove of garlic, crushed
half a small onion, cut into thin wedges
some tomatoes, quartered (the recipe said Heirloom, I used home grown)
quarter of a red, orange or yellow pepper, sliced thinly.
a handful fresh basil or parsley (I used parsley as I don't like basil very much - basil would be better if you like it but parsely was delicious too)
Some cheese, finely grated (I used not-parmesan - I didn't need very much)

Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic and pepper in a small roasting dish, drizzle with oil and roast in a slow oven until gorgeously gooey and fragrant.  I gave it a good l;ong time which made it power expensive and next time I will do it in Handy Andy (my halogen oven) instead
While they are roasting, make the pasta dough, rest it, do the usual with the pasta maker and cut into strips about 3cm wide.

When the tomatoes are ready, snip in the parsley and pop it back in the oven while you cook the pappardelle in boiling, salted water until al dente, then drain well (it took about 90 seconds, that's all).  Check the tomato mix and season as needed.  I just added a little sea salt

Arrange the pasta in a bowl with the tomatoes and a sprinkling of grated cheese over the top.  Eat and enjoy

That was the theory and it all worked really well.  The roasted veg mixture was fantastic - a really deep, intense tomatey hit that was just incredible.

Just a couple of comment.
I didn't really go a bundle on the wide pasta ribbons: the flavour was OK but somehow it didn't work.  When I make it again (and I will) it will be linguine or fettuccine type pasta.  The other thing I will do is steam off the tomato skins before roasting as they were a little tough.  But, honestly, it was absolutely gorgeous. So simple and so scrummy.  And using value flour and tomatoes from the garden, the whole dish was under 60p

Just one word of advice - grated knuckle doesn't really enhance the grated not-parmesan flavour one little bit!  Don't try it!  OK?

Menu: 30-8-13

I think I have to give up on the frugality for a few days.
Yesterday evening's meal with three lovely people was great fun and we all had small plate meals which was nice, even though I then spoilt my comparative frugality with a large class of dry white (I wasn't driving!)
But today I am meeting Beth and Alex for lunch in the local pub and tomorrow evening it's back to the Hare with two other lovely friends (and Beth and Alex are lovely too, I hasten to add).

So I must do my best when I can, but . . .
Here we go . . .
Breakfast:  Something eggy as I have some to use up and I'm collecting next week's eggs this afternoon.  I think I feel a batch of lemon curd coming on too!
Lunch:  Eeeeeeek
Dinner:  I'm going to try a very simple recipe that I found.  It looks lavish but is very frugal given the tomatoes will be home grown rather than a punnet of expensive Heirloom tomatoes.  It's pappardelle with slow cooked tomatoes, parmesan and basil, except that I will sustitute the basil for parsley because I don't like basil, philistine that I am and I shall roast some garlic with the tomatoes because yum; possibly some onions too!  I shall make the pappardelle, of course.
I'll let you know!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 29-8-13

Well, yesterday turned out to be rather a disaster on the food front.  Andrea and I went over the road from school to the Flyer and we each had a very nice jacket potato with coronation chicken filling.  Then I totally lost it after I'd finished in school, went over to Morrisons and bought rubbish.  Ho hum.

Today won't be much better, but hopefully more planned.
Breakfast: the sausages I had planned for dinner yesterday and which had thawed slowly in the fridge
Lunch:  not sure because I have a friend coming for coffee and cake this morning.  If I have anything it will be based around tomatoes and salad leaves as there's something of a glut of them at the moment - oh, and cucumber!
Dinner:  Out to the hare with Linda and Julia.

See - not frugal, not cheaper than chips, but very nice, all the same

And now I'm off into the kitchen to make a Victoria sponge.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Recipe: Courgette fritters: Cheaper than chips

As expected, I was spoilt for choice when looking for recipes.  Finally I downloaded three.  One was a very basic (useful for doing your own thing) recipe, one was spicy and one was herby.  Decisions, decisions.

In the end I used half a fairly reasonable sized courgette, grated; one egg; some chives and parsley, chopped (garden); about 20g grated not-parmesan; 40g plain flour and some salt and pepper and fried them in a little olive oil.  I guess you could say they were Italian-ish style and they were really scrummy.
Just put all the other ingredients but the flour in a bowl and mix well, then add the flour and mix again until everything is combined.
It made eight fritters so that came to about 5p per fritter.  I ate four with my dinner, then nicked another one afterwards.  I wonder if the other three would freeze?

And I forgot to take a photo!  Sorry.

Cheaper than chips menu: 28-8-13

Breakfast:  beans on toast
Lunch:  not sure, all depends on where I am.  Might be more of the beans on toast, might be scrambled egg on toast, pineapple and yoghurt
Dinner: 2 sausages in a sticky sauce, chips, finish off the beans on toast or maybe roasted tomatoes.
Lots of water

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 27-8-13

Despite having it all planned, I keep changing my mind!  I was going to have poached egg on a crumpet this morning until I remembered that big bowl of ripe tomatoes on the window ledge, for example.  Ah, well, that's half the fun.

Breakfast:  bacon and tomato
Lunch (probably in school):  soup, roll and butter, yoghurt and pineapple
Dinner:  chicken breast in some sort of sauce (the chicken I bought when I was at my parents' home and I can't remember what the sauce was - lemon had something to do with it, I think), courgette fritter, black beans, runner beans, followed by cheats cherry ice cream.

Lots of home made/grown here.  That makes it nice and frugal!  Even the chicken works because it was a gift!
Now to hunt for a fritter recipe - that really shouldn't take too long, should it?  :-)

Monday, 26 August 2013

Recipe: Cheese and onion drop scones: cheaper than chips

This is a Jack Monroe recipe and can be found here.
The instructions are very clear so I won't reproduce them.
It's very frugal at under 15p a portion (two drop scones from the ten that the mixture made) - less if you use value strong cheddar instead of value not-parmesan which is what I used.
The parsley was from the garden.
It's dead easy.
Best of all, they are absolutely scrummy, especially when fried in bacon fat.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.  Well worth a try.

My changes:  as mentioned, I used bacon fat instead of oil, not-parmesan and I added a good pinch of mustard powder.

You could make them smaller, bite sized, and they would look lovely!

Here's my breakfast - so delicious and filling too.

Cheaper than chips menu: 26-8-13

Breakfast:  Bacon. Cheese and onion drop scones (a Jack recipe - I'll let you know).
Lunch:  Tuna salad open sandwich with a side salad.  Yoghurt and pineapple.
Dinner:  Tomato and veg mixture left over from yesterday, plus the remains of the cheese sauce.  I think I will pop the mixture into an individual dish, spread over the cheese sauce and then top with either mash (instant, sorry!) or a savoury crumble topping (without cheese) and then heat up/bake in Handy Andy.  I am spoilt for choice where vegetables are concerned but will probably have runner beans (yesterday's were divine!) and some broccoli from Beth's garden or allotment (not sure which)

I'm spoilt for choice where veg is concerned.  Yesterday Beth brought round some black beans, a big head of broccoli, a cucumber and two courgettes.  From my garden I have quite a lot of herbs, salad leaves, radishes, tomatoes and runner beans, all of which are doing well.  It does make it a lot easier to be frugal!

I've stopped working out every penny.  What I am doing is being very frugal and careful at the point of purchase and making sure that the cost is displayed in some way on the product packaging or storage box.  When I make something new or want to know the exact cost, the info is there.  And I have worked out all the probable meals for the week, although, as circumstances can change, they are not tablets of stone.
This has worked very well over the summer holiday.  Next week it will be both easier and harder.  Easier because I will be back at school and ruled by a timetable - impulse cooking and eating will be up the chimney from Monday to Friday.  Harder because there is so little time to cook and even less time to be creative.  Organisation rather than free-flow becomes the name of the game.  This holiday has been good though!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Recipe: Lasagne: cheaper than chips.

I can't call it 'vegetarian' lasagne because I believe that implicit in that term is that I have would have used specific vegetables, such as aubergines, and I haven't.  I used what I had available, which is the glory of a dish like this.  So it is 'vegetable lasagne'.

I set myself a challenge.  I saw some ready meal value pizzas, single (very small) portions, at 95p and I believe you can get them at Asda for less than that - 70p.  Now, I know that whatever I make will be much, much tastier but could it be cheaper?  It has to be vegetable based, not meat, because it will be for Beth as well as for me.  I could have used some minced beef I got from Aldi at £1.00 for 500g but not for a family meal!

So this is what I did.

The pasta:
100g pasta flour (I could have used ordinary/value but chose not to this time as it's the first time I've made lasagne)
1 egg (more expensive than usual because I won't be picking up my usual eggs until later this morning)
a very small splash of oil

I made the dough, did the usual with the pasta maker and cut the rectangles to suit the dish I was using.  There were some trimmings which I re-rolled and cut into short bits for use tomorrow).  I layered them with easy leave and left them in the fridge until needed.

The vegetable sauce:
splash of oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
half a small red pepper and half a small green pepper (from a value bag of five)
half a carrot, peeled and chopped
a squidge of garlic puree
1 courgette (from Beth's allotment) peeled and chopped
1 chestnut mushroom (quite large as chestnut mushrooms go) chopped
1 chilli (not very hot, but for the flavour), seeded and chopped fine
1 can chopped tomatoes (value)
40g red lentils
1 can kidney beans
Mixed herbs - to own taste - or use other herbs.  I could have used fresh but didn't because the dried needs using up
Marigold stock - a tbsp's worth
salt/pepper to taste
some chopped fresh parsley (from the garden)
half a tube of tomato puree (from Lidl, so a lot cheaper than Morrisons)

I heated the oil in a large pan, then added the onion and carrot and sauteed them gently for about six or seven minutes.  Then I added the pepper, chilli and courgette and continued cooking them gently.  Then in went the mushroom and some garlic puree.  After a few minutes, I turned up the heat, added the chopped tomatoes with about half a can of water, the lentils, the herbs, Marigold, salt and pepper.  I went easy on the salt but needed some because the Marigold is the low sodium kind.  After a good stir I brought it to a simmer, atill stirring, then turned the heat right down, covered it and left the mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or so (while I made the cheese sauce).  Then I adjusted the seasoning before adding the kidney beans, the parsley and the tomato puree.  I gave it all a good stir and that was ready.  It didn't need to be all that sloppy because the pasta was fresh, not dried.

The cheese sauce: made in Thermione but it would be fine to do it the conventional way instead.
80g grated strong cheddar (I used some from Aldi that was 6p per 10g)
30g grated not-parmesan (i.e. supermarket value hard Italian cheese)
40g butter (value)
30g cornflour
250 mls milk (more or less - use however much you need)
salt/pepper to taste
pinch mustard powder

I used about 20g of the not-parmesan and 50g of the cheddar for the sauce and the rest went over the top.
This made a jolly good thick sauce and, as it was made in Thermione, it was beautifully smooth for no effort!

Then I layered it all up - two layers of vegetables, two of pasta, then topped with the cheese sauce with the rest of the grated cheese sprinkled over the top.  Then into the oven at 180 it went until the whole thing was bubbling and the cheese was browning on top.  Because the pasta was fresh, it didn't take as long.
It smells delicious.

Now for the maths.  All of the above made a dishful that will serve four very generously, more like six or seven if you are thinking supermarket portions which can be meagre, especially the value versions.  As well as that I have the left over pasta plus a good portion of sauce and a good portion of cheese sauce for tomorrow, so that's Monday's dinner sorted out!
The costing is rounded up rather than down, when necessary and, assuming five portions in total, comes to around 64p a portion.  If you count the lasagne as serving six, each portion will be around 46p (allowing for the extra for tomorrow).  It's all a bit imprecise but you get the general idea.

I could have made this a lot cheaper.  I could have been more frugal with the pasta, I could have used value frozen mixed veg, frozen peppers, less cheese, etc.  But I chose not to!

It's win-win!  The only thing it loses on is time.  It takes time to make from scratch.  Time and, I suppose, I bit of knowledge.  Time is a very valuable commodity in today's world.  So one could get some of those foil dishes (which are reuseable) and make individual portions to freeze when one has the time to do so.  Very satisfying!

I baked some bread this morning too.

Cheaper than chips menu: 25-8-13

Yesterday was a weird old day food wise.  Contrary to my planning, I decided to finish off the Chinese through the day and did, with the result that I wanted very little else all day.  Now, it wasn't a huge amount so I can only think I'm still feeling the effects of a week's self indulgence.  it wasn't until late evening that I fancied something to eat so I opened a small can of mandarins in juice and polished that all off in next to no time.
I'm hungry now but it's a good hungry!

Breakfast:  beans on toast
Dinner:  vegetable lasagna with runner beans.  Fresh fruit.
Tea:  Probably a salad of some kind.  I have to start eating the salad leaves from the garden and the radishes also need pulling.

More water!  Lots more water.

I'll post the lasagna recipe later, if it's OK.  It won't be anything special though!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Cheaper than chips: 24-8-13

At last it's back to normal, more or less.  I do have the remains of a take away Chinese to polish off but I'm going to freeze that.  I need to get back to basics.

Breakfast: porridge with pineapple and yoghurt (if it's OK after the week away - I shall make some more today anyway)
Lunch:  I have some leftover from a lovely veg mix Beth made on Thursday evening from onion, mushroom and tomato with some white wine and a few other bits and bobs.  I shall make some pasta and have a bit of that with the sauce and make a little side salad with leaves, radishes and tomatoes, all from the garden. Apple.
Dinner:  I have runner beans to eat so I will have them with a casserole of some kind from the freezer, perhaps some of the moroccan pork mince thing I made a few months ago.  I also need to use up a courgette so I will fry it in just a titchy bit of spray olive oil.  Dessert will be an apple or a nactarine, both holiday left-overs.

Loads and loads of water.  I've been bad at drinking enough water recently.  Holiday wine is NOT a proper substitute.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Holiday menu: 23-8-13

Breakfast:  The last ever Streele Farm meal.  Sad.  Home made toast and home made jam
Lunch:  goodness only knows.  It depends whether we are stuck in traffic on the M25 or not.
Dinner:  take away Chinese to say thank you to Sonja and Milli for house sitting this week.

And then it's back to normal - somehow!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Holiday menu: 22-8-13

 It's the last full day.  Bits and bobs day, finishing off day.

Breakfast - me:  toast, porridge, fresh fruit
Lunch - Alex: ham/cheese salad, fruit
Dinner - Beth:  anything else that hasn't already been eaten plus ice lollies!

We've done well - there won't be an awful lot of food to take home!  And then it is back on the frugal pathway once more.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Holiday menu

Beth's day today:

Breakfast:  Goodness knows.  We're starting to think about how to use up bits and bobs so it could be anything.  We have eggs, bacon, sausages, porridge, toast . . .
Lunch: probably sandwiches, etc, as we will be out.
Dinner:  Something based on couscous with lots of vegetables!

I am beginning to look forward to some regularity again.  A bit of this and a bit of that is all very well and nice for a change, but I prefer to plan more.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Holiday Menu: 20-8-13

My day today

Breakfast:  Whatever people want.  There's a choice of porridge, eggs (done various ways), toast, fruit, beans.
Lunch:  ham, cheg, salad, fruit and yoghurt
Dinner:  Mixed grill ( bacon, sausage, drumstick, burger and, for Beth, falafels and quorn sausages) with wedges, mushrooms, green beans.  Dessert is crackers and biscuits or maybe a fruit salad.

With a bit of help, Alex's meals yesterday were absolutely delicious.  He forgot to get the prawns out of the  freezer so Beth sauteed them in a little butter and they were scrummy warm on top of a mixed salad.  I shall be doing that at home.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Holiday menu: 19-8-13

Alex's day today

Breakfast:  Porridge with pineapple and yoghurt
Lunch:  Some kind of prawn salad
Dinner:  roast gammon and various trimmings

Sonja - the wine is going down very well!!!  Thank you.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Holiday menu: 18-8-13

So here we are at the second full day of the holiday.  The bread is rising in Thermione's pan.  Soon the barn will be filled with the aroma of freshly baking bread.  Deelicious!  I'm up at my usual ridiculously early time, mug of coffee to hand, enjoying the peace and quiet as I always do.

I had a bit of a disaster yesterday.  I mixed up my crunchy flapjack biscuits, popped them in the oven . . . and burnt them.
The oven is a bit quirky  (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) and instead of having the setting on fan oven, I had set it to grill.   Oh, dear. The smell was horrendous and the smoke even more so!  The scorched remains had to be thrown away and I will have another go tomorrow!  Ooops!

As far as I know, this is today's menu - Beth is in charge so I'm not totally sure but it's certainly not a complete list:
Breakfast:  crumpets, fresh fruit
Lunch:  No idea!
Dinner:  vegetable curry with naan bread.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Holiday menu: 17-8-13

So here we are on the first full day of our holiday.   Breakfast is all set up and ready for the less wakeful members of the party!

Here's the basic plan - not cheaper than chips though, you will have to bear with me on this one for the next six days.
Breakfast:  boiled eggs and toasty soldiers.  The eggs are from my friend and the bread is home made.  Then there's jams (home made, marmalade (a present) and Marmite (a non-negotiable ever-present yum)
Lunch:  a bit of a scrappy affair as we go shopping this afternoon.  Bread and butter, cheese, cold meat (what's left from the pizza), cheese and melon slices.
Dinner:  Sausages in some kind of sticky sauce with courgettes (from the allotment) and wedges (not from the allotment) followed by don't know what yet, possibly crackers and cheese.

We always have a plan on holiday and that is that we take it in turns to do the meals.  Yesterday it was Alex, today it's me, tomorrow Beth.  The first person up sorts out breakfast so that would be me then, but it's no hassle.  Breakfast is easy.

I will be continuing to make bread - Thermione has come with us and has already been put to work making the pizza dough yesterday.  At the moment she is all set up for boiling six eggs.  I'm glad we brought her with us.
Here she is, looking for all the world as if she has always been here.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Cheaper than Chips moving on to holiday menu: 16-8-13

Breakfast:  porridge. fruit and yoghurt
Lunch:  No idea, probably nothing as I should be driving the car by then.
Dinner:  Alex's turn and it's going to be Pick Your Own Pizza.  There will be tomato sauce, cheddar, mozzarella, pineapple, ham, pepperoni, mushroom and olives to choose from.  Oh, and wine . . . frugality takes a back seat tonight.  I'm grateful that we have that option.

The beef did indeed slice up well.  Twelve thin slices did us for dinner tonight, warmed up in a lovely gravy made from the meat stock.  Another twelve or so are wrapped up ready to go to Streele Farm.  Another lot is not wrapped in single portions and in the freezer and the bits that really wouldn't slice have been zizzed up and will make ravioli filling or beef paste or cottage pie or whatever. That's fourteen helpings and we ate jolly well last night and tonight.  Really cannot complain.  I must consider doing this again - buying the larger joints, I mean.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 15-8-13

It's going to be challenging over the next week.  My dear friend, Sonja and her daughter, are here to house sit and tomato nurse and then we are off on holiday for a week and, while we don't intend to be wasteful, we are not aiming for total frugality.  We have decided that we will splash out on some good fruit, for example.  Frugal eating does not lend itself to much fresh fruit although, with careful planning and making the best of what is out there, it is perfectly possible to do the five a day, especially if one has a wee garden and a daughter with an allotment, but I've missed peaches and nectarines, grapes and melons.  So it will be a big treat!

The other thing we are doing is taking Thermione with us.  I meant to get a swish carrying case but didn't get round to it, so she will go in a supermarket bag instead!  Just as safe.  That will mean easy home made bread/rolls very day which is an ongoing treat.  It will make other things very easy too - boiling eggs in Thermione is a doddle, for example.

So next week will be interesting but also interesting was the fact that when I discovered that there's a Lidl in Crowborough, both of us were absolutely delighted.  I think it is in the blood now, this frugality lark!

Anyway - food for today:
Breakfast:  on offer will be porridge with pineapple and yoghurt , melon slices  and bacon and egg.  I will go for the porridge and the melon but my guests might fancy the cooked breakfast instead.
Lunch:  probably tuna with mayo in a roll plus a nice little mixed salad (leaves, radishes and lettuce/leaves will be from the garden)
Dinner:  I did a roast beef dinner yesterday, as a birthday meal for Sonja.  The beef (top rump) was a lovely large joint that was half price in Morrison's - brilliant value and I would possibly have bought it anyway and cut it into steaks before freezing it..  There's more than half left still so I will hack off some slices to take on holiday and we will have the rest tonight with veg for dinner.  The good thing about roast beef is that it does slice really well once it is cold (assuming a sharp knife) and heats up very nicely in the meat juices which them makes a super gravy..

I suspect that this will take me close to the £2.00 limit but a frugal breakfast and lunch and no snacks will compensate for the beef which should do eight meals, probably more - after all, we didn't stint yesterday and there's a lot left!

Recently my friend Diane blogged about making one chicken breast do three people by making a chicken stroganoff and bulking it out with onions and mushrooms.  One chicken breast each is expensive, one between three is still delicious, perhaps more so for the additions and so much better value - and probably a more sensible amount, given that we eat too much meat anyway!

I didn't mean to ramble like this when I started writing this.  Please forgive the length and, if you made it to the end, well done!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

cheaper than chips menu: 14-8-13

Breakfast:  Bacon and egg
Lunch:  Angel hair pasta with fried tomatoes
Dinner: roast beef, etc.

This evening is a birthday meal for a friend, hence the splash out!

The ravioli went OK yesterday.  I made and rolled and used a fluted circular biscuit cutter whish made just the right shape!  It must have been beginner's luck but when I sealed them I started round one size and just worked my way round, squeezing a titchy bit of filling out before sealing the last little bit, just to get rid of as much air inside as possible and it worked a treat!
In the end the filling was tuna and soft cheese with some garlic puree, chilli puree and pepper and it was jolly tasty.  I just melted a little butter and sprinkled over some not-parmesan for topping.  I have dough left over so will make angel hair pasta and have it with a simple tomato sauce for lunch.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 13-8-13

Breakfast:  beans on toast, pineapple and yoghurt
Lunch:  Tuna salad roll with additional side salad (which will contain loadsa radishes because they are all coming at once now).  I'm making some more crunchy flapjack biscuits and they will be my dessert.
Dinner:  Ravioli.  Yes, I shall have a go and see.  The filling will be tuna and soft cheese, seeing as I am opening a tin of tuna today.  I will have a go anyway and see.  Also another side salad followed by fruit yoghurt.

Also lots of water and some decaf coffee.

It's going to be very frugal.
The beans are value, the bread is home made, as is the roll.
The tuna is from a bargain tin and will do two meals.
Just about all the salad will come from the garden - the coleslaw won't but will be home made.
The ravioli will be home made.
The yoghurt is (surprise, surprise!) home made and the fruit is value.
I'm not working it out to the last penny but it will certainly be under £1.50.

Sadly, I'm not going to be able to keep this up once term starts again but I'm enjoying it while it lasts!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Recipe: crunchy flapjack biscuits: cheaper than chips: thermomix

I've posted a flapjack recipe before but this is slightly different and has been used differently so no apologies. It can be made using a thermomix or the conventional way.    They're sweet and crunchy and light and absolutely delicious.

Crunchy flapjack biscuits:

125g rolled oats
75g butter
40g golden syrup
30g sugar (I used demerara)
Pinch salt
Splash of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 190.  Prepare two baking sheets - I use reusable teflon cooking mats but baking parchment would be fine too.

Measure the butter, syrup and sugar into the bowl.
Melt the butter at 90/speed 2-3/2-3 mins until the butter is melted and the mixture is runny and gooey (it smells wonderful too)
Add the oats, salt and lemon juice and mix on reverse3 until the oats are all mixed into the sugar and butter.  It doesn't take long.

Measure the butter, sugar and syrup into a large saucepan and slowly heat until the butter is melted, the sugar has dissolved and it has all goo-ed together.  Remove from the heat, add the oats, salt and lemon juice and stir well until everything is thoroughly mixed.

Using a tea spoon, spoon small amounts of the mixture onto the baking trays, gently flattening each spoonful down and pushing in the edges just a little bit.  Leave a little space between each biscuit as they do spread a bit.  I made twenty two biscuits and needed two baking trays.

Bake in the oven for just fifteen minutes (that's all it took) until the edges are brown and the centre is just a little lighter.  Leave them on the baking trays to cook and harden, then remove carefully with a spatula and finish cooling on a cooling rack.  They should have spread out a little and be quite thin and, once cool, very crunchy.  They're scrumptious.

I made some for our P4P today and they all got finished off.  Using value oats and value butter, they are extremely frugal, about 2p each.  I doubt I will ever bake this recipe the conventional flapjack way again.
Not the best photo but the only one I remembered to take!

Cheaper than chips menu: 12-8-13

Firstly I am very pleased to report that the pasta made with value flour worked extremely well and 100g + 1 egg made enough for four (three portions yesterday and one for dinner tonight), 20p in total, 5p per portion.  I know I'm lucky with the eggs but even if they were shop bought eggs it would still be pretty good.  So that's definitely a stayer!
I wasn't going to cook the pasta straight awayon Saturday, so I dried it.  Can you guess what I hung it on?

Breakfast:  beans on toast (I was supposed to have that yesterday but changed it to scrambled eggs)
Lunch:  P4P*
Dinner:  Yesterday's leftovers: pasta with tomato and bacon sauce with a side salad.

*It's our Picnic for a Pound today.  Bring something to share that costs no more than £1.00 and something(s) for the food bank.  I don't think many are coming, but we definitely have eight people and perhaps more.  I'm doing rolls with either cream cheese or jam.  I made 15 rolls for 25p, they will be halved first, the soft cheese and butter is value (of course) and the jam is home made and cost pennies.  I know Beth made courgette cake.  I'm not sure what anyone else is bringing but we certainly won't starve.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 11-8-13

I forgot to add the lemon juice to the second half of the pasta meal last night.
I forgot to take a photo.
It was still delicious, however!

Breakfast:  beans on toast
Lunch:  pasta (home made, using ordinary flour just to see) with a tomato and vegetable sauce topped with cheese (yum)
Dinner:  I'm splashing out and having a steak.  Yes I am!  With a mushroom and creme fraiche sauce and a side salad.  I have it and it has to be used so I am!  It's certainly NOT cheaper than chips for dinner!  Then yoghurt and pineapple.

I want to make ravioli - any suggestions for a simple filling, please?

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Ooops: a mistake in the pasta recipe

Having just made another lot of pasta (for lunch tomorrow and using value bog-standard flour), I realise I made a mistake in the pasta and bacon recipe.

I had forgotten that I used about a third of the pasta dough to run through the machine and then discard, as the booklet instructed.  So the costing is a little bit out but also  with the extra it would certainly feed four and would be way, way too much for two.  At least it is a mistake in the right direction!

When I make it again I will try to remember to adapt or re-write the recipe but for now - if you intend to make it, take note.  :-)

Cheaper than chips menu: 10-8-13

Breakfast: beans on toast
Lunch: 'Caesar' salad with crumbled feta and olives, yoghurt and pineapple
Dinner:  the other half of the pasta with bacon, mushrooms and cheese I made yesterday, citrus yoghurt

Lots of water, some decaf coffee, mint tea.

Some of this looks very expensive but I will be well inside my £2.00 max for the day and this is how:
The beans are value beans which taste fine and the bread is home made.
The sauce for the salad is home made, the (non-traditional) salad itself will be mostly garden picked, the feta is value from Morrisons and the olives are the remains of the tin I opened earlier in the week, an old tin that really needed using fairly soon.  No idea of the cost, unfortunately.
The crouitons will be made from this week's now stale bread.
The yoghurt is home made.
The pasta is the other half of yesterday's dinner and is the most expensive of the lot at around 80p.

You can tell it is the summer holiday, can't you - all this home made stuff!  Delicious and satisfying.  And it is so very nice to have got the Cheaper than Chips project running again after something of a blip last month.

Recipe: Pasta with bacon, mushroom and cheese: fairly frugal

. . . and absolutely delicious.

Diane was right - making pasta is fun.  It very satisfying and relaxing as you feed the dough through increasingly close-together rollers.  I will use this gadget, for sure.  Beth!  Pasta on Sunday?

But I forgot to take a photo - maybe I will remember tomorrow!

Pasta:  100g pasta flour and one egg (I see Diane added oil to hers so I might try that next time)

1/4 pack of value cooking bacon (Sainsbury's)
a very little oil
a very little butter
1 small onion, chopped
a squidge of garlic puree
3 or 4 mushrooms, thinly sliced
100ml light creme fraiche
some chopped parsley and chopped oregano (from the garden/window ledge)
40g value Italian hard cheese (not-parmesan, finely grated.
ground black pepper

Make the pasta (or use dried or fresh bought pasta - the former is much cheaper, the latter much dearer).

Cut the bacon into small chunks, discarding any fat.  Heat the oil in a frying pan on a low heat and add the bacon.  Cook slowly, not allowing it to catch, then spoon it into a dish and retain.
In the pan, with the bacon juices, add a very little butter.  Add the chopped onion, mix well and leave on a very low heat to soften and turn translucant (not brown!).  Towards the end add the garlic puree and stir well.
Then add the sliced mushrooms, increase the heat slightly and cook, stirring for a few minutes.

Pour boiling water into a saucepan, add salt and bring back to the boil.  When boiling hard, add the pasta and cook, reducing the heat a little if it looks to be boiling over.  (if using dried pasta, you need to begin to cook it before starting on the sauce).  When the pasta is cooked, drain it well, pop it back into the pan and cover.  Set to one side.

Back to the sauce - add the cooked bacon to the onion and mushrooms and stir together.  Then add the light creme fraiche, the chopped herbs and some black pepper and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring well.  Add most of the not-parmesan, retaining a little to sprinkle over the top.
Pour the sauce into the saucepan with the pasta and stir well.
Serve with the remaining cheese over the top.

You do NOT need to add any salt to the sauce - the bacon and the cheese contain enough.

This made two very good portions BUT - if I had made twice the amount of pasta, it would have stretched to four - the amount of sauce was very generous - way too much really.  However, it was very satisfying and I'm still not terribly hungry the next morning.

Serving two, each portion is about 80p - not bad at all.  Double the pasta and make it serve 3 and it is 63p a portion.  Stretch it to four (more a light lunch really) and it will be around 50p which is approaching the very frugal banding!

When I eat the other portion (tomorrow), I will add a splash of lemon juice to lift it!

At some point I am going to try it with chicken instead of bacon and then with salmon but I will need to cook the fish nearly at the end, not at the beginning.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Recipe: cheesy courgette biscuits: a work in progress

I found this recipe while searching through the Internet for courgette based stuff.  I thought it looked easy so had a go.

It was interesting!

First of all, it doesn't specify how much courgette to use - 'half' is pretty vague and could describe vastly differing amounts.  And courgette is wet!
I doubled the cheese as 15g doesn't sound very much.  I'm glad I did!
I had to add extra flour as the dough was unworkable without the extra.

OK, so given those changes, I had a go.  The baking was the interesting part.  After the specified time they were still soggy (probably from the courgette) so I turned the heat down and gave them longer.  After that had cooled on the rack I felt that they were still soft in the middle and I wanted crunchy so back they went on the baking sheet and back into the oven where I gave them more time on a lower setting and then allowed them to cool in the oven with the oven door open.  That seemed to do the trick and they have remained crunchy although just this side of 'catching'.

They taste very, very nice, especially with a little sea salt sprinkled over the top; the courgette gives them a hint of savoury sweetness.  I will make them again with the increased amount of cheese, a little less courgette and I will use butter instead of marg, for the flavour.  I might add some pepper, some snipped chives or dried herbs and possibly a very little garlic puree, just a hint.  I will also roll them out a lot thinner so as to crisp them up faster.  Finally, I will cool them off in the oven with the door open again.

So it's a work in progress but one that is worth the work, I think.  The recipe makes loads and one could quite comfortably make half quantities, especially if rolled out very thin.  Having said that, there don't seem to be many left in the container.  How strange!

I didn't cost it out but will do when I re-make it.

Cheaper than chips menu: 9-8-13

Firstly, an update on yesterday.
We had the allotment picnic and it was:
egg sarnies made with home made bread
crisps (on special)
cucumber (from Beth's garden)
melon slices
citrus yoghurt (every bit home made)
flapjack cookies (made that morning)
diet cola and orange juice.
 . . . and we ate every single scrap.  Delicious
Not like this though - this is borrowed from Google Search!

For dinner I had intended to have Jack-burgers but I couldn't find them (drat my overcrowded freezer) so I took out two of the pork, apple and sage burgers I made a while ago.  I also grabbed one of the rolls I made last Sunday.  Out in the garden I picked some living lettuce leaves and some tomatoes and pulled a few radish thinnings.  To those I added cucumber (from Beth's garden) and courgette (from Beth's allotment!) and chopped up a carrot (from Morrisons!!!)
I dry-fried the burgers and had them each on half a roll with mayo, lettuce and green tomato chutney (home made last year) with some coleslaw left over from the other day and the side salad with a (home made) dressing drizzled over.  It was a delicious meal.

A fantastic and frugal day's eating

Today's food:
Breakfast:  Porridge with yoghurt and dried cranberries
Lunch:  not sure - may be out but not eating out.  If I do it will be something eggy.
Dinner:  It's got to be something with pasta because I want to try out my new gadget,  I will probably make something with a tomato based sauce and lots of veg.  Or I might try a recipe for courgettes a friend described in our facebook group.  Long slow sauteing with onion, garlic and herbs.  Maybe . . .

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Recipe: citrus curd and citrus yoghurt: cheaper than chips (sort of)

The curd is NOT cheaper than chips although it's great value compared with the equivalent quality in the shops!
The yoghurt is.

Quite a while ago I posted a recipe for lemon curd.  One version was a microwave version and one was for Thermione (which is the way I always do it now).  Both are dead easy and I haven't had a fail yet.
Here's the link:

When I went round to June's on Tuesday I wanted to take a little gift, as you do, and, because I didn't have enough lemons to make the lemon curd recipe, I used what I had which was:
one lemon
one orange
some bottled lime juice (not cordial)

It was truly delicious and I am so glad there was some left over for me (it makes just over two pots-worth).
To make the citrus yoghurt I used about a level tbsp of the curd and mixed it with quite a good amount of my home made yoghurt, until it tasted right.  That was it, dead easy.  It tasted like the most expensive citrus or lemon yoghurt on the shelves.

If I'd had some meringues I'd have crushed one in, but I didn't so I couldn't.

Another one to do again.

Cheaper than chips menu: 8-8-13

Breakfast:  bacon and tomato (velue bacon and home grown tomatoes), yoghurt and citrus curd
Lunch: a picnic with Beth and Alex at her allotment.  I'm taking something sweet, probably flapjacks, either apple or orange juice and maybe three little pots of citrus yoghurt.
Dinner:  two Jack-burgers on an open roll with home made chutney, a salad and my home made dressing.  I might splash out and do some fried onions to go with it too.  Not sure about dessert, it might be more yoghurt as there's some to use up.

Other drinks:  decaf coffee and lots of water.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 6-8-13

Breakfast:  courgette and mint bread (recipe in previous entry) toast, possibly marmite on top (I'll see what it tastes like), yoghurt and pineapple.
Lunch:  out with a friend, ooops.  Two days lunching out this week is not frugal.  It's just as well I am being careful the rest of the time, isn't it?
Dinner:  the other portion of pasta with a sardine sauce (recipe in previous but one entry) and I will probably have a tomato salad on the side as there are several ready to eat.  Then strawberry yoghurt for dessert

Drink:  mostly water, a few decaf coffees and mint tea in the afternoon

I need to do an audit of what's actually in the freezers!

Recipe: Garden Mint and Courgette Bread: Thermomix: Cheaper than Chips

Once I had replenished my yeast stocks there was no excuse, not that I needed one, so I had a go at this.
Firstly, it is not at all of my creation.  The original can be found here at Freshly Baked, which is a jolly good site.  Do go over and take a look: there's some super recipes.

It was certainly interesting to make.  I adapted it for Thermione so I will give that method below.  However, while all the other ingredients were fine, I think there was too much water and next time I will reduce it to 250 mls with the option of adding more, if necessary.  I know it's mostly wholemeal flour which needs water but the courgettes do release a lot of water.
So the dough was very, very sloppy, almost unworkable (and Thermione did most of the work there, thank goodness) with the result that while proving (in tins) the top sort of collapsed.  I popped them quickly into the oven, thanking my lucky stars that I had pre-heated it well beforehand) and they were fine.  Quite a dense-ish texture, but not solid in any way and certainly not stodgy.  It hinted at mint but it was very subtle and I got the sense of an enriched flavour rather than any specific, full-on mint or courgette connection.

When made, I had the first slice still warm (after all, the cook's crusty nog-end contains no calories, eny fule kno that) with butter (ooops) and it was really delicious, and I mean REALLY delicious!  I had another slice when it had properly cooled (shame about the calories) and, again, it was scrummy.  So I'm happy to share both the link and the Thermomix method and would gladly share the calories too, if I could!

As for cost, the flours cost 40p and 5p, the yeast and the salt around 10p, the mint was from the garden and the courgette was from Beth's allotment.  At 55p for two loaves, I am happy to label this recipe as Cheaper than Chips.  If I'd needed to buy the courgette or if I had used strong wholemeal flour, it would have been rather more expensive, of course.

Garden mint and courgette bread the Thermomix way

150g courgettes (ends taken off, wiped well and any bad skin cut off before weighing), cut into chunks
2 tbsp chopped mint (I used leaves only)
Place both in the bowl and chop at speed 6 until grated.

400g wholemeal flour (I used ordinary plain as the recipe didn't say otherwise.  Next time I will try strong wholemeal instead - it might have been the cause of the collapse)
100g strong white flour
8g yeast
10g salt
250g water (the recipe said 300 and that's what I used, but I think that was rather too much) with more ready if needed
Put the flour, the yeast and salt into the bowl on top of the mint and courgette.  Mix on 4 for about 5 - 7 seconds
Add the water and mix on 6 for about 5 seconds
Knead on dough setting for 5 minutes.

Then take off the lid, scrape the sides down and oil them, cover the bowl with clingfilm or similar and leave for the dough to rise.

When the dough is risen (about an hour, less in warmer weather), knock it back down again on speed 4 for a very short time.
Take out of the bowl, scrape any residue out as well and put the bowl and the blade straight into hot, soapy water to soak (if the dough hardens, it's the very devil to get off the blade!).
Shape the dough as you fancy (I used two tins) and leave to prove.  Then pop into a very hot oven (the hottest you can get) and immediately reduce the heat to around 180-ish.
After half an hour I took the loaves out of the tins and put them back in the oven for another ten minutes to just finish them off.
Check they are done by rapping on the bottom of the loaf - it should sound 'hollow'.  Leave to cool on a rack and resist diving in with the bread knife and a knob of butter for as long as you can!

Beth - one loaf is for you!  Come and get!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Recipe: Pasta with a Sardine Sauce: cheaper than chips

The original recipe was called Pasta de Sardine but I have changed it so much that I am happy to lay claim to what turned out to be quite a tasty dish, odd as it sounds.
I didn't cost it out so can only be vaguely general about this, but it made two helpings (that's dinner tomorrow sorted) and it can't be much more than 60p per portion.  Now extreme frugal but pretty good for a main meal.  You could have garlic bread or something similar with it; I didn't!

Pasta with a Sardine Sauce
a tin of Morrison's value sardines in tomato sauce
A dollop of philly light (or any soft cheese) - about a tbsp
About a tbsp lemon juice or more, to taste - I think I used a bit more, maybe about 20mls
a good pinch of smoked paprika

A little oil or fat for sauteing (I used bacon fat)
a small onion, peeled and chopped
about 80g frozen mixed peppers, cut into small bits
two or three mushrooms (I used three but they weren't that big), chopped to the same size as the onion and the peppers
A squidge of garlic puree

Salt and pepper
Some grated parmesan or other cheese - I used value Italian hard cheese and I'm not sure how much weight - about 20g, more or less
90g (raw weight) pasta - I used spirals (value - what a surprise!).

Put the pasta on to cook in salted water

Heat the fat in the pan, tip in the mushrooms and peppers and saute very, very gently until it is all very soft.  Be careful it doesn't catch.

While this is going on open the sardines and tip the entire contents into a bowl.  Add the lemon juice and smoked paprika and stir really well.  The fish should break up into little bits.  Next time I might zizz it to make a smoother sauce.

When the onion and peppers are soft, turn the heat up slightly and add the mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring for a minute or two.

By now the pasta should have cooked.  Drain and keep warm..

Pour the fishy mix into the pan with the vegetables and stir well to mix everything up.  Then add one tbsp soft cheese and keep stirring while it melts in.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  If it is very thick you could add some milk/yoghurt/cream.  It was fine for me, no need to slacken it at all..

Pour in the pasta, keeping the pan over a low-ish heat and mix it all together well.  Serve with the grated cheese sprinkled over.

And I forgot to take a photo!

Cheaper than chips menu: 6-8-13

Breakfast:  porridge with pineapple and yoghurt
Lunch: bacon and egg salad, coleslaw, potato salad
Dinner:  Pasta with sardine sauce (will share the recipe if it works out OK), pineapple and yoghurt

Drinks: water, decaf coffee, mint tea

Monday, 5 August 2013

Additional comment

Lunch:  Granary roll with bacon bits, brie and cranberry sauce with a side salad and some chips.  Yup, we went out for lunch.

Not frugal but, as these things go, not horribly expensive and very delicious!  Should have taken a photo - I had my camera with me!

Cheaper than chips menu: 5-8-13

Breakfast:  Porridge, dried cranberries, yoghurt
Lunch:  Not sure yet - it might be pasta in a sardine sauce, a recipe I have just found.
Dinner:  Roast chicken (left over from yesterday), courgettes, corn on the cob, new potatoes (all from Beth).

How about you?

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 4-7-13

Breakfast:  porridge with pineapple and yoghurt (yes, all together, delicious)
Dinner:  roast chicken and stuffing, new potatoes, courgettes (of course), probably peas as well.  The vegetarian option will probably be a kind of beany courgette bake*.
Tea:  tuna salad roll (tuna left over from yesterday evening), side salad, fruit and yoghurt

Lots of water, mint tea, coffee

* The nice thing about having a loaded freezer is that one can pop down to it, open it up and find a pot of tomato/bean mixture that will be ideal for the base of the bake.  I love my freezer!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Recipe: Tuna Philly Pasta: frugal

It's been a good last few days for recipes.  Here's the final one for today.  it was my evening meal and very nice it was too.

Tuna Philly Pasta

Ingredients: to make one portion
little butter or oil
half a small onion, peeled and sliced
three or four mushrooms, sliced
half a tin of tuna (I used Morrison's value tuna at 59p per can) - the other half will make a tuna salad roll for tea tomorrow
a dollop of philly light (full Philly would be nicer but it's those calories! - and it was on special, so cheaper than the supermarket own)
50g spiral pasta, cooked and kept warm
some chopped parsley
sea salt, white pepper to taste

Heat the butter or oil in a pan, add the onion and saute until softening.
Add the mustrooms, stir well and continue to sautee for another few minutes.
Add the tuna and mix gently.
Add the dollop of philly and stir while it melts into the vegetables and tuna.
Add the cooked, hot pasta and stir until everything is mixed well.  Add a bit more philly if there isn't enough.
Season to taste
Serve with a sprinkling of parsley on the top.

Filling and tasty.

Recipe: Definitely-Not-a-Caesar-Salad

This morning I was going to have a bacon sarnie.  The bacon and the bread both needed using up. you see.
So I set the bacon on to fry gently (it goes just how I like it fried slowly and loads of fat is released).  I went to get out the bread and uh-oh - mould.
By the time all the bad crust was cut off it was totally the wrong size for a sarnie - and it was very dry.  However, I didn't need any more breadcrumbs.  However - croutons might come in useful and I had some bacon fat in the pan.  I tossed the cut up bread in the bacon fat (when the bacon was done and out) and then tipped them onto a roasting dish to bake in the oven for a while.  It worked a treat.

So my brain got a-working.  I patted all the fat off the bacon and popped it, wrapped, in the fridge for a while.  Then I made a dressing, based on something I found by Mary Berry.  She said you dont need anchovies for a Caesar dressing (although they are nice) so this is what I did.

I put a dollop mof mayo (it happened to be a bit of leftover home made, but it didn't have to be).  To that I whisked in some lemon juice, Worcester sauce and garlic puree, going very much by taste.  Finally I whisked in a little EVOO.  No extra seasoning.  It went into the fridge until lunch time.

At lunch time I made a salad of lettuce, radishes, tomatoes (yup, from the garden!), some pitted black olives (I have a couple of very old tins and it I don't use them I will lose them!) and cucumber.  I poured over the dressing, mixed it well and put it in a bowl.  To that I added some shavings of not-parmesan (Morrison's value), the bacon cut into little bits and the croutons.  It was absolutely delicious and one I will do again, perhaps with chicken or tuna next time.

Not authentic but really delicious!

Recipe: bread: cheaper than chips

I've posted this before.  I daresay I will post it again.  Never mind, it's just such an amazingly frugal recipe and so utterly delicious it should be mentioned weekly!  (no, I won't, please don't go)

These two delicious loaves cost around 25p each.   50p for the whole lot!

400g strong flour (from Lidl, 79p for a 1.5k bag
350 plain flour (value is fine and well frugal)
1.5 tsp dried yeast - the kind for breadmakers (don't buy sachets, they rob you blind: buy a tub or pack, Dove and Allinsons do them)
1.5 tsp salt - the ordinary cheap kind is fine.
2 tbsp oil - I use vegetable oil from Lidl, great value
480 - ish g/ml water

I cheat and use Thermione for the hard work.  You don't need gadgets, it makes perfectly well the old fashioned, hands in, lets get messy way.  The way that makes Paul Hollywood's hands look so sexy - you know!
I digress - back to the subject in hand - er - I mean back to the recipe!

I won't go into details about the method because I'm assuming it is well known.  There's lots of info on the internet.  But basically it's all in together, mix it round, knead it for ten minutes, let it rise, covered in a bowl till risen to double size, knock it back down again, divide into two equal portions, shape, pop it into tins, rise again, bake at around 400 for half an hour.  I then take them out of the tins and put them back in the oven (which has been turned off) for about 5 to 10 mins to get a nice crust.

That's it.  Just 25p for a fresh, home baked, delicious loaf - plus the cooking costs, I guess that should be a consideration too.
Amazing.  I must try baking bread in Handy Andy at some point, just to see if it does.

Cheaper than chips menu: 3-8-13

First of all, yesterday's food was scrummy.  I've already posed about the evening recipe so here's a photo of the lunchtime salad - the lettuce, cucumber, courgette and tomatoes were all garden produce

I made a really delicious salad dressing but you know how it goes - add a bit and taste, add a bit and taste.  I didn't write down how much I used but it contained vegetable oil (frugal!), cyder vinegar, maple syrup, lime juice, grain mustard and some spice (I forget what) and maybe a few other bits and bobs.  Sorry - but it WAS nice, still is, in fact!

Today's food:
Breakfast:  bacon sarnie (I have bacon and bread to use up)
Lunch:  Jack-burger (carrot, cumin and kidney bean) with a salad, coleslaw and potato salad, apple
Dinner:  tuna pasta.  At the moment I am deciding between a tomato based sauce and a soft cheese based sauce.  Pineapple and yoghurt

Lots of water (didn't do so well on this yesterday), some coffee.

Recipe: sausage and summer vegetable bake: frugal

Having decided I would have sausages, new pots and veg for dinner this evening, I then decided maybe I didn't want that after all (typical) and started umming and ahing about savoury sausage rice or sausage and veg pasta.  Decisions, decisions!

So in the end I did neither, I made what I think I will call a sausage and summer veg bake.  It was very nice indeed so here it is.  It's a bit rambly (just as well I'm not writing a cookery book) and there's a lot of ifs, buts and maybes and stuff in brackets.  Use veg to suit yourself!

What really gave it more flavour was the bacon fat.  When I fry my bacon (value middle cut bacon slices) I start it off with 1tsp oil and by the time it has slowly fried in crisp scrumptiousness, there's a fairly huge amount of bacon fat left in the pan.  It may be not too healthy but it's wonderful for cooking with.
I had bacon for breakfast that morning!

Sausage and summer veg bake

Ingredients:  this made a very filling portion for one.
two chipolata sausages cut into 1cm chunks (Chapman's chipolatas are quite long and as they are hand made, they're not uniform length at all)
some bacon fat (or other tasty stuff)
a bit of onion, sliced (I used half of a small onion)
about 70g frozen sliced peppers
three mushrooms, sliced
one courgette, peeled, if necessary, and sliced
three or four new potatoes, boiled and sliced
some soft cheese (I used value soft cheese from Morrisons - philly light would be better)
about 30g strong cheddar, grated
chives, snipped into little bits
I didn't add any salt because the fat, the sausages and the cheeses were already salted and I'm eating less salt anyway!

1.  Turn on the oven to keeping warm temperature and pop in an oven proof dish, one portion size.
2.  In a non stick pan, add a little bacon fat and the sausage chunks and fry slowly until cooked and just beginning to brown.  Then add the onions and sizzle until soft and sweet.  Then add the frozen peppers (which won't be frozen much by this time) and fry a bit longer, then the mushroom.  Tip it all into the oven proof dish, spread it out evenly and keep warm in the oven.
3.  Add a bit more fat and fry the sliced courgettes until soft and browning.  Layer over the top of the veg and sausage mixture.  Keep warm.
4.  Add a bit more fat to the pan and add the sliced cooked potatoes.  Turn up the heat and fry until browning and looking delicious.
5.  Take the dish with the veg, etc, inside out of the oven and turn the oven up to about 170C  Put some little bits of soft cheese over the courgettes in the oven proof dish.  Being value, it won't necessarily melt (philly light would) but the flavour is OK.   Then spread the fried potato over the top - you could layer it neatly but I think it looks better the rustic way!
6.  Finally grind over some pepper, sprinkle over some snipped chives and, last of all, add the grated cheese to lightly cover the potato.
7.  Bake in the oven until the cheese has melted over and everything is piping hot (about 10 to 15 mins).  Eat immediately and straight from the dish (it will be very hot - take care).  You need no other veg.

This would not be very expensive anyway but, for me, it was pretty frugal because:
the sausages, potato and courgette were all given to me - the last two were from Beth's allotment
the fat came out of the breakfast bacon so was, in effect, free - I would say it made all the difference in flavour too
the chives were from the garden
the cheese was on special in Aldi or Lidl (can't remember which now), grated and frozen - I find this so very useful

You could use other veg, additional herbs/spices/seasonings, etc.  Follow your taste!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 2-8-13

Back again after a few days away at my mum and dad's.  Very frugal eating for me because someone else (thanks, Mum) did the cooking/provided the food!  Runner beans and broad beans straight from the garden - mmmm.  Carrots straight f rom the garden - mmmmm.  I came home with a lettuce and a cucumber - you've guessed it - straight from the garden!  So. so delicious!

Today's food:
Breakfast:  bacon (value) and mushrooms
Lunch: cheg and salad, pineapple and yoghurt (must put more yoghurt on to make)
Dinner:  2 chipolata sausages, new potatoes, veg (probably peas), a few fried onions to go with the potatoes, fruit and yoghurt.

Lots of water as it's likely to be hot again, mint tea, a f ew coffees.

It'll be interesting to see how easily I slip back into no caffeine.  While I was away I wasn't going to bother mum and dad with requests for caffeine free stuff.  We will see.

I did a very frugal shop yesterday.  In the morning Dad and I popped down to Chapman's the Butchers (Best butchers shop in the area - if you live anywhere near Baldock, get your meat there!) for a little go see.  I succumbed, bought several things and then wasn't permitted to pay for it.  Lovely parents, bless them.  So very frugal indeed - for me!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Another great idea!

Please, please click on this link and read about this great initiative by Jack Monroe.

I'm doing it, but not with a bought coffee (because I don't).  I am using the money I would spend on my 'rubbish magazines' instead.  It will be interesting to see what I can get for the same price.

What a great way to support your local Food Bank!