Sunday, 29 December 2013

Recipe: ham, turkey and vegetables in a creamy sauce: some leftovers

As Diane said the other day, this is hardly a recipe because I'm not giving amounts, but it is really delicious so I am sharing.

turkey dripping
leek, sliced
red pepper, chunks
baby corn, chunks,
chestnut mushrooms, sliced
chunks of cooked ham and cooked turkey (white and brown meat)
turkey stock
plain flour
marigold stock powder
grated cheddar (I would have used Stilton but didn't have any)
mixed dried herbs
pinch mustard powder

(It looks a long list but basically, whatever veg you have plus other bits and bobs!  Leftover sprouts would be good.)

Place a little turkey dripping and butter in a saucepan and melt.  Add the leek, red pepper and baby corn and saute gently on a low heat for quite a while until it's all soft and smelling wonderful.
Add some plain flour and stir in well, continue to fry for a short time, stirring.
Add the turkey stock and stir well as it comes to a boil and thickens.
Add some cream, seasonings, marigold stock powder, mustard powder and grated and continue to stir until it is all incorporated.  You should have a thick-ish sauce.  It it's too thin, mix some more flour with some butter to make a beurre manie (imagine the accent at the end, please) and add it bit by bit, stirring, until it is the thickness you want
Add the ham and turkey and very carefully stir it in.  Reheat, check seasonings and adjust if needed and it's ready.

I'm using it to make a pie with a puff pastry topping but it would be lovely with rice, pasta, creamy mash, etc.  You could add roasted chestnuts to the mix too or a bit of cranberry sauce.  Mmmmm

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Recipe: Christmas ice cream: leftovers, therefore frugal

It has to be frugal as it's using all leftovers which otherwise might (possibly) be thrown out, but you could make it from scratch.  I don't advise it, not with mince pie and Christmas pud involved and it wouldn't be at all frugal!

Christmas Ice Cream
Leftover custard (mine was 'real' custard, made in Thermione), chilled
More or less two thirds of an equivalent amount of double cream, chilled - I don't think the exact measures matter all that much.
One mince pie, crumbled
A bit of Christmas pud, crumbled or finely chopped, if rather solid

Mix well the cold custard with the cream.  Pour into a freezer container, wrap and freeze for four hours until foing solid.
Place contents into a blender (I used Thermione) and zizz well.  This breaks up the ice crystals that otherwise form.
Replace in container, wrap  and freeze for another four hours or so.
Zizz again.
Before freezing for a final time, stir in the pud and the mince pie bits.
Wrap and freeze.
Half an hour before eating, take out of the freezer to soften slightly - it makes it easier to scoop and serve.

It's REALLY nice.  Worth a try!
I'm not sure how nice it would be with an instant custard but I'm sure it wouldn't be nasty at all.

Recipe: bubble and squeak cakes: frugal

These are frugal because they are made with leftovers (mostly) and they are delicious.  Filling too.

Leftover Christmas vegetables, mashed together.  Some must be potato.  (I quickly microwaved a potato because I didn't have quite enough.  I had potato, sprouts, carrots, parsnip and sweet potato.)
2 rashers streaky bacon, very finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
some turkey dripping (or melted butter)
Some plain flour, seasoned with salt and dried mixed herbs
(optional - some grated cheese: I didn't use this but it would be tasty)
Seasonings of choice (salt, pepper, etc)

Gently saute the bacon and onion until soft.  Use a little dripping to start it off but you don't need much as the bacon releases fat quickly.
Add the bacon and onion to the mashed vegetables and stir well.  As some seasonings (salt/pepper)
Add some turkey dripping (which stays soft, even in the fridge, so no need to melt) or some melted butter and mix in well.  This moistens the mixture.
Form into patties, roll in the seasoned flour and place on a plate (I used easy leave to separate the layers), cover and place in the fridge until needed.

Heat some oil (or more dripping) in a large pan and fry the patties until browned on both sides.  Enjoy!

There are lots of variations.  For example, I did um and ah about adding some turkey bits and some cranberry sauce but didn't in the end: we had that separately.  As already mentioned, you could add grated cheese to the mix - that would be scrummy.

And they freeze well!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Don't . . .

1 . . . post entry in wrong blog!

2 . . . do what I did with the potatoes.  I set to and prepared the spuds for roasties, intending to freeze them.  Peeled, chunked, into cold water and on the hob.  When it had reached boiling I turned off the heat, intending to go back in ten minutes, drain, etc . . .

Three hours later . . . .

Soggy, waterlogged, mushy, revolting.  I'm sure I could have salvaged something but I didn't have the will power.  So guess what I will be doing today!!


Quite a lot of bread made.
Delia's red cabbage made
Beth's Christmas Crumble Topping made (recipe in Teacher's Recipes)
Space cleared in fridge (in fact, clean fridge)
Space cleared in freezer
Washing done (just about but I've run out of washing liquid and REFUSE to go shopping today)
Ironing just about done (more done than it's been all year, that's for sure)
Knives sharpened
Just one bed to make up upstairs.


I did seem to be on the go most of the day and by tea time I was seriously flagging with the aches back so I rested and that did the trick!

Today Beth and Alex come round and we put up the Christmas Tree.  Yay!
Make up that bed.
Finish the ironing
Clear more freezer space
Tidy kitchen (it got a bit messed up yesterday)
Take things to the garage

And then overnight:
Do the Big Shop and remember - it is only ONE day!!!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Christmas bits and bobs: roasting chestnuts, Christmas crumble topping recipe

Firstly. I am in the middle of making a triple batch of bread with Thermione's help.  It's rising nicely and will need knocking back soon.  One small loaf for now and the rest into the freezer for the Christmas week.  I shall make some wholemeal as well but white seems to go faster.

I've just made a christmas crumble topping.  beth is vegetarian and loves a savoury crumble so that's what I'm making for her for Christmas dinner.

This is the recipe I've used - bog standard really with a few additions.  And it was all done in Thermione.

Savoury Christmas Crumble topping
75g butter
125g plain flour
50g regular or rolled oats
75g mature Cheddar, grated
salt, pepper, mixed herbs, a grating of nutmeg
Roasted chestnuts, crumbled. (looking at the ones I have just roasted which I am trying hard not to eat, I would say about seven or eight.
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs
add the oats, cheese, herbs and seasonings to taste and chestnuts and mix well.

The thermione way:
Place the cheese in the bowl with a little of the flour.  Pulse three or four times until the cheese is grated.  Set aside.
Place the flour and butter in the bowl and pulse a few times until it resembles breadcrumbs.  It doesn't take long.
Add the oats, grated cheese, seasonings and crumbled chestnuts and reverse mix for a few seconds on 2 until it's all well mixed together/

Roasting chestnuts
I'm sure everyone knows, but in case, here's how to roast chestnuts the simple way.  Turn the oven on to 200C.  Cut a little x in each chestnut (to prevent them from exploding).  Pop them on an oven tray, bung in the oven and cook for 25-30 mins.  Easy peasy.  Be careful if shelling them hot - they can be VERY hot!

Now I'm off to deal with the bread!

Monday, 16 December 2013

More apologies

Things are still busy, hectic, hard work and generally there's no time for kitchen creations, but I Will Be Back.  Holidays are coming up!

See you all then!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

No new recipes

Sorry, but life is too hectic to have the energy at the moment.

However, I did make some jolly nice mince pies yesterday and am looking forward to the jacket potatoes today!  Nothing new but very tasty all the same!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Recipe: accidental pork

I meant to get beef mince out of the freezer and I got out pork mince instead.  How stupid.

This is what I did yesterday, cooked in the slow cooker

I chopped two smallish onions, two medium carrots and about an inch of a celery stick (whole stick, not just one rib) and sauted it all in some oil and butter.  Then they went in the slow cooker bowl.

To the pan I added a squeeze of garlic and half a tsp each of cumin, ground coriander and cinnamon.  I fried it out and then put it in the SC too.
Then in went the pork mince to brown before being added to the rest.
I boiled a can of chopped tomatoes and added them, than popped in some marigold stock powder, some water, some lentils and some oats, some salt, pepper and a dollop of balsamin vinegar.
After stirring it all round, I left it on low all day while at work.

In the evening I added some tomato puree and checked the seasoning.  It was quite nice and I had some under mash.

Today I want more veg in it so I intend to saute some red/yellow peppers with some mushrooms and chilli before adding them to the mix.  I might also add some frozen peas and a dash of red wine before heating the lot to a simmer and allowing it to gently steep for a while.

What a right mix, but I bet it will taste OK!!!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Super soups

As you may have gathered from the last several posts, I am a bit of a soup fan.  I reckon there's nothing better than a hearty, healthy home made soup on these cold, dull and damp winter days.  Lettuce time is over and gone.
Borrowed from Google
If you have a few veg, a can of chopped tomatoes and some seasonings and stock, you have the makings of a great soup.  Add some pulses and it's a meal in a bowl.  Shreds of left over meat or some grated cheese over and it's gourmet.  Well, maybe not entirely but you know what I mean!

Let's forget about Thermione for now.  the basic process is this.
1.  Chop up your veg and saute them in a little oil or butter until they are soft and cooked.  Try not to brown them although it's not a disaster if you do!

2.  If you're adding spices, add them now and cook them out for a short time.  Ditto for fresh garlic and fresh chilli.

3.  Pour over the chopped tomatoes and stock (or stock powder and water).  Unless your stock is totally unsalty, don't add any more salt now but pepper is a different matter!

4.  If you're using lentils or canned pulses add them now too.

5.  Bring to the boil, add herbs if you want, cover and simmer until everything is soft.

6.  You could eat it just as it is, chunky, or you could mash it up or, for a really smooth soup, zizz it with a stick thingy or in a blender.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  If adding shreds of cooked meat, now is the time to add them: stir them in and they will heat very quickly

A few notes:
Check the chopped tomatoes as tomato seeds taste bitter and value chopped tomatoes can contain seeds.  If necessary, push the contents through a sieve.  You don't have to use tomatoes and I don't always but it adds a good flavour.

Butter beans make for a delicious, creamy, smooth texture.

Sometimes it can come out very thick, especially if you cool the soup for reheating next day.  You can slacken with water, but slackening with milk adds a creaminess which is very pleasant.  A dash of cream is luxury itself!

I almost always use onion, carrot and celery as the base.  The Hairy Bikers call it a 'trinity' and certainly they can make for a great flavour but really you can use other veg too - potato makes for a good texture and peppers go well with lentils and tomatoes.

Good stock = good soup (usually!)

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Using up carrots: frugal:

OK, so you could make one of the recent soups I have posted, all of which are incredibly tasty, but suppose you don't fancy soup.
If you have a freezer there's no problem.  Freeze them.

This is what I do.
1.  Prepare your carrots as normal and cut into chunks - I always cut them into roasting chunks as that's really what I use frozen carrots for.

2.  Place in a saucepan with water, bring to a boil and simmer for around ten minutes, maybe a little less.  You want them heated through but not cooked!

3.  Drain and cool.  you could plunge into iced water but I don't bother, I just let them cool in the sieve.

4.  Get a baking tray that will fit in your freezer.  Start with a sheet of easy leave or other suitable surface.  Spread the carrots out so they are not touching.  if necessary, lay over another sheet of easy leave and make a second layer (or more if necessary).

5.  Cover your top layer and place the lot in the freezer to 'open freeze'/

6.  The next day, when it's all nicely frozen, pour the carrots into a poly bag, such out the air and seal with a baggie or whatever.

Use as you would use any other frozen veg.  I particularly use them for roasted carrots, just pop then frozen into a roasting dish with the oil already heated, toss in the oil and roast as you would anything else.

I did this yesterday with the rest of the carrots from the garden and that's my Christmas dinner roasted carrots sorted.  I shall do the potatoes today, in the same way, except that I dredge them in flour before open freezing because they then go extra crunchy when they are roasted.  And when Beth brings round the parsnips I will ditto for them too.  It all makes for a much easier Christmas morning for the cook.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Recipe: Carrot and butterbean soup: Thermomix: frugal

Made with what I had available . . . the usual method is below.

1 medium onion, peeled and chunked
six or seven carrots, peeled if necessary and chunked
Three 'rounds' of celery (I don't separate the celery ribs, I just cut across  the top - using the leaves is fine) - check for grit
about 40g butter
a good half tsp ground coriander
1 good tsp cumin
1 large can butterbeans, drained
2.5 tbsp marigold low sodium vegetable bouillon powder
ground pepper


Place the onion, carrot, celery, butter, coriander and cumin in the bowl and chop at speed 5-6 for a short time.
Cook at 90, 10 mins, speed 2

Add the remaining ingredients with water to reach to about 1.75 litres with the other ingredients
Cook at Varoma heat, speed 2/3 for about 16 minutes.

Allow to cool
Puree at speed 8/9 for a good time - over two minutes - until the soup is velvety smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings (I didn't need to, nor did I add any salt)

When I reheat it tomorrow for Sunday lunch, I will add a dash of cream.

Ordinary method.
In a large saucepan:
Chop all the veg into dice
Saute in the butter until soft
Add the spices and saute again for a short time.
Add the remaining ingredients (I guess it would be about 1-ish litres of water)
Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 mins until everything is cooked and soft.
Puree using a stick blender or a processor.
Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary

What will I have with it?  Why, these, of course.  Five strand plaited loaves.  I'm getting the hang of plaiting now!   These loaves are made with 150g oats (finely ground) and 350g strong white.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Recipe: Spicy carrot and lentil soup: Thermomix and frugal

Another soup.  You see, I have friends over for a lunch tomorrow and I also want all my lunches this week to be made and ready.  It's going to be a very busy week!

For such simple ingredients, this turned out very flavoursome, smooth and warming.  Definitely frugal. at between 25p and 30p per serving (a bit vague because I used cupboard ingredients mostly)  With a good chunk of bread (home made!), that's a filling lunch for under 50p.

an onion, peeled and cut into chunks
some celery, not too much, cut into chunks
about 600g carrot, topped, tailed, washed and chunked
a good half tsp or so of cumin
about 100-ish g red lentils
2 tbsp marigold low sodium vegetable bouillon
a squeeze of garlic puree
boiling water

Put the onion, celery and carrot into the Thermomix bowl and chop for about 10 second on speed 6
Add a lump of butter and the cumin and briefly zizz again to distribute it

Cook on 90, speed 2 for about 7 minutes

Add the lentils, the bouillon powder, the garlic puree and enough boiling water to just below the full mark

Cook on Varoma, speed 2/3, about 16 mins.  You can always give it a little longer if necessary.

Allow to cool for a while, then zizz at speed 8 for 2 mins.  If it is a little too thick, add more water or some milk.

Reheat to piping hot and serve with whatever you fancy really.

It makes about seven good servings (assuming two ladels-full per serving)  It doesn;t have salt or pepper except what is in the bouillon, but it can be added at the end, if needed.

The usual method:
Chop the vegetables finely
Saute them in a large pan in the butter with the cumin.
Add the lentils, bouillon, garlic puree and about 1 litre of boiling water, maybe more.
Simmer until cooked and zizz until smooth.  Check seasonings and adjust, if necessary

Recipe: Vegetable and lentil soup: a thermomix recipe: frugal

1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
2 carrots, peeled or scraped and cut into chunks
1 medium leek, root and top cut off, cur into chunks.
Celery - I use one celery, cut off the very top and discarded, then cut across the top three times, to use the green celery and leaves
some butter (I supposed I used about 40g)
2 medium-small potatoes, peeled and cut into dice
2 or 3 handfuls of lentils
two heaped tbsp Marigold stock (I use the low sodium kind)
A squeeze of garlic puree and a squeeze of chilli puree
Some dried mixed herbs
A good grinding of pepper
boiling water

Into the Thermomix bowl put the carrots, onion, celery and leek and chop on 4 for about 10 seconds.  Add the butter and chop again to distribute the butter.

Add the potatoes
Cook at 90, speed 2 for about 5 minutes.

Add the lentils, marigold, garlic and chilli purees, herbs and pepper.  Fill up to the maximum mark with boiling water.
Cook on Varoma, speed 2/3 for around 20 mins.

It's nice just like this with the bits but if you prefer a smooth soup (I do), allow the mixture to cool a little and then zizz on 8 for 2 minutes.

Serve piping hot with swirls of cream on top.  To eat later, cool, cover and refrigerate or freeze.

I added no more salt, it wasn't necessary, even with low sodium stock.  I will serve it with bread or croutons and with some grated cheese.   Scrummy!

Variation:  make with a good chicken stock and add shreds of cooked chicken to the soup as you are heating it up.  Obviously, it won't be vegetarian friendly then.

To make it the normal way, melt the butter in a large pan, add the vegetables (which need to be more finely chopped, and saute them gently for a while.  Add the remaining ingredients and water to make for a total volume of around 2 litres.  Cover and simmer until everything is soft, then blend to make a smooth soup.

I haven't costed it out but it can't be very expensive, it has be be fairly frugal and it's good for using up vegetables that are a bit tired.  The only thing that is not so good is the colour!

Melba toast

Not exactly a recipe really, frugal in one sense and decidedly unfrugal in another sense!!

I had quite a lot of bread left over this week.  I had intended to freeze some but didn't get round to it and I don't need breadcrumbs.

I very thinly sliced the bread (it was plaited loaves and firm enough to slice really very thinly indeed) and laid each slice on a baking sheet lined with one of my faithful teflon sheets.  i then popped it into the non-fan part of my oven set on the very lowest heat I possibly could.  The intention was to take itn out before I went to bed but - ooops - I was so sleepy I forgot!  However, being the lowest possible heat, no harm was done except to the electricity bill and I have no idea whatsoever how much electricity my oven uses at its very lowest setting, not a clue!
However, when I woke this morning and was lying in bed reading, it suddenly came back to me and for a moment I panicked before realising that it had to be OK or there would be, at the very least, a bad burning pong over the house!

You know what - they're absolutely delicious!  Light and crunchy all the way through and just very lightly coloured to a sort of beige.  However, I do need to try and work out how much the electricity was - any ideas how I can?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

This and that

Yesterday I made butter from last week's left-over cream as described here.  I also made wholemeal oat bread as described here except that I used wholemeal, not white, flour and I made a plaited loaf rather than rolls.
This morning I am having wholemeal bread and butter with cheese and chutney for breakfast.  An odd breakfast, sure, but everything but the cheese is home made.  The chutney is quite old so very, very flavoursome and goes perfectly with the nuttiness of the bread and the creamy (over-salted) butter.

The chutney is a Delia recipe.  it is called Christmas Chutney and you can find it here.  It's one of those chutneys that just gets better and better and better over time and it is now absolutely wonderful.  I first made it as gifts for family many years ago and it was such a hit I have made it several times since.  I shudder to think how old the batch I am eating right now is, but it doesn't matter with chutney!

Today Beth is coming over with red cabbages from her allotment and we are having a mega 'Delia's braised red cabbage with apple' making session.  It's a wonderful recipe, spicy and fruity and full of flavour and we always have it as part of our Christmas dinner main course.   I think she expects us to make loads as she wants quite a lot to go in her freezer as well as for Christmas dinner for eight.
Here is the recipe - do take a look:  it's well worth a try.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Recipe: vegetarian sausage rolls

This is an old recipe, a Delia recipe.  It's a family favourite that Mum has made for years and years now.  They are so popular that they all get eaten while the normal sausage rolls (also delicious and also home made) don't really get a look in.

It's not particularly frugal, as such, but it's certainly not expensive, especially if you use value strong cheese' herbs from the garden and have your own breadcrumbs in the freezer by zizzing up bread that is a bit past it!

Here's a link to the original recipe.  I hasten to add that I did NOT make the pastry, I bought a block of puff pastry from Morrisons which I rolled out really very thin indeed - you know what puff pastry is like!!  I also used Thermione for the 'grating'/zizzing but any processor would make light work of it all.

 Vegetarian 'Sausage Rolls'
Photo taken from Delia's site - please do go over there are take a look - it's brilliant with so much information and advice.  My sausage rolls were filled more than these and were very rounded.

Delia’s vegetarian sausage rolls

Ingredients to make about 36
A block of puff pastry - or you could be a glutton for punishment and make your own as Delia's original recipe does, I suppose.  Not for me though!
For the filling:
10 oz (275 g) fresh breadcrumbs - dried breadcrumbs just don't wing it but they can be fresh and then frozen

8 oz (225 g) mature Cheddar cheese, grated
1 large onion, grated
3 tbsp thick double cream - I used creme fraiche because that's what I had in the fridge
1 level tbsp fresh chopped herbs (chives, parsley, thyme, etc) - I used parsley, chives, sage and rosemary because that's what I have in the garden right now - or you could use dried mixed herbs.
1.5 level tsp mustard powder
good pinch cayenne pepper
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C) or 200°C fan

For the filling, simply place all the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl, season well and mix very thoroughly. Then roll out the pastry on a floured surface to form an oblong (as thin as you can). Cut this oblong into three strips and divide the filling also into three, making three long rolls the same length as the strips of pastry (if it's sticky, sprinkle on some flour).

Place one roll of filling on to one strip of pastry. Brush the beaten egg along one edge, then fold the pastry over and seal it as carefully as possible. Lift the whole thing up and turn it so the sealed edge is underneath. Press lightly and cut the rolls obliquely, so that they form little diamond shapes. Snip each one on the top in two or three places with the end of some scissors or a sharp knife, then brush with beaten egg. Repeat all this with the other portions of filling and pastry.  

Bake, on greased baking sheets, on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 mins and eat while fresh or freeze separately before bagging and bake from frozen – they just take a few minutes longer.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Making butter

I had a go at this lest week because there was some cream left over from the party and I have to say it was easy, quick and made great butter.
I used Thermione but you don't have to, you could use any food mixer, including a hand held electric whisk.  You could use a balloon whisk but I think that would take an awfully long time.

I just tipped the rest of the cream into Thermione and beat it at around speed 6 to 8 until I could hear a slooshing sound that meant that the fat had separated from the buttermilk.
I then used a sieve to separate the liquid from the solid but next time I will use a muslin as shown by Mary Barry in Bake Off Master Class this week.
I was very, very careful to get every bit of buttermilk out of the butter.  I had it in my head that there would be loads of liquid and was surprised how little there was.
The buttermilk went into a little pot and I used it in my bread making yesterday.
Then I washed the butter, just in water and, again squeezed all the water out.  I did this about three times - I think perhaps it wasn't necessary to wash it so many times.
I then salted the butter (it didn't need much) by puitting the butter in a bowl, sprinkling over a little salt and mixing it in well, tasting to check it was OK before making a cylinder of it and wrapping it in greaseproof paper, twisting the ends to seal it.

I think this might be something I will do on a regular basis and if double cream is reduced in price, I could make more and freeze some.  Ditto with the buttermilk that comes out.  When I made some wholemeal and oat rolls yesterday I added the butterlink in lieu of some of the water and I've never had a wholemeal dough rise so well or so quickly and the results are delicious.

Here's the video clip showing Mary making butter, in case you didn't see it.  On my screen it is on the top line, second one from the left.  I've taken you to this page because there might be some other clips that interest you too.  :-)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Victorian apple jam

A friend gave me a bag of apples that came from her neighbour's tree.  It's been an amazing year for apples and the neighbour just didn't know what to do with them all so when my friend picked the apples from the branches that overhang her garden, they were unwanted!  So she gave some to me, which was extremely kind.  I found this recipe on the internet but have changed it just a little bit and reduced the amounts by around half.  I'm glad I did as it made 9 pots of scrumptiousness!

Here's the original recipe:

This is what I did.

1.35 kg cooking apples
about 800g sugar (a mix of jam sugar and granulated sugar)
600mls water
the juice and rind of 2 oranges
some lemon juice
3 cloves
a small cinnamon stick
1 star anise and some bits from the bottom of the packet

Wash the apples, remove the stalks and any bad bits and roughly chop the rest of the apple, core, skin and all.  Place them in a preserving or large pan with 600mls water with the orange juice and zest and the lemon juice added, to stop the apples browning.  Throw in the cinnamon and the cloves.
Bring to a boil and simmer until the apple is cooked and pulpy.  Then push the lot through a sieve to get rid of the spice, skin, core and pips.

Put the hot sieved pulp back in the cleaned preserving pan.  Add the sugar and stir.  Leave until the sugar has completely dissolved

Put two saucers into the fridge (to test for set).
Bring to a good boil and simmer rapidly for about ten minutes.  Be careful as it spits - I used one of those mesh splatter guard thingies.
Test for set, removing the pan from the heat while you do so.  If not at setting point, boil for another five minutes and check again.  Repeat as needed.

When it has reached setting point, fish out the star anise, pour into hot, sterilised jars and seal.

So that's one for my friend, one for her neighbour and most of the rest will be great for Christmas presents.  Excellent!

Recipe: Cranberry, apple and orange sauce

This is what I did with the other half bag of cranberries after making the merry berry cherry jam.

half a bag of Sainsburies frozen cranberries
2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
the juice and rind of two oranges
half a stick of cinnamon
some water
three or four tbsp of granulated sugar (to taste)

Put the cranberries, apple, orange juice and zest (and any fleshy bits that come out as you're juicing the orange) in a pan with some water and the cinnamon stick.
Simmer until the cranberries and apple are cooked.
Add the sugar and stir in well.  Simmer again for a few minutes.
Allow to cool and pop into a freezer container and freeze if not used immediately.

You could push it through a sieve to make it smooth, if you want.  I might do that before using, depending on how much time I have.

I'm freezing it for Christmas and will add some port before using.

Recipe: Merry berry cherry jam

Catchy little name, isn't it?  I made this yesterday and it worked so I'm sharing it with you.  It's based around those bags of frozen fruit you can get - mine came from Sainsbury's.  You don't have to use exactly what I used, I am sure: for example, I used one bag of value berry mix because that's what I had in the freezer, it's not absolutely essential to the outcome, although I was impressed by the contents.  It doesn't make for a really value jam but it's great value for a jam of this quality, very delicious and perfect for Christmas presents!
I hedged my bets with the sugar and had half jam sugar because I wasn't totally sure of the pectin levels in the fruit.  Setting was not a problem!

Here's the recipe: it filled nine smallish pots.

1 bag Sainsbury's basics frozen berry mix
1 bag Sainsbury's frozen summer fruits
1 bag Sainsbury's frozen dark sweet cherries
Half a bag of Sainsburies frozen cranberries (the other half will make a sauce for Christmas)
400g jam sugar (with pectin)
400g granulated sugar
60 mls cherry brandy (optional, but it is the 'merry' part of the name)

Emply the contents of the berry mix and the summer fruits into a large pan or a preserving pan.  Add some water and simmer until soft and squishy.  I use my potato masher at this point too.  Then pour and press the fruits and liquid through a sieve and discard the seeds.
Return the fruit puree to the pan, add the cherries and the cranberries and simmer until they are soft.
If it seems too thick, add a bit of water.

OR - if you're OK with loads of seeds in jam (I am not), just bung the whole lot into your preserving pan with some water and simmer untill it's all soft.  You might need to add a little more sugar if you don't sieve out the seeds

Add 800g sugar (half being jam sugar), stir well and leave for the sugar to dissolve.  If you use saucers to test for set, now is a good time to pop them into the fridge.

When the sugar has dissolved, bring the jam to a rolling boil and cook, stirring, for about five minutes before checking for set.  It does set quickly so it's worth taking the pan off the heat while you are doing this.  If it has not reached setting points, boil for another five minutes and try again.

When the jam has reached setting point, take it off the heat (if it isn't already) and add the cherry brandy.  Stir it well and reboil for a minute.

Allow to stand for five minutes or so before pouring into hot sterilised jars and sealing with a waxed circle and lid.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Oaty bread rolls

This not my idea - my blogging friend, Diane, posted about this and I thought it was such a good idea I would try it too.  Basically, it's exactly the same as a normal white loaf but 100g of the flour is replaced by 100g oats, zizzed to a flour consistency.

My ingredients, therefore, were:
100g oats, zizzed to a flour consistency
400g strong white flour
1 heaped tsp yeast (the kind that doesn't need starting off)
1.5 to 2 tsps salt (to own taste)
25g butter
315 mls water

Made the usual way, in Thermione for the kneading and rising and then by hand for the rest.

Normal method:
place the flour, oat flour, yeast and salt and mix well.  Rub in the butter.  Add the wate and mix to a dough, then knead for about ten minutes until smooth and stretchy.
Cover and leave to rise.
Knock back down and shape into whatever - I made rolls.  Place on prepared baking sheet or loaf tin, cover and prove.  Bake in an oven that is 230C when the rolls go on, then turn the oven down to around 180 immediately.
They take about 20 to 25 minutes to cook.  Then cool them on a wire rack.

Very, very delicious!  Thank you very much, Diane.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


Oh, dear, it's a whole week since I posted anything.  So sorry.  I just don't have time to try out recipes right now.  I will be back!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Not storecupboard anything!

B :  toast with jam
L:  School dinner: Fish fingers, etc; crumble.
D:  Goodness only knows because I won't get home until nearly nine o'clock.  It's going to be a long day!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Storecupboard Monday

Easy peasy as there's plenty left over from yesterday

B:  Toast and jam (both home made so very delicious)
L:  shredded pork sandwich, key lime pie, plums
D:  Pork, roasties, broccoli, carrot, gravy, spiced apple and plum sauce, lime key pie (well, it does need eating up!)

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Recipe: Slow (very slow) cooked pork shoulder

OK, to my guests have come and gone and the pork was a hit (they had seconds!) so this is what I did.  I know it looks a bit long winded but it isn't really, most of the time it is just cooking!
Photo borrowed from Google Images.
I started last night after Strictly.  Into my slow cooker went two onions, chunked, four small carrots sliced long ways (slightly wizened and needed using up), a pork stock cube and about 1/3 can dry cider (it happened to be fizzy but that didn't matter).  Then on top I crammed in the pork shoulder.  All I can remember is that it was over 1k and under 2k, probably nearer to the 2k than the 1k.
Then I set it to low and left it until around 8:00 this morning (the house smelled delicious when I woke up this morning).

Then out came the pork and I took off the skin and most of the external fat.  I poured out the stock and veg (into a strainer) and, to replace it, in went one very large bramley apple, peeled, cored and sliced, four ripe plums and two star anise (or is it star anises?) which were quite old so perhaps one would be enough usually.  Then onto that went another third of cider and then the pork on top.  On went the lid and it cooked on low until around 12:30.  The pork absorbed just a tang of fruit and spice.

While that was cooking I strained the stock, left it to cool so I could take off the fat and then made gravy by simply adding bisto - it was a very flavoursome stock and had jellied really well.  Surprisingly, there was very little fat but what there was helped to roast the potatoes.

About half an hour before eating I took out the pork and kept it warm in a covered roaster.  I pushed the apple and plum mix through a sieve to make a smooth, spicy sauce (edit: and I added some sugar to taste).  Just before serving I turned the oven (the range oven, not the slow cooker) right up and popped in the pork, uncovered so that the outside got some colour.  Then I roughly sliced it (it was falling apart so didn't take any effort), spooned over some gravy and served it on a platter surrounded by roasted potatoes with the gravy and spiced fruit sauce on the side.

Thank you to P and N for liking it so much.  Once I think of a name, I will dedicate it to you!  :-)

And it was quite frugal too although in no way cheaper than chips.  The pork was half price which helped and there's enough left over for one good meal or two more modest meals.

Recipe: Maggie's Lime Pie

(warning:  not terribly frugal or healthy)

You can get the full recipe with amounts here.  Well worth looking.

I have to say it was the easiest dessert I have made in a long while.  The base is the usual biscuit and butter base, made in Thermione.
I zested the limes very finely, then squeezed all the juice out.  I mixed together the double cream and sweetened condensed milk, added the zest, then poured in the lime juice.  Maggie is quite right - as I stirred the juice into the milky/creamy mixture it just 'magically' thickened.  It was fascinating.  Then I poured it over the base, smoothed off the top and popped it in the fridge to keep overnight.  Later on I will sprinkle over chocolate shavings as a decoration and will serve it with double cream.  Scrummy!

And finally I scraped the bowl.  Then scraped again.  For  two pins I would then have licked the bowl to get every little bit out!!  That's how delicious it is.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

More about the meal on Sunday

Changed my mind again.  I get worse as I get older.  I think I will do the pork in a more savoury stock and make the spiced apple, plum and onion sauce separately.  That will then give me stock for a nice gravy as well as the sauce.  The apple taste will be there anyway because of the cider.
And the dessert will be this, taken from maggiedon's blog (which I miss now she has stopped posting entries).  Easy, quick and I know it is sc rummy.  One day I will try it with lemon but for tomorow lime will do.
Image taken from Maggie's blog, as referenced above

Friday, 11 October 2013

Thinking about pork

Firstly I shall 'do' it in the slow cooker.
Secondly, I think I will use onion, apple, plum, star anise and cider and make a gravy separately.
If I do it over Saturday night, there will be time to attempt to crackle to skin on Sunday morning.

I can but try!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


 . . . for the silence.  I'm too busy to try recipes right now.  But I will be back, that's a promise (or do I mean 'threat'?)

In the meanwhile, do any of my readers have a good recipe for slow roasted pork?  If so, please let me know - via the comments, if needed.

Many thanks.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Recipe: turkey pate

Last weekend I slow roasted a turkey leg and got loadsa meat from it.  Here's one way of using up leftover turkey - useful for the post Christmas meals, I should think.  Amounts are somewhat variable and to taste really.  It was scrummy on hot buttered toast with some home made salsa on the top and it was dead easy to make!  What's not to like?

Turkey pate:
butter (for frying and to add to the pate)
1/2 small onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 red chilli (or to taste), deseeded and chopped
1/3 red or yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped
cooked turkey*
100g soft cheese**
Garlic puree
salt/pepper/squeeze lemon juice

Melt some butter in a frying pan and gently fry the onion and pepper until it is all soft.  Add the chilli for the last five minutes.
Turn the heat up a little bit and add the turkey to warm it up.  This is because it's likel;y been in the fridge and warming it softens it and makes it zizz better.
Spoon the contents of the pan into a blender (I used a mini chopper and did it in two halves because that was to hand and I was too lazy to wash the Hermione bowl!).  Add a dollop of butter, the soft cheese, a squeeze of garlic puree, a little salt (you can add more later if needed) some pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice (or lime juice might be nice).
Zizz the whole lot until it is the texture you want.  I like mine quite smooth.
Taste and add any extra seasonings, butter, etc, as you want.  I found it just about right first go.

I then just spooned the lot into a container, smoothed it down and put it in the fridge, covered.  It sets nice and firm and slices easily so if you wanted, you could line a container with easy leave, cling film or similar and then turn it out afterwards.  For posh, it could then be decorated with a bay leaf, some cranberries, and so on.

*The brown meat is best, it has more flavour.  As for how much, how long is a piece of string?  Imagine one of those take away chinese plastic tubs - about as much as would fit in there is the best I can do.
** I used philly because that's what I had, but any kind would do.  Probably the 'light' versions wouldn;t work so well because they are more watery.


Change of plan - breakfast was toast with turkey pate and salsa and it was extremely good.  I now have to work out how I made it for a recipe.  I wish I could remember!

Very definitely a store cupboard Sunday

Unfortunately, the meal yesterday was postponed.  More about that on the other blog.

So today's food is:
B:  toast and jam
L: pasta and mince (I hadn't got round to making the lasagne or the cheese sauce), roasted tomatoes, plum crumble
T:  scrambled eggs on toast, banana bread.
All cupboard, freezer or garden supplied!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Fruit salad jam: a recipe to avoid waste

The background story is on my other blog, 'Diary of a Teacher' (do go and read).  Suffice it to say I had a lot of fruit left over after making fruit salad at school so I made jam.
This is the recipe.

Fruit salad jam

apples (eating)
kiwi fruits
plums (not part of the original salad but the other day they were reduced in Morrisons and I know why now - they were never going to ripen.  Not good for snacking, great for jamming because they're moderately high in pectin so that's what I used them for!)
preserving sugar (or ordinary granulated) - see below for amount.
possibly some lemon juice

All the fruit had been prepared for fruit salad beforehand which was nice and saved a lot of time for me.

Pile all the fruit in a maslin pan, add some water (I added enough so that the fruit was 2/3 covered - it wasn't a lot).  Bring to a simmer and cook for a while until; the fruit is mushy and soft.  It took about 30 mins as it was a very gentle simmer.

Then push the lot through a mouli or a fine sieve.  The mouli allowed a few kiwi seeds through which looks very nice.  A sieve would give a much smoother texture and no little black specks.

Weigh the sieved fruit and return to the wiped-around maslin pan.  For each kilo of gloopy fruit, add around 65-70% of preserving sugar.  My fruit came to just under 1.5 kilos and I added 1 kilo of sugar.  All the fruit was sweet so I wasn't going for the weight for weight method.

Stir well and leave for the sugar to dissolve in the warm fruit.  I left mine overnight at this point as I was feeling rather tired by then.

Before boiling put two saucers in the fridge (if you check for set this way - I always do), wash the jam jars and place on a tray in a warm oven

Heat the fruit/sugar mixture to a rolling boil, stirring often.  It's pretty gloopy so take care with hot jam spitting.  After boiling for five minutes, take the pan off the heat and check for set.  If it hasn't reached setting point, boil for another five minutes, remove from heat and check again.  I had decided that if it hadn't set after three checks I would add lemon juice but I didn't need to.  It was nicely set at the third check.

After setting, spoon off any scum (there wasn't any this time), ladle into hot jars and seal.  Allow to cool, label and store in a dark place until needed.

It does taste good and I've called it fruit salad jam.

A dinner for two . . .

Today is the day I have a friend around for an early dinner.  The challenge is to make a three course meal for £2.50 a head (excluding drinks).
The menu has changed and wobbled around a bit and virtually come round full circle but I have now decided . . .

Starter:  Turkey pate with melba toast and a tomato salsa.  The turkey is what's left from last week's slow roasted leg and will cost around 40p.  The bread is home made and the salsa will be made with home grown tomatoes, home grown chilli and an assortment of other veg - red pepper, onion, etc.  It will cost about 30p

Main:  Lasagne.  it was going to be vegetarian but Morrisons had some lean beef mince at half price.  The pasta will be home made and the veg (I always add a stack of veg to a lasagne: unauthentic it most certainly is but I don't care!) will be from the garden or what I have in the fridge.  The cheese is a rather nice Morrison's mature cheddar and, guess what, was on special and is 5p per 10g.  I haven't costed out the lasagne but I will be surprised if it comes to more than £2.00 in total.  I might have runner beans with that - shocking, I know, but it's MY meal!  :-)  And they're free!!!  And delicious.

Dessert:  Autumnal spiced plums from the freezer.  Around £1.00 for both.  I shall make custard too, home made so very good value.

I reckon it will come to around a fiver in total but have to do the maths more precisely as I make the various bits.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Store cupboard Friday - probably

B:  Toast with blackberry toffee jam
L:  soup, mini-tomatoes, fruit
D:  Something tasty from the freezer.  Can't be bothered to go and look yet!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Not store cupboard Thursday

. . . because I am having a school lunch today.

B:  Toast and blackberry jam
L:  Chicken pie, sweet corn and green beans.  Fruit
D:  er - not sure.  < goes to freezer >   Ah, yes.  I shall fry some chopped bacon and add to is some of my tomato and red better sauce and some cooked pasta - not home made pasta this time as I don't have the time to make it.  Grated cheese would be nice over the top!  And I have fruit in for dessert.

fostermummy has moved!

If you were a follower of fostermummy, she has been forced to move her blog and you can now find it here at
Please do go along and let her know you've found her again.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Store cupboard Wednesday

B:  toast and jam.  Not only do I have bread to use up, I also need to start eating the many jams I so lovingly make!!  So toast and jam is  my breakfast this week and beyond.
L: turkey and chutney pate sandwich, tomatoes, banana loaf, plums
D:  I didn't finish off the pie yesterday to today is the last bit.  Turkey pie, fried beef tomatoes (from dad's plant), fresh pear for dessert

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Store cupboard Tuesday

B:  Toast with home made jam (spiced apple cheese and blackberry and apple jam)
L:  Turkey and chutney sarnie, mini tomatoes, banana loaf
D:  The last of the turkey pie (it's been so delicious, another on the 'do again' list, maybe after Christmas), fried tomatoes.

All this turkey talk reminds me, I must keep an eye on Kelly's of Danbury - they should have their Christmas turkeys on order soon!

Slow roasted turkey leg: cheaper than chips

Borrowed from Google Images
You need a turkey leg - a whole one, not just the drumstick bit although I suppose you could do this with the drumstick, it's just that you get a whole load more meat from the complete leg!  The one I got was just over £3.00 and when I consider how much meat it gave me, it's the best value ever.  It's fed the equivalent of six people in a pie and there's still lots left for other things.

Anyway . . .

I chopped a couple of small onions and a couple of rather floppy carrots I found at the bottom of the fridge and put them in a roasting dish.  I then added some water with some chicken stock powder (you could use a cube), some mixed dried herbs, some black pepper and a good sloosh of dry white wine.  I then popped the turkey on top and covered that with some streaky bacon.  Last of all I covered the lot in foil so that it was completely sealed, leaving a bit of a 'tent' at the top for the air to circulate.
Then it went into the oven at about 150C-ish for four or five hours!

When it came out, the meat was just dropping off, it was so easy to strip the bones.  All the leftovers after straining the stock went into the slow cooker with the bones, skin, etc, and some water, for another slow cook to make a bit more stock.

Brilliant value and it was so flavoursome.  I only needed to add some thickening granules to the first stock to make the best gravy ever.  Yet another I shall do again!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Half a recipe: a very nice crumble bottom

Better than one of Mr Hollywood's soggy bottoms anyway!

I simmered some Victoria plums in demerara sugar for too long and they went all liquid.  So I peeled, cored and sliced a cooking apple and ditto for a pear that was refusing to soften.  In they went with a titchy bit more sugar.  Finally I added a small handful of dried cranberries.

It was absolutely delicious so I'm sharing it.  I suppose I could call it 'Autumn fruit crumble'

Store cupboard Monday

Loads of stuff left over from the weekend so here we go!

B:  Toast with home made jam
L:  Turkey sarnie, mini tomatoes, banana cake
D: turkey pie, runner beans, courgettes, mixed fruit crumble and custard


Saturday, 28 September 2013

Recipe: banana loaf

I have to start with an apology.  I found this recipe on the internet somewhere.  It might have been a blog, it might not, I don't remember.  I've googled and can't find it.  I'm very cross with myself and if anyone knows where it came from, please do let me know so full credit can be given.
It's the very nicest and simplest recipe for banana bread I have ever made.  Usually, banana bread tends to be pudding-y whereas this is much more cake-y, which is what I like, and there's a good banana flavour coming through.

I adapted it for Thermione so will give both methods.

Ingredients: (with apologies for the old fashioned imperial measurements)
3 oz margarine (I suppose butter would do too)
3 oz caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 medium banana, peeled
5 oz SR flour
a pinch of salt

Whisk together the margarine, sugar, eggs, vanilla and banana.  Then fold in the flour and salt.
Bake in a suitably sized loaf tin at 180C for about 40 to 45 mins - until it's done!  I used a paper liner.

That's it!

Or, if you are lucky enough to have a Thermomix:

Place the margarine, sugar, eggs, vanilla and banana in the bowl and puree at speed 5-6 for about 10 seconds or so, until it is a batter.

Add the flour and reverse stir at speed 2-3 until the flour in incorporated.  You might need to push down the sides with the spatula.

Bake as above.

There's lots of variations: you could add chocolate or I think some crystallised, chopped ginger would go well, for example.  But it's really lovely just as it comes, very easy, very simple.  Also pretty frugal.  I used value flour and it rose fine.

Definitely one to do again.

Edited on Sunday to say I've found the source but it's not attributal as such.  If you go to Shirley Goode's blog, it is here, in the comments third comment down, from Kate, who says it was going the rounds a long time ago.
It's a good blog although it takes ages to read.  Shirley is a character!!!

Definitely NOT cheaper than chips storecupboard weekend

. . . and I'm not the least bit sorry!  I have visitors and we are going to enjoy ourselves and be very grateful that we can!

B:  Hot buttered toast with spiced apple cheese (utterly delicious)
L:  tomato soup (tinned, sorry, but it's been a busy week and I need a rest as much as anyone) with baguette followed by banana bread or fresh fruit.
D: Out to the Hare.  Yesssssss!

B:  toast with things to spread
L:  something at Hyde Hall
D:  turkey and mushroom pie with fried potatoes, carrots and runner beans, cranberry sauce and a few solitory pigs in plankets that didn't get used last Christmas.  Then apple and plum crumble with custard, scrummy stuff!

Actually, most of the home meals are storecupboard things, in fact, looking at the menu.  Maybe not as bad as it sounds.

Recipe: plum jam with star anise

Very delicious and definitely cheaper than chips when someone gives you the plums!!  The star anise gives it a delicious tang, nothing over the top, just a hint of the spicy stuff.  One of the easier jams to make.

900g prepared plums (washed, cut in half, stone taken out)
900g (ish - I used a little less, in fact) sugar
150 ml water
1 or 2 star anise (I used two but they are quite old.  If it's a fresh packet, one would suffice)

Place the prepared plums, the star anise and the water in a preserving (or other large) pan, bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes or so until the plums are soft.
Remove from the hob and when the simmering has stopped remove the star anise and add the sugar, stirring well.  Then just leave it to dissolve, which it will do without any need to stir.
While it's doing that, get your jam jars and sterilise them and put two saucers in the fridge for testing the setting point (if that's the way you test).
Just before you start boiling the jam, pop the sterilised jars into a warm oven (about 120C)
When the sugar has all dissolved and you're ready to start, bring it back to a good boil for about five minutes, then test for set.  If it isn't setting, boil again for five minutes.  Repeat until setting point is reached, scrape off any scum, then carefully ladle into the hot jars, seal and label.

Mine set the first time - must remember to take the second saucer out of the fridge!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Store cupboard Wednesday

Well no, not really.  I'm thinking of having a school dinner today as I do occasionally.  We have our own kitchens and the meals the cooks serve up can be delicious.  Not restaurant quality, obviously, but a good 'home cooked' meal for £2.50 (main and dessert) isn't to be sniffed at!

Today it is roast turkey with veg, Yorkshires and roast potatoes.  Makes me feel hungry just thinking about it.  Then, when I get home, I can use up some of the eggs and veg in a frittata type thing.

Sounds good, doesn't it?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Recipe: slow cooker spiced apple butter

Borrowed from Google Images
I was wandering around some of the blogs I so enjoy visiting and reading now and again and my eye alighted on something on the right.  I clicked and arrived here, at a recipe for slow cooker spiced apple butter.  Having just sung the praises of my retro slow cooker I was intrigued and decided to have a go.  It's even better that I had some apples left that a friend gave me plus all the other ingredients needed.  Perfickly frugal!

I won't reproduce the recipe here as you can see it via the link, but I was just a little nervous about leaving it gently simmering away all day while I was at school.  However, nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the saying goes, so this morning I set it all up, gave it the hour on high, turned it to low and left for school.  When I came home I used Thermione to blend it down to a very smooth, buttery consistency and poured it into jars.

And now I wait to see if it will set.  If it doesn't I can either boil it up until it does gloop or it will be great for sauce or to make ice cream, etc..  Can't lose really.

Oh, and most important, it tastes wonderful!

The blog I got it from - Allotment to Kitchen - is lovely.  It has some intriguing and delicious looking recipes and is well worth a visit.  Go on, take a look!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Storecupboard Monday

B:  banana bread with blackberry and apple jam.
L:  beany tomato mix with pasta, fruit, tomatoes
D:  Savoury mince pie, runner beans, carrots, spiced stewed plums with yoghurt

Most of this is leftovers.
The banana bread is from the freezer and the jam is actually what I scraped from the top as 'scum' but it still tastes great!
The beany mix is the leftovers of what I made Beth for dinner yesterday.
The pie, beans and plums are also leftovers and the carrots will be fresh pulled from the garden.

How's that for eating like a queen on pennies!!!

One more thing - the Thermomix pastry worked like a dream.  Cheers!!!  I can now make pastry!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Recipe: seedless apple and blackberry jam

Borrowed from Google Images
I was given apples and blackberries so I felt perfectly OK about using more expensive jam sugar for this, but ordinary sugar is fine.
I was dealing with dinner while making the jam so it all got done in sections, not continuously.  It works just as well.

About 800g or blackberries and 800g of cooking apples
jam water
the juice of half a lemon

Put the blackberries into a large pan.  Wash and chop the apples, discarding any bad bits.  Add them to the pan too.  No need to peel or core.
Just cover the fruit with water and simmer until the blackberries are soft.  Push the resulting goo through a fine sieve or a mouli (a sieve makes for a smoother texture)
OR, if you want a jelly, mash the mixture and allow it to drip through a jelly bag or a muslin cloth in a sieve without pushing anything through.  I prefer the jam to the jelly as there's less waste.

Measure the liquid and allow 100g sugar for each 100mls of liquid.

If you're going to make the jam straight away, now's the time to pop two saucers in the fridge if that's how you test for set, and wash and heat the jam jars in the oven at around 120C.  If you're using lids, make sure they are good and clean too.

Place the liquid in a maslin pan or any large pan.  Pour in the sugar.  Slowly heat, stirring continuously, until all the sugar has dissolved.
(I tend to warm up the liquid, take it off the heat, stir in the sugar and just leave it to dissolve slowly.  It just needs a stir now and again.)
Then add the lemon juice, bring the lot to a boil and allow to boil away, stirring fairly often, for about five minutes.  Then turn the heat right down and test for setting point using whatever method suits you.  If it's not set, turn the heat up again and re-boil for about five minutes before retesting.

When the jam has reached setting point, take it off the heat and stir in a knob of butter to disperse any scum.  Scrape off any scum that is left and have it on hot buttered toast - it's delicious..

Carefully ladle the hot jam into the jars, pop over a waxed disc and screw on the lid very firmly.  Leave to cool and don't forget to label each pot with name and date.  You think you are going to remember, but you don't!

Store in a cool dark place.  It seems to last for ever!

Not very storecupboard Sunday!

B:  Eggs in some shape or form, lots of them because I have loads and loads!
D:  Savoury mince pie, runner beans, carrots, fried potatoes.  Stewed plums, yoghurt or cream.
T:  Something else eggy.

I'm useless with pastry - always have been.  I don't know why: maybe it's my warm hands, my technique, I have no idea but I've never managed a really successful short pastry.  However, today I am going to have a go with Thermione, accepting that it might be a total waste of ingredients.  And just in case, I have a block of ready made, which won't be wasted because if, by any remote, chance, I don't use it, I will freeze it in singpe portions.

I have loadsa tomatoes so I'm thinking of making a BBQ sauce I found on Thermoblitz, one of the Thermomix pages on Facebook.  I'll let you know!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Recipe: roasting a chicken in the slow cooker

There are loads of different ways but this is what I did.

Chop up a couple of onions and a carrot and throw it all into the slow cooker.  Add any seasonings you want plus a goodly glug of white wine.
Place the chicken, breast side down, in the slow cooker and put on the lid.
Cook for as long as you want!!  I have three settings, low, high and auto (which starts on high and then switches to low).  I cooked it overnight and it made the house smell absolutely wonderful but it was in too long - the chicken absolutely fell off the bone as soon as the knife touched it. delicious though and melt in the mouth texture.  I then boiled up the remains and got another nice lot of stock.

If you roast it for about six hours, I gather you can then take out the chicken, put it breast up in a roasting dish and slam it in a hot oven for about five to ten minutes to brown the skin.

I shall do it this way again - it works - and next time I shall try different seasonings.  I love lemon with chicken.

And later on, I am making a soup with the second stock.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Recipe: slow cooker mince

This made a really delicious batch of savoury mince.  It was quite frugal because I had bought the mince on a very special offer from Aldi.
The ingredient list looks long but it's mostly basics and veg I had in the fridge.  The only thing I bought specially for it was the wine. You could use any veg you fancied really.

a splash of oil
2 small onions, peeled and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red or yellow pepper, de-seeded and chopped
some courgette (I used half of a big one), peeled and chopped and I also removed the seeds.
1 potato, peeled and chopped (because I had it in the fridge and it needed using)
1 chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely
some mini tomatoes
300g beef mince
garlic puree
a good glug of red wine
a can of chopped tomatoes
a handful or orange lentils
a handful of porridge oats
salt, pepper, dried mixed herbs
a good tbsp marigold vegetable stock powder
tomato puree

In a large pan, heat the oil and saute the onion, carrot, pepper, courgette and potato until slightly softened.  Tip into the slow cooker and turn it on.  Add the mini-tomatoes.
Fry the mince, breaking it up in the pan as it browns.  Add the chilli and fry a little longer.
Pour in the red wine, the chopped tomatoes and half a can of water.  Bring to a simmer and add to the slow cooker.
Stir in the lentils, oats, seasonings and stock.
Put on the lid and cook on slow for ages - I did mine overnight.
In the morning (or many hours later) revel in the savoury aroma pervading the house before stirring and checking seasonings.  Add the tomato puree (I used about half a tube) and stir well.

That should be it.  You should have a hot, savoury, deliciously thick mince mixture that will be great for all sorts of meals.  I had some yesterday over chopped new potatoes.  Today I'm having some on rice.
You could add more chilli and some kidney beans for a con carne, you could top it with potato or crumble or pastry, you could use it in a lasagne or have it over pasta.  Lovely and useful.  And it freezes well!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Store cupboard month: Wednesday

Comfort food day.

B: porridge
L:  savoury mince with new potatoes, fruit
D:  roast chicken, vegetables, pineapple and yoghurt

I got the old (very old) slow cooker out and over Monday night I slow roasted a chicken and last night I made a pot of savoury mince with loadsa veg.  Mmmmmmmmmmm
(some will be going back in the freezer again)

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Storecupboard month: Tuesday

B: porridge
L: ham and baked beans, tomatoes, fruit
D: roast chicken, new potatoes, runner beans

Monday, 16 September 2013


The cold and blustery weather has clicked the comfort food urge on so this morning I shivered my way out to the shed and removed from the freezer a chicken and a block of mince.  The chicken I shall slow roast in the slow cooker and I will make a big pot of savoury mince with lentils and loadsa veg.  I'll add my one ripe chilli to it for some zing too!

And then most of it gets frozen again!  :-)

Store cupboard month

See the change of name?  It's been going so badly recently I need to straighten up and get back in control again. So here goes, hopefully for the rest of the month.

B:  bacon and tomatoes
L:  ham roll, more tomatoes, red pepper sticks, fruit,
D: ham pizza with lotsa veg on top

It's all store cupboard and beautifully frugal because:
The tomatoes are from the garden
The roll is from the freezer
The ham was given to me by mum and dad - some of the joint we had on Saturday - and needs using up fairly quickly
The pizza dough is from the freezer, as is the tomato sauce and grated cheese
The veg (onion, mushroom and pepper) are in the fridge
The fruit is in the fruit bowl
Photo from here and it's a recipe I might try sometime too.
Fingers crossed I can stick with it.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Home, sweet home.

I've been away up to mum and dad's.  The most frugal way is when someone else pays, isn't it.  Oh, I've eaten well!  Home baked ham, steak and kidney pie (great timing after we went to see a concert performance of Sweeney Todd!!), scrummy.

Home now and I need to plan the coming week's food.  I brought some ham back with me so I reckon ham, eggs and chips will do the trick very nicely for this evening.  Thanks, lovely parents!

Saturday, 14 September 2013


. . . or 'what I made with zillions of tomatoes'.

All that's needed is a good glug of olive oil (not EVOO though) and your tomatoes.

Put both in a large pan and heat.  Cover and zizzle slowly (juice comes out so after a while it is simmering really) for a while.

Then push first through a mouli to get the big bits out and then through a fine mesh sieve to remove the remaining little seeds (it's surprising how many there are).

That's it.  I will season at point of using with whatever I want.  For now it's going into the freezer.  It looks and tastes great. Just tomato, home grown and flavoursome.

(with thanks to Diane for the info)

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight

B:  don't ask!!!
L: beans on toast, apple
D:  freezer meal, probably lasagne as it's been  so dull and I need comfort!

I seem to have not posted yesterday.  So sorry, I've been very busy!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight: 10--9-13

B:  bacon and tomatoes
L:  beans on toast, tomatoes, piece of fruit
D: pork curry and dhal, pineapple and yoghurt

water, decaf, fruit tea, playtime fruit as a morning snack

I hate there being no time to check out new recipes but there you go!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight: 9-9-13

Still loadsa tomatoes!

B:  porridge with tomatoes - no, not really, pineapple and yoghurt will do!
L:  vegetable pasta (left over from yesterday), piece of fruit, mini tomatoes
D: veg omelette (left over from yesterday) with a side salad and potato salad (and tomatoes!)

Or I may swap lunch and dinner around.

Still plenty to go!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Recipe: Roasted tomato sauce: cheaper than chips

If you have a glut of home grown tomatoes, this recipe really is cheaper than chips.  If you don't, it isn't!

There are loads of ways of making a tomato sauce.  My blogging friend, Diane, cooks hers in a pan after frying some garlic in olive oil first.  I will do her way next time, I think.  This is what I did yesterday.

Ingredients: (amounts are vague - I didn't weigh or count the tomatoes, for example)
tomatoes (halved if they are not too small)
A small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
A red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
a very good glug of olive oil
some good vegetable stock, such as marigold
herbs to own taste - I used some mixed herbs

I didn't add salt or pepper as the sauce was destined for the freezer.  I will add those when I use the sauce.  Diane also suggests adding a very little sugar to dispel any bitterness.

In a roasting dish add the tomatoes, onion, red pepper and garlic.  Pour over a good glug of olive oil and mix it all well.

Pop the lot into a moderate oven (about 140-160) and roast slowly, stirring occasionally, until the mix is starting to char at the edges and everything is soft.
Add some boiling water and some stock powder, stir well and pop back in the oven for about 15 mins.

Pour and 'push' the lot through a mouli using the finest setting.  This will catch all the pips, skin, etc.  I encouraged the last flavour through with a little more boiling water as the sauce was thick enough to cope with it.  Next time, I will try zizzing in Thermione first before pushing it through a sieve, just to see if there's any difference.  There might be a little bitterness but perhaps a little sugar will take care of that.  Worth a try, anyway.

That's it!  I put single portions into little pots, lids on, bagged up and in the freezer they went.  Well, yes, I did taste first.  Very nice too.

Store cupboard fortnight: 8-9-13

B: most likely bacon and tomato, possibly porridge.
L:  vegetable omelette with runner beans for me and Beth; pork steak with tomatoes and runners for Alex; fruit for dessert
D:  Not sure but I think pasta with more lovely home made tomato sauce and vegetables.

I've broken the store cupboard rules a few times this last week so I reckon the fortnight ought to start here and now!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight: 7-9-13

It's tomato day today!

B: bacon and tomatoes
L:  salad with - tomatoes!!
D:  A tomato/veg sauce with home made pasta - yum.

. . . because they still keep coming, and there's loads more yet.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight: 6-9-13

B:  Porridge, pineapple and yoghurt
L:  Tuna dip, crackers, carrot sticks, mini tomatoes, pineapple and yoghurt
D:  freezer meal (home made), mini tomatoes, plum

Water, decaf, playtime fruit, mini tomatoes

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight: 5-9-13

Yesterday went fine as long as we ignore the cake in the evening.  It was a store cupboard (aka freezer) item so that was OK, but not so good from the healthy eating perspective!
Today features tomatoes.  Gorgeous, sweet, juicy, flavoursome, mini-tomatoes.  Not so much  store cupboard but garden!

B:  poached egg on a bed of tomatoes (fried or roasted, I need to decide!)
L:  Tuna dip with carrot sticks, mini tomatoes, slice of cake, plum
D:  Hairy Dieters freezer meal, rice, strawberry yoghurt

Decaf, water, more tomatoes!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight: 4-9-13

No blips yesterday, thank goodness.

B:  Bacon and tomato
L:  tomato and tuna pasta (with pasta left over from yesterday and tomatoes from the garden so a change from the planned lunch)
D: chicken in lemon and coriander, runner beans, courgettes, rice pudding

playtime fruit, water, decaf and fruit tea.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Store-cupboard fortnight: 3-9-13

Slight slip up yesterday evening but back on track today.

B:  porridge with pineapple and yoghurt
L:  last of the tortilla, carrot sticks, mini tomatoes, apple (because I forgot to make flapjack biscuits yesterday - ooops)
D:  chicken in lemon and coriander, runner beans, courgette, rice pudding

Playtime fruit, water, decaf, fruit tea

Monday, 2 September 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 2-9-13: store cupboard fortnight

The meals are all planned, up to Friday anyway, and I know I have everything I need.  Lots of frugality there too.

Here's today's meals B:  poached egg on a crumpet, pineapple and yoghurt
L: vegetable tortilla and salad, apple
D:  cheese and onion drop scones, bacon, fried tomatoes, pineapple and yoghurt (again)

No snacks if possible and drinks are decaf and water.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 1-9-13

Breakfast:  porridge with fruit and yoghurt
Lunch:  vegetable tortilla, salad, coleslaw
Dinner:  any leftover tortilla with runner beans and broccoli

Yesterday I made six single portion lasagnas for the freezer - perfect for tired evenings.

Today I will make the first batch of tomato sauce from the freezer, based on the roasted tomato mixture from earlier in the week but then pushed through the mouli to get rid of the skin and seeds.  Yum!

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!