Monday 30 April 2018

Monday, 30-04-18

Good morning!

The tomato and lentil soup was delicious but I won't post the whole recipe as one of the ingredients was the remains of some tomato and red pepper sauce, made last year and frozen.  Apart from that, it was tomatoes, lentils, carrot, celery, onion and various herbs and seasonings and I slackened it with some milk - I don't really have enough milk so any way to add a bit is good.  As Beth couldn't come over after all, I have one good portion for today and two for the freezer.  It'll be good for those cold days (like today!)

Today's plans:
B:  30g muesli with stewed fruit and plain yogurt.  30g doesn't look much but it is enough, especially as I team it with yogurt and stewed fruit.
L:  tomato and lentil soup
D:  small jacket potato with turkey mince topping which I might chilli up a bit, salad, coleslaw; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apple, orange

From the freezer
The stewed fruit
I've saved some soup from being put IN the freezer by having more today  :-)
The turkey mince

The frugal factor
None of it is particularly expensive, not even the mince as it is bulked out with veg, lentils and oats.  It's all home made which, quite apart from knowing what has gone into it, does generally tend to be much better value anyway.

How do you cook your mince?

Sunday 29 April 2018

Sunday, 29-04-18

Good morning!

It was quite a culinary day yesterday, what with making (or finishing off) the cordial and the sort of candied peel plus enjoying two pikelets with a couple of little poached eggs.  I followed Mr F-W's technique for poaching and they came out beautifully, perhaps for the first time ever.
And I wish I could remember how I made the kidney bean and veg curry because it was so tasty!

I thought that once the gallbladder problem was sorted, I'd start feeling hungry between meals like I used to do.  However, there's been no change on that; I'm finding that each meal fills me up and keeps me full for much longer, despite the smaller portions.  Maybe habits really have changed or maybe, just maybe, it's early days and the rumbling dragon will pounce in a few days' time.  Hoping it doesn't though.

Today's food: (after a conversation with someone, I'm putting in a bit more detail for a while.
B:  porridge made with 30g oats, a splash of milk and water with stewed rhubarb and strawberries and maybe a sprinkle of that candied peel - and about 60mls plain yogurt, of course.
L:  homemade tomato and lentil soup - just one bowlful and while Beth will probably have some bread and butter; I won't.
D:  100g (ish) roasted chicken, mini roasties (one potato), runner beans; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
The fruit for the porridge
The tomatoes for the soup and when I made it I also threw in a couple of titchy pots of (homemade) tomato and red pepper sauce that I found sulking in a corner of the freezer
The roast chicken was precooked and frozen and the runner beans were frozen too.
In a couple of months I'll be freezing this year's crop, so must use up what's already there first.

Into the freezer:  jars of St Clement's cordial

The frugal factor:
The fruit is from the garden/allotment
The tomatoes were last year's crop too
I'm going to use free range chicken* from now on (more expensive but I will have less) but I have what's in the freezer from previous purchases and I can't waste that - that would be worse than using it.
The runner beans are also last year's crop.

*I've been watching back to back River Cottage programmes on the good food network.  I didn't catch his programmes first time around (there's not a lot of time for telly-watching when you're a teacher) but am thoroughly enjoying them now I have the time.  It's a bit of a 'thing' for him, isn't it, using animals that have been reared with kindness and proper regard to what they are.
I like to be frugal - to make the most of what I have - and have every understanding of those significantly constrained by budget but that isn't my situation so - well, I'm not militant but, for me, that's the way I am going from now on.  I still intend to stretch things out as much as possible though.

But I do have to use up what I already have in first.

Edit:  I DID post the recipe for the curry.  It's here.

Saturday 28 April 2018

Recipe: sort of candied peel

When I made the cordial, I carefully sliced off the zest from the oranges and the lemons in thin strips.  It took a while - longer than just chopping the peel anyway!
After steeping it all overnight, I strained the juice off and the rest was due to be discarded.  But then I had a thunk.

You see, all that zest has been steeped in thick, sugary water and it must have absorbed some of it.

So I took out some of the peel, popped it onto a baking tray covered in parchment and popped it into a slow oven (about 120C) . . .

 . . . and left it to slowly dry out, turning the oven off after an hour.

You know what?  It is scrummy.  A bit crunchy and a bit chewy and, unfortunately, very more-ish.  Lots of ooomph and sweet with a tangy aftertaste.  It would be so, so lovely dipped into chocolate, oh, my word!

I let it cool and then chopped it smaller.  It will go into my porridge and with muesli and in my natural yogurt.  It'll be nice in fruit loaf, cake, stuffing maybe.
A little will go a long way.

AND I will definitely do it again, definitely!  Apart from the oven fuel, it was stuff I would have thrown away.  As it was I only used some of the peel, not being sure how well it would work.  Never again - next time I will use it all.

Recipe: St Clement's Cordial

Borrowed from Google.  Mine looks nothing like this because of the sugar I used - see below.

As the name suggests, this is an orange and lemon cordial and it goes back a long way as I used to make it for my two (and me) when they were little.

It makes loads and loads and I had a bit of a mishap as I didn't have enough granulated sugar so  tweaked things a bit.

It is NOT healthy - it is laden with nasty sugar!  However, as a treat or now and again as a refreshing drink or even as a topping for ice cream, it is scrummy.

Here's the original recipe.

What I did:
3 oranges and 3 lemons, zest and juice.
900g granulated sugar
900g soft brown sugar
    (told you it was high sugar - and the brown sugar is because I ran out of white, a lucky mistake because it has imparted a lovely, slightly toffee-ish flavour to the finished cordial.  It also turns it a sludgy brown, unfortunately!)
27g citric acid (you can get it anywhere that sells wine making stuff - Wilkinson's has it)
12g cream of tartar
1 litre boiling water

Zest and juice the fruit into a large bowl. 
(I cut them in half, place them face down on a plate and microwave them warm - you get loads of juice that way.  However, I am sure I remember when the children were little, I juiced the fruit and then just chopped the rest and threw it all in - it all gets strained out at the end and would be a lot quicker.)
Add the sugar, the citric acid and the boiling water.
Stir well and leave to cool, stirring occasionally.
Leave to steep overnight in the fridge.
Next day, strain out the bits and bottle the cordial in clean, sterilised containers.

Now, I'm not going to get through all of that quickly so I have filled one bottle and the rest has gone into jam jars which I will put in the freezer (no lid until it has frozen).  It may not go solid as it's so high in sugar, but it will be preserved.
It's quite strong.  I would say it dilutes about 1:5

It will be nice as:
a chilled drink with ice and a sprig of mint
with sparkling wine or lemonade (or sparkling water, of course)
with gin or vodka
as the base for a punch
hot as a comfort drink, maybe with aspirin if you're feeling rough
as a syrup over icecream, pancakes, sponge pudding
in yogurt . . .
I'm sure you can think of more.

And, of course, you can reduce the amounts and vary the citrus.  Lime or grapefruit will work.  I'm thinking I might go elderflower picking at the appropriate time and make an lemon and elderflower cordial.  Adding some ginger would also be nice.

And, of course, you can reduce the amounts.  A third of the above would make a more reasonable quantity!

Saturday, 28-04-18

Good morning.

It's so nice to be back at the baking again.  As I posted, yesterday I made crumpets; not sourdough ones, just ordinary ones, and today I am being bad and having carbs for lunch.  What a rebel!

Lunch was nice.  Simple but nice.

I also made some orange and lemon cordial with a bit of a twist because I committed the sin of not checking my ingredients before I started, bad me.  It's still 'steeping' but should be good and I will post about it separately.

Today's plans
B:  muesli with stewed rhubarb and strawberries plus natural yogurt
L:  poached egg on crumpets - two poached eggs and two thin crumpets (pikelets) but no butter!
D:  freezer curry (I know I have some, just not sure what kind it is), rice; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apple and orange or maybe some cottage cheese (needs using up)

The frugal factor.
None will be very expensive as the frozen portions are all small, the snack fruit was a gift as was the muesli and  the rhubarb and berries are garden/allotment produce

From the freezer:
The breakfast fruit
The crumpets
The curry and rice.

It's so miserable out there that I'm going to make a batch of my tomato and lentil soup for the next few days.  A can of tomatoes, a handful of lentils, stock, a few veg and a good zizzer.  That will sort lunch out for a few days (but not today because I want a crumpet today!) and it's a sort of celebration of unlimited veg again!

Update:  It's kidney bean and veg curry.  Nice!

Friday 27 April 2018

Recipe: crumpets

I found this recipe on Jack Monroe's site so I'll post the link.
I wasn't totally sure about some of the measurements so I checked it against a BBC Good Food recipe (very similar but yes, Jack means tsp not tbsp) and ended up using that instead.

They stuck to the crumpet rings a bit so the edges look shaggy but, oh, they are scrummy.  I think they will be featuring in breakfasts and lunches for the next few weeks.

They could be made thicker but this is the thickness I like.

Nearly forgot to say - very cheap too!

Friday, 27-04-18

Good morning.

Yesterday I took great joy in planning my meals for the next week.  It's nice to have more freedom again and I was spoilt for choice.  I'm trying a few new things and will share about them if they are OK.

Today's plans:
B:  porridge with natural yogurt and stewed rhubarb
L:  pineapple cottage cheese, salad
D:  mixed bean burger, salad, SW chips; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apple and orange

From the freezer
The rhubarb (allotment, of course)
The bean burger (home made)

The frugal factor
It's another good day.  The dearest bit is the cottage cheese but even that isn't so bad really.  £1.31 for a pot from which I shall probably eat a third.  Must make sure I use up the rest < looks ruefully at plans that need adapting >

Five Frugal Fings

I haven't done this for a little while so it's about time I did, isn't it!

1.  Earlier this week I made a most delicious 'beany mix' (that's what we call it) with pulses, veg, chopped tomatoes, etc.  I wrote about it here.  It gave me and Beth a good dinner and I had five portions left for the freezer.

2.  Ditto mix with turkey mince.  Very reasonable, very healthy and delicious.  Both of these are going to make evening meals so much easier for a while and will cut down on fuel as they can be thawed and microwave heated, if appropriate.

3.  I'm spending very little on food right now.  Mainly that's because I can't drive for a week or so, so I'm using up the still shamefully large stock of grub I already have.  Good for my clutter, good for the budget.

4.  Allotment rhubarb is now merrily growing fast and I'm picking and being thankful that I can now eat it.  Gorgeous on muesli and in porridge and, best of all, FREE!!  Woo hoo!
I've been looking up rhubarb recipes.  There's loads around but a lot of them are cake based so not a good idea but there's chutney, cordial, flavoured gin or vodka . . . loads of things I can make.
Also my strawberry plants have buds - loads and loads of buds.  I have a fleece ready so that if frost is predicted, I can rush out and cover them so as not to get caught out like I did last year.  And as soon as they are cropping I shall make pots of my lovely strawberry, rhubarb and cranberry jam.  A flavour made in heaven, worthy of the poshest jam producer.
I might also get some blueberries this year. 

5.  Finally, I've booked a holiday at Center Parcs.  Just a Monday to Friday thing and certainly not frugal, not in the new, smart, self-catering apartments but - but - I chose self catering because eating there is shockingly expensive as I know from past experiences.  I can take tins and cans and fresh stuff with me, bought the morning I go and bunged in an 'ice bag' and just buy any fresh stuff I need by the end of the four days.  I may not need any more, of course, especially as I intend to plan my meals carefully.  I'm not going to do anything expensive there, just swim a lot and go on nice gentle strolls around the forest.  Best of all, I have already saved the money so my thrift conscience is comparatively clear.

6.  One more for luck.  I needed some wholemeal bread and didn't feel up to making any, what with operation worries, etc, so I went to Morrisons and what did I see but their nice wholemeal bread on YS.  That was just lucky.  It's now in the freezer being used slice by slice!

What Frugal Fings have you been doing this week?

Thursday 26 April 2018

Thursday, 26-04-18

Good morning.

I made a really nice veggie 'mixture' yesterday.
I softened chopped onion and carrot in oil, added a chopped red pepper and three chopped mushrooms plus a good handful each of butter beans, pinto beans, kidney beans and chickpeas.  Then I put in a can of chopped tomatoes and the same amount of water, a spoonful of marigold powder, some chopped sundried tomatoes, some lentils and some oats, some garlic and tomato puree, salt, pepper and some herbs from the garden (bay, thyme and oregano) - in other words, whatever I could find!  It all simmered away for a while on a very low heat.

It came out really delicious.  I topped two portions with mashed sweet potato mixed with a bit of soft cheese and baked it in t'oven and the rest made five portions for the freezer.  Easy meals!

Today's plans:
B:  muesli and fruit (yes, fruit!!)
L:  red pepper hummus, carrot batons, piece of fruit
D:  pasta bolognaise; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apple and baby orange

From the freezer:
The fruit for the muesli
The red pepper hummus
The bolognaise (turkey mince made)

The frugal factor
The muesli was a gift.
The fruit snacks are free as a friend with a sense of humour bought me some!
The hummus was frozen after Christmas
The turkey mince wasn't costly and the mixture is loaded with veg, thickened with lentils and oats.
Really, not bad at all.  Under the £2 for sure

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Wednesday, 25-04-18


It's on to a new regime now, one I have to work out myself.  I can have fruit for breakfast, carbs for lunch, extra veg . . . woo hoo!
I'm going easy for the first week or so.  I have been advised to keep on with the diet with added veg (to prevent constipation, which may be a problem at first, or perhaps the other too) while things heal and then slowly re-introduce other stuff; but swapping the food groups around is fine.

So - as a rough guide, today's food
B:  porridge and yogurt (because I want to, not because I have to)
L:  maybe beans or scrambled egg on toast - one egg, one slice of toast and no butter, not yet.
D:  gardener's pie - like cottage pie but with pulses and veg, runner beans; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apple and orange
. . . but it might change, depending on how things go.

From the freezer
The bread for toast
The pulses for the pie
Runner beans

The frugal factor
Pretty good today, bow I don't have to fuss about two portions of protein at lunchtime.  Pulses are great value anyway and I already have the veg I will use, none of which were costly - onion, but of mushroom, wonky peppers, sweet potato, carrots and anything else I can scrape off the bottom of the freezer.

And I will work out some provisional plans for the rest of the week.  I'm not stopping that; it's way too useful. 

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Tuesday, 24-04-18

Good morning.

I decided to weigh, seeing as I might not be weighing for a while and guess what?  Four pounds have magically vanished, proving that last weigh was just one of those blips.  As a result I am now in the 'overweight' banding, not 'obese'.  So pleased.

No plans to report today.  Not yet, anyway.  The most frugal day is the day you don't eat anything!

Monday 23 April 2018

Monday, 23-04-18

Morning, everyone!

Today's plans:
B:  muesli and yogurt
L:  chicken tikka, salad
D:  salmon, SW chips, tomatoes; fruit yogurt
Ss: apples

From the freezer
The salmon and the chicken

The frugal factor
Well, not really today, not with salmon AND chicken, but this is, fingers crossed, the last day before my gallbladder op and I won't be feeling like eating much for the next few days so it all balances out really.
If the op goes ahead, it will also be the last day on the liver shrinking diet too.  A bit more flexibility again will be very nice.

Sunday 22 April 2018

Sunday, 22-04-18

Good morning.

The lamb yesterday was lovely.  I read that lamb is supposed to be pink but none of us like it pink so I did a long slow roast and it was lovely (it was leg steaks).  You could have cut it with a spoon!

Today's plans:
B:  porridge and yogurt
L:  really not sure as I'm travelling home from Mum and Dad's this morning.  I might have another omelette with a simple salad as that's simple, easy, filling and works with the food regime.
D:  probably pasta bol using some of that turkey mince mixture I made earlier this week
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
The mince mixture.

The frugal factor:
It's nor bad really,  Eggy things are reasonable as is turkey mince and, of course, portions are small.  Sometimes, I think the apples are the most costly item in my diet.  :-)

Saturday 21 April 2018

Saturday, 21-04-18

Morning, everyone.

Today's plans:
B:  muesli and yogurt
L:  ham salad
D:  lamb, mini roasties, runner beans; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer
The lamb (part of a leg steak) and the runner beans - last year's crop.

The frugal factor
Well, lamb isn't frugal, of course, and I've never seen it on YS, but I'm not paying for any of today's food so that's not an issue.  :-)

It's a very straightforward food plan today with nothing particularly creative but all very tasty!  I shall enjoy it.

Friday 20 April 2018

Friday, 20-04-18

Good morning!

Weight update:  1 lb ON this week.  Oh, dear, but there you go; bodies are not machines and don't always behave according to expectations.  Maybe it's muscle as I've done several days of heavy digging, maybe it's just One of Those Things.  It's certainly not over-eating!

Today's plans:
B:  porridge and yogurt
L:  tuna and salad
D:  probably fish and SW chips, salad; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
The fish - probably pollack.

The frugal factor
More or less all of it.  The fish is the less expensive kind and even counting the tuna, it's not so expensive really.  A fishy day today!

Thursday 19 April 2018

Thursday, 19-04-18

Good morning!

Today's plans
B:  muesli and yogurt
L:  omelette and salad
D:  cheesy sardines on toast, salad; fruit yogurt
Ss: apples

From the freezer
Just the sardine mixture, frozen leftovers from the last time I had this.

The frugal factor:
It's a very reasonable day as the muesli is a gift and the sardines are leftovers.

Wednesday 18 April 2018

Wednesday, 18-14-18

Good morning!

Today's frugal food plans:
B:  porridge with yogurt
L:  chicken, hummus and salad
D:  beans on toast, mini tomatoes; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
The chicken

The frugal factor:
Porridge always is - very!
The hummus is leftovers from the day before yesterday.  As it has already been frozen once, I'd rather not re-freeze.  It should be nice with chicken, I think.
I know I had beans on toast yesterday but there is a reason.  Beth was coming round but she had to cancel.  I'd already got out the beans and the bread (from the freezer) so I shall use them up today.
A nice, frugal day.

The weight has settled a bit and I'm doing more digging today!

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Tuesday, 17-04-18

Morning, everyone.

Today's plans:
B:  muesli and yogurt
L:  cheg and salad
D:  beans on toast, fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
Just the bread today.

The frugal factor:
Pretty much all of it.  The cheese (real cheese) isn't particularly cheap but I have so little of it that it doesn't amount to loads.  Eggs is just eggs, as the saying goes.
I'm sure everyone knows this tip but I will give it anyway - when using cheese for cooking, get a very strong one - you need less to get that good, cheesy flavour.

I have decided exercise stinks!!!  I've started doing some heavy digging in the allotment this week and guess what - I have put on three pounds since Saturday.  It can't possibly be food as I'm sticking very carefully to the liver shrinking diet for this last week and the digging is the only different thing in my life.  It will settle, of course, but I am a bit dismayed, all the same.  I thought I'd never see that next stone number again and this morning, there it was, smirking at me!  Grrrrr.

More digging today so lord only knows what it will be like next time I check.  :-)

(It's good for me really, I know)

Monday 16 April 2018

Monday, 16-04-18

Good morning!

Today's plans:
B:  porridge and yogurt
L:  hummus and carrot batons
D:  salmon, SW wedges, salad; fruit yogurt
Ss: apples

From the freezer
The hummus and the salmon piece
Yesterday overnight and through the day I cooked that turkey mince in the slow cooker and got six portions which all went into the freezer for next week and the week after.

The frugal factor
Salmon is not cheap even though I got this on special but the rest is fine.

I was looking at some figures - one of them said that the average person spends between £40 and £50 a WEEK on groceries (including toiletries and basic washing).  That's between £6 and £7 (roughly) per day.
So when my day's eating looks a bit more expensive than usual, I console myself with the fact that it is still under the average; quite a lot under, in fact.

Sunday 15 April 2018

Sunday, 15-04-18

Good morning.

The attempt to make a tikka spice mix worked really well so I have posted about it separately.  I have plenty more, safely stored in a jar, for future meals.

Today's plans:
B:  porridge or muesli with yogurt
L: tuna salad
D: beanburger, salad, SW chips, fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer
The bean burgers, made last Tuesday and frozen.
I also got out and thawed a pack of turkey mince which is, as I type, in the slow cooker, gently simmering to delicious softness with tomato, onion, pepper, lentils, oats, various seasoning and thyme and bay from the garden.  It's smelling jolly good too!  It's destined to go back into the freezer and will provide easy meals for the week or so after the op when, maybe, I won't feel like spending much time in the kitchen.

The frugal factor
Just about all of it today.  Even the tuna isn't too expensive and the rest is really very frugal indeed.
Bought bean burgers are so expensive (50p each or more) and they don't taste half as good as my own home made ones!

Home made wins out yet again!

Saturday 14 April 2018

Recipe: tikka seasoning

I thought I'd use up some of my separate spices and make this.

I got the recipe here.

It got changed to match what I had but not much and I reduced it to 1/3 so all credit goes to the creator, not to me.

two tsp each of ground coriander, ground cumin, garlic powder (I used granules), paprika.
one and a third tsps roasted garam masala (or the ordinary kind is fine too but I have roasted so used that).
one tsp ground ginger
two thirds tsp chilli powder
good pinch mango powder (because I have it and like what it does, but it's optional
if you have it, 1 tsp dried mint (I don't)

Mix together and store in an airtight jar.

I made my chicken tikka by mixing some of the above mix with yogurt and lemon juice and, for the mint, a bit of mint sauce from a jar (bad me), adding the cubed chicken and marinating it all morning before grilling the chicken and sprinkling over some lime juice.
Very nice indeed!

Saturday, 14-04-18

Good morning!

Yesterday's lunch was lovely.  It was going to be a cheesy omelette but I found a bit of ham that needed using so I added that to the mix (naughty but nice) and it was very tasty and filling.  Two eggs, a bit of ham, 20g proper cheese, spray oil and seasoning.  Mmmmmmm

Today's plans:
B:  porridge and yogurt
L:  chicken tikka salad
D:  spag bol; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
The mince for the spag bol
The chicken for the salad

The frugal factor:
Medium frugal today.  Mince isn't too bad, neither is chicken and the rest is pretty inexpensive really!

I'm starting to plan meals for when I'm just out of hospital and will have people with me who will need feeding and also for subsequent meals when I'm on my own again.  What is really weird is remembering that I won't have to stick to the restrictions of the liver shrinking diet any more.  It does feel odd.  :-)

Friday 13 April 2018

Friday, 13-04-18

Morning, all!

Weigh in today - another 3 lbs off!  Woo hoo!

Today's food plans:
B:  muesli and yogurt
L:  cheesy omelette and salad
D:  turkey curry, rice; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
The curry and the rice

The frugal factor:
Really good today as the curry was made with leftovers from the Christmas turkey and my lovely dad paid for that, just as he did the muesli
The cheese is 'normal' cheese as I finished off the low fat cheese yesterday (I'm just having less of it) as I couldn't get on with it.  I have used up two packs but it doesn't behave like 'proper' cheese.  That means it is a bit cheaper, especially the supermarket's own.

I added a 'refinement' to my cheesy sardines on toast.  I can't spread butter on the toast but I did spread marmite on it instead and wow - it was delicious!  So now the mixture is sardines in tomato sauce, a squidge of garlic, a bit of horseradish sauce, a bit of the grated cheese and a squidge of - salad cream!  It changes every time, doesn't it?
Mix it all together well, marmite on the toast, then the fish spread, then the rest of the grated cheese and back under the grill to melt the cheese and heat it all up.  Oh, it was lovely!

Thursday 12 April 2018

Thursday, 12-04-18

Good morning!

Today's plans:
B:  muesli and yogurt
L:  tuna salad
D:  cheesy fish on toast - it might be more of the tuna or it might be sardine or mackerel, I haven't decided yet- with tomatoes; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
The last of the not nice cheese, grated
Two slices of home made wholemeal bread

The frugal factor:
Another day where nothing is outrageously expensive.  The tuna/fish is the most costly item today and the other thing that keeps the price down is the size of the portions allowed.  It's something people often don't think about when wondering about being more frugal but it does make quite a difference.

Let's raise our morning coffee to frugality in its varied forms!  :-)

Recipe: bean burgers

These were absolutely delicious so I thought I'd share.  I'm sorry but there are no quantities: it was a 'throw it in and see' thing so it's more an idea than a recipe really.
The inspiration was a hybrid of Jack Monroe's famous burger and a simple bean burger recipe I found on the BBC Good Food site, adapted to work with what was in fridge, freezer and cupboard.

a mixture of cooked pulses (a tin would be fine, mine were from the freezer)
one smallish onion
one carrot
some sundried tomatoes plus a bit of the oil they were in
a spoonful of tikka masala paste
a squidge of garlic
some lemon juice - a good dash
a spoonful of plain flour

Spray oil for frying or baking

I used my thermomix but any processor would work, or you can do it by hand.  It's easier if you use the machinery though.

Peel the onion, chop it roughly and pop it in the processor.  Pulse until is is almost a puree
Add the pulses, the sundried tomatoes, the curry paste, the lemon juice and the garlic.  Zizz on a fairly low setting and stop while the pulses still have a bit of texture to them.
Add the grated carrot, the flour and some salt and mix them in.  Don't zizz unless you want the grated carrot to lose its 'grated-ness' - if you do, you may as well add it at the beginning, roughly chopped, with the onion to zizz down.  I think having it grated imparts a great texture.
(I checked the seasoning by spooning a little into a mini-pan, cooking it and then tasting.)

Keep the mixture in a bowl, covered, in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Shape into patties (I used my burger press - such a useful occasional gadget that takes up very little cupboard space), spray a pan with spray oil, pop the burgers in and spray their tops with oil, then fry on a medium heat until they are browned on both sides.  They will be cooked by then.

I served it with SW chips and a side salad with some home made green tomato chutney on the side.  A lemon wedge might go well, if you have a spare lemon to use as a garnish.  Also, as the mixture is quite soft, it would be nice coated with breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes, or you could add the breadcrumbs to the mix which would firm it up a bit.

It made five so three have gone into the freezer for another time.

I meant to take a photo or two but we were hungry and scoffed it all down before I remembered.  It was very, very good!

I remember when burger presses first came out - in the 1970s, I think.  I've always had one and it's really useful for regular, even sized burgers while the waxed discs mean that when frozen, they don't stick together.  Lakeland have them.

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Wednesday, 11-04-18

Good morning!
Can you believe it's a third of the way through the month now?  A-ma-zing!

I was considering what used to be my trigger foods and that they are all off the current map or almost off.  Cheese, crisps, wine . . . oh, you know the sort of thing.  I think that if I can more or less avoid them, things should go OK into the future.  The hardest will be cheese because I will have some, just a bit.  I'll probably buy small amounts from the deli counter rather than blocks so, even if it's more per kilo, it will be a saving because I'm having less.  Crisps and wine can remain in room 101 (most of the time anyway)!

Today's plans
B:  porridge and yogurt
L:  ham salad
D:  beanburger, SW chips, salad; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
A selection of pulses - I have butter beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and pinto beans

The frugal factor
It's not an expensive day today.  Bean burgers are very reasonable when you make them yourself and the salad will be very simple and more or less a garnish really.   I have just a couple of slices of ham bought over the counter, not in a pack.

The home made sort of hash browny things were really nice and really simple so I have posted the recipe separately.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Recipe: home made hash browns (sort of)

These were nice and this is what I did . . .

Ingredients for one person:
A small/medium potato, boiled in its skin until it is almost cooked with just a bit of 'bite' to it.  I used a Maris Piper
Salt and Pepper
Spray oil

I also used two crumpet rings

Preheat the oven to 180C

Peel the potato and grate roughly.

Add some salt and pepper and mix gently

Put some parchment on a baking tray and spray with oil.  Also spray the inside of two crumpet rings and brush the oil around.
Place the rings on the parchment and divide the grated potato between the rings, pressing it down gently.

Bake in the oven for about half an hour or until nicely browned.  After 20 mins, you can take off the rings and turn the potato cakes over - they should stay together by then.

Serve straight away.

These would be really nice with poached eggs on top!  You could add grated onion, carrot, etc, for a different flavour or add herbs/spices.

Tuesday, 10-04-18

Good morning.
I'm sure you've noticed that I'm getting a bit frustrated with the restrictions of this liver shrinking diet.  I'm allowing little changes to creep in, nothing high fat (I'm not keen on more pain) and not calorific, but nevertheless, changes.

However, I now have the date of my gallbladder op and I only need to stay on this diet for another 14 days so I'm going to be as strict as strict again!  :-) And also use the time to plan ahead.

You see, what's really done this weight loss for me is having to go low fat, having to cut out a lot of naughties and then, in latter months, having to follow this special medical meal regime.

It's not been a case of me having to work on bad habits, etc, it's been imposed on me.  So I have to make sure I know exactly where I'm going with it all because there's still a way to go.  I have about a month to sort it all out, including recovery time afterwards, and I am hoping that the time off the more addictive stuff has broken the habits for good so I can continue to eat healthily and frugally.

Having said all of that, yesterday's lunch wasn't too far outside the box after all.  I remembered that the hummus in the freezer was what I got for Christmas and never used.  It was the low fat kind so I reckon it matched the criteria quite closely.  It was a bit 'lumpy' so I pushed it through a sieve and it turned lovely and smooth.  It doesn't sound or look enough really but it was extremely filling - pulses are, aren't they?

(I didn't have dinner - for good reasons - so the lemon tuna thing will just have to wait)

On to today's plans:
B:  porridge with yogurt
L:  cheg (2 eggs, 30g low fat cheddar, bit of lowest of the low mayo) and salad
D:  baked fish, sort of hash browns (the low fat, home made, simplistic version), salad; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer
The fish - I think it's pollack but it might be basa.
The cheese for the cheg.

The frugal factor
Breakfast and lunch are pretty frugal.
The fish is the cheaper kind that comes in a savers bag called 'fish'!  Says it all, doesn't it?
The potato is how I made the shells for the rosti egg cups last week.  I will then use spray oil to brown it off as a sort of potato cake.  Cheap and cheerful.

Monday 9 April 2018

Monday, 09-04-18

Good morning.  :-)

Yesterday I had the last portion of bean and chorizo stew from the freezer.  I remembered posting about it ages ago, I think when this blog was still called 'My 30-30 Challenge, so I looked back and here it is, all nicely costed out.  It'd cost more to make now, wouldn't it?
And yes, it was that long ago - I trust my freezer.

Today's plans:
B:  muesli and yogurt
L:  hummus and carrot batons.  OK, the hummus is a bit naughty as far as a strict diet is concerned but it needs to be used up and the portion is quite small.
D:  easy tuna and lemon spaghetti; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
Just the hummus today.

The frugal factor:
Just about all of it.  Tinned tuna is not costly and the other ingredients (or their substitutes, e.g. dried parsley instead of fresh, are also cheap and I have them all in fridge and cupboard.

The recipe is actually a Thermomix recipe but, as it is just one portion which looks a bit small for thermo-ing, I shall be making it on the hob and, if it is nice, will be posting about it later.  If it's not, I won't!

Have a fantastically frugal day today, everyone!

Sunday 8 April 2018

Sunday, 08-04-18

Good morning.

Today's food plan:
B:  porridge and yogurt
L:  beany chicken soup
D:  bean and chorizo stew (which has added veg), rice; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
The chicken and beans for the soup and the stew which I made a while ago and froze in portions

The frugal factor
All of it really, to make up for a few recent days.
The porridge is always frugal, the chicken for the soup is from that cheap Tesco chicken and the stew, also being bean based, is not expensive at all.  A bit of chorizo goes a long way.  In fact, I have the cost written on the pot because it was when I was doing the 30-30 challenge and it's just 27p.

I'm being a bit rebellious!  The rhubarb is coming up very nicely in the allotment and I am NOT going to miss out on a free food just because of this diet.  I really can't see that there's anything so evil, carb-wise, in stewed rhubarb with stevia sweetening.  I'm having it with some frozen mashed garden strawberries from last year (together they are a flavour made in heaven) and home made natural yogurt; a delicious and healthy home made dessert.
So there!  :-)

Saturday 7 April 2018

Saturday, 07-04-18

Good morning.

Firstly: Jan and Tricia.  I see you left comments a while ago and I didn't answer.  I'm really sorry, I should have done and I have now.  The post is here.
Apologies to anyone else whose comments I have missed.

I had a horrible feeling yesterday's weigh in might have just been a fluke but no, it's gone down a bit more this morning.  Phew!

Today's plans:
B:  muesli and yogurt
L:  steak, salad
D:  chicken drumsticks, SW chips, tomatoes roasted in a little spray oil (may as well make use of the oven being on); fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer
The steak, which I already have so I'm using up what I have already got.  I'll get there at some point
Chicken drumsticks

The kidney beans are now in the freezer and the pinto beans have been soaked overnight for cooking shortly so they will also be frozen by this evening.  I will be able to make a good few meals with them!

The frugal factor
Nope!  :-)  Well, breakfast is OK and the drumsticks aren't shockingly expensive but the steak - ooops!
It's stuff I already had in the freezer, however, so no guilt whatsoever!  Anyway, one of the things about being more frugal is so that one can occasionally enjoy a more expensive meal without needing to take out a Wonga loan. I shall enjoy it.

Have a good day!

Friday 6 April 2018

Recipe: bbq sauce

I just wanted a little bit for two chicken thighs so it was just a splash of the following, all from what I have in fridge and cupboard:

brown sauce
cider vinegar
lime juice (out of lemon juice)
dijon mustaed
sweet chilli sauce
garlic puree

and a sprinkle of sea salt

While this is not totally liver shrinking, I rarely use much in the way of condiments so should be forgiven such small amounts occasionally.  If not - tough!  :-)

This is what I did.

I mixed the sauce ingredients together well ahead of cooking time.
I'd taken some chicken out of the freezer and as soon as it started thawing, I took off the skin and popped then in a non-reactive, oven proof dish.

I poured and spooned over the bbq sauce . . . you can see I didn't need to make all that much.

. . . covered it all with cling film and popped it in the fridge to finish thawing and to marinate.

At dinner time, I heated the oven to 200C and popped in the dish, covered with foil, for around 35 minutes (until cooked through), taking off the foil after about 20 mins.

I had it with rice and tomatoes and it was very, very tasty indeed.  For a darker sauce, I could have added some soy sauce.

(with apologies for the naff photos)

Five Frugal Fings

Hmmm - I'm not sure I can manage five.  I might have to call this week Free Frugal Fings, not five!!!

1.  Now the weather is better, I'm able to hang just about all the washing out on the line to dry.  It rejoices my heart to see it billowing out in the breeze.

2.  I was out of kidney beans in the freezer so yesterday I soaked a whole bagful of dried beans and then boiled them until they were soft.  The whole bag cost £1.12 (I'd written the price on the packet) and it makes loads.  So much better value than buying even value/savers tinned beans and, as I open freezer and then bag them, I can take out just as many as I need each time.
I also seem to have a bag of pinto beans (no idea how that happened as it's not one I remember buying) so I will do the same with that in a few days.  Now I just have to remember to plan in more pulse based meals as I will have a nice mixture in the freezer - butter beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and pinto beans.

3.  I'm one step further on in growing the summer produce.  Beth and I took a trip to the allotment on Monday and now we have a plan of action for this year.  It's lovely to pick and then eat - so fresh and tasty.  Hopefully, by then, I will be able to eat more veg again.  Already the rhubarb is coming up strongly and the chard too.

4.  I've really got into tinned fish recently, especially tuna, mackerel and sardines.  Not only is it tasty, it's not shockingly expensive and it's good for you.  Also, the tins tend to be one or two portion sizes so I'm OK about opening them, knowing I won't have leftovers to deal with.  Not that there's anything wrong with leftovers, they're useful, but I don't usually want fish leftovers.
I need to dig out some easy recipes I can use with it.

5.  I think I need to reorganise my freezers.  The front opening one now has quite a lot of spaces so I could rootle out all the ready mades (home made ready mades) from the chest freezer and pop them into the other one so they are all together.  Then I need to list them all and see how they will work with my diet regime.  I guess this is really future frugality rather than now though.

What are your Frugal Fings this week?

Friday, 06-04-18

Good morning.

3 lbs off this week.  Feeling happy about that.

Today's plans:
B:  porridge and yogurt
L:  ham salad
D:  chicken thighs in a bbq sauce, rice, salad
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
The chicken thighs and the rice.

The frugal factor:
The ham is the other half of a small pack from Aldi which needs using up.
Chicken thighs are not only the cheapest cut, they are also very flavoursome and I will knock together a bbq sauce from what I have in my cupboard - bit of ketchup, bit of garlic, bit of this, that and the other  - not 100% according to the rules but just a bit of celebration really.
Porridge is the cheapest breakfast and one of the healthiest and the yogurt is home made.

Not a bad day really.

Thursday 5 April 2018

Thursday, 05-04-18

Good morning!

The potato egg cups were delicious yesterday so I have posted about what I did.  Another on the list of Things To Make Again!

Today I seem to be craving 'meaty' sort of stuff so here's the plans:
B:  porridge and yogurt
L:  chicken tikka on salad
D:  baked salmon, SW chips, salad; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
The salmon and the chicken - better today.

The frugal factor:
er - not.  :-)  But I did have the expensive items in the freezer rather than go out and buy them AND it fits well into the food regime.

I seem to be having a lot of salad right now but salad vegetables are not shockingly expensive and I don't go lavish.  Just a selection of lettuce (little gem or romaine usually), cucumber, radishes, tomatoes sometimes, red or yellow pepper and carrot.  Nice, simple and crunchy.  I treated myself to a bag of watercress too, so that will feature in today's salads as it does tend to go over quite quickly.  I ought to start growing some mustard and cress on the window ledge, like we used to do as children.  That would be nice.  I wonder if I have any packets in the seed tin.

I'm also gearing up to planting some seeds.  Tomatoes, runners, corn, etc.  That means bringing the gopak table in from the shed to put the seed trays/pots on and turning off the radiator in that corner.  It makes the living room a bit untidy but it's worth it.

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Recipe: rosti egg cups

This was absolutely delicious and this is what I did.

1.  Boil unpeeled potatoes until they are just cooked.  Allow them to cool, then peel off the skin and grate them.  I did two for me, each about the same size as two eggs.
Then add seasoning (I just added some salt and pepper).

2.  Preheat the oven to 180C fan.
Spray oil into a muffin tin.  Add some of the potato and using fingers, push it down to line the side and bottom of each hole.  Then respray with oil.

3.  Bake in oven for about 20 mins (check after 15).  Be careful the edges don't burn.  Then allow to cool (so all of the above can be done earlier).

4.  Reheat oven to 180C.  Crack a small egg (because a larger one would be too big) into each 'nest'.  Bake for about 10 to 15 mins, until the egg is cooked.

5.  Carefully run a knife around the edge to loosen each nest.  Lift out.  Sprinkle over some sea salt and serve with a salad or maybe veg.

I was going to make just two but there was enough potato for three so there you go!  It would be nice with grated cheese on the top too.

Recipe: crustless quiche for one

Ingredients to make one portion
one large egg
half a cup of milk (semi skimmed is fine)
30g cheese (I used low fat), finely grated
salt and pepper
pinch mustard
herbs (I used some chives)
Any filling you fancy  I used lean bacon, chives instead of onion and a bit of red pepper
Spray oil
A little quiche dish would be nice but you can use ramekin dishes or anything oven proof that is the right size.

Heat the oven to 180C

In a pan, spray some oil and gently fry the fillings if they could do with softening.
Whisk together the egg, milk, half the cheese and the seasonings.  Add the chives and the sauted fillings.
Spray oil around the inside of the baking dish.
Pour in the egg and filling mixture, sprinkle over the rest of the grated cheese and bake for about 30 mins or until browned and with just a slight wobble.  Check after 20 mins and turn up the oven, if necessary.

Serve with a salad or with chips and veg.

Wednesday, 04-04-18

Morning, everyone.

Today's plans:
B:  muesli and yogurt
L:  ham salad
D:  potato rosti egg cups, salad; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apple and banana

From the freezer.
Nothing, zilch, zero.  Never mind.

The frugal factor
Muesli - a gift
Yogurt - home made
Ham came from Aldi so not outrageously dear
Eggs for dinner are not expensive either.
Not a particularly costly day today, thankfully.

This is more or less the recipe for the rosti eggs.  I shall just make two, of course.
Fingers are crossed that it's OK and edible.  It should be.

Tuesday 3 April 2018

Recipe: fruity Caribbean mackerel pasta

I'm getting quite fond of tinned fish like sardine and mackerel and I bought a tin I haven't seen before - mackerel in a fruity Caribbean sauce - and made this rather easy and tasty meal.  Mackerel is a very 'meaty' textured fish and I like it very much.  This dish was fish heavy and it would be easy to add a few more veg, double the pasta and make it serve 2

Ingredients for one
a tin of mackerel in fruity Caribbean sauce
small amounts of onion, red pepper and mushroom, finely chopped
spray oil
bit of salt and pepper
one portion of pasta - any kind, I used penne because that's what I had

Cook the pasta in salted water.  Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.

While that's cooking, soften the veg in spray oil in a pan.  Then add all the contents of the tin of fish; don't drain off any of the liquid.
Gently break up the fish to the size you want.
Heat until piping hot, stirring.
Add the pasta and a bit of the cooking liquid until it looks 'right'.  (not terribly precise, I know).
Reheat to piping hot, add a bit of seasoning, if needed, and serve in a bowl.

Tuesday, 03-04-18

Good morning.

Yesterday's shop was very successful.  I found my coat and bought it (just a titchy bit too small so yippee!), I stocked up with washing stuff and other needed bits and bobs and I didn't impulse buy at all.

Then we pootled along to the allotment.
The rhubarb is coming up strongly and Beth picked some of the early kind for her dinner yesterday.  Such a shame it doesn't really fit into the liver shrinking plan easily.
A few of the leeks have survived the general neglect and will be ready to pick soon.
The chard is coming up strongly again.  It's mostly intended as guinea pig food but I shall use some as a substitute for spinach (because it's free) in appropriate dishes like quiche and curry.  How on earth did it survive the extremely cold weather?
Abd the fruit trees have big, fat buds!  Lovely!  Please - no late frosts to kill the blossom!

And the fruity Caribbean mackerel pasta was really nice.  I was surprised.  Must get some more tins of mackerel in a fruity Caribbean sauce!

Today's plans
B:  porridge and yogurt
L:  crustless quiche (bit of onion, bit of mushroom, bit of red pepper, bit of shredded cooking bacon), shredded lettuce
D:  boiled eggs, toasty soldiers, baby tomatoes; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer:
Not much.  Just the titchy bit of cooking bacon and the low fat cheese in the quiche as I have some fresh pepper that needs using up..

The frugal factor
Rather a lot of egg today but they are great value so really not a costly day at all today.  The bread for the toast is home made, as is the natural yogurt.

My bank balance may have taken a slight battering yesterday but it was all saved up for and all necessary stuff.  I could have been more frugal and looked round the charity shops but I didn't, I went cheap and cheerful at Matalan and Aldi instead.  :-)

Monday 2 April 2018

Monday, 02-04-18

Good morning.

My plans for today:
B:  porridge with fruit yogurt
L:  bean and veg soup
D:  fruity Caribbean  mackerel pasta; salad maybe; fruit yogurt
Ss:  apples

From the freezer
The pulses for the soup
Chicken stock for the soup

The frugal factor
Dinner is based on a small can of mackerel in aforementioned dressing so I thought I'd try it with pasta.  Might be nice, might be horrible - I'll let you know.  Not shockingly expensive though.
The soup will be great value and the stock in it is from a boiled up chicken carcass.
All in all, not an expensive day.
 No reason to go off the rails, just because it's a bank holiday.  After all, when you're retired, almost every day is like a bank holiday, isn't it  :-)

However, I do plan to spend some money!
I'm off to Aldi to stock up on the washing capsules I like so much as I am now right out, totally none left.  I shall buy several boxes as usual and then it's off my mind for ages.  I also want to stock up on washing liquid.  The kind I get comes out very thick so I think this time I will dilute it down before using.  It really doesn't have to be as soapy and bubbly as it comes out.  No complaints, I just want to make it last longer.  I need some other bits and bobs too but the washing items will be a bit of an outlay.

Then I'm off to Matalan.  My summer coat/jacket thingy is unwearable now, it just falls off me.  It's a shame because I've had it for ages, it was a freebie from a catalogue order and it's been fantastic.  It's been washed and washed and still looks good as new.  Everything has it's time, I guess, as I will pop it in the SA dropping off point so someone else can have use of it.  Anyway, after some internet trawling, it seems that Matalan has some inexpensive, casual super coats/jackets/etc, so I'm going to take a look.  I'm thinking I will get the size below so it does me through the summer.
Maybe next winter I will be able to get a duffle coat.  I've always wanted a duffle coat and they are timeless as far as style goes.  I can dream . . .

This losing weight thing is all very well but it has its complications, all the same!  :-)

Sunday 1 April 2018

Sunday, 01-04-18

Happy Easter Sunday to everyone.

I have no chocolate eggs - I couldn't have them anyway but even if I could, I wouldn't.  They are shockingly expensive for what you get and a nice box of Thornton's choccies (reduced to £7) made my parents very happy while grandson received a boost to his student cash that made him smile.

Today's plans
B:  muesli and yogurt
L:  not totally sure, maybe boiled eggs and carrot batons
D:  pasta bolognaise
Ss:  apples

From the freezer
The cooked mince for the bol.

The frugal factor
A nice, frugal day today with nothing too costly.  It should be well in the £2 target.

Have a lovely day, everyone, whatever your plans are.