Thursday, 11 May 2017

Feels like summer


I love May! Traditionally we get better weather here in May and June than the summer months.  We can still get the occasional frost so planting out is still a bit risky.  All I've been doing so far is prepping the raised beds at the front and the polytunnel.


I took everything out and gave it all a good sort out and clean.  I bought these greenhouse gro beds
really cheaply (£11.99) instead of the wooden raised beds I planned (about £100).  They hold a lot of soil/compost so I'm impressed so far.  I'm going to put my tomatoes in them.  In fact, I'm going to order another set for the other side of the polytunnel!

Work is awful so I'm not going to say anything except 7 more weeks to go!  A new app has been launched to help teachers track their work/life balance .


Here's last week's record. Monday was a Bank holiday! I made an effort to not do any work last weekend as it was The Teenager's 19th birthday.  He came home for the weekend so I left early on Friday and then did no work at all for the first time in ages!


Unbelievably he's just finished his first year at uni!!  Just exam results to get and then hopefully into second year in September.  Time is flying by so quickly!!  The above cartoon made him laugh (he's studying radiography!!)

Monday, 24 April 2017

Healthy?


No posts for a week, must be back at work *rolls eyes* Only 4 days last week but by Friday night I had a huge migraine that lingered all weekend.  Back to normal then.

One of my colleagues (similar age to me) was absent last week.  When she came back today she told us she'd been hospitalised with breathing difficulties and they found she had high blood pressure and an enlarged heart!!! She's slim and goes hill walking for fun.  She eats healthily and keeps fit.  So not lifestyle in her case.  She told me I should get my blood pressure checked!

I must confess I've not had it checked for a few years.  Or my cholesterol (which runs high in my family)  So I'm hoping that giving up coffee, sugar and alcohol along with gluten and dairy will have some benefits!!  I'm hoping that all the gym work and yoga will have a positive effect too.  I'll make an appointment to get everything checked.

Oh, and I've got a sprained ankle.  Properly turned over on it yesterday coming down a hill. Resting isn't an option so I'm hobbling about on it.

Healthy??  Pfft!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Kitchen Experiments


I was in an experimental mood today.  I made another batch of oatcakes this time with sesame seeds.  They were very nice!  I blended all of the oats instead of half.  The mixture was harder to roll and cut out.  The finished oatcakes were rather crumbly but worth the experiment!  I'll go back to blending just half the oats next time.


Tonight's meal was another experimental effort.  I had half a dodgy courgette hanging around my fridge along with loads of carrots.  I had leftover rice from last night.  So along with one of my bargain pouches of chestnuts I put together a quick stir fry.


It was rather tasty!


 I also made a shepherdess pie using green lentils with a sweet potato mash on top.  I didn't have a recipe, just winged it. 


That's one meal sorted for the week ahead.

Tomorrow is the last day of my holiday so it'll mostly be prep for going back to work *sighs*  At least it's the summer term, lots of outdoors activities will be on the agenda.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The last vice?


I used to drink a lot of coffee.  Not quite to the point where I would make a cup as soon as the previous one was done but close.  I rarely drank anything else.


It's my first drink of the day, yep on an empty stomach. And when I got a travel mug, well that was a game changer.  I  had hot coffee on hand the whole day even when I was out and about.


Gradually as I've been making healthier choices over the last year, I've cut it down to 1 in the morning before work and 2 at the weekend and on holidays.

I cut out Pepsi Max at Christmas (I was seriously addicted!!) as well as cutting down on sugar (hardly have any now) and salt (just a tiny pinch of sea salt when cooking pasta and rice).  I've cut out alcohol (I last had some wine on my birthday) and I drink lots of water and herbal tea.  So having made all these healthy choices, why am I still drinking coffee?

I was drinking my second cup this morning and thought 'I'm not actually enjoying this any more.'  Maybe with all the changes I've been making my taste buds just don't like it.  So I'm going to try giving up coffee too.

Eeeeek!! Wish me luck! ๐Ÿ€


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Home made yoghurt


Years ago I made a lot of yoghurt for my boys.  It was a sneaky healthy way to get calcium into them!  They loved it especially as they could add all their favourite 'toppings' and it was much cheaper than shop bought ones. Since I've been dairy free I've occasionally bought yogurt made from soya, goats milk, sheep's milk (really delicious!) and more recently coconut.  They all taste lovely but they're hugely more expensive than cow's milk ones *sighs*  So I thought I'd have a go at making my own again with alternative milks.

I know there are loads of ways to make it at home but for convenience I bought the Lakeland one.  Currently £21.99.  I also bought a bio culture (from Amazon) as a starter.


My first batch was using whole goats milk. It was very nice especially with blueberries but very runny.  I used some of this batch to start another one.


This time I strained the yoghurt overnight in a sieve lined with muslin.  Bingo!  Perfectly thick creamy yoghurt with no added thickeners and the chickens got the watery leftovers.


So, 1 litre of goats milk at £1.60 gives me 2 or 3 decent servings of yoghurt.  It works out at roughly the same cost as shop bought stuff.  I'm not saving any money but I know exactly what's in it.

Today I'm testing almond milk ๐Ÿ˜‹

Friday, 7 April 2017

Holiday food prep



I can't believe it's Friday already! But I've had a lovely relaxing sort of week just pottering around the house and garden.  Just what I needed.  First thing on Monday I got a delivery.  Doesn't look like £100 of food does it??  I'm hoping this will see me through the month with just a few fresh fruit and veg top ups.


First thing was to get the chicken, some potatoes and the butternut squash in the oven. 


Then I split some turkey breast mince (750g)  into 2 portions.


400g went into my turkey con carne with a ton of grated veggies and red lentils


The other 350g became turkey meatballs.  I found a tip that said instead of adding dry breadcrumbs to chicken/turkey mince try soaking the slices of bread in water (or milk) to keep them moist.  Squeeze out the water and add it to the meat and spices.  GF bread is really dry so I was chuffed that it really helped them stay moist!!


I made my cheesy stuffed baked potatoes with goats butter and cheese.  Very nice!  The chicken was stripped, portioned up and frozen.  The bones made stock that became chicken and rice soup.  The butternut squash was simply mashed and I've been having it as one of my veggies in each meal.

So I got 8 generous portions of cooked chicken meat, 4 portions of turkey con carne, 9 big meatballs (3 meals), 10 potato halves and a huge pot of chicken and rice soup.  As usual some was shared with eldest DS.

The Teenager was home briefly so I emptied my cupboard and freezer of all the foods I can't eat so he went back to student land with a ton of good food and I made more space by using up yet more stuff.


I used up some GF wraps and goats cheese to make a quesadilla


 I chopped another one up and fried it to make...


...crispy tortilla style chips to dip 


I popped into Dobbies (I was on a mission in Lakeland, more details to follow ๐Ÿ˜‰) and scored a few bargains in their food hall.  You know I love chestnuts especially bargain ones for a cheap protein.  I also got a jar of organic dried thyme for 50p that should have been £3.99!!  The lid had a wee crack but the seal was intact.  The pistachios and corn rolls were just snacks ๐Ÿ˜‰

I've really enjoyed being in the kitchen this week with a few on going experiments to follow๐Ÿœ

Sunday, 2 April 2017

I'm on holiday!


Woohoo!  I'm finally on holiday.  I've spent the weekend not thinking about getting ready for work tomorrow.  Instead I've been planning and sorting and cooking and just chilling.  I never normally have time to do any of these things.  My cupboards and freezers have been run down (on purpose) so I can see what I really need and actually use.  I've been meaning to make my own fajita/taco spice mix for aaages.  And I finally did it yesterday.

I wrote down all the ingredients from my usual brand and just played about with the quantities.  I subbed dried oregano with sage as that's what I had and I didn't have any dried lime juice.  But basically I used 1 tsp of chillies and 1/2 tsp of everything else.  I sprinkled it on both sides of a butterflied chicken breast and then pan fried it.


I forgot to take an after photo as I was so hungry!  It tasted pretty much the same as my branded one and I already had all the herbs and spices. 


My cupboards are really empty and I was out of oatcakes.  I've been meaning to have a go at making at own.  Turns out they're really easy and really cheap to make!!

I used

200g oats (half blended in my Nutribullet)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3tbsp oil
boiling water

Mix oats, salt, pepper and oil together.  Add enough water to make a rollable dough.
Cut into circles and bake for 15 mins (160 C/Gas 4)  I turned them over and baked them another 5 mins.

They cost me less than 30p for 12.  My usual brand costs £1.10 for 218g.  Another frugal saving and they're really tasty! Next time I'll roll them even thinner and see how many I can get from the mixture.  I eat a lot of oatcakes instead of bread!

Edited to add that OH and his hungry offspring declared them better than the shop ones!!
 

Another thing I've been meaning to do is go back to making my own environmentally friendly cleaners.  I took the petals off the roses in the flowers OH gave me for my birthday and they're currently soaking in white vinegar to make a window cleaner.  Frugal and effective.


I found a wee tired bee on my windowsill.  No idea how it got inside.  I gave it a sugary drink and left it sitting in the sunshine.  When I went back out to check on it there was no sign of it ๐Ÿ

I have lots of things I want to do to make the most of my holiday.  So better get a move on...