Saturday 25 February 2017

My Saturday Kitchen

Last weekend OH and I were away in the campervan for a few nights.  It was lovely but it meant I didn't plan my food and meals for the week.  And my eating really suffered ie I ate far too much rubbish!!  So this morning I was determined to get ahead for next week (and beyond) and use up all the bits n bobs lying around my fridge and store cupboard.  Here's my lovely full fridge as a result.

So what can you do with...

6 bendy carrots?

5 onions

Half a bag of sprouting potatoes?

A small bowl of cooked brown rice?

Spicy seasoning?

Turkey sausages and turkey breast mince? 

2 wrinkly apples?

4 scruffy spring onions?

Firstly I chopped up all the onions and grated the carrots.  Then finely chopped the spring onions discarding the scruffy leaves.  I mixed some onion/carrot/spring onions with tuna and mayo to make a wrap for my lunch!  I used about half and there's half left in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch.

I browned the turkey mince with 2 onions/1 carrot/spicy seasoning and added a carton of chopped tomatoes and a carton of cannelini beans.  I put it all in the slow cooker and cooked it on High for 4 hours.  5 portions of turkey chilli con carne done.

I chucked the rest of the carrots, 1 onion and about a cup of red lentils in some veg stock and simmered for about 20 mins.  Then I added the brown rice and turned it off after it came back up to the boil.  Lentil and rice soup for work lunches.

I mashed 2 of the boiled potatoes with half a bag of cooked frozen cauliflower to make Mashed Cauli Potatoes (it's a real thing apparently)  It actually tasted rather nice.  It's supposed to be a healthy low carb/low calorie version of mashed potatoes.  I'll be using it as a topping to some turkey chilli con carne to make a spicy cottage pie thingy.

I browned the sausages and onions in  my wok and added half a can of Stella Cidre.  I quartered the apples and chucked them in too.  I added some veg stock and simmered it all for about 25 minutes.

I divided it into 3 portions (one is for DS)

And I sauteed the rest of the potatoes to have with my bargain beef joint that was cooked overnight in the slowcooker.

Tonight OH and I are having peppered (bargain) fillet steak in a whisky 'cream' sauce with oven chips and purple sprouting broccoli from my own garden 😊 Then we're going to see Trainspotting 2 at the cinema.  I actually only watched the first Trainspotting film last year for the first time so I haven't been waiting that long for the sequel!

Friday 24 February 2017

Friday night bargains

OH has been away part of this week and I had a parents evening last night which meant I hadn't been to the gym all week.  So I was dragged along tonight even though it's Friday and I always spend Friday evenings slobbing on the couch.  I'll grudgingly admit I feel the better for it.  I really don't enjoy the gym but I am determined to keep myself fit, healthy and active well into my old age 👵  And OH is motivated enough for both of us!!

On the way home we popped into Sainsburys. I hit the meat jackpot.  There was a ton of meat from the butcher's counter in the yellow sticker section.  I picked up a slow roast silverside beef joint reduced from £11.25 to £2.79.  It's already doing it's thing in the slowcooker.

Plus 2 fillet steaks reduced from £8.75 to £2.19 and 2 ribeye steaks reduced from £8.40 to £2.09

All Scottish meat and cut in store by a real butcher.  I got £28.40 worth of meat for £7.07.  That's a lot of quality meat for a quarter of the cost.  And lots of potential meals for the freezer 😊

I'm glad I went to the gym tonight 💪

Friday 17 February 2017

A bit fruity

They don't look much atm but these 3 bare bushes are my blueberry collection.  My lovely mum had an online flash sale offer on fruit bushes so bought some for me, my sister and herself.  There are 3 varieties so they'll produce berries throughout the summer once they're established.  I'll be planting them in pots so I can take them with me if/when I move house.

Likewise my cordon apple trees.  They don't look very alive so need to get them potted up properly as soon as I can source some reasonably priced big blue pots.

I chose varieties that are known to thrive in our damp Scottish climate (!!) My parents had a James Grieve tree years ago so I know what they taste like.

Charles Ross is also an old Scottish variety.  Both are self fertile but are in the same pollination group.  My plan is to position them at the front of the house as it's south facing and gets the sun all day.  We do get sun sometimes!! 😉

I had almost give up on my old artichoke seeds germinating.  But when I checked this morning one seed has sprouted!! That's only a 10% success rate.  I'm tempted to try and pot it up.  I'll have a look for some online advice on this.  Anyone done this before?

The peas and beans have fared better at 60%.  They're pretty hardy and are always recommended by preppers for WTSHTF!!  I can see why.

On the food front I had £10 worth of M&S vouchers from my credit card.  My spending has definitely decreased as that was a £5 reward for each of the last 2 quarters.  In the old days I used to get £40 ish a quarter, although that was running a house for 5.  I looked long and hard before deciding to 'spend' them on a beef joint.  It was 1.39kg and cost £11.11 (not quite free but good for a pound!) I cooked it in the slow cooker with a teeny amount of water, Worcester sauce and Tamari (gluten free soy sauce).  We love pulled beef so now I have lots of portions in the freezer for the coming weeks.

I like to chill the gravy overnight so the fat floats to the top.  I skim it off as I'm watching calories but you could save it and use it in something else.  I've fallen off the WW wagon a wee bit this week as I'm on holiday but so far I've lost 3kg (7lbs) 😎  I'd like to make it 5kg by my birthday next month so need to up the exercise as well. I've entered a 5k race in May so that's my motivation to get out running again.  I do hope my dodgy knee and hips are up to it! 🏃

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Don't throw that out!!

Yesterday and today were Staff Development days at work.  I'm now on holiday!  WOOHOO!!!! 🙌 On Development days we all bring in stuff for a shared lunch.  It's lovely and relaxed and there's usually enough food for both days.  But since we're now off until next Monday anything leftover will probably be unusable by next week.  The logical thing (well at least to me!) would be if there are leftovers from your contribution, take it home and use it up.

Nope!! Most said they didn't want it so a lot of perfectly good food went in the bin just because it had been opened!!  I managed to rescue some stuff but let's just say there was a lot of money went in that bin.  I'm sure my lovely colleagues already think I'm a bit mad but today I confirmed it for them. 

I rescued a packet of Parma ham that had only had 1 slice used, half a pack of strawberries, half a pack of grapes and about a third of a pack of chargrilled chicken pieces.  I brought home the leftover goat's cheese I took in.  I've just looked up the cost of each of these (I'm sad but curious 😉)  Parma ham £4, strawberries £2, grapes £2 and chicken £2.50.  I reckon the above food is worth about £6 or £7.  And it was just going in the bin along with stuff I just couldn't eat or use (like cakes, french bread, Brie)

Sometimes I forget other people don't think like me.  But I regularly read and hear people talk about not having enough money.  No wonder if they waste their cash by chucking out perfectly good food!

Saturday 11 February 2017

More seeds and pink hair!

My lovely mum on hearing about my germination viability testing gave me all her old seeds to sort through.  And I mean old!!

Some are dated 2006!! But there's plenty of current date ones so I'll sort them out and add them to my own growing collection.

Yesterday the first part of my Thompson and Morgan order arrived.  I somehow managed to order 2 packs of 50 tomato seeds but heyho they'll go to a good home. My seed potatoes should be dispatched at the end of the month.

I also ordered some pruners from eBay for £16.95 as my ancient ones wouldn't open properly any more.  They came with a 10 year guarantee from a good company (free p&p) so I felt like I got a good deal for 2 pairs of quality pruners.

In other pruning news I got my hair cut and my blonde roots done.  My hairdresser knows I like purple hair so asked if I'd like a violet toner through it afterwards.  Clearly my idea of violet is different from the hairdressing world.  It looks exactly the colour of Mrs Slocombe!!!

Well, nearly!!

Saturday 4 February 2017

Grow or Throw

As well as poring over seed catalogues I've had a good sort out of my seeds and made a list of leftovers from previous years.  Many of them are still in date (some are unopened) but I've got a few seed packets that are well past the sow by date so I'm doing a germination test to see if they're viable.  All 3 are Sarah Raven seeds (you get big packets for your money!) and I have planted some of them for the last few years.  In fact I know I brought these from my old house so they're about 5 years old now.  I'm testing 10 of each to make working out the percentages easier!!

I've just put some damp kitchen roll in the bottom of an old plastic tub, added the seeds and put them inside a sandwich bag on my study windowsill.

Pea "Sugar Snap"

Broad bean "Stereo" 

Artichoke "Violetta di Choggia"  

I love marinated chargrilled artichokes so I do hope these are viable.  I'll give them all a few weeks to see if they're worth growing or need throwing.  Nothing ventured nothing gained!

Thursday 2 February 2017

2017 Budgets

Last year I overspent my clothing budget by £34.  I wasn't too upset as I did replace some really old clothes and shoes which should last me a few good years.  And I'd committed to buying/making clothes that were environmentally friendly so that made a few purchases more expensive.

I'm sticking to the same £500 budget as that worked out to be a pretty accurate number for my needs.  So I've kicked off my year by buying 3 balls of sock yarn.  Handmade socks last for years.  I have a pair that get worn once a week in winter that are now 13 years old!  They were my first ever hand knitted socks.  In the photo above the purpley yarn (Passion fruit cooler) and green yarn (Mojito) are made in Yorkshire using 35% Bluefaced Leicester fleece 😎 Have a look here at West Yorkshire Spinners for all their yarns. So far they're knitting up beautifully.  I'm trying to knit every day to help me relax and de stress at the end of the day!

For the first time I'm going to keep a track of how much I spend on my garden this year.  I grow stuff not just to save money but to eat produce that hasn't travelled hundreds of miles or been sprayed with chemicals.  And it's good for my well being spending time outside! I'm not planning on spending on anything big (although I might buy another raised bed, I'm undecided atm) so hopefully it shouldn't be a big number.  I have a wee polytunnel, 3 raised beds, lots of ceramic pots, potato bags and loads of small plant pots.  I've been watching a few YouTube channels including this one on growing veggies and am keen to try growing carrots, leeks and potatoes in 10 litre pots.  So I've ordered 20 recycled black pots from eBay to add to my container gardening.

Now I just need to narrow down my seed choices and hopefully get started soon.

Wednesday 1 February 2017


Last week was a tough week professionally.  A child (not even in my class) made an allegation against me that had to be investigated.  Even though I knew it was a totally false allegation it still worried me that I wouldn't be believed and I'd lose my job.  Luckily it was a reasonably quick investigation (2 days) and I was completely exonerated.  But it's left me very unsettled at work and if I'm honest, a bit resentful of the time and energy I've been putting into it. It feels like I'm not making a difference.

So I'm trying to focus on being grateful that I have a permanent post.  And I'm looking at the other areas of my life and being grateful that I am able to do other things.  I was looking at my garden at the weekend and thinking it looks terrible.  But on closer inspection I found my purple sprouting broccoli was, well sprouting 😎

My curly kale is hanging in there!

My leeks are fashionably baby size

And I found my rhubarb has started peeping through the weeds along the side of the polytunnel 

I made these egg muffins with the last 3 eggs from my chickens (they haven't produced any eggs in the last week or so), an end bit of sheep's cheese and some straggly spring onions.  They were really tasty!  Even though my chickens are freeloaders just now, I am grateful for their funny antics (and their eggs)

And finally, 6 years ago today I met my OH 💑 At the time we had both come out of long marriages and were single parents of our respective kids.  Neither of us knew at the time it would become a long term relationship.  It's not perfect especially as we're still running 2 houses and not living together yet but we do have very long terms for the future.  I'm grateful for what we have at the moment and I am looking forward to the next exciting chapter.