Saturday, 14 January 2012

Today's Meanderings

In my earlier post today I talked about how much on average we spend on heating and electric.  As a result I do have to make short cuts with other things and I shop around for bargains with fruit and veg, butter  meet and cheese- I shop for the basic ingredients and then it is up to me to make something with those ingredients that mean we live well but not frivoulously.  I very rarely buy pre-pared items and I don't go to supermarkets very often.  When I go shopping I have to have work out what I actually need first and then buy those items as they are needed which are often items to complement what I already have.  It is rare for me to go with a shopping trolley and fill it up like I did at Christmas but even then I erred on the side of caution buying items for the whole month and not just for Christmas.

I am talking good solid filling food that is not all meat.  Meat has its place in this household but we eat lots of veg, I think more so than meat.  We have meat free days and we have fish.  We have pasta days - sometimes with meat sometimes just veg.  Sometimes there is a cheese sauce sometimes it is just a tomato sauce.  We have stir fries where I used whatever bits of veggies are left over in the fridge, armed with either dried noodles, or rice, stem ginger and its syrup that really peps things up and that way we don't waste bits and bobs.  Sometimes we use pork,mostly it is chicken and occasionally it is beef.

We have all been spoiled over the years in that we can have exotic this or exotic that so when times are poor and you cannot always afford the expensive this or expensive that, we quite often don't fancy what we actually have got to eat which is something quite different.  As I quite frequently say to my partner - there is always something good to eat in the house its about setting to and doing something with it.  I am returning more and more to my good old faithul cook books, my Mrs Beetons and my Good Housekeeping books as they have some lovely ideas for things to feed and fill your family up with which feeds them simply, cheaply and is time effective i.e. you don't spend hours slaving over the kitchen sink.  Alternatively if your time at home is constrained have Baking/Preparation days where you make everything and then load it into the freezer for another day.  At present the Coop have an offer on for buying three chickens for £10 - you can get a lot of good meals out of that and a lot of stock and soup and perhaps chicken curry or pie.  At this price you can afford to buy three chickens and then portion them up and pop them into the freezer.  It is not difficult to portion a chicken up it just needs a little care and practice.  I also buy chicken thighs and make a curry or stir fry out of these too Coop have had two packs for £5.  Equally if I buy fresh veg that has a short shelf life and I am not going to get it used up in time I blanch and freeze it rather than waste it and then I have something there for a rainy day.

You can always pad a meal out  further by serving a starter such as soup which fills you up quite nicely and is a meal in itself  or  make some home made fish cakes and serve on some salad or serve a pudding like apple pie and custard, crumble, bread and butter pudding.
Getting acquainted with your kitchen can save a lot of money. If you make your own cakes -its far cheaper and a lot tastier.
When my step-children were at home, they could eat you out of house and home especially when it came to a Sunday dinner. They would often go back for seconds.   It was the one meal I insisted that they be present for during the week.  A chicken would be padded out with home made stuffing, bread sauce, plenty of seasonal vegetables, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, yorkshire puddings even with chicken, roast parsnips and then there was often a pudding on top of that like rhubarb crumble, or home made rice pudding. Whilst the roast was cooking I would be baking and piling goodies on top of my chest freezer to cool.  As fast as they were put there the three children not the two were slipping away with this and that which had been made for pack ups.This weekly bake was to  make all the cakes for their packups and use during the rest of the week. 

I used to buy belly pork in and get two or three joints per belly which I used to make a home made stuffing for.  This used to be roasted and served with home made apple sauce and extra stuffing.  This was one of the kid's favourite meals.

At the root of me cooking are some simple choices.  I actually enjoy cooking I know a lot of people do not enjoy the whole kitchen experience, but I do. I am a plain cook (although I can cook fancy).  I want to keep well and part of me keeping well is eating sensibly  but eating food that is tasty and that you enjoy eating.  But that does not mean that I have to pay through the nose for it.  Far from it I am a bit of a tight wad in that Department but there are some things that I make use of year in year out and I have been in the past unable to buy it in the quantities I required it in so I decided to deal with this problem by preserving things myself.

If you feed well you keep warm you do not fall prone to every little infection or virus that goes around.  It is about making the best of what you have and making something out of a variety of ingredients that often bear no resemblance to what you started off with.  It is a form of alchemy and for me cooking is sharing my love all around.

At the end of the day we may not have money a lot of the time, but we live well in that we have a roof over our heads, food in our belly and warmth to keep us warm.  That really is what matters in this day and age a return to traditional values.

Catch you all soon



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Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)