Sunday, 23 September 2012

Help Needed From Fellow Bread Makers

Whilst on the road to self sufficiency I have been guided to attempt my own bread.  Admittedly, a lot of influence has come from fellow bloggers but the most surprising source has come from my husband.  JJ of all people, who has not one green credential to his name (apart from the time he bought an unleaded car and turned the bathroom light out...once) has been saying how good it would be to bake our own bread.  Fast forward a couple of nights and a few bids on Ebay and Voila!  We now have our very own bread maker, bought from funds saved through thrifty budgeting. Albeit a mini bread maker, and that is where my problems started.  The make of bread maker is a Cook's Essential 1.2lb capacity, yet does it state anywhere, in the poor excuse of an instruction manual, a recipe I could follow.  No!  It is poorly written and difficult to understand.  At no time does it mention the weights of ingredients to use.  Not to be beaten I went to the Fountain of Knowledge 'Google' and came across a mini bread maker recipe and used that.  Here are the results!

 I know I will have to dispose of the monstrosity before daughters 1 & 2 see it and be the object of their ridicule for the next few days.  So please, I am appealing to anyone who can help.  Any advice whatsoever will be appreciated.  Thanks in advance xx

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Crafts and Car Booting

Remember those jam jars in my very first they are, all complete. I can put this little project to bed, and also the jam jars, as there won't be any use for them this year, unless we have a power failure.

I've also been busy car booting (like I do every Sunday) but was especially pleased with my little treasures this week as I've even started limiting my spend.  Childrens brand new cookery book = 50p.  I love childrens' cookery books.  The recipes are usually simple but cooked from scratch, also it includes a handy metric conversion guide.  I can now see how much is equivalent to a cup without looking on the internet everytime. 

I couldn't resist 'Seven O'Clock Tales' by Enid Blyton, also = 50p (more than what I normally pay for but while it was Enid I made an exception).  Perfect for those upcoming winter nights for Mini A to read.  I remember reading the same collection at her age. 

Also, my little preserving jar = 50p.  It was supposed to be a £1 but the stallholder said I could have it for 50p.  Little did I know, that it is actually a Le Parfait jar, which are going for a small fortune on Ebay.  Perfect for my raspberry jam from Approved Foods (another frugal shopping wonder recommended by my blogging friends).

Finally, I also picked up a brand new roll of wallpaper =50p.  The colours were perfect for my conservatory, but not to wallpaper...oh no...  At that price I had a much more inventive way to use it.  I don't know how many of you have those ugly plastic storage drawers but we have 2 sets just to accommodate Mini A's toys...and you have to admit they are ugly. After browsing Pinterest (another site I have become addicted to when it comes to upcycling).  I came across a Pin (sorry I cannot find the link) that came up with a solution to hide the junk and make them a bit more homely.

 A bit of wallpaper, PVA glue and some fiddly cutting, here is one set completed, Blue Peter eat your heart out. It is not perfect and when doing it you will spend ages trying to get the air bubbles out only for them to show up later on, but it does look a bit better than before. What do you think?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Free Food

As you may have gathered I am a willing student when it comes to trying to grow my own food. However, I am still very much at the infant stage yet. So, imagine my surprise (and envy) when I discovered that my sister (the one who I am trying to convert into a green way of thinking) has plums growing in her garden. Not just 1 or 2 but a whole tree full. She couldn't understand how excited I got over some plums. Of course I was to help myself by all means, as long as I didn't expect my sister to help pick them off - too many creepy crawlies might be lurking about.

My bounty that I have decided to make Plum pudding with.

I used an oblong tin to bake this in.

  • Roughly 6 plums halved - stones removed.
  • 150g sieved self raising flour
  • 175g marg or butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2tbsp ground almonds
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 2tsp vanilla extract

    Preheat oven to gas mark 4.
    Add a sprinkling of sugar to a pan with 2tbsp of water.
    Bring to boil then bring to a simmer and add plums cut side down.
    Simmer for 3 minutes.
    Spoon plums cut side down into your tin and pour over what juice is left in pan.
 Add all other ingredients to a bowl and use food mixer to mix until creamy.
 Then pour over plums.
 Put in oven and bake for 35-45 minutes.
I served this with single cream.  Absolutely delicious.

I had never made this before but will definitely be adding this to my list of favourites.

Friday, 7 September 2012

A World Without Bees?

Just a short post today, but one that urgently needed writing.


Where would we be without bees?                                                                                                       

It's not a scenario I like to imagine, but sometime in the distant, or not so distant future, this could very well be a reality. The bee is the world's most important pollinator of food crops and with them rapidly in decline, how long before there is a national and international food shortage?

I was alerted today to  A petition to ban the use of Neonicotinoid pesticides which is not only 7000 times more toxic than the already banned DDT pesticide but has been linked to the rapid drop in  bees.  It makes an interesting read and the facts are scary.  100,000 signatures are needed to make the government sit up and listen, follow the example of Germany, France, Italy and Slovenia, and ban these powerful pesticides.

I've signed, and I am sure a lot of you will want to do your bit to protect one of nature's hardest workers!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Debts and Cake

I know I've not written on here for a few of days but that's not to say I've not been around. Whilst catching a sneaky five minutes during my dinner hour (15 minutes)  looking at all the other blogs I follow, I've also been trying very hard at becoming more frugal, thrifty and green; and this takes time!
When I started this blog I wanted to share events in my life that would interest like-minded people.  Little did I know the effect it would have.  Not only is it like diary, but also an education at the same time.  I am learning so much from the other blogs.  Frugal Queen's blog entitled 'Fish and Chips Twice' certainly made me think twice about the amount I spend on a Friday night takeaway.  £15-£20 a week = £780 - £1040 a year = shocking!
Little Cottage Comforts blog about harvesting in 'So many shades of grey' .  I'm nowhere near at the stage of being self sufficient but I am a willing learner and have started my own kitchen windowsill of herbs (another time, another blog), and also, a lovely Australian blog that has encouraged me to try and bake my own bread.  There are also loads of other blogs that I have gained a great deal from and will mention them in future posts.

I've also read about snowballing debts - when one debt is paid off, use that money to pay off extra on another debt.  I like to think I have always been pretty good when it comes to managing money but as I have learnt, there is always room for improvement.  I've said au revoir to two catalogues this week. Next is hubby's overdraft and then the biggy, MORTGAGE!  Our mortgage is not by any means large (a little under £60,000) but while interest rates are low I want to take advantage of making over- payments. 1- to pay off the mortgage quicker and, 2- that when (and believe me it will happen) interest rates go up it will not affect me as much and finally, 3-to have that feeling of finally owning your own home.  So that is why I have examined food cupboards for soon to be out-dated food as every little helps towards. Below is last night's tea:

 Traffic light pasta = green pepper that needed using along with a spring onion and a couple of tomatoes and cucumber.  The sweetcorn, tuna and pasta are always somethings I have in my store cupboard.
I decided to make a Victoria Sponge to use up the eggs and to make sure my hungry lots little bellies' were full.  I warn you now, it's laden with calories and sweet enough to make your dentist turn you away at the door. But, hey,  at least I know exactly what has gone into it, and needless to say didn't last  more than 24 hours (false economy there then). I have used food that would have been otherwise thrown away and I'm also a firm believer in 'a little of what you fancy does you good'.  As long as it's in moderation and you are active, why deprive yourself.