Thursday, 29 October 2020

Taking a PUNT

I was picking up Hubby's cans of cola in Farmfoods  in August when I noticed some bargains. I think the buyers for Farmfoods buy up end of lines and sell them cheap.  Unfortunately they are dotted around the shop and not all in one place, so you really have to hunt the bargains. 

The first item I took a punt on was MARVEL skimmed milk powder which normally retails for around £4 for 278g.  These were 350g and 19p each and the end date was 11.09.2020, I bought 15 and they have been Marvelous,  sorry for the pun. No seriously its great having them in the cupboard and good in cooking. Every other day I  add 53g of the granules to one of my Nutribulit jugs, I then add 1 pint of cold water and Whizz. The milk goes very frothy and makes a really lovely cappuccino with a little sprinkle of sweetened cocoa, just right when I come back from my early morning walk with Bertie. The jug goes in the fridge and the contents gets used as normal milk. My crustless quiches are light and fluffy too. Each foil sealed tub makes just over 6 pints, so thats 3p a pint. BARGAIN.
Another store cupboard bargain for me was Dole Peaches in grape juice also costing 19p, so I bought 15. I couldn't find a retail price but expect it would be double what I paid for the great quality fruit. The tins are only small 210g but packed with fruit an just enough too add to a fruit salad, porridge or eat with some ice cream. I recently made an upside down oven baked sponge and it was delicious. The end date on these was 11.2020 but is there really an end date on cans? 

Thinking about it....perhaps the title of this post should have been taking a PINT! I KNOW....Bye for now. Tx

PS: Good news my car brakes were taken apart and cleaned. The total cost of my MOT and unbinding of the brakes £85. Bargain. Fingers crossed for problem free motoring for another year. 

Monday, 26 October 2020

Expensive month

October is always an expensive month for me. My car MOT is due, its booked in at the garage today, so fingers crossed it passes as I spent a fortune on new tyres last year. Then of course if  it passes I will have the TAX and INSURANCE to pay before 31st (£325). I also have a couple of birthdays to fork out for. I'll be looking to keep all the other outgoing to an absolute minimum. There is still plenty in the freezers, cupboards and garden. I just need to work out what fresh goods will  maximize what I have.  

Its was my  birthday last week and I managed to meet up with my girlfriends on the Friday morning at a Pier cafe. Thank goodness the weather was kind to us albeit a little breezy. The cafe only has a very small inside area, the main seating area is outside which is great at the moment. You are normally served at a window outside. But for some reason the window was closed and you had to go inside one at a time to order. I loved the big chalkboard that simply said. NO MASK, NO SERVICE. There was definitely no ambiguity there. Although the figures have risen and we have been placed in Tier 2 they aren't anything like other parts of the country. But I'm not letting my guard down.

My daughters know me so well and I got gift vouchers. The youngest arranged for me to have my nails done at her house in Suffolk which is still Tier 1. We were all masked and the manicure and gel polish was lovely. 

I can remember when I lived in Liverpool as a young child, my older brother bringing home Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band LP by the Beatles. We played it over and over again, as we did all the records he purchased as a 19 year old. As the words were included on the sleeve of the album, I knew lots of the songs off by heart. I recall singing 'when I'm 64' and thinking WOW that's old! But here I am 64 myself......where do the years go?

When I'm 64
When I get older
Losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine?
Birthday greetings bottle of wine?
If I'd been out
Till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still feed me?
Will you still need me?
When I'm 64

I've literally just heard my car has failed! The brakes are sticking back and front, so I have no option but to pay for it to be done. I'll let you know what its costs! Bye for now. Tx 

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

This and That

I set off for the local car boot sale on Sunday only to find the gates closed and nobody on the site at all. Admittedly I haven't been to many this year but they have been on and well attended. At the end of the season, there is normally a sign outside saying 'thats all for this year folks, see you next year, thank you for your support' but the gate had no notifications on it at all. Normally the car boots continue right up until the weekend of the 'Fall Clock' change which is this coming weekend. Perhaps its stopped because Essex went into Tier 2 of the Covid Lockdown on Saturday but there has been no notifications on their FB page.  As I'd had walked down to the car boot with Bertie, it made sense to continue to the local country park closeby. The perimeter was a mass of sloe berries so I collected another load and came across a couple doing the same thing, we chatted for a short while. As we wondered through  I found a giant Sloe bush, just look at the size of these berries. As big as a 2 pence piece. Another 3/4 of a litre of Sloe gin was made once I got home and 1.5 jars of Sloe jelly.  I've never made Sloe jelly before but I was pleasantly surprised when it tasted just like blackberry jam and so much easier to make just having one seed inside. I'll definitely be making more as I believe a spoonful on top of porridge  would be lovely with porridge in the middle of winter. 

The Essex lockdown was at the request of the local councils who have been studying the COVID figures. I looked on the interactive map and my area is low but less then 3 miles away it is high, so I will be stepping up my safety with extra handwashing, more wipes in the car and sanitiser in my coat pocket. I'll shop at quieter times and try to make the groceries last longer reducing the number of times I expose myself to the possible hazard. 

Apparently the first vaccines rolled off the PFizer production line in Belgium at the weekend. People will need two inoculations and its believed it will have a significant effect on hospital admissions and death rates. Lots of trials are still taking place and they too are hopeful of a vaccine. My question is: Would you be prepared to have the new vaccine?

I guess whoever's stapled this to a tree in the middle of the field where I walk Bertie won't be queuing up for one, as they obviously believe it's all a hoax. 🤷‍♀️The funny thing is I've not seen a single  dog walker in this countryside wearing a face mask. 🤦‍♀️ Bye for now. T x

Monday, 19 October 2020

I only went in for Dog Food

Bertie has a portion of fresh chicken and rice every morning, I normally buy a large tray of drumsticks and put them in the slow cooker. This makes a good stock and the meat falls off the bones.  Then he has a type of kibble in his bowl to graze on the rest of the day. He also has the occasional rich tea biscuit as he doesn't really like dog treats.  

I was getting low on his kibble so I popped to Tesco late evening after checking the price online. Asda wanted £5 for the bag but Tesco had it on offer for £4.25. I went straight to the pet food aisle and picked it up but then I spotted lots of cages down the opposite aisle which means one thing....YELLOW STICKERS.

The cages were rammed full of fruit and veg and the shop was practically empty. So I picked:

2 family pack mushrooms 625g £1.88  NOW 47p

2 carrot batons 600g £1.00 NOW 25p

1 Stir Fry pack 125g £1.25 NOW 31p

Parsnips loose 1.356kg £1.36 NOW 31p

Potatoes in butter Herb £1.00 NOW 25p

Clementine's Jaffa easy peel £2.50 NOW 50p

Bramley Apples .365kg 73p NOW 18p 

I SPENT £2.99 ...................That's  A MASSIVE SAVING OF £8.86

When I got home I went into prep mode straight away. Most of the mushrooms were peeled and sliced and placed in bags.  As much air as possible was removed and then they went in the freezer. Some were left in the fridge to use in meals over the next few days. Mushrooms are rich in Vitamin D and I love them, which is brilliant. Apparently people with a vitamin  D deficiency are more susceptible to COVID.  The parsnips were peeled and  cut up, blanched and frozen on a tray before being bagged up the following day. One bag of carrot batons went straight in the freezer and the other was roasted the following day with some of the skinny bits of parsnips and potatoes in butter and herb. These will accompany meals over the next few days. The clementines went in the fruit bowl and the bramley apples cooked ready for a crumble at some point. 

Although I've almost filled the space I've made in the freezer these goodies will be very useful and enable me to make November a really low spend month. This months spending will end on Wednesday 21st and so far it stands at just over £92, so thats £50 into my savings account. I'm also 6 weeks into my freezer and cupboard clearing challenge which is still going strong. I'll be preparing a shopping list for Thursday, I have a big piece of pork in the freezer, once I've got some  barbeque sauce, I'll pop it in the slow cooker for a long stew before shredding, just right for the chilly evenings. Bye for now. Tx

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Yellow/Green Chutney

I hate it when a recipe calls for so many different ingredients that you end up spending the day shopping, only to find you never use them again.  Reading lots of Green tomato chutney recipes on line I found one were I had all the ingredients thanks to my Freezer and Nutribullet. Normal granulated sugar was whizzed into caster sugar. The pink peppercorms were painstakingly removed from a gift pack I received from a friend and instead of adding them whole, I whizzed them up into a coarse powder. I always have an assortment of chillies in the freezer thanks to my nephew who grows them every year. He is a huge chilli/curry connoisseur. 

I basically scaled up the recipe from that listed below for the amount of tomatoes I had 1.2kg.

500g green tomatoes cubed

100g White wine vinegar

75g Caster sugar

2g Pink peppercorms

1 tsp Black mustard seeds

1 red chilli deseeded

100g onion roughly diced 

A pinch of sea salt

Literally everything went into my large aluminum heavy pan and stirred thoroughly. Once at a rolling boil the heat was reduced. I stirred occasionally until I felt it thicken, this did take quite a while (25minutes). Do not cover as you want the water content of the toms to reduce. I sterilise my clean jars in the microwave and the metal lids in a saucepan. It made enough for 4 jars and a small tasting dish!

I think my chillies were a little on the HOT side but it really is a lovely chutney and will certainly spice up some ham or cheese on a winters day. Bye for now. Tx 

Keeping busy

Before heading off to my daughters at the weekend I collected a bag of Sloes from the hedgerow near my home.  They are very ripe as they have been in the sunshine most of the summer. I washed them and popped them into the freezer before heading to Ipswich to look after the grandchildren, while she went on a Spa weekend to celebrate her birthday. I'm feeling more positive about my future now and I think its helping to lift my mood despite hating the dreary weather we have been experiencing. It does look like we are due for a brighter drier period for at least a week now. 

Tuesday night hubby brought home a couple of bottles of gin that were on offer at the supermarket. I'd told him to buy cheap but came home with Gordons!! Oh well its not my money! I used a litre to make 2 jars of Sloe gin. Every year I say I'll get a couple of large Mason Jars but never get round to it. So I had to use a Gin bottle and  an old coffee jar with a plastic bag under the lid to increase the seal and stop evaporation. I'll be collecting another 500g of Sloes to make another litre. The two completed containers will be shaken everyday for the next 10 days before placing in a dark place until Mid December. It will be strained and bottled ready for Christmas presents. 

Talking of Christmas presents, my grand-daughter sent me a WhatsApp photo on Saturday. I was sitting right next to her at the time. Before I even had a chance to ask her anything she said its a photo off my Christmas Present list. I can remember my own children trawling through the Argos book picking out potential presents.  Making story boards to show relatives or indeed anyone that would listen! Well it turns out Amazon is the new Argos! I got an alert from Amazon on Tuesdaymorning saying they have lots of online offers for 2 days only so I checked out the LED lights my grand daughter had requested. Instead of £39.99 they were £27.99 if you had a Prime account. My eldest daughter ordered them for me saving £12, which my grand daughter will benefit from. Apparently the LED lights have a Smart App and they change colour when linked to the music being played. You can  basically have your own private disco. 

I found a green tomato chutney recipe that I actually had all the ingredients for in the cupboard so I cracked on with making that. I will post the recipe tomorrow. I scaled it up for the 1.2 kilos of tomatoes I had. The beetroot I picked from the garden was cooked, peeled, cubed and place in a container with some balsamic vinegar and a little seasoning. I'll leave this for 24 hours to absorb the flavour.  Its so nice with cheese or with a salad. 

The tiles I had up for sale sold for the asking price so thats another £50 in the bank. Bye for now. Tx

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Batch Cooking

Yesterday I had a good rummage through the freezer. I really don't want to go shopping until Thursday so its a case of making do with what I already have in the house. I pulled out a kilo of 5% steak mince (Yellow sticker £4.34 instead of £5.79 and a pack of swede and carrot (yellow sticker 29p instead of 40p). I split the mince,  one half being 600g and the other 400g. The largest portion was made into bolognese, enough for a large lasagne which will probably do us 2 days, served with a lovely fresh salad. There was still a good size portion left that will be put in the freezer. The other half was made into curried mince cottage pie, again there was a good portion left for another meal next week.

The basics were added to both dishes, 25g lentils, peppers, onions, garlic celery, stock cube and seasoning. I added some of the swede and carrot to the curried mince mainly because it really absorbs the flavours. I also made the mash topping with equal parts potato, swede and carrot, which reduces the carbohydrate content to. So for slightly over £5.25 I made 5 hearty meals for 2 people.

While the oven was on I made some mini crustless quiches for lunches later this week and a fruit pudding using a pack of stewed apple from the freezer and a stale (Yellow sticker) scone that's been in the fridge for a few days, crumbled on top.

My energy tarriff is up for renewal next month, I've already been sent new deals by my existing company but they are so considerably higher. I thought energy prices had dropped? So I've been online for over an hour trying to find something similar or indeed cheaper. No luck so far but I still have 3 weeks. Its worth me putting the effort in because I can take it with me when I move, after  all my income will be reduced and I'll have to make savings were I can. 

I managed a few hours in the garden yesterday. The little plastic greenhouse was dismantled and I stripped the plants left in there. Lots of unripe tomatoes and a green pepper.  Any beetroot that were a half decent size were pulled up too.  There are still quite a seedlings in the ground but whether they'll amount to much over winter I don't know. The few of cabbages and kale I have are doing rather well and I'm really chuffed. 

It looks like I'll be making some yellow/green tomato chutney, I'm busy going through some online recipes at the moment and checking what ingredients I already have in the cupboards. 

The weather outside is miserable now but I did manage to get Bertie out for a long walk first thing. I think its going to be his only one looking at the forecast. I do hope we get some brighter weather soon. This is really affecting my SAD. It always takes me a few weeks to adjust to the shorter grey days of autumn. I do enjoy the cooler nights, my sleep pattern improves a little when the bedroom temperatures are colder. What have you been up too? Bye for now. Tx

PS, the blind arrived and its been installed, so we are almost ready to go up for Sale!