Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Back on the frugal train

I have a bit of a dilemma on my hands at the moment.  I don't know what to have for lunch.  I know, first world problems right?  But seriously, I've been so busy in the kitchen lately using up every scrap of what we have and turning it into something else, I actually have too many choices!  Do I have chicken noodle soup?  Or a curry pasty?  Or some sausage hotpot?  Or a chilli beef and cheese pie? And don't get me started on everything I have in the garden right now!  Tomatoes, bok choy, lettuce, beans (three kinds of), rhubarb, carrots, silverbeet, broccoli, courgettes, plus these freaky looking Asian greens that I don't know what to do with but taste nice anyway... it feels like I have a little supermarket right in my own place!

All picked yesterday!

It feels bloody good actually.  Feels like I'm getting on top of things again.  It's lovely to look in the freezer and see it all stacked nicely with food I've either grown or saved.  Keeping on top of all the weeds in the garden is a bit of a pain, it's a never ending chore but so worthwhile.  I have to say this week would be the least I have spent on food in a very long time.  It's something our household is really committing itself to because the amount we've been spending lately is crazy.  I thought it was just me being slack but I saw a friend yesterday who is one of the savviest, most frugal people I know and she said she was off to another supermarket 45 minutes away because she was so sick of going to our local one and spending an easy $100 each time on just a few bits.  She reckons she saves an average of $1 - $2 per item at the supermarket out of town, which when you add up how many items you'd put in your trolley works out to a hell of a lot - far more than the petrol it would cost to go there.  It's tempting to give it a go.

Not that I need to go for a while however!  It also helps that the blokes in our house are REALLY unfussy.  One of our big wasters which we've been trying to stamp on and make better use of is to stop cooking too much and eating it all, but making it stretch into another meal or freezing the leftovers instead.

One such example is buying a big bag of sausages on special and cooking up the whole lot rather than only the amount we need.  Even if we don't eat them all right then and there, simply knowing there are leftover sausages in the fridge calling to us means they don't last five minutes and we just eat them for the sake of it, rather than saving them until we're hungry.  Getting rid of this habit alone is proving to be a big saver and it really helps when everyone is on the same page money wise. Although I have to say I guess not working is also a big factor in being more organised.  I mean, I have to do something productive with my day!  So I spend it largely in the kitchen and the garden and although there's always that financial stress in the back of my mind, I have to admit to being a much happier little bunny.  As Murphy's Law would have it, I've had job offers coming out of my ears lately but at this stage am unable to take up any of them!  Still, it's nice to be asked.

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so they say and I'm pretty sure that Yorkshire Pudding is the main reason my man puts up with me.  Gareth LOVES Yorkshire Pudding!  Actually everyone I know loves Yorkshire Pudding but a lot of people have never tried it until they come to our house.  Once they do, they're instantly converted. And I'm more than happy to make it as often as everyone wants because it's so cheap.  Honestly, how can something that's basically made from nothing taste so good?!  So seeing as Valentine's Day is coming up, here is my age-old foolproof recipe for good old fashioned Yorkshire Pud to amaze and astound your loved one with.  If you've never tried it, it's about time you did!

Yorkshire Pudding 

1 cup plain flour (it HAS to be plain, not self-raising!)
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp water

Put your flour and salt together in a bowl (they reckon sift it but I'm too lazy for that and it always turns out fine).  Make a 'well' in the centre and crack the eggs into it.  Stir gently, then add the milk and water (again it says gradually but I just chuck it in!)  Mix well until you have a smooth batter. The earlier you can make your batter before you needed (the recommendation is to chill for an hour) the better it is, however in our house Yorkshire Pudding is often a spontaneous decision and I've found it really doesn't make any difference if you use it straight away.

Anyway, however long you leave it, once you're ready to cook them, put the oven on to 200C. I use a large 6-pan muffin tin to make mine in, or a Swiss roll size tin.  Put in about two tablespoons of oil, then pop the empty tray into the oven and leave it until the oil is smoking hot (that's an important bit). Quickly pour the batter into the tin and then shove back in the centre of the oven for around 30 minutes or until golden.  Best served with roast dinner and lashings of gravy but we've been known to eat pretty much anything with them!

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