Sunday, 19 March 2017

Productive Weekend

The weekend weather forecast for Central Scotland was wet and windy. It was certainly windy but the rain never appeared so this meant I've had a productive day in the garden today.  The girls enjoyed a bit of free ranging.

I planted my Epicure potatoes.  1 potato per pot in 4 of them and 2 teeny ones in another.  Emma was determined to get in on the act!!  OH and my lovely mum got some to plant too so we'll see who grows the most 😉

I cleared my newest raised bed, it was full of weeds.  This bed had my salad crops and peas last year.  It needs topped up with some fresh compost from my Recycling centre (they take all our garden and food waste and turn it into free compost).  I'll do this during my Easter break.

There are still a few leeks in the winter bed.  I used some this morning to make soup.  They're not very big but they do taste lovely.

This is my most productive bed atm with purple sprouting broccoli, curly kale (in the middle) and spring greens.  This will be my salad bed this year once I've eaten everything!

I did some tidying up and weeding at the front.  My purple heather is thriving a bit too much!!  Once flowering is over I'll chop it back a bit.  Despite the local dogs stopping to pee on it (!) it seems to like where it's growing.

Last night's whisky peppered steak for OH and me!  You can't really see the flames of the whisky in this pic.  It was very tasty 😋

I did go to Sainsbury's yesterday as I was out of coffee, loo roll and shampoo!!  I stuck to my list and spent £65!!! That included a bottle of wine (as it's my birthday next week and OH is away so we kinda celebrated last night) plus a few major store cupboard items.  That should see me through the next 2 or 3 weeks (I hope!)  I managed to get a reduced organic chicken.  After cooking I stripped all the meat off it and made stock with the bones last night.  Today I made Chicken and rice soup and put all the wee scraps of meat back into the soup.  I got 6 portions so that's lunch sorted all week!

The rest of the meat will be portioned up for freezing/using this coming week.  So far my meal plans are:

Overnight oats/porridge with fruit for breakfast and soup for lunch each day.

Monday - Chicken stir fry
Tuesday - Pulled beef and veg in a wrap (one portion left in freezer)
Wednesday - Birthday meal with family (provided by my lovely mum)
Thursday - Salmon and veg dish (I've got some cooked salmon lurking in the freezer)
Friday - eating out with OH
Saturday - chicken pot luck
Sunday - leftovers

Only 2 more weeks until the Easter break.  I'm really looking forward it.  So far I've got no plans other than planting lots of seeds and painting DS's bathroom.  And sleeping a lot!!

Monday, 13 March 2017

A low cost week

I'm always reading that it's possible to live on £1 a day and I'm full of admiration for those people.  I've read that some people save money by meal planning and then sticking to their lists.  And some only live off yellow stickered stuff.  I meal plan, make lists and take advantage of yellow stickers but I still spend more than I want.  So, after checking my freezers and cupboard I'm making this a low spend week.  I gave myself £10 and popped into Sainsbury's after gym tonight.  I spent £9.35 on 1kg of brown basmati rice, 1kg of carrots, goats cheese, frozen blueberries and a bag of unwaxed lemons (cos I'm full of the cold!) The goats cheese is my luxury item at £3.40 for 240g!  It's a hard cheese so can be grated like cheddar for cooking. 

My raised beds are still producing some veggies.  My curly kale is still good and it's free!

My purple sprouting broccoli is delicious!! 

My 10p mint plant from a few weeks ago is thriving on my kitchen windowsill.  It's made a few pots of peppermint tea.

Last week I tried something new.  I scored some baby fennel for 10p.

I sliced it thinly and dressed it with some of my homemade blackcurrant vinegar dressing.  I liked it!

So back to this week's meal plan from the freezer/cupboard.  Breakfast is either overnight oats or porridge with blueberries, bananas or raisins.  Lunch is Lentil, kale and quinoa soup I made at the weekend with oatcakes and a slice of banana loaf.

Monday - oats; soup: turkey and veg bolagnaise with penne pasta
Tuesday - oats; soup; turkey lasagne with carrots and broccoli
Wednesday - oats; soup; pulled beef with rice and carrots/sweetcorn
Thursday - oats; turkey sausages in cider gravy with rice
Friday - oats; soup; chicken and veg stirfry
Saturday - boiled eggs; tuna wrap; rump steak with polenta chips and veg
Sunday - pot luck!!!

The hardest part is going to be cracking my snack habit.  I just don't have many 'snacky' things so I'll need to be creative or go cold turkey.  Eeeek!!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Is it useful or edible?

Remember a few weeks ago I did a viability test on some old seeds? 3 of my artichoke seeds eventually sprouted and I wondered if I could transplant them into wee pots.  Well, I did it and 2 of them are looking ok so far.  Fingers crossed!

I bought a couple of gravel trays (£4 each) to make moving/watering my hotchpotch collection of pots easier. I also got the last windowsill greenhouse for £1.  I suspect it was from last year but it's in perfect condition so bargain!

My seed potatoes arrived and I've got my first earlies chitting on my windowsill. Epicure are famous as Ayrshire potatoes (I'm an Ayrshire girl!) and usually one of the first new potatoes to hit the shops.  There's a bid to get their identity protected as there is a long history of commercial growing.  Some more info here.   My dad reckons they're the best potatoes in the world!  Closely followed by Jersey Royals that already have EU protection.  He knows his tatties!

It's still too early to plant seeds here so I'm restricting myself to getting things ready for the Easter break in 4 weeks.  I do hope the weather is dry so I can spend most of it outside in my garden.  My planting philosophy from this year on will be 'Have nothing in your garden that you do not know to be useful or believe to be edible'  With apologies to William Morris!!  Any flowers must be useful for insects or be edible themselves.

I also bought a book called Free Range Chicken Gardens as I'm interested to learn more about how I can grow stuff in the back garden without it getting trashed by my hooligan hens! They're not happy at all just now as they're not free ranging thanks to DEFRA rules regarding avian flu.  I'm in a very low risk area but I'm still being cautious.  They do have a decent enclosure but they try to escape every single time I open the gate!!

In other news, I've been out running a few times and so far haven't suffered any ill effects.  OH has changed my gym routine a bit so I'm pushing my body in different ways.  And I'm still trying to get into a yoga routine as well. I do hope all this work on staying healthy pays off as I get older.

I bought another Icebreaker merino top in black.  I love the purple one I bought last year so when I saw it reduced again I splashed out.  I'm trying to keep to my green principles on clothing and thought a black top like this one would be an investment.

I've been steadily adding more sock yarn leftovers squares to my blanket.  17 in this picture.  I got a few donations from my lovely mum's knitting group so lots of new colours are being added.  Once I've done 3 more I'll stitch them on and post a picture.

Work has been good (long may that continue!!) with my efforts on raising attainment in writing being recognised by management and commented on in a staff meeting.  It's these small moments that make the job worthwhile.  Although I was brought back down to earth when I had 3 of my kids' parents brought in by the Headteacher because of their playground behaviour!!  😒

Just 4 more weeks until I get a 2 week break from school 😊

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!