Friday, 8 January 2021

Not doing a 'frugal' thing, there's so much food in the freezer

Before Christmas I tried to run the freezer down, and managed reasonable successfully.  But then the rules changed and food that was meant to be enough for 4 people for Christmas Day, and 2 people for 5 days ended up as a small part of Christmas Day and just for me.

I last had a supermarket delivery on 16th December, and had fresh veg delivered on 22nd.

I sent my son home to Stoke with enough food to feed a small army, but still there was more than enough to keep me going for a while. So lots of it got frozen. In the case of veg, it mainly got frozen as soup.

And I also forgot to cancel my Musclefood order so had 5kg of chicken breasts delivered just before Christmas.  Half of that went with my son, but that still left a fair amount of chicken.

Then I got mixed up last week.  I took some chicken out of the freezer ( I freeze it in packs of 2) and also some salmon; thinking 'it's Friday, I'll have fish'. And then remembered that there was football on the telly, and that isn't a 'watching football' sort of meal. So I went to the chippy!

Aside from that chippy trip, I've been to the supermarket twice since Christmas. Once to Aldi, for some basics (spend £7.59) and once to the Little Asda at the bottom of the road (spend £9.09)

I made curry in the slow cooker, had one portion for my tea, and the rest has gone back into the freezer (4 portions) - I know there's a mixed view about this, but I'm not dead yet and I've been doing it for years. The salmon ended up in pasta, as I couldn't think what else to do with it!

This week I've got a veg box delivery, and I had a cheese delivery on Friday.

I really ought to meal plan, but whenever I do that, something happens to scupper my plans. And there's only me. So although conventional wisdom says to plan, I'll stick with 'open the fridge and see what needs using first'

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Here we go again! Lockdown number 3

 It was expected.  I just sort of wish he'd been honest before Christmas. We all expected this. But it's been managed very badly.

 But being honest, other than the gym closing, it doesn't affect me any more than I've been affected for the last 9 months. I rarely went out for meals etc. hate shopping of any sort so the only thing that's changed from December is that I can't go to a cafe for a cuppa, I have to get a takeaway.  Which actually, given the situation in one of the local Costa's just before Christmas is a good thing.

I'd been to this Costa previously, it's not one of my favourites, it's very narrow at the front, with a huge back room.  I met a friend there and it was overrun with teenage girls who use it as a meeting place after school.  Somehow, naively, I thought the 'current unpleasantness' (as the author Marian Keyes calls it) would change that; but no, I went with my sister (my support bubble) after we'd been for a walk. It was the last day of the school term and it was full of teenagers treating it like it was the school canteen.  Moving between tables, chatting to their mates.  We left as soon as we could. (and yes, I've been in touch to let them know!)

To be fair, I prefer to buy local and I've a good selection of local cafe's that I'll continue to support, including the fabulous Bread shop in Aigburth Vale.

So I'll be plodding along, as usual.

I was gobsmacked on Monday night when I walked past Aldi. I've never seen it that busy. What on earth were people buying? And why?  The shops are fully stocked, and they're essential. So they'll be open.

I'm hoping not to need to go shopping for a while. I've got flour and pasta in the cupboard under the stairs, and my normal stock of staples.  I've got a freezer full of things made over Christmas and I get a veg delivery next week.

I've treated myself to some goodies from LIDS a local company set up by the exec chef of a restaurant so that local suppliers didn't have to create their own infrastructure. So on Friday I'll have some lovely cheeses, some home made pies and cakes.

After that, I'll just need milk occasionally. 

I appreciate this may seem a bit 'I'm all right Jack' but it's so much easier being on my own.  I can pick and choose what I do. I don't have elderly relatives, or young children that I need to worry about.

Friday, 18 December 2020

Mincemeat Recipe

I posted this 10 years ago, on a previous version of this blog. And as there’s no formatting, I’m guessing it was on MSE somewhere 

Cranberry Mincemeat Recipe (no idea who I pinched this from) 

 Ingredients 75g/2½oz soft dark brown sugar 60ml/2fl oz ruby port 300g/10½oz cranberries 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground ginger ½ tsp ground cloves 75g/2½oz currants 75g/2½oz raisins 30g/1oz dried cranberries 1 clementine, zest and juice only 25ml/1fl oz brandy few drops almond extract ½ tsp vanilla extract 2 tbsp honey Method In a large pan, dissolve the sugar in the ruby port over a gentle heat. 2. Add the cranberries and stir. 3. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves, currants, raisins, dried cranberries and the zest and juice of the clementine. 4. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the fruit has broken down and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan. (You may need to squish the cranberries a little with the back of a wooden spoon to incorporate them fully.) 5. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. 6. Add the brandy, almond extract, vanilla extract and honey and stir well with a wooden spoon to mash the mixture down into a paste. 7. Spoon the mincemeat into sterilised jars and, once cool, store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

I miss the gym

 Those are words I never thought I'd say.

I generally found going to the gym boring. But I needed to do something.

So round about September last year, roughly when I decided to take retirement, I started going to the gym more often.  I couldn't go on a regular basis due to work commitments, so found it difficult to get into a routine.

I paid for PT sessions, and was making good progress, but, again, due to work, I really wasn't doing the extra work. Having a PT meant that the sessions were mixed up, but I still progressed, without it getting boring. I went from just about being able to pick up a 5kg dumbell to doing 'proper' weights.

But my cardio was still rubbish, I got breathless really easily.

Then lockdown happened.  My PT sent some plans, and I tried to stick to them, honest I did.  But it was summer, and I walked miles. I even got my bike out, but didn't have the confidence on the roads.  

I tried C25K again, but again, got so breathless that even Jeffing it was difficult.

Then, hallelujah, the gyms re-opened.  This time, I wasn't travelling all over the country so I got into a 'proper' routine.  PT session on a Wednesday,  Zumba on Friday, , Aqua Sunday, Gym on Monday (or random other days).

I definitely started to feel fitter, although wasn't losing any weight. Really bizarre. 

Then we went into Tier3 and I was so angry. It felt like the only thing that got me out of the house was gone.  Fortunately it only lasted 10 days, but here we go again!

I've tried online classes, but they don't work for me. I'm not accountable.  I can skip bits if it gets hard.

So it's back to walking again. And doing an online strength session with a PT.

I've set myself some challenges, using the kit I've got at home

(and no, I don't normally work out in flip flops!)

Saturday, 14 November 2020

This whole 'food poverty' thing

I've found that recently my tendency to go off into political rants has been exacerbated by politicians. No surprise there then.

But one of the things that's making my blood boil, is food poverty. Not that it exists, although that in itself is bad enough. The thing that's making me cross is the middle class attitude to it. And the idea of penalising children for the acts of the parents.

I've lost count of the number of posts about 'if they didn't spend the money on drugs/booze/whatever' then they'd have money for food. Or 'grow your own veg, it's cheap'. Safe in their suburban semi's do people really know what it's like.

There's also the assumption that you've got access to a fully equipped kitchen, which isn't the case if you're in a bedsit, or worse, living in a hostel with only a kettle and no fridge.

I've never been really poor as I've been fortunate enough to have had a job in times of recession, and family who could help. But it's occasionally been a close thing. 

I bought my first flat in 1985, going to the limit of what I could afford on my mortgage, just as interest rates went through the roof. I can't remember the exact figures, but I think it was around 13%.  So I found myself with money to pay bills and very little else. I had a Baby Belling oven/hob thing - most of my former colleagues will remember these as being standard in most Housing offices - not a proper oven, and only 2 rings.

I walked to work every day, about 2.5 miles, to save the bus fare.

Went to Mum's for tea on Sunday, usually a roast, and she generally gave me the carcass from the chicken and some veg.  I then had food for most of the week, supplemented with lentils and rice.

It drains you.  Really drains you. I didn't have the energy to be creative, I just stuck to what was familiar. 

But again, I was lucky. I was single, and only had to think about myself. If it had been 3 years later, I'd have had a small baby to think about too.

I'm a big fan of A girl called Jack who writes about how sometimes its easier to use tinned veg, and tinned meat. It lasts longer. 

Much as I like Nigella, sometimes the ingredients are hard to come by.  Or specialist. 

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

No extra spending in November

 Hey Ho! Here we go again!

At the beginning of the last lockdown, I tried really hard to support friends in the craft industry. If I just spent a tenner with them, it was a help.

This time, I've got more than enough fabric and craft supplies to last me, so I'm going to try and focus on food spending.  Which can get way out of hand!

The basics. I rarely go to supermarkets; I didn't like shopping before all this, now I avoid it wherever possible - helped greatly with lots of delivery services.

I have a regular fortnightly veg/fruit delivery from  Riverford, which supplements the stuff in the fridge/cupboard, and ends up as soup.

Every 4th week, I add meat to this order. I get mince (450g) , chicken breasts and a joint. The mince gets made into about 8 chilli/spag bol type meals, and I get about 4 meals out of the joint, so that basically keeps me going for ages as I don't eat meat at every meal.

I top this up with milk, and the rest is store cupboard stuff, which occasionally gets updated with a Tesco order.

And I get treats from either LIDS Liverpool or Delifonseca who also do a great basics box, with eggs, milk etc.

I also walk to my local shops, or to the grocers in Aigburth Vale Bread Shop Bakery

What's in the freezer?

Quite a bit of chicken

Salmon - from the fish van at the market £5 for a side.

Some frozen mince things.



generic 'white fish' - rescued from my son's freezer, as his girlfriend bought it and she isn't living there now.

Prawns, both fresh and cooked.

Frozen veg and frozen fruit.

And that's without actually looking! I'll work it out.

So how's it gone so far?

Not bad - mainly because I've got store cupboard staples. I'd get really bored with rice and lentils, but I wouldn't actually starve!

 Riverford order arrived on the 4th  - it had in it a spaghetti squash, which I've no idea what to do with, so it will probably just get roasted and chucked into soup, along with the carrots and some random veg.

The market is now closed, but there were a few vans there on Friday, so I spent £3 on salad/veg and a couple of quid in the bread shop.

Friday night, I gave in and had fish'n'chips but hey ho! Who cares?

Made bread on Sunday - not sure what went wrong, but it was solid as a rock. Used the breadmaker, so it's hard to judge. I've checked the yeast, and it's definitely active, so I'm stumped.

Spending so far £12.50

I need to get dried fruit to make Christmas cakes, and I won't buy 'economy' versions of that, you definitely get what you pay for!

I've taken a curry out of the freezer, so that's tea for the next two nights, and I'll either make flatbread, or use some rice.

Friday, 30 October 2020

Quote hoops

 I’ve often looked at the embroidered quotes on Pinterest and Instagram, and though I loved them, thought I wasn’t neat enough (or patient enough)

But then I found Little Light Stitchery and discovered a simpler way of doing things.

Nicky uses a very simple font in her work which is quite effective. I initially bought a few hoops from her Etsy shop, but have since made 7 hoops!

Some using her kits, others using her ideas as inspiration. I love this very simple one, and I think I’ve got similar fabric 

One of the things she does is use a ‘whipped back stitch’ which gives a nice finish, and smooths out curves.

Last night, she did as Instagram live thing and I realised that she also is really, really careful how she does things.

I’m more ‘BodgeIt & Scarper’, so, for example,I like to get to the end of the word and don’t look at how individual letters look.

There’s a mini sew along, so I thought I’d join in.

I only had 4” hoops and a couple of 10” ones, so tiny was the way to go

First job, do the writing. I can’t find my light box, and couldn’t be bothered faffing round with boxes and torches to trace anything, so decided to just ‘do my best writing’. It looks ok as writing, bot not so sure of the results once stitched.

Hmmm, not that neat. And also, song a cursive script means you really have to finish each word, rather than individual letters. Which makes it hard to do the whipping round the backstitch, so I think I’ll probably not bother.

Today is day 2, so the second word needed to be done. As I was awake at stupid o’clock this morning, I’ve cracked on, and also done some very simple Christmas ones.

Now I need to buy some more hoops. 

Really looking forward to seeing Nicky’s new website to see what she’s got.