This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Long Half Term

It feels like this half term has been going on for ever and when I counted up on the calendar, it has been 8 weeks long.  So a bit longer than usual and no wonder that we are all tired.

We had a flu jab yesterday and everybody is going round with a sore arm today.  The headmaster reckons that paying for a doctor to come in and vaccinate everybody who wants it, will save him money in terms of paying for supply teachers to cover the teaching of those who have gone down with flu.  Well I don't want the flu.  I've had so many chest infections in the last two years that I would really like a relatively healthy winter this year so a sore arm may just pay dividends.

After the £500+ that I have paid to the vet since the end of May, I was really apprehensive when Puss came into the house last night with blood all over her foot. This morning, it is still nice and clean and she is putting some weight on her foot.  Little sigh of relief.  I'll heave the big sigh when there is no sign of infection after a couple of days or so. We have also paid an Enormous Extra Bill this month and have another one to pay next month so we've been trying hard to be economical this last week - well, even harder than usual.  There is going to be a bit of a hole in our savings pot now.  At least all this being frugal meant that the money was there when we needed to spend it so we did not need to go into debt. Hurray!

Last week, my son was given 2 boxes of cauliflower leaves so the rabbits and hens have been feasting on these leaves.  They all really enjoy them and it makes a change for them too. AND in one of the boxes there was a cauliflower with beautifully white curds.  I've no idea why it was in the box as the leaves were really some shop's throwaways but I'm not complaining!  Twice we had a meal that was a cross between cauliflower cheese and macaroni cheese with lots of bits of other veg thrown in for colour and flavour.  Lovely!  I always put a bit of mustard in the cheese sauce because it not only adds flavour but also cuts down on the amount of cheese needed to make a tasty sauce.  I used spaghetti broken up into short lengths rather than macaroni because that was what I had in the cupboard and it did the job just fine.

Then my friend picked one of her big pumpkins that she had grown and she gave me a large piece of it.  I steamed some and mashed it and put it in bags in the freezer and the rest has been turned into soup. It made enough soup (with some homegrown carrots and onions and a big potato) to do us for four days.  A friend at work was talking about pumpkin soup the other day and said what a difference a pinch of nutmeg made.  I tried it and it really enhances the flavour of the pumpkin without actually tasting of nutmeg.  I'll certainly be doing that again. The first day we had it straight with a little sprinkle of parmesan-lookalike cheese and served with homemade bread; the second day we had it the same but with a big handful of cooked and mashed carrot stirred in (because we had it and it needed used up); tonight it will have a diced potato, a diced apple and a thinly sliced sausage as additions; tomorrow will be the same but with whatever is left in the fridge added as well, as one daughter is cooking on Saturday night and the other one on Sunday and anything that is languishing in the fridge won't be fit to eat by Monday.  So it has been an economical week foodwise but next week won't be - but that is a story for next time : )

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Birthday biscuits.

It was my birthday this week - one of those annoying great fat ones with a big "O" at the end of it.  Now it is traditional at work to take in goodies to share, so I made biscuits.  Most people go to a supermarket and buy those boxes of mini flapjacks, brownies etc.  This does not fit well with me so the biscuits I made were not only nicer than the bought treats but much cheaper too.  I have to admit that they cost me a bit more in time but when you add up the cost (in time and in diesel too) of going from the house to the nearest supermarket, picking up what you need, queuing at the checkout and coming home again, I'm not sure that there is much in it.

Since people at work are accustomed to those mini treats, I admit that I made those biscuits a bit on the small side so that I got more out of a batch and I did heat up the main oven because I only have one little baking tray that fits in the mini oven.  I made about 80 to take to school and 120 slightly bigger ones to take to church this morning and a few extra (mainly the misshapes) for us.  I also made myself a chocolate cake to have at home and another one to take to school to share with the group of friends that I had tea with at breaktime.  My husband asked me why I had to work so hard when it was my birthday and I haven't come up with an answer to that yet...

However, since I have been sharing biscuits with all and sundry, I thought I would share the recipe with you so you can have a biscuit too. It is really easy but tastes really good.  I've done some of them with a teaspoon of ground ginger and some finely chopped crystallised ginger in them (courtesy of Approved Food last year) and those in particular were absolutely wonderful. I'll definitely be doing them with ginger again.

Mary Berry's Fork Biscuits

100g (4ozs) butter, softened (I used Clover since that was what I had)
50g (2 ozs) caster sugar (I used granulated)
150g (5 ozs) selfraising flour

Preheat the oven to 180'C/fan 160'C/gas mark 4

Cream butter and then gradually beat in the sugar and then the flour.

Bring the mixture together with your hands to form a dough.

Form dough into about 16 balls the size of a walnut and place spaced well apart on a baking tray.

Dip a fork in water and use this to flatten the biscuits.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until pale golden.

Lift off the baking tray and leave to cool on a wire rack. 

When cold, store in an airtight container - if there are any left by then : )

Simples!  and very tasty - and very easy.  This would be a good one for children to do, too.

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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Just a quick note...

... to publicise that frugalmummy has had a major glitch with her blog and has had to move it all to a new web address:

I do hope she can get access to her blog again.  It is hard to lose so much effort and and so many memories.  I use my blog as a kind of online diary and I would be realy upset if I lost it all.  Perhaps you could go and visit her and leave a comment to help cheer her up.