You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘frugal’ tag.

Sunday roast dinner was a gorgeous piece of pork from the farmers market.  I think the best gravy in the world is made with the juices of the pork so its always one of my favourite roast dinners.

 Anyway I bought a piece larger than I needed so I could stretch the meat over two days and on Monday  I made a really nice sweet and sour pork.  I enjoy doing a traditional meat and veg dinner and an international meal the day after – it gives my tastebuds a workout!

There was enough food here for four of us, however my son Alex is a vegetarian so I just did him a separate dish with the vegetables in but added diced quorn instead of the pork.  Everything else was the same as we had.

Sweet and sour pork with egg fried rice

Leftover pork joint
1 large onion
Ten button mushrooms
Couple of large tomatoes
Couple of peppers (
I used red today as that’s what I had in)

For the sauce
8 oranges (
10 for a pound at the market)
6 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tsp arrowroot (
cornflour will do but won’t go as glossy)
2 inch piece of ginger chopped finely
For the egg fried rice
2 mugs full basmati rice
2 eggs
2 tbsp soy sauce

Put the rice on to cook whilst you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Chop up the pork joint, onion, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms and lightly fry in a little oil.

Juice the oranges and add the juice to a pan with the sugar, soy sauce, ginger and vinegar.  Bring this to the boil and let simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the rice is just about cooked, heat a wok or heavy based pan with a little oil and add the eggs, stirring until the egg is almost cooked.  Add the drained rice and the soy sauce and give it a good stir.  Season and add a bit of chopped coriander for colour.

So now you have three pans.  One with the heated and cooked meat and veg.  One with the sweet and sour sauce and one with the egg fried rice.  

You will notice from the picture that my sauce has bits in. This is because I used frozen grated ginger.  Normally I add the ginger to the veg if its fresh, however I find frozen to go a bit watery so added it to the sauce instead.  It doesn’t matter when its added to the end dish.

sweetsoursauce1.jpg

Combine the arrowroot with a little water to make a paste and then add to the sweet and sour sauce.  Mix well and let it cook through for a minute or two to thicken and go glossy.

Egg fried rice cooked in a huge cast iron wok. 

eggrice1.jpg

Serve the rice and vegetable/meat dish and then pour over the glossy sauce.  Add a little coriander to garnish.  My family loves this dish and its so easy as most of the ingredients are in my store cupboard.  I love the colours in a sweet and sour dish.  It always looks vibrant and cheery…. are these words usually used to describe a dish? I don’t know but its pretty good for a leftover / storecupboard supper!

sweetsourdinner1.jpg

For breakfast on a weekend we always have some sort of fried food.  Sometimes a huge fry up, other times a nice sausage butty with freshly made breadcakes (cobs, rolls, whatever you call them in your part of the world) and tons of lovely onions stacked so high that they peep out and slide off onto your knee as soon as you take a bite.

Now I spent ages looking for the perfect sausage but I always feel let down.  Either the meat content is too low or the sausages leave huge amounts of fat in the pan etc.  However the main worry I have is what exactly goes into my weekend banger.  I hear stories that they include everything from earholes to ar…… well you can see where I’m going with this.

So what better way to control what goes into your sausage than to make your own!  Its not that difficult but its kind of tricky to do it on your own so I recommend finding a willing partner.  I made these ones when everyone was out except the dogs and they don’t have steady enough paws for the job ;)  so the photo’s may not be that great.

For these particular bangers I used a recipe from http://forum.sausagemaking.org/  These guys really know their stuff and I’ve bought their casings and curing powders before and have been pleased. 

I made this recipe that I believe was originally posted by sausagemaker so many thanks to him for a great recipe.

Lincolnshire Style Sausage, 2 Kg mix
1.000g Pork Shoulder
500g Pork Belly
270g Water (Chilled)
180g Rusk / Breadcrumb
50g Seasoning

Here’s the recipe for the seasoning. This makes enough for two batches so use half and store the rest in an airtight container.

Lincolnshire Sausage Seasoning 
50g Salt
5g White Pepper
5g Black Pepper
5g Nutmeg
2g Mace
3g Ginger
1g Allspice
15g Dried sage
14g Corn flour

I used breadcrumbs from a loaf I’d made a couple of days before. 

  

breadcrumbs1.jpg

     Here’s a picture of the seasoning all mixed up.  It smells really nice and fresh as a lot of the ingredients I ground myself to keep the herbs and spices as fresh as possible.  

seasoning1.jpg

I use a mix of meats to get a good fat ratio.  This time I used belly, shoulder and a little bit of tenderloin.

 cubedmeat1.jpg

Cut the meat up in to manageable chunks.  A good tip is to chill the meat for a few hours before as this helps it go through the mincer.  My mincer is an attachment for the Kenwood Chef, I’ve found that these can be found quite cheaply on ebay. 

I first grind the meat on the coarse setting.

coarsegrind11.jpg   

And then on the fine setting.  Its easier to do it this way than trying to stress the machine by doing it all in one go.

finegrind1.jpg 

Between each step its best to put the meat back in the fridge so it keeps chilled.  You do not want the meat getting warm as it would be a breeding place for bacteria!

Now its time to mix the ingredients.  I put the minced meat, seasoning, breadcrumbs and water in my kenwood chef and give them a good mix.  By now they are beginning to smell like sausages, yummy!

mixedtogether1.jpg

Now for the fun part.  Load the sausagemeat into the kenwood and assemble the sausage making attachment.  (remember to refrigerate the meat whilst preparing this stage)  Once you start feeding the meat into the casings it takes a steady hand and you let the meat feed through whilst you guide the casings.  Its trial and error and you sometimes get bits where the casings aren’t full enough or are full to bursting.  You can usually remedy this by squeezing the sausages into shape at the end.

skins2.jpg

And here you go, my sausages!  They aren’t professionally linked but what the heck they taste great!  It really is much easier when there are two people.  I can eat these bangers knowing that there’s nothing scarey in them.  Give them a try and let me know what you think!

sausages1.jpg

I only buy organic chicken which as you know can work out rather expensive, so I like to stretch it out a little bit further by using the final leftovers for stock.  Homemade chicken stock is a real delight, not like those salty stock cubes you can buy in the shops.

I use homemade stock as the base for soups and sauces, flavouring gravies, its great added to chicken lasagne to bulk out and flavour the white sauce.  Also if you’ve never tried Delia Smiths leftover dish from her Christmas book titled Turkey en Croute then I heartily recommend giving it a shot.  I make it year round with leftover chicken and homemade stock… its heavenly!

I start the stock by looking in the vegetable drawer in my fridge and I chuck in anything I can find.  Onions, carrots, celery, the leaves from the cauliflower, whatever happens to be hanging about.  Don’t waste your time chopping the veg nicely, just cut it in half and whack it in the pan.  As you can see, its not an exact recipe!  I then throw in about a dozen peppercorns to season it.

I use all the parts of the leftover chicken, including the skin.  Break it up and pop it in, its all good stuff!

This is what mine looks like when its cooking.  My son says it looks vile (he is a veggie) but I like it!

 stockcooking.jpg

Now as I don’t like to keep watch over the stove for hours I simply make the stock in my slow cooker.  I make it up in a morning and put it on a low heat setting for about eight hours.  The smell of the slowly cooking chicken wafts through the whole house and creates such a welcoming setting….. what could be a better aroma to greet you at the door on a chilly evening!

Once the bones have broken up and the veg looks all wilted and emptied of its goodness, turn the slow cooker off and let it cool.  Sieve the ingredients and put the strained liquid into the fridge.  Next morning you will find the stock has set into a jelly like state.  Don’t be alarmed, this is perfectly normal.  If you aren’t going to use the stock straight away, bag it up into portions and store in the freezer.   I also freeze some in ice cube trays so I can easily pop a couple into a gravy or sauce to pep it up a bit.

You will notice a layer of fat has settled on top of the stock.  Just spoon this off if you are watching your diet.  (I spoon it off, warm it up and add flour and use to thicken gravy)  Its the little things like using homemade stock that takes cooking into another league.  You simply cannot get such intense flavours from cubes.

stock.jpg

Please give this a go as its so worth it.  You’ll never use stock cubes again.  I try to respect the animals I eat and use as much as possible.  It would be a crying shame to throw a perfectly good carcass into the bin….

Ok I’m posting another left over beef meal because the first one has been really popular – its one of the most searched recipes on my site!

So this dish is my take on a cottage pie but its a very ‘rich’ meal because of the dark chocolate and cream that I add.  I use sweet potatoes as I love the sweetness but to keep costs down go half and half with white potatoes.

Recipe
Leftover beef joint
Tin of tomatoes
(I add this to help bulk it out a bit but it works fine without it)
Large onion
Couple of squares of good dark chocolate
Two or three sweet potatoes and a couple of white potatoes
Few tablespoons of cream
Butter/milk for creaming potatoes
Seasoning

Steam the potatoes, remembering that sweet potatoes don’t take quite as long as white ones.

Fry the onions.

Whizz the beef around in the processor or chop it up with a knife.  Don’t go overboard with the chopping as its nice to have  chunks of meat in the dish.   Add the beef and the tomatoes to the onions with a little stock or water.  Heat it up but remember it doesn’t need to cook again.  At this stage you could add other things such as a stock cube, bit of gravy mix etc.  Add in the dark chocolate and let melt into the beef.

Mash the potatoes together.   I find it easier to mash sweet potatoes with a potato ricer otherwise they can seem a bit stringy.  Add the milk, butter and the cream.  

 Pop the mash onto the beef and cook in the oven for approx 30 mins.

You really don’t need to put in the chocolate and cream but it makes the dish so rich that it doesn’t seem like a leftovers meal at all!

  cottpie.jpg

I served it with Carrots batons finished off in the oven to concentrate the flavour and sprouts steamed until just cooked and then tossed into a hot cast iron pan with a bit of butter, it gives them more of a crunchy edge.

Here’s a picture of what the pie looks like inside.   cottpiecut.jpg

Sorry if the pictures are a bit messy, but its a week day meal for the family…  I bet Gordon Ramsay would wipe the dish before showing it! ;-)

I was reading an article in the Mail on Sunday and it talked about how beneficial those little yoghurt drinks are.  The bacteria in the drink set about colonizing the gut and as they grow fast, they soon start taking over the bad bacteria to bring harmony to your gut… simple eh?

The article suggests that in the future, probiotics could be used to combat diseases such as colon cancer and diabetes.  They also worked out that probiotic drinks cost around £10 per week for a family of four.  So at £520 a year, its not exactly a cheap option. 

 Now I have always thought that using a healthy approach in our diet would help keep us safe from a lot of the diseases out there so for a few years I’ve been drinking a product called kefir.  Kefir is a living cluster of good bacteria.  It contains billions more beneficial bacteria than the probiotic drinks and far more different strains so we have more chance of getting all the health benefits available from these sorts of drinks.

Once kefir starts to colonize your gut with friendly bacteria, it then starts helping to digest the food you eat, turning it into a substance much easier for your body to cope with and expel.    It is claimed that kefir is like a mini vacuum cleaner for your gut.  Getting rid of all the bad bacteria and even ‘grabbing’ debris and bad bacteria whilst travelling through your colon on the way out of your system.

If you look around the web you will find hundreds of websites telling you of the health benefits related to kefir drinking.  I studied it in detail before taking the plunge and actually drinking it.  I stay clear of the websites that are trying to sell products from kefir.  There seems to be a lot of studies through university’s that rate the benefits of kefir as real and genuine so its definitely worth taking a bit of time to read up on it….

Kefir isn’t pretty to look at.  Think of it as a little spongy cauliflower.  Its very white and a whole one fits on a teaspoon.  Its a living organism and the most amazing thing is that it has babies!  Every so often you will see the shape of the kefir grains starting to change until one morning when you strain it out… and you will find a tiny little kefir grain ready to grow and start its own little colony!  You can keep the baby grains with the mother until its big enough to give to a friend so they can enjoy the benefits too.  You can also freeze some grains in case catastrophe strikes and you lose your grains.

on to the taste… hmmm its like a slightly sparkly thin yoghurt.  Its not lumpy or anything, just smooth.   I’m not overly excited by the taste so I add a bit of strawberry crush to mine.  I’ve also added a mashed up banana and this combination kept me full to way past lunchtime…. worth thinking about if you are on a diet?

So now you are thinking ok where do I buy kefir?  Don’t buy it… it should be given away!  Ask on your local freecycle.  That’s where I originally got mine from.  Once you have your grains its simply a case of popping them into a glass of milk and leaving them overnight.  I repeat this process the next day and so on.  I strain the grains into the new glass and pop the ‘inoculated milk’ into the fridge for an hour to chill, then drink it down. 

I find that as a breakfast drink, when added to fruit it is very filling.  But the main thing I noticed with drinking kefir on a daily basis is its colon cleansing ability!  Within an hour of drinking kefir I would be on the toilet, maybe this is something worth considering if you have constipation problems?

 I was a fool and killed my kefir at Christmas. I put it in a little bag with some milk in and then threw the bag away whilst doing the post Christmas clean.  Writing about it again has reminded me to get some more so its off over to freecycle I go…

By the way if anyone is interested in reading comments about kefir making, I started a long thread on moneysavingexpert.com.  The thread is here http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.html?t=181557&highlight=kefir  I posted under the username of Leonie in those days :-) 

Hi and thank you for visiting my blog

September 2014
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.