Farewell CFR, Smoked Salmon Pasta, 42p per serving

smoked salmonI am very sad that the site I first got involved in with helping to write cheap family recipes is no more. If you like the recipes on cheap-family-recipes.org.uk, hop on over to here and print any off that you like. I don’t know how much longer it will be there

Meanwhile, here is one of my favourite recipes from there, smoked salmon pasta. I shall post other recipes that I particularly like from there, before they all disappear

I have changed it a little, as the original recipe uses cream left over from something else, and I have updated the prices to current ones

Serves 2
200g spaghetti, value/20p/500g,  8p
clove garlic crushed or finely chopped, 5p
half a 120g pack smoked salmon trimmings, snipped into tiny pieces with your kitchen scissors, Asda £1.20/125g, 60p
20g self-raising flour, value 45p/1.5kg, 0.5p
35ml milk, £1/2.27litre, 2p
25ml oil, £1.25/litre, 3p
125ml approx. water
80g onion, very finely chopped salt and ground black pepper to taste, 5p
total of 84p

Cook spaghetti as per packet instructions, drain and cover. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan or wok (which will take all your cooked pasta plus a sauce) warm the oil, saute the onion, until it is just softened, not browned, and add the flour, stirring to make a thick paste.
Whilst constantly stirring, gradually add the milk and water until you have a thick creamy sauce. Add garlic and seasoning and finally the salmon.
Cook gently for one minute, to flavour the sauce but not overcook the fish.
Tip all of the cooked pasta into your frying pan stirring with a wooden spoon to coat each piece of spaghetti with sauce.
Finally tip the dressed pasta into a large serving bowl and garnish with salt (not too much is needed as the salmon is salted) and ground black pepper.
Serve with homemade bread to mop up the sauce.

If you have any, substitute cream for the milk for an extra creamy dish. I like this with a crispy salad

An Approved Food order

imageOh dear, I’ve been tempted! Approved Food tempt me every day with mega cheap offers and this week I did an order.

I spent £66.97, including delivery, which is quite a bit.

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We had some of the spelt spaghetti this evening with tomato sauce and Parmesan and a big bowl of salad bits, most of which came from the garden. It tasted much like our usual wholemeal spaghetti, but at 50p/500g, is cheaper.

imageThis is the 1p lucky box. You never have any idea of what you might get. My 6yr old grand daughter will be staying for a couple of days next week. I should imagine that she will have the little bars and crisps in our lunch boxes when we go out.

That order included 10 bags of butter beans for curries and pates, 10 bags of apricots, some of which I will have with some of the 8 boxes of Allbran for breakfasts, some I shall make crumbles with. DP has 4 huge bags of muesli and 4 of Fruit & Fibre for his breakfasts. There are 2 little jars of grilled aubergines that I shall use with pasta and 6 tins of spicy beans which I shall have at lunchtimes on top of salad greens.

The best bargain was a clearance deal of 8 pots of mustard at just 18p each. I use mustard a lot, in vinaigrettes, as a flavouring in gravy, in sandwiches, and as a general flavour booster in all sorts of things.

We won’t talk about the chocolate fingers or the hobnobs :)

That’s a lot of calories for that £66.97

Asda and Aldi own brand Fruit and Fibre is the same price, and Lidl does a good muesli for the same price, but I kind of like getting the brand ones occasionally.

I like trying unusual things without having to pay a lot for them, like the grilled aubergines in a jar and the onion raisin jam.

I’m sorry, this appears to have turned into an advert for AP, not my intention at all! Let’s change the subject.

This morning I had coffee with the girls as usual on a Friday, then on to The Horse and Groom to meet with the ladies of the monthly lunch group. I had a king prawn linguine which was delicious.

The cherry tomatoes are ripening their fruit at such a rate now we have to have them everyday to keep up. So I shall do some oven dried ones that are stupendous stirred through pasta with a little garlicky soft cheese. They keep in a jam jar for quite a while.

The runner beans and courgette are throwing off fruit at a rate of knots too. One of the things we have a lot now is a bed of salad, I like the courgette sliced up raw in the salad veg part, then we have hot potato and runner beans, with some kind of protein. Maybe a boiled egg and a little slice of cheese, or a sliver of bacon and a little bit of chicken, or some of those spicy beans, something like that.

I’ll do the dried tomato recipe and post it in a day or so.

It is 9pm exactly and this is the sky outside our house right now. Beautiful
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We’re in Woman’s Own!

womans ownQuite an interesting week this week. Woman’s Own called wanting to write an article. The journalist wanted to do it there and then as she had to write it that day. Goodness knows what she would have done if I hadn’t been there. I had to put her off for a few hours as I simply couldn’t do it then. Later on we did an interview over the phone for 45 minutes or so.

Wednesday, they called to read the article through, and it is due to be in the issue published on 12th August. Which is quite exciting. It’s quite a lifestyle piece, with Thrifty Lesley on the side as it were.

Then yesterday, the agency that started off all the media exposure got in contact to say that they were thinking of doing some kind of Christmas feature. A Christmas lunch for £1 or something. So I shall have to see what I can do.

So many value brand items have increased in price hugely, it’s quite shameful I think to impact on those who can afford it least. I will need to have a look at last years Festive Week and see if that is still doable.

Went to the dentist this morning for a six month checkup and when I made the appointment for the next one, it was in January 2015. So we wished each other Merry Christmas :)

 

 

The loaf recipe, 17p

imageAt least one day before you want it, make the dough mixture.

250g strong white bread flour, Asda 1.5kg/80p, 13p
7g yeast, Asda 125g/64p, 4p
Half tsp salt
17p for the loaf
35p to run the oven for an hour, a total of 52p

Put everything in a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together. Using a spoon, add enough cold water, from the tap, to make a very loose dough, almost like a thick batter.

Cover with cling film and put in the fridge. You can leave it there for several days. If it is in there more than, say, 4 days, add a handful of flour and a splash of water, mix and recover.

When you are ready to use it take it out of the fridge and add a little flour, just enough to take it from the almost thick batter it was to a loose dough.

Give it a little knead to firm it up a bit and shape it into a loaf shape. The firming up helps the texture of the finished loaf. You may need to add a little flour. I used a spatula as it was too wet to knead with my hands.

Grease and flour a loaf tin with a capacity of 1 litre. Put the loaf in and leave on the side until it has risen to the top of the tin again. Bake it in a preheated 200C fan oven, 200C non fan, 425F, Gas 7.

Bake until the crust is completely solid, about an hour.

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The cost of baking this loaf is an obvious overhead. At 35p for an hour, it would be a good idea to cook something else at the same time, or more loaves, which could be sliced when cool and frozen. So if you cook, say, three loaves at the same time, each loaf would cost a total of 28p, including the fuel cost

This same dough can be used to make wraps. Use as much dough as you want, then put the rest back in the fridge for another day

My best loaf so far

imageI tried the second bread mixture in the fridge today. I took it out of the fridge and added a little flour, just enough to take it from the almost thick batter it was to a loose dough.

Then I was going to do a dome shaped loaf on a tray, but it looked like it was going to bake really quite flat, so I popped it in a tin that was greased and floured first. Then I left it on the side until it had risen to the top of the tin again and baked it in a preheated 200C fan oven.

I tried to slash the top, but the dough was so soft, I couldn’t cut it.

Aiden, the teacher, said that we shouldn’t time our loaves, but learn how to tell if they were done. So, I left it until it was a good golden brown, then tipped it out of the tin and baked it a bit longer until it was crispy and crusty all over and put it on a cooling rack. I knocked the bottom and it sounded hollow.

By the time it was cool, it was losing its crust. I tried the end crust, which was delicious, and right enough, the middle of the loaf was still a little too moist. So I put the oven back on and baked for what turned out to be a further half an hour.

By this time, the crust was completely solid and I thought I might have overdone it and have a brick on my hands.

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The finished loaf had a great texture. The crust was perfect, and the slices were light and spongy. The taste was superb. I think probably the best loaf I have made so far.

So, so far, I have discovered that

      leaving a very loose dough to rise and mature at least overnight gives a dough with a very good flavour.
      A 250g flour mix bakes in a loaf tin with a 1 litre capacity.
      I need to bake it until the crust is completely solid
      Bake at 200C throughout the cooking process
      Next steps…
      try value flour
      try malted grain flour with some walnuts added
      try a loaf that is the same size as an 800g bought loaf so I can make conventional sized slices

Flowers blooming in the garden and wraps made with dough that’s been in the fridge for several days

Took a few pictures today of what is in flower in the garden right now.
This day lily is a lovely match with the shrub next to it
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A lacecap hydrangea in its full glory
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As much as I can get in one shot of the front garden flowers
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The pot of lilies that are blooming outside the study window and waft their gorgeous fragrance through, all day long
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Ligularia

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Some succulents outside the greenhouse

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Earlier this week, I made a pizza and put the remaining dough in the fridge. Aiden, the teacher on the course I went to recently, said that dough will mature and deepen in flavour if kept this way. You can keep it for quite a while this way.

Today, I decided to use it to make a couple of wraps for lunch for us. I made them earlier in the day and put them under a clean tea towel straight away, while still warm, to keep them soft. They were pretty springy to roll out and kept springing back. The gluten had certainly developed!

I had mine with value fish fingers, a tiny blob of mayo and and a tsp of tamarind chutney, together with some lettuce from the garden. DP had his with chicken goujons, and pickled onions. Not to my taste!

The wraps were extra tasty. I think the time in the fridge had indeed added a depth of flavour to them.

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Because of the lovely flavour, I decided to mix up a 250g flour batch into a bread dough and just leave it in the fridge.
This was it immediately before I put it in. I just added all the ingredients into the bowl, poured in some cold water from the jug and stirred it until everything was incorporated. No kneading at all, and this is what I did with the pizza dough too.

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After a couple of hours, it looked like this, practically filling the bowl. And don’t forget, this was in the fridge the whole time, and made with cold water.

I may make a loaf with it tomorrow, or leave it and use for wraps. Proving dough in this way means that you can quickly stir everything together when you have a couple of minutes, pop it in the fridge, and bake/cook whatever it is you want without having to wait for the dough to mature.

So maybe fresh bread for breakfast, or rolls with dinner after work, or a batch of wraps for weekday lunches. This is something I am going to continue to experiment with.

I am using a huge bag of white bread flour that I got from Approved Foods. This batch has a little wholemeal added to it. When the strong flour runs out, I have lots of value flour, so I shall try that and see what that tastes like.

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Coconut powder, and lost pictures

Maggi_Coconut_Milk_Powder_150g_2Just a very quick post now, more later, to say that Approved Food have just emailed to say that they have the boxes of coconut milk I use, for £1.20 for 2 boxes of 150g. So if you like the mango and coconut curry, now would be a good time to get some. I would get some myself, but I bought 10 boxes last time and still have lots left.

Approved Food link on the right (or at the bottom if you are using a tablet/phone)

Also, for some reason best known to itself, WordPress chopped off most of the pictures from last nights post, so I have just put them back in if you want to have a look at the proposed kitchen layout

 

Kitchen Plans

Edit: How extremely annoying. I posted this last night and WordPress for some reason decided to chop it off right at the beginning, and I can’t access the Revision copies either. So I’ve had to re-write what I could remember. Goodness knows what you thought I was up to!

 

Thought I’d share what we are hoping to achieve in our new space. The plans are those drawn up by the Wickes designer, so they are an artists impression sort of thing

This is the floor plan of the existing space, and the new space, laid out with the new configuration. The lovely oak table that DP made will go in the new part along the right hand side, and the sofa currently squished into the 2nd bedroom used as an office, along the left hand side

The bottom left hand corner shows the enormous walkin larder, beside that is a pullout 300mm unit. There are no wall cupboards, but there is more storage than at present

floor plan

The island from the kitchen side. The unit on the right is a built in freezer, next to that is a built in fridge.  Dishwasher on the corner, hopefully built in. The small void on the right should be big enough to hold the clothes airer and ironing board. It is behind the door into the kitchen when that door is open, so it shouldn’t show much.

island 2

The island from the dining side. I am hoping to hide the washing machine behind the unit door on the left hand side

island 1

I am hoping to replace the existing oven with a steam oven and an induction hob. The existing combi microwave is at least 25 years old and the combi part is unreliable, switching itself off when it feels like it. So I would like to replace that as well.

Our existing range cooker was bought when we moved here 8 years ago. I feel extravagant changing it to something else but don’t want to compromise as I do with so many other things.

The tower arrangement was something the designer came up with. I had made a compromise for the combi but wasn’t very happy with it, and there was no tower. I like this design, and although it means we will lose some worktop, leaving just 300mm each side of the hob, the very large new part where the sink is will make up for it. And there is enough by the hob for taking pots out of the oven and moving pots around from the hob. That new part is about 1200x1800mm, so lovely and big. The challenge I will now have is to stop DP piling it with tool and bits and pieces!

hob & oven

I was doing some research online for pricing Corian worktops and finding places that will do it at half the price of Wickes, which makes it much more affordable. Still not cheap of course, but much more of an acceptable price.

All of the units will need to be in place before the worktop people can come and make a template. The units have a delivery time of about 4 weeks, then the worktop people take several weeks after that. The hob and sink have to be disconnected when they measure up, so it’s a bit like a jigsaw, but we think we know how we are going to do things before everything is fitted together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tissue or handkerchief, which do you prefer?

This week, I was cutting out bias strips to edge the quilt my Mum made for me. I was using a double white sheet I got from a charity shop for £1.50. As I was cutting out the strips, I was thinking how soft the fabric was and started wondering if they would make handkerchiefs

Personally, I love to use a fresh crisp white handkerchief every day. I know many people prefer to use tissues. Myself, I don’t like the way they disintegrate in my pocket/bag and I’m also not fond of single use products.

So I thought I would give it a try. I measured one of my handkerchiefs and cut out four.

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Then I made a small hem and sewed all around the edge….job done! How many could you make from a double sheet? Hundreds. So the cost of each handkerchief is as good as nothing.

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After that, I fancied having a go at drawn thread work. Something that I think is elegant and very pretty. So, I measured off a hem, maybe in retrospect, a little big. And using some tweezers, I teased out ( haha, see what I did there) the end of a thread. Pulling gently with the tweezers and keeping the tweezers very close to the fabric, ease the thread out. Each gentle pull will pull out an inch of thread, concertina the fabric, push the rest of the fabric back so the end of the thread advances towards you, and pull again.

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Eventually the fabric will look like this, with one thread drawn out.

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Do it again, and it will look like this.

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I now had to hem the edges, creating the little drawn wedge shapes.

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To do this, I had to pick up a few threads and pull the needle through, then putting the needle back through the same place, pick up a few threads of the hem edge to secure it. As you can see, I am still learning this technique, and the hem is rather uneven at this point. I shall carry on, and if it looks too awful, I just won’t use it. It’s taking quite a while to do right now as I am learning, and I have not mastered the art of embroidery, so this type of thing is unfamiliar. But I’m enjoying the learning and anticipating that I will master it and be able to make something lovely.

I may make another four, and that would be plenty to top up my supplies. I keep the existing ones in a very pretty box. Some of them are extremely fine and not for everyday use as they are not particularly practical, but oh so pretty, and I like to take them when out for the evening.

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Off to Wickes for a quote

We went to Wickes today to sort out the kitchen. My goodness, what an expensive proposition that is!

We have been umming and aahing for weeks over what the layout should be, all rotating around a walk-in corner larder unit. The layout was finalised today. We will be having Sofia units, which are a cream, high gloss, slab door with no handles.

The worktops will be a cream mix. We were looking at Corian, but that cost 1.5 times more than the units! Even Slabtech costs the same as the units. There isn’t that much work surface!

There was the usual salesman nonsense about having to place the order by tomorrow or lose the extra 20% discount, on top of the existing 50% discount. The pricing is ridiculous, it just comes down to what you should have paid in the first place.

I wanted to get another quote from Benchmarx, but they don’t do the corner larder unit, which is a pain. We will order the units tomorrow, but not the worktops, and look around for other quotes for those.

Doing this in a hurry just before bed time, (where HAS today gone?) so no time for pictures. I’ll scan the layout pictures he printed off, so you can see what we are thinking of.

Scarily expensive this!

Made worse by the fact that I want to change ALL the appliances. We fitted a range cooker when we moved here 8 years ago. Gas hob, two electric ovens. I have barely used the second oven, it is an expensive cupboard. And I am really not that keen on the gas hob, I could get much more controllability on my ceramic hob in our last house. So we are probably going to change the range cooker to a steam oven and an induction hob.

The Combi microwave is about 25 years old and the conventional part is unreliable and keeps switching itself off, although the microwave part is absolutely fine. So I would like to change that as a small oven is all I would need most of the time.

I went to a demo of the AEG steam oven at the agricultural show here in Broad Oak a couple of years ago, when I was first thinking about it. I was very impressed by its performance and efficiency. An induction hob too, uses very small amounts of energy. Not that that would be a reason to change on its own, not with the prices they are!

I would also like to have those hidden away, integral appliances, fridge, freezer and dishwasher. The dishwasher was given to us by a friend who was putting in an integral one, so we will pass it on to someone else in the same way.

Not forgetting that all this expense comes on top of what we have been paying out for the extension to be built in the first place. I said to DP, only half joking, we’ll have to do the £1 a day thing to afford this. I would be quite happy doing it, but I don’t think he would.

We’re off to DP’s sister at Seaford tomorrow, hopefully it won’t rain too much as we usually go for a little walk somewhere nearby.

Know anyone who fits Corian or Slabtech without me having to take out a mortgage?