For the last few weeks I have been trying to use up all the things that end up getting pushed to the back of my freezer and cupboards. So this week I decided to do a great big food shop, as my pantry shelves were beginning to look empty.
So armed with a long list of items that I needed, I began shopping. I don’t just use one shop, but several depending on the offers and cheapest prices for the products that I want.
There are loads of tips to save money on your food shopping here, if anyone is interested.
So my cupboards are full again.
I then set about batch baking:
I started by making some spaghetti bolognase sauces using a 750 gram pack of minced beef.
I do worry about the amount of fat there is in minced beef, so a tip I was given many moons ago when I attended a Rosemary Conley class, was to put the ‘browned’ mince in a sieve to let the fat drip away and then wipe the pan with a piece of kitchen paper to remove any excess fat in it, before returning the minced beef back into the pan.
In my bolognese I also used onion, garlic and passata (I made the passata in the summer using the tomatoes I grew). I also padded it out with a carrot, sliced courgettes, curly kale and even broad beans (that I cooked and pureed first before adding to the mix, so my daughters don’t know they are in there). I added some tomato puree and a couple of beef stock cubes and finally some mixed herbs.
I managed to get four portions out of the minced beef to freeze. It makes a really easy meal for another day, as when the sauce is defrosted I just reheat it in the microwave and then add it to pasta…….or sometimes I use it to make a quick lasagne.
A tip I learned in an Italian youth hostel years and years ago, was always make sure that the sauce is added to ALL of the cooked pasta / spaghetti and give it a good mix. This way the bolognese sauce goes further than when you serve a ‘dollop’ on top of each persons pasta.
I also made a large pot of chilli with another 750 gram pack of mince beef and again I managed to get four portions out of it, three of which I froze for another day and one we had for tea with jacket potatoes and it was lovely:
I also decided to make a lemon traybake for the week ahead. I love traybakes as you get a lot of cake without messing about too much:
I will put the recipe on the blog another time for you.
And finally I made my usual bread rolls. Regina who regularly leaves lovely comments on my blog, has asked me for the recipe I use to make my bread rolls, so I have written it below. I don’t use the ‘posh’ brands of yeast or strong white flour, I use the supermarket own brand that is the cheapest at the time I buy it and my rolls always turn out fine.
I use a bread maker to mix my dough (as it gives me more time to do other things), but I have made it using the same recipe without the breadmaker and it turned out well.
Bread Rolls Using A Bread Maker:
1 ¼ teaspoons Easy Bake Yeast
550 grams Strong White Flour
2 teaspoons sugar
25 grams margarine (or butter)
½ teaspoon salt (add more if you like it salty)
360 ml water
I put all the ingredients into my breadmaker in the same order as above and set my breadmaker onto a ‘dough’ setting. In my breadmaker the dough will be ready in 2 hours and 20 minutes.
(If I am short of time I sometimes put my breadmaker on a ‘pizza’ setting which mixes the dough in 45 minutes, but the rolls do not rise quite so much this way).
When the dough is ready, take it out of the breadmaker pan and place it on a floured surface and cut into ten equal pieces:
Make each portion into a ‘roll’ shape. I use my thumbs to gently ease the edges underneath each portion, turning and repeating until it’s the shape I want.
Put your rolls onto a greased baking sheet in a warm place until they have risen. I cover mine with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for approximately one hour.
Bake in a preheated oven Gas mark 5 / 190 C / 375F for 16 to 17 minutes and then leave to cool.
If I am freezing the rolls for packed lunches etc. then I slice the rolls before I freeze them. This way I don’t have to wait for them to defrost and I can put fillings straight into the frozen rolls and they defrost in sandwich boxes easily by lunchtime.
My New Kitchen Garden:
This week I was very excited as my new fruit trees arrived. I ordered three ‘Braeburn’ apple trees grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks (m26) and three ‘Conference’ pear trees grafted onto Quince A rootstocks. I will be growing the trees as cordons along the fence at the bottom of the garden.
I haven’t got the luxury of space now I have given my allotments up and so by growing my fruit trees as cordons, I can plant the trees a lot closer together and the fruit will be easy to pick.
I have never grown cordons before and so I used a really good RHS guide to order and plant them. You can find it here.
The trees were delivered ‘bare rooted’ which just means that they don’t come in a pot and their roots are bare. At this time of year the trees are dormant, so as long as you don’t allow the roots to dry out, young trees can be dug up and replanted easily.
I unpacked the trees and put them straight into a bucket of water for a couple of hours to ensure the roots were moist:
I screwed in wire supports along my fence before I planted the trees, as per the RHS guide. I then dug the holes for the trees.
The soil was pretty awful in places, so I added lots of compost and thanked my lucky stars that I brought the rootstocks that I did (Quince A and M26) which should do well in my awful soil.
Preparing the soil is the same for any type of bare root fruit tree. I have a guide to planting bare root trees here if anyone is interested.
I planted the trees and gave them support by tying them to a cane, which was already tied to the wire supports.
I then cut back all the side shoots that were no longer than 10cm, to three buds, again as per the RHS guide.
And now I am keeping my fingers crossed that they grow:
A bit of good news this week is I spotted my rhubarb growing. These are two bits that I split from the my allotment rhubarb to bring home before I gave my plots up. I just bunged the two pieces in the soil, without adding any organic matter as time was short, but I can top dress it with compost another time.
The place they are growing gets no sun what so ever in the winter and it is in partial shade in the summer…..so I will have to wait to find out if it crops well in this position. I won’t be harvesting any this year to allow the roots to establish and next year I will only pick a small amount for the same reason…providing it grows ok in this position.
Judy – (Our Problem Dog) – A Quick Update:
I know a lot of people reading my blog are interested in our rescue dog called Judy, so I thought I would give you a quick update (you can read about the problems we are having here if you are interested).
We have been giving Judy the tablets the vet prescribed (Selgian) to help with her excessive anxious behaviour for 2 ½ weeks now and I can honestly say there has been no change in her whatsoever. However, I have read that it takes 4-6 weeks for the tablets to take effect so I will let you know how we get on.
We have had another session with our behaviourist and she has suggested that we walk her just twice a week for a ten minute walk, as her stress level is so high at the moment – so this is what we are doing.
Last week I had yet another person shout at me over my dogs behaviour (barking and lunging) and that totals eight people since we brought her home in October, so walking her twice a week will give my nerves a break too.
I so wish people would realise that my dog barks and lunges because she is scared and it is the only way she knows how to show this emotion….I am really hoping that one day I will be able to teach her differently, as when she isn’t scared she is an adoreable, loving dog.
I hope you all have a good weekend and I will be back next Friday as usual.
Thank you for reading my blog today.