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Wood Anemone’s, Tulip’s & The Results Of My ‘Week Of Main Meals For Under £10.00’

Today I planted some Wood Anemone’s (Anemone nemorosa) in my woodland area.  I bought these with the last of my birthday money, in the hope I will have enjoyment from them for years to come (and hopefully I can take root cuttings over the years to expand my stock for free).

The Wood Anemone is a native British wildflower and looks beautiful in the spring, when they are planted in drifts.  They are a hardy perennial that will tolerate most soil types and the Royal Horticultural Society gave it their prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

You can read about Wood Anemone’s here and also see a picture of how beautiful they are.

The root cuttings that were sent to me look like little bits of stick.  I soaked them for a couple of hours in a small pot.

I then planted them horizontally, approximately one inch below the soil.

I’m looking forward to seeing them in the spring.

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I also planted some tulip bulbs at my allotment today.  They were a free gift that I received with the rambling rose that I planted at the beginning of the week.  I planted them approximately 15cm deep at the corners of my woodland area.  They are supposed to be a peach colour, but that is all I know about them.

Tulips are best planted in November which is later than most bulbs, as a late planting can help reduce problems with the disease ‘tulip fire’.

Tulip fire is a fungal disease which causes brown spots and twisted and distorted leaves on the tulip.  It is named ‘tulip fire’ because the plants look like they have been scorched by fire.

You can read about ‘Tulip Fire’ here.

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We also had a large delivery of leaves to our allotment this week, so I filled some bags with them and managed to fill my two black ‘dalek’ compost bins, so hopefully next year I will have some lovely leaf mould to mulch some of my beds over the winter.

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Just a quick reminder, it is ‘Rememberence Sunday’, (sometimes known as ‘Poppy Day’) on Sunday, please don’t forget to buy your poppies.  This is what the ‘Royal British Legion’ says on their website:

  The Royal British Legion was formed in 1921 to support the veterans of the Great War.  Since then, Britain has been involved in many other wars and fields of Service, creating a continuous supply of Service men and women, and their families, who need our assistance. We are recognised as the Nation’s custodians of Remembrance.

A Wonderful Gentleman Selling Poppies.

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A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10.00

For those who haven’t been following my blog this week, I thought I would set myself a challenge of cooking seven main meals for my family, for under £10.00. If I can do this, it will show people that we can and do actually live well on less’.

To keep the costs down, I have been using my home grown vegetables and in the style of ‘Ready Steady Cook’, I have free use of store cupboard items, which can be found here, on Monday’s post.

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Tonight I cooked ‘Toad In The Hole’.  I served it with some more of the enormous swede, that I picked on Tuesday, together with carrots and curly kale that I picked this morning from my allotment (I don’t think anyone can accuse us of not eating enough vegetables in this house).

 You can find the recipe for the Toad In The Hole here.

The only expense was for eight sausages and the rest of the ingredients were from my store cupboard items and the vegetables were homegrown.

 So this meal only cost me £0.80 to make.

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As it’s Saturday tomorrow, I decided to plan tomorrows meal and write about it today.

Tomorrow we will be having a ‘take away pizza’ night.  I will be cooking a pizza exactly like the one in the picture below, (but without the Olympic rings).

The recipe for my pizza is here.

I will serve it with homemade potato wedges and salad from my polytunnel.

The only ingredient I will be paying for, will be the grated mozzarella cheese that costs £2.00

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Below is my expenditure for our seven family main meals this week:  

Sunday = £ 3.33

Monday = £ 0.87

Tuesday = £0.00

Wednesday = £0.63

Thursday = £1.65

Friday = £0.80

Saturday = £2.00

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So the total for the week is (drum roll please) an amazing £9.28!

I am really pleased with this amount and I have proved I can actually cook seven, healthy main meals for under £10.00, for a family of four people.

I hope this has given you some ideas to eat cheaply.

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Tomorrow I will be serving Potato wedges with the pizza I am making.  Potato wedges are really easy to make and taste just as good as the ones you buy from the supermarket.

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Potato Wedges Recipe

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4 large potatoes

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¾ teaspoon ground mild chili powder

1 teaspoon mixed herbs

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Preheat your oven gas mark 7 / 220C / 425F

Give the potatoes a good scrub to clean them.

Cut each potato into quarters, long ways.

Cut each quarter into thirds.

Mix the olive oil and herbs and spices together.

Pour the mixture over the potatoes and ensure all the potatoes are covered.

Put the potatoes on a greased baking sheet.

Cook for 25 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown and soft.

 

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

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Little Savings That All Add Up & A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10

Today at my allotment, I dug up some carrots for our dinner.  I’m quite proud of my carrots as it’s the first year I’ve managed to get a decent crop from the ground, rather than having to grow them in pots of compost.

I managed to get a good crop this year by growing them in a raised bed, with lots of my own allotment compost, leaf mould and a bag of sand thrown in for good measure.

I will definately grow them this way again.

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 Little savings that all add up:

A little while ago, I realised I do little things to save money automatically, without even thinking of what I’m doing. I promised I would try really hard to make a note of these things so I could share them with you.  So here are a couple more things:

Last week I decided my black jeans were looking faded and old.  I didn’t want to buy a new pair as they were comfortable to wear and there really wasn’t anything wrong with them, except they were faded and looked old.

I spent £4.08 on the fabric dye below:

  Fabric dyes are really easy to use nowadays.  All you do, is put it in your washing machine with your fabric and put it on a 40 degree wash.  Afterwards, you put it on a 40 degree wash again, but this time with washing powder and this removes all the excess dye.

The result is a pair of jeans that look brand new!

The photo above doesn’t quite show them as good as they actually look (due to the flash on my camera, I think), but the jeans do actually look as good as when you first buy them.

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Hand wash is expensive to buy and my family goes through it really quickly.

So, when the hand wash bottle is empty, I refill it with the cheapest ‘bubble foam’ or ‘bubble bath’ that I can find.  Both Tesco and Asda sell Value Bath Foam for just £0.40 per litre, which is far cheaper than their ‘Value Hand wash’, (which works out at approximately £0.76 per litre) and it’s just as good.

Once the bottle is filled up, no one ever knows.

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A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10.00

For those who haven’t been following my blog this week, I thought I would set myself a challenge of cooking seven main meals for my family, for under £10.00. If I can do this, it will show people that we can and do actually live well on less’. So watch this space Jamie Oliver!

To keep the costs down, I have been using my home grown vegetables and in the style of ‘Ready Steady Cook’, I have free use of store cupboard items, which can be found on Monday’s post.

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Tonight we had a homemade lasagne, potatoes, swede and carrots.

I use lots of vegetables in my spaghetti bolognaise mix, to pad it out.  In tonight’s mix I used onions, curly kale, broad beans and courgettes, which were mostly from my freezer.

I also used some frozen pumpkin puree, which I defrosted.  This was left over from Halloween last week and it helps to make the meat go further.

You can find the recipe for the lasagne here.

Tonight’s meal cost me just £1.65 to make using my homegrown vegetables and the ‘free’ store cupboard items that were listed on Monday’s blog here.

£0.73 was for a third of a large pack of value minced beef (that I split into three) and £0.26 was for the value lasagne sheets I used and £0.66 was for the cheese I sprinkled on the top.

(Please note I always drain the fat off the value minced beef after I have first browned it, by putting the meat in to a large sieve, so the fat can drain through, otherwise it is far too fatty to eat).

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So my total spent so far this week is just £ 6.48

Sunday = £ 3.33

Monday = £ 0.87

Tuesday = £0.00

Wednesday = £0.63

Thursday = £1.65

So far, so good

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Yesterday, I talked about ‘Batch baking’ and how it saves time and money.  I mentioned that I regularly make biscuits and freeze them for the week ahead.  My lot eat the biscuits so quickly that this is the only way to ensure they aren’t eaten straight away.  The biscuits defrost within half an hour, but this is enough time to stop them from eating them.

I made some Ginger Biscuits on Saturday, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you:

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Ginger Biscuit Recipe (makes 24)

12 oz. self-raising flour

8 oz. soft brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 oz. margarine

2 heaped teaspoons of golden syrup

2 eggs

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Preheat your oven Gas mark 4 / 180 C / 350F

Place the flour, soft brown sugar and baking powder into a bowl and mix together.

Beat the eggs.

Melt the margarine and syrup over a low heat then add to the dry ingredients with the beaten egg and mix until it is all combined.

Roll small balls in your hand, about the size of a small walnut and place on a greased baking sheet, leaving room for them to spread out while cooking.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.  L

Leave for 1 minute before moving the biscuits to a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

 

 

Sowing Broadbeans, Batch Baking & A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10

Today I sowed my overwintering broad beans. They are a variety called ‘Aquadulce claudia’ which are really good for autumn sowing.  I sowed them into the inside of toilet rolls, as I find it is a more reliable method to get them to germinate, as when I sow them directly into the ground, either mice eat the seeds or the seeds rot when the ground is too wet.

After I sowed them, I watered them and then I put them into my cold greenhouse, until they germinate.  When the weather is suitable, I will transplant them.

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Batch baking

Every weekend I spend a couple of hours batch baking ready for the week ahead.  I find if I do this, then we don’t run out of things during the week, which would inevitably lead to a trip to the supermarket to buy tasteless equivalents that usually cost twice as much to buy, not to mention the added chemicals, preservatives and e-numbers the foods contain.

The things I usually batch bake at the weekend are bread rolls, cakes, biscuits, scones, etc. for the week ahead.  I then freeze them so they stay fresh.

So by just spending a couple of hours each weekend, I save money by not buying the equivalent at the supermarket, but I also save money on our gas bills because I cook more than one batch of things in our gas oven at one time.  For example, on Saturday I made ginger biscuits and chocolate brownies and twenty bread rolls.  The biscuits went in the oven, two baking trays at a time with the chocolate brownies, while the rolls were rising on top of the oven (they rise quicker with the warmth).  Then the bread rolls went in.

Another way of batch baking is to make double portions of a meal you are cooking anyway.  A good example of this is the pasta sauce I cooked for tonight’s tea.  I made a double portion so we could eat one portion tonight and I have frozen the other portion for another time.  So this not only saves money on cooking expenses, but it also saves time, as all I have to do another day is defrost the sauce and microwave it for ten minutes to heat it up again.

I always make double portions of pasta sauce, chilli and spaghetti bolognaise and freeze them.  Once the meals are defrosted, they must be reheated until they are piping hot.

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A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10.00

This week I thought I would set myself a challenge of cooking seven main meals for my family, for under £10.00. If I can do this, it will show people that we can and do actually live well on less’. So watch this space Jamie Oliver!

To keep the costs down, I have been using my home grown vegetables and in the style of ‘Ready Steady Cook’, I have free use of store cupboard items, which can be found on Mondays post.

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Today I made a Tomato Pasta Sauce.  You can find the recipe here.  All the ingredients I used were from my store cupboard and even my passata was made from home grown tomatoes.  I mixed the sauce with value spaghetti and sprinkled it with cheese.

I served this with salad from my polytunnel and garlic bread which was made from store cupboard items and home grown garlic and frozen home grown parsley.  You can see how I make my garlic bread here.

So this meal cost just an amazing £0.63 (the cost of the value spaghetti and cheese).

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So, the total I have spent so far this week is:

Sunday = £ 3.33

Monday = £ 0.87

Tuesday = £0.00

Wednesday = £0.63

So my total spent so far this week is £ 4.83

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Below is a really easy recipe for the chocolate Brownies that I made at the weekend.  It uses Weetabix and I buy the cheapest ones that  I can find for this recipe.

The brownies freeze really well and they are good for lunch boxes.  I take out a frozen Brownie and pop it straight into my daughter’s lunch box in the morning and it has defrosted by lunchtime.

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Chocolate Brownies Recipe

8  Weetabix

8 oz. caster sugar

8 oz. self-raising flour

4 tablespoons of coco powder

8 oz. margarine

2 eggs

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Preheat your oven Gas Mark 4 / 350F / 180C

Crush the Weetabix in a bowl.

Add the caster sugar, flour and coco powder and mix together.

Melt the margarine.

Add the eggs and the melted margarine and mix until it completely combined.

Put the mixture into a baking tray, approximately 23cm x 33cm, that has been lined with greaseproof paper.  (I find it’s easier if you use a metal spoon to press the mixture into the corners).

Bake for 30 minutes.

Put the brownies, still on the greaseproof paper, onto a cooling rack.

Cut into squares while they are still warm.

(You can add sultana’s or raisens to the mixture if you want to).

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Thank you for reading my blog.

Leaf Mould & A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10

This week at the allotment, I have been concentrating on my ‘autumn clear up’.  There were loads of fallen leaves from my fruit trees, so I raked them into piles and put them into my black dalek compost bin, where I keep all my leaves together.

The leaves will make a wonderful leaf mould in a year or two, which will be added to my allotment beds.  It doesn’t add any nutrients to the soil, but it is a brilliant soil conditioner.  You can read about how I make leaf mould here.

I also chopped down my Jerusalem artichokes.  I prune these when the foliage starts to turn yellow in the autumn.  As I live in the midlands, I leave them as they are after I have cut them down, but if you live in colder areas you can put a layer of straw over them so it’s easier to dig them up when the ground is frozen.

I have also planted a Rambling Rose called Rosa ‘wedding day’.  I have planted it at the base of the large plum tree in the woodland area, in the hope it will ‘ramble’ through the branches and look beautiful.  I chose this rose as I thought it looked so beautiful in the pictures on ‘Gardeners World’, when Monty Don was also planting one.  I used some of my birthday money to buy the rose, as I thought this would be a lovely way to have something that will give me many years of enjoyment.

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Today I picked some Cape Gooseburys:

My daughters love to eat these and there are still loads of them to ripen in my polytunnel (provided it doesn’t get too cold in there).  The plants are really big now.  You can see them in the picture below.  The plant I grew outside of the polytunnel didn’t do well at all and there are no Cape Gooseburys in sight.

I saved the seeds of one of the Cape Gooseburys, so I can grow them again next year.  I put the seeds on a piece of paper towel, leave them to dry and sow them again next year, with the paper towel still attached to the seeds.  It works everytime.

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Today I picked an enormous swede.  I’m not sure how I missed it before.  I also picked a cabbage that had quite a few slug holes but it was lovely inside.

The swede was enough for three pans full, so we had one pan for tea and the other two I will freeze.

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On Sunday I took my daughters shopping to buy gifts for this years ‘Shoe Box Appeal’.  We wrapped the boxes and lids separately (as advised by the website) and put all the presents into it.  My girls really enjoyed doing this.

We donated £2.50 towards the shipping expenses and then took the boxes to ‘Shoe Zone’, which is one of the designated drop off points.

I just hope that two children love our boxes.  It made us all realise how lucky we all are.  If you would like to donate a ‘shoebox’ too, all the details of ‘Samaritans Purse Uk’ can be found here.

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A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10.00

This week I thought I would set myself a challenge of cooking seven main meals for my family, for under £10.00. If I can do this, it will show people that we can and do actually live well on less’. So watch this space Jamie Oliver!

To keep the costs down, I will be using my home grown vegetables and in the style of ‘Ready Steady Cook’, I will have free use of store cupboard items, which can be found on Mondays post.

The total I have spent so far is:

 Sunday = £ 3.33

Monday = £ 0.87

So my total spent so far is £ 4.20

Tonight I made a chicken and roasted butternut squash pie and served this with vegetables from my allotment (cabbage. swede, peas and potatoes).

I made some pastry and a white sauce with the store cupboard items I have.  You can find how to make a white sauce here (just omit the parsley from the recipe).  I mixed the white sauce with the last of the leftover chicken and roasted butternut squash and then I covered it with the pastry and glazed the pastry with milk.

Tonight’s main meal cost me £0.00 to make.

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Yesterday I made naan bread and promised to tell you how I made them:

Homemade Naan Bread

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Naan Bread Recipe

1 teaspoon of fast action dried yeast

1 teaspoon demerara sugar

200 grams plain flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground corianda

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

2 tablespoons of milk

1 tablespoon warm water

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Mix the yeast with the warm water in a cup.  Stir in the demerara sugar and leave the cup in a warm place for 5 minutes, until the yeast is frothy.

Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, ground coriander and baking powder together.

Stir in the olive oil, natural yoghurt, milk and the frothy yeast mix.

Knead the mixture for 5 minutes and then leave the dough in a warm place for 15 minutes, with a damp tea towel over your bowl so it doesn’t dry out.

Preheat your oven Gas Mark 1 / 140C / 275F

Split the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll into oval shapes on a lightly floured board.

Transfer the naans to a greased baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes, turning once, until they are lightly golden.

 

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

Bonfire Night & A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10

Bonfire Night

“Remember, remember the fifth of November.
Gunpowder, treason, and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot”.

On 5th November 1605, Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London.  He didn’t agree with the King, James I, and plotted with a group of men, to blow up the Houses of Parliament with gun powder.

The plan didn’t work and he was sent to the ‘Tower of London’ and was later executed.

Since then, the 5th November has been remembered as Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night.  Children would make a pretend ‘Guy Fawkes’ out of old clothes , stuffed with hay or paper and sit in the street asking passers by for a ‘penny for the guy’, to pay for fireworks. At night the guys were placed on the top of bonfires.

Today, children do not ask for money for fireworks anymore and most people prefer to go to large ‘Firework’ displays that are much safer.  However, Guys are still made to put on top of bonfires.

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On Saturday we went to a Bonfire party at our allotment site.  We are on top of a hill facing Leicester and we could see most of the Leicester sky that was lit up with all the fireworks from different displays.  They had a large bonfire to burn all our old bits of wood and allotment debris that can’t be composted.

Earlier in the day, my family made a ‘Guy Fawkes’ to put on the bonfire.  We used old clothes and stuffed it with newspaper and put an old mask on it.

We were very pleased with the result and we transported it to the allotment, ready for the bonfire in the evening.

It was put on the top of the bonfire and someone even put a can of lager in it’s hand, he looked so funny

You can just see it burning in the photo below.

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Everyone at the allotment brought a dish to share and there was loads of delicious food.

There was even ‘Beetroot wine’ to drink, which was actually really nice.

It was such a lovely evening.

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A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10.00

This week I thought I would set myself a challenge of cooking seven main meals for my family, for under £10.00. If I can do this, it will show people that we can and do actually live well on less’.  So watch this space Jamie Oliver!

To keep the costs down, I will be using my home grown vegetables and in the style of ‘Ready Steady Cook’, I will have free use of the following store cupboard items:

Flour (Self-raising / plain / strong white)

Margarine

Olive oil

Stock

Yeast

Sugar

Salt

Milk / milk powder / UHT milk

Gravy

Herbs and spices.

Obviously, if I didn’t grow my own vegetables then it would cost more to make the meals, but that is the exact reason I do grow my own.  I’m also hoping to demonstrate to you, that by planning meals using leftovers you can have some really nice frugal meals.

I started my challenge yesterday (Sunday) by cooking a Roast chicken, roast potatoes, roasted butternut squash, roasted onion, roasted parsnips, red cabbage, mashed swede, peas and beans.

 

Using my vegetables and store cupboard items, I only paid for a chicken that weighed 1.4kg (three chickens for £10).  So my total expenditure for Sunday was £3.33 and you can see in the photo below, I have quite a lot left over:

 

Tonight I made a curry with some of the leftover chicken and vegetables.  The curry recipe I used is here.

I served the curry with homemade naan bread (I will put the recipe on my blog tomorrow), and homemade yoghurt.

My total expense for Monday’s main meal was £0.87.  This was how much I paid for the rice and the coconut milk, everything else was made from the leftovers from Sunday, or store cupboard items.

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Homemade Yoghurt:

 

A few years ago I was given an Easiyo Yoghurt maker.  You can see a similar one here.

The idea of an Easiyo Yoghurt maker is to use sachets of the Easiyo yoghurt mixes which you buy.  I don’t do this, as I think they are expensive and I like to make mine from scratch.  This is an easy way to make yoghurt:

You will need skimmed milk powder

UHT Milk

A yoghurt starter

The first time you make yoghurt, you will need to buy a small amount of ‘live’ natural yoghurt, or ‘probiotic’ natural yoghurt.  This will give your yoghurt mix, the bacteria that it needs to make yoghurt.  Each time you make your own yoghurt, save 3 heaped tablespoons of yoghurt ready to start your next batch of homemade yoghurt.  Your starter can be frozen until needed.  I do this up to four or five times only, as the bacteria seems to weaken each time.

Put 3 heaped tablespoons of skimmed milk powder into your yoghurt maker canister.  Half fill the canister with UHT milk and give it a good shake.

Put 3 heaped tablespoons of ‘Yoghurt starter’ into the canister.

Top up the canister with UHT milk and give it another good shake.

Put boiling water into the Easiyo flask and then add the canister.

 Put the lid on and leave for approximately ten hours.

Take the canister out of the Easyio flask and then put it in the fridge to finish setting.

 Don’t forget to save 3 heaped tablespoons to freeze as a ‘yoghurt starter’ for the next time you make it.

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 Thank you for reading my blog today.