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A Lovely Week & A Peanut Butter Biscuit Recipe

I’ve had a lovely week.

It started last Saturday when I woke up early and sat outside watching the sun rise….it was stunning.  In just under an hour it went from darkness to daylight.  This is something I have never watched before….nature is so beautiful:

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On Saturday myself, Mr Thrift and my daughter went on the ‘Bradgate Park’ dog walk again with Judy.  I am still amazed that less than six months again she couldn’t go anywhere near dogs without barking and lunging madly at them and yet now we can walk for a couple of hours with lots of other dogs…….and as you can see in the photograph below, she is chilled out enough to even lie down when we stop.  I am so proud of her:

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Also this week I saw the most amazing rainbow whilst I was walking Judy in our local park.  The colours were really bright and it looked as though both ends of it were in the park…..(so I will keep a look out for a crock of gold over the coming weeks).

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And this week it was my birthday and I had some lovely cards and presents.  My daughter also made me a gorgeous cake.  She spent ages making it into my kitchen garden and even put ‘pretend’ mud on the vegetables…..and it tasted delicious!

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This week in my kitchen garden:

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I picked the rest of my sweetcorn this week as the weather is turning colder and I was very pleased with it.

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I blanched the cobs and froze them so we can enjoy them over the winter:

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I then cut all the sweetcorn down so I can start to prepare this area for next year…

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I also removed the dead leaves from around my curly kale and cabbages as these can harbour pests like slugs and snails etc.  I gave it a good weed and it looks much better now.

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I picked my last white summer cabbage and I left four red cabbages to harvest another time:

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I also picked some more parsley to freeze….

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and some spinach so I could make a spinach and poached egg florentine and it was really nice:

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Unfortunately I also had to cover the overwintering onions and garlic that I planted last week, as the local family of squirrels (that one of my neighbours insists on feeding) keep digging in this area to hide the nuts they has been given:

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And finally I harvested my first few mizuna leaves from the seeds I sowed at the beginning of September.  Hopefully I will have many more leaves to follow over winter:

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This week in my kitchen:

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I’ve been very busy in the kitchen this week.  I started by making the crab apple jelly from the crab apples I was kindly given last week:

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I also decided to make some things in advance for my freezer, to help save time when I prepare meals over the next few weeks.

I made a big portion of spaghetti bolognaise sauce and we had some for tea, but the rest I froze in portions ready for another day:

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I also made a double portion of white sauce to use half in macoroni cheese and I froze the other half after it had cooled completely.  It is really easy to reheat in the microwave and then add cheese for a cheese sauce:

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I made pastry this week for a pie with some leftover chicken and vegetables.  I made a big portion of pastry so I could freeze three portions for a quick pie another time.  It defrosts quickly when I need it.

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I also made another load of passatta out of tomatoes that I picked at the end of last week:

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This week I ran out of cheese, so I bought three big blocks and grated it all in my processor.  I then froze it in bags of 250 grams so it is easy to defrost a pack each time we run out.  I find grated cheese seems to last much longer when I grate it, as it’s so hard to cut thin slices of cheese when it’s left in a block…..and also ready grated cheese costs more money to buy than cheese in blocks:

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And I also made a double load of chocolate ice cream and separated it into individual portions…. again I find it goes further this way.

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All the above things help to save me time or money, which has to be a good thing!

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As you have probably guessed by now, I really don’t like to waste any food in my house and this week I found some peanut butter lurking in the back of my cupboard that really needed to be used up.  So I made some peanut butter biscuits, which really are one of the easiest biscuits to make and they tasted absolutely delicious:

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Peanut Butter Biscuits Recipe:

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150g smooth peanut butter

150g granulated sugar

1 egg

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Preheat your oven Gas 4 / 180C / 350F

Put all the above ingredients into a bowl and mix together:

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Put large heaped teaspoons of mixture onto a baking tray (there is no need to grease the baking tray):

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Bake in your oven for 10-12 minutes until golden:

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Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a good week!

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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.

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies And Putting The Allotment To Bed

Today at the allotment I pulled up the last of my outdoor spring onions.  My daughter eats spring onions like sweets, so I made sure there were some ready for when she came home from school.

I also picked a couple of small cabbages and some carrots for tea.

I spent a lot of the morning digging holes for three large posts, to support the grape vines I bought in the summer.  I managed to buy them when they were reduced to just £1.50 each, so I bought three.

I knew I wouldn’t get round to putting up the supports for a while, so I just planted the grape vines where I wanted them to grow and left them to sprawl over the floor a while.

Today, I finally managed to put the posts and wire up and I tied the grape vines to their new wire supports.  I’m looking forward to some grapes in the future so maybe I can start to make some wine?  This will be a new adventure for me.

While I was doing all of this, a frog jumped out and sat watching me for about an hour.  It was really quite sweet and I couldn’t help talking to it.  It probably thought I was mad!

I also did some clearing again today.  I pulled up my pumpkin plants, sweet corn and some more calendula near to my shed.

At this time of the year I have mixed feelings, as I love to clear the old crops away and feel like the plot is being ‘put to bed’ for the winter , but I also feel very sad as I have to wait a good few ‘cold winter’  months before I can start to sow crops again.  However, I always cheer myself up with the thought of planning next year’s crops and looking through seed catalogues.

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Today I made some biscuits for the weekend.  These biscuits are my families favourite and they eat them extremely quickly.  To get around this, I freeze the biscuits and just bring a few out daily.  They freeze very well and take less than half an hour to defrost.

In this recipe I use cooking chocolate, which I chop up into small pieces.  I find this a lot cheaper than buying chocolate chips and doesn’t take too long to do and it tastes just as nice.

For those readers who are dairy intolerant, the margarine and chocolate can be substituted with dairy free alternatives and the biscuits taste just as good.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe:

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Ingredients:

75 grams of Margarine

175 grams of Demerara Sugar

Few drops of Vanilla Extract

1 Egg

175 grams of self-raising flour

100 grams of cooking chocolate

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Preheat your oven Gas 4 / 180C / 350F

Put the margarine sugar, and vanilla extract into a bowl and cream together until combined.

Add the egg and beat into the mixture.

Sift the flour into the bowl and add the chocolate.

Fold the flour and chocolate into the mixture until all the flour has disappeared.

Roll the mixture into small balls with your hands and place the balls on a greased baking sheet.

(Make sure you give each ball lots of room to spread out).

Bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Leave to cool on the baking tray for one minute before transferring to a cooling tray.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

Dairy & Egg Free Flap Jacks and Over Wintering Garlic and Spinach

I am still harvesting crops from my allotment.

Even though things have slowed down considerably, I am still picking French beans, patty pans and courgettes, which I am very pleased with:

Today I planted garlic to overwinter.

I planted the garlic on small ridges to make sure it doesn’t stand in soggy soil over the winter, as it doesn’t like it when it’s too wet.

I had four bulbs of soft neck garlic called Marco, which I split up and I planted the cloves four inches apart and one inch deep.

Also today, I planted the overwintering perpetual spinach, that I grew from seed.  This will be ready to eat in spring time.

Spinach is my husband’s favourite so I like to make sure we have plenty to use.

Perpetual spinach is much easier to grow all year round than normal spinach, as it’s not prone to bolting and is virtually pest and disease free.

I like to give it some protection over winter, so I built a cloche to go round it, out of old panes of glass.  I left some gaps around the glass so there is some ventilation.

I weeded around my overwintering onions as well.

 

I am very pleased with them so far:

 

I also spent some time transplanting the wallflowers I grew from seed over the summer.  I have put them around the edge of my new woodland area.  I also transplanted some hardy geraniums in there too, which had out grown their beds.  I found a couple of plants called ‘Lady’s mantel’ or ‘Alchemilla mollis’, which had self-seeded on my plot, so I replanted them in this area too.

The woodland area is coming on well now.  I am waiting for the council to start dropping leaves at our allotment so I can use them as a weed suppressant around the tree.

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Today, I’m continuing with my dairy free / egg free ‘goodies’ theme.

Yesterday I received a comment from a lady, who said her daughter was lactose intolerant and she had liked the recipe for the biscuits.

Nearly every recipe I have written on my blog, I convert to be either dairy free or lactose free, so my daughter can eat the same as the rest of us.

For example, even toad in the hole and the parsley sauce are made using the lactose free milk. I use the soya yoghurt to make the hummus and anything I make with cheese, e.g. pizza, I use the lactose free cheese. I even make pastry, cakes and bread with these ingredients, and you really can’t tell the difference. I think it’s terrible that people (especially children) are expected to miss out and after experimenting, I’ve found that so many things that can easily be made at home, to taste the same, whether you use lactose free milk or soya milk.

Below I have written the recipe for Dairy Free / Egg free Flapjacks.  I actually doubled the recipe, as I freeze them for snacks over the coming weeks.

Again they taste delicious with normal margarine and just as nice with the dairy free ‘Pure’ margarine:

(I haven’t got shares in ‘Pure’ margarine, I just think it’s good for cooking)

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Dairy Free / Egg free Flapjacks

110 grams Margarine

4 tablespoons golden syrup

75 grams granulated sugar

225 grams porridge oats (I buy the cheapest)

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Preheat your oven Gas Mark 3 / 325 F / 170 C

Put the Margarine and syrup in a pan and heat gently until it has melted.

In a separate bowl mix the sugar and oats together.

Pour the margarine and syrup into the oats and sugar and mix until all the oats are covered.

Pour the mixture into a greased square shallow tin

(I lined my tin with greased ‘grease proof paper’)

Press down gently with the back of a spoon until it is flat on top.

Bake for 30 -40 minutes until it is golden brown.

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then cut into squares.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Dairy Free, Egg Free Flapjacks

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

Hob Nob Biscuits and Forking in Manure

The Michaelmas Daisy’s at the allotment are still looking beautiful.  I am getting many people passing by and commenting on them.  It really is the best I’ve seen them flower, it must be due to the high level of rain we have had this year.

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My wild flowers are still flowering well.

I will certainly grow them again next year.

Everytime I look at them, there is something different to see and there is still loads of insect activity around them.

I spent the day forking manure into five of my beds.  I filled the wheelbarrow full of manure ten times, so I am aching now, but I’m very pleased with what I have done.

I will be growing brassica’s in this area next year, so I have done this job early, so the soil can settle well before I plant the brassicca’s in the spring.  Brassica’s like to grow in firm soil.

I fork manure into my brassica beds and where I plant my potatoes each year.  I don’t fork manure in my other rotational beds.  I find by adding manure to just half my allotment each year works well.

 

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Dairy Free, Egg free Hob Nobs

This week I’ve been trying to include some dairy free, egg free recipes for the gentleman that fixed our new fascia’s, as his daughter has been longing for some ‘normal’ goodies to eat as snacks.

Today, my youngest daughter, who is twelve years old, made some dairy free, egg free hob nobs.  I’ve got to say they are delicious made with normal margarine and they are equally as nice when you make them dairy free.  In fact I would go as far as to say, you just can’t tell the difference.

Once again, the dairy free margarine I’ve used is ‘Pure’:

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Hob Nobs Recipe:

8 oz. Self raising flour

8 oz. Granulated sugar

8 oz. Porridge oats (I use the cheapest ones I can find)

8 oz. Margarine

1 tablespoon Golden Syrup

1 tablespoon hot water

½ teaspoon Baking powder

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

Mix the flour, oats, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.

Meanwhile, melt the margarine, syrup and water in a small pan.

When the margarine mix has melted, add it to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Use your hands to make smallish balls and put on a greased baking sheet.

Flatten the balls slightly with a fork.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until golden.

  

I really think my daughter did a good job.

I normally make approximately forty hob nobs with my recipe, however my daughter only made thirty two….because she said she likes them bigger!

As biscuits disappear very quickly in our house, I have frozen these biscuits.  They do freeze very well.  I will just take out a few biscuits each day, which stops my family eating them so quickly.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

 

 

 

Pizza Toast and Gingerbread Men

Last night, both of my daughters were invited to different ‘sleep overs’ with their friends.

It seemed very strange to see their beds empty and I missed them so much.  I suppose I was bound to miss them, as in fourteen years this has only happened once before.  I wondered if this empty feeling is how you feel when your children all finally leave the nest?

In the end, after much discussion, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves to an evening in front of the TV, with a chinese takeaway.  We can’t usually have a takeaway, due to my youngest daughters dairy intolerance, which of course saves us money, but as she was away we thought it would be a really nice treat.

The takeaway totalled £14.20 for the two of us and it was really nice.  There was more than enough for two of us.  However, I felt really sick about an hour after eating it.   I don’t know if it was too fatty, or I ate too much, or something just didn’t agree with me, but I also felt ill all the way through the night.  As well, we both spent the whole night feeling thirsty, which must be due to the high salt content.  I wonder if our tastes have changed, as it’s so long since we have had a chinese takeaway?

So this morning I didn’t go to my allotment.

I always put my washing machine on very early in the morning, as we have ‘economy 7’.  This means that our electricy is cheapest for seven hours during the night.  So I make sure I also use my dishwasher, mobile phone chargers, etc. early in the morning for the same reason.

It was a beautiful sunny morning so when I started to feel better, I hung my washing out to dry.  This is something I always do unless it rains.

I love to see my washing drying outside on the line.  I don’t know why, but stupidly I always feel that everything is ok in the world when my washing is out.  It always smells so fresh when it’s dry and I find it easier to iron when it’s been on my line and not tumble dried (but it must be noted that my tumble drier isn’t very good).

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My youngest daughter then had her friends round for lunch.

Instead of making sandwiches, I made them all ‘pizza toast’.  It’s so easy to make and is a tasty quick lunch to have.

Pizza Toast

All you do is lightly toast some bread on both sides and then spread it with tomato puree.  Then put a covering of grated cheddar cheese on and a sprinkling of dried basil and oregano and toast it again until the cheese bubbles and melts.

The kids seemed to love it.

For pudding I made some gingerbread men.  Again they are very easy and the kids all seemed to enjoy them.  Below is how I made them.  I managed to make 17 men with my recipe:

Gingerbread Men Recipe

400g self raising flour

3 teaspoons of ground ginger

100g caster sugar

50g margarine

3 tablespoons of golden syrup

glace cherries and currants to decorate

Preheat your oven Gas 3 / 160C / 325F

Put the flour, and ginger in a bowl and mix

Warm the margarine, sugar and syrup over a low heat and when melted, add to the flour and ginger and mix well

Knead lightly with your hands and then roll out on a floured board.

Cut the shapes out with a cutter and place on a greased baking sheet.

Use currants for the eyes and buttons and a piece of glace cherry for the mouth, by pushing them into the uncooked biscuits

Cook for 10-15 minutes depending on their thickness.

Allow to cool on a wire rack

(the biscuits will be soft when they first come out of the oven, but will become stiff when they are cool)

**A good tip = heat your tablespoon before using it for the syrup, as it slides off the spoon easily when it is hot**

That’s it for today.

Thank you for reading my blog.