Frugal Fridays #21

Out of all possible meal scenarios of one day (elevenses, brunch, supper and midnight snack included), afternoon tea is my favourite. Not only is it an opportunity for cake-based delights and gallons of tea, it’s a chance to use all the delicate and beautiful china I’ve been hoarding collecting. It’s actually quite a thrifty meal, especially if you adhere to the following tips.

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Make your own sandwiches with whatever is in the fridge. Shop-bought sandwiches are never up to scratch. Plus, it seems counter-productive to specifically buy ingredients when you already have a selection in the house. The magic comes with how you cut them. I did fingers of cheese and pickle, triangles of raspberry jam and trimmed my cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches with a cutter. The two different breads I used were bought from the reduced section, not that my guest needs to know that!

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Make your own biscuits. Yes, my home made gingerbread does look quite rustic, but I was complimented on the flavour. I know scones are more traditional, but you can knock up biscuits with minimal ingredients, thus decreasing the cost. I also quite like the different texture biscuits bring to the table.

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If you do buy your cakes, try to get ones on offer. I ran out of time to bake my own, and I’m not entirely confident with gluten-free cake anyway. Luckily, these finger cakes were two packs for £3. Standard cakes are much cheap, and once you add a little garnish (like my raspberries), who would know the difference?!

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Afternoon tea is an indulgence, gosh yes, and by no means a necessity. But it is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in the company of a good friend.

Fuel for the day

Monday is shopping day. It’s the day I trawl around several different shops in order to get the best prices for my weekly rations. I love it. Shopping is a wonderful hobby, it never feels like a chore to me. From my unscientific research, it seems to be that males do not like taking them time perusing a shop and its wares. It’s more of an in-out-get-out-as-fast-as-you-can sort of job. But me and a girlfriend spent an hour this morning hopping from one store to the next and it was glorious.

But as today was shopping day, I woke up this morning with a dilemma. No apples for muesli, no bananas for porridge, I can’t make toast in this kitchen and I certainly wasn’t going to use an egg for just one meal. I had been browsing Carolyn’s famous blog and decided to try out her recipe for Eggless Pancakes. They were divine.

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As mine were made with g-f flour, they were not light and fluffy, but I do think the addition of a little bicarbonate of soda did help. They were quick to make, cheap, using few ingredients and tasted delicious drizzled with honey and served alongside a strong cup of tea.

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It can be hard making supplies last the week, but when you get to the end of the week and there’s still goodies for breakfast, you know you’re doing ok.

Happy Dance Muffins

When you’ve finally handed in your last assignment and the world is your oyster, do you:

a)      Go out and get drunk.

b)      Keep writing on regardless.

c)      See how much batch cooking you can accomplish in one afternoon.

This storyteller took a well deserved break from writing and indulged in some time in the kitchen. It’s one of my favourite places to be.

Using some of my 24p bargain bag of parsnips, I made and sweet potato, parsnip and lentil curry that is bubbling away in the slow cooker as I type. It’s got enough vegetables in there to make 4 portions.

The rest of the parsnips simmered happily with some stock and curry paste before being blitzed. I added milk like the recipe said, but I think this thinned out the soup too much. No milk next time. Still, I’ve got 5 portions of Curried Parsnip soup tucked away in the freezer.

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And to round off the day nicely, I finished up with some baking. These are Gluten Free banana muffins, or Happy Dance muffins as I have christened them. Because I have finished all of my Uni work, summer is on the horizon and long days spent in the kitchen await. That’s deserving of a dance in my book!

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Happy Dance Muffins

(makes 12)

75g butter

150g caster sugar

1 medium egg

3 medium bananas, mashed

200g GF plain flour

½ tsp GF baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100ml milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a muffin tray with cases. Melt the butter in a small saucepan.

Combine sugar, mashed bananas, egg, milk and melted butter in a large bowl.

Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Fold everything together until smooth.

Spoon into cases using a tablespoon.

Bake for 20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

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These muffins fit in nicely with my using-what-I’ve-got challenge. No more nipping out to the shop to spend pennies on pudding. There may be no bananas left for muesli, but lots of muffins in the freezer. Success!

PS Just realised, if I have stocked my freezer section full of parsnip soup and muffins (which I have), where am I going to put the leftover curry? :S Oh the woes of being a student!