Food parcel

It’s easy to see where I get my thrifty habits from. My mum is an artist when it comes to budgets, coupons, saving for special occasions and the like. She passed on the baton of bargain hunting on to me and my sister and we have both benefited from this knowledge through the years. She was a wealth of advice when I first went to University and was in control of my own expenditure for the first time. We shared a lovely day together yesterday, and she brought supplies.

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Gluten free products are expensive, so when Mum spotted this little lot reduced at her local Waitrose in Wells, she snapped it up! Many of the boxes of biscuits cost five times the price of what she paid. Best of all, they’re all still in date, with most of the products having a “best before” (whatever that means) of 2015. Whilst in Southampton, we bought things for lunch and she left a bag of salad and a few slices of good deli ham for me to enjoy at a later date.

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It just shows that you don’t have to spend a fortune to show your children you care. I truly appreciate the thoughtfulness that connected the gluten free gifts to me. Thank you Mum!

 

In other news, a new rationing period begins on Monday. Through my calculations on my spreadsheet, I managed an average weekly spend of £19.54 for the five weeks in August. That is bang on for my target of £20 a week, although I did start to slip nearer the end when contraband foodstuffs were providing me with quick, cheap energy. But now the cupboards are well stocked, I should be able to keep this month’s grocery bill to a minimum. I’m sure there will be a post in the near future about the details of the rationing plan that I personally follow, just in case anyone was interested.

I hope you all have a joyous weekend.

Let us eat cake

On Monday, when the rain was lashing down and the storm was in full swing, I baked. It started as an idea for cookies. I took my basic cookie recipe, “borrowed” some eggs from my housemate, added raisins instead of chocolate button, threw in a handful of oats and the zest of a lemon. The result? Well, as cookies, not so great.

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The mixture was thin, and the cookies spread too much. Plan B. I poured the remaining concoction into a square tin and baked until golden. This was spot on.

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I think I’m going to have another go at this recipe before posting it. The oats added a texture like desiccated coconut, which I personally don’t like so I might leave them out next time. The addition of bicarbonate of soda did wonderful things to my cookie/cake, my new favourite ingredient in the kitchen. I loved the lemon flavour too, which is strange, because citrus is not normally my thing. I was also surprised about the lovely texture of the cake, unusual for g-f baking. It rose quite splendidly.

The recipe used a hefty amount of rations so there won’t be any more baking for awhile. But the next chance I get, I’m going to perfect this recipe because it’s too good to miss.

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.

Doing it right

Today I went shopping and it was glorious. The purse strings were able to be loosened a little this morning and I had wonderful time meandering around the local charity shops. I also popped into a couple of other high street shops in search of presents in lieu of an ample amount of birthdays in the pipeline. I can’t show pictures, just in case a birthday girl catches a glimpse, but let’s just say I’m very pleased with my purchases. I did pick up one item for myself.

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There is a talk of visiting this fine country in the future and what better way to begin my research than with a book about its famous food. I’m hoping it will tell me more about the varying regions and some origins of the classics.

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I was also lucky enough to find reduced bread in Waitrose. I’m only buying my bread reduced now, I can’t honestly afford it full price and as long as you’re patient, you’ll normally come up with the goods. I’ve visited Waitrose three times this week in search of reduced bread, and today was my lucky day. A loaf of seeded bread and four seeded rolls for the same price as one branded loaf. That’s shopping done right.

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I had a pleasant time this afternoon playing on my 3DS and baking flapjack. I tried a new recipe, using honey instead of golden syrup. It made a large dent in my rations, my jar of honey and box of oats still has to last me the month. But it did yield a good amount of golden bars. The sweet ration is running low, as you can imagine, so I need to bake to make sure I don’t polish off the eclairs!

I’m learning lessons whilst on this ration plan, and I’m going to make adaptations next month. I do think I’m going to stick with it though – my grocery bill is low, I feel healthier and I waste nothing. Not that I wasted much before, but I was guilty of having crisps for dinner or sweets for lunch on more than one occasion. My eating habits are better and I feel better because of it. Don’t fix it if it’s not broken.

Ingenuity

It’s one of those strange days that feels like a day off. I get to wake up slowly, peruse the blog world and wear my most comfiest black leggings. But alas, this afternoon I will be changing into my uniform and heading out to work. Sometimes it’s a burden, waiting around all day and being unable to settle because you’re constantly clock-watching. But today, I’m enjoying the relaxed pace of the morning.

The chap brought me back a darling souvenir from his travels. He collects tankards and fancy beer glasses, which I’ve always been envious of. But now I have my very own, all the way from Heidelberg, Germany.

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Being gluten-intolerant, I don’t in fact drink beer. I had been using my new tankard for water, which I guzzle all day. But this morning, I truly fancied a huge vat of tea. That’s one way of making my tea ration stretch, using one bag to create a half litre of tea 🙂 And saving electric, as you only have to boil the kettle once. It was a wonderful accompaniment to my muesli. (Sue – I’m yet to be organised enough to try your tip for muesli, but I will do soon!)

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I probably won’t do this regularly, as I fear staining my precious tankard, but I did enjoy reading my book this morning, large mug in hand. It’s the simple things that I find most relaxing of all.

I’m ready for Bake Off!

Not that I would be successful if I actually went on the show. This morning, I’ve been experiment and with all such endeavours, sometimes baking goes wrong.

I tried two recipes this morning; carrot cookies and a gluten-free sponge cake. Now, the cake was my fault. I was trying to be thrifty and use one egg instead of two, so it’s no surprise really that it came out a bit flat. I also didn’t have any vanilla extract so I had a bit of ginger instead. I’m sure this ginger sponge will be lovely with a glass of milk in the evenings. Nothing will be wasted during my experimental baking!

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The cookies were even more adventurous. I tried baking them with vegetable fat, to save on butter and see if it worked. In hindsight, this probably wasn’t the best idea. They taste good, but the texture is a bit strange and they’re a bit chewy. I’m hoping they will crisp up a bit as they cool, I’ll have to report back in a bit. But I’ll know for next time to stick with margarine.

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I think it’s good to try to new things and see what works and what doesn’t. And I don’t feel guilty about making/eating cakes because I’m not scoffing as many sweets as I once did! The ginger and honey cake I made last week rose considerably well, despite its gluten free ingredients. Maybe I shall return to that recipe on my baking day next week. It’s all about trial and error. Let’s hope I can pick up some tips this evening. Who else is eagerly anticipating the return of this fab show?

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Swiss Breakfast

My new job is fairly manual, meaning there is a fair amount of lifting and pushing and pulling involved in my day-to-day working life. Without trying to sound like a television advert, I need a sustaining breakfast to help me get through until lunch time. I don’t really do cereals anymore, mostly because I can’t eat many of them and also because I don’t think they keep me full as well as oats.

It’s far too hot for porridge at the moment so I’ve been adventurous with my morning oats and have created my ideal bowl of muesli. Although the word “muesli” wasn’t in common use during wartime, I did find a recipe for Swiss breakfast, which is basically the same thing. This is an evolved version of the overnight oats I featured here.

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In the mix, we’ve got:

1 chopped apple

large handful of oats

small handful of sultanas

sprinkle of seed mix

1 tsp honey

semi-skimmed milk

 

I don’t leave mine overnight to soak, but it is nicer if you leave it in the fridge for ten minutes before eating. The ingredients all fit into my rationing guidelines, aside from the seed mix which was left over from before. I wonder if I will get to a time when all my stores of food are all from rations or the points system. I do hope so.