Tuesday, 31 December 2013

No Oven Required

Firstly a big HI to Karen who has been reading for a while and left me a lovely comment.

There are lots of posts on other blogs looking back over 2013 or forward to 2014. I've done my share of reflecting and here are my new year resolutions, such as they are:-

Make more of what I already have (money, food and belongings - as well as my food stockpile, I have piles of fabric, wool and card making goodies and I really don't need to buy any more).

Avoid spending at all costs unless absolutely unavoidable

Reuse and/or repair whatever I can

Seek out the ultimate bargain when I do have to replace something

Find alternative pastimes rather than going shopping (this will be a big change because I do love wandering around the shops even when I'm pretty skint).

Realise that spending on Ebay or in the charity shops is just as wasteful if its on something I don't really need

To actually stick to my weekly or monthly menu plans that I might have spent  hours compiling but usually get distracted into abandoning after a few days

To lose the last stone and get to my healthy goal weight having then lost over 5st in 2 years

Okay, that's quite a lot of good intentions and I'm sure I'll think of more and won't always abide by them, but listing them has helped clarify some of the things I can do to save money and not be so wasteful.

I have to admit to some charity shop shopping today, but that was a necessity and not for me. I dragged DH around all the shops in Dover town centre searching for work trousers for him. He doesn't have to wear a suit but when supply teaching in a school he has to dress rather smarter than his usual scruffy, much-worn cargo pants and t shirts. We nearly always buy his shirts from charity shops but trousers are more difficult with him being so short (5ft 4in). He needed another pair of smart trousers and today we were fortunate to find him a good pair that looked like new and were his size of 36in waist 29in leg for £5.50 in the British Heart Foundation shop. So, that was a necessary purchase at a bargain price (similar ones were £29.50 full price in M&S and still £20 in their sale). His jeans are also worn but I am going to mend those by taking off a pocket and patching the split in the backside. I've already put popper fastenings on his cargo pants with the broken zips and with a loose t shirt or long jumper over them no one knows the difference. Its a good job he's not at all fussy about his clothes.

My 'no oven' heading refers to tonight's dinner. Remember those leeks I got yellow stickered for 21p and that final chunk of gammon left from Xmas? Well tonight's dinner was leeks in cheese sauce served with baked potatoes and gammon. all cooked in my slow cookers. Cost for the meal was approx £2.50 for 3 people and there are potatoes left over for tomorrow's lunch.

I sliced and washed the leeks and put them in the slow cooker on high with just a little boiled water for 2 hours. Half and hour before dinner time I mixed 2 white sauce mixes (Appoved Foods 10 for £1) with a little cold water and a tablespoon of dried milk granules, and then mixed this into the hot leeks and liquid adding a little more boiling water to get the right consistency. I let this come back to bubbling for about 15 minutes them stirred in about 6 ounces of grated cheddar.

The baked spuds were done in my other slow cooker, and I just sliced the remaining gammon between the 3 of us. So...no oven required for the main course.

I also made a jam sponge pudding with custard for DH and DS1's dessert (I was very good and stuck to fruit and yogurt), and I did use an oven, but it was my microwave. Here's my recipe for Microwave Sponge Pudding (it will be in ounces because that's what I still use most of the time):-

2 oz soft margarine
2 oz caster sugar
3 oz Self Raising Flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 medium egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons jam or syrup

Literally bung all the ingredients (except the jam or syrup) into a mixing bowl, beat together for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Put the jam or syrup in the bottom of a pudding bowl (I don't even grease it as it seems to come out okay without) and spread the sponge mix on top. Wrap the bowl in pleated cling film (to allow room for it to rise), or like me you could put it into a large plastic food bag and fold the opening part beneath the bowl. Cook on high (my microwave is 800w) for 3 minutes. Remove the cling film/bag as soon as its done or it will get sucked down and compress the sponge. Take care not to scald yourself on the steam. Allow to stand for 1 minute before serving.

 This would probably serve 4 people but my piggy guys ate it between them.

I also make my custard in the microwave. I use 3/4 oz custard powder, 1 tbsp of sugar and 1 tbsp dried milk  in a deep jug mixed with a little cold water to make a smooth paste. I then pour on boiling water, stirring all the time before nuking it in the micowave for 30 seconds, stir and then microwave again for 20 seconds.

Our New Years Eve will (hopefully) be quiet and peaceful. We'll likely stay up until midnight and watch the fireworks over the harbour from our bedroom window and listen to the horns of the boats as they bring the New Year in. We won't be drinking or partying but watching the top 5 Big Bang Theory episodes (as voted by viewers) until 10.30 and then a dvd or film on TV. We did contemplate stepping out for a drink or two this evening, but the weather is foul again with high winds and rain so we're happy to stay in the warm.

However you spend this evening I thank my readers and wish you all the very best for a happy 2014.


  1. Lovely post Helen, I am with you all the way with your resolutions. Dinner sounds and looks good, that is much the same as my "steamed pudding" I use an egg as the weight in my balance scales and it works every time.. Happy New Year.

  2. Happy new year Helen.
    Here's to saving more money during 2014.
    Best wishes
    Angela (Devon) your very first commenter

  3. That sounds like a brilliant New Year Plan. Your ideas for 2014 are fantastic and I do know what you mean about Charity Shops, they do tend to lure you in.

    Sft x