Rhubarb and ginger smoothie!

I’m not going to post a picture (you know what a smoothie looks like!) or make this a long drawn out post. I just had a smoothie containing a bit of fresh rhubarb from the garden and it was really delicious, so I thought I’d quickly jot down the ingredients.

Soya milk (maybe 2/3 pint?)

an apple

a banana

a small carrot (I like thick smoothies and carrots work really well to bulk them up and add extra vitamins – probably don’t work in a lower powered blender though)

a sliver of ginger (I’d frozen a box of these to add to smoothies, which works really well. They also grate into food more easily when frozen!)

about 3 frozen plums (I say “about” because they’d been sliced and were kind of lumped together)

1 Tbs flax seeds (optional, for omega 3 goodliness)

A section of rhubarb stick, about 5cm long? Not huge, but the stick was quite fat!

All that got blended up in my high-powered blender and made just over a pint. It was delicious, one of the nicest smoothies I’ve had for a while, not too sweet, not too sharp, a bit creamy from the soya milk and really fruity!

£100 challenge – days 8 and 9

I worked most of yesterday and spent no money. Nothing of interest to report (apart from that I worked at three different sites!) so I didn’t bother doing an update.

This afternoon I tried making pikelets.

flat, holey pikelet with some margarine in the centre, on a plate

Actually, I was going to make crumpets, but apparently I don’t have any suitable metal rings. Now I think about it, I believe the rings I was looking for this afternoon actually went all rusty and horrible and had to be thrown away some years ago!

I didn’t really follow a recipe, just cobbled something together. About 250g flour, a teaspoonful of yeast, a spoonful of sugar and a pinch of salt, with enough warm water to make a pancake-type batter. Left it to rise for an hour and came back to very active-looking batter.

I have a tiny frying pan, so anything like this has to be done in small batches. I made about 4 pikelets, then got bored, so turned the remaining batter into apple bread, adding in some grated apple (the massive bag of apples I was given is still half full!), molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg and more sugar, then some wholemeal flour to absorb the extra liquid from the apples. The result was okay for a make-up, although it could have done with extra sugar and spice. B and I ate about half of it while watching the Great British Bake Off.


I’ve been out of green vegetables for a few days now unless you count peas, so after watching Bake Off we went to Morrison’s and I bought:

1 bag of carrots, 600g, organic – 82p. They were 90p a kilo for the non-organic ones but I don’t get through carrots that quickly so 600g was a better choice. While carrots aren’t on the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen of conventionally grown produce, they’re not on the clean fifteen either (see here for the full list of produce they tested. They’re based in the USA but they did test both domestic and imported goods. I don’t completely avoid standard produce, but I do bear the list in mind where practical).

1 savoy cabbage – 80p – the cabbage weighed over a kilo, whereas broccoli was £2 a kilo. I know broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse so I’m going to investigate the relative merits in nutrient density between the two, and weigh those against the cost difference.


1 garlic bulb – 25p

This brings the total spent today to £1.87, and the total spent for the challenge so far is £18.62.

£100 challenge – day three

Spent today: £0

Total spend for month so far: £3.35

I did my normal job this morning then had some casual work this afternoon. Took a packed lunch consisting of banana cake sandwiched  with Lotus speculoos spread, and a really nice spicy chickpea stew – onion and mushrooms fried up with some paanch pooran spice blend, chickpeas added then simmered in a sauce of tomato passata, garlic and chillies.

Came home, made apple and banana smoothie, ate leftover cold baked potato, hummus and Finn crisp rye crackers. 

Realised this month is going to be extremely boring both to blog about and actually live through unless I can plan some penny pinching adventures. I did bring some books back from the library with me, and hope to have a cooking adventure this weekend where I actually follow a recipe, hopefully using ingredients I already have, with the extra money-saving advantage of not having had to buy the book.

£100 challenge – day two

Today’s spend: £3.35

Total spend for month so far: £3.35.

You might think that as I decided to do this challenge at least a week ago I’d have sneakily bought things in preparation back in September, but part of my reason for taking this on is that I’m regularly buying things so I’m prepared to withstand going shopless for a good while. Maybe reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter several times in my formative years overly influenced me, or listening to my granny’s stories of wartime rationing? Why else would I have felt the need to buy four heavily-reduced Christmas puddings in January, knowing that since they’re  “eat before” next spring, I could be comfortably confident for months, knowing I had thousands of calories of dense, fruity, cake-like-substance to turn into pudding-and-custard ice-lollies, or chop up and wrap in pastry with some apples to make a sort of strudel, or perhaps crumble into melted chocolate to make easy, rich fruit truffles?

Of course, I haven’t done any of those things. While I like Christmas pudding fine, it’s in strict moderation, and since my cupboards are always well-stocked with lots of things I like more, I just haven’t got around to my grand plans yet.

I really didn’t need to buy food today at all, however I did need washing up liquid, so after work I took a walk across town to the Co-operative supermarket. I will always buy washing up liquid from them for preference, they were the first mainstream shop I was aware of that proudly boasted of not testing their cleaning products on animals, and made it clear when the products didn’t include animal ingredients either. I love that they continue to boldly splash this on the front of their packaging, including the value range, so you don’t have to pay a premium for following your conscience.
bottles of washing up liquid with yellow labels on a shelf.

On my way to the Co-op i had to pass the market. They had HUGE bowls of bananas going for 50p, at least fifteen bananas to a bowl! And bananas are always useful… I only had a pound left in my purse of £3.50 at this point because before that I had passed a Big Issue seller, so £2.50 went to buy a Big Issue. In case you’re from outside the UK, this is our street magazine sold by homeless or precariously-housed people. I can’t deny that it gave me a slight pang to hand over £2.50 for a magazine, but I know times are particularly tough for the vendors at the moment, and in case it sounds like I’m trying to make myself look noble at a relatively small cost, I fully acknowledge I do get a heartwarming glow from things like this which, in however small a way, are giving people a helping hand. So, it was money well spent because I got a glow, a smile from the seller, and a magazine to boot!

The weather in Leicester is dull and gloomy today. At work I ate a handful of hazelnut for breakfast, and when I got back home I wanted something warm and filling, but not too heavy, so I made an experimental banana cake with ginger, cinnamon and cardamom, and an apple-cinnamon sauce to go with it. Apart from a spoonful of molasses, the only sweetness in the cake comes from the bananas. It’s not quite right yet, so I won’t post a recipe. I’ve got plenty more bananas to experiment with though, and at least I’ve made a start on those apples now!



(Oh, and in case my mum is reading this I also did some jacket potatoes, and had some hummus and tomatoes, and I’ll be doing something with those mushrooms and the rest of the runner beans later. Don’t worry, I’m not living on cake!)

Scones on Sunday! (Vegan MoFo 2013)



I wanted to make something simple yet tasty with the tiny apples I scrumped yesterday. It also seemed appropriate to kick off MoFo with a scone recipe, and what better Sunday Brunch can you have than a delicious apple and cinnamon scone? ( Unless you’re talking about something involving fried potatoes, of course. That goes without saying!).

There are a lot of apple scone recipes floating around, but irritatingly they all call for apples by the number of apples, rather than giving an idea of weight or cup size. A search for “how much does a medium apple weigh” or “how many cups does x pounds of apples make” led me to believe that one medium cooking apple comes in at around 3/4 cup, so that’s the amount I grated. Here’s my recipe, based on the fruits of my internet searches and peeking into a few baking books.


225g (2 cups) plain flour

60g (6 Tablespoons) caster sugar

60g (believe this is 2oz or 1/2 stick) fat. I used half Vitalite and half refined coconut oil.

145g (3/4 cup) grated cooking apple

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F, gas mark 6) – mine is fan assisted.

Seive everything apart from the apples and fat into a bowl. Add the fat and cut it in with a knife. After cutting in, mix the fat in with fingertips to make a fine breadcrumb texture. Set aside bowl.

Wash apples. Most recipes ask you to peel them but my apples were so tiny there wouldn’t have been much left! Instead I used a fine grater:


Once I had 3/4 cup (which took 7 of the apples) I weighed them, and added them into the bowl of dry mix. To avoid over-mixing I used the same sort of cutting-in technique with a table knife that I used with the fat, turning and scraping the sides of the bowl to get it well incorporated.

Most apple scone recipes call for milk to be added, to make a soft but not sticky dough. However, the apples already added quite a bit of moisture, so the addition of 1 extra tablespoon of water was all that was needed to bring the dough together. 

Not sure what shape I would prefer, I went for 1 big scone and 6 smaller ones. Here’s the big one on its tray before baking:


It went into the oven for 15 minutes, though I checked and turned it after 10 as the oven doesn’t bake evenly. This is how it came out:



And once it’d cooled down for about 15 minutes I got to try it. One recipe I saw recommended adding preserves, so I had one piece with my mum’s home-made mixed fruit jam and some Vitalite. Of course, I had to have a piece without jam to compare! Image

The verdict: This was a very tasty Sunday breakfast, although to be honest the apple flavour doesn’t come through very much. Most of the recipes I saw suggested only half a teaspoon of cinnamon, so maybe I was greedy to add a whole one. Nevertheless, I feel this was a valid use of half of my apple haul!