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 – day fourteen

Beware the banana! Or rather, beware freezing bananas in value-range freezer bags, and freezing savoury pasties near them. My mushroom pasties, which I made last month and froze most of, seemed a perfect idea to quickly shove in the oven when I came home very hungry from work, having not taken any breakfast with me apart from a few dried apricots. Alas! They are now mushroom-and-banana flavour.

To go with the pasties, I have frozen peas which I heated up with leftover quinoa and some of my last jar of mushroom risotto sauce. The sauce was from Sainsbury’s, I bought 4 jars when they were reduced from about £1.60 right down to 25p, presumably because nobody in their right mind would pay over £1.50 for a 200g jar of sauce. However, they were pretty good value at 25p, I wish I’d cleared the shelves of them now, instead of just buying 4 jars. 🙂

No money spent today. I’m off later to do a couple of hours extra work and then tomorrow I have extra too, so that’s nice. November is starting to look slightly less sparse on the pay front!

(I ate yesterday’s beans last night, and I’m saving the calabrese for tonight, in case you’re wondering why I’m eating frozen stuff.)

£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 – banana drop scones

Well, the dinner yesterday was lovely. My clever friends had managed to find packets of ready-made vegan gnocchi at the Co-op, had made a great sauce to go with them, and a very tasty wilted spinach salad. 

Some time passed. Cider, wine, sangria, beer and old-fashioned cocktails were consumed (not all by me!), and when we started flagging they offered us the spare bed so we didn’t even have to fork out on a taxi. Very comfy it was, too.

This morning we all felt a little delicate and in need of some fresh air, so I suggested a trip to http://www2.le.ac.uk/institution/botanic-garden to my significant other. What a great start to a Sunday, the gardens were beautiful.

When I got home, something greasy and starchy was definitely in order, so I made a batch of banana drop-scones. I googled around and had a look at a few sites to see how different people make their drop scones (also apparently known as Scotch pancakes, although I think of Scotch pancakes as having sultanas in them, which none of these recipes did), and I ended up loosely basing them on a (non-vegan) recipe over at http://www.be-ro.co.uk/recipe/showrec9.html as it was the simplest and had only one egg originally. Many of the others suggested 2 eggs, and fairly large amounts of raising agents, but I don’t need my food to be fluffy today, I was looking for comforting stodge. As I still have bananas to use up I thought I’d go back to the time-honoured vegan trick of subbing egg for banana, with the bonus of banana-flavoured drop scones sounding rather nice anyway.



Banana Drop Scones with Sour Redcurrant Sauce

Drop scone ingredients:

100g (3/4 cup) plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 medium banana (my scales weighed this at 82g)

40g (1/4 cup) caster sugar

Unsweetened soya milk as needed. I used about 160ml (2/3 cup)

1 tablespoon oil – I used rapeseed (canola)

+ oil or cooking spray for the frying pan.


Ingredients for the redcurrant sauce:

50g redcurrants

1 tablespoon granulated sugar (this came out very tart, which I thought was a great contrast with the pancakes, but if you don’t like tartness add another spoon or two of sugar).

1 tablespoon water



Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl

Mash up banana in a smaller bowl. Add some of the milk to the banana to get it to a sloppy consistency then pour it into the dry ingredients. Add more milk until you get to a thick but droppable consistency. Stir in the oil (or leave it out – the BeRo recipe doesn’t call for fat, but many of the other recipes had butter in them) 

Turn on medium heat under a frying pan and add oil or spray with cooking spray (they do brown better with oil, I tried both ways). Leave to heat up for about 20 seconds.

Turn heat down and using a small ladle or a serving spoon, drop spoonfuls onto the pan. They will spread a bit, so leave space between them. Make them whatever size you like but they should be on the small side, I made mine about the size you could eat in 2-3 bites. Cook them for about 3 minutes on one side  – bubbles will start to rise. Mine looked like this just before I turned them over.


Cook for another minute or two on the other side to brown. Remove from pan and if you want to eat them warm put them on a plate in a low oven while the rest cook.

After tasting the first drop scone I realised they were a bit too sweet for my taste, so I got out some redcurrants I had frozen a few weeks ago after they were given to me from my mum’s allotment.

I put 50g into a small saucpan with a tablespoon of sugar and one of water and boiled that for about 5 minutes to make a jammy sauce. This was nicely tart and played off the sweetness of the drop scones perfectly. Here’s a nice gory shot of the innards for you!