Jan62 day 21 – lentil bake and yet more pumpkin pie

£6.57 still remains on day 21, so that’s just over a tenth of my original allowance to see me through the last third of the month. Fortunately, the extra work I’ve been offered later this week is within walking distance so I’ve no call to spend money on bus fare yet.

In case anyone is interested, here’s what I ate today:

Leftover marmalade cinnamon rolls (I didn’t get round to freezing them after all),

Toasted homemade bread, spread with leftover pumpkin seed sauce and mustard, topped with red cabbage coleslaw,

Smoothie made from frozen apple, frozen raw pumpkin (this goes really well in smoothies!), a tablespoon of flax seeds, a spoonful of frozen blackcurrants, a few sour dried cherries and a single piece of frozen rhubarb plus about half a pint of soya milk. This was an excellent combination, though it sadly finished off the expensive cherries. Must get more when February comes!

Lentil bake in a homemade roll with more coleslaw.

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The coleslaw was made yesterday. I used half the red cabbage bought on Sunday, a large carrot, and made the dressing from half a cup of pumpkin seeds blended with about a cup of water, a dash of olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons cider vinegar, a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of flax seeds and half a teaspoon of Herbamare seasoning. I was chuffed with how this dressing turned out once I’d blended it up, it worked really well to bring the coleslaw together in terms of both flavour and texture.

The lentil bake was of necessity. I’d tried making rissoles yesterday but hadn’t drained the lentils thoroughly enough and after adding sautéed onions and carrots plus some leftover jarred pasta sauce they were hugely mushy, so I then had to keep adding more and more ingredients to get the mixture to firm up – I started by adding a cup of breadcrumbs, then got some chickpeas out of the freezer and whizzed them to crumbs in the food processor. Still no good! Added in some oats and even more breadcrumbs and finally they were just about okay but by then I had so much mix I would have ended up with about fifty rissoles if I’d made them all up! So today I just shoved the remaining mix in greased Pyrex dishes and baked them until they were starting to go brown. I’ve frozen some, and there are four portions in the fridge, so that’ll keep me going for a while!

The pumpkin pie was to use up the last of the pumpkin puree, continue my experiments with marmalade and experiment with caraway (as I have a 300g bag that until today was unopened). I used roughly the same recipe as last time but added in a teaspoon of caraway and instead of lemon juice and zest I used 2 tablespoons of marmalade.For the press in crust I used walnuts in place of almonds as I’m out of those. Verdict: a success, although on further nibbling I’m not sure the caraway adds much to this. It’s useful to know marmalade stands in well for lemon in this recipe though.

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Jan62 – day thirteen

Remember I got given a monster pumpkin way back in October (as well as a very large one)? Well, I finally hacked it open over the weekend. I got three 600ml boxes of chunks into the freezer for soups or smoothies, made two different large quantities of curry (coconutty and tomato-y), and roasted two panfuls of chunks to make pumpkin puree, some of which I then used to make pumpkin pie.
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EDIT: it’s a few hours later and I just used the last big slice of pumpkin in place of carrots to make a huge tub of coleslaw. Works really well! And then I ate a bowlful of coleslaw, at 11.40pm, because I am wild and fearless. Oh yes.

Haha, I bet you thought all the bloggers had stopped posting pumpkin-related stuff! What can I tell you? I’m either behnd the times or exceptionally forward-thinking!

For the pie, I used my favourite press-in almond pie crust from the Post-Punk Kitchen website, with oat flour (which I had to up to a cup and a half even without adding milk – think I maybe mismeasured the oil! Still worked though) as I’m totally out of plain wheat flour now. For the filling, I went with Dreena Burton’s soy free, vegan pie because I had nearly all the ingredients and because most of the comments are so positive. And deservedly so! I had to make one or two tweaks, but I’m very pleased with the ease and taste of this pie. I wasn’t sure if my pumpkin would be wetter than commercial stuff, so I used 2 cups (a 15oz can apparently is 1 3/4 cups) and didn’t bother to add the milk. I used sugar instead of maple syrup and instead of arrowroot and vanilla I used 3 tablespoons of custard powder (I like my custard-pies on the rubbery side, as opposed to sloppy. I think 1-2 tablespoons would probably have been adequate). I also added some zest from the lemon – since I paid more for unwaxed it seemed a shame to waste it. This recipe made 2 small pies and 8 bite-sized ones, so should provide teatime treats for several days!

On the money front, I’m not doing so well. I haven’t broken the budget but I’ve got a lean week ahead. I had to buy some DIY tools unexpectedly, and I finally got so fed up with my hair that I took a step I’ve been meaning to for ages and had it drastically shortened by a barber.

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This is obviously not how I wore it to work today! I did have a lot of fun playing with borrowed styling products over the weekend though! The cut only cost £5 (plus tip), at the cheapest place I’ve seen in Leicester, at the top of Welford Road. The guy obviously doesn’t get many, if any, women in there, and seemed a bit nervous about cutting my hair but was fine after I assured him I wanted it short and showed him pictures of men whose hair I thought was the right length.

Also, I went out for pizza. Even though I had vouchers, we ordered over the value of those.

So, although I should only be up to a maximum of £26 out of the total £62 by day 13, I only have £20.32 to last me for the rest of the month. What the heck, I don’t care! It makes the rest of the month even more of a fun challenge, right?


Bargains at the market! (November ninety, day 15)

Halfway through the month!

Since I was in credit, and I really fancied some tofu and a looksee at the market to try for cheap bananas, I headed across town after the morning at work. I popped into the Chinese grocery next to the market for calcium-set tofu, £1.30 for 600g, then headed across the road towards the market.

One of the stalls regularly sells organic pointy sweet peppers a few for a pound, and today the bowls were extra large. True, some of them were slightly wizened, so I may have to process them fairly quickly and freeze some, but they’ll add interest to lots of meals!

red, yellow and orange peppers in a row

There’s a stall that sells sweets, crisps and snacks at knock-down prices and they had The Dormen mixed nuts (baked almonds, cashews, macadamias and pistachio nuts) in 130g foil bags, three bags for a pound! True, they were past the sell-by, so I bought a three bags and opened one. Seemed absolutely fine, so I bought another three bags, and will stick most of them in the freezer to be on the safe side. When I came home I checked the normal retail price and they seem to go for over two quid a bag, so I’m very pleased.

bowl containing bags of nuts

I also bought a savoy cabbage for 60p, and 20 clementines with leaves (showing freshness) for a pound, so that’s a total of £5.90, bringing the month’s spend to £44.17.


£100 Challenge – day eleven

After worrying about how I was going to get out to dinner, I ended up getting lifts both ways, so didn’t spend any money yesterday at all. I do owe those friends a lot of dinners by now, though!

Today’s weather is damp and dreary. After work this morning I was happy enough to hurry home, so no temptation to go to the shops. I’m wearing two jumpers but my hands and the tip of my nose were getting cold so I’ve momentarily succumbed to putting the central heating on. Good job that’s not part of the challenge pot.

To counteract the cold I made a quick and simple stew including the last of my potatoes which were just beginning to sprout but fortunately hadn’t gone green, with a side of quinoa and some spicy croutons on top.

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Potato, carrot and cabbage stew (3-4 servings?)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped medium-fine
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • 3 smallish potatoes, cut into chunks
  • few leaves of cabbage (maybe 100g), sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Bouillon powder to taste (start with a teaspoon, I probably added more like 2-3)
  • Water

Method

Fry the onion in the oil in a medium-sized saucepan on a medium heat until starting to soften and brown, add the bouillon powder, carrots, potatoes and top up with water to cover. Turn up heat until simmering, then add the cabbage and cook until that’s done to your liking and the potatoes are cooked. Turn off the heat and add in the garlic (I like to find a balance between stinking of raw garlic, but still being able to taste it, and I find if the garlic gets added earlier it’s not very noticeable, but the residual heat takes the raw edge off. I am pretty garlic-immune these days though!)

I cut up the last bread roll from the batch I baked a few days ago to make croutons, which I fried in a small amount of olive oil, with a sprinkle of salt, smoked paprika and cayenne. This is my new favourite way of using up bread. Strictly speaking the stew hardly has enough liquid to count as a stew, and the croutons rested on a big pile of veg rather than soaking up the liquor, but they added a pleasing contrast in terms of both crunch and flavour. The quinoa was another great addition to make the whole dish a bit more hearty.

I also have bonus croutons left to snack on!


£100 challenge – day ten

No money spent so far, so the current total spend for this month is still under £19, however all that could change this evening, as some friends have offered to cook dinner, but they’re quite a way from my house. I might just about manage a walk there, but not back as well, so that means either trying to get a lift (still waiting to hear from a friend who has also been invited), or getting a taxi. If I have to get a taxi both ways that’s at least a tenner gone. That’s for one evening out.

…having just typed all that out, my boyfriend has now sent me a text message to say that if I don’t hear from our friend then he will drive. The problem above has been stressing me out for a good couple of hours though. It can be pretty isolating to be on a very tight budget!

I did at least have a very pleasant lunch of carrots, savoy cabbage, onion and peas in a spicy carrot and peanut sauce with some rice noodles.

White bowl containing white rice noodles and a mix of vegetables. Cabbage, peas and carrots are visible, coated in a small amount of orange coloured sauce.

I fried up an onion in a medium sized saucepan, added a sliced up carrot, and a handful of frozen peas for extra texture and protein, then some sliced up leaves of the cabbage I bought yesterday. Added a sprinkle of salt, some five spice powder, and a little bit of bouillon powder for good measure, then poured over some sauce.

As a lazy so-and-so, I make most of my sauces by shoving ingredients into the Vitamix. That means I don’t have to bother peeling garlic, as the Vitamix just pulverizes everything into a smooth texture. This sauce contained 3 small cloves of garlic, half a red chilli (still working through the ones I got given), a carrot, a handful of peanuts, a knob of root ginger and a slosh of soya milk for added vitamins (I get Basics longlife soya milk, which is fortified with calcium, B12 and I think one or two other things).

While I was waiting for the sauce to heat through and the carrots to finish cooking I bunged some rice noodles in a pan. I bought a bulk pack of noodles from one of the local Chinese shops, and they only take 3 minutes so they’re great if you forget that you actually have quinoa you could have made in only 15 minutes, if only you’d thought of it until just before the rest of your meal was ready!

I had half a lemon leftover from yesterday’s overnight oats so I squeezed some of that over my bowl of food. It was pretty good, and I was glad to be eating fresh veg. I miss soya sauce though. I’m going to have to pony up for some of that stuff.


£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.

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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.

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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.