£100 challenge – day seven

Whoop-de-do, I made it a full week on £16.75 so far, I’m below budget! I would dance a jig, except I just stubbed my toe REALLY hard.

There’s no cause to be celebrating just yet anyway. While I’ve already forked out for my ticket to the only paid-for gig I’m going to this month, I do also plan on visiting my parents, who live 80 miles away. I put the details into Google maps, which give a rough idea of petrol costs per journey, and they estimate this will cost £15.80 each way. For comparison, I checked the price of train tickets, which came in at over £40 for an off-peak return. When I’ve told people about this challenge there have been several who  made it clear they were not remotely impressed. “£25 a week?” They scoffed (in a 31- day month it’s actually £22.58), “that’s easy!” And maybe it is if you’re a person who doesn’t expect to go out with friends much or have to travel anywhere except under your own steam. I don’t think it’s that much of a luxury to want to see your relatives every couple of months but any way I can get to them costs a fair whack of the budget.

Today’s breakfast was overnight oats. I love overnight oats so much I made a fan page for them on Facebook! It’s a shame they’re not very photogenic though, especially when using a phone-cam. I have these little plastic pots with lids, I think they hold 400ml which hold 250ml, and they’re ideally sized for making an individual portion of overnight oats that I can take to work. Today’s oats had been covered with a blended up small apple with some water, and then had a sprinkle of flaked almonds and a few dried cherries stirred in.

IMG_20131007_185933

Like I say, not very attractive, but a good breakfast nonetheless. Lunch was leftover cauliflower-Vegusto in a bread roll with some chutney I made earlier this year (with rhubarb from my garden!) and I think dinner will involve lentils and onions, and maybe a pie I made and froze last month.

In case it sounds like I’ve done nothing but work and eat ( or plan to eat) today, I did also go to the library.

set of library shelves showing spines of fiction books.

And drank coffee. There’s a luxury I’m not going to run out of in the next couple of months because it’s my favourite brand so whenever it’s on special offer I stock up, and last time I bought six bags!

coffee mug, coffee in bag and pot of coffee on desk.

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£100 challenge – day six

Didn’t spend any money today, and made a nice lunch with some more of the Vegusto goodies and yesterday’s bargain cauliflower.

I had about 60g of the piquant cheese left, and wasn’t quite sure whether to combine it with mashed potato to make potato cakes, or grate it to serve on pasta, but finding the reduced-price cauliflower naturally led me to choose cauliflower cheese. I’ve also been making bread today, so decided to try some of the roll of melty cheese on a simple onion, sweetcorn and tomato pizza using the spare dough for the base. And seeing as this was Sunday lunch for two people who hadn’t had breakfast yet I fried up the sausage I was sent as well.

plate with food on it: cauliflower in white sauce that has been browned on top by being in oven, peas, an oblong slice of pizza and some sliced sausage.

And I did some peas in case that wasn’t already enough food! We were pretty stuffed after this lot!

The Vegusto cheeses didn’t melt like a dairy cheese would, but then they’re significantly lower in fat, so that’s not really surprising. The melty one did still go nice and gooey. It’s quite squishable, and I’m planning on having the rest in a sandwich as I reckon it’ll be a bit like Dairylea (Edit several hours later: I’ve  just tried this in one of my fresh-baked rolls with a dash of hot sauce. YUM! Way better than Dairylea ever was.) The taste of both of these is really very good. For the cauliflower-cheese sauce I made a white sauce from soyamilk thickened with cornflour and added a teaspoon of mustard and dash of cayenne along with a pinch of salt, but no flavouring apart from that as I wanted to see how far the cheese flavour would go, and considering 60g isn’t a great deal and you’d expect to use more dairy cheese than that in a dish that would serve four I thought it did a good job. The sausage slices were also very tasty, despite me forgetting that I hadn’t turned the gas off and slightly burning them.


Pie-day Friday – cauliflower and onion pie

It’s payday! I meant to make a bad title worse by buying expensive ingredients and then calling this ‘payday pie day Friday’, but you are all spared as I saw a cauliflower for only 60p while I was mooching through the market.

If you read yesterday’s entry you will know that I bought rather a lot of onions on Wednesday.

shopping trolley two thirds full of onions

I’m planning on making something like relish with some of them, but I’ve also been looking at onion pie recipes. I was taken with a suggestion from easy as vegan pie to caramelise onions and blend some into a sauce, although the layering described in the recipe sounded a bit faffy.

I sliced and started cooking 5 onions with a pinch of smoked salt, but forgot to add sugar – 20 minutes later they were still pale, but they had a great flavour.

I made a standard short crust pastry case.

uncooked pastry in pie dish with frill of excess pastry

uncooked pastry in pie dish, trimmed

baked empty pastry case

Kinda wish I’d left it with a ripple!

I cut the cauliflower into what I hoped were bite-sized pieces, and fried them in a drizzle of oil with some of the onions. I made a sauce by blending 200g tofu, 2 cloves garlic, most of the remaining fried onions, a couple of teaspoons each of English mustard and bouillon powder and (a mistake!) 2/3 of a dried chipotle, which made it too spicy. I was gilding the lily by adding that as well as mustard. I also added soyamilk and about 3 tablespoons cornflour, as I didn’t want it as firm as last week’s custard, but in fact it could have stood a bit more.

The pie went in a hot oven for about fifteen minute, with a sprinkling of smoked paprika and a few squirts of one-cal sunflower oil spray.

whole baked pie

It tasted pretty good, although definitely too chipotle-y, and went pretty well with some of the rhubarb and apple chutney made earlier this year. I have a feeling the flavours will mellow and become tastier once it cools.