I had to go and visit my parents on Wednesday and only just got back home today. This was a bit of a challenge for continuing with LBtL as I was travelling by coach then tube then train, and I thought I was going to be away until next week, so I had to carry a couple of changes of clothes, but I knew I didn’t want to give up on or postpone the challenge, especially since a few people have donated to the JustGiving page I set up (thank you!), so I packed up as much food as I thought would keep me going until the end of the challenge: I baked all of the potatoes, took the rest of the snack crackers, made some more tomato bread and made that into a couple of sandwiches with some of the coleslaw (and took the rest of the coleslaw in a tupperware container), the rest of the jar of peanut butter, and made a sort of spread by blending up the split peas with some pickle juice, a bit of mustard and about half of the remaining tomato puree.
I thought the latter item would make a passable soup if I mixed some water and whatever greenery I could forage into it (which ended up being a couple of handfuls of hedge garlic). I also chopped up one of my potatoes to add. This might have worked if I hadn’t added the pickle juice to the pea goo, but I’d put too much in and I regret to say that the overall effect was revolting, and actually ended up making me feel sick. I ate as much as I could by trying not to taste it but the last 2-3 spoonfuls went into my parents’ compost bin, I’m sorry to confess.
Yesterday evening was better, I had the second coleslaw sandwich (I’d had the first on Wednesday), some more hedge garlic, some dandelion leaves and another cold potato. Today I’ve eaten dry cornflakes and finished off the snack crackers. I’ve still got quite a bit of coleslaw, which I bought back with me, 2 halves of potato, there’s about 1/4 red cabbage left in the fridge, and I’ve got lots of cornflakes and flour left too, and about half of the peanut butter still.
I’ve also got about half of the teabags left, and I’ve been extremely grateful to them, but coffee has been the hardest thing to go without, followed by salad (I made a salad for my parents, and it was quite difficult not to pop a stray leaf of lettuce or bit of cucumber into my mouth). The time of year has helped though, with the abundance of fresh greenery which is available on common land at the moment. As well as the dandelion greens, cleavers and hedge garlic I’ve also pinched a few leaves from the lime trees in the park, they’re very pleasant-tasting when they’re young.
Roll on tomorrow, and the French Press!
Yesterday I opened my little tin of tomato purée. You can’t keep food in the tin once it’s open (not sure why, but I know it’s a bad idea!) so I set about decanting the rest of it after I’d used a spoonful for my soup. I thought it would fit into a handy small glass jar I’d saved from something else but it turned out there was about a tablespoon left over in the can that wouldn’t fit, so I thought I’d see if it made a difference to some quick-bread.
I filled the purée can almost to the top with water and stirred so the leftover tomato paste reconstituted nicely and then added that to 100g SR flour and about 1/8 teaspoon salt. Turns out there was too much liquid so had to add another 50g or so of flour to make a rollable dough. I rolled it out to a couple of cm thick and baked it in a hottish oven (around 200 degrees) for about 18 minutes. I had a chunk for breakfast but about 2/3 went towards my lunch:
I was quite pleased with this, it reminded me of a ploughman’s lunch. The tomato flavour is quite subtle, but it makes the bread a lot tastier, and to go with the bread I have red-cabbage slaw, dandelion leaves, a mustardy split-pea dip/spread (cooked split peas with pickle liquid, mustard, pinch of salt and water to thin, smushed with a hand-blender), a cold baked potato and a pickled onion.
I know I said I wouldn’t break down the cost of each meal, but just for the sake of curiosity I did it this time:
100g slaw – 5.6p
200g cooked split peas 9.4p
15g mustard (would reduce to 10g next time, it was just a bit too hot!) 2p
30g pickle liquid/an onion 2p
baked potato approx 200g – 11.6p
approx 100g flour’s worth of bread 3p
approx 15g tomato puree 2.11p
Maybe it helps that I’ve got hayfever at the moment so I’m not tasting things as much as I could be, but I don’t think the 20p-for-40-teabags tea is as bad as people have been making out! It’s certainly a huge improvement on having to go through caffeine withdrawal! I had four cups this morning.
Having said I’m not a breakfast person, I woke up peckish so I had 25g dry cornflakes in the privacy of my own home.
I ate the 6 snack crackers I took to work throughout the morning along with my cups of tea, then went into town on the never-ending quest for affordable potatoes. Nothing doing in Leicester Market, they had 1kg potatoes for £1.10 (I’ve got £1.17 left from the fiver, I could spend it all on potatoes, but I was hoping to get something else for flavouring as well, like a bulb of garlic), or some people were selling bowlfuls for £1 but lesser quantities did not seem to be on offer. Marks & Spencer didn’t have any for less than £1.75 a kilo. There’s an ‘International Supermarket’ (smallish grocery shop selling some fresh produce) on Granby Street, and they had 2 kilo bags of potatoes for £1, but they were outside in the full sun in an orange-toned plastic bag and I didn’t trust them not to be green once the bag was opened.
Empty handed I started for home, but on my walk back I saw some cleavers peeking through a hedge on New Walk so I gathered a small handful of those, they’re supposed to be a good spring tonic.
When I got home I made a very simple bannock from 100g self-raising flour, a pinch of salt and enough water to make a soft dough, rolled out a bit into a circle and baked in a hot oven until it had puffed up and just picked up a tinge of brown on top. I ate half of this with soup made from 150g split peas, 15g tomato purée, 25g chopped carrot, the cleavers and 2 dandelion leaves finely chopped, salt, and water to cover, simmered until the carrot was tender. I topped this with a couple of spoonfuls of the cabbage cooked with pickled onions that I made last night.
The soup was… functional? It wasn’t bad, and the dandelions stopped it from tasting too boring by making it very slightly bitter, but it would have benefited from some spices and a squirt of lemon.
The other half of the bannock I had as a sandwich with 50g coleslaw and 5g mustard. This was good, I will make something similar again.
I calculate I’ve had around 885 calories and 32g protein so far, which isn’t too shabby. I’m about to take a walk to Morrisons now to see what I can come up with for that final £1.17.
It’s been quiet here on the blogging because there was nothing much to write about. Slacked off, didn’t keep to a budget, now I’m looking at going on holiday later in the year and realising there’s no way I’ll afford it unless the belt goes in a few notches, so I’m aiming for another £3 a day month for May. I’ve kept to my resolution of no alcohol for the year, so that’ll help a bit, even if the price of soft drinks in pubs is a shocking rip off. It’s not tempting to drink to more than a pint of j2o, especially since it now tastes of artificial sweeteners.
I’ve been enjoying some of the fruits of spring this month, with my first taste of unprocessed goosegrass/cleavers/many more country soubriquets, also known as galium aparine if you want the fancy latin name. This is a bit unpleasant texture-wise to eat raw, but the taste is mild, reminding me somewhat of lettuce. It has a long history of use as a spring tonic, and it grows abundantly on wasteland, in parks, friends’ gardens (not by their wishes!). I only have a couple of sprigs in my own garden but they disappeared into a smoothie today and I’ll pop over to the local park tomorrow and see if there are some in a not-too-dog-accessible spot!
Also on the menu for the first time – allium triquetrum, or three-cornered leek/wild garlic (although many other things are also known as wild garlic).
I look forward to getting down to some serious foraging and developing a few recipes with the results.
I first learnt that fuchsias produce edible, and in fact fairly nice-tasting fruit from Alys Fowler’s book The Thrifty Forager, which was given to me as a leaving present in my last job ( the person who chose it remarked that it seemed just my sort of thing). Some plants seem to produce bigger or more obvious fruit than others, and fortunately there’s a good fruiter on my way home from work. Well, good is relative, but I usually manage to find 3-4 fruits every time I pass it around this time of year. Today’s crop was better though!
Okay, so it’s all of 15 grams, but a nice, freshly-picked, free pre-lunch snack never goes amiss! If you’ve never tried them, I’d say the flavour is a bit similar to a mild-tasting grape, with a similar texture but with a thinner skin and much smaller, peppery-tasting pips. Worth trying, especially as fuchsias are pretty common. I did get permission to pick these ( they’re planted outside a church) from some rather bemused people who obviously had no idea why I’d want to, and it’s obvious not many people forage these, I often see the fruit splattered on the ground under other plants I’ve seen. Seems a waste. Not sure why the birds don’t nab them?
No money spent yet today. Going for dinner at friends’ later, and they’ve asked someone to bring pudding. Not sure if anyone else already replied, but if not I’m thinking of making some kind of pumpkin pie. I’ll take pics if it comes out any good!
(I nearly called this post ‘Hello, boozy Tuesday’, but I thought that might be a bit obscure).
It’s been a pleasant, sunny day today!
Although I haven’t seen any yet on my travels, I’m sure there must be some sloes around getting ripe and ready to be picked soon. Sometimes I know there are goodies to be had if I go and look for them but it seems a bit of hassle, so it’s good to have a token of what can be expected once the effort has been made.
Now, this may be a bit cheaty, but I didn’t actually make any of the home-made ingredients in the following beverage (unless you count the ice!), the gin was given to me last Christmas by my good friend Emma, and the jam made by my mum (she grew the fruit for it as well)
Sloe-gin and raspberry jam slushy
Equipment needed – blender. I have a Vitamix, which I couldn’t really afford, but it’s been really, REALLY handy since I bought it, I use it many times a week, and it just pulverises stuff. I’m sure you could make this in a less powerful blender but you might have to add more liquid to less ice.
200ml / 7 fluid ounces / 3/4 cup water, made into ice (see note above)
Some sloe gin, to taste. Start with about 2 1/2 tablespoons and take it from there.
Heaping tablespoon raspberry jam.
Stick everything in a blender, turn blender on to high power, use the tamper if you have a Vitamix to shove everything towards the blades. When blended to your liking, pour/shake (it’s kind of sorbet consistency unless you’ve blended it so long the mix has started to heat up a bit and melt) into a glass and enjoy!