I haven’t been drinking much since recently, but went out to meet friends last night and had a couple of ciders. I thought I was being careful (my trick is to order a half pint of cider in a pint glass, topped up with soda water like a cheapskate even-lower-alcohol spritzer) but I still woke up feeling slightly rough this morning.
It seems to be a truth universally acknowledged that fried food and carbs are what’s wanted the morning after a night out. There wasn’t anything ready-made lying around but I had half a baguette in the freezer and while it was warming up in the oven I made a chickpea omelette using half a cup of dried chickpeas (could use chickpea flour/besan if you don’t have a blender that can tackle whole chickpeas), a cup of water, pinch of salt, pepper and smoked paprika and two cloves of garlic, plus a tiny dash of vinegar.
The trick to chickpea omelettes is to fry them low and slow, otherwise the innards stay gooey while the outsides scorch. This amount of batter made two, and the first one turned into scramble because I tried to turn it before it had set, but it still tasted great. I was more patient with the second one, so it’s a bit more photogenic!
I wouldn’t want to risk enraging Ottolenghi by calling the creamy chickpea dip component of my lunch hummus. This has never seen a sesame seed, but it gets a good dose of seed-based oil and fibre from sunflower seeds. It’s not exactly low fat, but the fat that is in there is un-heated and unrefined (if that is important to you). Spread on crackers, topped with cucumber and red pepper slices, I’d say this does the job of filling-in for hummus quite nicely, thank you very much.
- 2/3 cup hulled sunflower seeds
- 2/3 cup chickpeas
- 2/3 cup water
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 3 cloves of garlic (I like garlic!)
- 3 or more black or green olives, pitted (optional, but I like to add a subtle olive taste without quite so many calories as using olive oil).
Put the sunflower seeds and water into a blender and blend until they make a paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and carry on blending, pausing to stir now and then until everything is nice and smooth. Add more lemon juice/salt if necessary, or a splash more water if it’s too thick. Garnish with smoked paprika, chopped herbs, chopped olives etc.
This makes a good batch, I’ve got enough to stick in a tub in the fridge for a few sandwiches next week. I’m pretty sure this was cheaper than making regular hummus too, since I got the sunflower seeds in bulk from Currant Affairs, I think they were about £3.20 for 1 kilo. I don’t know if you can get tahini for that price, but I doubt it. And despite being a bit unbalanced when it comes to essential fatty acids, sunflower seeds are pretty good in terms of nutrition. The chickpeas were £5 for 5 kilos from Tesco, which works out cheaper than split peas.
As an aside, I was planning on having this with what I thought was left over bread in the freezer from Below the Line and gherkins I bought from Lidl. When I’d actually defrosted the “bread” I discovered it was an experimental peanut butter and jam cake I’d made in my practice run before the challenge! I did toy with having it anyway (a la brioche bun with a burger or one of those terrifying doughnut burgers) but then I couldn’t get the gherkin jar open either, so it ended up on rosemary crackers instead!
…in a good way!
I noticed earlier this year that a Lidl store was “under construction” on their store-finder 0.7 miles from my house. I’ve been checking the site every couple of weeks since then and it finally showed as open when I looked today, so I eagerly trotted over to check it out.
I found a few good bits and bobs. I got a can of coconut milk that is actually mostly coconut (rather than 48% plus thickeners and water, like some I have seen) for 79p, 4 big bulbs of garlic for 89p and some cashew nuts at £1.49 for 200g (so just under 75p per 100g). They also had some of the lowest prices I’d seen for a few staples I didn’t buy at this time but wanted to note for future reference. I didn’t buy the oats pictured above, but in a real penny-watching situation the information that 500g bags are available for 39p is useful. These packets didn’t say what country the oats are from that I could see, but I did find some Scottish porridge oats at 99p for 1kg, which is also a pretty good price. Other highlights included big jars of gherkins for 65p (I’ve had them before and they’re really nice, and the jars are a good size for re-using), and 1kg sugar for 49p, which is the lowest price I’ve seen sugar for quite a while (EDIT: I’ve since been to Aldi, who are also selling sugar for 49p and theirs is produced in the UK, a bonus for my next challenge which is going to be a local eating one).
Lidl is good in marking a lot of their own brand stuff suitable for vegans, even if you have to take a magnifying glass to the label to spot it sometimes, so that’s another plus for them. They also had a not-too-bad selection of Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified goods and one or two organic items as well.
I’m pleased to add this option to the already wide choice of supermarkets nearby, especially as it means I can now walk there then wander around for hours on my own, price-checking stuff and peering at labels and telling passers by that this is a great price (yes, I did that to some poor man nearby when I spotted the oats today!), rather than having to con someone into giving me a lift and then trying their patience so they eventually resort to “herding” me towards the tills!
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.
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.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first of all, I live in the UK, and therefore am obligated to comment on the weather. A lot. It’s nearly always a nice safe subject that one can strike up a conversation about with a perfect stranger. You’re probably perfect, and also likely to be a stranger to me, so here we go!
So, today was one of those annoying days where it mostly just drizzled rather than raining properly or being nice and sunny. I took my big umbrella to work, but the rain wasn’t heavy enough to fall, it sort of drifted down with plenty of time to soak into my clothes as I walked through it.
I had to change my clothes when I got home this afternoon!
All this damp had a few positives though. For one, the plants needed it. Also, it gave me a good excuse to turn the oven on (which I haven’t felt like doing in the muggier days earlier this week).
Today’s frugal ingredient is green chillies, which I was given by the same person who donated runner beans earlier in the week.
She said she had no idea how hot they are as she doesn’t like spicy food! I’m happy to take a chance though.
One of my favourite pie ingredients has to be mushrooms. I’m rather partial to the mushroom pies made by Clive’s Pies, but they’re not cheap, so I sometimes make my own version.
I was all set to provide you with a recipe using weights when I discovered that my scales have been rather alarmingly out of whack! I assume that they’re relatively correct in that my recipes seem to come out okay, but they seem to say things weigh less than they actually do! So, take the following measurements with a pinch of salt although I don’t think this is the kind of recipe where it matters too much if things are a bit out.
Spicy garlic and mushroom pasties (I believe these are what residents of the USA refer to as ‘hand pies’?)
Ingredients for filling:
450g mushrooms (I’m using a mix of chestnut and white mushrooms)
2 small-medium onions (my scales say 126g, so say 150?)
1 teaspoon oil (I used olive)
4-6 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 green chillies of a reasonably mild nature
2 tablespoons oat flour
Mushroom pies are lovely with puff pastry but it’s a bit of a faff to make so I’ve economised by making my own shortcrust pastry of an extremely basic nature. It’s just plain flour and fat (Vitalite non-dairy spread) at a ratio of 2:1 weight-wise. I weighed just over 200g flour and 100g fat, but as mentioned earlier this probably means it’s more like 250 to 125. I haven’t added salt as the spread has plenty in it already. If you’re as rubbish as I am at making pastry, I recommend you use purchased puff pastry instead!
Peel and chop the onions mediumly (it’s always finely or coarsely with onions, why not mediumly?), add the oil to a fairly large saucepan that you have a lid for, on a low heat, put the onions into the pan and swirl them around to distribute the oil. While they start to cook, wash and slice the mushrooms.
Ignore anyone who says you should wipe rather than wash mushrooms, the reason people claim you should do this is because they say they absorb the water, but in fact the amount taken on by the mushrooms is minimal (do a search for it, someone has meticulously researched this!).
Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan in batches, add in the salt too. Put the lid on the saucepan after you’ve finished adding the mushrooms – you want there to be some liquid in the pan, which the mushrooms should provide (if it looks like it’s getting dry put about a tablespoon of water in there).
Crush or finely slice the garlic and add to pan. Remove rosemary leaves from the woody part of the stem, finely chop leaves and add. De-seed and finely chop the chillies and add those too.
Sprinkle oat flour over the mixture and stir in for a couple of minutes. The flour should take up the liquid in the pan so you’ve got a little bit of thick gravy covering the mixture, which will hopefully prevent your pies from going soggy.
Turn off heat and allow to cool while you make your pastry.
In a mixing bowl, Sieve the flour, then drop in the fat. Cut the fat into the flour, then rub it in to breadcrumb consistency. Dribble as few tablespoons of cold water as you can get away with into the mix, cutting them in with a table knife. When the mix starts coming together, gather it into a ball. Cover and leave to chill for half an hour or so.
Once your mix has cooled and your pastry has chilled (or you’ve got your shop-bought puff pastry out of the fridge), pre-heat your oven to around 200 degrees centigrade, 400 farenheit. Roll out pastry as thin as you think you can get away with without the mixture coming through when you go to make your pasties. I reckon maybe 3-5 mm thick should do it? Bear in mind it will stretch a little bit, so don’t go seethrough with the rolling out.
Cut shapes out of your pastry. I tried to be fancy with some, but really, circles are the best, then you can dollop a spoonful of filling on one side and fold over to a half moon shape.
Put the pasties on a greased baking tray, and pop them in the oven. Bake for around 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking tray.