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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marmalade cinnamon rolls

So I bet you’re wondering where all my money went? So am I! I’ve learnt a good lesson this month, which is to not carry the whole month’s allowance around in my wallet (probably kind of obvious, but it was interesting to try a different way from October & November).

I do at least know where some of it went, and that’s the £2.80 I spent on 3 kg strong organic bread flour. It was on special offer at Waitrose when I went with my friends on Saturday to get the free coffees they offer to membership card holders. Ooh, they’re crafty alright! Come for the free coffee and newspapers, leave with a load of stuff you didn’t know you wanted until it beguiled you! I didn’t mean to buy anything after necking the coffee, apart from some potatoes, but my friends were going round the shop and I made the fatal mistake of looking down other aisles besides the produce section. Still, I do feel particularly naked in the cupboard area when there’s no strong wheat flour in there, and I’ve been able to make lots of breadly goodness, including these.

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I made dough using about 850g flour, a heaped teaspoon yeast, a teaspoon of salt and about 3/4 pint of lukewarm water. I used about a third of the dough to make these rolls (then the rest to make plain rolls and garlic bread to go with dinner tonight), so there’s only a very rough and ready recipe. I rolled out the dough into an oblong, mixed a heaped teaspoon of powdered cinnamon with about 5 tablespoons of marmalade, then because this is value marmalade they seem to have compensated for the low amount of fruit by using a lot of pectin, making it quite dificult to spread, so I added a squirt of golden syrup. Spread the sweet goop onto the dough, rolled it up, cut it into 8 pieces and squished each one slightly between my palms before putting them on a greased Pyrex dish and leaving them to prove for about 90 minutes. Then I baked them for twenty minutes in a fairly hot oven around 180/350.

We had these for pudding, and I heated them up for around 3 minutes again just to loosen up the sticky bottoms. I made a simple drizzle out of icing sugar and water to go over the top, but they were pretty gooey and delicious even without it. The value marmalade works really well precisely because they’ve been quite stingy with the fruit so it compliments rather than overwhelms the cinnamon. I would make these again, although maybe not at the same time as a load of other bready stuff! I’m going to see how they freeze…


pumpkin-seed pasta sauce

pictures of pumpkin seeds soaking in water, sauce in a saucepan, and a plate of pasta in sauce, peas and coleslaw.

A while back, someone over at the Post Punk Kitchen forums started a thread about iron-rich recipes. Since I’ve been eating a lot of pumpkin over the past few months, including seeds, and because I like to check out the nutritional content of my food, I recently became aware that pumpkin seeds are a really good source of iron, and suggested a variant on the Post Punk Kitchen sunflower macaroni cheese recipe. I was asked if pumpkin seeds got creamy in the sauce and had to confess that I hadn’t tried it. Well, now I have, and they do!

I had to make a couple of subs/omissions due to the challenge: I didn’t have any nutritional yeast, which Isa mentioned in the recipe comments as being necessary for texture. I put a tablespoon of oats in the blender instead of that and hoped for the best. I didn’t have any tomato purée and couldn’t find any very small tins when I went shopping. I wasn’t going to buy a tube because I hardly ever use it, so I put in twice the amount of some jarred pasta sauce. Obviously I omitted the sunflower seeds and used pumpkin seeds instead, and I halved the recipe as I wasn’t sure how well it would work, however I was very pleased with the taste of the final pasta dish, which I served with leftover pumpkin coleslaw and peas.

I had to buy pasta and carrots for the recipe, which I got from Morrisons. I was also after some green veg, but after weighing up my options (literally weighing all the piece-priced items on the in-store scales), I opted for a red cabbage as the best balance between value and nutrient-density.

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I bought carrots for 85p, cabbage for 79p, value pasta at 29p and a not-strictly-necessary jar of value marmalade for 27p. I plan on using this last item for some baking experiments and then using the jar for some home-made preserves of some kind. It seems it’s way cheaper to buy jars this way than it would be to buy them empty, unless you’re getting tons of them.

That lot came to £2.20, so I’ve still got bus fare for a journey or two.


November ninety – day thirteen

It’s rather a nice day in Leicester. Cold, yes, but crisp and sunny. This was part of my view from work this morning.

cityscape view of west leicester

I haven’t spent anything yet today, but I could splash out £6.50 or so and stay on target, and may take a trip to the shops soon as I am nearly out of almonds, meaning my morning routine is in jeopardy. I’ve mentioned before that I am not usually hungry first thing in the morning so I soak a handful of almonds in my drink when I get in to work and by the time they start to plump up I’m ready to snack. Today’s drink was Equal Exchange brand rooibos and honeybush.

brown liquid in mug with almonds

But now I only have about ten almonds left.

almost empty almond packet

The price of the Natco almonds I’d been getting has shot up over the last year. Used to be you could get 400g from Morrisons for under £2.50, then they seemed to stop selling them but Sainsbury’s had them for around £2.56, still a good price. Last time I saw them there (while I wasn’t boycotting them!), they’d gone up to £3 a packet. Aldi do ground and flaked almonds which work out to less (60 and 62p per 100g), but don’t seem to do whole nuts. The best bulk deal I can find currently involves having to buy 800g for £5.39 (6.74 per kilo) from Co-op, so I may get those tomorrow, or I may pay one last hopeful trip to Morrisons tonight to see if the Natco ones are back in stock. Incidentally, Poundland have started doing a range of healthy/wholefoods type things, and were recently seen selling 150g brazil nuts for a pound, which seemed a bargain if you like brazil nuts! Unfortunately I’m not that keen.

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Lunch today was virtually identical to what I ate yesterday, but craftily varied in terms of form. Yestrday I had split pea thick soup with added butternut suash, a bit watered down and with toast on the side. Today I have made open-faced sandwiches of slices of toast generously covered in cold split-pea mix (having a break from the squash), with chopped peanuts on top for added texture, and fresh mint from the garden, which is a slightly odd flavour addition as coriander would go a lot better, but you work with what you’ve got!

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I also have a smoothie to which I’ve added all sorts of weird and wonderful things. It has a small apple, some oats, dried apricots, a dried fig, flax seeds, a pinch of Irish Moss (for iodine), blackstrap molasses and a handful of frozen gooseberries. It isn’t terrible, but it does taste quite worthy. I knew I should have put some chocolate in instead of gooseberries!