Day 1 – breakfast and lunch

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.

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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.

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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.

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The last day! November ninety – day thirty

I’m celebrating the last day of my spending challenge with split-pea soup and a spend of zero so far today. I’ll be going out later, but only to someone’s house.

I hadn’t cooked any split peas recently as it took rather a long time to get through the previous batch. What I really fancied was lentil soup, but have no lentils, so split-pea was the next best thing. I hadn’t soaked any, but I thought of a way around this – I’ve seen a few recipes for quick soups using bean flour. While I do have a dry container for the Vitamix it seemed a bit of a faff to get that dirty to make some flour, and I’d probably have to make more flour than I could use in one go in order to get it to blend properly, so instead I put about half a cup of dried peas into the normal blender  container with two or so cups of water and whizzed them up with a chilli pepper, garlic and some spices.

You may recall that back in September I bought ten kilos of onions? Well, they’re finally at an end! The last one got fried up in a tiny bit of oil, then I added the blended pea mix and some bouillon powder. Once the soup heated up it got incrediby thick! I ended up adding more water. I also added some potato and rainbow chard mix found in back of the freezer leftover from the summer when I was getting a veg box delivery. The potatoes didn’t like being frozen much, they went a bit lumpy, but overall the mix added a bit more interest to the soup.

To serve, I topped it with some pickled summer squash and onions my mum made in 2011. She found them at the back of her cupboards earlier this year and was a bit dubious about them but they’re in a good strong vinegar solution and still perfect for livening up meals! I also made a very simple flatbread with self-raising flour, water and bouillon powder cooked in a pan greased with just a trace of olive oil.

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To wash it down I had a smoothie made from dried apricots, frozen redcurrants, apples and gooseberries and a tablespoon of flaxseeds, diluted with water.

I’m fairly pleased with that meal. It covers most of my nutritional needs and it tasted pretty good and left me feeling full but not like I’d ruined the diet. I’m still looking forward to something deep fried tomorrow though!

 


Starting the split peas (November ninety, day 12)

After quailing at the task of making 2 kg of yellow dried split peas taste delicious, I have made a pretty good start and am quite pleased with the results so far.

I soaked about 500g/just over 1lb dried split peas yesterday for a few hours then heated them up to boiling point for a few minutes before following my now routine method for cooking this kind of thing – i.e. putting on a lid, turning off the heat and leaving them to soften using the residual heat. After fifty minutes they were stil quite firm, but I correctly assumed that since they’d either be heated up again, or blended, they were done enough.

I also processed the remains of the first butternut squash as it had been cut open for a few days and I didn’t know how much longer it would last. That was simply cut into slices then peeled with a potato peeler, cut into cubes and added to a pan of sautéed onion with a splash of water and some bouillon powder. I thought this could be used in a few different ways, including maybe a savoury pumpkin-pie-type-thing. 

Today’s lunch has been an amalgamation of both of these components. I fried up another onion with a couple of teaspoons of punch pooran spice mix, added half the cooked split peas, water just to cover then brought to the boil with a stock cube. I put my last remaining can of tomatoes in the blender, along with the final red chilli, a clove of garlic, some ginger powder, then I added about 1/3 cup peanuts and half the split-pea mixture, whizzed it all up (had to add some water), returned to the pan, added some diced potatoes, brought back up to simmering point and cooked until the potatoes were done. I didn’t want to add all the squash mix to the soup mix, because there was a large amount of each, and added together would probably be six or more servings, which would get boring after a while, so I just heated up a ladleful of squash mix with a bit of water in a small pan, then added a ladleful of soup to that once the potatoes were done. Garnished with fresh mint from the garden and with some toast on the side, this was a very satisfying and tasty lunch. So, the secret to cooking with split peas seems to be just throw a bunch of highly-flavoured stuff into the pot and keep going until it masks the pea taste! 😉

Spend for the month now stands at £32.46, as I bought a lemon for 25p at the market earlier today. I plan to use this with the rest of the split peas and the last cloves of garlic to make hummus-alike.