Saturday, 28 February 2015

End of month fridge!

This is my fridge this morning!
It contains approximately 3 pints milk, half a carton of soy milk and about the same quantity of almond milk. Also a small bottle of cat milk given to me by a friend who's cat doesn't like it!
There are 4 shop bought eggs, a small lump of cheddar, an almost empty tub of Lurpak and some Pure vegan spread. One soy vanilla yoghurt and various bits of home made jam and chutney. Four garlic cloves, a small piece of root ginger and half a tube of tomato purée. We also have half a red, green and yellow pepper, which I will add to the leftover chilli for lunch. Finally, in the larger tub, there are about three portions of lentil, chick pea and chilli soup from last night.
I have a loaf of sliced bread and about six onions elsewhere.

Any meal suggestions? ....only joking!!
Actually we're having chick pea curry tonight, which uses tinned goods and spices from the store cupboard and I'll perhaps try to make some home made GF naan. (I made GF bread last night and couldn't work out why it was so awful...I remembered this morning, that I'd forgotten to add the xanthan gum!)
Shopping tomorrow, so it will look a little more appetising when I open the fridge door tomorrow :)
At least there is absolutely no waste so Greg and whatever that other chap was called, would be very proud of me!!
Have a cracking weekend everyone :)

Friday, 27 February 2015

Yummy vegan chilli

I made this initially out of necessity due to a distinct lack of funds at the end of the month! But what started as a budget meal turned out to be a very tasty, let's-have-it-again family meal.

2 onions chopped
A splash of Oil
1 clove of garlic, diced
Half a red pepper, diced
Half a green pepper, diced
Half a yellow pepper, diced
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp oregano (dried)
1 tsp ground cumin
1tsp cinnamon
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin black beans, rinsed
1 tin lentils, rinsed
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Fry onion in oil until softened, add garlic and peppers. Fry for another minute or so, then add all the spices. Fry for another minute. Add tinned items, puree and sweet chilli sauce and approx a can of water (I rinse out the tinned tomatoes from the kettle and use this tomatoey water.) simmer on the hob until thickened - about 20 minutes. You can finish with some chopped coriander if you have any, but I didn't!

I made enough for six, but one daughter was out so we have leftovers! 

I served this with potato wedges (I'd run out of rice too by this point!!)

Mine was quite spicy so you can lessen the quantities of chilli if you like it milder!
Obviously I had all these ingredients in my store cupboard, so apart from buying the peppers at £1, I didn't spend anything else on it. I imagine you could add chopped carrots and/or celery, courgettes? I'm not known for sticking to recipes, so I tend to experiment!
Either way, it was very tasty, very low in fat, vegan, gluten free AND cheap as chips, to coin a phrase!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

What a peaceful day!

I know I've already done a post today, but I'm just reflecting on what a beautifully quiet and gentle day I've had, so I thought I'd share it with you!
I awoke to Mr D bringing me a cuppa before setting out to work. He was chuntering hugely about the mess my middle two had left downstairs last night having made themselves toast and then left everything out and indeed open to the elements!  It's mind boggling how lazy and thoughtless they can be as teenagers and yet at other times, they are delightful!! Ying and Yang I guess....
Anyway, I refused to allow his crossness to impact on my mood. I had decided that I was going to enjoy every moment of today!
Having showered, fed and cleaned out the chickens, fed the cats and popped a load of washing on, I sat down to buttery scrambled eggs on toast and a second cup of tea. As I ate my breakfast, the last of my brood left for school and college, so I knew I'd have most of the day to myself - bliss!
I've done some admin and paperwork including filling in two passport forms - one for daughter number two who is going to the States for a year in the Summer and one for me as Mr D and I have been invited on a weekend in France in April with some friends. More money out of the bank, but needs must in this case.
I managed three loads of washing today and finished all of the ironing. Then I popped out to the shop to buy soy milk, almond milk, a lettuce (I really need to get my salad boxes made!!) and a loaf of sliced bread (not much left after toast incident last night!!). Whilst at the shop, I recycled all our old batteries and posted a letter.
When I got home, I doned my apron and baked a GF, vegan, almond and apricot tea bread, which is in the oven as I write along with some potatoes so I can scoop out the flesh for tonight's pea and potato croquettes. I am feeling so serene, I have even done all of the washing up by hand to save on dishwasher tablets - we only have 4 left until Sunday!!!

Washing up drying on the side

Whilst pottering in the kitchen I have been listening to classical music. Mostly I love silence and very rarely have the TV on and generally no music either, but I heard the refrain from Simon Jeffes' 'Still life at the Penguin Café' on the TV the other day and realised I hadn't listened to it for ages, so I popped it in the CD player and smiled to myself, as it always cheers me up. You would recognize it I'm sure, particularly the piece 'Perpetuum Mobile', as it's been used on TV so often. You can find it on youtube. It was one of my late father's favourite pieces and in one of those quirks of fate, it turns out that daughter number two's best friend's aunt danced the part of the Floh or flea in the Royal Covent Garden's performance of the ballet that my Dad had seen! It truly is a small world.

If you look closely, you can see the roasted potatoes - they were small so I threaded them on skewers to stop them falling through the oven shelves! It also cooks them faster.

I'm now enjoying some piano pieces by Bach and Chopin amoung others. I find that music has a very powerful affect on my mood. What music do you listen to if any?
What a truly beautiful day. It's raining and grey outside, but I'm in a warm, clean and comfortable home with a home made cake baking in the oven, beautiful music fills the room and I don't have to answer to anyone or anything! What could be better? X

Home made handwash

I know I made soap the other month, but generally we use liquid handwash in the bathrooms. We have four dispensers including the one in the kitchen. I decided that rather than buying top ups, I would make a batch of home made liquid soap.
I had a quick look through the internet and it seemed to me that the most basic recipe included grated soap, water and essential oils. Brilliant, that's the kind of straightforward recipe I like!
First, I put 2 litres of water in a very large pan to heat up on the stove.
Meanwhile, I grated a 180g bar of cheap soap. I can't remember exactly how much it cost as I've had it a while, but it would have been in the region of £1.
I let the water boil for a while as I wasn't using bottled water. Then I added the grated soap and stirred with a wooden spoon until everything was very well incorporated and I was sure the soap had dissolved. I took it off the heat and allowed it to stand and thicken.
After a couple of hours, it was nicely thick. I have to admit, the texture was rather mucousy which was less than appealing, but I stuck with it!
I added about 15 drops of mandarin essential oil as the soap I had used was a lemon scented one. This is completely up to you. Some people don't like too much scent. I then decanted it using a jug and funnel into the soap dispensers.
This amount made enough to fill six soap dispensers. I only needed to fill two, so the rest is stored in a large jar.

Plus points?
It's very cheap!
It represents a saving of about 95p per dispenser. (Based on the liquid soap I normally use)
It works perfectly well.
You can alter the scent or have no scent at all - I like the citrusy scent of mine

Negative points?
The texture before being dispensed is weird. I would suggest not using a green soap because the ensuing
colour combined with the mucous texture, may make you heave!!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Stretching the budget

School holidays really push the budget, so by Friday, I had £45 left to buy food for the rest of the month for all six of us. Yikes! I was going to need to really put my culinary skills to the test here!
I went through the cupboards, fridge and freezer. The freezer in the shed has some fish, a bag of peas and a bag of ice leftover from a party two years ago!! - not much use to me in this household! Undeterred, I worked out a menu, which would use every last scrap of food in the house and off I went with my shopping list. I spent £36.03. Now bearing in mind this is for 8 evening meals for six people, that's not bad! This also covers breakfasts and some lunches.

Sad looking contents of my purse! 

On the menu?
  • Friday: home made pizzas (I already had everything for this except some peppers, which cost £1)
  • Saturday: spaghetti in a 'creamy sauce' (I used the last of the mascarpone leftover from a meal earlier in the week, garlic, some frozen peas from the shed deepfreeze and a handful of rocket)
  • Sunday: pancakes (I know, it was last Tuesday, but we were away and it saved cooking a roast AND was much cheaper!). I also baked some 'chewy cake' which I will post about later.
  • Monday: roasted vegetable salad (amazing how roasting sad, slightly shrivelled root veg, can turn them into something delicious!)
  • Tuesday: vegetable curry and rice (I'm using the second half of the Jamie Oliver curry sauce made the other week and frozen)
  • Wednesday: black bean and lentil chilli and potato wedges
  • Thursday: curried pea and potato croquettes with salad
  • Friday: red lentil, chick pea and chilli soup and home made bread
  • Saturday: chick pea curry and rice

I have some small change left over to pop out and buy salad stuff and any bits I run out of this week, so if I'm really careful, that should just tide me over! I like the challenge actually and have spent a long time researching cheap vegan meals I can adapt for March too. I guess the draw back with my tight budget is that I never seem to have the opportunity to stock pile. I know some of you have impressive stocks, but anything that I had is being used up.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Changes for the good

It's been six months now, since I started my new lifestyle so it seems appropriate to reflect on how my life has changed. If nothing else, it will provide an excellent benchmark for me to look back on.

Mostly I have gained:-
My health is considerably better
I have lost some weight
My sanity is mostly restored!
I am much more resilient to enable me to deal with the stresses and strains of life
It's been liberating not shopping so often, but also being able to go into a shop and not want anything
I have had much more time for me
I have had the opportunity to try new crafts and be creative
I'm a nicer person to be around
I'm more in control of the house and finances
I have spent a lot less money - I really enjoy having a cash budget! 
I am much more aware of the benefits of frugality, both for me and mine, but also for the planet as a whole
I have made bread again and yoghurt for the first time
I'm baking again
I am leading a greener lifestyle
I'm proud of my achievements so far
I have been encouraged to try new skills and experiment

I could probably go on as the benefits are innumerable, but I won't list them all!

The things I miss?
There's very little actually, but I'd did feel a little sad the other day whilst strolling around the quaint shops in Howarth, that I might have liked to have bought myself something hand crafted. On reflection, I probably should have, because it brought me joy each time I saw this little pottery bird in the window and it was hand made and gorgeous, but it's a good lesson and next time I might act differently. I certainly DON'T miss mindless spending! 

The next stage will be to increase our self sufficiency by growing more of our own food and introduce more savings on water and power. I think I may get two more chickens to keep me provided with enough eggs. We need to work on building our pot of savings so I may need to be more inventive in ways of shaving off excess spending!! It seems that every month, we seem to have unexpected hefty expenditure which decreases the amount I can squirrel away!! I will persevere though because, as they say, every little helps!
If anyone has any tips, they would be gratefully received! 

Monday, 23 February 2015

A new home for my feathered ladies

After a few hours of effort in the garden, the ladies have a smart new run. I say 'new', actually it was the same run they had already been living in, just completely dismantled and rebuilt in a new way! I'm really pleased with it. It hasn't cost us a penny more and, despite actually having a smaller footprint, it affords them a more spacious area to trot around in. In fact there's definitely enough space for me to get a couple more ladies in the spring :)
They've got logs and a plank to run around on, the bird bath is in there because they seem to prefer drinking rain water and I also have some space around the edges, very fertile now having been inside the run beforehand, to grow some plants! It still needs a bit of tarting up, but all in all, it's a good start to 'Project Garden'. Quite frankly, the whole garden needs 'tarting up'!
Next steps are to clear the chaos caused by my escapee and prepare for planting all the yummy veg I want to try. Exciting, eh?

The run as it was, with an inner run and more temporary outer area, from which Rosemary kept escaping

Mr D hard at work

Part way though the rebuild

The finished run. As you can see, we've re sited the coop to the side which makes cleaning easier. We do have a rain cover, which we may add a little later, but by this point I was beginning to get frostbite in my extremities!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Right that's it ....!

Rosemary has escaped for the last time! Don't worry, I'm not about to roast her for Sunday lunch (even if I have threatened her with it!), but I have had enough of her escaping from the run and marauding around my garden. If I ever want to be able to grow our own fruit and veg, she is going to have to be better contained.
So today, Mr D and I went out there, dismantled their existing run and are now in the process of rebuilding a new, sturdier and hopefully escape proof run for them. My aim is to achieve this without spending a penny more. So far, we have re purposed a couple of lengths of decking and some old fence toppers to make a bottom board and posts to add an extra few inches of height. Their run now resembles a mud bath (I was very glad a of my wellies!), but we have made good progress and should manage to finish it off tomorrow if the weather is kind. I'll post some photos tomorrow if we get it achieved. Funnily enough, if we get it done tomorrow, it will be pretty much exactly what I was aiming for when I first got the chickens, but I was persuaded down a different route.
Four hours spent in the garden today should mean I can plant in peace later in the year!
Mind you I had to come in because the cold had sunk into my bones by that point and once my teeth started chattering, I realised I had achieved as much as I was going to out there today. Roll on some warmth and sunshine so I can crack on with my master plan in the garden!! I'm now snuggled up with a hot water bottle to bring some life back to my hands! If anyone has any suggestions for good working gloves that keep your hands warm whilst allowing you to be able to pick up screws, please let me know - mine are rubbish!

Friday, 20 February 2015

All socialised out!

It's half term week so we've been socialising a lot more than usual. I have to say, I'm ready for a bit of quiet time now!! Perhaps I'm getting too old, but we've had 4 meals cooked for us both and Mr D cooked the other two nights and one large meal cooked by me for friends. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining and it's been lovely not to have to think about what I'm going to cook, BUT many of these meals have been accompanied by wine (and limoncello in some cases). I now feel I need to step away from the excesses and return to my glass of water and simple fayre.
It must be part of human nature to want what you haven't the normal scheme of things, I live quite a solitary lifestyle much of the time, drink more water than wine and eat mostly vegetables and pulses. Sometimes during these times, I think it would be nice to socialise more with all that that entails. I get my wish, and hey presto, before long, I'm longing to get back to my simpler lifestyle. How perverse am I?!
So, thank you to all those who have cooked for me and provided me with a wonderful 'fix' of social time, but I'm crawling back into my rabbit hole now for a nice rest! X

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Howarth, Brontë country.

Sorry for the lack of blog yesterday. I was up visiting Mr D's family. We had a lovely time. The sun shone on us and as ever, there was a very generous quantity of food, drink and excellent company.

Yesterday, we went up over the moors from Lancashire into Yorkshire. With the sun blessing the moorland, it was just breathtaking! I saw quite a number of run down, stone barns, just ripe for development!! I am sorely tempted, but then I have to remember the harshness of the winters and it reigns me in a bit!

We ended up in Howarth, home to the Brontë family. I add the photographs, courtesy of my husbands cousin, who a) has a super duper camera and b) takes much better photos than me!!

The cobbled street leading up to the church and parsonage.

A fascinating shop selling old fashioned bath salts and soaps and 1940s style ladies fashion!

The parsonage where the Brontë family lived

The church where the Brontë sisters' father was parson.

The view over the moors that inspired the sisters' writing

You can almost imagine Heathcliffe coming across the hill on horseback.......

Howarth was beautiful and well worth a visit if you haven't already had the pleasure. We also stopped off briefly in Hebden Bridge on the way back - lots and lots of eateries and quirky shops and a very nice little craft centre. We always love going up to visit, not just for the excellent welcome we receive, but also for the wonderful scenery and the sheer enormity of sky!! Suburban Surrey doesn't afford such panoramic views!!  One day I will have my view .........

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Home made soap

My children bought me a Kirstie Allsop soap making kit for Christmas, which I made a few weeks ago. It was really easy to do which is always a good thing - sometimes kits don't have good instructions with them. The one thing I would say is that the mould is a little flimsy, so I didn't get the soap mixture packed in as evenly as I would have liked, meaning that the end bars don't look quite so neat. However, I now have 11 bars of soap, all of which smell divine (lemongrass and lavender) and leave your skin feeling really soft and not at all dry. I also know there are no hidden chemicals in there. I would definitely make soap again and perhaps experiment with different aromas. They would have made fantastic teachers gifts, but as mine are all in Secondary now, they don't do gifts.
I have kept two bars for us and wrapped the others to give as gifts. To wrap them, I used handmade paper and ribbon. I looked at making my own paper as I remember doing it at school, but then I found a pack of 10 sheets for £1 in a charity shop. As I'm tearing each sheet in half, I've got more than enough! The ribbon is recycled from other wrapping, so no cost there either.

I think they look quite sweet, don't you? They certainly look artisan with their uneven shapes!

Mr D and I are off to visit his cousin this week, so I'm taking a button heart and a wrapped soap rather than flowers. It would have been 'coals to Newcastle' anyway, as she is a florist!

Ps. Talking of home made. I thought if let you know that I finished my first 'bottle' of home made laundry liquid yesterday. That's not bad seeing as I started using it on January 5 - there are 6 of us, so I do up to 10 washes a week with towels and bedding. I still have another 4 litre bottle to use before I need to make another batch. I have been very pleased with the results so far. I think possibly, over time, that the whites may need a boost, as obviously it doesn't contain any bleaching products like a commercial laundry product would, but other than that I am very satisfied with my 1p a wash, home made liquid! 

Monday, 16 February 2015

My brood's books - part two of two

Of course most of the books that my youngest daughter now has, have previously belonged to the others! We seem to play a never ending game of moving books from one room to another. I was fairly ruthless when I cleared out her room and gave loads to charity, but I kept the books which had originally been mine, like the Flower Fairy sets and Beatrix Potter. I like the idea of sharing them with my grandchildren as and when I get any!

Daughter number one has limited space having had to cram her uni life back into her teenage bedroom for the time being, so it's all a bit busy!

Daughter number two passed on many of hers to her younger sister a couple of years ago to free up space in her room.

Wonky shelves!

My son LOVES reading and has many many box sets - more than I can possibly photograph - they are stacked in a old kitchen cabinet - three rows deep in some cases, balanced on top of his wardrobe. Poor soul - his room is small but perfectly formed! He has now become a film buff too so we'll need to investigate DVD storage for him! 

Youngest daughter had a room revamp so is probably the tidiest at the moment. Here are a few of hers...

There really are some brilliant books out there for children and young adults. Far more than I ever had. I am very happy that my children have all enjoyed reading and appreciate books.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Book shelves (part one of two)

I have really enjoyed looking at people's book collections recently on their blogs, so I thought I'd do a couple of posts from my bookshelves. Today - my books and Mr D's and tomorrow a brief look at other books around the house!
Looking at the photos, I realised a) my shelves are chaotic and messy b) it's a REALLY eclectic mix of books showing various interests from the last 20 odd years of a life shared and c) there are some slightly uncomfortable choices in there - please don't judge!! X

These are along the window sill - I ran out of space on the shelves, surprise, surprise!

In the kitchen, it's almost entirely cookery books and a few lifestyle. My most recent book is Rhonda Hetzel's book from the Down to Earth blog. I have read this book three times already from cover to cover, it's so interesting.

I have no idea why there is a small furry thingy on this shelf! 

I tried to have a rule of one book in and one out - BIG FAIL! I find it very hard to pass books on.....

In the lounge, we built some shelves into the alcove many years ago, and these house mostly reference books and my husband's sportsman autobiographies. Again, there are some books up there I never look at, but they would have been expensive gifts in their day. Perhaps when we move.....? The bottom shelf has photo albums. Many many years ago, my husband had to have an operation and to keep himself busy whilst he recuperated, he logged our life in these albums, from the time we first met, right through five albums to the point when my youngest was born. They're brilliant to look at, but stupidly we haven't continued them .... I guess we just don't print off photos in the same way these days.

The bookcase, the other side of the fireplace houses mostly fiction and the overspill from the DVD shelf. Too many books on the second shelf, so I've had to go double thickness again! We watch a lot of films in this house and have built up a huge collection of DVDs. Again I have tried to slim these down, but have met with so much resistance from the tribe, I've just given up and stacked them!! The baskets on the bottom shelf contain Wii controllers etc.

At the top of the stairs, there is a small bookcase. Probably the most mixed of the whole house. On here, there are books from my student days (I studied French and German). I can tell you now, I will never pick up Bertolt Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle and read it in German ever again and yet ... there it is on the shelf. I have so many, they are double thickness......I know, I need help here!
I also have some books from various 'dreams' I've had over the years - moving to France, opening a b&b etc...
On the bottom shelf are the children's books, which were mine and have been passed on to my children, but they have so many of their own books, that they've come back out of their rooms again, so I've crammed them in a chaotic fashion on this shelf. Displaying this photo makes me painfully aware of how awkward they look, displayed like this!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Peanut butter and granola bars

Another recipe from my Vegan and Gluten free Baking book at a request from Mother Noah. These are truly delicious, but beware.....they are very moreish!

Vegan and GF margarine for greasing
100g crunchy peanut butter
30g brown sugar (I used soft brown)
2 tbsp golden syrup
450g GF granola (i only had 415g as I was using up what I had - it was fine!)

  • Preheat oven to 189c.
  • Grease an 18 by 25cm shallow baking tin and line with parchment allowing it to overlap at the sides to enable lifting the bars out later.
  • Cream the peanut butter, sugar and golden syrup together in a large bowl. I used a wooden spoon, but you could use a mixer I guess.
  • Stir in the granola and mix very well to coat the granola - this is quite hard work!!
  • Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the tin.
  • Bake in the oven for about 25 mins until golden brown.
  • Lift it out in the parchment and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  • Cut into bars. The recipe said 12, but I made 16. 

TIP- I gathered the crumbs that had collected when I cut the bars and sprinkled them on a vanilla soy yoghurt as my pudding - delicious! Apparently they were also yummy stirred into GF porridge made with soy milk. I suspect they'd be good added to a crumble topping or mixed into apple could even top the bars with vegan GF chocolate? Sorry! I'm getting carried away...ENJOY!

When the cupboard is bare

I know it's only half way through February, but already I'm thinking of stretching the budget! Is that a bad sign, I wonder? .........

What do you make, when it's near the end of the month, the budget is nearing an end and there's very little left in the fridge? You still have mouths to feed and they want proper food!

Photo from google images.

My 'go-to' budget recipes are :-

 * Soup - served with home made bread. Any kind, but especially curried vegetable - using up any remnants of root veg, softening in vegetable stock and adding some curry powder before blitzing in the liquidiser.  I also make a version of Cranks tomato and lentil soup - Soften an onion and some garlic with a pinch of dried herbs. Add a tin of tomatoes, some tomato puree and vegetable stock with a 1tsp of marmite, then add red lentils and simmer until the lentils are soft. Lovely served with grated cheese on top!
* Beans - I make bean casseroles with tinned beans of any shape, onion/garlic/herbs/spices and any fresh veg I have left over - peppers, frozen peas, beans or sweetcorn, diced carrot etc. This is good served over a jacket potato or indeed with grated cheese on top. If I have ever been unwell, this is what I crave - hot, in a bowl, curled up on the settee......
 * Risotto - I always have risotto rice in the cupboard. It makes an excellent quick meal for all six of us. Sometimes I add puree frozen peas, sometimes tomato and basil, sometimes diced mixed vegetables, sometimes just white wine and herbs. In the past, I would have added grated cheese, now I use nutritional yeast instead.
 * Pakoras - mix one cup of gram (chickpea) flour with ground cumin and coriander and water to make a runny batter, the consistency of single cream. Stir in frozen peas, sweetcorn or small florets of cauliflower or broccoli. Fry in spoonfuls in a drizzle of hot oil to make pakoras. This amount makes about 20 small pakoras. I serve mine with raita, red onion relish and mango chutney, but they are basically street food so can just be eaten as they are! I reckon they'd also be nice wrapped in a crisp lettuce leaf, but have yet to try this. They can also be frozen.

What cheap, store cupboard meals do you use, to make the most of any leftovers, when the money is tight at the end of the month?

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Who needs a takeaway?

In the past when I was working full time and I had very little spare time, a whole load of stress and more disposable income, we wouldn't think twice about having a takeaway. It always seemed a great idea at the time, but somehow they were always a little disappointing - expensive, slightly greasy, too salty, poor flavour or once even, undercooked !!!
These days takeaways are off the menu for a whole variety of reasons - none of them are gluten free, few would be vegan, they are ALL ridiculously expensive!
So, it remains to me to be a little inventive in the kitchen to ensure that we don't feel we're missing out......

Vegetable curry, raita with soy yoghurt, red onion relish and the ubiquitous mango chutney. This was a Jamie Oliver curry recipe and was delicious! I made his curry base sauce and froze half.

A rather large pile of home fried poppadums. They make the house smell of frying which I'm not that keen on, but they really do taste so much more authentic when cooked at home.


Vegetable pad thai


One vegetarian and one with a cheeky bit of chorizo on top! 


Sweet potato and sweetcorn burger and homemade thin cut chips

Who needs a takeaway when you can feed a family of six for pence rather than pounds, know exactly what has gone into what you are eating and it tastes so much better home-made!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

DIY chez moi

After the recent hall, stairs and landing redecoration, we needed to put our family photo wall back up. I decided to put them a little higher up the wall this time, to make way for some more frames lower down. However, I soon realised that there was a flaw in my plan ..... I couldn't reach to put the top ones back. I did try, but when I nearly fell down the stairs and I was alone at home, I could envisage how cross Mr D would be at my stupidity, so I waited until he got home.
Even then, it wasn't easy! I'm sure this method would break pretty much every health and safety rule in the book, but we a) got the pictures back up and b) caused some hilarity amongst our offspring!!
Probably as case of "Don't try this at home!" ...

There are photos of seven generations of my family on this wall! I love the old formal photos so much. I've been fortunate enough to be able to trace the family history back nine generations (from my children) on my father's side, but still need to put it all together in a properly presentable format. My grandmother was one of 14 children, some of whom died very young and she was just shy of 104 when she passed away eighteen years ago. Her daughter (my aunt) is still alive and kicking at 91 and has lived in the same Victorian terrace house since she was 9 years old! We all love going to visit her - best tea ever, made with proper leaves and served in China cups. You can't beat her tea and cakes of an afternoon x 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Getting to grips with veganism

As I mentioned, I'm giving Jamie Oliver a try this week. So far, so good - he hasn't disappointed!
Last night's meal was vegan mac 'n' cheese (obviously gluten free too).

Quite simple and straightforward to make, so I was feeling perfectly confident as I brought it out of the oven and carried it across to the table. Then Daughter number one says "That's brave! Macaroni cheese is the holy grail of vegan cooking - it's the one thing all vegans seek to conquer!" Hecky thump! My confidence started to wain away pretty quickly....
However, apart from the fact that next time I'd have more sauce, it was a great success with everyone going in for seconds and daughters 2 and 3 even going for a third helping! VERY unusually for me, I added some ketchup - not normally my style at all, but it went very well with it. I also served it with a large mixed green salad.

It was also the first outing for my new lasagne dish - £10 from Tesco. My previous one had developed an alarming crack and despite trying several thrift shops, I couldn't find a second hand one big enough for the six of us.

My vegan, gluten free bake this week - peanut butter granola bars. OMG - these are dangerously moreish!! I had the crumbs left over from cutting them into bars, mixed in some yoghurt - delicious!! Obviously you need to like peanut butter (which two of mine don't) but for those of us who are fans, these couldn't get much better!! Will definitely make these again.