Friday 31 May 2019

News of a Special Challenge

From 16th to the 23rd June I will be taking part in a new to me  Challenge ... the Ration Challenge.

So called because for one week you live on the day to day rations of a refugee.  You ask for sponsorship ahead of time and whilst you are doing it, to raise important funds to buy more ration packs ... because yes, the rations I will be living on are almost identical to those that are currently being handed out to Syrian refugees but in a larger box to last a family of six people one month.

This Challenge was started back in 2014 in small way and has grown, firstly in Australia, then including New Zealand and this year the UK arm of the charity Worldwide Concern have stepped in along with the USA one, to make this a much bigger and hopefully even more successful way of raising money to fund many, many more boxes of food being delivered and distributed to the people that are desperate for it.

Here is a link to my fundraising page if you would like to find out more about the Challenge or perhaps make a donation to sponsor me.

My lovely family have really stepped up to mark in a very heartwarming way and started my fundraising off brilliantly and I am totally on board to do this now.  I really do not expect large amounts of money,  if everyone that read the blog donated just £1 each it would be an amazing result.  I hope you don't mind me asking for sponsorship on here but it's something that is very dear to me, but don't worry if you can't sponsor me I won't be offended at all and will still be delighted if you follow along my week on this amazing Challenge.

If you are interested in taking part yourself you can also sign up from a link at the bottom of my sponsorship page.  If you do decide to give it a go please let me know and I can link to your fundraising page and/or blog and together we can give this lots of publicity.

I have a bit more reading to do to get all the information properly into my head, it's all fascinating stuff.

I'll post some photos when my ration pack arrives, and of course doing this Challenge will not impact on my current Down to Basics Challenge at all, as the few things that I need to buy for myself can be 'bought' from my own cupboards ... rice, flour, salt and cumin etc.

So it's going to be another Challenge Within a Challenge!!

Sue xx

Thursday 30 May 2019

Down to Basics - Fridge Comparison Photos

Top Shelf  - 11th May

Top shelf today

I decanted the pickled onions from the large plastic jar into two glass jars.

Next two shelves - 11th May

Next two shelves today.

There's really no rush to eat the vegan cheeses as they have a brilliantly long shelf life.  

Bottom two shelves - 11th May

Bottom two shelves this morning, before I cooked the pasties.

Top fridge drawer - 11th May

Top fridge drawer today.

Bottom fridge drawer - 11th May

And bottom fridge drawer today.

The whole fridge - 11th May

The whole fridge today.

I'm really pleased with this part of the Challenge and I hope to keep my fridge with a much quicker turnover of foods going forwards from the Challenge.

Sue xx

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Down to Basics - Clearing the Fridge

Any Challenge that involves eating up your supplies of food has to begin by clearing the fresh stuff.  Making the best use you can of everything that is in a fridge or cool place.  With this in mind we have mostly been concentrating on eating up any short dated things in the fridge.  Of course if this was a Challenge of saving things or making them last for as long as possible then I would be cooking and freezing things, but this time I want to use them up not move them from one place to another.

So we have carefully been going through things in date order until today when I have pretty much finished up the last of the fresh things in a few recipes.

First I made some 'Red Pasta Sauce' using the ingredients in the photo above, and listed in this hastily scribbled recipe from last year.  Simply chop the veggies, sprinkle over the chilli flakes and a drizzle of oil and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Then whizz up in a Nutribullet or blender with enough milk to make a runny sauce.

When I'm cooking it later I'll add a teaspoon or two of Cornflour and a tablespoon of Nooch,and pour in my cooked pasta or spaghetti.

That's my tea sorted then.

Next I wanted to use up this roll of previously frozen Puff Pastry from the fridge.  I got it out of the freezer over the weekend and then forgot to use it!

I decided on a Potato, Cheese and Onion filling for some pasties using two thirds of the pastry.

And then added a couple of teaspoon of this Chilli and Onion Jam for a bit more moisture.

A blurry photo ...but this is my pasties resting in fridge.  

I'll cook them in a few minutes and will have one or two for my lunch, and then one for lunch before I head to the Van in a couple of days ... if it lasts that long  ;-)

The other third of the pastry was used to make a couple of Apple Tarts.

Simply squares of pastry with cooked apple slices on, using the last three wrinkly apples from the bottom drawer of the fridge.

I simply couldn't resist and had one warm from the oven with a cup of coffee.

So that's the last of the apples gone, we now only have tinned fruit and will make do with that before buying any fresh fruit.

I do like to see a clear fridge  😃

Sue xx

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Down to Basics - Corned Beef Hash

We've been eating our way through the contents of the fridge and the freezer and have barely touched the cupboard full of food, so this morning I had a 'blast from the past' moment and decided to use a couple of the tins that we had in there to make up a pot of Corned Beef Hash for Alan.

It was always a favourite meal of my boys when they were growing up, little did they know that their 'treat meal' was in fact Mum's way of making one tin of corned beef serve a family of four a healthy, tasty and nutritious meal.  Always served with slices of toast for dunking in the gravy and filling little tummies up.

You simply chop the onions, celery and carrot and then saute for a few minutes in a little oil, or water is fine if you have no oil.  In mine I also used a little cafe pat of butter along with the oil as I have taken to picking them up if I see them about to be thrown away in cafes, so there's usually one or two in the fridge ... I think my new super power is avoiding waste!!

While they are sauteing, mix up your gravy adding a squirt of tomato puree (or ketchup would do) and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce.  Then chop your potatoes and corned beef into bite sized pieces.  The corned beef mushes up pretty quickly anyway in the gravy so you don't have to be too precious about how you chop it, but because of this bigger chunks are better.

It will take about 25 - 30 minutes to cook.

   I always make this type of meal well ahead of time, as while it cools the flavours continue to develop and when you reheat it it will be even tastier.

Once it was cooked I portioned it up, and added a handful of frozen peas to each portion.  As I had only used one tin of potatoes this made just three portions, normally I would have added lots more potatoes to really pad out the meal, but Alan likes to have this type of meal with less potatoes and more green veg so I will be serving it with a big handful of green beans tonight ... and of course some slices of toast ... to mop up all those lovely juices.

And did you spot in this photo that I picked up on a tip I received in the comments the other week about using masking tape instead of writing on your plastic boxes or using expensive freezer labels to label the boxes that I will be popping into the freezer.  Alan found me a nice big roll when he was clearing out the shed ready for the car boot sale, so now it lives in my kitchen drawer and it works a treat.  Now Alan has some ready meals for next time I'm away ... and he can see at a glance exactly what they are.

Sue xx

Monday 27 May 2019

Down to Basics - Using It Up

I came across this on YouTube ... what a brilliant idea, especially if there are only two of you or you live alone.  A weeks worth of individual desserts or treats made at once. Of course it could also be adapted to make savoury tarts and pies.

 I wouldn't rush out and buy a special tin just to do this but instead I intend to look through my cupboards and drawers for a muffin, fairy cake or Yorkshire Pudding tin in a similar style.

I know for a fact I have a four section tin that I use for pies so I could take this idea and use it to make four completely different one person tartlets.  And at the moment while I'm in this use it up frame of mind this would be great to use up all those bits and bobs that I'm coming across in the freezer.

 I'll let you know if I make anything :-) 

Sue xx

Sunday 26 May 2019

Down to Basics - Still Not Shopping and it Feels ....

We're still not shopping and it feels ... GOOD!!.

The stores of food in the fridge, freezer and cupboards are going down a bit quicker with both of us being in this use it up mindset.  We no longer ask 'What do you fancy for tea?'  first we have a rummage through the freezer or open the cupboard and peruse the shelves and then we decide what we're going to be eating.

I am running short on some things, I think I have four Weetabix left, although there is a large box at the Van so I could bring back some after filling the jar there, so I do have options.  But in the meantime there is always porridge for breakfast.

Today I'm having two Weetabix, but yesterday's breakfast before the car boot sale was a Nutriblast using fruit from the freezer and some Spinach from the polytunnel, along with a dash of Almond Milk and some water.

It made a tasty and nutritious sludge 😉

Talking of car boot sales, I've posted about it on my other blog over here.  We did well, and oh the relief to be coming home with all that space in the back of the truck.  We are both really in the mindset of Down to Basics now and it really is feeling good.

Sue xx

Saturday 25 May 2019

Down to Basics - At the Van - Day 3

Day three was a porridgey breakfast before hitting the road to visit Mum in Manchester.  After a coffee and an hour putting the world to rights we set off for Wyevale for a spot of 'ladies who lunch' with Bella as a furry member of the gang.

She gets a LOT of attention everywhere we go and she can get terribly overwhelmed by all these giant hands trying to pet her, so I had the brainwave of grabbing a Mouse Cat Bed and popping her in it on the chair next to me.

She soon settled down at the back where no one could see her and slept peacefully all through lunch.

After another coffee back at Mum's it was time to head back to the Van with little Bella sleeping again happily in the back if the car.  She's moved up from her little zip up carrier and can now be trusted in one of the dog beds on the back seat ... of course wearing her little seatbelt to keep her safely in one place.

After the large cooked lunch I really didn't want or need much for my tea, so I decided in a bid to use up a bit more of the pesto to have toasted Cheese, Pesto and Red Onion sandwiches.  

This small loaf from the freezer was too small to go into the sandwich toaster,  so I briefly toasted the bread in the toaster and then finished the assembled sandwiches off in the frying pan.

Result = Very tasty 😀

And of course after seeing little Bella so happy in her Mouse House ... I just had to buy it for her.  My logic was that after spending absolutely no money on food for home this week, I could easily justify a little splurge.

She played happily in her new den all night while I caught up on some TV watching. 

Sue xx

Friday 24 May 2019

Down to Basics - A Days Food at the Van - Day 2

Day two at the van started with porridge, followed with a slice of toast with homemade Orange Maramlade.  It set me up well and dinnertime came and went without me even realising. 

Around 3ish I felt slightly peckish and desperately in need of some fresh air after a couple of hours spent working on my laptop, so I grabbed Bella's lead and we had a little walk round the corner to Daisy Clough nurseries.  Where, after a walk around the plants and the old orchard, we sat in the shade of the outdoor eating area and partook of a large slice of Root Cake and a large black filter coffee ... well I did ... Bella was happy people and doggy watching from under the table while I had a nice little chat with Mum on the phone.  

The slice of cake was more than enough to tide me over until a late tea a seven o'clock. 

 My tea was a collaboration between the fridge and the Tin Bath, fresh mixed leaves, some spring onions and some of my favourite cheese.

This is a creamy tasting cheese, reminiscent of a mild cheddar and as it has added B12 a good addition to a vegan diet.

 The back label.

With two brown finger rolls from the freezer it ended another day eaten just from what I already had in ... a very satisfying feeling. 

Sue xx

Thursday 23 May 2019

Down to Basics - A Days Food at the Van - 1

I've been at the van all this week, not shopping for any food at all, just seeing what the cupboard, the fridge and the freezer could offer up.

First out of the freezer was my Chia Seed loaf bought on my last visit here from Booths ... it's delicious ... eaten for breakfast over a couple of days and for a late night 'hungry moment's snack last night.

For lunch on day one I used one of the few things I brought with me from home, I travelled light this time,  a two thirds full jar of Pesto.  I had it simply with pasta, some fresh Basil leaves (something else I brought ... along with my cloth bag of potatoes and some red onions) and a good sprinkle of nooch..  There's about a third left in the jar now, I think I'll save it for a nice light tea before I leave.

My tea on day one was taken from the freezer, a much larger than expected portion of vegetable curry served with brown rice.  It was extremely filling and very tasty.

I have been out and about but haven't felt the need to shop for food at all.  If you don't browse the food shops there's no temptation to buy!

Sue xx