Thursday 30 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 36 - A Lesson in Procrastination

I've been cleaning out the fridge ... since Monday!!

It needed a good clean, I've obviously wiped it out lots and lots of times in the six years we've had it.  Washed individual shelves in soapy water as and when they've needed it etc, but never the whole fridge ... over the course of three yes THREE days.

I did the door in one fell swoop, well taking a break for lunch while the three removable door shelves dried on top of the Aga ... luckily not melting πŸ˜„

I put everything back in the shelves and closed the door.

Monday saw me doing the top shelf.  

Moving everything down to shelves things fitted on, checking dates and sniffing jars as I did.  Even asking Alan to taste the two bottles of cider that were at the back ... he had thrown away the one that had been in the fridge door on Sunday night after valiantly trying to drink it.  

Not all homebrew is good homebrew!!

A quick taste and  'nope, throw them away too'  was the response.  Two years they have been cluttering up my fridge!!

So many !!!!!!s

The inside area was wiped out and the shelf left to completely dry on top of the Aga after a good wash, dry and polish with a clean tea towel.

Then it was put back inside and everything that was good was replaced.

I did the next two shelves in one manic fell swoop on Tuesday.

And then good intentions were gone, and a phone call was the perfect excuse to down tools and give up for the day.

I took a day off on Wednesday, the workload was so great πŸ˜‰

Will I get the remaining two shelves and two drawers done today?  Who knows, there is lots of time ... and of course the longer I leave it the more we will have eaten and the less there will be on the shelves and in the drawers to have to move around.

This has been  Sue's Lesson in Procrastination During Lockdown.

Sue xx

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 35 - Crumble Mix - mostly in photos ...

Finding that bag of flour in the Co-op the other day made me so happy.  

So happy in fact that I decided I would use some of my previously rationed half jar of plain flour and half jar of brown flour to make myself up a bath of Crumble Mix to keep in the freezer.

500g Plain White and Brown flours mixed together.

Half the weight in spread.

A bit less than half the weight in brown sugar.

I had more brown sugars than white sugar so this was my choice.

Rubbed the fat into the flour until it resembled breadcrumbs, then tipped in the sugar and stirred.

Added some oats to the portion of the crumble mix I want to use tonight to make a rhubarb crumble.

Filled one tub with Crumble Mix and labelled it ready to go into the freezer, didn't label the one I'm using tonight, because I'll remember ... won't I !!

Decided to use some of the remaining mix to make some 'scones'.  

I say scones loosely because obviously the mix was made with plain flour, as one of our girls had presented us with a surprise egg the other day I decided to add it along with a little bit of almond milk as a raising agent.  Adding an egg to this type of mix makes for lovely crumbly scones.

Which are gorgeous with butter but as soon as I tasted the lovely nuttiness of the brown flour I knew they would taste even better with some Rhubarb and Ginger Jam from the jam cupboard.

Yes ... that jam really is dated September 2015  🀣

And they did taste absolutely delicious!

Sue xx

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 34 - Quick Shop

Just when we were toying with the idea of putting off the shopping for another day as the milk rationing was working well, Suky's slightly runny eye over the last couple of days got much worse and she started to seem really off colour.

A trip to the Vets was quickly arranged and with clever social distancing everything has been sorted out.  She is on antibiotics and eye creams to try and halt a bad eye ulcer, with a follow up visit destined for Thursday. 

Anyhoo ... we decided while we were out we would carry on into Llanrwst and visit the Co-op for milk and bread.  I'm glad we did it was deserted, completely unexpected for 11am on a Monday morning.  I picked up a four pinter of milk, a sliced seeded loaf and two packets of buns along with the above pictured Co-op Frozen Meal Deal.  I thought it good value for £5, it's all things we will eat and a delicious treat for Alan who had finished the last of his ice-cream over the weekend.

I also found this!!

There were a few on the shelves, but I was good and left the others to hopefully be shared out among people who need it more than I need a stash.  Hopefully the country's flour situation will start to improve soon.  Seemingly it is out there just in industrial sized bags not our little 1.5kg sized ones.

We also rather naughtily took Mavis out with us, it would have been too cruel to leave her at home on her own, taking Suky out in the car and not her ... so she came along for the ride.  Alan took her for a mini walk while I waited for the Vet to bring Suky back out to the car park, and then while I was in the Co-op he strolled quietly around the distant bushy edges of the car park with them both on short leads.  It seems to have settled her a little bit she was starting to go stir crazy.

Sue xx

Monday 27 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 33 - Keeping It Simple

Some days you just want to keep it simple don't you.

After just three wonderful weeks of Van Life I have now had five full weeks at home in Wales, this is now going into the sixth week.  Five weeks of providing two meals a day, each day and every day.   Trying my best to keep it different and as tasty as possible using up what we had in store alongside the bits of shopping we have picked up on our three outings to supermarkets.

 Thirty Five mostly different meals ... it's no wonder I'm starting to feel all cooked out!!

These dishes above show last nights meal, I kept it simple for me and used the last of the hummus on a couple of baked potatoes along with copious amounts of spread and a sprinkling of cheese, it really was all I fancied.  Alan's dish was just awaiting a steak he had in the oven, to go with his round of cranberry cheese and beetroot.  

We each tend have the things we enjoy, and as you can see Alan enjoys a few salted peanuts on his salad πŸ˜„

The fridge is now pretty depleted, and I feel we will have to go and get some shopping in the next day or so.  Our main indicator of us needing shopping is Alan's milk.  Luckily the skimmed milk he uses in his drinks and on his cereals always has long dates on and lasts really well even past the Use By date on the bottle, so we have managed to do just once a fortnight shopping trips.

Sue xx

Sunday 26 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 32 - Couscous

When I couldn't get hold of any pasta ... during that mad rush with everyone panic buying and stripping the shelves of every supermarket ... I did manage to get a nice big bag of  Couscous.

I'd forgotten how much I like it and how simple it is to cook.  So much quicker than rice or pasta and just as tasty and nutritious as a base for mopping up all those lovely juices you get in a curry or stew. 

 I don't follow the advice on the packet to put it into a pan bring it to the boil and simmer etc etc.  I simply pour the amount I need into a bowl, add any flavouring ... such as spices, stock powder or just salt and pepper ...  then pour over boiling water to about a centimetre or so above the level of the couscous.  Put a plate on top of the bowl to act as a lid and leave it sitting in a warm place for ten or so minutes.  Then I fluff it up with a fork and it's good to go.  This was always the way to cook couscous ... I don't know when things changed!!

Anyway I used up all the Cous Cous in my large jar and then topped it up yesterday with my new bag.  Although I don't think this jarful will last us as long now that I have rediscovered my love of this lovely nutty grain.

Sue xx

Saturday 25 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 31 - Coconut Curry

I decided to try and recreate the Deliciously Ella Yellow Thai Curry that we had a couple of weeks ago.  It was delicious, and yes, we will keep a couple of them in the freezer for 'emergency meals' but for day to day eating I wanted something quite a bit cheaper but just as tasty.  A sort of Dhal version, but with the same coconutty taste.

Using the ingredients in the photo above I set too.  

Gently sautΓ©ing the onions for ten minutes to develop the flavour, then adding a good heaped teaspoon or two of Cumin.  After another couple of minutes I added the now quartered cherry tomatoes and then tipped in a couple of handfuls of rinsed Red Lentils.  These were stirred in the now spicy onions for a minute and then I tipped in the can of Coconut Milk along with a couple of tablespoons of desiccated coconut.

Finally I filled the coconut milk can with water from the kettle and tipped that in too.  It was quickly brought to a boil and then left simmering for around half an hour for the lentils to soften and absorb all that lovely coconutty goodness.

It might not have been this ...

... but it tasted beautiful.

There was enough for a portion each with rice and garlic bread one night.

And then another good sized portion to go on our picky plates the night after.

All from such cheap and simple ingredients.

Quality ready meals have their place and when I find them I will never be ashamed to splash out and have them on standby, but it is nice to be able to recreate a cheaper but still as healthy version for yourself.

And next time I might double up the recipe and see if my version freezes well too.

Sue xx

Friday 24 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 30 ... I had to go and check - Circles and Blobs

Remember this photo?

The cut out circles of puff pastry used for pie tops.  After cutting them out I rolled the holey pastry back up just as it was, slid it back into the box and put it back into the fridge.

I knew I would use it for something else, I just didn't know what.

Then the other day I had some leftover mash that really needed using up.

Ironic considering I have just treated myself to some new large cutters with my birthday money but I decided in the interests of economy to simply ball up the pastry and roll it out to a 'shape' and use every last little bit to make a giant pasty/pie thing.

So I added some sliced red onion, some grated cheese and some red onion chutney to the mashed potato and made a blob in the bottom of one of my cereal bowls.  I then rolled out the pastry so that it would be able to wrap completely around my blob ... and tipped it into the middle of my pastry.

And it worked a treat ... but it was HUGE!!

Alan said ... "you need to show the scale of this thing!!."  

So I put my large knife and fork next to it, and it's on one of our larger plates.  The cup has a small amount of made up Bisto gravy ready for drenching, not the dregs of my coffee πŸ˜„

It was tasty, perhaps a little bit too sweet for me with the added chutney.  I'll miss that out if I make this again.  But the pastry was a lovely cross between puff and shortcrust, because it had been balled and then rolled out again.

Nothing wasted and a full tummy gained, can't be bad.

Sue xx

Thursday 23 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 29 - Meat and Soya

When we went to Tesco last weekend Alan was like a big kid in a sweetie shop.  After no shopping for ages he went a bit wild in the meat aisle.  Which I hadn't really cottoned onto until I got home and started putting it away into the fridge.  That's what happens when you leave your man in the meat aisle with the trolley!!

The next day I decided it was silly to leave all the meat packaged as it was ,just in the fridge so I chose some of his packs to get out and split into more manageable portion sizes that I could then put into the freezer.

The Chicken Wings were simply tipped into a larger bag so that I could spread them out in a nice single layer, so that they would freeze individually and Alan could pick out just a few to have with a salad or something similar, rather than munching his way through the full pack ... which he would have done if he had found them going out of date in the fridge.

The pork chops were simply individually wrapped in some Easy Leave and then bagged up.  The ham slices were wrapped in portions of four slices each ... but the pork belly pieces went back into the fridge as I think once they cook down it will only be one portion, a large portion perhaps but just one Alan sized portion.

After all that meat handling we just had a couple of these each for our lunch, I simply couldn't have faced anything else.  Although I am finding that I am developing a bit of a Soya intolerance, it's only mild at the moment but I am going to be careful how many products I eat with it in so I can see if things improve.

Sue xx

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 28 - Pineapple Upside Down Cake

It was perhaps the end of an era yesterday.  

We had two eggs left in the fridge, the last ones laid by our girls a couple of weeks ago, there have been none since.  It would seem they are completely into a well earned retirement now, something I'm very happy about ... for their sakes.

I decided something special had to be done to make this ending of our egg producing years.  So I decided on a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, as I thought I had a can of pineapple rings in the cupboard.

I decided on the simplest of simple recipes, just matching the weight of the eggs to the other ingredients of flour, margarine and caster sugar.

As my eggs had weighed in at 111g (see the top photograph) ... a somehow very satisfying number ... it made it easy to keep adding the other ingredients to the bowl without zeroing it each time.

Once I had weighed out everything else the eggs were cracked into the bowl along with a dash of vanilla extract.

I went to get the Pineapple Rings out of the cupboard ... it turned out they were in fact pineapple chunks!!  Oh well it was time to get artfully creative with the chunks and a few glace cherries.

Looking at the tub that I tipped the leftover chunks into it's amazing I know any of what I have in stock  🀣🀣

After 25 or so minutes in the oven the cake came out like this, nice and pale just the way I like them.  Remember if you do the skewer test to check if your cake is cooked to put the skewer in at an angle otherwise you may stab a pineapple ring/chunk and get a false moist reading.

After leaving the cake to cool slightly in the tin for five or so minutes I carefully turned it over to reveal my pineapple and cherry artwork.

We ate this over two nights, the first night with ice-cream and the second with custard.

The end of an era ...and what a tasty way to celebrate it.

Sue xx

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 27 - Red Sauce/Green Sauce

My two favourite pasta sauces, on the days when I want to actually cook a sauce rather than just smother pasta with a jar of ready made pesto, are Red Sauce and Green Sauce.

So really the same as the two main pestos I eat in colour, but certainly not in taste.

My Red Sauce is made from red onions, red peppers and red tomatoes with an occasional white onion thrown in for an added nuance of flavour ... and of course lots of lovely garlic.  The garlic gets roasted along with everything else but left to cook in it's skin to go all unctuous and tasty.  To the vegetables I add a good splash of olive oil, some black pepper and a sprinkle of mixed herbs and usually a large sprig of Rosemary from the old tin bath outside the back door.  Then the whole lot is simply slid into the oven uncovered for around 40 minutes.

Once the vegetables are soft the garlic is fished out and squeezed from it's skin, and then everything is tipped into my Nutribullet or blender.  I add a good splash of plant based milk, or cream if I have it, and everything is whizzed up to form the most gloriously coloured and tasty pasta sauce.

Tea for tonight.

All I do when I want to use it is pour it back into the original cooking dish, tip in a few handfuls of some penne pasta or spaghetti and let the pasta cook in the sauce.  Sometimes it's necessary to add some more water as the sauce thickens up in the fridge if it's been waiting a few hours, or even days to be used.  I usually add a green vegetable for a pop of colour, some broccoli or maybe just garden peas and then once it's all cooked we dish up with a sprinkle of cheese.  Alan likes Cheddar and I prefer grated Violife.

My Green Pasta, if you were wondering is actually Jamie Oliver's recipe for Green Spaghetti.

It's a really simple recipe using just one pan and a Nutribullet or blender.

I love simple and I love pasta so these nutricious, but simple recipes are right up my street.

Sue xx

Monday 20 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 26 - Hot Dogs

Strange times call for strange meals.  But some strange meals are so bloody tasty you wonder why you don't have them regularly.  Perhaps this current situation will change our eating habits for good.

The other day for instance we had hotdogs for our lunch.  Tasty and simple with two types of sausages, the ones above for me and some Cumberland style sausages for Alan.

I  line my baking tin with foil when I'm cooking meaty and a non-meaty things together so that they don't touch or any leaking fat doesn't mingle with my non-meaty offering. 

Perhaps you can see the divider better in this photo.

I simply cooked a couple of medium onions in a dash of oil and a pinch of salt for ten minutes, as the sausages cooked quietly in the oven and than we had them all on buns from the freezer spread with lots of tomato ketchup.

So very tasty that I totally forgot to photograph the finished article!!  Hopefully I'll remember to cook these again.

Sue xx

Sunday 19 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 25 - Birthday Treats

I might have gone a bit wild on the birthday treats at Tesco yesterday.

Necessary shopping - hell yeah!!

And something to go with them  😁

Sue xx

Saturday 18 April 2020

Crazy Days Challenge - Day 24 - A Week of Lockdown Breakfasts

Last Saturday I did a post about my Lockdown Lunches so I thought this week I would treat you to a Week of My Lockdown Breakfasts.  Gosh I spoil you!!

By now you all must have gathered that I'm a bit of a Weetabix addict, but after eating them most days for the past few weeks, the start of this particular week saw me eat them for the last time ... just for a little bit you understand πŸ˜ƒ

The next day saw us both having Yoghurt with banana, grapes and granola with a healthy spoonful of peanut butter on mine.  I love the stuff but Alan hates it.  He finished off with a slice of toast and marmalade, but I was full.

I decided to weigh out my grapefruit the next day to see what an 80g portion looked like.  This is the amount that counts as one of your Five a Day.  As you can see 80g was not enough for me, so I had a bit more.

The next day it was a simple slice of toast loaded up nicely with a rather large helping of peanut butter ... this goes so well with a black coffee.

Now here's a breakfast you wouldn't have been expecting!!

Celery sticks and garlicky hummus.  I was making up a pot of soup with my bag of peelings and trimmings from the freezer and decided to add an onion and some celery to the mix.  But the celery once I'd chopped the ends off looked far too fresh and tasty to be popped into the soup pan so I got the jar of hummus out of the fridge.

You can have a garlicky breakfast when you're in lockdown ... it's a perk 🀣

The next day I finished off the grapefruit. 

First I drank the juice and then got stuck into the fruit slices and then I finished off with a cup of coffee.  Everything seems sweet after grapefruit even plain black coffee!!

The final day of the week saw me polish off the last two of these little beauties.  So tasty, so easy and as muffins go very healthy with all the flax seeds, ground almonds and fruit.

Not a bad little week of breakfasts then, perhaps next week I'll be back on the Weetabix, we'll see.

Sue xx