Friday 31 March 2023

March Finances + Day 25 of the Experiment

The end is nigh!
But only to the last days of the Value Range Experiment so don't panic!

Here is my regular end of the month look back at everything.

First of all it was a wet month but after the exceptionally dry February that was probably a good thing although why did it have to be raining on almost every car boot morning? I've kept fairly busy despite the weather and gardening has started - mainly in the heated propagator and greenhouse.

Income was 2 pensions as usual, plus the £67 from the government towards electricity and £14.70 from books sent off to Ziffit.

March was not too bad for spending and of course it's been almost a whole month of spending less than I usually do on food.
 The car annual service and MOT was the main expense. It passed with nothing needing doing so just oil and filters and labour and the MOT to pay for. Had to buy 2 lots of diesel this month - been out and about a lot. 
I bought a basic photo-copier/printer at last and stocked up on a few stamps before the price goes up in April. I thought we weren't going to be able to do this because of the new bar codes on stamps but it was on the Martin Lewis Money Saving Website so  hope it's correct.

My personal spending was one new book, W.I Subs, a haircut - price gone up again (and going up again in April), plus 4 x swimming and 4 x exercise group, second hand books and one bunch of tulips..
For the garden I bought 2 net cloche tunnels, onion sets and lettuce seed, 3 primrose plants, 2 rhubarb plants, wallflower plants and leek seedlings and finally an unusual perennial geranium.

Purple leaved perennial Geranium 'Storm Cloud' 

 A gift was bought for my Sister and Son in Law's birthdays and something ready for youngest granddaughter's birthday next month. The rest of the spending was the usual direct debits for charity, phones and broadband. Electric bill was nothing again thanks to the Governments one off  £200 'Alternative fuel allowance' and their £67 monthly allowance and I'm still well in credit for next month. Other spending was the usual odds and end  and I needed washing soda and 5L of Ecover Laundry Liquid for the clothes washing and some wild bird food again. Right at the end of the month the window cleaner appeared. It never seems seven or eight weeks since he was last round.....but it always is.

The information about next years Council Tax came and I was correct in working out that a 5% increase meant £7 more each month to pay for 9 out of the 10 months of Direct Debits.

All month I've been clearing things out of the house for Losing-it-in-Lent. Some baby toys went to DiL as her sister has just had a first baby. Also out went several books and lots of duplicate card making peel-off labels to charity shop. Then I had a sort out of a couple of small craft drawers and chucked several bits, moving the pens, pencils, hole punch and similar bits into my big chest of drawers. The little set of two drawers also went off to the charity shop along with two boxes of staples for a stapler I no longer have. Plus I sent a small box of books off to Ziffit.

  • The Value Range Experiment has kept food spending to a minimum
  • Still mixing milk half and half
  • Always trying to avoid using tumble dryer (but bad weather meant it had to be used 3 times)
  • Shut curtains as soon as it gets dark
  • No magazines or newspapers except Radio Times Subscription
  • Mainly reading free library books
  • Sowing Aubergine, pepper, tomato and cucumber seeds
  • Using only 2nd Class Post
  • Don't buy alcohol and beauty products
  • Only use dishwasher when it's completely full - every 2nd or 3rd day

So into April and no more government help with electric costs and another unit price rise, but I'm still well in credit so the bill will be covered. It's month one of Council tax and my TV licence is due. Youngest Granddaughter's birthday and House Insurance too.

Meal for Day 25 - something I used to make quite often until one day Colin said he didn't really like it as it was too sloppy. He wasn't at all fussy with food and generally ate anything and everything but I thought it best to stop making it - and that was probably 20+  years ago! and I'd forgotten  just how sloppy it was so fished half a garlic bread baguette out of the freezer to go with it. I've added 25p onto the running total. £69.80 + 25p =  £70.05

So what was this thing that I'd not made for years ?.......... Leek and Bacon Pilaff . Using ordinary long grain rice, sliced leeks, 2 slices of bacon and vegetable stock.

I'll be making it again. 

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 30 March 2023

Day 24 And The Other 'Not Value Range' Sausage!

Turned the page in the diary and realised I'd nearly forgotten Son-in-Laws birthday so dashed to the nearest place to get gift cards to send, which is Tesco - I really don't like shopping there and avoid it but as I was there got the last few bits I needed for the Experiment. Goodness, Tesco is pricey - unless you have a club card which seems to take money off. 

Apples -90p
Cabbage - the cheapest green vegetable 65p
Leeks - reduced price to £1
Coleslaw 80p - this was more a want than a need  because I fancied it to go with the sausage rolls. 

Total here = £3.35 Added to the running total £66.45 = £69.80

I mixed up a small batch of shortcrust pastry using 2 oz of the baking fat and 4oz flour and used half  to make Meal 24......... 2 sausage rolls using the other quality sausage. They were served up with the coleslaw and yet more of the frozen mixed diced vegetables and some home made tomato chutney. (There was pastry left over, which I put in the freezer and it will be used later for a pasty)

While I was doing that I used the rest of the baking fat, flour, a little sugar and some of the peanuts from that Essential Range Fruit and Nut Mix to make a batch of small peanut biscuits.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Day 23 of the Value Range Experiment

 I finally got around to buying a new printer/photocopier last week and amazingly it worked! What I mean is I actually got it to work fairly easily.  I went to the computer shop in Diss where I got the laptop and asked for the simplest printer and photo copier for occasional home-use and thank goodness it really was simple and much cheaper than I thought too.

The one I had was second-hand when we got it and must have been nearly 20 years old. The photocopier bit hadn't worked for several years and the printer part was very temperamental. It went to the recycling centre when I had to empty the bedroom last year. With the new machine I straight away made some copies of our Keep Moving Group poster so  can now put them up round about the villages. If we get a few more people coming it won't cost so much per person to cover the hall hire.....would be good if we could get it to less than the £2.50 we are paying at the moment.

Day 23's meal was the 3rd and final curry made using the Value Range White Fish looking very similar to Day 1 and  whichever other day I ate the second one.

It used............
2 small onions
3 pieces fish
1 tin tomatoes
Curry powder
Stock cube to make stock
Tomato Puree
Tablespoon of flour
Couple of Tablespoons from the bag of mixed frozen veg.
Chunky pieces of cooked potato.

This is a variation on the curry I usually batch make using squash and spinach which doesn't have a can of tomatoes added.
I'm going to do this sort of curry again - giving me three different types in the freezer.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Lackford Lakes + Day 22

 Every March there is a second-hand Book Sale at Lackford Lakes just a little way North-West of Bury St Edmunds. The site is managed by Suffolk Wildlife Trust and is made up of open water areas which were once sand and gravel pits and reed beds.

I've never before been to a book sale here when the sun was shining! But is was a fine morning this time.

Although sunny, the wind was really strong as you can see by the reeds below.

I had a bit of a wander with the camera in the hope of spotting an unusual bird but the only thing that I saw that I wouldn't see at home were .......Canada Geese. I think it was too windy to see anything small, they were all hiding.

When I  went in the cafe for a coffee to get warmed up there were some Reed Buntings hopping about under the  birdfeeders, along with Chaffinch and Blue-tits.

The book sale isn't huge and is mainly non-fiction natural history but the books are always lovely quality and often look as if they've never been read and I came home with these for £5. They all look interesting.

In the shop they had some note cards with illustrations by Angie Lewin whose work I wrote about in the post about The Book of Pebbles . They looked nice but a bit expensive.

Day 22. What do you do if you have just 2 quality sausages to make 2 meals? Answer is to put one in a Yorkshire Pudding to make a Toad in the Hole. Not the silly small ones in the Value Range Asda pack but a proper home made Yorkshire.
It was a thing in my Mum's family during and after the war for the adults in the family  to have a slice of Yorkshire pudding with some gravy before getting their smaller plate of meat and vegetables. A filler to make sure there was enough meat for the younger children. Mum was second oldest of six children and there was no money to spare. She often wondered how her parents managed when all three girls passed their 11 plus exam to go to Grammar School and needed school blazers and all the rest of the uniform.

I seem to have got off the subject! 

So the 22nd Meal was Toad in the Hole. I twisted the sausage in half so it looked like more than 1 and made in the smallest dish I have. It was a good size so no potatoes needed. Carrots and the last of the cabbage again and gravy.

For the Yorkshire mix I used 1 egg (difficult to use less than one) so it needed 50g of flour + milk/water and that left mixture over - which I thinned down and made a  pancake for my tea.

Anyone else watching the short new series of Grace - police drama set in Brighton. Oh my goodness it's slow - the police seem to stand in a row and say nothing for several minutes. There are only 3 in the series - which will be enough.

Back Tomorrow

Monday 27 March 2023

Day 21 + Seedlings

I've always grown some leeks from seed - they are so expensive to buy from the supermarket in winter and well worth growing. I had a fail last year when all the plants got trampled on when the new oil tank was moved in or they were eaten by pigeons - not sure which. I bought new seeds for this year and will sow later.

Then I spotted trays of seedlings outside the pet/garden shop in Diss and thought it would be good to have some earlier leeks too. They were £1.90 for these below which is much cheaper than buying from one of the garden seed catalogues where they are £7.95 for 20 plants.

I gently lifted the seedlings from these pots and teased them separate to re-pot as they are still too small to go out. There were 26 in total.

Meanwhile indoors all 8 Aubergine seedlings are growing but only 2 pepper seeds germinated so I sowed a few more..............and then five more appeared from the first sowing! I may have too many peppers! Yesterday the tomato seeds went into the electric propagator - just 2 varieties this year and both have been grown before. Usually I try something new and I do more different sorts so I hope there's no crop failure. Just Cucumbers left to do indoors now.

Meal 21 was a Fish Pie. Using a couple of small pieces of the frozen White Fish (which is actually Basa), I poached them in milk/water then used it to make a white sauce and added a handful of the mixed vegetables and a hard boiled egg, plenty of pepper and some parsley. Topped with mashed potato that I'd cooked up in the first week and frozen. With a little cheese sprinkled over before final cooking.

 Now considering I'd been avoiding mashed potato since Colin died (he loved mash and I don't) this was a strange thing for me to make. But it was the obvious way to use a couple of pieces of the Asda Value Range White Fish which were 7 small pieces for £2.50.

It certainly needed the black pepper and a little salt and could have done with more cheese too. But it was good and very filling which is what's needed if you are trying to make meals without spending too much.

Running Total £64.25 + £2.20 box of 8 decaf frothy coffees (up 20p from last week) for the end of third week = £66.45

There are two things here from the Value Ranges that I will use again, the fish and the bag of grated cheddar cheese. I've used the cheese for so many things and still some left, lasting much longer than a block of cheese (mainly because I'm not tempted to eat it by the slice like I do with a block of Extra Mature cheddar!)

Did you watch the little bit of annual tradition on TV yesterday? The University Boat Race is something I've watched as long as I can remember, always supporting Cambridge as it's just over the county border from Suffolk. 

Back Tomorrow

Sunday 26 March 2023

Quick Post for Day 20 of the Value Range Experiment

Good's later than you think.............especially if you forgot to put your clocks forward overnight!

Day 20 of the experiment and time for roast chicken again. Once more I roasted a chunked carrot and the last parsnip and a few of the small potatoes along with 2 chicken thigh joints. One to eat hot and one to make sandwiches. Served with a bit more cabbage.........which is lasting well. I just cut a slice off and then chop and steam quickly. Wrap it up tight again. The carrots are still firm nearly 3 weeks after being bought. I always take them out of their plastic bag and put them on a tea towel in the salad drawer covered with another tea towel. 

Added a couple more of the Value Range mini Yorkshire Puds and gravy from the Value Range gravy granules - Phew..........Full Up!

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 25 March 2023

Saturday 25th + Day 19

 Flowers on the table this week have been a beautiful bunch of roses from Son and DiL for Mother's Day.
Son texted me Wednesday to ask if I was OK because DiL and both children had been poorly since Monday and I'd been there Sunday, but I seem to have avoided bugs again.

 Day 19 of the Value Range Experiment

A potato, bacon, onion and tomato layer bake served with cabbage. This is something I'd not made since the children all lived at home when it was something we often had as it's a way to stretch a little bacon. The first time I came across it was when Colin's Mum made it. 

Sliced potatoes are par-boiled for a few minutes and chopped bacon and onion fried but not too crispy, then layer up everything with a couple of tinned tomatoes and some of the juice from a can of tomatoes and plenty of pepper.
It's a bit of a faff to make for one person but used minimal ingredients from what I'd bought for the experiment.
I took a photo but it was only when I came to upload that I found the camera dial had accidently been on an odd setting and the photo was almost dark.

It's there somewhere!

It was good to have a mild and dry morning on Tuesday to get a bag of onion sets planted. After not planning to grow any this year until one morning I woke early and switched the radio on the farming programme where they were saying that last years' drought had put some farmers off growing onions this year and there might be a shortage. Despite the poor growing conditions and my onions being smaller than they should have been I've only just come to the end of what I grew last year so probably saved myself several pounds. So the sets are in and covered with one of the solid net frames that BiL made for me - hope it will stop the birds pulling them up or Crumble, next door's cat, digging them out. Something has already nibbled the leaves on the two new rhubarb plants.
I'm sending off for some small net cloche tunnels because I reckon it's the blasted pigeons. They've been sitting in the flowering cherry pecking the flower buds for weeks, it's a wonder there are any left for the header photo.

Pigeons are not my favourite birds!

Back Tomorrow

Friday 24 March 2023

Revising Plans and Day 18

I had to have a rethink on meals because of that disgusting minced pork. I'm using some of the bread flour to make pizza so bought another loaf of the Essentials range from Aldi to use instead of buying another bag of flour and making another loaf. Because I'd been hoping and planning for sausage rolls I popped into the butchers and bought just a couple of sausages. I bought 4 potatoes (bigger than the mini ones I bought last week so they can be used differently) and eggs again for sandwiches or whatever.

AL Loaf sliced wholemeal 39p
AL 4 Medium Baking Potatoes 67p.
Eggs from a different roadside stall £1.20
And 2 sausages from the butchers for £1.41 (the opposite and 100% better than Value Range- and the only way to buy a small amount)

Total £3.67. Running total brought forward £60.58+ £3.67 =  £ £64.25

I used the bread machine to make a Pizza dough, which I'd not done before. It made quite a lot so I divided into two before stretching on two baking trays

 and then topped half with bacon bits that I'd fried, onion ditto and then turned it into a topping by using another tomato and a bit of juice from the third tin. Finished off with cheeses - half the Value range mozzarella ball, little of both the Value Range grated cheeses.

After cooking it looked huge so I cut in half and had half for one meal and the rest later. 
A mixed salad with it would have been good but I only had a few mini plum tomatoes. Of course if I was a perfect gardener I'd be harvesting my own leaves from the greenhouse! someone is sure to tell me!
It was very delicious and didn't really need the bacon, which I don't normally use on a pizza but I'd got some out of the freezer for the next meal and found there were 4 thin slices rather than 3. 
I'll definitely use the bread-maker to make pizza bases again but will divide into 4. The other pizza base was baked for just 5 minutes and then frozen. 

So what's left out of the 64 pounds  worth of food to make meals with for 10 days.......if I do 28 days or 13 if I do 31 days?

1 Tuna, broccoli and Pasta bake in freezer
1 curry still in freezer
Pieces of white fish in freezer
Mashed potato in freezer
1 Pizza base " "
3 chicken joints " "
2 sausages " "
2 or 3 slices of bacon" "
Few small Yorkshire puddings " "
Frozen mixed vegetables
3  Fresh Carrots
1  Parsnip
Tin carrots
1 can of pineapple
1 can of peaches
1 can tomatoes
Self raising flour
Baking fat
Grated cheese (both)
Half a mozzarella ball
Rice Crispies cereal
Sliced bought Bread 
Half loaf home made.
Tin Sardines
Few Small potatoes
4 medium baking potatoes
Half cabbage
Few apples and grapes
6 eggs
Few crumpets
I'll need more apples that's for sure.
Back Tomorrow

Thursday 23 March 2023

Charity Shopping for Easter Holidays + V.R.E. Day 17

 Eldest Granddaughter is coming to stay for 2 days before Easter and like most 6 year olds she likes crafting and colouring so when I spotted this in a charity shop I bought it to add to the things I already have in the Easter Drawer - I knew when I got a whole bundle of Easter stuff from ebay during that first lockdown (Good Grief it was 3 years ago) they would come in handy........... eventually.

The second of the Tuna, Broccoli and Pasta Bakes, made for Day 9, from the freezer was the main meal for Day 17, served with some more of the Value Range mixed frozen veg.....which seems to be lasting forever - they are pretty tasteless and I'm still wishing I'd bought peas alone. Although none of the supermarkets do a Basic/Value range of frozen peas I noticed that Morrisons do  a pack of 'Wonky' frozen peas cheaper than their usual own brand and much cheaper than Bird's Eye. (Puzzled about how peas can be wonky?)

Forgot to say I used self-raising flour and baking fat to make a batch of  8 plain scones a couple of days ago when the sultana sponge was finished.

 Running total still at £60.58p

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 22 March 2023

Charity Shop Books + Day 16

 While I was in town for shopping last week I nipped into two charity shops and found the Sudoku book in one for £2 and the other book, which I'd not come across before, in the other for 99p. It is something written in 1968 by a Suffolk Farmer telling the story of his family through the 20th Century. It's been edited more recently by Pip Wright who has written several books about bits of Suffolk local history often tracked down through newspapers, he also speaks at WIs and the like.

Day 16 of the Experiment

I took the meat from another chicken thigh joint and stir fried with onion and peppers, (both home grown) added some Fajita seasoning from the cupboard and a plum tomato and a little juice from the tin of plum tomatoes. Served over pasta. Fajita seasoning is something I always have in the cupboard and it was around 50p a packet until recent price rises have pushed the price up to around 75p on average. I use about a third of a packet, fold down and peg closed.
I completely forgot a photo but hope you can imagine a chicken, onion, pepper and tomato sauce over pasta!

I've added 25p to the running total £60.33 + 25p = £60.58p

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Day 15 of the V.R.E. Shopping and Something Really, Really Bad!

 Last week's shopping trip for the Value Range Experiment, lots of fruit needed.

Everything was from Asda this time - 6 items were from their Just Essential cheapest range.

9 Crumpets 80p
Can of peaches 34p
Willow "butter" £1.50
2 Pints Milk £1.30
Coffee 83p
Can of Pineapple Pieces 49p
2 Tins plum tomatoes @ 28p = 56p
Grapes    }
6 Apples } On Offer at 2 items for £2
7 Small Pears £1.29
Total £9.11

Brought Forward from last week £51.22  + £9.11p = £60.33 (With most items for the rest of the month now in the freezer.)

   (Average quoted at £130 -140 for one persons groceries)

Day 15 main meal. Using the first quarter of the minced pork - a Value Range brand from Asda. 
Oh dear!
It looks OK - BUT the pork mince, (which I mixed with a saut├ęd chopped onion and some dried herbs and then formed into small 4 sausage shapes and cooked along side roasting some small potatoes) was just So. Very. Bad.
Left with a really nasty taste in the mouth, there is no way I going to eat the other 3 portions. Please don't suggest 99 ways to make it better! it's just too vile.

Thank goodness the potatoes, cabbage and carrots and the small Yorkshire puddings were edible.

I shall have to rethink plans for 3 meals now - bother!

Back Tomorrow

Monday 20 March 2023

20th March St Cuthbert's Day + Day 14 V.R.E

I've not used the Saints book for a blog post lately but when I found today was St Cuthbert's Day then he had to get a mention.

Wiki has lots about him HERE - too much to copy but below is a brief history from my book.

Known as one of the greatest English saints and missionaries he became a monk of Melrose Abbey. At the time ruled by Abbot Eata who Venerable Bede called "the gentlest and simplest of men". The prior of Melrose, named Boisil taught Cuthbert the Bible and the pattern of a devout life and when Boisil died Cuthbert took over as prior.
Cuthbert rode miles on horseback around the countryside preaching but really preferred the life of a hermit and got permission to live on the Island of Farne for 8 years but in the year 684 he was appointed Bishop of Hexham but later swapped with Eata to become Bishop of Lindisfarne and then moved to the island of Inner Farne. He died in AD687

Cuthbert discovers piece of timber - Life of St. Cuthbert (late 12th C), f.45v - BL Yates Thompson MS 26.jpg
From a 12th Century manuscript 

The Value Range Meal for day 14 was one of the Fish Curries from the freezer that I made right at the beginning of the month. I didn't bother with a photo as it was the same as the first portion HERE  although actually not the same because curry is always better reheated and it had tons more flavour this time. Still one left for next week.

Running total £49.22 + £2 for box of frothy coffees as  it's the end of second week = £51.22

Back Tomorrow

Sunday 19 March 2023

A Book Treat for Mothering Sunday + Day 13

 Every now and again I look at the  Little Toller Books website and recently discovered they were reprinting this book first published in 1958. 

It's a book I've been wanting to read for years but it's always been too expensive. At various times her other books..... Herbal Handbook for Cats and Dogs; Herbal Handbook for Horses and Herbal Handbook for Everyone, have been reprinted and I'd seen them and sold them when we were selling second-hand smallholding and country books but this much earlier book about her time living with two small children in the New Forest in the 1950s has never been reprinted.

I decided to treat myself to a copy for Mothers Day for myself (that's my excuse anyway!)We've never been a family that celebrate anniversaries, birthdays etc in a big way and now I'd rather my lot spent their money on their own families - and their homes. The way prices are going up for mortgages, child care and food is  frightening for them. I was pleased to hear that Youngest's Daughter's contract as a Project Officer for part of the early work going on at the Sizewell  C Power Station has been extended for another 6 months. It was a big worry when she was made redundant from the Opticians in the spring of last year. 

This little coaster gift that came through the post from Eldest Daughter in Surrey.

There were 2 eggs that needed using so Day 13 of the Value Range Experiment was a 2 egg omelette with some parsley chopped in, some fried mini plum tomatoes and a slice of bread half toasted and half fried. ( I've found that a whole round of fried bread - which I could happily eat, is a bit too much fat!)

Sadly I've never succeeded in making a good looking omelette, doubt I ever will now.

Running total so far £49.22

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 18 March 2023

Initially - V.R.E + B.L.C.C

 Day 12 of the Value Range Experiment and month 3 of the British Library Crime Classic subscription. An example of saving in one place to spend in another?

What I didn't know when I started the subscription was that the British Library enclose some mystery gifts in addition to the book each month. This month there's a card magnifying bookmark, another a book mark and a page of questions to answer while reading the book to work out who-done-it.

The next main meal - Day 12- from the experiment. Stir fried chicken and veg with rice. I took the meat from a chicken thigh +1 carrot +1 small onion + some home grown peppers from the freezer +1 chopped cabbage leaf. I added a spoonful of Blue Dragon Sweet Chilli Sauce from a bottle already opened in the fridge (checked price and it's 65p per 100g, so 1 tablespoon full is approx 10p.

It looks a lot but mainly vegetables

Running total £49.12 + 10p = £49.22p

Sue in Lancs (the Queen of Challenges) said be careful not to end the experiment with too many things left in the freezer so I had a count up and my main meals for the rest of the month should be........... 

4 Using the Minced Pork already in freezer
2 Tuna and Pasta Bake - already in freezer
2 Fish Curry - already in freezer
1 Fish Pie using mashed potato already in freezer
1 Omelette
2 or 3 Meals using Bacon already in freezer
There are 4 Chicken Thighs left in freezer
There are a few pieces of the white fish left in freezer
+ I could do a pizza

So I should be about right for the main meal ingredients and they are all included in that £49.22. Although I'll need some other things but hopefully will still be well below that quoted average spend on food for a single person of £130 for a month.

I don't know what the weather was like where you were yesterday but here it was dismal. It actually got darker between 8 and 9am rather than lighter and then it drizzled all day and very chilly too even though the weather lady said it was milder. I just stayed at home and got the next library book finished and hoped for better today to get out and about.

Back Tomorrow

Friday 17 March 2023

The Daft Things You Do on Day 11 V.R.E

Here is the daft thing..........Tipped the pack of Essentials brand fruit and nuts 59p from Aldi  onto a plate so I could fish out all the sultanas and raisons to make a small sultana sponge - I do like baking. (Forgot to take a photo before I took out the sultanas and I'm not quite daft enough to put them back to take a photo and then take them out again!)

Using 3oz Willow fat, sugar and SR Flour and 1 large egg and a handful of the fruit. Forgot to add baking powder - duh!

I checked their websites and don't think Aldi do any Just Essentials Range cakes. Morrisons and Asda both do packs of 6 very small sponge rolls for 55p - but they don't look very good and because I like baking, I had to work a little into the V.R.E. So I made Scones in week one and sponge for week 2. I discovered that Morrisons also do Savers Range Scones at 10 for 65p - which is cheaper than making but I've no idea what they are like. 

Next main meal, the first one with something not made in my kitchen.
This was the ready made Value Range Beef and Onion pasty, there were a few of the canned potatoes left in the fridge plus fresh cabbage and the frozen mixed vegetables and I made a little gravy using the Value Range gravy granules.

The pasty isn't something I would usually buy and at just 45p, I wasn't expecting much meat inside - and there wasn't and what was inside was tasteless but with all the vegetables it made a meal that fitted well into the experiment.

Running Total so far £49.12

Happy St. Patricks Day to everyone who celebrates it.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 16 March 2023

A Small Book + Day 10 of the Value Range Experiment

  This small book (115 pages including index and bibliography) about pebbles came from the charity book sale at Westleton last year.

 Words by Christopher Stocks and Illustrations by Angie Lewin.

Christopher Stocks lives by Chesil Beach, the strange 18 mile long shingle spit that stretches along the Dorset coast. Somehow the sea manages to grade the stones and pebbles from pea size to the eastern end where they are the size of a fist.

When asked about why he wanted to write a book about pebbles he always replied "how could I live on Chesil Beach and not want to write about pebbles?"

Angie Lewin lived in Norfolk and walked on the beach everyday picking up any interesting stones she found and using them in her art. Later she moved to Scotland and discovered the range of different stones on the Scottish beaches.

Dice Cup and Feather

Sea Pinks, Island Shore

The Beach, Aldeburgh

Chapter headings include 

Sir Mortimer at War
Picasso's Pebbles
Eminent Victorians
At the Natural History Museum 

and pages about the types of pebbles found on various beaches around our island.
This is what he writes about Shingle Street in Suffolk.........

The Clue is in the name. This isolated little scatter of houses on the south Suffolk coast overlooks a steep shingle beach which is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with a thriving population wild sea kale, horned poppies and tree mallows growing beyond the reach of the waves. The beach - mainly composed of flint pebbles - can be thought of as an extension of Orford Ness, the great bank of shingle that blocks the route of the River Alde at Aldeburgh and diverts it ten miles south until it finally escapes into the sea just north of Shingle Street. Accessible only by a single track road, overlooked by Martello towers and haunted by Avocets and Little Owls, it's a place of beautiful desolation.

I've been there a few times and it really is a strange place. There are ghosts .........

(info from Wiki)

Several buildings were destroyed during World War II, including the Lifeboat Inn.

After World War II many strange happenings were reported to have taken place at Shingle Street, including a failed German Invasion. Since the civilian population had been evacuated in May 1940, there were no eyewitness reports, although official documents remained classified until questions in the House of Commons led to their early release in 1993. These papers disclosed no German landing. Rumours of a failed invasion on the South and East Coasts were commonplace in September 1940 and helped to boost morale. Author James Hayward has proposed that these rumours, which were widely reported in the American press, were a successful example of black propaganda with an aim of ensuring American co-operation and securing lend lease resources by showing that the United Kingdom was capable of successfully resisting the German Army.

Burned bodies were reported to have washed up on the beach after the sea was covered in oil and set alight. I had a book about the story for a while 'The Bodies on the Beach' by James Hayward who, as mentioned above, decided it had never happened.

Day 10 of the experiment and the main meal was a roast dinner using a chicken thigh. I added roast potatoes and parsnip, the remains of the broccoli, gravy and a couple of the hilariously small Value Range Yorkshire puds that came from Asda (15 for 50p so I wasn't expecting much!)

I cooked a second chicken thigh at the same time to use in sandwiches for a few days.

Cost of things bought so far = £49.12p

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Wednesday 15 March 2023

Next Shopping Trip + V.R.E. Day 9

 Last weeks shopping for the Value Range Experiment.

From Aldi(AL) and Asda(AS)

AS Lean Minced Pork 500g £2.35
AL 6 Small Apples 59p
AL 200g Fruit and Nut Mix 59p
AL Sardines in Sunflower oil 46p
AL Savoy Cabbage 65p
Al Mini Plum Tomatoes 69p
AL Miniature Potatoes 69p (I wanted a bigger bag of ordinary but their 'wonky' cheapest were in HUGE bags - too many to last without shooting) 

Total = £6.02. + £43.10 Brought Forward. Running total £49.12

In the photo I've include the Decaf frothy coffee that I like for my evening drink. It's Nescafe, 8 sachets in the box are now £2  and it is unsweetened and doesn't need any added milk. I haven't included this in the running total today as I'm just adding £2 at the end of each 7 days.

Asda had the Essentials Value range pork mince that they didn't have before, so I bought that even though I didn't need to use it yet. I divided it into 4 portions and popped in freezer. 

I used the two crusts from the Value Range Wholemeal sliced loaf to make breadcrumbs after drying in the oven and crumbling with a potato masher

Some of the crumbs were used to top a Tuna, Pasta and Broccoli bake. Using the essential range tin of tuna 55p, pasta, ⅔ of the head of broccoli and a white sauce, made with a bit of butter, flour and milk and water mix. Topped with the breadcrumbs, grated cheese and some of the grated parmesan.

This is a cheaper variation of something I make regularly. Usually I use salmon. The trick to using tuna which is so much cheaper is to use plenty of black pepper both over the broccoli, tuna, pasta mix as well as in the white sauce.

This made 3 portions. One to eat and two for the freezer for later in the month.

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Tuesday 14 March 2023

Another Garden Visitor + V.R.E. Day 8

Diving into that book again for another blog post about a garden visitor.
Here's the illustration by Artist and Printmaker Carry Ackroyd from my book 'A Sparrow's Life's as Sweet as Ours'


The page opposite the picture tells me.......... 
Nest boxes, so popular with blue tits, were a C19 German introduction taken over by the British. Our related obsession to feed songbirds dates from the cruel winter of 1890/91, when British newspapers urged readers to save the starving avian population. The UK spends £200 million per annum on bird food, more than the rest of Europe put together. Of this, the Blue Tit, most numerous of the titmice tribe at 3 million, is the prime beneficiary.
And here are my photos of  Blue Tits in the garden.

Day 8 and the Value Range Experiment main meal looked rather messy and definitely not for the food connoisseur!. It was one small onion, part can of corned beef, more of the tinned potatoes and the final tomatoes from the can started the other day. The first three fried to make a tasty hash. Everything apart from my own onion were from the Value Supermarket Ranges costing pence.

As it was the day we had snow and really cold winds it felt like what's often called comfort food.

Rest of corned beef used in sandwiches for several days. 

Anyone watch the last ever Endeavor on Sunday night - very clever I thought. I read all the Morse books as they appeared back in the day and we watched the many series, wondering about re-reading the books - although I've got plenty of books to read for the first time, so maybe not.

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Monday 13 March 2023

The March Library Book Photo + V.R.E.Day 7

The March Library Book Photo. Books, mostly ones I'd reserved, picked up from the library van last week.

6 crime fiction, two are authors I've not read before.

4 Non Fiction including Once upon a Tome which is the 'Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller' - sounds interesting. I like what it says about the author "He lives with a house full of books he actively tried not to collect".
No idea why  I borrowed Posh Toast!

The little book on the top is the companion to one I read last year about Mabel the Owl who lived in Christchurch Park in Ipswich also written by Reg Snook. His collaborator is Phillip Murphy who used to work with Colin in the Suffolk County Council Bridge Office many years ago.

Last Month it was that huge haul of 16 books, mainly crime. I read all these except for Snow.

There were two fiction classics and I read both - I liked O Pioneers more than Enbury Heath but neither really grabbed me.

There were 4 Non Fiction last month. The Bookman's Tale was something I'd read before and thought it was all about Ronald Blythe's books and reading but I'd remembered wrong so didn't bother to re-read. I sent Save the World Back with the world un-saved! and Wild was a bit strange. I'm still browsing the Backyard Forest Garden.

I've written a little about the books finished on the separate Books Read 2023 page.

Next Value Range Experiment main meal ............

To use the rest of the Feta I did what I usually do because I'm lazy, and made another Warm Pasta Salad. Didn't bother with a photo as it looked the same as last weeks. (Pasta, feta, olives, tomatoes, mixed frozen veg and Mayo). This  used the last of the mini tomatoes and the olives. Total spent for the month so far adding £2 for my frothy coffees as it's the end of the first week is £43.10.

While looking for ideas for using the rest of the feta (apart from being lazy and doing the same thing again)  I found a recipe that I'd try another time, when the V.R.E has finished and I have chicken breasts in the freezer.

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast

There have been some fun comments about my little experiment - especially funny was one that told me that I had plenty of money from selling the house so why was I eating rubbish! 

Oooops seem to have deleted it!

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