More dental woes, and preserving the summer glut for a frugal winter

  I can’t believe I am still suffering from dental pain! I went to the dentist and he said it was a cracked filling then booked me in for a months time! The pain went from bed to excruciating over the weekend and I had to find an emergency dentist on Sunday morning who told me I had an infection so she couldn’t do anything except give me antibiotics and to go back to my regular dentist.  I have an appointment tomorrow and just hope he can sort it. 

  However it still hurts a lot and I have had two days off work with it – very unusual for me but I can’t sleep and am a bit out of it with all the painkillers I have been taking. I can’t believe one little tooth can cause so much trouble, and I daren’t think how much it will cost if I have to have a root canal treatment. I am seriously considering dental insurance for the future. I have rarely had problems, but I’m getting older and so are my gnashers!!

  I tried to distract myself today by pickling more cucumbers, making tons of courgette soup for the freezer and making a nice vat of ratatouille for tea tonight, which is soft enough for me to eat if I mash it up a bit. I feel like a baby!! All my food is currently in purée form.

The courgettes, tomatoes, peppers and onions in the ratatouille are all from the veg patch, so I am very happy with that. It’s delicious, if I say so myself.

Thd pickled cucumber recipe is here if you fancy it. It’s really yummy, sweet and crunchy!

Courgettes with everything!

  It is that time of year. The courgettes are coming thick and fast and it can be hard to know what to with them. My favourite way to store them is in the freezer as soup. I make buckets of the stuff which makes fantastic frugal lunches. 

I also enjoy them cooked very simply with onions and garlic as a side dish or I make a poor man’s version of ratatouille with no aubergine: chopped and sautéed onions, garlic, a sweet pepper and sliced courgettes with a couple of cans of chopped tomatoes, a stock cube, chopped herbs (fresh or dried), a splash of wine if I have any sitting around and plenty of seasoning.  
 I made ratatouille last week and it was a side dish with some baked chicken and then two days worth of lunches with some rice.
  Courgettes and mushrooms gently sautéed in butter is quick and easy. Looking through my blog, this time last year I tried stuffed courgettes with feta so I shall do that again – the recipe is  here. I made some glutney chutney as well which used onions, tomatoes and courgettes, all from the garden, so some form of courgette chutney is on the cards again this year.
  I have never tried them as courgette cake but I fully intend to this year. I love carrot cake so why not? My courgette recipe book also suggests pickling in the same way as you would cucumbers. Has anyone tried this?

Do you have any gluts of your home grown fruit and veg, and how do you preserve them?

A day of small frugal steps

My daughter asked when I was planning to go shopping this week – I usually go on Friday, but this week we seem to have a lot of food and, now that I have sorted the store cupboard, we have plenty to keep us going. I only intend to buy a few bits such as milk, bread, cat food and maybe some chicken. She constantly complains that there is no food in the house. What she means is that there isn’t loads of rubbish that she can eat with no effort. I try to guide my daughters towards sensible eating, but it is a struggle sometimes! So I need to make sure there is some easy food that keeps us withing budget.

roasted tomatoesI began my day by putting 2 and a half kilograms of tomatoes on to roast with some olive oil and garlic. Whilst they were cooking I made porridge for everyone and touched up my roots – I don’t like to admit to going grey just yet. My hair costs hardly anything to do. I could spend £50 at the hairdressers having it coloured, but instead I mix up half a box of dye and brush it on myself. Yesterday in Boots they had my usual colour at 3 boxes for the price of two – so £12 for 3. These will last me at least 8 months. I intend to call the local college this week to book myself and DD3 in for a cut and blow dry each. This will cost about £8 each.

Tomato soupHair sorted and myself showered and dressed, I used the tomatoes to make a big pot of tomato and barley soup (determined to use up those store cupboard supplies!) and a smaller pot of roasted tomato sauce for the freezer. So that was lunch sorted for the next few days! As I grew the tomatoes, the cost was minimal.

I gave the house a thorough clean, including the student’s room. I don’t have one due until next month, but it will be one job less to do when she comes. This is an important source of income for me, so I have completed a form for a different agency today as well. They find placements on a slightly longer term basis. I think it is unlikely I will get any more students until the Spring with the agency I use currently.

I then made some courgette fritters for our tea, using up some from the garden – we had them with sausages, but I would be happy to have them as they are. I used some of the tomato sauce I made this morning with them.

I have spent the past hour checking my bank statement to see how the budget is going and to make sure there is nothing amiss. I have also changed energy supplier – hopefully now that First Utility have resolved our argument this will go through OK. I decided on Good Energy.  They aren’t the cheapest, but they come highest for customer satisfaction and use 100% renewable energy. After my nightmare with First Utility, getting a decent service is my top priority.

I have taken some plums out of the freezer and tomorrow I will make a plum crumble using the super cheap crumble mix I bought from Approved Foods. This should stop the troops moaning and keep them happy!! If I get time I will make a victoria sponge for the week as well.

I have also washed and hung two lots of laundry. One lot dried outside, but it clouded over and I thought it might rain, so the other is drying inside on the clothes horse. No tumble drying for me – far too expensive!!

So, a day of lots of small frugal steps. This is why I love weekends and I can potter and get a bit of control. What have you managed to do to save money today?

A Tribute to the Fallen

imageIsn’t this incredibly beautiful and a fantastic memorial to the soldiers who died in the First World War? This pic was taken by my sister, who was lucky enough to see it at the Tower of London and has even put her name down to do a shift of ceramic poppy planting.

I have urged my latest student to go and see this amazing sculpture when he visits the capital. I intend to see it myself when I go to London to visit DD2 at university. I’m not sure I can afford to go into the Tower at £23 a person, but hopefully it will be visible from the outside.

Anyone else going?

My new student is lovely and eats almost anything. Sadly though he doesn’t appear to be a fan of courgettes! A shame when we have so many. Still the rest of us are still eating them! I like them simply fried in butter with a few mushrooms.

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A new recipe for courgettes! Stuffed with feta

At this time of the year I am always on the look out for new recipes to try to use up the courgette glut. Last night I made a pot of  stock using chicken carcasses from the freezer, and I will use that to make courgette soup for the freezer.

imageFor dinner I made stuffed courgettes, using a recipe I found in an old student cookbook and which I adapted slightly. I really enjoyed it, but Mr S was looking for the meat! Next time I will add chopped bacon to stop him feeling deprived.

Stuffed courgettes

4 medium courgettes
2 cloves garlic
1 red onion, chopped
8oz sweet corn
2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
3oz feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Halve the courgettes lengthways, carefully scoop out some of the insides to make room for the stuffing and arrange in a baking dish.

Put all the other ingredients apart from the feta into a food processor with some salt and pepper and whizz it, then crumble in half the cheese. Stuff the courgettes with the filling then crumble the rest of the feta on top. Bake for about 40 minutes.
I think this would be nice served with a tomato sauce or just as it is with salad and new potatoes. We had it with rubber beans as that is the other glut.

If you have recipes for the courgette glut, please bring them on!

 

The Courgettes are Coming!!

harvest2014The veg patch is really starting to come into its own suddenly. Last night I picked three more courgettes, some French beans and even a baby tomato! The girls say I am ‘sad’ to get excited about growing my own veggies, in which case I am happy to be sad, if you know what I mean!

Growing our own is part of the financial strategy and certainly saves me money once the veg patch gets going. Its so nice to have delicious produce on your plate that is as fresh as it can be and which cost pence to grow.chopped veg

Not that this will help with our latest language student. It appears he will not eat a vegetable of any sort. I asked him what he likes to eat and he said fish, meat and pasta. We will eat some of those! I will try to accommodate him as much as I can but at the same time we will eat vegetables too. Actually fussy eaters are one of my pet hates (too much hunger in the world) but I willhave to grin and bear it and stuff him full of pasta 🙂

Brown Rice with Mediterranean Vegetables

Another chuck it together healthy tea. We had it with baked chicken but it is a perfectly good veggie supper with grated cheese stirred in.

imageStill using up the huge courgettes I got in Sainsbury’s! I like the flavour soy sauce adds to this.

Serves 6

1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
I green pepper, chopped
1 large or 2 small courgette, diced
100g mushrooms, sliced
325g brown rice, cooked with a veg stock cube
600g (1.5 cans) chopped tomatoes
2tbsp chopped parsley (or 2tsp dried mixed herbs)
1 tbsp soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheddar to top (optional)

Heat the oil and gently fry the onion and garlic until softened. Add the courgettes, mushrooms and pepper and continue to cook for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes then add the parsley and soy sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a good sprinkling of grated cheese.

imageJ at Hyde hallWe were out getting the best from our RHS membership today. Once it finally stopped raining the sun came out and it was boiling, so we took a drive to Hyde Hall Gardens in Runwell in Essex.

hyde hall 1This is the fourth time we have been this year and it has been fantastic to see the garden changing and developing through the seasons. This is one of the four main RHS gardens and we are lucky to have it half an hour’s drive from home. It never fails to inspire!

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