Saturday, 23 January 2010

Garlic bread - quick and easy.............

...........frugal too!
I've never met a bought garlic bread that I've enjoyed very much, so I usually make my own. I'll give you the recipe/method first, then add on the frugal bits.

1 long baguette
1/2 lb butter
4 big fat cloves of fresh garlic
handful of parsley

Put butter on to melt in a pan. Meanwhile, chop parsley finely; peel and chop the garlic finely. When the butter is melted, add to the pan and mix well.

Slice the baguette and lay the slices on a flat oven tray.

Using a pastry brush, brush each slice very generously with the mixture - you'll still have some over, but make sure it's garlicky enough - nothing worse than ungarlicky garlic bread! Place tray of bread in freezer and open freeze it for 24 hours or so. When frozen, put into poly bags or boxes in eg dozens or sixes, whatever suits your needs. Seal bag/box and keep in freezer for about up to 6 months. When needed, pop what you need on to a tray and into a hot oven for 10 minutes+ until golden brown and hot.

Now for the frugal bits: I'm still trying to perfect my baguette technicque, so for the moment, I buy them - for garlic bread, I buy the reduced ones and make it straight away. The one in the picture is a full length French stick, organic, I got for 25p. Hoem grown parsley if you can; butter is own brand, but British, at 88p per 1/2 lb. Home grown garlic, or bought. However you make it, it's still cheaper than the "best" you can buy, and much, much better.
Try and add the parsley if you can - it adds colour and flavour, and if you freeze the surpluse, or keep it in the fridge, the green speckles are an instant giveaway that it's garlic butter so you won't put it in your Victoria Sponge!! LOL

Friday, 22 January 2010

St Vincent's Day

- is today, 22nd January. this is the feast day of St Vincent of Saragossa, the first Spanish martyr, who died in the early 4th century AD (after enduring a variety of tortures without complaint, according to legend). The weather on St Vincnet's Day is used in amateur forecasting and divination: wind and sun on 22 nd January are favourable omens for the coming year's crops of grain and grape.
(Chambers Book of Days)

Remember on St Vincent's Day,
If the sun his beams display,
Be sure to mark the transient beam,
Which through the casement sheds a gleam,
For 'tis a token bright and clear
Of prosperous weather all the year.

Traditional rhyme

Thursday, 21 January 2010



Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed
The speculating rooks at their nests cawed
And saw from elm-tops, delicate as flower of grass,
What we below could not see, Winter pass.

Edward Thomas

I have just really discovered the poet Edward Thomas. I picked up a book of letters by Eleanor Farjeon (letters between him and her) at a book sale a couple of weeks back, and have just started it. I'm now starting to read his poetry. A friend who was round the other day was having a cup of tea, and talk turned to literary matters, and he mentioned Edward Thomas, so I was able to tell him of the book I was reading. This friend lived not far from where the poet lived, so had an added interest. Funnily enough, I'd started reading this book just the night before. I like what I've read so far, so more researchwill be done.
I liked this poem "Thaw" for its spareness and its ability to convey so much in few words.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Wednesday is mending day...............

Wednesday is mending day in my house. I like mending for a lot of reasons, although when I mention that I do mend to some folks, their response is often one of incredulity."I don't bother..........waste of time.............I just buy another one........give it to the charity shop..........throw it away....." I find that sad in many ways.
I mend in order that an otherwise sound garment or article can continue to be used; I mend because I enjoy it; it saves money; it's less wasteful; I find it therapeutic; it's immensely satisfying to do; connects with the past - my grandparents and parents mended everything!
Clothes, buckets, furniture, kitchen utensils, zips - you name it, we try and mend it if we can - sides to middles on sheets and turning shirt collars too. Half the battle is buying the best quality that you can afford to begin with - as well as lasting and wearing better, these things are usually much more amenable to patching, mending and darning than cheaper items.If it's not repairable, another use is found for it if possible - only then will it go for recycling/to the tip.
Clothes are the prime candidate in this house usually. Today's mending list is two pairs of jeans - one actual mending, one just a new button required - one pair of knitted gloves needs darning, and two pairs of knitted socks; plus mending a collar on a friend's bought (expensive!) jumper that is unravelling, in exchange for a brace of pheasants - a good bit of barter!
It's a good job well done when the mended articles are returned to their owners, and I know that they live on to serve another while.
Ofcourse, if/while I have the machine up and running, I can always slip in a bit of sewing or quilting too..............
I found this photo to share as well:

Cheap and cheerful birthday card

This is one of my favourite birthday cards to make and send! Anyone who knows me well enough to receive a birthday card from me will understand the irony of a Tesco card from me!!LOL
Very easy to make - just Google "Tesco value card" in an image search and print a copy out. Cut to size and stick on a blank card - voila!

Taking the mick out of Tesco? Oh yes................LOL

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Pig in a box

This arrived on my doorstep this morning - a whole pig (minus head) in a box! I ordered it from a friend last summer, after having met him and got into conversation with him at a local event I was doing a spinning demonstration at. He had three wee weaners, Oxford Sandy and Black, and I met them fairly frequently between then and Christmas. They were butchered at a local abbatoir, so I couldn't get much more local unless I kept them myself (still under discussion with MrL, but looking unlikely - never say never, though lol) Theres a lot of meat there, plus a big bag of offal and a huge bag of bones, and I'll be getting stuck in tomorrow to get it sorted, with a view to curing bacon, making sausages and hams. The next pig I get, already ordered for next year, I will be butchering myself.
I was organised enough to get one of the freezers cleared out, apart from 3 trotters left from a previous pig we had, so there's plenty of room to get it sorted out, labelled and sensibly stacked in there. That amount of meat should keep us going for a long time I hope.
So - what's for tea, MrsL?

Roast chicken ofcourse!!! LOL

Monday, 18 January 2010

Mascarpone ice cream with winter pears and honey

There are some lovely English pears in the shops just now; a ripe pear is one of my favourite fruits to eat as it is - just a plate and a knife needed.
However, with lots of them about, the price is good, so I use them in cooking as well. I've just made this, which is now headed to the freezer; I got mascarpone cheese reduced to a fraction of its full cost, so was able to indulge in some ice cream making; the girls are starting back into lay so I have a good supply of eggs already. Over all, it turned out not too expensive to make; worth it anyway, it tastes wonderful!

1/2 pint milk
4oz sugar
3 egg yolks
8oz mascarpone cheese
a good dessertspoonful of honey
3 medium ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped small
few drops of real vanilla essence

Heat the milk and 3 -4 drops of vanilla essence to just under boiling; meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light and creamy. Pour on the hot milk, still whisking. Return to the pan and simmer until the custard thickens. Remove from heat, whisk in the mascarpone and honey, then sit in the chopped pears. Cover and leave to cool. When cold, place in freezer until frozen.

When required, give it a decent amount of time to thaw out - it freezes a lot harder than bought ice cream.

There is no need to whisk half way through, as just the yolks of the eggs are used. If you use a whole egg/s in ice cream making, it's the whites that form the crystals which have to be beaten/whisked down.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Return of the sun

I pulled back the bedroom curtains to this! Isn't it lovely to see the sun again? It's still wet and squelchy underfoot, but the shining sun has made a very welcome return after the past few days. I'm hooping to get outdoors in the veg garden later - too wet to work on the ground, but I want to make a start on the greenhouses and get a bit ahead of myself.
Hope it's sunny today where you are. :)