Saturday, 19 September 2009


This is a key word in our household at present. Some financial changes in my income - as in, I now have NONE nor will have until I claim my pension in three year's time - and a couple of hefty unexpected bills have caused a sharp intake of breath and frugality on a level not practiced quite so fanatically in this household for many a long year.

I have remembered that making a dish and then eating it until it is gone is possible, if boring, though remind me not to make quite such a substantial risotto next time, and perhaps less heavy-handed with the cabbage strips too?

I have remembered that home-made stock for soup gets that last mouthful of flavour and goodness from a chicken carcase, and is a habit I had quite gotten out of in the last couple of years. I have some in a jug in the fridge now, just waiting for me to fry off some onion, add various veg - leek, carrots, an ageing parsnip, and some of the recently-made roasted tomato'n'garlic to give depth of flavour. That's a job for this afternoon, although we have a weekend of back-to-back car boot sales and will be off to the 2nd shortly, so I may not be feeling like doing anything vertical by then - my back and hips are complaining after being on my feet all day yesterday. However, since any money made from car boot sales is fairly vital to our cottage economy right now, it's not something we can cry off from.

I must remember more eggs too, as we are getting low and I am doing a lot more baking one more, to "fill up the corners". I had started buying free range from a neighbour of mine, and indeed, can barter jam or whatever with her for her eggs. Unfortunately, several of the last eggs we had from here were not just a bit off, they were BLACK when broken open. OMG, the pong of an egg past its best lingers in the kitchen like a particularly bad f---! So we have been reduced to seeing if the eggs floated before using them, and so as my husband doesn't have a bad shock when he boils an egg for lunch, we have had to pay top dollar for half a dozen FR eggs from the supermarket, though doing so sticks in my craw. £1.45 or more for 6 eggs and then their idea of a large egg seems to be my idea of a pullet's offering . . . Having had our own free range hens in the past, I will not, on principle, buy anything other than free range eggs, even though I doubt very much if the hens producing them have ever seen a blade of grass, since the yolks are a pale insipid yellow and not the deep orangey-yellow of a hen on grass.

Mondays have long been "instant" food, something simple as it is often a busy day and I don't always feel like cooking. It's nice to have one night off a week. Sometimes we have cheese on toast, or just cold meat and chips. Lately we have been buying steak and ale pies from Morrisons, and they are quite palatable, though my friend's chef husband would probably have 40 blue fits rather than eat one! They fill a hole though, and in fact, we had them for supper last night after a long day at the car boot sale. Home-made oven chips (spuds had been peeled breakfast time on Friday) and some beans from the garden hit the spot as accompaniments.

There are no shortage of apples for pies at present, even though the trees are in a resting year (I hope it's that and not the extreme shortage of bees around here this year), and I have been picking blackberries to freeze. The freezers (we have 2, plus the top half of our 1/3 - 2/3 fridge freezer) are chocca block now, so time to start emptying them before the next lamb is due in December. I always keep a good store-cupboard, so now is the time to fall back on it, though I will still have to keep things ticking-over in the re-stocking it department. The proportion of what we buy in Lidl has been gradually rising all summer. I've never been a brand-name shopper anyway. The fruit and veg place at Abergwili has seen the colour of my money and whenever we are going past I check in there to see what has been reduced to £1 a box and I can use in some way. Hence the full freezer, which has seen its fair share of cherries, apricots, plums, greengages etc in recent weeks.

Well, breakfast calls and hopefully we will come home with less belongings and more money later on . . .


  1. I think this is a btter time of year to have to tighten your belt as it's easier to make filling meals using all the root veg - soups, stews etc and then there's the hedgerow and garden harvest as well for jams and pie fillings. Do you still have a butcher who would sell you beef bones to make stock with? That would give a meaty flavour to a vegetable casserole - and shin beef is cheap and has the most wonderful flavour if it's cooked long and slow. I've got a recipe for shin beef casserole I'll let you have when I get back from the US. Cheese and onion pie is another frugal dish too. All your wartime cook books will be full of good ideas. I'm sure that somewhere I have a frugal cookery book from the 1930s - I'll have a look for it and see what advice it offers. I think you need to see this as a challenge rather and then it will be less depressing. I could do with being much more frugal than I am, I might have a go at living on less too. My mum used to make a tasty corned beef hash using a tin of corned beef - needs a good slice of bread to mop it up but good and filling on a cold night. She could make lovely meals out of practically nothing having been a housewife during the War.

  2. We are feeling the pinch, too, so I concur with all you have said. Take heart; there are lots of us also experiencing the credit crunch, though it doesn't help to say so; but at least you will know there are others out there thinking of you, and also making soups and stews and eeking out that last drop of stock. Lots of love. Ann

  3. Gosh so many lovely blogs to catch up on! No time to comment on them all, but this one struck a chord. We've had times since I've had the children and stopped work (and six months when we were both out of work - including Christmas), when frugality has been the name of the day. Famously I can make a chicken last six meals. It really makes me mad to see people casually throwing away food which is still edible. Yesterday I picked three pounds of nice free sloes. Sadly I don't think the three bottles of gin I now need to add to them counts as frugal! The sloes will have to stay in the freezer until I can afford the gin!

  4. I love frugal cooking yet only do it 100% when needs must now and for the forseable future.

    Aparently bendy veg make the best veg stock lol
    I make Veg Curries with Lidl specials ... cheap sausages ...grilled and then sliced may not be the best but put in a chilli sauce with 'blue label' kinney beans ...who would know. Also I find that I can make a bolognese sauce using only 200g of mince but grating carrots etc into it ...serves 3 BIG eaters. Have fun many of us are having to watch what we spend.xx

  5. We felt the pinch back in Jan when my husband was made redundant but it was surprising how quickly we adapted back to the past and many of my mother's recipes have been retrieved from memory. I even enjoy cooking more than I have for a long time! It is surprising how far meals can be spread with a little thought. I use tins of chopped tomatoes in almost everything :-)

  6. Chris - I'm with you on the tins of chopped tomatoes, though they wouldn't pass the lips of either of my menfolk . . . fussy b*ggers they are!

    Angie - I saw bendy veg for stock too! (Economy Gastronomy wasn't it?) I am happy to add veg - the grated carrots is a good tip, thanks - to mince to make it go further, but my husband had a very bad upbringing and wasn't made to eat his veg and tells me I am spoiling the taste of the meat by adding anything to it. I can't even use a vegetable stock cube within his sight . . . He is a Big Baby like this and it doesn't help my frugality.

    Mags - that would have to be a BIG chicken now wouldn't it?! Enjoy the sloe gin. I had a glass of my last year''s s.g. the other night and it was bliss . . .

    Rowan - corn beef hash is on the menu for this week and believe it or not, a couple of wartime cook books on the kitchen table as I write! I would love your shin of beef recipe please. i am going to blow the dust off my photocopied pages of Elizabeth West's (of Hovel in the Hills fame) Kitchen in the Hills - she really COULD make 6d do the work of a shilling . . .

  7. Ha! The chopped toms have to be disguised in shepherds pies, casseroles etc. No one would eat a whole tinned tomato :-)

  8. I'm being very frugal at the moment too! My purchases soon added up and I have next to no income myself. Besides, it feels good to make that money stretch, and I have a chicken carcass to boil up tomorrow as a base for a leek and potato soup, mmmm :)

  9. In my former [New England] life I gardened and canned, froze, jammed or pickled anything that would hold still. I have always stocked grains, pasta, flour, jugs of honey and molasses and maple syrup. I very much miss having a garden here, as well as so few local outlets for fruits and good produce.
    What is it about men thinking they haven't had a proper meal unless they can identify a chunk of dead animal that hasn't been "stretched" with veggies or rice or such?
    I do wish I could learn to make the hearty, economical dishes in smaller quantity--they all seem to lend themselves to large kettles or casseroles.
    We are lucky most years in that meat has come from my son's hunting and his lady's careful processing of deer or elk. He shoots the creature and she takes over from there. They have been raising an organic beef for us which should see us through the winter and beyond.
    Now, if I had access to windfall apples and a few bushels of tomatoes to can I'd think myself well prepared for what might come.

  10. I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.