Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shopping Week 4-6

I clutched my shopping list, barely able to contain my excitement at the meals ahead I do realise this comes across as rather sad...   I skipped round the supermarket, sans kids obviously, picking up bargains galore.   I was a teeny bit worried as I'd added some basic toiletries as well as the shopping and as you all know, I take cash with me these days, to stop me picking up that kg of smoked salmon or half price champagne.....mmmm...champagne......   I add up as I go along, rounding up.   Now this is where it gets good; my bargains and canny shopping meant that my bill for two whole weeks shopping came to....wait for it...£70.29.   Yes....that includes over £5 on toiletries so for food alone, £65.   Happy dance.....and the receipt to prove it.

As you can see from the meal list below, shopping on a budget does not mean skimping on meals or even on quality as some misguided wee soul suggested to me last week and will now rue the day....*evil, smug chuckle*...yes, I lose friends daily and expect to be clobbered soon...; the chicken was free range, the beef grade A, fresh herbs were purchased as well as good quality fruit and veg.  The remaining cash will be used for something nice from the deli or butchers or towards Friday night's soiree....entertaining is a separate budget usually although a lot of what I'll be serving is within the list below (stews, pizzas etc).

Buttermilk chicken with smashed sweet potatoes and roasted veg.
Beef stew (enough for 15 servings) with pastry rounds
Farmhouse chicken & chorizo stew (Helen's recipe) with dumplings (10 servings)
Vegetarian lasagna x 2
Homemade pizza & hearthbread with mozarella and garlic
Artichoke Salad (still loving it!)
Macaroni cheese x 2
Salmon fishcakes with green veg
Vegetable and lentil soup with homemade rolls
Haggis, neeps and tatties
Vegetable curry and rice
Pasta with homemade tomato sauce with garlic butter swirls
Chicken and couscous
Omelettes & chips

I got some excellent beef for half price because the use by date was the next day; even if you are not going to cook it right away, it is worth buying to freeze.   As a result of this beef and the special offer already on, I made an enormous beef stew, taking a little of it for dinner that night (enough for five) and making a sour cream pastry crust to turn it into a pie.   Delicious.

I did the same with the chicken; I made the entire batch without chorizo as none was available, we had some for tea and froze the rest.   I shall defrost it for Friday night and add the chorizo, which I shall buy at the deli because I have plenty of budget and the West End deli the dish before placing in the oven to reheat.   This is one of those dishes which is so much nicer the next day or after being frozen.

This is one of my best shops yet; I have lots left over, e.g. pasta sheets, flour, frozen meals and could easily provide 3 weeks worth of meals from it.

Homemade bread/rolls/pancakes with chicken/cheese/jam/Nutella
French toast
Boiled eggs and soldiers
Mini pizzas

Boiled eggs
Cake bread

Chocolate, cherry and coconut bread

Beef stew baked in a pie
Farmhouse chicken stew minus the chorizo


Pizza....before baking

Hearthbreads...before baking

Roasted sweet potato and Maris Pipers

Recipes to follow.

Giveaway coming up soon; watch this space!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

To a Haggis...

 Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

Our haggis, neeps and tatties burns Supper...with a nip or two of 10 year old Macallan 

Happy Burns Day! 

Robert Burns, or Rabbie, as he's known, is celebrated on this day, his birthday by Scots around the world.   This weekend, we couldn't attend a proper Burns Supper for the first time in ages, so we had a wee one all to ourselves.   I'm glad we didn't wait as today I am poorly although I'm sure it will be shortlived; I'd have had to force that whisky down there...yeah...right....

A wee apology for not visiting blogs recently, my computer isn't working properly and will hardly let me post, let alone browse.   That's why I'm ill body has went into shock!   I shall hopefully resume normal service soon, my lovely bloggy peeps.  Lots of cheap and lovely recipes to follow.... 
Til then, raise a Burns!

slĂ inte!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

That was a blast!

My SITS day was wonderful; lots and lots! of lovely bloggy gals and a few blokes came over for a visit, a chat and a cup of tea.   There was shortbread but it's all gone now.   I think I saw Unknown Mami heading out the door with them.....   I just wanted to thank you all so much for coming over and for your, lets face it, pretty amazing comments!   I had a smile on my face all day yesterday.   My plan was to reply to everyone but after realising I'd spent two hours replying to "" for many of you, I had a...

followed by a...

moment...or ten.

I'm so looking forward to visiting all the blogs; there are hundreds of lovely girls and blokes of course to go visit and that makes me happy!   It may take me a week though.   Pesky kids, interfering with my blogging time!

I promise an update on the scary story sorry for those of you that couldn't sleep...*evil chuckle* since many of you asked; I also promise to give a tutorial in the form of a vlog no laughing at my tartan bunnet and accent on how to bake bread.   Watch this space!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My very own SITS day!

Wednesday, 20th January

The wonderful girls at SITS have made me today's  featured blogger.  Woohoo! Better tidy up....where's that duster...?  Thank you sitstas!   I'm one happy lass.

SITS is a wonderful online community; it's all about sharing the bloggy love and giving support to each other in the form of reading and commenting on each other's blogs.   I've met some amazing and downright funny, crazy, all over inspirational people through SITS and made some great bloggy friends; if you haven't already, please go check it won't be sorry!

I'm a mum of three lovely children and live in a suburb of Glasgow in Scotland.   Och aye!   I started this blog after waxing lyrical in the pub one day this is what we do in Scotland: think Women's Institute but with cocktails; my friends remember it differently but  we agree we were all talking about my plan to see if I could live off £50 per week having at times spent three times that amount....hey, everyone needs a hobby...and gin...I was managing quite well, much to their very supportive but incredulous surprise.   They asked for proof, they wanted recipes...I gladly obliged.   And a blog was born.   Now as every blogger knows, blog topics tend to wander, growing arms and legs in the process so don't be surprised if you come across the odd scary story or pointless tune.  You have been warned.

Thank you for taking the time to come visit me, I really do appreciate it and can't wait to return the favour.   Now...anyone for afternoon tea?   Or hearthbread?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Om, shanti shanti eh!

I spent a good part of the weekend on a yoga course, vinyasa-ing my way through updogs and asanas.   My last yoga course was interspersed with looking after a wee sick laddie, enabling me to avoid any part in meditation, already being in a trance like state!   As if by magic, the same wee laddie ended up with a bug on Saturday night, leading to a sleepless night and yet another course participation spent in a daze.   Despite the lack of sleep, I thoroughly enjoyed it and Jo, our wonderful yoga teacher did us proud.   The lunch and wine were good too of course....

I managed to make some bread before collapsing; to give Brian his due, he kneaded on my behalf!

The kids had theirs with butter and jam.

I had mine with tomatoes, spring onions, olive oil, herbs and coleslaw.

We have to make two; one to be devoured, another for breakfast.

The kids and Brian were visiting Grandpa on Saturday evening so I was left to my own devices; I watched 'Funny Face' with Audrey Hepburn and made myself a very healthy ...yeah, right... fry up!   Just because!

Bacon, egg, beans, homemade bread toasted and roasted tomatoes...yum!

After the course finished, I went shopping for lamb koftas, cream and smoked salmon, plus more as today I had an afternoon tea with friends.   More on that tomorrow.   My budget for the next two week's shopping will therefore be cut to £80, that's £40 per week.   Shopping list and receipt to follow.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My week in pictures

I discovered a beautiful new salad. It was the tastiest, simplest plate of scrumptiousness.

Roasted Artichoke Salad with mint, Parmesan and toasted pine nuts

Pikelets for supper and breakfast....mmmmm.

Just enough for three greedy children

I made 'Fred' for baby nephew

Gift boxed until his birthday

The kids made a chinhead video with my you do.

Then 'Johnny' was born for Fraser.

So now everyone has one!

The salad was so good, I had it again another night!

Artichoke Salad
Artichokes, steamed for 20 minutes OR buy already cooked from deli, fresh or jarred.
Mixed peppery leaves (rocket, spinach, radicchio etc)
Slivered or grated Parmesan, to taste
Toasted pine nuts, about a small tablespoon per person
Juice from lemon
Olive oil (I used extra virgin for the dressing)
Handful chopped fresh mint
*Apparently, radishes, thinly sliced go really well with this too...couldn't get any but will try next time.

I used jarred artichokes as I had some from Christmas. I arranged them in their oily, vinegary liquid onto a baking tray, drizzled some extra olive oil on top and roasted in the oven for 8 minutes or so, until the artichokes started to turn brown at the edges.

Arrange the leaves on a plate and drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil (or lemon oil) and a good squeeze of lemon really want to taste the lemon. Arrange the artichokes on top and squeeze a little more lemon juice on them. Sprinkle over the Parmesan; the first time I grated, the next I thinly sliced....makes no difference, just whatever you prefer. Dry toast the pine nuts and toss on top. Enjoy....again and again.

*I think the jarred artichokes work so well here and I don't know if I'd bother buying them fresh...I will, once, just to try but there is something about the flavour of the marinade...the oil, the vinegar cutting through the a good way...that really works.

225g/8oz Strong White Bread Flour
1 teaspoon caster sugar
Half teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fast action dried yeast (easy bake yeast, comes in small sachets, 2 teaspoons per 7g packet)
Quarter teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
175ml/6 fl oz warm semi skimmed milk
175ml/6 fl oz hand hot water
Sunflower or Veg oil for brushing

Stir all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Gradually pour in the milk and water with an electric whisk or hand whisk, until a batter is formed. This should take a few minutes. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for approx. 1.5 hours or less, until the mix goes frothy.

Beat again for approx. 1 minute until smooth.

Warm a large, non stick pan, medium heat and brush with oil. Spoon a tablespoon of the batter onto the can do a few at a time...and cook until the bubbles have burst and the batter is almost set, a minute or two. Turn over and cook for another 30 seconds or so until the middle is golden in colour. Grease the pan between each cooking of pikelets.
*Women's Institute Recipe

If you make these with a teaspoon size, they are great for canapes. Two tablespoons poured into a greased ring or cookie cutter will give you crumpets.

The kids like the pikelets with a sprinkling of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, I like them with jam. We all love them with Nutella.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Enough already!

View from the house; we've hit a thaw..apparently!

Sun setting

G'bye sun; we only knew you for a brief moment...but you warmed our toes and noses..we'll miss you.

Please help me. I'm so cold. My nose is permanently pink. The tips of my ears can no longer be felt can you ever feel your ears though?. At a party at Sam's on Saturday night, the temperature was so much on our minds, we even discussed the weather; good for sledging, bad for walking, whether it was stalagmites or stalactites....really, we shouldn't be discussing such things, especially not on a Saturday night! We should be merrily drinking and singing Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of our voices ok, the first person to mention Boxing day gets hurt. Apparently, you remember stalactites as coming downwards because "tights come down". "Yeah" I mumbled "maybe in Fife....". All those over the age of 41 seemed to know this; all us under had no idea what they were on about.

Despite the brief weather talk, it was a lovely Saturday night and the house was toasty...very, very important when accepting invitations these days. We had lovely chilli, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, tortillas, wraps, antipasti, couscous, olives, dips and much, much more. Delicious. Sam even came up with two lovely wee birthday cakes Happy birthday Ann and Ian....*thrrrp* with fireworks on top...yup, actual burn-your-eyebrows-blind-you-for-life fireworks...but we Glaswegians like to live on the edge I know you're not Glaswegian Sam but you have to accept an honorary status after at least 10 years.

The spread; that empty space was filled with glorious couscous!

Ian and Ann's surprise cakes! The now no longer have eyebrows.

During the holiday period, the cold doesn't seem to be as much of a nuisance because the kids are here, we're all playing and snuggling up to watch old movies which is great fun...I forgot how funny My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn was:

Mrs. Eynsford-Hill: I do hope we wont have any unseasonable cold spells, they bring on so much influenza. And the whole of our family is susceptible to it.
Eliza Doolittle: My Aunt died of influenza, or so they said. But its my belief they done the old woman in.
Mrs. Higgins: Done her in?
Eliza Doolittle: Yes, lord love you. Why should she die of influenza, when she come through diphtheria right enough the year before. Fairly blue with it she was. They all thought she was dead. But my father, he kept ladling gin down her throat. Then she come to so sudden she bit the bowl right off the spoon.
Mrs. Eynsford-Hill: Dear Me!
Eliza Doolittle: Now what call would a woman with that strength in her have to die of influenza? And what become of her new straw hat that should have come to me?
Eliza Doolittle: Somebody pinched it. And what I say is: them 'as pinched it, done her in.
Lord Boxington: Done her in? Done her in did you say?
Lady Boxington: Whatever does it mean?
Mrs. Higgins: Its the new slang meaning someone has killed her.
Mrs. Eynsford-Hill: Surely you don't think someone killed her?
Eliza Doolittle: Do I not? Them she lived with would have killed her for a hatpin, let alone a hat.
Mrs. Eynsford-Hill: But it can't have been right for your father to be pouring spirits down her throat like that, it could have killed her.
Eliza Doolittle: Not her, gin was mother's milk to her. Besides he poured so much down his own throat, he knew the good of it.
Lord Boxington: Do you mean he drank?
Eliza Doolittle: Drank? My word something chronic.
[responding to freddy's laughter]
Eliza Doolittle: Here! What are you sniggering at?
Freddy Eynsford-Hill: The new small talk, you do it so awfully well.
Eliza Doolittle: Well if I was doing it proper, what was you sniggering at? Have I said anything I oughtn't?
Mrs. Higgins: No my dear.
Eliza Doolittle: Well thats a mercy anyhow...

....but after the holidays have past, there is that week. That first week the kids are back to school, I'm barely organised and it's too damn cold anyway! But then we move on to this week. I always like this one as motivation goes up and the blues come down; it's week 3 of the new year already and the cold, despite it being a big blue pain in the pants, is not going to limit me anymore. The heating is on full blast, the thermals have been sent over by helicopter, courtesy of Marks and Sparks and I'm going out. Yes! Out I tell you. If you don't hear from me for a few days, send a mountain rescue team up The Whangie. Tell them to bring gin. Lots of it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

And then there were two....

I made Florence a sister; Kelly called her Dolly.

Dolly having a nap after her 'operation'.

Dolly was well stuffed, unlike her wee sis Florence.

Rag Doll No. 2; pretty girl.

We had beef stew with potatoes and dumplings last night, all cooked in the one pot. Lucy helped with the dumplings.

Beef Stew, potatoes, carrots, onions and dumplings.

It was warming, tasty and just perfect for a cold winter's night.

There was nothing left!

We had shortbread drizzled with chocolate for dessert.


The temperature reached -20 in some parts of Scotland last night. We were at -11 and despite the heating on, it is cold. Any window that may have a tiny breeze or any tile which may be a wee bit loose lets in a bit of biting wind and reduces the temperature greatly, leaving the central heating struggling to cope.

The cold water is hard to bear, the tiled floor in the kitchen is like ice. There are icicles hanging from the awning and pipes ready to burst. Therefore, I have no choice but to snuggle within the confines of the toasty living room, drinking hot tea, eating leftover shortbread and spicy almonds that I'd made for Anne last night. It is a terrible thing to admit, but underneath this fetching outfit I'm wearing not...really, really not is the pair of pjs I refused to take off when I got up.

I'm taking the day off.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rag Doll Brittle


I decided to try my hand at making a rag doll; there are so many reasons for this and yet no reason at all. It just is what it is. I got some old clothes and cut them up, stuffing the legs and body with the leftovers; there wasn't really enough stuffing, I think I'll need to find some more rags.

Not being known for my seamstress skills, I had to go over every stitch at least twice but it was almost therapeutic, sewing whilst watching Hustle on BBC!

Lucy fell in love with her, even before her face was put on and Fraser and Kelly want one too. I'm thinking of going to the rag doll makers store...if there was such a store....idiot...and buying proper stuffing and material...maybe make for the kids and one as a gift for a special wee laddie who has a birthday coming up.

Breakfast was a solitary affair; with the roads being so bad with snow and ice, Brian and the kids left for school early after wolfing down a large bowl of cereal and some toast each so, as I had made some nut brittle last night, I made some coffee and put out a plate of the golden treat for my breakfast. I left some for Brian......Brian: what? There was only coffee when I got home! You greedy witch....

It was a lovely breakfast treat.

I made a quick caramel by boiling sugar and water until it turned golden must watch this, it can change very quickly...and then adding some chopped nuts, some broken walnuts and some whole pecan nuts. I love nuts but would rather not have them on their own; add some sea salt and chilli or caramel and mmm mmm!

For lunch, I made the goats cheese salad I had been planning for dinner; I love goats cheese, pine nuts and spinach together. It's one of my favourite meals. I had opened the spinach to make soup and decided soup and salad would be a nice combination. My sis arrived and the phone went, hence no photograph.

Goats Cheese Salad
A handful of spinach, watercress and any other leaves of choice, mixed with cucumber and chopped spring onion; I usually use this dressing but since I had my lovely Nudo olive oil...I am not getting paid to tell you how wonderful this is, I promise...I just freaking love it....I mixed it with sapa, salt, a squeeze of lemon, black pepper and a little mint. Dress the salad just before serving. Top with toasted pine nuts and goats cheese, heated under a grill or oven. I topped the goats cheese with some of the onion confit I still had left; this keeps so well because of the sugar and alcohol! I've never combined these before....they were so delicious together.

Spinach and Potato Soup
Chicken or vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped
1 peeled potato, chopped
1 inch ginger, finely grated
Good grating nutmeg
Spinach to taste; I used four large handfuls.
A few sprigs of mint (optional)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black or white pepper

Boil the stock and add in the onions and potato. After 5-10 minutes, add ginger. Bring to a simmer and once the potato is soft, add in the spinach. Simmer for a scant minute and then blend. I use a hand whisk for this soup. Grate in the nutmeg and the mint leaves, chopped. Add extra salt if required and a good sprinkling of white pepper to freshly ground black pepper. Butter bread, if not having with salad like I did and dunk!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Menu 1 of 2010, week 1-3

I decided to combine my shopping to a fortnight this time around; the roads are treacherous and there were a few good 2 for 1 bargains so it made sense to go for two weeks worth instead of one. The shopping came to £102, £2 being for a Children in Need shopping carrier bag so we're bang on target of £50 per week. I shall scan the receipt once I remember where I put it, but 5 minutes ago. Ah, the memory loss that happens as you get older....not joyful...not joyful at all.

What was I talking about? Oh, yes......

Dinner x 14

Lamb Escalopes with curried rice, potatoes and chick peas, roasted tomatoes and lemon and mint yoghurt sauce.

Mince and Tatties

Roast Chicken with vegetable cous cous, petit pois and broccoli

Spinach salad with roasted goats cheese, pine nuts, onion confit and a lemon and herb dressing

One pot beef stew and potatoes

Baked haddock and mash with wee peas

Spaghetti and meatballs

Chargrilled artichokes with Parmesan

Chicken salad with sesame seeds and soy dressing

Lentil & Vegetable Soup with Homemade Bread

Sausage & Mash

Vegetable Curry

Spaghetti Carbonara

Fry up

___________ Lunches x 14

Lentil & Vegetable Soup

Chicken noodle Soup

Tomato soup

Chinese Noodle Soup with ginger and spring onions

Spinach and leek soup

Carrot & Ginger soup



Toast and beans


Egg Salad


Mini quichelets

Homemade bread and jam





Scrambled Eggs


Sausages and tomatoes


Fruit Salad



Shortbread with chocolate


Toasted almonds

Caramelised pecans and almonds
I'd made a vegetable curry the other day using chick peas, potatoes and onions.

I quickly stir fried some spices including dried chilli, fenugreek, cinnamon, cumin and coriander and then added a chopped onion, some peeled and chopped potatoes and then drained and washed chick peas. I stirred and left for a few minutes before adding a tin of chopped tomatoes and some vegetable stock. I brought it to the boil and then simmered for around 15 minutes, until the chick peas and potatoes were almost soft. I then added a cup of washed basmati rice, topped up with a little bit more stock, brought it to the boil again and then simmered for a further 10 minutes until the rice was cooked. It looked delicious and tasted lovely. The rice had soaked up the flavour nicely.

We had the curry with some homemade flat bread and there was lots of curry leftover so tonight, it was reheated and served alongside lamb escalopes, roasted tomatoes and a lemon and mint yoghurt sauce. The escalopes were dusted with smoked paprika and a grinding of black pepper. They were cooked for a few minutes each side until nicely browned and then wrapped in foil to rest for 10 minutes. Plain yoghurt was given some chopped mint, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of sea salt as a quick and tasty sauce accompaniment. The tomatoes were virtually tossed into the oven and roasted with no further adornment except for a little touch of salt when they were ready.

The entire dish took about 6 minutes to prepare. There are leftover escalopes as there was 6 altogether, enough for three people; I'm sure it could be added to a salad or for a snack on a bun with some caramelised onions later!

Talking of caramelised onions; I made this bread and then topped it with slices of camembert and onion confit....

Cooked...and delicious!

This one is baked brie, caramelised onions and caramelised pecan nuts.
Looks messy, sounds odd...but mmm mmmmm!