Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Stores - Musings

It's only because of our stores of food that I have been able to keep our spending so ridiculously low this month. 

During the first three weeks of  this year I've done two shops, one where I spent the grand total of 16p, thanks to having an Asda Price Guarantee coupon and being in the right place at the right time to get a shed load of bread items and a couple of treats for pennies, thanks to yellow stickers.  And the second shopping trip spending just £6.76 thanks again to shopping at the end of the day and finding some yellow stickers.

Now this 'lucky' shopping is not going to be a regular thing, as much as I would like it to be and this is not a 'yellow sticker bargain blog' with me out and about chasing bargains ... although I do love those blogs and they do inspire me.  No this is going to be more about how we use what we have in store.

And food stores are important.

Shops these days only hold enough for an additional 24 hours of fresh sales, and they mostly only have for sale that which you see on their shelves of the longer life dried, bottled and canned goods.  The days of large warehouse space behind supermarkets was gradually phased out a few years ago. 

When I worked for a year as an online picker if it wasn't on the shelf we could go into the warehouse and see if there was more stock waiting to come out.  Just as I was leaving my job (it was at Sainsbury's) the shop was being redeveloped to have only a quarter as much warehouse space and the rest being opened up into the store for more homewares.  This was all thanks to the EPOS tills and the new technology that now fills out order requirements for the stores next days deliveries, all ready for the lorries to deliver the goods overnight from central locations ... have you driven on the motorway overnight recently?  If you were in a car you would have found yourself to be in the minority, as Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, and other stores lorries all vie to overtake each other on the inside and middle lanes.

It's a whole other world. 

The main food cupboard.

And this is where what we store at home, either bought in goods, home produced goods or home grown goods is so vitally important.  We really do need to know that if we can't get out, due to bad weather, ill health or other unexpected reasons we can still put together enough meals for at the very least a few days.  If it's the weather that causes our inability to shop is it also going to stop the new deliveries getting through to the shops.  We just need to be aware and be prepared ... yes I was a Girl Guide  :-)

With dried and canned goods in cupboards, frozen foods in freezers and enough fresh foods such as potatoes, bananas, apples etc either in cupboards or bowls we can breathe easy knowing that we have resources at our fingertips to keep ourselves, our families and any visitors alive and reasonably happy.

Wartime rations, supplemented with vegetables and off ration items.

We are very, very lucky these days.  Even the most hard up of us will have a basic larder of spices, herbs, condiments etc and couple of bags of Smart Price pasta and jars of Smart Price pasta sauces or tins of tomatoes to rustle up reasonably filling and relatively healthy meals for a few day.  We will most likely also have some frozen or fresh vegetables that can be turned into soup etc etc.  How much less they had in the war years, and in the years after due to rationing.  Stock held in homes at the start of the war no doubt dwindled away very quickly and you would not have be able to build up supplies in the same way again.

  Those of us with more money these days will have much more in stock.  We have very good stores at the moment, although even through this month I see things very gradually creeping down.  I took photos of the cupboards, freezers etc on the first of the month and will do so again each month to see how things are used.

The house freezer.

I have brought some things in from the freezer in the workshop to refill the shelves in the house freezer but they are both still full of lots of very balanced foods to prepare whole meals from.

Of course in a few months it will be time to start planting vegetables over in the poly and net tunnels and in the Veggie Patch, and then that will see us 'living off the land' for a few months as well as preparing, preserving and freezing foods to last us over next Winter.  And that is the cycle of food production when you grow your own.  While we are still in the process of eating last years homegrown vegetables from the freezer and from the jars of bottled goods we are already planning what we will be eating this time next year.

The Preserve Cupboard.

Just to show you what is in the cupboard at the top of this post. 

The contents of this are creeping down one jar of jam and one jar of chutney at a time.  I thought I needed to make some marmalade but seeing this photo I realise there are still three jars waiting to be used.

Sue xx

Friday, 19 January 2018

Back to Breadmaking, Freebies and a Chance ...

I've slipped back into bread making very easily. 

Although there is still part of a sliced loaf in the freezer along with lots of the bargain yellow stickered buns and French sticks, I decided to get my hand in again with the homemade bread.  After all nothing beats a nice thick slice of buttered toast with a bowl of homemade soup for lunch.

Last week I mastered getting my buns to stay a little bit soft on top.   I simply draped a tea-towel over the buns as they cooled down on the wire rack and it worked a treat.

This was last weeks loaf and the two smaller loaves on the first photo are the ones I made the other day.  Now only a couple of slices of one of the loaves is left in the bread bin ... I never even got to photograph the two buns that I also made along with them, we ate them warm from the oven with our soup.

And the 'freebies and the chance' of the title ... well in the free |Tesco magazine I picked up the other day were these coupons (along with lots of others for things I have no use for).  The freebie is a cup of coffee from the Tesco cafĂ©, I'll rarely say no to free coffee, and the chance is to win £100 in Tesco vouchers .... well someone has to win, I might as well offer my coupon up for scanning when I'm buying this weeks bottle of milk tomorrow!!

Sue xx

Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Enamel Pan

The enamel pan came in useful for the draw for the giveaway book the other day. 

Of course I could actually use it for cooking in but I prefer to have it sat on the shelf, next to the rather large teapot which is now our 'sealed pot' for this year.  Having them out and in use, albeit not for the use they were intended, makes me smile every time I see them.

I have tried to gather all my sort of relevant books onto this shelf to make them easy to access and make me more likely to cook from them.  Last year this shelf held all my vegan cookery books so it's nice to have a change around.

In it's day to day life the enamel pan holds all the little odds and sods of pamphlets, leaflets and other wartime memorabilia ... including my Ration Book  ;-)

I got most of my ephemera from The Black Country Living Museum when I was there, but some of the items are available on Amazon.

I thought this pack was pretty good value for money, even if these are all replica items.  I absolutely love things like this and had a happy hour or so reading every bit of information on every single item.

I also got a Gardening one which I'll show you another day.

Keeping everything in the enamel pan means it's all neat and near to hand if I need it.  Some of my smaller recipe books are in there too, including my beloved Be-Ro book, sadly a modern version ... but I'll be keeping my eyes open for an old one at the car boot sales over the Summer.

Sue xx

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Old Apples

Old apples bobbing in salted water ready to be used.

This bag of apples had been in the bottom drawer of the fridge since the first week of October, I'd used two of them at some point and then completely forgotten about the others.  We often forget about things in the bottom drawer ... we should ask Suky the Pug to remind us , she is absolutely fascinated by it and stands staring at the drawer every time the fridge door is left open.

Don't ask ... I have no idea why!

Anyway I decided a quick crumble would be delicious. 

Eating apples make for a lovely crumble as the slices hold their shape and retain just a little bit of 'bite'.  I added some assorted homegrown berries from the freezer and topped with the last of my ready made crumble mix also from the freezer.

Ready to be popped into the oven for 30 minutes.

We had half between us the first night and saved the other half for the next day.

I  do like seeing leftovers cooling and then in the fridge, it gets my brain working ready for the next day and gives me a head start

Sue xx.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Emptying Drawers, Handcream Tip and Free Books

I took these two photos before we went to Tesco the other night.  Compared to how these drawers looked over the Christmas holidays they are positively sparse now.  Added to this one after our shopping trip was the white cabbage and the bag of mixed vegetables.

During wartime rationing though this amount and variety of fresh food would have been exciting to see. 

Especially seeing two almost full bags of onions, they were in very short supply during the war years, and only country folk and those with their own gardens or patches of land for growing in town, would have any kind of regular supply at all.  They do take up a lot of room to grow.

And I'm guessing a melon would have been unheard of!!

I brought this tube of hand cream in out of the car after trying and trying unsuccessfully to get any more out of it, as you can see once chopped in half it yielded another few days supply.

Using the chopped off top part as a lid keeps it from drying out too quickly.

A final thing ...

Did you pick up your copies of the free books offered by the Radio Times over the Christmas period, they are well worth having.  The last little tokens were in last weeks edition.  As you can see I got both of the Little Women books and I also the Paddington Bear one, but I can't find that anywhere on my shelves.  I do get annoyed when I lose things!!

Sue xx

Monday, 15 January 2018

And the Winner is ...

Of the 60 comments that I got, all those of you who wanted to be in the draw were popped into the enamel pan this morning ...

... and the winning name was Lin.

Yes, Lin it's you. 
 from 'A Little Bit of Everything'

If you could drop me an email to the address right at the bottom of the right hand sidebar letting me know your home address I will get the book out to you as soon as I can.  I'll be at the Post Office tomorrow so if you see this before then you'll have the book by the end of this week.

*** *** ***

Many thanks to all those of you who entered for the chance to win the book.
There will be another book giveaway in February.

Sue xx


I've been asked a couple of times for my recipe for scones, especially since I published the photo of the scones that I made for Alan's' birthday.

You can't beat a scone with candles  :-)

Well actually you can ... one with candles and 10p clotted cream  ;-)

My recipe is exactly the same as my Blogging Buddy Suzy's from this book.

8oz /225g SR Flour
8oz./225g Plain Flour and 1 heaped teaspoon of Baking powder
Pinch of Salt
2.5 oz/60g  Butter or Marg
1oz/25g Caster Sugar
3.5fl oz/100ml Milk

Preheat oven to 200 Electric/ Gas 6/ Aga - sorted  :-)

Mix together your flour and salt, rub in the butter/marg until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs, add in the sugar and stir.  Pour in the milk and stir together with a knife.  Work the dough just enough to form into a ball.

Roll out very lightly on a minimally floured surface and either cut out using a cutter and re-roll until all the mixture is used up, or do as I do and shape the ball of dough into a circle or square and cut into four quarters with a knife.  This is much easier, there is no wastage and the dough does not get over-worked.

Put your scones on a greased or lined baking tray, brush just the tops with milk and bake for around 15-20 minutes until nice and golden. 

Ta da.

For lots of variations see the page ... 'Recipes I Use' at the top of the blog.

Serve with butter, butter and jam or go the whole hog and have a Cornish Cream Tea.

Always, always, always jam on first and then cream ...well do you want a sticky nose!!   ;-)

Sue xx