Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Don't bug me

Phew, it's been a scorcher today, I've been in and out like a fiddlers elbow. Tried to do some hedge cutting, but after 20 minutes had to come in or I would have been burnt to a frazzle. Good day for drying washing though, bed stripped, 30 minute wash, ten minutes on the line and back on the bed within the hour. 
Thank you for the fantastic response to yesterdays post, there was a lot of good advice on there. As usual you came up trumps and added a bit more flesh to my post. I'm sure the reader who sent the email now has all the information she needs to plan a fantastic veggie diet for her family. 
I've been doing some more prepping for my picture, making some beady bugs and flowers. I found the instructions in a library book, Encyclopedia of Crafts, by Martha Stewart. It's an A to Z guide with details of how to make all kinds of things. Not a book I would buy, lots of crafts that I would maybe not want to try, but a useful addition for someone who collects crafting reference books. Here are my efforts so far.
The flowers I made with floristry wire which someone gave me.  

I needed some finer wire for the bugs, because it has to go through the centre of the small beads several times. For this I have fine wire which I recovered from an old video player I broke up. It's surprising what useful bits you can find inside. All you crafters out there, if you throw away anything electrical, take it apart and see if there is anything useful inside, before you dump it. This wire, although it is tightly wound, will pull out from the centre of the spool.

I need a few more bugs, something I can get on with while I watch catch up TV. By the way, did you know Dragon's Den is back, I like that programme, and they are filming another series of Mr Selfridge. Not sure when that will be broadcast, can't wait to see the luscious Mr Piven again :o)

I'm off now, plants to water now the sun is going down. Toodle pip.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

In answer to an email

Good morning. Another email question to answer. Thank you for asking, no need to reveal the identity of the sender, I know who you are.  

I have been following your blog for quite a long time and really enjoy it! Thank you!!! I'm a single mom in the US with 2 kids still at home. I am very frugal. I am trying to get more into a vegetarian lifestyle both for health and financial reasons, meat prices have gone CRAZY!!!!  I look at your meals and always feel inspired. My request to you is to run an article about moving to a vegetarian diet. How does one do that? I am used to simple meals at home- usually a meat, a veg and a side dish like corn or potato. When I remove the meat from the plate it just looks like something is lacking and we don't stay full long enough. Your food looks more like meals! Please help us readers, and I am sure MANY would be helped by leading them to a more vegetarian diet. Do you recommend any cook books for us beginners? I bought the Moosewood cook book (used of course!) for vegetarian cooking but it calls for a lot of spendy ingredients and most of the meals are very heavy with fat.
Any help is greatly appreciated.

First and foremost I am not an expert in nutrition, the food I eat suits me, it may not suit everyone. The information out there about what you should or shouldn't eat is mind boggling confusing.  I see you have children, I don't know their ages, but one thing you must do is to give them a varied diet, a growing body is different to, say my 65 year old body.

You want to incorporate more veggie meals but it looks like something is missing on the plate when you leave out meat. Your cooking has probably followed the same pattern for a long time, meat and two veg. You see, that's where people are stuck, in the past, it's what they have always done, it's what their parents did, and they have continued the cycle. You need to get off the bike.

Look at my plates of food, there are no gaps there, my plates are full to over flowing. Portion control by all means if you are going to eat high calorie food, but if you eat lots of veg as I do, you can stuff yourself. The key is to eat more of what goes through you quickly, and less of the heavy stodge, including meat. Last night I ate my usual plate of steamed veg, potato, broccoli, broad beans, carrots, courgettes, and spinach, there was no room on my plate for anything else. So, an option is to fill the gap with even more veg. Instead of two veg, make it four or five veg.

If you find a plate of veg too boring you can disguise it in some way, by mashing it up, turning it into veggie burgers by adding beans, chick peas, lentils, peas, grated carrot, any grated root vegetable. Bind it with an egg, and grill your burgers. You can fill pies and pasties with veg, maybe add some cheese, maybe some nuts.

You don't have to go all the way and ban meat from your diet altogether. If you want to eat some meat it's best if you can buy good quality but buy less of it, maybe have one or two meat meals a week. If I wanted to eat meat, (heaven forbid, I couldn't stomach it), I would buy a small piece of the best steak, and that's about it. Any other meat products you are better off buying the lean meat and making pies, sausages, and burgers yourself, so you know what's in them.

You mention that you don't feel full for very long if you only eat veg. As I said, eat more of it, or add something that is more filling, such as beans or rice. It's ok to snack between meals, I do when I feel hungry. I eat dairy so I might have cheese and crackers, a yogurt, a few walnuts, a banana, some grapes, a piece of wholemeal bread with cream cheese or peanut butter. You could make a pasta salad and keep it in the fridge for dipping into. Or a rice bowl with sweetcorn and peas. Make sure you use wholegrain where ever you can.

Another thing to think about, your stomach stretches to accommodate the amount of food you send down there. If you are feeling hungry you are tempted to put more fillers in. I don't know what your weight is like, but if you are skinny maybe a healthy snack or two, but if you need to lose weight ignore the hunger pangs for an hour to give your stomach chance to shrink a little. It's like stuffing a balloon.

I don't buy cookery books, as I make up my recipes, but I do have one out of the library at the moment which is interesting. India's Vegetarian Cooking, by Monisha Bharadwaj. Some of the food in there looks delicious. A quote from the author......'Much of my home cooking is vegetarian, because that was how I was brought up. All my favourite foods are from the vegetarian world. I also feel happier, healthier, and more energetic after a vegetarian meal'.

Looking at the ingredients listed for her recipes, there are indeed a lot of 'spendy' ingredients. I don't keep large amounts of herbs and spices, I can't afford them, so I use recipes for ideas, then adapt them to suit what I do have in my cupboard, using substitutions where necessary.

While I am on this subject, there was also a mention of protein in my diet, am I getting enough.. I've been looking around various web sites and have found a list of foods which supply the body with protein.
Beans. Lentils. Peas. Chickpeas. Whole grains. Quinoa. Wholegrain bread. Brown rice. Barley. Tofu and Soy products. Wholewheat pasta. Nuts. Seeds. Peanut butter. Eggs. Dairy. Cheese. Yogurt. Potatoes. Green leaf veg. Meat substitute. -  burgers, sausage, mince, soya chunks etc. I am getting nearly all these, except tofu, I don't like it. It is a general misconception that you need to eat meat for protein, you don't. You can get enough from lots of other foods if you eat a varied diet. People make assumptions about my diet from the pictures I post here. They need to live with me for a week or more, to see how varied my diet is.

Taken from the Vegetarian web site.
There are many protein rich foods for vegetarians, rivaling the protein content of meat products. Popular concern that vegetarians lack protein is misplaced and plant protein has the advantage of containing reduced saturated fat associated with meat protein.

Take from the No Meat Athlete web site.
Tell someone you’re vegetarian, and the first objection you’ll likely get is, “But where do you get your protein?” (Never mind what kind of shape the person asking is often in.) I personally have not let the protein issue affect me, choosing instead to cook and eat a wide variety of foods and trust that I’ll get enough protein and all of the essential amino acids, and I’ve never felt better. 

I hope that I have given food for thought here. Eating a no meat diet is not that difficult. Please try it, use your imagination, serve up a few meals and see how you go on. I'm going to sign off now, the letter 'n' is not working properly on the keyboard, and it's driving me nutty. Also, my breakfast porridge has gone down, I'm now going to eat a banana with yogurt, then I'm off outside 'cause it's a nice day.
Toodle pip.

Monday, 21 July 2014

That's all you need, really ;o)

Phew it's hot today, almost too hot to be outside. I sometimes put a chair out in the garden, and sit down for all of ten minutes, then I can't be still for any longer and have to get up and do something. I went to the crafty club this morning, not quite as many there, probably on holiday. The club is a year old now, it doesn't seem that long since we started. 
What have we here, tis the salad season and my plate is piled high. Yesterday I had spinach, salad leaves, grated carrot, cucumber, grated cheese, mushrooms, and walnut pieces. It takes me nearly an hour to eat this, as I munch my way slowly through it. I usually read something while I am eating, either a magazine or on the computer. Yesterday I was watching yoootooob vids, old Coronation Street, and 'how to', crafting ideas.  
There was a big bag of mushrooms in my shopping, 4p on a yellow sticker. My friend mentioned mushroom soup and I thought I'll give it a go. Never made mushroom soup before, don't know what goes in it apart from mushrooms. So, I chopped some and boiled them in water. What next. I added a veg stock cube, a shake of black pepper, and a shake of garlic powder. It looked a muddy brown colour. Then I thought, add a whole lot of spinach leaves, they filled the pan but soon shrunk in size. I transferred it to a mixing bowl and zapped it with the stick blender and tasted it, bloomin lovely, so I put half in a small bowl and drizzled the last drop of cream over it. Scrumptious. I had planned on saving the second portion to eat today, but I'm afraid it got to 8.30pm last night and I thought stuff it, I'm going to eat it now, ha ha. Give it a try, mushroom and spinach soup. You could get away with half a stock cube though, it doesn't need a whole one.
I don't know about you but I am a bit lazy where hair washing is concerned. I want it washed and towel dried quickly, no faffing about with rinse, apply conditioner, and rinse again. I had a bit of a sort out in my bathroom cabinet, and found the tea tree conditioner that I bought yonks ago, it's at least 15 years old. The VO5 conditioner I found in the house clearance skip, a few moths ago. Shame to leave it there to get chucked away. Anyway, what I am doing now is using it as shampoo. I am determined to get rid of it. It works very well, and it's better than it cluttering the cupboard up. If you have accumulated a stash of conditioner which you may ever use, why not give it a try. If you don't want to use it every time you wash your hair until it's gone, try using it every other wash.

I walked around the corner to a friends house yesterday to collect a key, they have asked me to water their plants while they are away this week. Mrs friend cut me a cucumber from their greenhouse, very nice of her I thought. Then Mr friend came to the door and said have we paid you. I said, don't be daft, I don't want anything, just glad to help out. Then he appeared with a bottle of wine and handed it to me. I said, thank you that's very kind. As I walked away I  looked at the wine in one hand and the cucumber in the other, and chuckled. Ha ha.

Toodle pip.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

What did I buy?

Good morning, bright and sunny here in North Lincolnshire, so pleased that storm has passed over. I was awoken at around 2am when the bedroom was lit up, then an almighty clap of thunder. It went on for almost an hour, quite amazing to watch as it went on it's way to wake up other parts of the country. With my sleep disrupted I stayed in bed an extra hour this morning. 
So, what have I been up to? I am revisiting my childhood here, ha ha. Browsing the baby food section in Aldi a week ago I spotted chocolate pudding at 25p a small tin. Wonder what that's like I thought, let's try it. Should be ok if it's made for babies, not so many nasties in it. Might make a nice alternative to yogurt or chocolate mousse.
Twas a bit bland, only slightly chocolatey, and not very sweet. Probably a good thing, not to get babies hooked on sugar or chocolate. The label says, gluten free, suitable for vegetarians, source of calcium, can be eaten hot or cold, so I suppose it could be useful for adults who crave a little bit of sweetness and have to watch their diet for whatever reason.

Now I have a dinky little tin to play with. Wonder what I can make with it  ;o))

I popped round to see a friend yesterday to offer some courgettes from my garden, I have loads of them at the moment. He said he loves them. He gave me a sample of some home made wine he has brewed, I must say it was delicious. He has bottles everywhere, stacked in his garage, and demijohns of the stuff waiting to be bottled up. He had a firkle around and handed me this bottle of Strawberry wine, bottled on the 1st May 2011, not to be drunk before 1st May 2013. I have instructions to serve it on ice cubes, so I had better get the trays out of the cupboard and freeze a few. Woohoo, can't wait. Good swap I would say.

I have another swap for the courgettes, they like them next door and gave me a cucumber in exchange. More to come, and some tomatoes when they are ready. I like this swapping lark. 
Another lunch made with broad beans and courgettes, this time with mushrooms added, and instead of the garlicky cream cheese I have used whole grain mustard to spice it up. Served on a thick slice of wholemeal bread, it makes a filling lunch. Another variation would be serve it with rice or pasta, to make a bigger meal. Or even mashed potato would be nice. 
Last night I did the supermarket dash. I suddenly realized I had a £3 off  a £20 shop voucher, which must be used by today. So as soon as I had swallowed my last mouthful of dinner I was off in my car. I had missed some of the yellow stickers because of my lateness, nevertheless I managed to bag some spinach, salad leaves, mushrooms and wholemeal bread at really cheap prices. I added everything up that I put in my trolley and when the magical £20 and a bit was reached I headed for the checkout. You might be interested in what I bought and why I bought it, so I will list everything here.

4 tins of chopped tomatoes. I had picked up two tins from the Value range, but when I got to the World Foods aisle I saw that a similar product was 39p each, 4 tins for £1, so a cheaper price.
2 tins of Value peaches, 35p each. I like to have some in the cupboard, I split the tin into three portions (11.5p per portion), and eat it with two spoons of plain yogurt on the top.
2 tins Value rice pudding, 15p a tin. For the store cupboard. I heat half a tin in a mug in the microwave, when eaten I pour the other half into the mug and keep in the fridge to eat the next day. 7.5p per portion. I will make a note here, I never have a pudding after a meal. By the time I have eaten a meal I am full. My occasional sweet treat is eaten in between meals, mid morning, mid afternoon, or at 9pm in the evening, and not every day.
2 jars of Value pickled onions 30p each, and 2 jars Value pickled beetroot 39p each. I add these to salads if I am a bit short of fresh salady stuff. I sometimes use pickled onions in cooking if I don't have a fresh onion.
Olive oil, completely run out so I needed a bottle. Chose the best I could afford, £2, looked for special offer.
Small jar Mayo. Tesco's own label but not Value. I've tried that and it's not very nice. I don't very often buy mayo, I consider it a treat, not a must have.
2 tins of tuna in brine, Tesco label. 45p each. Not for me, but for Bugsy as a treat. He is getting on a bit now and can have whatever he likes.
Bag of Value carrots, 1.5kg, 89p. Like to eat lots of carrots, steamed or grated on salads.
Packet ground almonds. Add these to breakfast cereal, to rice pudding, to yogurt, or eat it straight out of the packet with a spoon.
Packet of ground rice. This is something new to try, I remember it from mum making puddings with it. This is an experiment. I have added a teaspoon of it to my porridge this morning, will try different ways of using it.
Bag of frozen Quorn mince, £2.00. It has 50% extra in it, and I had a 65p off voucher, so a good buy. Handy to have some in the freezer, lots of uses for it.
Bag Value frozen green beans. £1.00. Still waiting for mine to come in the garden.
Small punnet picota cherries £1. A treat, I love cherries, won't pay more than £1.
Salad tomatoes, 69p. Haven't grown any this year. Don't mind buying Holland tomatoes, but won't buy them from further afield. They generally have no taste and have thick skins.
6 pack flavoured yogurt £1. This used to be a regular purchase of mine, now it is relegated to an occasional treat because I eat more plain yogurt now.
Danish blue cheese, and Brie cheese. These are treats. I usually buy mature cheddar, but the price keeps going up and the pack size is shrinking, so now looking at cheese as a treat and not as a must have.
6 FR eggs. I usually eat six eggs a week. Added to salads, or scrambled into other ingredients, with an occasional omelette. Never fried.
2 bags of yellow sticker baby spinach. Can't get enough of this, eaten raw in salads, added to sandwiches, or very lightly steamed with veg, (only needs 30 seconds).
2 loaves weightwatchers wholemeal bread, yellow stickers. Don't care that it's for slimmers, it's wholemeal and it's cheap, 9p a loaf. To go in freezer for future use, as I already have a loaf open.
Big bag of loose weighed mushrooms, yellow sticker, 4p. I will make sure I eat them before they go off. Got to at that price. Cooked or eaten raw with salad.
Bag of dry cat food, £1.25, on offer. A new one to try to give the cats a bit of variety.
Total shop came to £21.97, reduced to £18.32 with vouchers. Enough in to last a while.

Thank you for reading. I will go outside now, while the weather is nice. I hope you have a nice Sunday.
Toodle pip.
PS, Will reply to emails soon, many thanks.