Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Easy Peasy Low Fat Banana Loaf.

A friend of mine gave me this recipe for a low fat banana loaf. There is no fat at all in the recipe and I was a little skeptical that it would work, but faced with three of the most manky bananas' in history and a pathological hatred of wasting food, I decided to give it a go.

I needn't have worried - it was yummy.

So much so, it was almost gone before I remembered to take a photograph!


  • 8oz Self raising flour (The original recipe specified wholemeal but I was out of wholemeal at the time)
  • 3oz Brown sugar
  • 3 Mashed ripe bananas' ( I can testify here that even totally black mushy bananas will work well)
  • 2 Beaten eggs
  • 1tsp Baking powder
  • A handful of fruit (optional) I added chopped walnuts and they worked well.
Mix bananas and eggs together. Add flour, sugar and baking powder. Put into a lined 1lb loaf tin and bake at 180 for 40 mins.

Thats it!! 
Easy Peasy!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Hobgoblin Pies

Fear not however the hobgoblin in these pies isn't of the faery  persuasion, but is a reference to the Hobgoblin real ale lurking within their rich gravy.

In winter I like my food to be of the hearty variety and these pies are certainly that. In these cost conscious days it is also important that we all make the most of every scrap of food and stretch expensive meat as far as we can.

By any other name these are steak and ale pies.

Just after Christmas I cooked just over 1/2lb skirt steak with onions, carrots, water, herbs and hobgoblin ale in the slow cooker. ( I used just under 1/2 a can of ale - the rest? - Cooks perk ; D )I made four small individual pies using shortcrust pastry and although there was enough filling for a fifth pie I ran out of pastry so I popped the last portion in the freezer.

Two of the first four pies were eaten as a main evening meal with roast potatoes and mushy peas. The other two were taken to work for lunches.

So that left the final albeit somewhat small portion in the freezer. This was duly defrosted and eked out with a small diced cooked potato (just nuked for 5 minutes in the microwave) and a handful of frozen peas. With the added veggies I was able to divide it between two individual pie dishes. I then decided to top each dish off with a suet crust. I chose a suet crust because it was easy to make just enough for the two pies. I used 2oz of self raising flour and 1oz suet, mixed with just enough water to make a pastry which was divided into two and each piece rolled to just cover the top of the pie dishes.

We had one each of these served with roast potatoes, popped into the oven to cook at the same time as the pies and some stir fried cabbage. 

So from 1/2lb of stewing beef, that's 6 pies or three hearty meals for two.

How do you stretch your ingredients?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Not just a load of old lentils!

I love lentil soup.

Delicious, savoury & warming as well as cheap and easy to make.

You need:
  • A chopped onion
  • A slice of bacon chopped - this is optional, but I had a lone slice of smoked bacon lurking in the fridge, and I do find that smoked bacon adds a certain something to lentil soup.
  • A small carrot diced. My carrot is in matchsticks but that's because I "rescued" it from leftover salad that we had last night!
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of marigold vegetable stock powder. (This is my favourite substitute for real stock, but feel free to use any stock cube)
  • A couple of big handfuls of red lentils rinsed well. (I think there is probably about 8oz lentils)

Fry off the bacon, carrots and onions in a teaspoon or so of oil. Add the lentils, stock powder and two pints water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils have turned to mush - about 20-30 minutes. At this point you can either serve as is or for a smoother soup give it a whiz with a stick blender.

Told you it was easy!

I have on occasion been known to just chuck the lot in the pan together without bothering to do the saute bit first and it still turns out OK. When I am using bacon however I like to brown any fat on the bacon first as I can't abide eating bits of white fat!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Snowy day = heartwarming breakfast. Mmm

On days like these...

Food needs to be hearty, warming and above all comforting, so what better way to start the day than with a bowl of steaming hot creamy porridge.

Porridge must be one of the cheapest breakfasts you can make whether you use rolled oats or oatmeal. I had stoneground oatmeal left over from making raspberry cranachan  during the now largely forgotton summer, so that is what I used. I made my porridge with water then topped it off with creamy whole milk and a generous dollop of honey - Yumm

The list of things you can add to porridge is endless, but here are just a few ideas:
  • Mashed up banana, if you're trying to lose weight you may find that you don't need any added sugar with this one!
  • Grated or diced fresh apple, or stewed apple.
  • Blueberries.
  • Strawberries .. in fact any fruit you can think of!!
  • Golden syrup
  • Cream - golden syrup or honey and cream is my all time favourite.
  • Peanut butter
  • Spices especially cinnamon or nutmeg with apple.
  • Hazelnuts, again I like these chopped and added with a little diced apple and cinnamon.
How do you eat yours?

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Frugal Roast Dinner

Thank you for the get well soon wishes on my previous post. At last I can say that I feel recovered and ready for the challenge of a New Year.

No resolutions this year, but lots of plans some of which I will be revealing in the weeks to come.

One of my plans is to get a real grip on frugal living this year and I have begun as I mean to go on, serving this delicious but frugal roast dinner on Sunday.


The meat was a piece of belly pork - a very frugal cut. Many people don't like belly pork as  it can be a little fatty, but if you choose carefully you can usually select a piece with thick layers of meat and thinner layers of fat. Long slow cooking will also render out most of the fat leaving just succulent, moist and very tasty meat. I have a rosemary bush growing at the front of my house so made a marinade for the pork of rosemary, garlic, olive oil, salt and black pepper, crushing them all together in my mortar and pestle then rubbing the resulting mush into all the cut surfaces of the meat. I then left it for 3 hours before cooking to allow the flavours time to penetrate through the meat. I removed the crackling from the meat about 30 minutes before the end of cooking and put it back in the oven on a tray of it's own just to make sure it was all nice and crispy.

As the oven was on anyway for the meat I also cooked the vegetables in there. The potatoes were placed around the meat for the last 40 minutes of cooking time so roasted in the flavoursome pork fat. The carrot and parsnip "fries" was an idea I gleaned from Pinterest just matchsticks of carrot and parsnip tossed in a little oil, salt and pepper and roasted for about 15 - 20 minutes. They used up a few wrinkly carrots and parsnips that were languishing at the bottom of the veg basket.  Peas were microwaved for 2 minutes from frozen.

The yorkshire puddings were homemade, but had been frozen from a previous meal. I find it uneconomical to make less than a full tray of 12 yorkshire puds at a time, but now there are only two of us I freeze the surplus for other meals.
The apple & rosemary sauce was made from a lone wrinkly apple, just peeled, diced and popped in a saucepan with a little apple juice and a bit of chopped rosemary. Simmered for about 5 minutes then removed from the heat and mashed up with a tiny knob of butter.  We only used half of it and the leftover sauce was popped in the freezer for another day.

There was enough pork left over to provide sandwiches for lunches too, so all in all a veritable frugal feast!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Feeling Better - Blogging Hopefully Resumes!

I'd like to say that I've been too busy over the festive period to blog.

Unfortunately that's not true. I say unfortunately because I caught one of those rather nasty bugs that is currently doing the rounds way back on the 14th December and it seems to have taken up residence.

I am gradually beginning to feel better, but it has been one of those winter nasties that really floors you and seems to hang around for an age.

I have managed to soldier on through some of the festivities, but sleepless nights and general malaise have left little energy for much beyond vegetating as much as possible.

I feel as if I have eventually turned a corner though and and recovery is in sight, so I am looking forward to an increase in energy and a fresh start to blogging.
I'll be back!!!

Linda xxx
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