Back to Basics and Thursday Night Tea

basic 2Today it is time to get back to basics. We started this project to save ourselves money. We started this project to see if it was possible. Somewhere along the way we started to care hugely about trying to support our local economy. In trying to do so we got a huge sense of being in a community. We learnt that local shopping matters for so many and on so very many levels.

Just the other day Lizzie and Becksie were shopping in a local shop when a fellow customer said to the lovely shop keeper that that shop was literally keeping her elderly parents alive. The conversation was a beautiful exchange and a) made Becksie’s eyes well up and b) with a bump and a start made her realise a new how our local shop keepers are providing a lifeline service for many on many levels. What if we don’t use them and by the time we are old the lifeline has gone? The human contact given by local shops really is part of the life blood of communities. As usual we add a sentence or so about the fact that we recognise that supermarkets also offer this contact to many and that they do great things (don’t worry we’re not about to announce a trip to Tesco). But…….. We still believe the smaller guys to be where the real magic happens.

basic 3We have found a real sense of delight in being known to our market and shop keeper friends that often just reminds us that life is good. When at the market the other day the fruit and veg guy came over and said ‘blood oranges over there I know you like them’ Becksie’s heart swelled as that (although a tiny thing) made her feel valued.

Feeling like the person selling you your food gives a stuff about it is really important – to them its not just a commodity, a disposal thing, each item is of great importance! And they know all to well that food is a privilege and not just a commodity.

Sorry to get a bit deep but we’ve really been reminded of the importance of this lately. The added bonus is that we are still saving money. We have got slacker with our weekly shop posts but we needed a rest from this feature’s regularity and it felt like we’d run out of things to say. But……we are still saving money and yes we still think this is a great thing to do. We guess we also ran out of steam to answer the same emails / comments which said ‘you don’t seem to buy enough food’ ‘how can this be cheaper’ ‘it’s not cheaper for me’.

This weeks shop £47.88

This weeks shop £47.88

We guess compared to many we don’t buy much but live below the line proved a little can go a very long way. A chicken can feed us for many a meal. We buy what we need and delight in making it stretch. Delight in being creative and really caring about each and every mouthful. We see food no longer as our right but as a privilege for which we are grateful every day. Knowing those who sell it to us feel the same is worth the odd price rise and made up for in the savings to be had in our new way of shopping.

Ironically our new way of shopping is extremely old fashioned and we conclude those who have gone before us are older and wiser.

As you know we been trying to get a feel for the impact of our year without supermarkets. Every time we get ready to post the results another reply comes in – its unbelievable to see the results and without repeating ourselves we’d like to put another call out to fill in this form if your shopping has changed as a consequence of reading our journey. Then we will reveal how much of an impact this has had.

We’d also like (whilst we are mid rant / slightly gushy post) to say another huge thank you for reading what we write and getting in touch (even the you don’t buy enough food emailers hehe) it means a lot. We also promise to get organised and document a ‘how we use a week’s shopping post’. We know people request this a lot but we always forget to do it until midweek and then having a young family (washing, cleaning etc) get in the way.

basic 1Talking of eeking out a chicken, tonight’s Thursday night tea was leftover chicken, leek and ham pie, homemade chips and Vegetables (with loads of gravy). The pie was made from Sunday’s leftover roast for Tuesday night’s tea (we were joined by Gannie and Poppa) and so technically tonight’s tea was leftover leftovers! basic 6

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Thursday Night Tea take 8!

Lizzie quote 'wriiitee a bwloog'

Lizzie quote ‘wriiitee a bwloog’

How on earth is it Thursday already. Is it us or are the weeks flying by? As you may know this week has been a busy one for Becksie (if you don’t know why click here). As a consequence…….. she has not yet fitted in a food shop!

Well, she has done several small shops in several places that she has failed to photograph of late (chinese shop, community shop etc whilst on her travels) for pantry staples but the long and the short of it is that a)we are low on food and b) we have got lapse at documenting what we buy / spend. Whilst we haven’t been in a supermarket still we do need to get back on track. Somehow now this is a way of life it seems less important but……. we will try hard.

Anyway ramble ramble (we are tired) – to cut a long story short tonight’s Thursday night tea was made using fridge lurkers, store cupboard bits and meat from the freezer.

thursday night tea 9May we present Moroccan Lamb (confession ten minutes in to cooking Becksie realised what she thought was lamb was in fact venison) with cous cous and as Lizzie say ‘purrrple spproootin brocwee’.

These dates are left over from Christmas - sell by date schmell by date!

These dates are left over from Christmas – sell by date schmell by date!

Chop up celery and carrots (an onion would be better than celery or as well as but we had to use what we had). Fry with the meat in a little oil.

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Fry until the meat is browned and the vegetables are soft. Add the dates (remember to take the stones out), a tin of tomatoes and a drained tin of chickpeas.

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Add a couple of teaspoons of cumin, something spicy if you want a bit of a kick.

thursday night tea 4Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. thursday night tea 6We added the broccoli to the pan and covered for about 5 minutes during the last bit of the simmer stage to save a) washing up and b) energy (we are after all the UK’s biggest scrooges hehe).

Make the cous cous (we used some smoked oil, salt and pepper).

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Add some chopped coriander to the pan and stir through.

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Add a good squeeze of lemon juice and…… serve!

thursday night tea 8Very tasty, very quick and evidence that the cupboards were not as bare as we first thought.

Thursday Night Tea Number 7

Lizzie and Jessica relaxing whilst tea was cooking

Lizzie and Jessica relaxing whilst tea was cooking

Well…… It’s Thursday night and we have a confession despite remembering this morning it was Thursday Night Tea night by tea time we had erm……… forgotten!

Becksie and Lizzie had been on an adventure and so we got home late and popped on a very quick tea. Half way through we realised it was Thursday night tea! Ooops. Becksie then had a chiropractor appointment and so…… here is an excuse for Thursday night tea post.thursday 7 3

No recipe – just a picture of our sausage meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta!

Our apologies for a double rubbish effort.

thursday 7 5This weeks shopping was from Faringdon – a total spend of £27.60 and then Ian got a few bits in Oxford – £8.00 a total spend of £35.60.thursday 7 6

We promise to try harder next Thursday 🙂 

Thursday Night Tea (a sort of take away) number 6

thursday 6 (7)Well it’s Thursday night once again and that means only one thing…….. it’s time for another Thursday night tea post! Today however we played a little blinder; as Becksie had been on the radio this am in Oxford (starts 8 minutes into the show) it meant that Mammar was with us and needed taking back home so…… we texted Da to say we were coming for dinner, and could he please photograph what he was making for tonight’s blog post. Result free tea. Photo’s taken and a free recipe from Da! In order to not be too mean Da dictated the recipe to us – so we are are nearly ready to present Thursday Night tea (a sort of take away) very shortly.

Before we crack on with the recipe we’d just like to say thank you so much for the overwhelming response so far to our impact study – we are quite frankly amazed. We’d love to continue to build the picture on the impact of our actions and so if you’ve changed your shopping habits in any way as a result of our ramblings please fill in the form below. All entries will be entered into a wonderful exciting (prize to be revealed type) prize draw. Thank you and we hope you will be equally AMAZED when we publish the results.

And now…….. Da (it’s sort of) over to you………

Special Egg Fried Rice:

thursday 6 (9)Cook your rice a few hours before you plan to eat it. A mug full of dry rice for four people is just the ticket. Cook it until just soft then rinse in cold water and leave it in the sieve for about ten minutes so all the water is drained away. Spread it on a plate and store in the fridge for a few hours.

thursday 6 (14)When you are ready to cook your special fried rice you can use whatever bits and pieces you have to hand – this is a great recipe for using leftovers. We had a small amount of left over cooked pork, a few frozen prawns that needed using and from the garden some spring onions, early purple broccoli, chard tops and (not from the garden) a cup full of frozen peas.

thursday 6 (13)Wash and clean the chard and put on to steam. Cut up the pork into thin strips and marinate for about 20 minutes in oyster sauce. thursday 6 (11)Cut the spring onion length ways and soften in a frying pan (we used a little bit of leftover pork fat). thursday 6 (12)Set this to one side. thursday 6 (1)Fry a couple of eggs – as shown in the picture. Set to one side and give the pan a wipe (a flavour keeping=in method).

thursday 6 (2)Heat a teaspoon of oil and fry the broccoli, prawns and peas with a dash of oyster sauce, set to one side. Once again using the same pan fry the marinated pork.thursday 6 (3)

Wash the pan (or….. Use a different one). Heat the pan with a tablespoon of oil in until it is really hot then add the rice, some light soy sauce and the egg and stir fry until an even colour. thursday 6 (4)thursday 6 (5)Put the rice into a large serving dish, quickly give the pork, onions and veggies a quick re-fry, add to rice and mix and ….,.. serve. thursday 6 (6)

Pudding……… by Mammar – a classic yogurt and muesli winning combination! thursday 6 (8)

Thursday Night Tea Number 5

My my how is it Thursday again?

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She is shouting ‘cooollouring’ at the top of her voice

We don’t know about you but we are getting a tad fed up of this wet weather and in terms of food are getting a little stew / roasted root vegetabled out! So after a busy morning sorting out paperwork and drawers whilst Lizzie stuck stickers and was let loose with felt tips Becksie decided that tonight’s dinner must have at the very least a hint of the lighter warmer days to come.

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Terrible photo but……. you get the point

Only slight issue was that the ingredients sat waiting to be used had winter dinner written all over them. thursday 5 2However Becksie likes a challenge and even decided to put some washing outside even though it was quite chilly.

So root vegetables at the ready……………………..

We proudly present ‘A hint of things to come supper with cauliflower rice and homemade coleslaw’.

We were missing something green but you'll see it contains lots of lovely healthy things.

We were missing something green but you’ll see it contains lots of lovely healthy things.

(this recipe would feed four adults, we did 2 adults and a small person and we have lunch for tomorrow)

Coarsely grate 2 carrots and 2 parsnips, chop an onion into chunks and chop one clove of garlic.thursday 5 3

thursday 5 4 We used our roasting tin on the hob (washing up saving as this also goes in the oven) and fried in a little smoked rape seed oil until the carrot and parsnip were soft.

Add a good sprinkling of cumin seeds.

Another terrible picture thanks to the steam

Another terrible picture thanks to the steam

Turn off the heat and add a crumbled stock cube and a good glug of this AMAZING sauce.

You could add some mild curry powder and some brown sauce instead

You could add some mild curry powder and some brown sauce instead

Next add a small can of butter beans and a small tin of kidney beans (don’t forget to drain them).

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Then add a small tin of drained swetcorn and…… mix it up.

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It will now look a little like this:

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Take a sprig of Rosemary and some left over bread and blizt to form breadcrumbs. We also added a tiny block of frozen cornish yarg (we often freeze the very end of cheese for occasions such as this – it’s a really good little tip). thursday 5 10

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Sprinkle on the bean / carrot mix and add a glug of oil – we mixed it up and used some of this amazing salad dressing from the lovely people at Stainswick Farm.

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Bake in the oven (170c) for about 35 mins. Whilst this is happening make the coleslaw (we used one of our chickens’ rare eggs to make mayonnaise).

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Then whizz up some cauliflower until it is rice size and when the main dish is about 5 minutes from ready microwave it for 3 – 4 mins. Add salt and pepper and serve as a rice replacement.

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