Well the second week of my $21 Challenge month has been much easier than expected so far! Unfortunately that's mainly down to the fact that the kids have both been off school sick all week with winter ills, meaning we haven't used up all the bread for sandwiches and the baking I did at the weekend has lasted us through. Once again I've ended up winging it with the meals this week. Monday was Corned Beef Hash Cakes as planned. Noel was away on Tuesday so being a couple of soup fiends I treated Mum and I to one of my favourite budget meals, Smoked Fish Chowder. Very frugal for us anyway, as we always have tons of smoked fish in the freezer but even if you had to buy it tinned you would only need a small one. The first time I made this recipe I thought it sounded absolutely revolting but it tastes out of this world!
SMOKED FISH CHOWDER (Serves 4 - 6)
2 cups diced raw potato
1/2 cup diced celery
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups grated cheese
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 cups water
225g smoked fish, flaked
4 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp mustard
2 cups milk
Place potatoes, onions, celery, one teaspoon of salt and all the water into a deep saucepan. Add fish and simmer with the lid on under vegetables are tender (10 minutes). While this cooks, melt the butter in a smaller saucepan, add flour and remaining salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and milk. Cook, stirring until thickened. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add sauce to fish and vegetable mixture and stir until smooth. I usually use one of those blender stick thingies to just thicken it up for a few seconds before serving but if you don't have one even a potato masher will do the job!
The following night I used a recipe from Jamie Oliver's 'Cook' book to make 'Melt in your mouth Shin Stew'. I had some shins in the freezer and they are wonderful casseroled. My brother-in-law actually works for Jamie Oliver in London so consequently I have been given all his books over the years but I have to admit, this is the first time I have ever made one of his recipes! I've always found I rarely have any of the ingredients he lists in my pantry and it's too expensive to go out and buy a lot of them. Sorry Jamie! However, today's recipe used up the shins which was a great start but the real clincher was the fact that the recipe called for two-thirds of a bottle of red wine. Normally an ingredient such as this would be considered far from frugal but today Jamie was doing me a favour. Instead of the Chianti he recommended (which I have never been able to drink since watching Silence of the Lambs), I gleefully threw in the contents of the most horrendous wine I have ever had the misfortune to have tasted. Noel picked it up on special a couple of weeks before but if you ask me Mr Patel should have been paying US to drink the stuff. Even the whiff of the stew was enough to give you a hangover and I realised that there was no way I was going to be able to feed it to the kids. So I rifled around in the freezer and turned up some sausagemeat, which normally I would have left there indefinitely as nobody likes the stuff but a little light went on in my head as I thought of a new recipe I had seen in the Vault that very day - Home made Sausage Rolls - very kid friendly! I asked Noel to use up some of my precious $21 on some sheets of pastry and I was surprised how quick and easy they were to make. One of the things I liked best about the recipe was the opportunity to hide grated vegetables in, which I did, using another purchase for the week, some carrots and - TA-DAAA - THE LAST OF THE ZUCCHINIS! That in itself was a most gratifying achievement but best of all was the fact that the kids just devoured them, even Liam who has steadfastly refused to consume a carrot in eight and a half years! This recipe made 36 sausage rolls so I put the rest in the fridge to cool, with a mind to freeze them later. However, they never made it to the freezer as Noel and the boys scoffed the whole lot in 24 hours. I was chuffed to bits that they liked my home made ones better than the frozen ones I've bought for years. I'm never buying them again!
Thanks to the Forum, I've discovered an amazing range of all kinds of other products I will no longer need to buy either! I'm embarrassed to admit that the thread 'Trying to starve Woolworth's' caught my eye a couple of weeks ago now but I never actually got around to going and having a look. A huge shame because this thread is an absolute cracker! It was started by Paula Nowicki, who does her utmost every week to make all kinds of shopping list items herself, rather than buy them ready-made as most of us do. What's more, she's a champion at it! I must have spent a good half hour copying and pasting recipe after recipe from this thread into my recipe folder this morning. There are far too many examples to list here but if you haven't already had a look at the thread, go and check it out. If there's anything you have ever wondered how to make yourself (plus a good many more I bet you've never even considered), chances are you can learn how to do it in this very thread! I'm just glad I went and had a look when I did, some of these recipes will be a huge help to the rest of my $21 Challenge month. I'm looking forward to making home made KFC for the family tonight!
With the kids being ill it seems as though I've spent most of this week's miserly budget on lemonade but on closer inspection I don't think I've done too bad. My splash out on a big bag of potatoes last week has made things a lot easier too. So far I've spent:
Pastry sheets $4.45
1.5 litres lemonade $1.66 on special
Total so far: $12.37
Hey, that's not bad! I've run out of bread now though so that will be another expense today. As mentioned, the boys not eating much has helped greatly though! Even though they haven't been at school, they have at least learned one important lesson this week - their mum will never make a teacher! Ever since they first heard there was such a thing as homeschooling, they have been pestering me to let them do it. I told them I would love to do that but you need to be a very special person to be able to teach your own children at home and I'm not like that. I don't know enough stuff for a start but I just know we'd never get anything done, it's all I can do to get them to make their beds in the morning, let alone schoolwork! However, as the boys were feeling a little better yesterday I thought I'd be a good parent and ask their teachers if they had any work the boys could do at home so as not to fall behind in class. They did - stacks of it. Once we had all recovered from the shock, we agreed we were all just going to have to get on with it and impress their teachers with their dedication. We got it all done too! Unfortunately there were fights and disagreements the whole way and we finally finished at 10pm. Needless to say, I don't think they'll be nagging me to homeschool them again somehow!
Today is the first day of winter and it certainly feels like it. I for one am glad it's not Autumn any more. To me, Autumn should be just the way it was when I was growing up in England; like one of my favourite poems 'Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness...' Not so now I'm on the other side of the world. I think the season of mist part is a bit of an understatement in this neck of the woods - it's more like neverending pea soup fog. Yesterday, the fog didn't even lift at all, we didn't get a moment of daylight and the moon was full in the sky at 4pm. Not being able to see more than six inches in front of you is also quite hazardous. There's me, trying my best to keep my volume of laundry down and I haven't set foot out of the house for five minutes before I slip on a sheep poo in the orchard on my way to feed the chickens and get it all over my jumper. Ten minutes later I do actually make it as far as the chickens but in my efforts to see through the gloom I don't notice an enormous dollop of chicken poo deposited on top of the gate and stick my sleeve in that too. I much preferred the sheep. They say things come in threes and that proved true enough not half an hour later when wearing my third change of clothes, I picked up what I thought was Noel's empty coffee cup and threw half its contents all over myself. Perhaps I need to give this recipe for home made laundry soaker a go!