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Three children (17, 14, 12)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

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“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

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frugal cooking

Pie dishes and car boot sale

We went to a local car boot sale over the weekend. It’s been a while. I warned the children not to expect to buy anything. Always go with a minimal, mental list of things you’d like to find and avoid impulse buying, otherwise all you’re doing is moving clutter from one home to another. Shifting the problem. It works if one person’s clutter becomes your desired purchase. Everyone wins that way.

So included on my list were garden tools (I could do with another fork), a tailors dummy (I live in hope) and individual pie dishes. I know I could buy all these first hand very easily and have it all straight away, but that’s daft if I can help someone else clear their clutter and save it going to a landfill. It’s one of the reasons I try to buy nothing new.

I’m patient. I can wait to find the right solution.

(Unless it’s fabric. Then the conversation in my head, about the gorgeous new fabric in my hands, goes on a whole heap longer and can get heated. Fabric is my weakness, but I’m working on it)

Also I find items fall off the list after a while, proving I really didn’t need them.

I think by the end, the children were more than ready to go home. They chattered happily in the car about the strange things they’d seen for sale, conversations they’d overheard and no one was upset about coming home empty handed.

Nestled by my feet, were a stack of small pie dishes.

Six of them.

They are the ceramic dishes that Charlie Bingham’s pies come in. I’ve never tried this range of pies. I like to make my own. I’m assuming that the owner of the stall must have absolutely loved them, as she had a box brimming over with these dishes. Empty and clean! Perfect for my pie making. I bought 6 for £1.

Last night, I used them to make fruit crumble. Using up leftovers before my supermarket delivery arrives today. I mixed pears, blueberries and raspberries, with a dash of almond essence. I’m not sure if it was the new dishes, the stormy weather raging outside or the fruit combination, but everyone really loved the crumble. Bowls were cleaned.

The new dishes have given me the chance to try out something else that’s been on my list – bowl cosies. Especially important as the dishes are coming straight out of the Aga and I wanted to protect everyone’s hands.  Turns out that bowl cosies are ridiculously easy to make. A few darts and the flat square turn into a bowl, with the perfect dimensions for my new individual pie dishes.

I’ve made one so far, as a proof of concept. I’m using Aldi fat quarters, with cotton wadding. Sewn up with cotton thread. The theory is that by avoiding mademade fibres, I can put these in the microwave or my lower oven, without fear of anything melting. It makes it easier to lift the hot bowls out. The cosies can either be held by two diagonal corners or in the palm of your hands. Even if it spills, the fabric catches most of the hot splashes before they can hit anyone. Usually me, to be honest.

It’s reversible too. I’m not sure how important that feels to me at the moment. I guess that some dishes will look better against the yellow and others with the blue. Flexibility to change the colour may be nice, but I’m more interesting in making a set of cosies that complement each other but not match. I am not a matching kind of person.

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. I’m quite happy with my new pie dishes. Love that it pushed me to dabble in a new sewing project too. It seems to have gone down well with everyone. Even had requests for customised bowl cosies. I like that. It means they are already picturing themselves using these cosies for late evening, garden eating.

Oh. Roll on summer!

PoCoLo

Going Green

The beauty of cooking from scratch

I love fresh produce in my kitchen. Even better when it has been harvested within the last hour, and only a fraction of a food mile on the clock. It’s one reason I push myself each year to grow my own, but I am doubly lucky. Our neighbours are amazing at growing fruit and veg, processing it into amazing food and they like to share. Their garden is so well set up. Puts me to shame.

This week, our neighbour wheeled her wheelbarrow around to see us. She had surplus garden produce to share. A couple of big punnets of cherry tomatoes, long cucumbers, mini courgettes, and types of tomatoes that I’ve only ever seen in the seed catalogues. I am truly lucky.

I was able to send her back with a spaghetti squash, but that was it. She had more than enough in her own garden. Including apples.

Everyone has enough apples around our way. The “Help yourselves to free apple” boxes have started to spring up along the lane. What is not given away, will end up as next year’s compost, so no waste.

While our neighbour was over, the conversation turned to the new wheelie bins the council will be issuing soon. A novelty to our village, as we still put black refuse bags on the roadside for collection. Collection will go from every week to once a fortnight. We both laughed that we’d never fill the new wheelie bins in a fortnight.

It’s true. Most weeks, I put one black bin out. Most times, I wonder if it’s worth putting out that week, as it’s barely full. Even our recycling bin has been only half full now the Aga is back on. Less ready meals and snacks as I’m cooking from scratch again.

When we were first issued with our green recycling bins, another neighbour used their one to plant daffodil bulbs in. They looked amazing, and, I suspect, were more use as a plant trough for them.

I’m half hoping I spot a tree growing out of their wheelie bin, this autumn.

Back to my bin bag. I’m convinced that the reason we throw less away is that I love to cook and hate to shop. This time of year is perfect. I can make meals from the food in the garden. Cooking from scratch, with minimal time in a shop.

Today, I put our neighbour’s courgettes to good use. Making courgette fritters, with a cucumber and yoghurt dip. This is the one and only way my family will eat courgettes. I blotted my copy book one year by growing too many and putting it in everything. I’m now banned from growing courgettes.

I wish I had made twice as much. They soon disappeared.

I do love this time of year. So many wonderful ingredients waiting for a recipe. Now I need to think of a meal to make the most of the unusual tomatoes. I’m thinking slices of mozzerella, with basil. Yum.

Becoming a greener me – Nothing goes to waste

parsnip and onions

It is an indisputable fact, that the night before a vegetable box delivery, brings forth interesting meals. Using up the yummy veg and fruit that for one reason or another are still lurking at the bottom of the box. I exchange meal ideas with other parents in the playground, to use up the less popular veg. Soups, stews and bakes seem to be the parent’s favourite. By this stage of the week, needing to disguise the less popular choice.

As part of my becoming a greener me, I restarted ordering a weekly veg and fruit box. Cutting food miles and buying local. Less packaging too. Frequency will be reduced as produce from our kitchen garden kicks in. In the meantime, I need to make the most of these boxes. No waste.

oranges ready

This week, parsnips, onions, oranges and 2 bananas were left. Parsnips were steamed and mashed, and added to a stew, along with the onions. And don’t think I wasn’t tempted to add an orange or two! I resisted, but only just.

orange and poppy seed muffins

Should I be surprised that the family welcomed the orange and poppy seed muffins as a happy alternative? Love these dotty muffins. (Reading the poppy seed packet, I had no idea that the seed was a good source of calcium. Dotty and good for your bones!)

Nothing goes to waste. Bananas will be made into muffins for the weekend. Providing a filling snack for my active children. As they rush into the kitchen, to grab a treat, before heading out to the garden again. The muffins will soon disappear.

Nothing goes to waste. Even the table they are prepared on is recycled. It used to be a science table from a Bristol secondary school. It still has student’s initials carved into it. Although, I am assuming it’s not the teachers’ handiwork.

The holes are still there where we removed the old gas tap and electricity sockets. I admire the table’s quirkiness and wonder at its history every time I prepare my own experimental concoctions.

inside muffin

See, nothing goes to waste.

One more step to becoming a greener me.

Joining in with Thrifty Thursday over at Cold Tea and Smelly Nappies

 

 

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