Thursday, 6 March 2014

Free Pattern from Ginger Melon!

If you don't know, Ginger Melon, run by the lovely Shelly is a one stop shop for all things felty and gorgeous.

I've built up a small collection of her patterns and sell one or two of them in my own Etsy shop.

As well as being fabulously talented, Shelly is also a very generous lady. If you click here, you'll be directed straight to her blog where you can find tutorials and even free downloadable patterns.


I love free.

I also love this little dude, from her most recent free "little lark" pattern.

So cute. I might make a million.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Magic pudding

Three sleeps until payday!

I've been overcome with a manic desire to prove we still have plenty food in the house by cooking all of it! The products of this manic-ness have almost all turned out to be something sweet and baked.

Tonight is no exception. After cobbling together some kind of instant noodle/veg/frozen cooked chicken combo for dinner, I decided we just had to have pudding. Cue manic cook-book reading. More manic than usual because I used up all the eggs on pancakes and french toast.

I finally found a recipe for self-saucing chocolate pudding that was definitely do-able with the things in my cupboard. A miracle!

If you've never made a "magic" pudding before, do it! I have no idea how it does what it does... but it does it. It's sorcery or something.

Helpfully, it's pretty easy too.

Melt the butter in a pan with the milk then (off the heat) stir in the caster sugar, then the vanilla, then the flour and 1 tbsp of cocoa powder. Scrape it into a large square oven dish then sprinkle the top with the soft brown sugar and the remaining cocoa powder. Finally, carefully pour 500ml of boiling water over the top and bake in the oven at 180 degrees C for 40 minutes. That last bit is weird, and I was skeptical, but it works! Stand for 5 minutes before serving.

I promise, it tastes better than it looks here. It's hard to make a gooey chocolate pud look good with a flash at 6pm on a dark March night.

Mmmm... gooey!

Mine served all 5 of us (2 adults, 2 pre-teens, 1 toddler) with leftovers. It could serve a whole bunch more if you have ice cream to go with it.

You'll need:
60g butter - 24p
125ml milk - 6p
1/2 tsp vanilla extract - 6p (optional!)
165g caster sugar - 24p
150g self raising flour - 5p
2 tbsp cocoa powder (20g) - 18p
165g soft brown sugar- 41p

Total: £1.24
Per portion: 21p

I never thought I'd utter these words, but this pudding could actually be TOO sweet. If I make it again I'll probably do it with half the sugar and see if it has any effect.

Not that the sweetness stopped me from munching the leftovers while I was writing this....

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Yummy lentil daal

When it comes to cheap food, lentils have become a bit of a cliche, and I do hate to be a cliche.... but tonight's lentil dinner was yummy and it was super cheap too. Only 74p per portion. There's no denying its health credentials either. Of course, brown rice and a few veggies in the sauce would be better, but I'm working with what I have.

It's another of my super-easy fool proof recipes. Boil your rice in a big pot of water as per the instructions on the pack. While that's going on, do the lentils. Rinse them under the tap then throw them in a big pot with a mug of stock (whatever kind you prefer), and as much curry powder as you like. Add salt, pepper and any other spices you have (not necessary, but nice), plus a sachet of coconut cream. Stir, stir and stir again, adding more water if needed until the lentils are no longer hard in the centre, but not so soft as to lose their shape completely.

... and that is basically, that. Serve with naan if you fancy.

Oh! And please excuse my uh.. sloppy presentation. I was in too much of a hurry to just eat the damn thing.

Serves 2 generously.

100g lentils - 26p
150g rice - 6p
50g creamed coconut - 30p
1 stock cube - 4p
1tbsp medium curry powder - 14p (approx)
4 mini naan - 67p

Total: £1.47
Per portion: 74p

extras: salt/pepper/any other spices - 20p (approx)

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Custard tarts

We're a week away from payday, so I've been scrabbling through all my cookbooks to find some dinner inspiration. I know that I can't have custard tarts for dinner (or... can I?), but I stumbled on the recipe and realised I had everything I needed right here, so here they are!

They took hardly any time at all because they use mostly pre-made bits. Cut circles that fit a cupcake pan from a sheet of puff pastry (I used my yorkshire pudding pan and made big ones!). Prick the bottoms with a fork, cover with bits of baking paper and baking beans (I don't have baking beans, so use dried yellow split peas. Any heavy-ish dried bean/pulse type thing will do and you can use them over and over) and bake at 200 degrees C for 10-15 minutes.

While they're baking, make up custard according to the packet. My 4 used about 1/4 pint of custard from powder. Take the beans and paper out of the puff pastry and fill with custard then sprinkle a little icing sugar over the top.

At this point you can flash them under a very hot grill for a minute to caramelise, or not as you see fit. After that, it's just a case of controlling yourself until they cool. Y'know... or not.

I've worked out a very rough and ready price for them, if you're interested in that kind of thing.

Packet of instant custard powder - 15-42p depending on brand.
Milk - £1 for 4 pints so 7p for 1/4pint.
Puff pastry - £1/sheet - I used about half a sheet at 50p
Icing sugar £1.28 for 500g - I used less than 50g so 13p at most

That puts the price at 85p (21p each) for the cheapest, to £1.12 (28p each) for the most expensive.

Not bad at all. You could potentially make it cheaper still by swapping custard powder for a tin of smart price ready-made custard for 17p, though I can't vouch for the taste - I've never bought tinned custard in my life!

How's the reading going?

So far, I've only managed to finish one of my books. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. I'd recommend it to anyone. Unless you have any aspirations to actually become an astronaut... because this book paints a highly un-glam picture. It is however frickin' hilarious.

I moved on to a new book yesterday, and even though I've got a huge pile waiting I picked one from Hub's pile instead - The Bookman. It comes highly recommended (by him, of course). I'm 6 chapters in and so far so good!

With uni, and Crazy Baby, and only reading while I'm out of the house, if I can knock out one book a month for the rest of the year I'll be happy. Fingers crossed!

Barry M Hi-shine Gelly nail paint.

I have something of a Barry M obsession. The colours! The prices! *sigh* They're perfect.

Boots are doing 3 for 2 on make up just now, so I used up all my points and got 2 Barry M nail paints and replaced a lipstick I particularly like (I know, right... I actually used it all the way to the end. A sure sign that I'm a grown up now).

I plumped for one normal nail paint in a lovely bright springy green and one Gelly Hi-Shine number in a deep pink. 

First off - it's definitely shiny! Way shinier than normal nail paints. Yay! Although it is a little more expensive at £3.99. Still very much a bargain, though.

I usually give my nails a good top/base coat, but obviously a top coat isn't really suitable for a nail varnish with a special finish, is it? Sooooo, I decided to test it out and see if it really made a difference to how long it lasts.

So here it is at the bus stop, a mere 12 hours after painting. Perfect and shiny and lovely.

Here it is (at the bus stop again, but waaaaay colder) three full days later and actually in remarkably good nick. A couple of small chips and one notable biiiig chip

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with it. I was doing some hand sewing the night before the last photo was taken, which caused the big chip on my index finger. I think if I hadn't had that to do I could easily have squeezed an extra day out of it

Next time I come into money I might buy a couple more colours!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Mmm... Scones

I don't make scones very often, because if I made them as often as I want to even less of my clothes would fit (and believe me when I say that a significant proportion of my clothes already don't fit).

I bloody love them though, and the only take 10 minutes from craving-to-existance.

So yeah, it's easy! Cube 50g of butter (I use Asda butter because it doesn't need a lot of softening) and rub it into your flour/bicarb/tartar. Stir in the sugar then add the milk and mix it all up to a nice soft dough.

Knead together on a floured board briefly then press out to about an inch thickness and cut your scones out. Re-roll the dough and keep cutting til you run out. I used my smallest cutter and got 13 diddy scones.

Place on a baking tray, brush with a tiny bit more milk and bake at 220 degrees C for 8-10 minutes.


And only 5p per scone!

Never mind my grotty floury cutting board! Concentrate on yummy scones.

250g flour - 8p
50g butter - 20p
50g caster sugar - 8p
1 tsp cream of tartar - 18p
1/2 tsp bicarb - 2p
125ml milk - 6p

Total: 62p
Each: 5p