Friday 8 April 2022

Reducing cooking fuel costs II


 Hello All

Continuing my reducing fuel cost posts....

This next piece of equipment that is sparing on fuel is a no-brainer. 

The trusty Slow cooker.

I have three slow cookers. Two large and one small. I frequently have all three on at once if I am preparing for a busy few days and want to be on top of the game.  This weekend I have a large one cooking vegetables (carrot, swede, celery and red pepper) that I don't want to spoil from the fridge with a bag of frozen tomatoes from last year's crop, a cup full of lentils and three pints of veggie stock ( lidl veggie cubes) I will blitz this when cooked and have soup for  lunch for several days,. Obviously this will be heated up a dish at a time as needed in the microwave. The small slow cooker  has a couple of pints of milk I have extra plus a frozen pint of semi skimmed from the freezer, with three ounces of sugar and four and a half ounces of pudding rice. The rice pudding made in a slow cooker is just like the tinned ones ( young people prefer ) If you want to turn it into an old fashioned rice pud, when the pud is cooked turn it into a dish and put it into the oven to get a skin ( best bit) mind you this only makes sense if your oven is already on for something else. The third slow cooker has some neck of lamb with carrots, onions, potato. stock and a generous dollop of mint sauce. I put plenty of stock in this ( lidl beef) so that I can add dumplings later, which will suck up quite a bit of juice.

Using your slow cooker means "one pot cooking" which reduces washing up too. When your slow cookers are simmering away you might consider if there is any heat you can " borrow" . They will certainly heat your kitchen and also produce just the right amount of heat to rise bread or keep your soda bread culture jiggling along. Any other ideas?

So enough of saving energy for this post. A dry subject I know, but things are getting serious with regard to fuel bills and even if you can afford the high bills, considering the impact on the environment  is now leading us to be more careful.

Received  texts from APHA today and yesterday. Four new cases of Avian flu  - Somerset, Devon, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. For goodness sake ! Will those poor hens ever get out of lockdown !?

I'm resisting posting about Ukraine, but goodness it's difficult not to have a view isn't it?

All for now, off to prick out seedlings in the back greenhouse.

Back Soon, now I'm on a roll

Love Gillx

Wednesday 6 April 2022

Reducing fuel costs

 Hello All

As I said in my last post I'm going to try to add frugal tips and hints with each  post from now on and post more frequently.

I don't intend these posts to be primarily about frugality ( if you are a follower you already know I'm all over the place when posting anyway) and I will try not to be too preachy, nor make claim that this is all world-shatteringly new stuff, because it isn't.

I am going to start with reducing cooking fuel costs. 

Starting with equipment. No.1

I find a stack of steamer saucepans invaluable. you can cook three different vegetables on one hob. This is also a great  idea for a moving house or wedding present for a couple. being something they may not have thought of and also reasonably priced. ( I saw a set at The Range before Christmas for less than £15.00

A plus in using this method is that while your carrots/ potatoes etc are bubbling away in the bottom saucepan your greens, beans etc can be lightly steamed above a short while before eating, this retains the nutrients. I suppose most of you like me, then use the water from the bottom pan towards gravy or stock. Waste not want not eh?!

So now  I have taught my grandmother to suck eggs I know, but maybe not a granddaughter. Watch this space for another min-numbingly boring tip in my next post. I suppose saving energy ( and the planet) is not very exciting but is becoming increasingly essential.

Changing tack completely and lightening the post here

The damson blossom is spectacular and if it would stay sunny/ warm enough for the bees to leave the the hives we should get a bumper crop. So far they are not out flying for long before they are rained or snowed on. Time will tell and fingers crossed

And lastly, here is my cucurbit  propagator, which can be heated but I don't. With Luffas to the left and Cucumbers to the right and Courgettes in the middle. ( I bet you have been inspired to sing an early 70's song there!) This year I am also growing  Tromboncino for the first time. Has anyone grown this ?

So there we are,  same old ramblings
Back Soon 
Gill x
PS. Thanks  Lizzie I tried that bread recipe and it was the best ever! 


Friday 1 April 2022

FRUGAL in Derbyshire

 Hello All

It has been said to me that maybe I should be blogging more often now, considering the title of my blog and the current  fiscal circumstances.  I reckon those that already follow me and those that I follow are already pretty savvy when it comes to managing their money/ household but I'll give it a shot !

I'll have a go at regurgitating some ideas from years ago that people might not have seen but which are  relevant to current times. When I look back over old blogs I am heartened that many, if not all,  frugal ways are also good for the environment and sustainable living. Quelle surprise eh?

As said before, several followers are masters of frugality and I do hope that they join in with ideas if anything I write triggers them to do so. I will state here that we do not live on the breadline, having our married folk basic pension and my works pension. We live a simple but full life and we also have the facility to grow our own food. which makes us pretty resilient. However, I know that many people are extremely worried about how they will manage, with rising fuel and food prices ( and who knows what the outcome of Putin's madness will be?!) I think it is fair to say that even if Rishi finds a hidden stash of billions+++ it wont help with the effects of climate change and political decisions world wide on the amount of food and fuel available for instance.

SO enough of my politicising ( is that a word?) Off to choose something to kickstart this blog.

Back soon


Monday 21 March 2022

Chicken Flockdown and some family pics

 Hello All

Well its all very interesting/exciting/ thought provoking nowadays isn't it?   Storms, pandemics, shortages. fuel price hikes, beyond sabre rattling with Russia ,Climate Change, Conspiracy theories by the dozen.

Makes you think doesn't it? Well it does me anyway. Some folk prefer to continue pootling along as they always have and say "What will be be will be" ( Hands up those who wanted to burst into song there) and believe that it will all settle down and get back to normal. I'm not so sure that when we come back from this all will be the same and in some ways that won't be a bad thing because we surely can't go on like we have been doing. 

The poor chickens are still in (f)lockdown and pretty fed up about it too. even though they have more space than most as I have netted over a quarter of the orchard for them and they have the choice of five hen houses to sleep/ lay hold coffee mornings etc. Obviously I can't advertise my eggs as free range so my egg sign says "Eggs for Sale" only. Someone remarked that they should be cheaper because they aren't free range. This is the opposite of the situation. Pre-lockdown I would let the hens out of their houses and into the orchard first thing, I would feed them some chicken pellets and leave them to finish these before opening their little door to the one and a half acre field. They would then spend the rest of the day until it starts to get dark foraging for the sort of goodies that chickens like, plus lots of grass. During the day they return to the houses to lay before going back into the field or maybe perch in a fruit tree or  two. Now in Lockdown I let the poor little things out into the netted off area of the orchard, which also houses the pond and any food they get is what I feed them. So they are now fed twice a day plus any greens, weedings, blown brussel plants stored squashes etc that I can find to keep them from going stir crazy with boredom. So NO they are not cheaper!

We are so lucky to still be young and fit enough to be trusted to babysit our great granddaughter , who is eighteen months old ,  now and again. What a joy! I didn't think it was possible to love a baby anymore than one does a grandchild. However, don't tell the grandchildren but we absolutely adore this precious child. Here she is reading a gardening book and choosing which vegetable she wants to grow.

 Last month our eldest girl went to Windsor castle to receive a medal for distinguished service in the Queen's honours list. She says that Princess Anne asked really good questions and showed an understanding of my daughter's role. I'm not sure as she would want to be identified ( my daughter that is) so have chosen this shot, but I just wanted to brag a little !

We will be having our first public meeting of our Civic Society for over two years,  in the middle of April. It will be interesting to see if we can ;pick up where we left off. So much has changed. 

 So there you go,  another rare but rambling post from Derbyshire.

Take Care all

Love Gillx

Tuesday 28 December 2021

Happy New Merry All

 Hello Friends

As ever I haven't posted more, read other's posts, finished story lines or put up interesting photos over the last year

I usually try to do better and "resolve" in late December to do better.

However, I always fail, so this year I "resolve" not o resolve and see how 2022 spans out!

Happy New Year everyone, see you on the other side

Love Gill x

Sunday 28 November 2021

Wild birds v Domestic birds. An Avian Flu dilemma

 As most of you know (or do you?!) Avian Flu has been diagnosed at several  sites across the UK and the UK poultry flock is now on lockdown for the foreseeable future. I question that you might know this as it seems to be a bit of a secret and several folk who keep chickens tell me that they know nothing about it, when I ask how they are keeping their birds safe. As a registered smallholding, we are informed of such things by DEFRA or APHA and instructed as to what we must do........

 The instruction are to keep your poultry away from wild birds. Avian flu tends to be spread by migrating birds, so it is important that ponds are covered as are feeding and watering stations for your chickens, ducks etc.  and you are instructed not to encourage  wild birds by feeding them. Your hens should be housed, that is kept in totally in their houses or at least to cover their run in such a way that neither  wild birds nor their feaces can come into contact. Foot baths should be placed at the entrance to your hen houses and strict hygiene should be practiced.

Now I  get all of this I really do and am doing my best. However ( you heard that coming didn't you?) Our set-up makes the carrying out of some of these instructions rather challenging. Let us take our relationship with wild birds. Our organic smallholding has been developed to attract and nurture wild birds. Even if we did not fill the feeders dotted around the place, the many shrubs we have planted or left to seed to provide both winter food and shelter and the twenty or so birdboxes we have put up tend to be a bit of a magnet for our feathered friends. Water from our roofs and water drains is channeled towards the pond in the orchard where our hens live, this serves the hens and the wild birds.

We have 44 hens who live in various hen houses dotted around our little orchard, which is allegedly fox proof . The hens adopt a favoured place and friends and that is where they sleep at night, apart from five that insist on sleeping high up in the large plum tree winter and summer, Every night I lock up all the houses, just in case Remus digs his way in  and every morning I let them out of their houses and out of the orchard and off they go the enjoy two lovely acres.

As you can see, this system does not lend itself to lockdown, but lockdown we must. Avain Flu can cross species and can be caught (rarely) by humans as well as other birds. Just what we need in a pandemic!. If Avian  Flu is found in your flock then the flock must be destroyed.. think Foot and Mouth. Non of this do we want, so tomorrow copious quantities of fine mess will be delivered and I will construct an enclosure that I hope will serve. Last week I covered the feeding areas, netted the pond and arranged all the houses in a semi circle around the pond (it looks a bit like a wild west stand off of wagons!)

I am hoping that my grandson, who is six foot three will be here to give me a hand and will take pictures for those interested.

All for now

Love Gill x


Sunday 14 November 2021

Thanks for the seeds Devon Mum

  In my last post I mentioned that I was saving extra seed to give to anyone who might want it at the group I intend starting next year. Devon Mum offered to send some seed to add to mine . And here they are... 28 packets of seed!  Many Many thanks for your generosity DM, Very much appreciated. I'm considering starting a couple of the packets off as small plants to give away too, so long as I time them right.

Apologies for the terrible photo.

All for now. Really  busy time here, but wanted to acknowledge Devon Mum's gift.

Love Gill x