Thanks for checking this out...

Ta muchly for visiting. Here you will find musings, ramblings and a few statements of fact. They say women can have it all, motherhood, careers and crazy social lives. But what if we don't want it all? What if we want some of it sometimes and other bits not so often? Here I'll mix and match as the whims and energy levels take me. Your tuppence worth is always welcome!

The mask...

The mask...
Life is for loving and living no matter what it involves...

Sunday, 25 October 2009

cake but not cake

The budget reins are getting tighter as pay day looms closer, always the way.

So, try this one taken from 101 cheap eats if you fancy a veggie tasty treat. It seems so simple but is really delish and costs about £3.50 to serve 4 people. Not bad at all mr bank manager.

Pesto rice cake with tomato sauce

For the rice cake...

350g arborrio rice
half a jar of green pesto
1 big leek
blob of butter
2 eggs
ball of mozarella
1 litre veg stock

  1. Soften the leeks in the butter, add the rice and then keep adding stock in short amounts and stir until evaporated and keep adding till all stock used (takes around 20 mins) and then stir through the pesto and eggs.
  2. Add half the mix to a frying pan, slice the mozarella and lay over the top then add the rest of the mix and cook for about 5 mins.
  3. Then turn it out onto a baking sheet and return flip side down to the pan and cook for another 5 mins. It's then ready to serve.

For the sauce...

1 can chopped toms
3 shallots chopped
1 chilli finely sliced
few basil leaves
1 clove garlic crushed
splash olive oil

Soften the shallots and chilli for a few mins, add the garlic and then the toms and the basil. Just let it all bubble away for about 20 mins and serve with rice cake. Yum!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Viva la France

When embarking on the life of poverty stricken parents hubby and I devised a cunning plan to keep us in the land of happy couples...£10 dinner challenge night... a night of food, fun and where possible a bottle of wine. Just the two of us, the table all set, candles lit and some quality kid free time - if we're lucky.

All the supermarkets have this £10 deal, 2 courses and a bottle of plonk for ten quid - I say pah to that! Not for us pre-packaged same old same old. Oh no, we have to create a 2 or 3 course meal, with or without a bottle of plonk all within a £10 budget. Taking turns we cook up a storm for each other, spending a lovely afternoon in the kitchen while the other is on kid duty. Cookers and toddlers not being a happy combination.

So yesterday was my turn. And I went all French on his ass. We had onion soup (topped with the compulsory gruyere and french bread - top tip to stay on budget buy exactly the amount you need from a deli rather than buy the pack) followed by stuffed cabbage, with a grand finale of crepe suzette, all washed down with a bottle of bordeaux. Stuffed cabbage may not sound all that fab but honest to goodness it is. It oozes taste sensations with smoked bacon, pork, herbs, toms and pine nuts and looks well groovy served up at the table looking like a huge savoy cabbage but new and improved.

The rules are:
  1. You can't spend more that £10
  2. If you have ingredients in or can get them from your garden/allotment it doesn't count to the cost
  3. It must be at least 2 courses
  4. Nothing can be ready-made
  5. You can't cheat by buying stuff you need a few days before to have in when it comes to the challenge cook-day
  6. Basics like potatoes, carrots, onions don't count towards the cost unless they form the main element of your dish as they are usually in the house anyway

I came in at a grin inducing £9.59 - oh yes she's a winner this time.

Not only was the meal taste-tastic it was my big thankyou to hubby for being on perma-kid-duty these last 7 weeks while my broken elbow healed. Today sadly, alack, alay he is back at work. Still, at least he has scrummy leftovers for lunch.

Next time hubby promises me he's going all Eastern European to knock my French socks off...the game is afoot...

Friday, 16 October 2009

Soup of the day

Okay, today I made a yummy soup with a bunch of odds and ends of food I had in the fridge. It's this annoying cold I have, nothing like a good home made soup to chase the buglings away, so I had to make the most of what was in...


4 chicken drumsticks (roasted in advance)
1 medium potato diced
1 sweet potato diced
3 carrots diced
1 leek sliced
1 large onion chopped
half a cabbage (any cabbage is fine) shredded
half cup of peas
half cup of sweetcorn
1 dried chilli
10 peppercorns (can add more or less if you fancy)
1 clove garlic crushed
2 and a half pints of water (can add a bit of veg stock to this if you feel like it)
1 heaped teaspoon dried thyme
1 bayleaf
1 tablespoon red pesto
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil (or veg oil)
salt and pepper to your own taste

  1. Remove the meat from the drumsticks, then boil the bones with bayleaf, chilli and peppercorns and skin for 1 hour in 2 pints of water.
  2. Soften the onion and leek in the butter, oil and add the garlic.
  3. Drain the bones into a seive and keep the stock to put back in the pan. Pick off any remaining meat.
  4. Add everything else to the stock, bring to the boil and then let simmer away for at least another hour.
  5. Put half the mix in the blender and blitz, then add back to the pot - voila a yummy full of goodness soup.
I love soup for its versatility, pretty much any veg will go into it and it can be as cheap as you want. This one makes around 6 healthy servings, perfect for a cold autumn night.

One big bowl later and I already feel the cold shifting. Could be wishful thinking but my money is on the food...

Thursday, 15 October 2009

getting crafty

Home cooking going a treat, spicy lentil soup, slow roasted pork with beans, good warming food and works out as cheap as chips but twice as healthy. Hurrah for toddler boy having easy to please taste buds. I love autumn food, mash potato here we come.

Must remember not to go mash mad, hubby already grumbling when it crops up on the menu - again. But who doesn't like mash? Creamy, smooth, carbtastic and perfect with all those lovely autumn/winter stews, casseroles and stodge fests. Could be I'm connecting with my Irish roots here, but potatoes are just the best staple ever. Thank heavens for supermarket wars as prices are looking good too.

The pork dish was such a winner, £4 for a pork shoulder and the rest of the ingredients couldn't have cost more than £2-3 and it made 6 portions! Six whole meals of rich and tasty protein for around a pound a head. Why would mums need Iceland when they can have this?

All this domestic budget busting going so well desreved a treat. So off for craft and cocktails at Made in Brighton. What fun! A bunch of keen crafters, mostly women I must admit, getting together in a cosy basement bar to indulge in a spot of hobby crafting and a few cheeky cocktails. With happy hour offering 2 glasses of wine for the price of 1 it was even a budget busting drink-up.

Sitting around, knitting, sewing,, embroidering and discussing robot making (yes someone there makes real blinking bleeping robots for the fun of it) was an excellent way to spend an evening. It felt like getting back to the old ways of women, bonding over a needle and thread or the clackety clack of knitting. Not sure where the robots fit it into that throw-back though.

So, baby girl can expect her own custom made stocking with gifts from Santa this year - and if it manages to stay intact, every year after. Lovingly crafted from an old dress it cost nothing to make (if you exclude the couple of glasses of wine) compared to forking out £10 min for a generic shop bought one. Oh I do love this penny-wise life right now.

Monday, 12 October 2009

the best things in life

Cliche alert but the best things in life really are free. Especially when they come in the form of a top roast dinner washed down with a few glasses of vino.

Much thanks to the brother-in-law for a tasty treat, which whole family enjoyed. It was an afternoon well spent, toddler boy much amused and adults suitably lubricated by the grape and the hop. Must be a sign of old age but I'm getting to the point of finding time with family a pleasure above most others.

And on the budget front it was a total winner of a day with zero pence spent. Yes zero pence. Unbelievable.

swings and roundabouts

Okay, making your own digestive biscuits is not cheaper than buying a pack, but they do taste fine, very fine indeed.

And what could be more fun than baking with a toddler, right? Um, well, depends on what you're baking. In this case not so fun. You mix the bran, sugar and flour with butter in the way you would a crumble - not with a wooden spoon that flicks it all over the place.

'Spoon mummy, mix' he declares as my precious ingredients go flying. Mummy takes over firmly at this stage. Stir in a beaten egg. Then we come to rolling out, which toddler boy loves almost as much as mixing, he just doesn't grasp the need for it to be flat. Mummy attempts to take over which results in toddler boy declaring war and taking the pottery pekeko hostage. Biscuit mix isn't the only thing he's capable of flinging. So mummy offers a peace treaty in the shape of a star biscuit cutter. Now we're getting somewhere. The stars land safely on the baking tray and toddler boy is delighted.

Then he discovers the off cuts, which mummy plans to roll out again and make yet more stars with, but no, toddler boy grabs and eats. Yum? I doubt it but it doesn't stop him having another go, at which mummy intervenes with a swift lift and swoop manouvre placing the other side of the safety gate. Ah, that's better. Raw egg and toddler tums should not meet.

So that was digestive biscuit making day. An hour of toddler entertainment, 16 biscuits all for the price of a few ingredients and a mild stress head, not bad.

Friday, 9 October 2009

A new day dawns

It is 11.09pm and I'm a tad on the sleepy side. Two little'uns under two will do that to you.

So, setting the scene, first blog ever. Mission: to share life on the cheap side when I'd quite like life on the wild side, champagne tastes and all that, hence the title of my blog.

Today has been naughty. This month I'm not supposed to spend anything in a bid to rid myself of overdraft before my maternity pay stops and life as a freelancer starts in earnest, but I couldn't resist a pizza, well it is a Friday night. Not any old pizza either, Sainsbury's taste the difference no less, not sure I could taste the difference really. Have to make my own next time. Lesson learned there.

That's what this is about. The aim is to cook, make and otherwise whip up my own food, fun and entertainment on the tiny teeniest of budgets. Me, hubby and two children - one real income - many many demands on the cashola - and a luxury hound heart - here we go...