Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A Frugally Productive Day


I've been waiting for quite some time to get a dry enough day to get out into the garden to see how things are growing. The ground is saturated - far too wet to even think about planting anything - but it was alright for picking some fresh produce.

Today's haul got me a tub of brussels sprouts, some curly kale and 15 leeks. The ducks got their share of leafy greens to nibble on, when I pulled up a couple of rows of the old broccoli plus some kale, then it was indoors to start preparing the day's pickings. Before that, I pulled out the dead sunflowers, so their thick, woody stalks were soon blazing on the fire, helping to heat the water.

Breadbaking was on the agenda, so two small loaves got baked in the replacement breadmaker. It bakes faster than my old one, probably owing to the fact that it does two small loaves instead of one large one. I like this feature, as it allows me to bake a white loaf and a wholemeal loaf at the same time. That's very handy when the household is divided on what each likes best.

Then there was the 'Nile' mince to cook. I named it this, as mince is such a versatile meat product that can be bulked out and made into so many different dishes - it simply stretches for miles, just like the River Nile.

Bog standard mince and potatoes is tasty at the best of times but with a slow cooker, you can simply add everything into the one pot and have a 'casserole' style meal that could easily feed a large family without a problem.

Today, the mince is cooking along with potatoes, carrrots, onions, leeks and brussel sprouts. I add plenty of stock and seasoning, then  dumplings  get added about half an hour before serving the meal in big bowls, along with freshly baked bread, if required. It's tasty, nutritious and very filling!

(Dumplings are a mix of plain flour, suet and water mixed into dough, divided into dough balls and can be cooked in mince, stew or soup.)

Whatever mince doesn't get used today will be transformed by the addition of tomatoes, herbs and garlic to make a bolognese style sauce for serving with pasta and then the remains of that topped up with chilli peppers and kidney beans to serve at a later date with boiled rice. My slow cooker is one of the most used items I have in my kitchen and I can highly recommend them to anyone. I use a 6.5L Morphy Richards.

Each of these dishes can be frozen in meal sized portions for future use, so we can get three meals for three of us out of the one pack of mince, which started out weighing a mere 400g for a cost of £1.20  The potatoes, onions, brussel sprouts and leeks are all from the garden. I'm ashamed to say, I had to buy the carrots!

Sadly, we've lost our second crop of carrots, which were well and truly wrecked when the rabbit decided it would be fun to play in that particular bed after finding her way in through the netting! She had it dug into nothing by the time we found her. And judging by the huge holes I found among the stalks of last year's broccoli and the brussels sprouts this afternoon, she's been making a habit of frequenting that spot, too.

Note to rabbit-keeping vegetable growers - your rabbit will love freeranging in your garden but it will also find its way into anything, showing you where you have failed to 'crittur-proof' your precious veggies. The Frugaldom bunny doesn't seem to touch turnips, kale, broccoli, cauliflower or sprouts, but she loves carrots, pea shoots, strawberries and raspberry leaves. I've even seen her nibbling on the mint!

Hoping to be able to get some seeds started soon, so I'll probably start with my salad leaves in their tub, as these are easily covered in plastic as a makeshift cloche. I would normally start some other seeds off in trays and keep them on the kitchen windowsill but being in our 'fixy-up' means I don't actually have a windowsill to use until the old window gets replaced. Weather permitting, I'm hoping it could maybe get fitted this weekend, which would then help cut down more of the draughts at the back of the house.

Here's to the 2012 growing season. If the mild weather continues, we might even get back out into the garden soon - if only the high winds and rain would stay away for a bit!

The duck pond is mucky but, thanks to the drainage, we have avoided any floods or mud pits... so far. We lost one of our young ducks to the severe weather during the storms but everything else seems to be fairing well. Roll on the start of egg laying, as we're only getting a few bantam eggs at the moment - hardly conducive to cost-effective egg production!

Work has now begun on the website in preparation for the new year. All the links will be added to the http://www.scottishmultimedia.co.uk/ site, which will become the centre of this frugal little kingdom, updated to reflect progress in the development of our first microholding.

Don't forget you can join in with any of the frugal challenges at http://www.frugaldom.com/ where I have linked
the free forums.

NYK Media


  1. well done on getting the produce out of the garden this time of year. Much too cold and snowy to garden over here in Canada


  2. It's been surprisingly mild here in our southwest corner of Scotland, but temperatures are looking set to drop at the end of this week, apparently. We are in a fairly sheltered location, so most of the snow that fell missed us. We've had only one night of light frost, which is a far cry from previous years in other houses. 20 miles up the road hasn't been as fortunate.

  3. We too love our slowcooker and I think I bought mine on your recommendation.

    I have nominated your blog for an award over on mine........the least I can do considering all the inspitration you have given me over the years.


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