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This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Friday, 30 November 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

Holy cow, what a hot week we've had, usually we can count on being at least a few degrees cooler that the city, but not this week. We've had very high temperatures plus hot and dry westerly winds that have carried in a thick blanket of dust.

We have been living in the air conditioning, keeping all the windows and doors closed tight, not even hanging out the washing. We will have to wash down the outside of the house when this weather event finally ends, this job was already on my to-do list but now it really needs to be done, the dust has settled onto the security screens and in the window and door tracks.

But this minor inconvenience is nothing compared to the devastation caused by fires burning out of control further on up the coast. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by these terrifying fires, every night we have been watching the news, fires are so completely devastating, destroying everything in their path. And just how amazing are our rural fire brigade and emergency services who give their all to try and save homes and lives. They are true hero's.

This week has seen me start on planning for Christmas in a big way, yesterday afternoon I did the small amount of Christmas gift shopping, the Christmas cards are written out and ready to send on Monday and tonight we are having dinner with our son and his partner tonight to plan what will be happening on Christmas day. As in most families when new relationships bloom and grow the way we celebrate special occasions will be different. We are open to change and will be happy to support whatever they want to do for Christmas day.

Our daughter and her partner may not be coming down for Christmas this year as flights are stupid expensive and they are saving like crazy for their home they will be building next year. Their usual house/pet sitter is not available also and they just don't feel they can find and trust someone else to look after their beautiful cats. Again we are totally fine with that and wouldn't stress them out by insisting they join us. I always say do what is right for you and don't worry about what anyone else thinks.

Now, after that little update, I'll get on with the frugal things from Chez SHI.

1. Made two loaves of bread. It's been ages since I made bread and it felt good to be doing it again. I will have to make the trip up to Simply Good to buy some rye flour as I am completely out. These loaves are just plain white bread, they are yummy but I prefer bread with some goodness.

2. Mended a bag that had come unstitched, when our daughter was down here a few weeks ago she must have gone to Daiso and bought home one of their bags. She had popped it on my sewing table to be mended and only just discovered it on Sunday when I was in there making a little drawstring makeup bag. I should have changed the colour of the thread to match the bag, but done is better than not.

3. Made a couple of meat free meals during my freezer and pantry challenge, both these meals are meat free, economical and totally delicious.

Baked Semolina Gnocchi with Oregano and Tomato Sauce (recipe coming on Monday)

4. Caught the warm up water from the shower and also the water from the aircondioning outlet and used it to keep the few remaining potted plants hydrated.

That's Ninja photo bombing!

5. Packed my morning tea and lunch everyday for work, I do this every week, it's a no-brainer. I would never buy lunch when I have food to bring in from home.

Over to you, are you experiencing wild weather in your neck of the woods? And how did you save money this week?

Have a lovely day,


My Freezer and Pantry Challenge Update

Thursday, 29 November 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

Today I thought I would do a little update of how my freezer and pantry challenge is going. I took a leaf out of "The Frugal Girl's" book and are slowly whittling down the bits and bobs in my freezer and some long overlooked items in my pantry. I did an inventory of what I had in both my freezer and over stuffed pantry and made up a list from there on how I was going to use up these food items.

So far this is how I've used some or all of those items-

1. Some dates and chia went into these Date, Chia and Coconut Biscuits

2. Some semolina in a dish of amazing Baked Semolina Gnocchi with Oregano and Tomato Sauce, this is a wonderful recipe and I will be posting it next Monday. There is enough semolina left over to make another batch of this, which will definitely be happening again soon, it was so good.

3. An open packet of puff pastry, a small quantity of frozen peas and some potatoes in these Curried Potato and Pea Parcels

4. Half a bottle of frozen passata, some frozen breadcrumbs and 2 tins of sardines went into this Sardine and Rosemary Pasta with Parsley and Garlic Crumb

5. Some frozen cream and a loaf of frozen Brioche was used up in this Cheese and Chorizo Bread Pudding

6. A carton of frozen butter milk went into a batch of my Light and Fluffy Pancakes for breakfast last Sunday

7. I have taken out the left over stock from the last time I made Drunken Chicken plus half a tetra pack of frozen chicken stock (as I will probably need a bit more stock) to make another Drunken Chicken for dinner tonight.

8. And lastly we used up a frozen container of Upmarket Rice and Beans for an easy dinner one night. This is a photo of what items we had in the freezer next door (our Sons and Partners home) there is only the lime juice and zest plus the passionfruit pulp to use up now. I will be making a huge batch of Lime and Passionfruit Butter to give away at Christmas time.

I still have quite a way to go until my freezer is empty and my pantry, not quite so full, but slow and steady will win the race.

Have you ever done a freezer or pantry challenge? If so, what interesting bits and bobs did you find?

Have a lovely day

One Year Ago-Easy and Delicious, Slow Cooker Chorizo and Beans
Two Years Ago-My Plastic Replacement for November

Aromatic Chickpea Stew with Dates and Almonds

Wednesday, 28 November 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

I have said this phrase before "If you cook one recipe from my blog, make it this one" back in February this year, I was talking about my Veggie Shepherds Pie, but today I am talking about another meat free meal, it's this Aromatic Chickpea Stew with Dates and Almonds. It is simple, like really, really simple, it is delicious, like crazy delicious and it's meat free, what's not to love?

It uses the king of pulses, chickpeas and just a handful of other ingredients, get them all together in a pan, then it just blips away until thick and gorgeous. I served it with Quinoa but rice, either white or brown would also work.

Give it whirl today.

Ingredients for Aromatic Chickpea Stew with Dated and Almonds, clockwise from right-2 cans or home cooked equivalent of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, 1 bunch of coriander, root and stems separated from the leaves, 4 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane, a small knob of ginger, peeled and grated on a microplane to yield 1 good heaped tablespoon of grated ginger, 100 grams of pitted dates, 40 grams of flaked almonds, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan, zest and juice of half a large lemon (or a whole small lemon) 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 can of tomatoes and 1 teaspoon each of ground coriander, turmeric and cumin.

In a blender, blitz the dates and can of tomatoes together and set aside till needed. You don't want it completely smooth, a few chunks of dates is fine

Heat a splash of oil, on medium heat, in a large, non stick, heavy based frypan and sauté the garlic, ginger and finely chopped root and stems of the coriander till fragrant, just a few minutes, don't let the garlic colour

Then add the spices and again stir for a few minutes until fragrant 

On medium-high heat, add the blitzed tomato and date mixture, rinsing out the blender with about 1/3 cup of water adding this also to the pan. Give everything a really good mix and bring it to a gently simmer. Now add in the drained and rinsed chickpeas, again give it a thorough mix, turn heat to low, pop on a lid and let it blip away for up to 45 minutes if you have the time. It will thicken beautifully during this time, if it gets too thick add a splash of water. Add the lemon juice just before serving 

Serve over quinoa or rice, with the toasted flaked almonds and finely chopped leaves of coriander over the top.

This dish is so delicious, it's slightly sweet from the dates and so wonderfully aromatic from the ground spices. It is hearty and filling and the textures are so interesting especially the little crunch you get from the golden almonds. Make it, love it. 

Have a lovely day,


Sardines and Rosemary Pasta with Crunchy Garlic and Parsley Crumb

Tuesday, 27 November 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

 I love most seafood as long as it is not too "fishy" and I had never even eaten a sardine until I made this dish, I was always worried they would be too strong a flavour for me. How wrong I was, you just need to team sardines with likewise strong flavours that will enhance rather than overpower these little omega 3 rich fish.

I have vivid memories of my grandparents having sardines in tomato sauce on toast for Sunday dinner, I remember the smell being too much for me when I was young, I guess that is where my resistance to eating sardines came from. Never mind it is no longer an issue and would happily make and eat this dish again.

This dish came about as I am doing a freezer/pantry challenge at the moment, I had half a bottle of passata and breadcrumbs to use up from the freezer and the sardines and pasta was from the pantry, so I made a bit more room in the freezer and pantry and made this delicious dinner as well. Win win.

Ingredients for Sardines and Rosemary Pasta with Crunchy Garlic and Parsley Crumb, clockwise from top-500 ml Passata, 280 grams of pasta of your choice (I used a egg fettuccini) 2 cans sardines, drained, 25 grams of parmesan, grated, 1 long sprig of rosemary, finely chopped, 3 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane, a good handful of parsley, finely chopped, 80 grams of olives, pitted and roughly chopped and 50 grams of fresh breadcrumbs

In a small frypan, on medium heat, add a splash of oil then add the breadcrumbs, tossing to brown, keep an eye on them, turning heat down if they are browning too quickly.

Meanwhile in a large, non stick, heavy based frypan, on medium heat, add another splash of oil and add the drained sardines and finely chopped rosemary

Gently smosh the sardines with a wooden spoon and let cook away for 5 minutes or so

Now add the passata and bring to a gently simmer, cook away for 10 minutes to let the flavours mingle 

Add the chopped olives and warm through 

To the now golden breadcrumbs add half the grated parmesan and grated garlic and stir till fragrant 

Just before serving, add the chopped parsley and stir through

Cook the pasta in the usual way, drain well and reserve a 1/4 cup of cooking water. Add cooked pasta to sardine and passata mixture in pan and give it a gentle but thorough mix, thinning with water if needed

Serve straight from the pan 

Sprinkling over the crunchy golden Garlic and Parsley Crumb and finish with a good grating of  parmesan 

There you go a wonderfully easy and flavour packed dish that tastes delicious and is good for you too. So tell me, are you a fan of sardines or other oily fish? If so, how do you like to eat them?

Have a lovely day,


Cheese and Chorizo Bread Pudding

Monday, 26 November 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

I had never thought of making a savoury bread and butter type pudding before but as I wanted to use the brioche loaf I had in my freezer as a main dish not a dessert, I went searching for one. And sure enough it is an actual thing. Good on you google! As usual I found quite a few and then mashed them together in this scrumptious and very easy recipe. It is quite indulgent though, definitely not one to have on a regular rotation but once in a while would be fantastic!

That 750 gram loaf of unsliced brioche had been hanging around in the freezer for quite some time, I had picked it up on mark down intending to make my Overnight Creme Brûlée French Toast but I am so very glad that this savoury dish happened instead.

Ingredients for Cheese and Chorizo Bread Pudding, clockwise from top left-750 gram of brioche, cut into 1 inch cubes (please slice off the crusts first before cutting into cubes, I didn't do that and then it took far longer to slice the crust off each cube) 3 cups milk and 1 cup of cream (I use powdered milk as we don't drink dairy milk) 1/2 a red onion finely diced, 1 large or 2 small spring onions, sliced finely, 1 cup of grated cheese of choice, 2 chorizo (I use Aldi brand) diced, a good handful of parsley, finely chopped, 6 eggs and 2 teaspoon dried oregano

Add a splash of oil to a non stick, heavy based fry pan, on medium heat, then add the diced chorizo, the onion and spring onion. Sauté till the chorizo is starting to colour up a bit. Take off heat and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk and cream mixture, whisk well. Now add the brioche cubes and give it a really good stir. Then add the grated cheese, oregano and parsley and again give it a really good stir, now gently fold through the chorizo mixture 

Pour and scrape into a large, greased casserole dish, mine measures 28 cm square

And bake in a 180C oven for 30 minutes or until puffed and golden

Serve this savoury pudding warm from the oven. I have to tell you this dish is wonderful, softly comforting and really truly delicious. It would be perfect for a special brunch or lunch and would transport well if you had to bring something along to a gathering. On the night we ate it, I served it with tomatoes and watercress, which was a lovely fresh balance to the soft and flavour packed pudding. 

Make it today.

Have a lovely day,

One Year Ago-Sunny Side Up Sunday
Two Years Ago-No Blog Post Today

Sunny Side Up Sunday

Sunday, 25 November 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

Today I am grateful for my health, I may have already covered this one already, but as I work with very unwell people everyday, it brings home to me how very lucky I am to have my health and clarity of mind.

What are you grateful for today?

Have a lovely day,

Two Years Ago-No Blog Post Today

What we bought, spent and ate this week

Saturday, 24 November 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

Week one of my freezer and pantry challenge went really well, I have made some room in the freezer while making interesting and new recipes. I have written about how I think I will use the items from my freezer and pantry here and if I keep the momentum up I should have the freezer clear in a couple of weeks.

We got back from camping last Saturday and spent the day unpacking and washing, then on Sunday, once I was caught up with the house, I went through the freezers and pantry with a fine tooth comb and made an extensive list on what was in there and how I could us it all up. I then did a micro shop at Aldi, only buying what was needed to supplement what was already on hand to make up meals for the week.

So here's what I came up with this week-

What we bought

Aldi shopping

What we spent

What we ate

Friday and Saturday-Upmarket Rice and Beans

Tuesday night was just me as LH had an Aquarium Club meeting so I had smashed avo on toast topped with a perfect egg, simple and delicious

Wednesday-Cheese and Chorizo Bread Pudding, this is a corker of a recipe, I will post it soon

Thursday-From the freezer, more Upmarket Rice and Beans (I had frozen a container of it when I made a big batch to take away camping)

Join in, I'd love to know what your cooking at the mo.

Have a lovely day,

Two Years Ago-No Blog Post Today

This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Friday, 23 November 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

Well, it's already been a week since my holiday and it truly feels like I didn't have a holiday at all! I cannot wait until the day I can stay home all day, every day and just be in my home. Does anyone else feel like that?

It may sound really boring, but I love my home and even with the reduced hours ( 9 till 4) I am currently doing I still feel like I'm not getting enough home time. There was a quote I read recently from John Grogan (Marley and Me) "such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day" isn't that sad, sad but true. I don't think I've got the balance right yet, more thought on my work/life balance needs to happen I think.

Now, on with the frugal wins-

1. Used up half a bag of wild bird seed left over from our camping trip to sow as a green manure to improve our poor soil

2. Not my frugal thing but I spied this cute little produce box on the side of the road on my way home from work, isn't that lovely, sharing your bounty. I took a bag of beans and one apple cucumber. 

The cucumber will be used in lunch time salads and the beans will be part of our dinners this coming week.

3. Rinsed and aired out a couple of plastic bags for re-use. The one on the left I use and re-use over and over again for a packet a puff pastry, it is just the perfect size and the one on the right is from the bag of beans above.

4. Bought a bunch of marked down watercress on Tuesday afternoon, it was a little worse for wear so I cut off the roots, then picked off the lovely bright green tips, gave them a good soak in iced water, drained them well and then stored them in a cloth napkin lined, sealed container. I now have crispy watercress to add to lunch time salads.

5. When I make a dish that requires cream, and if it is the last of the cream or indeed if I am using the whole bottle, once the bottle is empty, I heat the bottle in the microwave for 10 seconds to get out the very last of the cream. You would be surprised how much cream there is clinging to the inside of the bottle and lid. This is a trick I learnt from George Calombaris (Masterchef) years ago. 

Over to you, how did you save money this week?

Have a lovely day,