Monday, 1 April 2013

Sorry for my absence.

My computer decided that it didn't want to work. I've been using my housemate's laptop to do things like twitter and facebook and generally trying to keep up with the world, but sharing a computer in very limited time means I've had to neglect this blog. My computer still isn't fixed, but I do have a bit more time over the bank holiday so hopefully I will get this written and published for you before the end of the weekend.

My subtitle for this post is: Grab a Bargain When You See it.

A couple of weeks back I happened to pop into Waitrose to pick up some more milk (I buy Duchy Original milk because it's organic, non-homogenized and the 2 litre cartons seems to always be on offer). Since I was in there anyway I decided to look round for reductions on meat (there's little in my local Waitrose I can afford to buy that isn't on offer or reduced). I came across some lamb mince that worked out to about £4/kg. Yeah seriously. It was of those "I wish I liked lamb more than I do" moments. Thankfully my housemate likes lamb and I cook for both of us. Housemate is spending more time away for work at the moment so I grabbed some and took them home to cook.

The picture below shows the packaging and the meatballs ready to bake.

I decided to turn them into meat balls because these can then be eaten as snacks or refried or added to veg in a pot to make a kind of soup. I was inspired by Practical Paleo's spiced lamb meatballs. In with the minced lamb I added salt, pepper, cumin, and cinnamon (Diane's mix probably tastes better but I didn't have everything to hand, check out Practical Paleo if you want the proper recipe). I then baked, cooled and froze them. Housemate reports that they were filling and tasty and worked really well for wild camping.

These are the final product about to go into the freezer (or about a third of the final product anyway).

There is a small town near me that had a market on this weekend. It only runs three a year but it tries to make them big when they run. I looked through the list of people who were going to be there and saw a butcher and a fishmonger. I was sold. I like the chance to meet producers I don't already know and the chance to look for bargains. From the fishmonger I found less a bargain (so more of a treat) but more of a good thing. I bought proper cold smoked kippers. I also picked up a chicken and a kg of diced beef for £10. It's locally raised so it had a mixed diet (because we're just coming out of winter) but for £5/kg I'm not complaining. I also picked up some local honey and some local organic cider vinegar. The cider vinegar is local, organic, not pasteurized, unfiltered, so it basically ticks the boxes. And to top it all off, it's cheaper than aspall's stuff.

Here's a picture of some of the kippers atop mixed kale and beetroot fried up in butter. Left my kitchen stinking of fish for ages afterwards. Not to be eaten just before you're expecting vegetarian friends or family round. Please excuse the poor photo. Like always it was taken from my phone and frankly I was too hungry to faff around trying to take a better one.

Cucumbers were on offer at Lidls so later this week I will be making lovely chicken and cucumber.

This lovely long bank holiday weekend has also seen me be able to get out into my garden. Down here in Devon we managed some sunshine, and my garden is fairly sheltered, so wrapped up against the cold it's been fairly pleasant. I'm not sold that this will be the final position of my veg beds but in practical terms it probably will be simply because it allows them to catch what little sun comes into my garden. I still need to fix them properly into the ground and build something round them to keep the hens out though.

Due to a headache I spent much of sunday afternoon curled up on my bed surrounded by gardening books. I love my books but sometimes it really makes the point that I am working with very little space. I'll  never be self-sufficient on this plot of mine, but it will certainly give me space to experiment and keep me honest about only using methods that prove to be economic. My garden looks barren now but I still dream of a time that it will be lush and productive.

The lord Saxen even managed some sunbathing in this weekend's weather.

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