Welcome and Hello

Hello and welcome to my new frugal blog.

My name is Anthony and I love to get into the kitchen and cook, but it wasn’t always like that. For years I did what every other person did: went to the supermarket and brought prepared foods instead of making my own. Since 2006 all that has changed and I now prepare all my meals.

Recently I was thinking about all the recipes and ideas I have jotted down on bits of paper, in books and inside my head. If I had a good recipe and wanted to share it with everyone I would post it online on one of my blogs. This proved to be a problem to me as I was always looking for it later on. So what I decided was to start another blog mainly for my recipes.

It’s a Frugal Life for Me

It’s not just cooking I am fond of, I recycle almost everything I can from glass jars, yoghurt pots, meat trays and anything else I can re-use.

This too was scattered amongst my many blogs making it difficult for me to have any control over what I have blogged about. From now on though everything I blog about regarding recipes and frugal living will be on here. That way I know where it is and have control over everything frugal.

I know there are thousands of websites out there all giving the surfer recipes, frugal living and anything else I put on here, but mine is different: it’s mine and everything I blog will be useful!!! If I find and use a recipe, I will post it here so we can all try it. Frugal tips, advice and hints? Well again I will post on here so it’s within easy reach of all of us, and I am not scouring my other blogs for it when I want it!!!

Gardening Anyone?

Another passion of mine is gardening so I am thinking about having a garden section. Then I can write helpful hints, tips and advice on here thus helping everyone who loves gardening. There is so much to be done in the garden right now so expect one or two posts shortly.

I have also started a Facebook group called “The Frugal Life.” If you would like to join then click HERE.

Thanks for dropping by, if you do try any recipes or anything else I have posted, let us know how you went on.

Anthony

Making Greaseballs for the Birds in Winter

Now that autumn is approaching for all those who live in the Northern hemisphere, many people will be thinking about feeding the birds so they can survive the cold winter ahead. Many people go out and buy their grease balls but you can make your own. All you need are a few simple ingredients, most you will have in the kitchen, then some seeds like sunflower and wild bird seeds which you can get from a pet shop or even supermarkets these days.

What You Need

  • Wild bird seed
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Bread
  • Biscuits
  • Oats
  • Muesli
  • Old cooking oil. When you use oil in your cooking and baking save it after you have finished with it. 1 good tip is to get a big container (say 10 litres) with a lid and keep it outside. Then when you have oil pour it into the container outside. Do this all year long then you will have more than enough when you make greaseballs and other delicious food for the birds.

Other Things You Can Use

  • Cornflakes
  • Cakes and buns
  • Crumbs when you clean the toaster
  • Nuts. If you have a walnut tree why not spend some time breaking them open and give the birds a great treat.
  • Berries. If like me you pick your own from the wild, why not add some into the greaseballs, the birds will love them.

Utensils You Will Need

  • Old mixing bowl
  • Old mixing spoon
  • Rubber or surgical gloves
  • Netting to house the greaseballs in. When you get fruit from the shops they sometimes come in nets, use them.

Making the Greaseballs

  1. Take the bread, oats, muesli and biscuits and smash them into tiny pieces. To do this I have an old tea towel which I put everything inside, twist the top so nothing can escape then use a rolling pin to “roll” the ingredients until they are the right size.
  2. If you are using things like cornflakes, large nuts and berries you can also “roll” them until they are the right size.
  3. Add these to a large mixing bowl then add the seeds. Mix everything together then slowly add some cooking oil.
  4. Keep mixing as you add the oil. Once you are happy with the consistency, take a ball and roll it up. Open your hands, if it stays together then its ok, if it falls apart add more oil. You want the consistency to be firm without being soggy.
  5. When you are happy with the greaseballs you need to put some into the netting. The size of ball depends on you and the size of the netting.Now you will need to hang it outside. I use an old piece of wire from a coat hanger. Both ends are bent so it looks like an “S.” I thread one end through the netting and the other hooks onto the tree.

If you care about the wildlife around you, in particular the birds, then it’s only right to make your own grease balls for them during the colder months ahead. Yes you can buy them but why not make your own? Most of the ingredients will be readily available in the kitchen, all you will need are bird seed and nuts. Trust me the birds will really appreciate it this winter, you will have them queuing up to feed this winter.

Geranium’s: Easy to Propagate

I love geraniums. The smell of the leaves leave a lasting impression on me of times when I was young and my dad had them in the garden. They produce a host of different reds, pinks, and white flowers that are really beautiful, and definitely turn your garden into one of stunning beauty. I don’t have a garden but I do have geraniums as they make good houseplants. In fact I would recommend you bring them inside during the winter as any severe frost will kill them.

Did you know that the geranium is also very easy to propagate? Well they are and this is just one way in which you can double the plants you have now. I know I have used this method countless times as it’s easy.

On the plant you want to propagate look for a healthy stem. Get a sharp knife and cut the stem just above a set of leaves. By cutting above the leaves your geranium will produce another stem and leaves from the cut.

Take the plant and remove any leaves up the first 1 inch of stem like the picture to the right.

Get a glass container and fill it with water.

Place the geranium cutting into the water then put it in a sunny spot in the house.

It should take about 6 weeks before any roots start to grow, but once they do start growing they will soon take over the jar!

Get a container, put some drainage holes in the bottom, then stones or polystyrene in the bottom to help with drainage. Fill it with compost.

I use old yoghurt pots as they make excellent plant pots.

Take your new plant and plant it, it’s that simple!!!

Blackberry Buns

Continuing with my Sunday baking, I made some really delicious blackberry buns. As you know if you have read the other blog posts, I went berry picking recently with my son Mark, so now I will use some in my baking.

Blackberry buns really are a great way of using the berries you have picked. The actual recipe itself is an old Victoria Sponge Cake recipe which I have utilised and now use it when making buns.

Blackberry Buns

  • 175gms butter, at room temperature
  • 175gms sugar
  • 175gms self raising flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 100gms blackberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4.
  2. Grease a 12 hole patty tin. If you can afford it buy silicon ones or individual silicon bun cases. They are much better, the mix won’t stick to the sides, and they are easy to wash afterwards!
  3. Mix the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. I use a hand mixer for this.
  4. Slowly add the eggs and essence as you continue to mix.

  5. When they are mixed stop using the mixer then fold in the flour.
  6. Now that everything is mixed together add  the blackberries. Fold them into the mixture taking care not to break them apart or squash them.
  7. When everything has been mixed together 1/2 fill each hole or individual bun case with
  8. the mixture. If you put more in it will spill out and stick to the oven meaning extra cleaning for you!

  9. Place the tins or bun cases in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top of each one is golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes in the tins before removing and placing on a wire rack.

Trust me these buns are so tasty you might struggle to eat one as the family will beat you to them!!!

Sunday Baking

Well carrying on from yesterdays post, I then made a really delicious and moist carrot cake, followed by equally delicious blackberry buns, vanilla buns and a really tasty peach and blackberry trifle with orange jelly. Oh and a chicken dinner for me and my son Mark.

Carrot Cake

  • 170gms brown sugar
  • 170gms sunflower oil
  • 170gms self raising flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 130gms grated carrots
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp ground nutmeg. If you have fresh all the better as it will taste better
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4.
  2. Line an 18cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  3. Add sugar to a mixing bowl along with the oil and eggs. Mix everything together then stir in the carrots and lemon zest.
  4. Sift in the flour, bicarb and the spices then mix everything together.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
  6. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until you can slide a skewer in and and it comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack. Remove the paper and either allow to totally cool or serve immediately with some cream or ice cream.

This is a really great carrot cake recipe. It’s moist, delicious and should be something you try to make at least once.

In The Kitchen. Sunday Baking

As it was the season for blackberries recently I decided to go and pick some down by the river. The stretch of river near me is only accessible for about 600 metres, but in that short distance there’s lots of blackberry shrubs, so I knew I would get a few. The first time I went I spent 2 hours picking some wonderful looking berries, and for my troubles got 1.4 kilos. I came home, washed them then froze 1 kilos worth. The 400gms I had left I decided to make cakes with them and jam. I had an old recipe for apple and blackberry jam so thought I would use that rather than look for another online. Checking in the kitchen I realised I only had 1 apple left (thanks son!) Stuff it I thought I’m still making some.

I followed the recipe which was:

Apple and Blackberry Jam

  • 400gms Blackberries
  • 1 kilo apples
  • 1 kilo sugar
  • 2tbsp cold water

After I had made it I let it cool then tasted it. Oh god I thought as the syrupy liquid ran down my throat. It’s not supposed to taste like syrup! What I had done was follow the recipe to the letter and it said 1 kilo of apples, I only had 1! Anyway I can use the 3 jars I have, don’t know what in yet.

The second day I went berry picking Mark my son tagged along. I told him that if he

helped me on Friday I would buy him an MP3 player. Well he was there before I had finished the sentence! Still it was worth it. We saw the Princess Elizabeth pass on her way through Stalybridge. She was doing the Scarborough Flyer this year which meant she went through my home town every Friday around 9:15 in the morning.

That day we managed to pick 1.2 kilos in 50 minutes, not bad wouldn’t you say? So, I had just over 2 kilos of blackberries in the freezer, now what to do with them. Well last Sunday I decided to have a baking day. First off was a blackberry sponge cake:

Blackberry Sponge Cake

  • 200gms self raising flour
  • 200gms butter, softened
  • 200gms caster sugar
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 300ml double cream
  • 400gms blackberries and 3 handfuls for the cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C or Gas mark 4.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. I use a hand blender for this.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time as you continue to mix.
  4. Once mixed together add the extract.
  5. Stop blending if using a hand blender then slowly fold in the blackberries. Remember to keep 3 handfuls for the cream.
  6. Slowly fold in the flour. Keep folding the ingredients together until you have a batter like consistency. As you are folding the mixture, try not to crush the berries.
  7. Take 2 20cm cake tins and divide the mixture between the 2.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer, inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  9. Once the cakes are cold mix the cream with 2tsb of sugar until the cream starts to harden. Stop mixing then fold in the 3 handfuls of berries into the cream. The idea is not to mix too much so as you crush the berries.
  10. Take a palate knife or any type of knife if you don’t have a palette knife. Spread the cream over the top of one of the cakes. When covered gently place the second cake on top and push down carefully.
  11. Sprinkle the cake with caster sugar and serve.

As for the rest of my Sunday baking I will write it up soon and post it so stay tuned. To give you a taster I made:

  1. Carrot Cake
  2. Blackberry Buns
  3. Plain Buns
  4. Trifle
  5. 1 Sunday Chicken dinner

If you want to see a video of Princess Elizabeth in all her glory then click HERE. It’s taken by a viewer in N Yorkshire on her final trip as the Scarborough Flyer, the same day me and Mark watched her go by before picking berries.

Simple Frugal Tips Everyone Can Practice

This is another article that can be found on my blog “A Day In The Life,” but it also deserves to be here as it deals with being frugal.

We all know about climate change. The use of products that produce dangerous gases and pollute the air we breathe, resulting in warmer temperatures. But do many of you know how you can do just a little bit which will make a big impact to the climate and environment around you?

Turning off unwanted electrical items like chargers and computers, walking or cycling instead of using the car, planting trees and growing your own vegetables. All these things can be done quite easily, but will make a big change to the way in which we all live.

Below is a small list of things one can do to live a greener life but there are many more things one can do.

  • When making coffee or tea use enough water for the number of cups you need.
  • Make sure the pan you are using is the right size for the job and the ring you are going to use on the cooker.
  • How about making your own meals instead of shop brought rubbish? Making your own meals means you know exactly what goes into them. If you use your own home-grown veg, fruit, herbs and other edible items, you will have a great tasting, healthy meal.
  • Always open the windows around the house to let in fresh air and dispel any old, stale air which can be bad for you. Even in winter a few minutes makes a difference.

“Did you know there’s more “bad” air inside your house than there is out on the street?

  • Never leave the TV, satellite receiver or any other electrical device on standby. Leaving it on standby means you are still using electricity to keep it on standby and raising your electricity bills.
  • Planting trees is an excellent way of helping the planet deal with pollutants which we pump into the air like carbon monoxide and turn it into oxygen which we need.
  • Never buy bottled water. Yes it is an invaluable source in emergency situations where the local supply has been cut off or contaminated, BUT there are ways for these companies to distribute water without using plastic. Cardboard cartons and bottles is one way in which they could distribute water needed in times of disaster. Plus the transporting and making is incredibly expensive and bad for the environment.
  • Growing your own food like vegetables, fruit and herbs are another great way for you to live greener lives and conserve the environment. Not using pesticides will greatly improve the air and the soil in which you have planted your vegetables and they will taste delicious too.
  • Conserving rain water is a great way of living a green life and there are many ways in which one could utilise the collected water. First off is the garden. Water the plants, trees, and all those vegetables with rain water which is free from chlorine, fluorides and other chemicals water companies pump into our drinking water. Some plants like Venus Fly Traps should only be watered with rain water as the chemicals in drinking water will rot and kill it outright. Other good ways for using rainwater is the toilet and if you can have the correct filters in place, the shower.
  • Composting. When you are preparing your vegetables and fruit why not have a small compost bin in the kitchen with a lid on. When it’s full take it outside and put that waste into a compost bin. This will rot down over time thanks to the beneficial insects and worms, leaving you with beautiful compost which you can use in your garden. The plants will thank you for it too.
  • Try to recycle as much as you can. From paper to plastic, metals and even batteries can be recycled. No longer working electrical items like fridges and freezers can all be recycled. Furniture you no longer require and old clothes can be recycled to. Just give the local charity shop a ring or go visit them and see if they will collect you’re unwanted items. I save some containers to use in and around the house and in the garden. Old yoghurt pots can be great emergency plant pots, so can tin cans. Plastic egg cartons can be used as seed trays. If they have a lid then you have a mini propagator. Just think about it, the possibilities for recycling are endless.
  • When washing clothes use the coldest setting possible and try to hang them up to dry instead of using a tumble dryer. Bad for the environment and the pocket.
  • Other more common things to do to live a greener life include leaving the car at home instead replacing it with either walking, cycling or getting public transport to work and wherever else you may be going. If you need to use the car make sure it is as environmentally friendly as possible and always make sure the tyres are at the correct pressure. Turn off lights when not needed and even turning down the thermometer by 1 degree makes a difference.

As one can see these changes are nothing major, most of them you will already know and, hopefully already implement. But they will make a big difference to the environment and climate, especially if everyone practices these simple procedures. It’s not hard or even rocket science, just common sense.

Transform your Garden into One of Stunning Beauty

Frugal Gardening

Frugal gardening isn’t hard to do especially if you follow a few simple ideas. Some are listed below for you to try, others you can find online just by searching. If you do have any frugal gardening tips why not share them?

Frugal Gardening: Start by Looking Around the House

So how can you be frugal in the garden? Well for starters have a look around the house. What you are looking for is any containers that you could use. Plastic containers that once contained food from supermarkets are great for this and can be used as seed trays. If they have lids then you have a simple propagator which will help the young tender shoots grow big and strong.

Glass jars are great for storing things in. Maybe you have markers, pens, bits of string or other small items scattered over the greenhouse or house. Well using glass jars to store them in are a wonderful idea, just look in the kitchen cupboards, in there you are bound to find some whether they contains coffee, sauces or jams.

If you are stuck for plant pots and want to start off some seeds there is another alternative, that is the metal can you get things like peas, carrots and other foods in. You will have to give them a good clean out then put holes in the bottom, but they are great for emergency plant pots when you have none and stuck for money.

Seed trays can be made using the plastic or polystyrene trays you get meat in. Just make sure they are washed thoroughly then put holes in the bottom for a great seed tray. If you want more info click HERE as I have blogged about using these trays for seeds.

If you have lots of plants, seeds or herbs in pots but don’t have any identifiers so you know what’s what then this method works. Take a plastic margarine tub and after cleaning cut the plant identity markers out of the tub and lid. Ok so there will be writing on one side but the inside is white and perfect for you to write that plant name. Just remember to use a permanent marker!

These are just a few of the frugal gardening tips you can use in the garden but there are more inside my book The Frugal Gardener. The book is packed full of gardening tips including tips on vegetable gardening, herbs, and many other topics every gardener should know if he is to become a frugal gardener. If you are interested in purchasing a copy then get in touch, it’s only 86p and worth every penny. Packed full of hints, tips and ideas on growing flowers, shrubs, herbs and vegetables, The Frugal Gardener will be a constant companion while you tend the garden.

Strawberry & Chocolate Dip

Strawberry’s and chocolate are the food of love so why not mix both and create a lovely dip to dip the strawberry’s in?

Ingredients

  • 100g bar of chocolate like Dairy Milk or other quality chocolate
  • 500g home-grown strawberries
  • 1 carton of double cream

Method

  1. Break the chocolate into smallish pieces.
  2. Heat a pan of water on the cooker. As the water is heating up get a Pyrex or other ovenproof dish and place on top of the water.
  3. Break the chocolate into small pieces and put into the ovenproof dish and allow to melt. As the chocolate is almost melted add the cream and gently stir the ingredients together.
  4. Stir both ingredients together until creamy. Don’t let the mixture boil or go lumpy.
  5. Remove from the cooker and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Don’t let the chocolate set!
  6. Serve in a bowl with strawberry’s on the side to dip in.

Another way to use this recipe is if you have kids round and you want to give them something different. Or at the end of a dinner party strawberry’s and chocolate are a great way of finishing off the evening with friends. How about after a romantic meal for two? Now that would give you a few good points, need I say more chaps?!

Dust Inside a Computer

With your busy lifestyle, juggling tasks like taking the kids to school, shopping and generally looking after the house the last thing you want is another job. But, sadly it’s a job which will have to be done unless you want a dead computer.

I am talking about cleaning and in particular the dust inside your computer. Yes that does need cleaning sometimes as over time dust gets into it and can eventually cause damage. Dust will also make the computer run slower and get hot quicker as it clogs the fans and slows them down. This in turn means the parts of the computer that need cooling down are not cooled and instead get hotter. Dust inside a computer and resting on top of a circuit board can short circuit the computer and as you have probably gathered stop working.

Inside the case could be full of wires so be careful

There are two ways in which you can clean dust inside a computer. The first ways is by taking it to a computer shop and have them do it. They will charge you and it will mean being without you’re computer, probably for a couple of days. The other option is to do it yourself. Now don’t be alarmed, this task is actually quite straightforward and, well, easy. But there are some things you will need and do before you open up the case and perform surgery.

First of all you will need an anti-static wrist strap. This is to be worn and clipped to the computer case once the side panel is removed as static from your body can kill a computer. The second is an anti-static rag for wiping up any residual dust. A tin of compressed air is also needed as is a small screwdriver to unscrew the screws holding the side panel in place.

Once you have those items you will need to shut down the computer and unplug it from the mains and the back of the computer. Before shutting down just check with other members of the household that they aren’t running any programs while the computer is idle. Some people run anti-virus programs while they are out or at work as they can take a few hours.

Now it’s a matter of opening the side panel with a small screwdriver. There are usually 2 screws holding the panel in place so undo those and slide the side off. Once you have the panel off and hooked yourself up to the case with the wrist band take the can of air and spray it onto the CPU fan. Be careful not to get dust onto any other part of the computer as you spray. Once the dust has been removed any remaining particles can be wiped away using the rag. If dust has settled elsewhere inside then a quick blast with the can of air should suffice or wipe away with the rag, but do be careful as you don’t want to damage or loosen anything. All you need do now is unhook yourself and replace the side panel.

People think they can use a vacuum cleaner to remove the dust but that is not recommended. A vacuum cleaner can cause static to build up on the circuit boards, loosen parts or suck them up at worst.

Don’t be afraid of taking off the side panel and getting dirty by cleaning dust inside a computer. In the long run the computer will thank you by running cooler, quietly and more efficiently. You will also have a computer that will last longer too.

Shortcrust Pastry

This article is also on my business website wayne-anthony.com. As it’s a frugal article I thought it also deserves to be here.

Shortcrust pastry is one of the easiest and most convenient pastries you can make. You can use it for sweet and savoury pies, quiches and tarts.

To make shortcrust pastry you only need a few basic ingredients, ingredients you will already have if you enjoy baking in the kitchen. These are flour, butter, lard if you want to, and water. When you make this pastry you always use half the fat to the weight of flour, in other words if you need 200g plain flour you would use 100g butter or lard. If you wanted to use a butter/lard mix then you split that into half again so it would be 50g butter and 50g lard.

The main points to remember when making this pastry is to get air into the ingredients as you make it. This can be achieved by lifting up the ingredients into the air as you mix them together. Once you have your shortcrust pastry it’s important to allow the dough to rest for a minimum of 20 minutes in the fridge. This will give the dough time to get more elastic making it easier to roll, if you were to roll this after making you would have problems.

To make short crust pastry you don’t need a lot of water, just a few tablespoons will do as too much and the dough will be soggy and not easy to manage.

Below is a recipe for shortcrust pastry. I sometimes use this when making pies or tarts.

230g plain flour

1-2 tbsp. ice cold water

120g butter OR:

60g butter

60g lard

Blind Baking

One of the things you might have to do when you are making your quiches, tarts etc. is to blind bake. What that is is you make the pastry, rest it then put it inside the flan or tart case, add some greaseproof paper to the base then on top of that baking beans. This is important in some recipes as they use quick cooking ingredients like eggs, cheese, jam etc. and those will be cooked before the pastry. You then cook the flan or tart case for a few minutes before removing, add the filling then popping it back into the oven to continue to cook. Using baking beans or weights like that when blind baking stops the pastry from rising.

Alternative to Baking Beans

You don’t have to buy baking beans or weights either, you can use all sorts of food items found in the kitchen. Foods like beans, peas or pulses can all be used in place of baking beans and will save you money, especially if you already have the beans, pulses or peas.

Use a Fork

Another method people use when blind baking is to prick the flan base all over with a fork. Just fill the flan case with the pastry as above, then pop it into the oven to bake. That way you don’t have to use baking beans or equivalent. Although I have never tried that method it does seem to work. Why not try it?

Next time you are baking why not use shortcrust pastry instead of your normal pastry? It will make a big difference to the taste of the pies, flans, quiches or tarts you are baking.

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