Wednesday, 24 December 2008

CURE YOUR OWN HAM - THE SEQUEL!


Well, the ham is soaked, boiled, roasted (see photo) and - yes we've tasted a piece - that was a couple of hours ago and we're still here to tell the tale! Tastes lovely, but lacks the deep pinky red colour of bought ham or bacon. I'm not too bothered about that - the main thing is we aren't going to be eating all those ghastly chemicals they list on the labels of bacon joints!

We have frozen half the pork joint after the soaking stage (we bought slightly too big a piece) and so we will have some more in the new year. If you want the recipe, it's HERE.
Happy Frugal Christmas!

More Frugal Recipes!

Friday, 19 December 2008

5 SHOPPING DAYS TO CHRISTMAS - HOLD YOUR NERVE!

Well, we're nearly there - 5 more days for you to NOT spend your hard-earned cash! So hold your nerve (and your wallet) and think clearly. Don't run out to the shops every 5 minutes like a mad thing and spend another £50 or more!
Make a coffee, sit down, take a pen and pad and think calmly about Christmas. What do you need Christmas Eve? Once you've bought/made your presents and wrapped them, and if no-one is visiting, you just need a quick supper, a satsuma or 3, some chocolate and a stiff drink! (With a bit of good telly thrown in!). Of course, you could go down the pub and get legless - but that's not very frugal is it?
The shops are really only shut on Christmas day, so mentally check through your menu from Christmas breakfast to bedtime and list what you and your guests will eat and drink. Don't go mad with tea-time food - most people will still be too stuffed from lunch, to eat much in the evening. We are planning a games evening with some guests, with only a few crisps and nibbles and a few cubes of assorted cheeses and savouries. I think I've got enough of those, plus some drinks, nuts and fruit for Boxing Day and leftover Christmas lunch to munch on - and the odd mince pie.
Do not buy every expensive "Christmassy" offering in the supermarket, just in case one of your guests may ask for it! If Great Aunt Polly wants walnuts pickled in Madeira wine or whatever, well, that's tough - I'm sure you'll have plenty of other goodies to offer.
Look on the bright side - by the time you venture out to the shops on the day after Boxing Day, everything you need will probably be reduced anyway!
Happy Frugal Christmas!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

CURE YOUR OWN HAM!

Well, I'm in the process of trying this out! It's a recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall which uses only salt water (brine) and some spices. Okay, you may say it's not frugal - but when I checked out the huge vacuum packed, chemical laden lumps of gammon in my local supermarket, a piece slightly smaller than mine (with bone in) was over £20.
I ordered a half a leg of pork from my butcher, tunnel boned (that means taken out from a hole downwards in order to leave the shape of the leg) and I told him I was going to salt it myself. He looked a little surprised - perhaps it really is very difficult and I just don't know it - yet! Our pork weighs about 4 kilos (and cost £20 but is enough for 2 Christmas dinners!) and so we have to salt it for around 16 days and we have it steeping in its pink (garden) tub in the corner of our cold kitchen! We checked it out today and it doesn't smell rancid yet!
We did hit a problem with the amount of brine and our bucket- the recipe says 2 litres and of course the pork must be covered when it is in the bucket - ours wasn't, so we eventually needed to do 5 litres!
Our ham is due out the day before Christmas eve, so I'll let you know how it turns out - find out more at Happy Frugal Christmas!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

BE FRUGAL - SPEND WISELY THIS CHRISTMAS!


However far you've got with your Christmas shopping, don't be tempted to overspend. Whatever the government says - we, as individuals, cannot spend our way out of recession and if you're anything like me, 2.50% off VAT will not do much to encourage you to buy something you can't afford anyway! Make sure that, whatever the new year has to bring, you do not have a staggering credit card bill to deal with. These are uncertain times and the three Rs (recession, redundancy, repossession) are already being banded about on TV, in the papers and on the radio. We will hear soon whether we are officially in recession - of course we already know the answer to that! But make sure, whatever you do, that you have as little ongoing debt as possible. Dropping interest rates will mean that any savings we have in banks and building societies will earn very little, so decide how much of your "nest egg" you can afford to use (keeping some rainy day money aside if you can!) to beat down your debts - then do it. Buy only what you need, save up for it - an old-fashioned idea, but, nevertheless, a good one and use credit only in an extreme emergency. Spending other people's money always costs us dearly.