Thursday, 29 September 2011

Calling UK bloggers

Just a quick one, really. I want to compile a list of UK frugal/green/simple living blogs on a separate page here. I have some favourites, but I am hoping that there are many many more out there.

I have nothing against all you lovely US and Australian bloggers, quite the contrary. But you are prolific and make up a sizeable proportion of my feeds! And as you all tend to link to your fellow native bloggers, I find myself reading more and more non UK blogs. Simple, green and frugal living in the UK looks very different to your home countries, not least because of the general scale of our living arrangements here.

So fellow Brits - a chance for flagrant self promotion, or promotion on behalf of your favourite bloggers. If you consider yourself a predominantly UK based frugal/green/simple living focused blogger, please leave a link in the comments below. Ta.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


  I suspected, before we even locked our front door and joined the stream of late summer weekend traffic, that our second excursion to Norfolk as a family would leave me with much to contemplate. Since we decided earlier in the year that Norfolk is our preferred destination when we leave this place, I have done a fair amount of behind the scenes ruminating, including confronting resurfacing doubts as to whether it's actually a good plan. I suspected that our trip would settle the matter once and for all. 

I am a fickle beast; prone to announcing that I have finally settled on my grand plan (oh how many variations on 'when I grow up I want to be a  ____' I have uttered over the years) only to recant within the month, week or hour, which is why I haven't discussed our plan since first announcing it, for fear of making a complete wally of myself.

We had a great time exploring, gadding about the countryside, visiting some old friends and old haunts. We discussed these troublesome doubts of mine whilst we were there, and we discussed them some more when we got back.

Norfolk still holds, still consumes my thoughts on a daily basis, still looms large in my mind as I rewrite our budget yet again. There are still questions; and answers semi-formed; to mull, however. So that is what I am doing. Which is to say, expect to hear a lot more about it from now on.

What are you mulling over right now?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

♫ Oh we did like to be beside the seaside...

 Oh we did like to be beside the sea ♫...

We have just returned from a week away at my favouritest place on this side of the earth. Oh how I wish we could have stayed. There were a good few family arguments, rainy days and toddler meltdowns. And yet...

there was sand and sea and sun:

there were sunsets (and a Nick chilled out enough to pick up his camera after a long hiatus and take photos of them):

there was the delicious local food:

there was even (the tail end of) Hurricane Katia:

It brought rainbow spray. Sigh.

Thank you to all of you who left comments in my absence. I hope you have had a good week wherever you have been and whatever you have been up to.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The trouble with chutney

The green tomatoes didn't really ripen too well on the windowsill, probably thanks to all the clouds loitering around these parts at the moment. Kind souls from all around have offered me chutney recipes as a way to deal with my green tomato harvest. I like sugar, I love vinegar, I adore sweet and sour anything. What could be the problem? I couldn't bear to tell a single one of those kind souls my very unfrugal, unautumnal, unsweet-and-sour worshiping secret.

I hate chutney. I am not a chutney person. I have never met a chutney that I have really enjoyed.

So it came as a surprise to me that I found a spare six hours in my hectic schedule to make chutney yesterday. A simple means to deal with the tomatoes threatening to turn bad, I had planned on giving most of it away, leaving only a token jar for the men of the house to enjoy. I spent several hours scanning recipes hoping to alight across something that appealed; and in so doing, I struck upon the root of my problem with chutney. I have never met a piece of chutney worthy dried fruit that I actually like. Sultanas, apricots and raisins...mollasses-y chewy yuck. And all of the recipes I found were brimming with dried fruit.

With understanding comes healing. I made this recipe up as I went along, using the unripe and half ripe Purple Calabash tomatoes. Aren't they ugliful?

Ugly Tom's Chutney

1.5kg mixed green and under ripe tomatoes, chopped
0.5kg young tart apples, chopped
350g onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, slivered
150g demerara sugar
200g white granulated sugar
200ml balsamic vinegar
150ml white wine vinegar
250ml malt vinegar
1 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Motherload of ground black pepper (I spent several minutes of grinding)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp sea salt

Simply bring all the ingredients to the boil in a large pan...

Simmer down over a low heat for several hours, stirring frequently as it thickens, until reduced enough to leave a trace when the spoon is drawn through...

Remove the bay leaves, bottle, christen and label.

As for post bottling processing...I did it the traditional British way with quaint disregard for botulism, USDA guidelines, or scalded fingers. Next year I may get organized and take the  prescribed safer route instead (not least because it gives me an excuse to buy pretty Kilner jars).

I like this chutney. This recipe makes just under two litres, most of which I will be keeping for myself ourselves. It tastes like a slightly hot cross between tomato ketchup (which I heart) and brown sauce (which I most definitely don't heart - molasses-y) and I like it. It was my intention to leave them to mature for a few months, but so far one of the small jars is nearly empty. Turns out it makes a nice basis for a sweet and sour marinade and is also a good dip for chips. Not bad for some very ugly fruits.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


I am sorry for the slow replies to your lovely comments. I am not getting in front of a PC much at the moment. I am in awe of people with babies and toddlers who are organised enough to blog everyday! I am reading your blogs through the wonder of mobile technology in the quiet moments when I am sat with a sleeping baby on me, but commenting is difficult on such a tiny screen.

Instead of screen time, we have been having lots of other types of fun. Allotmenting, foraging, walking, baking, gardening, painting, play-doughing, crocheting, eating - all of which I hope to find the time to tell you about this week...

Though I think this picture tells you everything you need to know. That's what happens when you pile a whole week of fun onto the dining room table. That and TV dinners.


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