30 August 2011

YoGo Pie

Sometimes it's the simplest desserts that are the most stunning. This pie couldn't be easier to make, after all it's basically just a chocolate custard. Decorate with whipped cream and chocolate curls, and a half a strawberry per slice if you have them, and you'll be the most popular cook on the block.  You can buy pre-baked pie shells in the  bread/cake department of most supermarkets, or from a cake shop. Otherwise use Elaine's Easy Pastry to make your own.


2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup cornflour
1/4 cup water
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 baked 20cm pastry shell
300ml cream, whipped
Chocolate curls or shavings


Combine 2 cups of the milk, sugar, cocoa and butter in a medium-size saucepan.  Bring just to a boil over medium heat. In a medium-size bowl, completely stir cornflour into water. Add remaining 1/2 cup milk. Add egg yolks and vanilla, whisking until well-blended.  Gradually add egg yolk mixture to mixture in saucepan, stirring constantly with wire whisk. Cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes, or until mixture is thickened and smooth.  Add marshmallows and stir until they melt and mixture is smooth. Pour into pie shell. Press clingwrap directly on filling (this stops a tough skin forming on top of the custard). Refrigerate at least 2 hours.  Remove clingwrap. Top with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate curls.

Note:  When my children were smaller I would often substitute soy milk for the cow's milk in this (and other custard based) recipes with great success.

29 August 2011

Knit a bookmark

A few days ago an email popped into my inbox with the instructions for knitted bobble bookmarks. These cute little bookmarks take just 20 minutes to make (really) and  literally use scraps of wool. They make great fete items and slip into a card for an inexpensive and novel gift.

The original pattern is by Ann Budd, and you will find it at www.knittingdaily.com  If you love knitting sign up for the newsletter, it's full of great ideas and free patterns.

Here is my slightly adapted pattern.  I've used 8 ply yarn and 4 ply yarn to make bobbles and both have worked out beautifully.

Knitted Bobble Bookmarks
A few metres of some leftover yarn and size 4mm needles.

Leaving a tail about 60cm long, make a slipknot and place on needle. [K1f&b] 3 times—6 stitches. Work in stocking stitch for 6 rows. Pass the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth stitches over the first stitch—1 stitch. Cut yarn, leaving a 60cm tail.  Tie off the remaining stitch. Tie the cast-on and bind-off tails together in a square knot to shape the bobble.

Make two more bobbles the same way.

Tie three bobbles in a cluster by tying the tails in an overhand knot close to the bobbles. Hold the bobble cluster steady (tape them to a tabletop or close them in a drawer) and working the two tails from each bobble as a unit, work a three-strand plait for about 25cm or desired length. Tie another overhand knot to secure the ends. Trim close to the knot.

28 August 2011

Sharing the gardening experience

Now is the time to plan your vegetable garden according to what your neighbours are planting so you can share your vegetables when they’re ready for eating. Often I’ve had too many of one kind of vegetable I couldn’t give away because my friend’s were ripe at the same time.  Ask a few questions and then decide who is going to grow what.  Then that glut of zucchini at the end of January won't seem nearly so overwhelming.

27 August 2011

It's almost barbecue season

The fine, warm weather over the last week or so reminded me that one of the greatest pleasures of a long Aussie summer is standing over a scalding barbecue in the backyard blackening a row of sausages and cremating sliced onions.

When daylight saving starts, barbecues across the country will be wakened from their winter hibernation and prepared for the summer cooking season. No matter what your barbecue is - an iron plate over smouldering coals, a single burner hibachi or a full on outdoor kitchen - now is the time to do a little routine cleaning and maintenance to keep your barbecue operating safely for the summer cooking season.

Pull it all apart, clean each part thoroughly and put them all back again. You can buy replacement parts for those burnt-out burners and grill plates from most hardware shops or go straight to the manufacturer and ask if they sell spare parts.

Check the gas bottle and connections (if it's a gas barbecue) to make sure they are working properly and everything is safe to use.  Gather your cooking tools and make sure they are ready to go.

Then, after all that work, give the barbie a trial run. Slice some onions, throw on some snags, butter some bread and enjoy your first sausage sandwich of the season.

26 August 2011

Give a little, it's easy

Consider volunteering. When you spend your time giving back to others, you stop thinking so much about what you don’t have. Volunteer where your strengths, skills and interests best fit. When you focus on giving back to the world, you’ll be too busy to spend money and consume resources just because you can. You’ll also feel great about yourself. Gratitude is one of the best cures for over consumption.

There are plenty of ways to volunteer, but if you need some guidance on where to start go to www.volunteeringaustralia.org

25 August 2011

Odd beats even

Way back, before I was married, I worked with interior designers, decorators and architects.  The best lesson I learned from these talented people was that when it comes to decor, odd beats even. The best groupings are of three or five objects, of varying heights. For example, a tall slender table lamp  anchors the group. An attractive 8x10 photo frame is angled beside it. A vintage bowl of pretty shells rests next to the photo to complete the grouping.  Remember that quality almost always wins over quantity and look for the best accessories you can possibly afford. That doesn't mean you have to buy them from department or homeware stores. Some of my best and most valuable accessories have come from trash'n'treasure markets, op shops or have been hand-me-downs from my mother, mother-in-law and aunties.  Three treasured teapots grouped together in a tasteful display packs a much more powerful decorating punch than a dozen scattered haphazardly around a room.  Just choose styles and colours that complement each other and the overall theme or style of the room.

24 August 2011

It's not a bargain if it doesn't fit!

Fit is the number one priority in shopping op shops, garage sales and the discount racks. It won’t matter if you find a pair of jeans for $1 if they are too tight, too short or cut wrong. If at all possible try clothing on at the store before buying. When buying from the clearance rack in department stores, know the store’s return policy before you buy, some will not swap or accept returned clearance items.

23 August 2011

Chicken Alfredo

This simple pasta dish packs some serious "wow" factor whether it's for a simple family dinner or a formal dinner party.  Slice the chicken fillets through while partly frozen, they will be easier to cut. Use kitchen scissors to chop the parsley. Use wholemeal fettuccini if desired. Serve with a side salad of tomato, onion, olives and feta and crusty bread.

6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and flattened with a knife
2 skinless chicken breast fillets, halved
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
Cooking spray
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup Greek yoghurt
250g uncooked fettuccini
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup parsley, fresh, finely chopped

Heat a large, heavy fry pan over medium heat. Rub garlic over chicken then reserve garlic. Rub in salt and pepper with your hands; set aside. Remove fry pan from heat and coat with cooking spray. Turn heat to  medium-low. Sauté garlic about 1 minute. Add chicken and cook until golden, flipping once - about 5 minutes per side.   Combine stock, cream and yoghurt; pour over chicken.  Scrape bottom of frypan with a wooden spoon to incorporate seasonings and pan brownings. Turn heat down and simmer chicken gently, turning once, about 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  While chicken is cooking, cook pasta according to package directions; drain.  Remove chicken from cream sauce and set aside. Add Parmesan cheese to cream sauce and stir through. Add cooked pasta and 3 tablespoons of parsley; toss well.  Serve pasta topped which chicken and rest of parsley.

22 August 2011

Create a designer cake stand

 $3 Footed cake stand
Serving from a footed cake stand makes even the plainest cake look something special. Instead of buying one, why not make it instead?

Take a cake plate and either a specimen vase or a single candlestick. Use craft paint to spray the vase or candlestick to match the plate if needed. Then, using a hot glue gun, run a line of glue around the rim of the vase or candlestick. Centre the plate over the top and gently press down until the glue dries. Voila - a designer cake stand.

If you use a plate and vase you already have and your one of a kind cake stand won't cost  you a thing, or look for vintage plates, vases and candlesticks at markets, garage sales and op shops and you'll have a unique cake plate for just a couple of dollars.

21 August 2011

Recycled Glass Jars Make Great Seed Storers

The cheapest way to get plants for your garden, apart from being given them, is to grow from seed. Unfortunately unless you are a serious gardener with a huge garden, a packet of seeds contains far too many to use in one season. And if you are a serious gardener seed collecting is a part of your gardening routine. An safe way to store seeds is in glass jars with sealable lids; baby food jars are a perfect size, pasta sauce jars will do the job too. Make sure the jars and lids are spotlessly clean by washing in hot, soapy water, rinsing well and then drying the jars in a warm oven before storing your seeds. Let the lids air dry. Then line the jars with a round of brown paper to keep the light out (it prevents light damaging the seeds). Add the seeds to the clean, dry jars, seal and label with the type of seed, and expiry date (it should be on the packet).

20 August 2011

Write a letter

While phone calls and e-mails might be quicker, there are few things that make people feel as good as getting a real letter in the mail. If you’re feeling extra creative you can make your own cards or writing paper and personalize it for each person you write to. Letters let the recipient know you are thinking of them, and gives them a tangible reminder of your relationship. It doesn't have to be long; a simple, one page letter is just as nice to receive as a 10 page epic.

19 August 2011

Start living below your means

Everyone who wants to save money has heard that they need to live within their means. Well that's not quite right. If you want to save money you need to live beneath your means! Living beyond your means can be a very expensive endeavour and one that leads some people to financial ruin. Learning to live with what you have is an important step in making yourself more secure financially. A plasma screen TV is great, but only if you can truly afford it. When you are considering making a large purchase, think about how many hours you will have to work to pay for the item.  Expensive items might require an entire month of work to pay for. Is? Learn to overcome the temptation to buy things you can’t afford and you’ll appreciate it later when you are living debt free, cashed up and laughing.

18 August 2011

Does your family have a launch pad?

Every household should have a launch pad, a designated place where kids put backpacks, sports gear, jackets, umbrellas, shoes, etc. when they come home. It's the place where lunchboxes and homework wait to be picked up before they walk out the front door. Many people use an area near the front or back door for their launch pad.  It doesn't have to be anything fancy. We have a mat on the floor for shoes, a rack on the wall for hanging coats up and a key rack on the wall, for of course, keys. This all sits next to a chest of drawers and everything we need to take with us when we leave the house is put on top of the drawers.  You could use a small table or a toy box. You could even have a different coloured bin so each family member has their own launch pad.

17 August 2011

Want some extra cash? Then earn it!

Even if you have a full-time job, you might need some extra money. Maybe you're not earning enough from your pay to live as comfortably as you'd like. Maybe you've got your eye on a big-ticket item and would like to save up the money to pay cash for it. Or maybe the holidays are coming up and you want to be able to buy something special for that special someone.

Whatever the reason, there are many ways you can earn extra money. Here are some ideas for your consideration.

* Get a second job.
* Do jobs that other people can't or don't want to do.
* Find someone to do occasional cleaning jobs for.
* Sell stuff on eBay.
*If you're handy with needle, thread and sewing machine take in mending jobs.
*Ironing may not be your favourite thing but it pays reasonable well by the basket load.
*Dog walking will keep the dog and you exercised.
*If you're a shop-a-holic put that urge to good use and shop for other people. You're earning money and satisfying your shopping desires.
* Start a blog.

These are just a few ways that you can make extra money while keeping your day job. We all have skills that we can put to use to earn some extra cash on the side. Think about all of the things you can do, and you're sure to come up with something!

16 August 2011

Slow Cooker Rice Dessert

The first dessert I ever made for Wayne was a baked rice custard. Back then I didn't have a slow cooker so it was the old fashioned way, in a bain marie in the oven. It's still one of our favourite desserts and features often on our dessert menu.  These days I have a slow cooker and it gets a good workout, even for desserts.

This recipe is from the Member Forum and has received rave reviews. Thanks go to Pamela for sharing her recipe and tips.

Rice Custard

2 tablespoons rice
pinch salt
600mls water
3 eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
30g butter
grated nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins
Wash rice, cook in boiling salted water for 20 minutes.  Drain well and put into greased bowl or heatproof dish that will sit in crockpot. Beat eggs with sugar, add remaining ingredients.  Stir into rice.  Cover bowl with foil or a small plate.  Pour 1 cup of hot water into crockpot, add bowl of rice custard. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours.  Serve warm
Notes:  I make this rice custard all the time. I use sultanas, not raisins, or leave them out all together.  I also use low fat milk and if the eggs are small I put an extra one in. Do not try cooking this on high or it will curdle and the eggs will be like scrambled eggs.

15 August 2011

Take a humble wooden clothes peg

And use it as inspiration to create a nifty notice board!

I needed somewhere to stick notes and other little bits of paper that seem to breed on my desk so I went looking for a corkboard. Not only could I not find one to fit, but the ones I found were either cheap and nasty (very, very cheap and very, very, very nasty) or way out of my price range. They say necessity is the mother of invention and I had quite made up my mind that a notice board was necessary, so I decided to make one.

The challenge was to make it to suit my office and my budget. In my hallway stands a chest of drawers, very old, very heavy and very big. And full to almost over-flowing with craft supplies so the craft drawers were my first port of call. Hannah and I tidied them up not so long ago so it was easy to find what I wanted. The only thing I didn't have on hand was a frame to hold the board part of the notice board.

To make your noticeboard you will need:

A photo frame the size you need
Patterned paper to fit the frame
Craft paint in your desired colour
Picture wire
Screw in wire "eyes" (the type you use for hanging curtain wire)
Wooden clothes pegs
Hot glue gun or sticky glue

To make your noticeboard:

Take the back off your frame. Wipe it over with a clean, damp cloth to make sure it's dust free. Paint the frame using the craft paint. Remember, light, even coats look better and allow you to build up a depth of colour. Paint your pegs to match.  Allow to dry thoroughly.

While the frame is drying, measure the patterned paper and cut to fit the backing board from the frame. Glue into place, smoothing to remove any bubbles.

Once the frame is dry replace the covered backing board.

Measure one side of the frame into 3 evenly spaced sections and mark. Measure down the other side to correspond.

Screw the eyes into the frame at the markings. String wire across frame by wrapping securely around one eye. Then pull the wire across to the other side, making sure it is taught. Wind securely around the other eye and trim the end.

To decorate the pegs glue the embellishments onto one side. You can use little wooden or metal embellishments or stickers, whatever you have. If you are an organized personality you can print labels off and stick one to each peg so you can organize your notes i.e. bills, phone messages, To Do etc.

You can either hang the noticeboard on the wall or attach a magnet to each corner and hang it on the front of the fridge or the side of a filing cabinet.

My noticeboard cost the grand total of $1.97, and that was for the frame. It was on the throw out trolley at Sam's Warehouse and I snapped it up. Originally dark brown, it came up beautifully with three light coats of cream craft paint. The pegs were lurking in the bottom of my peg bucket, so no cost there. I rescued the wire from the leftovers of a picture hanging kit stashed in my sewing box. And the pretty patterned paper? Well that is a sheet of scrapbooking paper I'd kept because I love the pattern and colour.

12 August 2011

The Bare Bones Grocery Challenge - Can you feed your family for $30 a week?

I spent some time earlier this week working with A Current Affair to see if families really can eat three meals a day for a week for the grand sum of just $30 (the segment aired tonight, see $30 Grocery Challenge).

When Disaster Struck, and our world was disintegrating around us, the most important thing for me was to be able to put food on the table for my family. Unfortunately, back then, like it is now for so many families, the grocery bill was the second largest expense we had next to our mortgage.  I had at most $50 a week to spend on groceries for the five of us, and that was all groceries, not just our food. I even managed the odd block of chocolate and pack of disposable nappies for when we were travelling. It was tight back then, just as it is now.

But you know what? Turns out the grocery bill was the one expense I could completely control. I alone determined how much was spent on groceries each month. I could choose to go over my grocery allowance, yikes, or I could choose to be a little smarter and come in under and use the left-over money for something else (pay a bill, by a treat or build a slush fund).

That's when I started cooking. I could cook of course, it's not hard to grill a steak and toss a salad or steam some veggies. I just didn't bake very often and when I did it was usually something quite exotic. I certainly never preserved anything and we didn't have a veggie garden.

But I started. Out came the recipe books and I started jotting down ideas. Which led to my very first pantry inventory. I didn't know it was a pantry inventory back then, I was just checking to see what really was in that tall cupboard in the kitchen.  Ditto the freezer. Thankfully we've always had a freezer, the first one was a wedding present from Wayne's parents and it's one of the best gifts we've ever received, much more practical than the traditional cutlery canteen!

It was fun to go to playgroup and take morning tea because I could try out a new recipe and I knew I'd get honest reviews. What I discovered was the most popular recipes were the old fashioned ones: scones, Anzac biscuits, rock cakes, sponges, sausage rolls, little pasties and so on. These were also the cheapest and easiest to make. A win, win on our tight budget.

Every now and then we'd need  little extra cash so I'd stop buying groceries. We'd live on what was in the house, just buying exactly what was needed for the week. This was the beginnings of the Bare Bones grocery list, way back in 1994.

Back in 2002 I challenged Cheapskates Club members to do the Bare Bones Grocery Challenge and we've been doing it every year since. Back then it was just $20 a week, and it stayed at $20 until 2007. To account for inflation and the exorbitant cost of meat, poultry and fresh fruit and veg we upped it to $30 in 2008, although many challengers still manage to stay under $20 for the week.

This challenge isn't meant for long-term use. It's  designed to save you a lot of money quickly and it does. If you normally spend $120 a week on groceries and accept the challenge of $30, you have $90 to pay off debt, save, invest or use for another purpose, without affecting your Spending Plan.  It is not meant to be a long-term challenge, but most households can manage at least one week, perhaps two. If you are a well-stocked household you have the potential to last for months and save hundreds of dollars.

This grocery challenge is also a great way to use up your stockpile, and rotate through your supplies before you replenish them.

It's not at all hard. Like most things it's the thinking about it that makes it hard. Once you get started it's easy. I bet you've already done a Bare Bones challenge at some point. Perhaps you've been eating down the fridge and pantry before going away on holidays, or munching your way through the contents of your freezer for it's yearly defrost and clean session.

If you've done these things, you've done the Bare Bones Challenge. You used the foods you already had to provide meals for the family, buying just the ingredients you needed to supplement and round out your menus.

Part of the fun of this challenge is creating new recipes.  One of the questions I get asked over and over is what do you eat for breakfast, because there's no cereal on the shopping list.  Well, if you don't have cereal in your pantry (I'm pretty sure most homes would have at least one type of cereal lurking in the cupboard), you can use any of the breakfast suggestions on the menu.

Pancakes, potato cakes, toast, scrambled eggs can all be made from the ingredients on the shopping list.  Then you might have a tin of baked beans or spaghetti in the cupboard. Or some cheese in the fridge.  Breakfast doesn't have to be cereal and milk, that's a relatively new invention. Get creative, think outside the cereal packet. You might find you like it!

Lunch is the same. Who said lunches have to be sandwiches? Leftovers, wraps, mini pizzas, rissoles, salads, fried rice, pasta salad, soup - the list is almost endless. Soup is the only lunch option that needs to be served hot - everything else is portable and is just as delicious cold as it is hot.

Think of this more as a cooking challenge. Try new recipes. Make up some recipes of your own. Try new combinations of ingredients and see how they turn out. Get out your recipe books (or use the Bare Bones Groceries recipes or any of the $2 Dinner recipes).

It hasn't changed much over the years, and I'll let you in on a little secret: I still do a bare bones challenge three or four times a year. It's a great way to save some cash fast and it helps to clean out the pantry and freezer.

I suggest you give it a go. You don't have anything to lose and lots of money to save.

Look outside the square - or the supermarket!

The one area of our Spending Plan we have total control over is the grocery money, but so often we get complacent about our shopping, then wonder why we spend so much.  If you are in the supermarket rut, and shop at the same supermarkets week after week, stop. Look at your grocery list. What is on that list that can be bought at other places?  We all know to go to the greengrocer for fruit and veg and the butcher for meat, but what about other grocery items?  Have you ever thought of going to a pool shop for washing soda? Or to a stockfeed supplier for your bicarb?  How about asking your local baker if he can sell you bulk flours and yeast? What about buying your fruit from a local orchard? Or buying your chicken from the supplier?  Have you tried your local hardware store for cleaning supplies? You can save hundreds of dollars a year when you shop outside the supermarket, all it takes is a little thought and planning. Best of all, if you plan properly you'll be saving time too.

11 August 2011

What to do with....an old toothbrush or hairbrush

We seem to have a never-ending supply of toothbrushes, cosmetic brushes and yes, even hairbrushes around the house, so I think it's a fair guess to say you probably have a good supply of old brushes around your home too. Consider keeping them and using them as cleaning tools. Toothbrushes make great tools for cleaning around taps, getting into ornate designs on crystal and glassware and for cleaning jewellery. Flat hair brushes can be used to scrub tubs and shower tile. If they are a bristle brush use them to dust cloth lampshades, curtains and fabric sofas.

10 August 2011

A penny saved is worth two earned

These days a penny (or dollar) saved is worth at least two earned due to all the taxes and levies we pay. Go back over your Spending Plan and look at all the ways you can find to cut back on the little things.  Look at each flexible expense and trim where possible (just remember to leave enough in each category to cover expenses).  Don't cut back too severely, a little at a time works best.  Trimming drastically, especially in the grocery and fun categories, leaves you and your family feeling deprived, which often leads to a pity party budget blowout, just what you want to avoid.  Concentrate on trimming expenses like eating out, clothes, magazines, gifts etc. Don't forget to discuss these sacrifices with the rest of the household, they may find other areas you can stretch your dollars and you really want them onboard with  your cost-cutting campaign.  Then sit back and watch your debt decrease and your savings grow.

09 August 2011

Just a Typical Tuesday

Well almost. Today started out as a typical Tuesday. Up with the alarm, breakfast and lunches made. Kitchen tidied, dishes and floors done, rubbish out. A load of washing on.  Hannah to school, home via the post office.  Nothing unusual.

Until I decided to make some cinnamon scrolls. Now I've made these scrolls so often I don't even get the recipe out anymore and they are always good. So what went wrong today? They didn't rise. At all. Oh the dough rose the first time. It doubled up beautifully, a round shiny ball in the bowl. It was the second rising that failed.  They didn't rise, even a little, during the baking either.  Oh my they were sad.  Hard, little lumps of rolled up dough.  They were so bad I couldn't think of a single way to rescue them.

Custard and ice cream wouldn't disguise the disaster they were.

Whizzing them into crumbs and sprinkling over fruit wouldn't disguise the disaster they were.

Not even soaking them in egg and milk for a bread and butter pudding would disguise the disaster they were.

There was nothing for it. They had to go, so go they did. Straight into the bokashi. Hopefully they'll eventually turn into lovely compost and at least give something back.  Either that or in a few hundred years some future explorer will be digging around and find these odd, scroll shaped, petrified things. Perhaps he or she will even do a futuristic Time Team 3 day dig to find out all about them (and us)!

While the cinnamon bricks were cooking I made up a kilo of brown sugar. It's the easiest thing to make, just white sugar and molasses, but it does take a long time to mix the molasses into the sugar. I dumped it all into the mixer, set it on low and let it mix away for about 20 minutes. Result was beautiful brown sugar, identical in colour and almost identical in texture as the bought stuff.  You can mix with a fork, but it takes a long time so be prepared and be patient.

I just love being able to make something instead of buying it. Knowing that I don't have to rely on supermarkets to supply food for my family is so liberating.  These days the grocery trolley only has basics in it, although even shopping at Aldi it's getting harder and harder to get just basic ingredients. I've noticed that they are now stocking the shelves with more and more convenience packets and meal kits, and less and less of the basics which is a shame.  Packet meals, sauces, casserole bases and so on may be convenient but they are only good for one, perhaps two things.  Get out your basics and you can make just about anything, sweet or savoury, frugal or extravagant.

After that the rest of the day was really ordinary, just the way I like them.

Oh, don't forget to do your Census tonight. Wayne did ours as soon as he came home, it's already by the front door waiting to be collected.

Make Our Own: KFC Style Chicken Coating

The Colonel's secret is safe, but this MOO chicken coating mix is a pretty good replica. Don't be put off by the quantity, it keeps for months in a jar in the pantry.  Use it to coat chicken pieces, including fillets or fish and for a tasty change coat thick beef sausages and serve them over mash with a gravy. Delicious!

2 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp celery salt
2 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp dry mustard (I like Keens)
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp garlic salt
6 tbsp chicken stock powder
8 tbsp sweet paprika *

Use a balloon whisk or a fork to combine ingredients, being sure they are evenly distributed. Store in an air-tight container. 

To use:
Dip chicken pieces into plain flour, then either beaten egg or milk and then into breadcrumbs. Dip into egg or milk again and roll in KFC mixture. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes. Spray  a pizza tray or similar baking tray with cooking spray and spread chicken pieces on tray. Spray chicken with olive oil spray (can use vegetable oil)  and bake in a moderate oven 25 - 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and coating is golden brown and crispy.

*Note:  Yes, 8 tablespoons paprika is correct. The paprika gives the mix it's colour and adds the base flavour.

This recipe is in the Cheapskates MOO Mixes recipe e-book. If you haven't downloaded your copy yet, login and go to the Printables page, where you'll find it in the E-book category. 

08 August 2011

Nurture Your Creative Side

Often, whenever we want something, our first impulse is to run out and buy it. Most of the time, something else we already have will do just as well, or if we don't have something, we have the materials to make something to do the job. Many times if we stop and use our imagination before hitting the shops we can not only save money, but time and energy as well. Look around you - what do you have that can be re-purposed into something new?

07 August 2011

DIY Non-slip Grips

Old sponges make great non-slip grips for broom, mop and tool handles.  Just wrap the sponge around the handle, secure with a rubber band top and bottom and voila! A comfy, secure non-slip grip. The sponges cushion your hands, help prevent blisters and reduce slipping from sweaty hands.  Best of all, if the sponge gets dirty you can just rinse it under the tap and put it back on.

06 August 2011

What to do with.....tin cans!

Tin cans used for canned beans, tomatoes and vegetables, when cleaned out, make great desktop storage. You can paint them to match your room and stick three together with hot glue or tie them with wire covered ribbon to match. It’s a nice way to keep pens, pencils and clips organized. You can also use them to grow seedlings (punch some drainage holes around the bottom edge), as interesting vases or plant holders and to catch spare change.

03 August 2011

From Spendthrift to Cheapskate in 4 Easy Stages

When someone is a new Cheapskate it can sometimes be overwhelming hearing about how other Cheapskates manage to live. Experienced Cheapskates tend to automatically live the Cheapskates way, saving money, time and energy has become an ingrained habit for them and they don't even think about how to stay within budget. Sometimes we forget the stages we went through on our journey to frugality:

S - Spendthrift Extraordinaire - buys name brands
1 - Fiscally Conscious - buys name brands on sale
2 - Bargain Hunter  - has switched to cheaper or generic brands
3 - Novice Cheapskate - makes own at home using commercial mixes
4 - Champion Cheapskate - makes own at home from scratch

Going from what we have been told is normal (buying brand name products at full price from the supermarket) to a Champion Cheapskate (making your own, from scratch with ingredients bought at a discount) is a process that takes time and thought.

Finding your perfect level of Cheapskateness is personal. What is ideal for one person or family may be extravagant to another and make another feel completely impoverished. Not everyone is at the same place on their journey to finding the Cheapskates way and not everyone will find their ideal level of Cheapskating at the same place.

As you travel the road to the Cheapskates way take the time to try each step and evaluate whether it works for you or not. There will be times when a level four change won't bother you at all and other times and situations when you won't be able to cope with anything other than sticking at Spendthrift Extraordinaire.
As you go from buying brand names without a thought, to checking the price and buying if on sale, through to switching brands, cutting the amount you use and making things yourself from scratch you will find the level you are happy at. It won't be the same for everything you use either.  As I've confessed before, when it comes to coffee I'm a dedicated spendthrift. And that's ok. I am more than happy to go to Champion level on something that's not as important to me (washing powder for instance) so I can stay at Spendthrift level with the things that are important to me.

Take each stage slowly and remember:  we are all at differing stages. This is your personal journey. Enjoy the trip.

02 August 2011

Beetroot Hommos

Beetroot are a much maligned vegetable and are good for so much more than the pickled slices we enjoy with a salad. They are delicious baked, but for a real taste sensation try this beetroot hommos, it's a touch of summer in the middle of winter.

250g beetroot, scrubbed and top and tailed
2 tbsp tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp cumin
Good grind of black pepper

Cover beetroot with water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook them until they are very tender. You should be able to almost shred them with a fork.  Remove them from the water and let them cool until they can be handled.  Slip off the skins and stems.  Cut the beetroot into chunks and place in food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.

Serve warm or at room temperature with tortilla chips or pita wedges.  Store, covered, in the refrigerator.  It freezes very nicely.

01 August 2011

File those ideas!

How often have you seen a great craft idea (or recipe or decorating idea) in a magazine or newspaper and ripped it out, only to put it in "safe" place and promptly lose it? Instead of having your ideas and inspiration all over the place create a file for them. It could be a manilla folder in the family filing cabinet or a lever arch folder with dividers and page protectors. You might even use an expanding file or an old biscuit or cake tin. Label it Craft Ideas or Recipe Ideas or whatever the ideas are for and make sure it's the only place you stash your pull-outs. Don't worry too much about keeping them sorted, part of the fun of looking for and idea is going through all the others in the file.