Red Dragon Pie and Bargain Seeds

red dragon pie

This Red Dragon Pie was inspired by a recipe in the classic book Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Kitchen (BBC cookery series). Topped with creamy mash, the base is a rich mix of aduki beans – traditionally said to give you the strength of the dragon – and brown rice in gravy.

Red Dragon Pie Ingredients (serves six)

  • Aduki beans, 200g dried and soaked overnight or two tins of cooked ones
  • 200g of rice (brown is best)
  • 4 sticks of celery, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs (or fresh, lots of parsley is great)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • a teaspoon of yeast extract or vecon stock
  • salt, if needed
  • Potatoes, mashed with margarine and milk of your choice, for topping

Red Dragon Pie Method

Soak beans overnight if using dried ones. Place in a  large pan, cover well with water, bring to the boil and let simmer for a couple of hours until soft. Throw in the rice about half way through cooking. Add more water if needed. Once it’s all nearly cooked add the vegetables and boil a pan of potatoes for your mash topping, quantity up to you. We do like a nice thick layer of mash.

Frugal Potato Tip

Leave those skins on! It saves waste and money to not throw away a section of potato. Just give them a good scrub and cut any gnarly or bad bits off and you’re good to go (compost those gnarlies!). The skins are rich in both fibre and vitamins too. For mashing we cut them up quite small to save having large bits of skin in the mix; they also cook faster that way, saving cooking fuel.

Method cont.

As the beans and potatoes cook , add the herbs, puree and yeast extract to the bean mixture. Taste and add salt if needed. Stir well. Drain and mash the potatoes with marg and milk. Place the bean mix in an ovenproof dish, if not already using one, and top with the potatoes. Easier if using cookware that transfers from hob to oven such as a Cast Iron Casserole – and bake in a hot oven (200C/400F) until nicely browned. Running a fork round the top of your mash gives it lots of nice little crispy bits to brown.

Enjoy your Red Dragon Pie! Try our other frugal recipes here

beans for red dragon pie
Tinned beans from supermarkets: Tesco’s Adukis and Lidl’s mixed beans which do contain some adukis.

Thompson and Morgan have a seed sale on for the next 48 hours (time of writing 22nd October 2021 but they usually have good deals on)! Stock up on seeds for next year for £1. See the selection here and use code TM_TN2468W for the cheap price.

THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic while FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

The blend of dark events and romance in these stories is perfect for Autumn!

Paperback & kindle: http://author.to/mermaid

Novels by Ailish Sinclair

Carrot and Butterbean Soup, frugal food

carrot and butterbean soup

This carrot and butterbean soup is thick and nutrifying, just perfect for a cold day!

These quantities make about 6 bowls, adjust as needed.

Carrot and Butterbean Soup Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • about 8 large to medium carrots, scraped and cut up into chunks
  • 1 tin of cooked butter beans (large limas), about 400g
  • 2 pints/4 cups/1200ml of water approx
  • a little salt as desired

Method

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes and then add the carrot and stir well. Add water and bring to the boil – turn down to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the carrot is cooked through. Add the beans and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until they are properly heated through. Season and blend. Was nice left a little rough but you might prefer to keep going until smooth.

If you liked this carrot and butterbean soup, check out all our other frugal recipes here.

New offers on the site this week:

£10 off with code FREE10 when shopping with Flava Buy Now Pay Later Supermarket (not a discount store but they do always have some short dated items for pennies). Offer valid from 27/09/2021 until further notice.

And The Secret Gardening Club always have great offers of overstock from nurseries:

Sausage and Bean Pie

carlin peasDelicious and filling, this sausage and bean pie is a perfect winter dish, and can be made with a variety of ingredients which will affect the overall frugality of it. At the end of a shopping week we found Carlin Peas at the back of the cupboard and soaked them overnight but any beans would do. We combined these with a box of Linda McCartney sausages from the bottom of the freezer.

To make the pie:
Pastry ingredients (for four people, adjust as required):
300g of flour (any type, self raising will puff up a little, plain won’t – we used wholemeal spelt obtained from Approved Food (also check Low Price Foods) in these pics, white would be lighter in colour).
150g of vegetable margarine
tiny amount of water (2 or 3 tablespoons)

Pastry method:
Place flour in a bowl. Break the marg into small pieces and rub it in to the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a very small amount of water and knead this into flour until you have firm dough (adding more water if too dry or more flour if too wet). Sprinkle flour on your working surface, divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each one out to fit your pie or oven proof dish. Line the bottom and edges of the pie dish with one section of the pastry, ready for the filling.

pieFilling and Baking:
Ingredients:
Beans of your choice (we used 200g dried beans). You could even used baked beans and skip the gravy part!
Sausages of your choice – we used six LM ones
a little oil
1 red onion chopped
gravy mix or flour to thicken
water as needed
salt to taste

Method:
Cook your beans and sausages as per packet instructions. Fry a red onion off in a little oil and add your pre-cooked beans along with their cooking water (or add water as needed if using tinned beans). Chop the cooked sausages into chunks and add these too. Make a thick gravy of the mixture (we used original Bisto) and add salt to taste. Place filling onto the pastry in the pie dish and then cover with the top pastry, sealing the edges with a little water. Make some cuts in the top to let out steam and bake in the oven at 200C/400F for at least half an hour or until the pastry is browned.

Nice served with a large salad.

carlin2



aduki bean and amaranth pie

aduki bean and amaranth pie

This aduki bean and amaranth pie is a protein dense and filling meal, the recipe is a variant of red dragon pie. We bought the dried beans very cheaply from Approved Food, they do seem to get them in quite often.

The quantities listed are for an enormous pie that feeds four people with lots of leftovers for the next day. Adjust as required.

Ingredients

  • 500g of dried aduki beans, soaked in water overnight
  • 100g amaranth
  • 4 scraped and chopped carrots
  • 6 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 3 bay leaves (remove before or while serving)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce
  • a bag of potatoes (I used 750g), peeled if needed and chopped. The smaller you cut them, the less cooking time they require.
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (optional, but they give a cheesy edge without being too rich)a dab of marge
  • splash of soya milk.
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Method

Place your soaked beans in a large pan, cover well with water, bring to the boil and turn down to simmer. Different brands seem to need different times of cooking. Supermarket ones could need an hour, organic types need less. Once they are beginning to soften, add your amaranth, vegetables, herbs and bay leaves and cook until tender. The amaranth will swell quite a bit so top up with water if needed. Once it’s all cooked add the soy sauce, tomato puree and season to taste.

It’s a good idea to put your potatoes on to cook at the same time as the amaranth, or before, for simultaneous readiness. Mash the tatties up with marge, milk and seasoning and place on top of the bean mix. It’s great if you have hob to oven cookware and can plop everything in the same pan, but if not layer them up in a suitable casserole. Run a fork round the top of the mash for a nice finish. Bake in a hot oven for 10-20 minutes until nicely browned.

The leftovers are often comprised of mainly bean mix, so get used as a base for pasta sauce the next day.

Gluten-free if you’re careful with your brand of soy sauce, some have wheat.

aduki2

Bean Burgers, frugal vegetarian cooking

These bean burgers are absolutely delicious! Thank you to Jane of Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation and Viva! for sending it in.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped quite fine
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp oil + a little more oil to fry burgers (or use 1-cal spray if you’re watching your fat intake)
  • a medium carrot, grated on medium holes
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp mild chilli powder or to taste
  • a tin kidney beans or the equivalent weight of any cooked pulses (about 240g drained)
  • 1 tbsp each of: French or Dijon mustard; soya sauce; tomato ketchup
  • 75g/3oz jumbo oats (or more – to make the mixture stiff enough to form into burgers)

Method

  • Saute onion and garlic in the tsp of oil until soft. (If adding chopped mushrooms or other finely chopped veggies, cook in at this stage too). If a little dry, just add a splash of water/stock.
  • Add grated carrot and spices and fry for a minute or two.
  • Mash up cooked beans/lentils with a potato masher and add them to onion/carrot mix.
  • Add tomato puree, mustard and soya sauce and mix in well.
  • Add oats and stir in well also.
  • Best made a few hours (or even night before) then stored in fridge, but they’ll still fry up if you make them straightaway.
  • Form the mixture into burgers (lovely and messy!) and fry gently on each side with the 1-cal spray or oil until they are browned.
  • Good on their own or in a wholemeal bun with vegan mayo or relish, plus salad and all the trimmings. Also nice with baked potatoes, potato wedges, brown rice salad… just about anything.

If you liked these bean burgers, explore our other frugal recipes here.

Try using a burger press with this recipe, for perfectly round burgers!

bean burgers

mixed bean casserole – a frugal recipe

This mixed bean casserole is absolutely delicious. Beans are the ultimate frugal food. High in protein and vitamins and versatile in use. You can either use two tins of bought beans (less frugal but still cheap) or soak dried ones overnight and then boil until cooked (can be over an hour for some beans) – good ones for this recipe: chick peas, aduki beans, black eye beans, green lentils, kidney beans (usually 11p for a value tin), borlotti and lima but any will do.

Check out bulk prices here. Clearance food specialists Low Priced Foods and Approved Food sometimes have some bean bargains too.

mixed bean casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 leeks or 2 onions, sliced into thin round slices
  • A little olive oil
  • Mixed beans of your choice, cooked (how much is up to you – 500g+)
  • 2 tins plum tomatoes – chop them up (about 3 cups/800g in all)
  • half a cup of water or vegetable stock
  • a handful of fresh herbs of your choice roughly chopped or 3 teaspoons of dried herbs (suggested herbs – mint, thyme, sage, winter savory)
  • salt to taste

Method

Fry the leeks in the oil for a few moments then add the beans and stir until coated with the oil. Add the tomatoes, water/stock, salt and herbs and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes until cooked – alternatively place in oven to cook – a good idea if you are already using it for baked potatoes or herb bread which go very well with this dish. Maybe you could fit a cake in there too? Sorry – off on a frugal tangent!

Variations are many with casseroles – they are great for using things up: Add the dumplings from our mince and dumplings recipe. Add any vegetables that need using up – tinned potatoes mixed through could make this a one pot meal. Add rehydrated soya chunks or chopped sausages Make it fruity with dried apricots. Pictured is a casserole made with tinned butter beans, aubergines and leeks served with mustard mash.

If you liked this mixed bean casserole, you might like some of our other frugal fare!


the mermaid and the bear

“The first time the sea killed me, my brother brought me back to life.”

So begins THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. Set in a castle, this historical novel features the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic and a love story.

chick pea curry, frugal food

chick pea curry

This chick pea curry recipe was submitted by Scottish author Ailish Sinclair

Chick peas are a very nutritious and cheap food – having dried ones in the cupboard ensures a cheap meal anytime (after soaking overnight).

Ingredients

  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons of light vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • 1 apple, peeled and finely chopped (this is a very good way of using up an apple that has gone wrinkly but is not rotten)
  • 1 green pepper, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons of curry powder
  • 1-2 tins of cooked chick peas (or soak dried ones overnight and cooked – cheaper)
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • handful of raisins (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut (optional)
  • some frozen peas (a cupful or more if you really like them)
  • salt

Method

Fry the onion, garlic and apple in the olive oil for a few minutes. Add the curry powder and stir for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes (chop them if needed) and green pepper. If you like really sweet tasting curry, then add the raisins and coconut. Cook for about 15 minutes at simmering level and then add your chick peas and cook for a further 10 minutes. Shortly before the end of cooking time put some frozen peas in, as these will go mushy if overcooked. Add salt to taste. We like this best with white basmati rice (you should get a whole kilo for unde £1 in the cheap supermarkets or value ranges) and lots of little toppings.

Ideas for toppings are chopped fresh tomato, cucumber, sliced banana (yes this does work!), sunflower seeds, avocado (not the most frugal ingredient but jam packed with nutrients), in fact anything you fancy! My kids love these all put in small separate bowls so they can help themselves.

A very frugal variation of this is to make potato and pea curry by replacing the chick peas with value tinned potatoes.

If you liked this chick pea curry, try our other frugal recipes here.

Ailish Sinclair‘s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, and featuring the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, is out now. On Amazon and Waterstones or see Author website for more details.

The Mermaid and the Bear Cover

homemade hummus, frugal and nutritious

homemade hummus

This homemade hummus is a Middle Eastern dish – can be used as a dip or a spread for sandwiches. It is a lot cheaper to make than buy though many supermarkets do stock it. Even cheaper when using dried chick peas bought in bulk.

Ingredients

  • 1 can (approx. 400g)of cooked chick peas (or you can soak overnight and cook 1 cup of dried chick peas)
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 – 2 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons of tahini (sesame paste)
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • a little water to blend
  • salt and pepper (optional)

Method

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until fairly smooth – you may need to keep adding water bit by bit until you get the consistency you want.

If you liked this homemade hummus, try some of our other frugal recipes here.

The 25p Meal, super frugal food

the 25p meal

One of the cheapest ways to pare your food budget right back is to find out what time your local supermarket marks down its perishable products and do your shopping then. This makes possible what we call the 25p meal: feeding a family of four for £1, or under, all ingredients.

Cauliflower in a Cheesy Sauce

a 25p meal

Cauliflower (25p) in a white sauce (milk/marg/flour/water totalling 20p), and 30p worth of leftover rice made into herby tomato rice, we added:  1 onion (7p, not marked down but really cheap in Lidl) a squirt of tomato puree (5p), dried herbs (5p) salt (1p).

Spaghetti

25p meal

Above was a nice meal based around getting an organic unsliced wholemeal loaf for 10p, and adding marg and garlic to make it into garlic bread. Cheap spaghetti (often around 20p for 500g in value ranges) mixed with a tin of kidney beans at 25p and marked down pepper and courgette, both 10p each. Salad was a 10p lettuce with a squirt of lemon juice. There was a LOT of garlic bread made with that one loaf!

Pizza Bagels or Pittas

A firm favourite now, actually considered a treat in this house, is the meal of pizza bagels, or pittas, or, as pictured below, pizza paninis. Made with 4 Paninis at 19p for 2, then with pizza sauce consisting of an onion fried in a tiny bit of oil, tomato puree, herbs and salt, totalling no more than 10p. They only need a few minutes in the oven or under the grill as the bread bases are already cooked. We paired them with a reduced salad bag at 10p, reduced hummus at 32p and a tub of pasta salad marked down to 26p. Over budget by 6p! If we’d used cheaper bread, such as one pack of bagels reduced to 20p, we would have been under.

It would be cheaper to use the pizzas as a side to homemade soup (see our many soup recipes). Of course, you can add any topping you like to these, but the sauce is delicious in itself.

25p meal

Posh Porridge

This next one pushes the budget again, though only by 10p, for a luxury breakfast! It’s porridge (20p worth value range oats) made with water, but with a huge box of blueberries (marked down to 75p) and half a bar of Lidl dark chocolate (bar is 30p, so 15p), smashed up. Yum.

Our local Tesco usually does a big mark down around 6pm. The one in the next town is a little later at 6.45pm and its prices go right down to 2p for many items. Asda starts much earlier in the day with its reductions. Lidl has many things, including a basket of bread, reduced to 20p first thing in the morning. Martin Lewis wrote an article on the different supermarkets and their reduction times here.

Unless we’re going to use them that day, we tend to avoid ready chopped things which go off quickly. Whole vegetables and fruit will keep for a few days and bread will be good for a couple of days or can go straight in the freezer. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve filled our freezer with 10p loaves and buns!

Also see our Sourdough bread for pennies post here.

And check out clearance food sellers like Low Price Foods  and Approved Food for stocking your cupboards with low priced staples.

It can be fun to use your imagination and ingenuity to make best use of what’s available on any given day in the reduced section. Please feel free to share your ideas and successes in the comments below 🙂

Ailish Sinclair‘s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, and featuring the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, is out now. On Amazon and Waterstones or see Author website for more details.

The Mermaid and the Bear Cover

Lentil Soup, frugal cooking at its best

lentil soup

This Lentil Soup recipe can be adjusted to make either a nice broth with bread or a filling chunky variety. This soup is simple to make, nutritious and cheap, cheap, cheap! Quantities below makes a pan to feed four people.

Lentil Soup Ingredients

  • red lentils – half a cup to one cup depending how thick you want it
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • water to cover well
  • stock of choice (we like a spoon of Vecon Stock with extra vits for winter!)
  • salt if needed, depending on stock used

Method

Place lentils and water in pan and bring to the boil while preparing the other vegetables. Add them and stock, cook until tender. Mash or partially blend if you wish. Ta-da!

Top with lots of parsley! Grow it all year round, even in a pot on a windowsill…

Variants

  • Add other veg such as diced potatoes and celery or chopped greens near the end of cooking.
  • Add a tin of tomatoes and/or tomato puree with a handful of pasta to cook along with the lentils for a much thicker hearty soup.

If you liked this lentil soup recipe, try our other frugal fare!


the mermaid and the bear

“The first time the sea killed me, my brother brought me back to life.”

So begins THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. Set in a castle, this historical novel features the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic and a love story.