There’s nothing quite like the earthy full flavour of sage in Autumn and winter. It’s rich and savoury and, upon occasion, festive! This sage and onion stuffing is a classic dish for Christmas or Sunday dinner and absolutely delicious.
Sage and Onion Stuffing Ingredients
6 slices of wholemeal bread
half a cup/85g/3oz of vegetable margarine
4 teaspoons of dried sage or 8 of fresh, chopped sage
1 finely chopped large onion
salt to taste (you really don’t need much)
Melt the margarine in a saucepan and then cook the onion in it until soft. Break up the wholemeal bread with your hands (into fairly small pieces) and then mix into the onion and margarine with the sage and salt. This can be pressed into an oven-proof bowl for baking or stuck inside your main course – see our nut roast recipe!
Homemade cookies are really quite easy, and fun, and very frugal. This recipe makes about 40 small (2 inch/6cm) cookies
150g/5oz/three quarter cup caster sugar
150g/5 oz/three quarter cup vegetable margarine
5 tablespoons of soya milk
300g/10 oz/1and a half cups of plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Preheat oven to 200C/400F and grease cookie sheets. Cream together the sugar and marg. Mix in the soya milk and vanilla and then the flour. The mixing of the flour is best done with your hands (messy but fun!). You should have a workable dough (add more flour if it’s too wet or more soya milk if too dry and doesn’t hold together well). Roll out on a floured board (to just under 1 cm thick) and cut into cookies (if you don’t have cookie cutters you can use an upturned glass). Lay on cookie sheets and bake for about 10 minutes for soft bake cookies or a little longer for dryer, crunchy ones.
Add choc, nuts or/and dried fruit
Half dip the cooled cookies in chocolate – choccy biscuits!
Crushed chocolate beans are a colourful replacement for chocolate chips. They can also be pressed all over the top prior to baking.
Plain cookies with a handful of sesame seeds or desiccated coconut added into the dough are delicious.
Jewel biscuits: make a hole in the middle of your uncooked cookie once it is placed on a baking tray and place a boiled sweet in the space – this will melt down and fill the hole in the oven and then reset once cool – lovely for Christmas tree decorations!
Plain cookies with a square of chocolate pressed onto them before baking work well too.
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
Autumn 2019. On Amazon and Waterstones or see Author website for more details.
This fruit cake is great for Christmas or just about anytime at all!
Fruit Cake Ingredients
8oz/250g/2 cups of cooking dates with the stones removed
10 fl.oz/300ml/1 and a quarter cups of water (you could substitute a quarter cup of brandy or sherry for a quarter cup of the water if you like)
6oz/175g/1 and a quarter cups of wholemeal flour
1 lb/450g/3 cups of mixed dried fruit of your choice – including lots of dried apricots works very well
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
4 tablespoons of orange juice
For decoration: You can either do a traditional marzipan and white icing topping or use rows of different nuts such as walnuts, pecans, brazils and almonds.
Heat the dates and water until the dates are soft. Remove from heat and mash with a fork. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Spoon into a greased 2lb/900g cake tin and level top. If using the nut topping place rows of different nuts on top of the cake prior to cooking. Bake at 170C/340F for about an hour and a half until cooked. Once cooled the nut topping can be glazed with a little syrup (melt some sugar into hot water) or you can ice traditionally.
This festive nut roast is great for Christmas or just Sunday Dinner.
A sixth of a cup/30g/1oz of margarine
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
a medium onion, finely chopped
1 and a half cups of hot water
1 teaspoon of yeast extract (marmite, vegemite or Vecon Stock etc.)
3 cups/550g/16oz of ground nuts (cashews, almonds, brazils – even peanuts do)
2 Tablespoons of flour
2 teaspoons of fresh herbs – winter savoury is great (if using dried 1 teaspoon)
3 cups/160g/6oz of white bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the margarine (in a large pan for mixing) and cook the celery and onion in it for a few minutes. Mix the yeast extract into the hot water (alternatively you could use any stock you like) and add this to the onion and celery. Stir in the flour, nuts, herbs, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper and mix well. Allow to cool slightly while you grease a loaf tin. Place the nut roast mixture in the tin and press down well. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes at 180/360 then turn out of the tin and slice. Nice served with all the traditional trimmings.
you can substitute wine (red or white) or soya milk for the water and yeast extract.
A layer of sliced mushrooms and garlic is nice.
Fill with sage and onion stuffing. You can use this mixture to stuff vegetables like marrow (pictured above), peppers or large tomatoes for a different dish too.
The rosemary and redcurrant jelly detailed here is a gorgeous accompaniment to any nut roast. Amazing in sandwiches too with the cold sliced roast next day. If reading this in winter, sorry, it’s a bit late to go out and get redcurrants (though rosemary plants grow all year round!), but it’s a great one to make for next year. A jar of that would be a very nice gift too.
Making homemade festive sweets is actually quite fun – children have a great time with this too. They are also nice gifts if placed in petit four cases in a pretty box or packet. You can intersperse bought sweets such as sugared almonds between for more variety.
Ingredients: Plain Chocolate Any or all of the following: Nuts of your choice (hazel, walnut, pecan, almond, brazil) Marzipan Dates Dessicated coconut Cocoa Icing sugar Crystalised angelica Glace cherries Flaked almonds
It’s very simple! Melt the chocolate and then dip things in it – nuts, marzipan balls, dates – and then place them on a sheet of grease-proof paper to set. Decorate with angelica, glace cherries (can be made to look like holly) and flaked almonds before the chocolate sets and then you can sprinkle with cocoa, coconut or icing sugar.
Dates can be destoned and stuffed with marzipan for a non-chocolate treat.
Place in petit four cases and enjoy!
Chocolate Rum Truffles
Ingredients: Some left over cake, crumbled – about 2 cups 2 tablespoons of Apricot jam 2 tablespoons of rum (or rum flavouring) 1 teaspoon of cocoa 50g./2oz (half a large bar) of plain chocolate, melted Coating of choice – cocoa, chopped nuts, coconut etc.
Mix everything together and then squeeze into balls (about 5 cm. diameter) and roll in the coating. Place in petit four cases.
Little Chocolate logs
1 chocolate cake prepared in a large square tin so it will not be too deep (see our recipe) marzipan plain chocolate icing sugar for dusting glace cherries and crystallised angelica for decoration or children might prefer chocolate beans or other sweets (pictured logs have pecan nut topping).
Cut the cake into small rectangles ( 10 cm. X 4 cm. and 2 or 3 cm. deep). Cut thin pieces of marzipan and place on top of the cakes. Pour melted chocolate over the top of each log, decorate to your hearts content and then dust with the icing sugar (snow!).
Basic Roast Potatoes are a lovely part of a traditional roast meal. They can be easily and inexpensively fancied up a bit for celebration dinners.
Basic Roast Potatoes Method
Peel as many potatoes as you need for the meal. Par boil them in a pan of water (bring to boil, remove after a few minutes and drain when they are starting to cook). While they are coming to the boil, preheat some oil in your roasting tin in the oven (about half a cm deep). Once the pots are drained add them to the hot oil with a large spoon and mix a bit so they get a good covering. Be careful – they will spit at you! Roast in the oven at about 200C/400F for about 40 minutes or until nicely golden and browned.
Sage and Onion: add some chopped sage, onion and oatmeal to the oil before basting the potatoes with it.
Garlic: for a real garlic hit, make a small hole in each potato and place a garlic clove in there.
Sesame: sprinkle with sesame seeds – gives a surprisingly strong flavour.
Tinned! The pictured spuds are tinned, removing the need for par boiling. They’re not quite as delectable as fresh, but they’re cheap and easy and still very very good. Pictured ones were roasted with sweet potatoes and lots of bronze fennel leaves. We highly recommend growing that perennial herb if you have space.
Herby: add herbs of your choice to the oil – rosemary is excellent.
Crispy: after par boiling and draining mix a tablespoon of flour into the potatoes making sure they are all well coated – then proceed with the oil and roasting.
Well, lots has happened here in Frugal Towers since we last wrote. There’s been hospitalisations, there’s been strange symptoms… now there’s bandages and medicine. But the frugal life goes on, as does this peculiar year!
See our Frugal Christmas section on how to minimise the cost and stress that can occur at this time. Some festive recipes too.
If you want to stock those cupboards up, Approved Food is the place to do it, selling soap and cleaning products too. Their stock changes daily.
Everything5pounds is the place to get cheap winter woolies for the approaching season. Also good for festive gifts.
Our founder’s debut novel is still available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited (they do a free trial which is a good way to stock up on some autumn reading). THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story. Libraries can get it too.
It’s a bright and frosty morning today and we’ve been out and about getting some bargains. Tesco, as seen above, have reduced their basic festive veg (full size bags including potatoes) to 29p. That’s cauliflower, sprouts, parsnips, carrots and tatties. We now have to see if we can fit them all in the fridge!
A staff member at Aldi confirmed that, unusually for a supermarket, the best time to get their marked down veg is first thing in the morning as it’s done the night before. Some Christmas tree shaped pretzels from Aldi:
Christmas Eve is a good time to catch the biggest food mark downs from other supermarkets especially early evening. Roll on the 10p bread and more 25p meal ideas!