Saturday, 29 November 2014

Getting Ready For Christmas

Free Orkut and My Space Graphics Glitters scraps
Merry Christmas to all Homemakers and Families

I was hoping to have finished my posts in the Beginner Homemaking series, including more recipes using the shopping list ingredients. But now Christmas is almost upon us, and things are very busy right now. I wish you all a wonderful and peaceful Christmas and hope to see you all in the New Year, if not before.

Lesley xxx

Saturday, 22 November 2014


Emil Brack

I am not getting a lot of time to blog at the moment but I did want to try and answer a question I was asked, about how to prioritise. When there are so many things shouting for attention it is hard to know where to start. 

I hope some of these quick ideas may be of help.

This is what I do first thing in the morning, most mornings: 

Get out of bed, pull the covers back to air the sheets. If it is not too cold, open the windows. Airing is very important as it can prevent damp.

Before you leave the bedroom, take down one load of laundry with you, and any cups or things which need to go to the kitchen. Put the laundry in the washing machine and get it washing right away. 

When you are dressed and have eaten a good breakfast, the laundry will probably be done and you can hang it to dry.

Go and make the bed. Close the windows and have a quick straighten round. Don't start major cleaning or anything. Just a neaten round.

Keep a cloth and spray in the bathroom, and give a quick wipe, and brush round the loo every morning. It is now fresh for the day.

The other important thing is to know what you will be cooking for your main meal. If you can, have a think the evening before about what you will need for the meal. Take anything out of the freezer, or put the slow-cooker ready on the counter for the morning.

As you go about the kitchen during the day, write down items you may need to buy at the weekly shop. Look around the fridge - are you running out of something? Do you need to use up something? It is so nice to whip up a quick soup using bits and pieces of vegetables that would otherwise be thrown away.

So, that's it:

Air bed/make bed
Take down laundry
Wipe bathrooms
Think about what you will be cooking 

Of course, after breakfast you will not feel so overwhelmed if you just get that washing up done  as soon as you can. You can always make a cup of tea and then dry the dishes and put them away.

If you need more encouragement, then FlyLady may help you. The website looks confusing, but go to the Beginner Babysteps and just start there. You can sign up for the emails. If you do try this, please don't begin dashing through them all at breakneck speed. Take your time and enjoy the day.

Personally, my biggest priority is to be a help, meet for my husband, so that we can quietly get on with doing the things that our heavenly Father has called us to do. It is easy to assume what the 'help' a husband needs is, and get it completely wrong, so it is important to communicate together. One might imagine that a very clean and tidy house, and gourmet meals would be a real help, but for my husband that was not so. He does not like a house which is too neat and tidy because he wants people who visit to feel relaxed and welcomed, and see a few books and things around. We have friends who have come from Hungary, Poland and so on. They have left their families and we want our home to give the warmest welcome to them with a relaxed family atmosphere.

Meals are another thing. He, like a lot of men, just wants good, home-cooked meals rather than fancy menus. But you won't know if you don't communicate. What do you think is top priority for a husband? Clean house, good food? Just as we woman cry out for affection and tenderness, husbands are equally desperate for physical intimacy. We are here to serve one another in love aren't we? 
If you have children it is to their benefit to have united front and a strong marriage with your husband.

A regular 'quiet' time during the day can help you to relax and is very important for children. A good idea is to let them rest on their beds, or read books or draw quietly at around the same time each day. It will give you time to rest, gather your thoughts, or do a little knitting or crochet.

Happy Home-making.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Home-making basics - Roast Chicken Dinners

"Boo Hoo Hoo!"

Roast chicken dinner is another delicious meal you can make using the ingredients from our shopping list, in a previous post. You won't have trouble fitting your small chicken into the oven, and yet it will magically produce three nice meals. You are also going to pop some jacket potatoes in the oven to freeze for another meal. All these ideas are to save you time, effort and fuel in the long run

 2 x Roast Chicken, roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy

1 x Hearty Chicken and vegetable soup

Roast Chicken Dinner with Gravy

After serving today's Roast Chicken dinner, there will be enough meat left on the carcass to cool and freeze for another day. When you use the frozen chicken next week (or midweek), put it in an oven-proof dish, like a Pyrex dish with a lid. Make up  a pint of gravy with your gravy granules, pour over the chicken, and pop the lid on. You can put it in the oven for about half an hour (sizzling away) and serve it with the roast potatoes and vegetables again if you wish. Because you are not roasting the whole chicken this time, your cooking time will be reduced to around an hour.

When you have removed the chicken meat to freeze, then put the chicken carcass in a saucepan with a little water. Bring to the boil for a few minutes and then switch off the heat, leaving the chicken to cool with the lid on the pan. When it is cool enough to handle, remove the carcass, pull off the bitty bits of chicken. Keep these bits of chicken and the liquid in the pan. Keep in the fridge. Tomorrow, this will have become a chicken-y, jelly-like stock with some fat on the top. When made into a soup with vegetables, it will be a good hearty meal. Serve with thick slices of home-made bread and butter.

How To Make The Chicken Dinner

 Put the oven on to 190 degrees C or equivalent. Unwrap your chicken and put into a roasting dish. In another roasting dish, put a small amount of lard. You can sprinkle on some garlic powder to the chicken if you have some.

Chicken in one, lard in another ovenproof dish

Put these two dishes into the oven. The chicken needs to be on the lower shelf.

Peel some potatoes and bring them to a boil in a saucepan that has a lid. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Then drain the water out and with the lid on the top, shake up the potatoes until they get rough edges, like below

Now take the dish with the lard in out of the oven and scrape the potatoes into the hot liquid lard. It might sizzle a bit - that's good. Using a fish slice or similar, roll the potatoes around a bit until they are coated.

Don't forget to squeeze in some jacket potatoes to the oven where you can. I like to thread potatoes onto a metal skewer, but you don't have to - they have plenty of time to cook.

Go and have a nice sit down and a cup of tea.

Turn the potatoes over in half an hour or so.

When the chicken has been in for an hour, check to see if the jacket potatoes are ready (they should be soft when you squeeze them) If they are, take them out, cool and freeze. They will go well with one of your batch mince meals that we made previously (scroll down to earlier posts)

Jacket potatoes for another meal

Now, all you have to do is slice some carrots, boil them in a very little salted water for ten minutes before you serve up. Add the frozen peas to this pan for the last couple of minutes. NOTE: On your next week's shopping you can buy a cabbage, swede, or other vegetables that are a good price. A large cabbage will last for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

I like my chicken and potatoes very well done, so it takes an hour and a half in the oven. But nothing will ruin if you leave it in for a bit more or less.

Make a pint of beef gravy using the granules that were on the shopping list. (yes, it does go well with chicken) just before your serve the meal.

I have tried to make my instructions easy to follow. If it all looks a bit too much, just read one bit at a time and you will find that it is not very complicated. I do hope this helps. Please let me know how you get on.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Beginner Homemaking basics: Thrifty Ways and Batch Mince

Help Win The War on the Kitchen Front poster

During WW2 in Britain, when food was rationed and many items unavailable, the Government worked on encouraging the public to eat and cook healthily with what there was. Due to this effort, the British public became healthier and fitter than at any time before, or since! An important aspect of this new eating was an increased consumption of potatoes, carrots and other produce that could be grown here in the UK. The wartime diet interests me very much. Although my shopping list, and meals are not the same, I really recommend serving larger portions of potatoes, carrots and cabbage etc at your meals. They are cheap, healthy and filling, but not fattening.

Don't waste the peelings, carrot and leek tops, cabbage stalks, even the onion roots and dry skins. They can all be put straight into a pan along with water that you used for cooking them in. Chicken carcass or other bones and meat scraps can go in too. These scraps make a wonderful stock which can create delicious soups during the week. I find it helpful to keep the stockpot saucepan on the hob and add these scraps as I go, gently simmering them until the vegetables are cooked.

If you would like to try ration-book recipes, here is a link which I think you will enjoy. Most of the recipes made by this lady have photos.

Here is the first of the meals to be made from the shopping list of my last post. It will provide 3 or 4 main courses for two people. I find it best to portion it into containers for the freezer before you serve the rest for that day's meal. Freeze when well cooled. If you have any questions please let me know, or do a Google search to find out more about the terms/techniques mentioned.I'm sorry that I cannot provide a photo tutorial because of time.

Batch Mince

Take your large packet of Mince/ground beef and brown it in a saucepan in a little oil along with two chopped onions. Cut a large carrot into small pieces and add to the pan.

After a few minutes of cooking add your jar of pasta sauce and a tin of plum tomatoes. (If you can't get pasta sauce you could use an extra tin of tomatoes in juice and a good squeeze of tomato purée(paste) to give tomato-ey flavour - also add a sprinkle of oregano if you have some.

You can also put in lentils or peas in to bulk up the meal if you like. It will all taste lovely.

Add a teaspoon or two of your chilli powder to the pan. You can put more in later if it is not enough. Now open your tin of red kidney beans. drain off and discard the liquid from the tin. Add the beans to the pan and stir well.

That's it. Put the lid on and simmer (gently bubbling) on a low heat for about 30 minutes so,  that the carrots are cooked,stirring from time to time.

If you don't have freezer containers with lids, you can collect the larger margarine tubs and use them. Freeze when cool in meal-sized portions.

Portions of frozen batch mince

This meal can be served with:

1 Sliced potatoes cooked in their skins
2 Jacket potatoes (previously made in the oven whilst baking other things, wrapped in foil and frozen)
3 Rice
4 Cottage pie. Heat through, top with mashed potato, dot with butter and grill/broil
5 Hunks of home-made wholemeal/wholewheat bread

If you want a change from Chilli mince, omit the chilli powder and add more oregano to make it Bolognese. Serve this on Spaghetti or pasta and top with a little grated cheese.

I would love to hear how you enjoy your Batch mince and whether this helps you with your meals, budgeting and time. Please comment below, or email me.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Beginner Homemaking Basics - Ready-made Shopping List


This post is part of the Beginner Homemaking Basics series. Please read the previous post if you would like to know what the series is about.

This shopping list below can be copied and taken to your supermarket and should provide a week (and more) of meals for two adults. Bear in mind that this first week's list will cost a little more (around £34/$53 ), because it includes things like Chilli powder,  cooking oil, tomato purée, sugar, sultanas, teabags and rice etc. These things will last throughout the month so you won't have to buy them again. You should average out about £27/$42 per week over a month. If you have children, you can slightly increase quantities and make variations to suit your family needs.

Even on a very tight budget, you probably have items in your cupboards and freezer which can be used for other meals. I hope to posting some ideas for leftovers and store-cupboard ingredients which might be useful.

Once you get used to shopping and cooking this way you will never waste food and you will get a real sense of satisfaction in your shopping and cooking. Please be kind to yourself. Give yourself lots of time to learn, and remember that every little, change you make will be a great step forward.

As mentioned in the previous post, this list can be copied and taken to Aldi supermarkets in the UK, and you will have an idea of prices which were taken from their website today. I also hope that you dear ladies in the US, Canada and other countries will find some helpful ideas and recipes suitable for their requirements. Remember, that my aim is to encourage beginners and those who are on tight budgets. Some will be on even tighter budgets, but can use the list as a starting point. 

Next post will include the menus and recipes when you get your shopping home. 


 Conference pears (6)                         69p
Royal Gala Apples (7)                         69p
Fresh Carrots 1kg                               59p
White potatoes 2.5kg                       1.69
Fresh onions 1kg                                 59p
Packet Sultanas 500g                          84p
Sunflower spread 500g                        69p
Medium Free Range Eggs (15)            2.19
4 pints Semi-Skimmed Milk x 2          1.90
Tin evaporated milk 410g                  55p
Mature cheddar cheese 850g             3.99
Un-smoked back bacon 250g             1.25
Minced beef (ground beef) 750g        2.59
Small chicken 1.25kg                        2.99
Packet smoked frankfurters                 99p
Frozen garden peas 907g                     89p
Frozen sausages (20)                           99p
Jar tomato and herb pasta sauce         39p
Sunflower oil 1L                                  99p
Tin tuna flakes 185g                            49p
Tinned baked beans/tom sauce x2       48p
Tin red kidney beans 400g                   23p
Tin tomato soup 400g                          42p
Tube tomato purée 200g                      37p
Tin plum tomatoes 400g                       31p
Dried yeast 42g                                    59p
Dried penne pasta 500g                        29p
Tin rice pudding 400g                           13p
Porridge oats 1kg                                 75p
Plain white flour 1.5kg                         45p
Strong white flour 1.5kg                       75p
Strong wholemeal flour 1.5kg                99p
Packet granulated(everyday) sugar 1kg  59p
Beef meat gravy granules 300g              75p
Everyday tea bags (80)                          99p
Lard 250g                                             39p

Some of the recipes we will be making are:

Batches of bolognese or chilli mince (ground) beef meals to freeze
Quick home-made pizza
Sausage casserole or toad-in-the-hole
Tuna pasta
Roast chicken dinner with roast potatoes and gravy

Apple crumble - you will find the recipe a few posts back on this blog.

Desserts, cakes, pancakes, biscuits(cookies) and batch loaves of bread, some to freeze

Over the month you will be able to ring the changes with other meats and will be including fish and other vegetables and... and puddings like very simple home-made ice-cream and cheesecakes. I hope you will enjoy them : )

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Beginner Homemaking Basics

Christian Eriksen Skredsvig

I have been thinking for some time of the difficulties that many new home-makers face, when they have grown up without seeing the basics of house-keeping and home-making around them. These women face an uphill struggle because they don't have a clue where to begin; and that can make them feel so overwhelmed that it prevents them from taking the first steps. Who wants to have to ask " How do I plan my food shopping?" What do I put on a shopping list?" "How do you cook simple meals?" "How do I have money left at the end of the month?", "How do I begin to clear up the chaos in my home and make it nice to be in?" " How can I ever sort out the piles of crumpled laundry all over the place?"

I would like to show here that even if things are in a awful muddle right now, there are small steps you can take which will begin to make sense of the muddle and help you to enjoy your home.

I am hoping to make a shopping list that can be  copied and printed out, and taken to the supermarket. This list will have all you need to make a week's worth of meals for two adults, and will be especially geared to those who are on a tight budget for whatever reason.

Next, I would like to turn those ingredients into meals by posting step-by-step photos of how to make them. If you are dyslexic for instance, pictures are much easier to follow than just the written recipes. I also plan to deal with simple batch-cooking and baking to save time, money and stress during the week.

I hope that experienced home-makers will not feel left-out in these posts, as they are especially for beginners who need simple ideas and encouragement to get them going. I also apologise that my supermarket list and the menus will probably be more familiar to ladies in the UK. 

If anyone would like to link-up on their blog with a US/Canadian version shopping list and menus, that would be lovely. Please drop me a line - just bearing in mind that this series is for complete beginners, some who have never cooked at home before, or who have a very limited food budget.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Paths to Joy-full Homemaking (Part one)

Peder Severin Kroyer

This repost is due to the fact I had somehow deleted the original post! Of course, this meant that I also lost the kind comments left by readers. I would like to sincerely thank Lynne H and Tierra for their offers to help me. You are lovely ladies.

There are wonderful women who wish with all their heart to be good home-makers; creating a clean, tidy home, full of beauty, meals on the table on time, and to be able to invite people in for tea at the drop of a hat. These women are full of good intentions, but at the end of the day, they seem to be no nearer to that dream than they were at the beginning. It is disheartening, and they seriously wonder if they are 'just not "home-maker material". Where is the joy in home-making? 

I myself, have had that very experience. I did not consider myself to be "home-maker material", and suffered the same weariness and discouragement. I could not feel comfortable inviting anyone in for coffee, because all I could see around me were the imperfections of my home-making skills, lack of progress, and was not able to relax with people who came in. I was constantly fretting about whether things were perfect (which they were not). 

Another major difficulty faced by many women I hear of, is the inability to get off their computers, and do the necessary home-making they so want to do! It is baffling that one can make the seemingly innocent decision to '"quickly look something up on the internet", and the next time one glances at the clock it is three solid hours later. Nothing has been achieved, except, perhaps, backache from sitting in the same position for so long! 

Those lovely home-making blogs themselves can be a grave distraction from actual-factual honest-to- goodness practical home-making. These blogs are wonderful and can be a real blessing and community for home-makers, but if we only read about home-making instead of doing it, we won't gain much joy in the long run.
Why do we spend hours on the internet and come away unsatisfied every single time? 

Even if you are really strong, and don't give in to the temptation to "browse" your computer, are you
thinking about browsing, and rushing through the cleaning, tidying and cooking as fast as you can. Is it any surprise there is no joy in it?

I think that there are paths to joy-full home-making, and that there is hope for those who feel they fit into the "not home-making material" mould, and I hope these suggestions may be of use and encouragement to other ladies.

Isaiah 55:2
"Wherefore do ye spend money for
that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness" 

Firstly, it can be truly helpful to think about "Why you labour for that which satisfieth not" Can you take a moment to jot down what happens when you rush though things and get to the beloved computer? Is there an anticipation that computer time will be satisfying? How will it satisfy? It is often a desire similar to the anticipation of eating a whole box of delicious chocolates - full of the promises of satisfaction, but each time you indulge yourself the end result is always the same - nausea? It is a nasty trick and a deception. 

I believe that we can share these things in prayer with our heavenly Father. He knows all about them anyway. His burden is light and His yoke is easy. It is so sad when at the time we need Him most, we often turn away from his help and love because we don't want to share our weaknesses with Him and allow Him to guide us through to overcoming, in His gentle, kind way, as the shepherd cares for and guides his sheep and lambs.

Peder Severin Kroyer - Marie en Ravello

Things you don't need the computer for: 

If you want to look up a recipe - get a little notebook and find a cook-book or two. Yes, a real cook-book. Unplug the laptop and use your desk-space to write down some of the recipes that will satisfy your family's needs. I strongly suggest that you avoid recipes that take too much time and different processes, or that require many, or expensive ingredients. You are after simple meals, easy to prepare, healthy, tasty and quick. If you have children, you will be able to pass your own recipe book on to them. It is not quite as special to pass on to them a bookmarked internet page with a list of recipes on it : ) 

To learn to sew, garden, clean, de-clutter... You can get more fun and satisfaction learning the old- fashioned way. Ask someone who knows; an older woman, relative or, again, read a book. Take it slowly and enjoy the process. There is no rush to learn. Little by little can be fun, and very satisfying. I have a friend who sews beautifully and bakes lovely things. She is an older lady so did not grow up with computers. Her pace is slow and relaxed. She learned to learn that way and when I visit her, she makes me feel relaxed too. 

The computer is so fast. It creates in you an anxiety to cram in information fast, and learn fast, and achieve fast. Ladies, we are not built that way! God gave us a "pace" It is a "smell the roses" pace. There is joy to be found simply in slowing down and doing so. You can take all year to knit a scarf! It is okay to bake the same simple recipe every single time, it is wonderful to just have grown a single tomato plant in your garden! The internet can lie. It can say you are a failure, but you are not. Slow down, smell the roses, delight in your half dozen home grown tomatoes, lovingly wrap that simple scarf you took your time with, and make someone feel special. 

Sometimes we are fearful of failure and the computer is a procrastination tool. You may also find that you are judging everything you do by the standards of the exceptional. For instance, instead of enjoying the satisfaction of baking your homey, loaf of bread, you see images of successful bakers with perfectly formed loaves of every flavour, made with exotic ingredients, and photographed against improbably scenic backgrounds. That is not your goal. Your family don't really want those loaves. They want bread baked with loving hands. Its imperfection is its beauty and they want to eat it not look at it! Providing a loaf of lovingly-made, fresh, fragrant, home-made bread will give you joy.

If you will switch off the virtual world, and take the first step of home-making it can be joyful and peaceful. Your family will love the imperfect things you do and will be grateful that you care about them. That is what home-making used to be about - and that is where the joy is to be found today.

I realise that this is a longer post than I intended so have split it into two. I hope to post part 2 soon. I do hope you will take the time to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you - and also by email, and hope some of you are still here after my long absence.