How To Make A Stock Soup
Stock soups are made from stock (preferably MOO) with the addition of meat and fresh vegetables and a grain, cereal or bean i.e. dried lentils, kidney beans, rice or macaroni.
To make a basic thick soup you will need:
4 - 6 litres stock, including the meat from the bones
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 small turnip, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
2 cups soup mix - a mixture of lentils and beans
1. Bring the stock to a rolling boil in a large stockpot.
2. Add the vegetables and the soup mix and stir.
3. Turn the heat down until the liquid is at a rolling simmer. This is important because unless you want to stand and stir constantly for hours, you need the vegetables and soup mix to keep rolling around in the pot. If they settle they will stick to the bottom of the pot and burn, ruining the soup.
You can add any other vegetables you like to your soup pot. Potato makes a good addition, bulking out the meal and acting as a thickener when soup mix is scarce. You can also add tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage - you are limited only by your imagination and the contents of your fridge.
To make your own soup recipe follow this outline:
1. Start with a stock (choose one)- chicken, beef or lamb.
2. Add a protein (choose one) - meat, chicken, lamb, ham or bacon bones
3. Choose a thickener (choose one, measure 2 cups) - soup mix, beans, lentils, macaroni, pasta twirls, broken spaghetti, rice or barley
4. Throw in the vegetables (as many as you like, about 4 cups) - onion, carrot, celery, zucchini, cabbage, capsicums, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnip, turnip, swede, squash, pumpkin, green beans, peas,
5. Season to taste* - salt, pepper, bouquet garni, thyme, parsley, chives, coriander
Bring the stock to the boil in a large stockpot. Add the other ingredients of your choice and simmer for at least 1 hour.
*It is better to under season and add more at the table than it is to over-season and have a soup that is too salty or too spicy. If you do over-salt the soup, add two potatoes, peeled and halved, about 20 minutes before the end of cooking time. The potato will absorb some of the salt.
1 cup ice cold water
You will need:
A stand mixer, hand mixer or food processor (all will work, the stand mixer and food processor are the easiest to use)
A sieve or cheesecloth (I prefer the cheesecloth)
First things first, get your cream. The higher the fat content, the more butter you'll get per litre of cream and the nicer the butter will be, so skip the reduced fat creams and go for a good pure cream, or thickened cream or a full fat whipping cream.
Tip that cream into the bowl of your mixer. You can use a handheld mixer or a food processor - both will turn your cream into butter just as easily as the stand mixer.
Turn the mixer to medium speed and leave it for about 4 - 5 minutes. You'll see the cream thicken, then start to curdle, then you'll notice that it is separating and there will be liquid in the bottom of the bowl. This is the buttermilk. Don't waste it, you can use it in baking in place of milk or water. The creamy, yellow "butter" will be in clumps around the sides of the bowl.
Now you need to get the butter to form one clump and completely separate from the buttermilk. To do this you'll need about 1 cup of ice cold water. I usually put a cup of cold water in the freezer for about half an hour before I start butter making.
Turn the mixer back on and very slowly pour in about a quarter cup of the ice cold water. You'll see all the butter will clump together and there will be even more buttermilk in the bottom of the bowl.
Take a sieve and place it over a bowl. Tip the butter and the buttermilk into the sieve. Now, with clean hands, you need to pick up the clump of butter and gently squeeze. You'll see more buttermilk coming out. Keep squeezing gently, until you can't get any more buttermilk from the butter. The aim is to remove all the buttermilk as the more you can remove the better your butter will keep.
Once you've squeezed all the buttermilk from the butter you're done. You have lovely, fresh, unsalted butter.
To add a little flavour to the butter, stir through a pinch or two of salt. I use a fork to mash the salt into the butter.
Put the butter in a dish and keep it in the fridge for up to eight weeks.
Pour the buttermilk into a jug and it will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge
And there you have it, fresh butter in 20 minutes.
From the September 2017 Cheapskates Journal
Every household has at least one lurking in the freezer to the back of a kitchen cupboard. It may come out in summer, but once the weather cools down it's forgotten again.
The humble ice cube tray can do so much more in the kitchen than make ice cubes.
Freezing your leftover food into cubes will save you a lot of money. Food cubes are all the rage at the moment (have you seen the frozen smoothie cubes and the frozen baby food cubes in the supermarket? Have you seen the price of them!) so save yourself time, and money and make your own with food you know you use.
But how can you tell how much gravy or tomato paste or lemon juice is in a cube?
Some measurements to make using your cubes easy:
1 regular sized ice cube compartment holds 2 tablespoons of liquid.
2 cubes is the equivalent of 1/4 cup of liquid
4 cubes is the equivalent of 1/2 cup of liquid
8 cubes is the equivalent of 1 cup of liquid
Knowing this makes it easy to pull out the right number of cubes for your recipe.
2 tins baked beans
250g grated mozzarella
250g grated tasty cheese
250g cottage cheese
2 tins tomato soup
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp dried basil
1 clove garlic, crushed
Brown meat, garlic, basil and onions; drain. Whizz baked beans until they resemble the mince. Combine baked beans, meat, tomato soup, diced tomatoes and simmer. Use 9"x13" cake pan. Pour just enough sauce to cover bottom of pan. Layer raw (uncooked) noodles, sauce, half mozzarella, half tasty cheese and cottage cheese until all used up. Cover with foil. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 1 hour. Can be frozen after overnight refrigeration.
Stretch this meal further by adding 1 cup TVP that has been soaked in 1 cup boiling water for five minutes to the mince after browing.
From Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing
Haystacks are a family favourite and we enjoy them regularly. They're quick and easy to make and topped with lots of lovely fresh veggies they are the perfect easy meal all year round.
I've no idea where the name came from, I first started making them about 35 years ago when I was a cook for school camps. The kids loved them because they were "junk" food, we cooks loved them because it is a one-pot wonder recipe, that can be made ahead, and is easy to serve. Now my family loves them, this really is a recipe that has stood the test of time.
This recipe is one of the most requested from the Cheapskates Club Recipe File. Every time they are mentioned in a meal plan or a newsletter I get emails asking what they are and for the recipe.
2 tins baked beans in tomato sauce
1 tin red kidney beans (or dried equivalent, soaked and cooked)
3 tbsp MOO taco seasoning (or 1 packet)
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 tins diced tomatoes
Sauté onion, add taco seasoning and then beans and tomatoes. Heat through. Serve over corn chips or toasted pita bread or torn mountain bread (I've even put it over pappadums in a pinch) add salad to suit, top with salsa and sour cream.
I usually put the salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, cheese, salsa, sour cream) out and let them make their own.
This makes a double quantity, so half goes in the freezer for the next time. Freezes well and it makes a great filling for stuffed spuds too.
This Week's Question: Can anyone tell me how to cook in an electric pressure cooker?
"I have just purchased an electric pressure cooker (Fast & Slow) and the recipe book that comes with it is not every day basic recipes. For example, I wanted to cook a piece of silverside in it, but was unsure of how long to cook it. Does anyone have any good easy recipes or know of a good recipe book?"
Can you help?
If you have a suggestion or idea for Margaret, let us know. We'll enter your answer into our Tip of the Week competition, with a one-year membership to the Cheapskates Club as the prize too.
"I'd be very interested to know whether anyone has any recipes for using leftover hot chips (from the fish & chip shop). We get minimum chips but there's still too much for two. I have made a frittata from them which was good but I'd like to hear what others do."
Do you have the answer?
If you have a suggestion or idea for Carolyn let us know in the comments below. We'll enter your answer into our Tip of the Week competition, with a one-year membership to the Cheapskates Club as the prize too.
This Week's Question:
"My husband and I have been married for five months, and are currently living with his parents. This is their wedding gift to us, so we can save as much as possible as a deposit on a home of our own. They offered us rent and utility free living for two years, which we are grateful for. The problem is grocery money (of all things!). Because of our work schedules, my MIL also does the grocery shopping and cooking (she's a great cook, I'm learning heaps) and we split the bill 50-50. Here's the rub: she does all the grocery shopping Coles and refuses to go anywhere else. She doesn't look for markdowns or specials, and flatly refuses to even consider generic brands. Last month our share of the grocery bill was $1,365 - even living rent free, we can't afford that! How can I , at 25 years old and a newlywed, tactfully introduce the idea of smart and frugal, budget shopping without any offence to my mother-in-law, who has been a housewife for 30+ years and has never needed to budget?
Do you have the answer?
If you can help Dianne let us know, by leaving it in the comments below. We'll enter your answer into our Tip of the Week competition, with a one-year membership to the Cheapskates Club as the prize. And keep an eye open, you may even see your answer in next week's newsletter.
Shopping Lists - Your New Best Friend
Grandma never left home without hers. Even our mothers probably had one of some kind. And today's women are turning back to them in droves to save not only money and time but their sanity. Shopping lists, once considered old fashioned and a nuisance are making a comeback and in a big way.
It's a fact that most of us buy the same items each time we shop with the occasional new foodstuff or cleaning product to try. But how often have you gone to the supermarket, picked up what you thought you needed, only to discover when you arrived home that you had doubled up on some things and totally forgotten others? You will be wasting money and time if you shop like this.
“I've always used a shopping list. It's usually scribbled on the back of an envelope or a small piece of paper but if I don't have it I can guarantee that I'll forget something vital or go way over my budget and these days especially I can't afford to do that,” says Catherine Allan, a young mother of four from Melbourne's outer east.
“Knowing that I will get what we need and not have to go back to the shops for another week saves us hundreds of dollars a year. I can ignore the urge to impulse buy when I only have 45 minutes without the kids on a Saturday morning to do the shopping. Getting what's on that list is my focus, if it's not on the list I just don't have the time or the money to buy it.”
As prices have gone up (inflation officially hit 4% last month) saving money, especially at the supermarket has become essential for families on a budget. Just as in Grandma's day people are feeling the pressure to spend less time shopping for groceries and save more time and money.
It's easy to set up a perpetual shopping list so you never forget what you need. Having a perpetual list makes shopping a breeze. You simply tick the items you need and then cross them off as you put them in the trolley.
Whether you use a notebook, the sample shopping list template or a spreadsheet on your computer or a shopping list program (and there are lots of free programs available) the steps are the same:
1. Rule up your master sheet with seven columns. They will be: item, brand, quantity, price last month, price this month, total.
2. Now list every item you buy, from peanut butter to toothpaste. If you want to be super organized, list the items in the order you find them in the supermarket. You’ll save time by not having to go back and forth and you will be able to mark off your list in order. Most supermarkets have a free store layout brochure available. If you can't find one in the aisles, ask at the service counter.
3. Once you've finished, run off some copies. Stick one to the front of the fridge or the pantry door. This will become your next shopping list. During the week as you run out of things or as you notice you’ll need an item, circle it on the list.
Each shopping day, you just have to grab the list and hit the supermarket. Before you leave home, in the price column put the price for each item when you last bought it. You’ll get this information from your pricebook (a pricebook will save you an absolute fortune, if you don't have one seriously consider setting one up).
When you are shopping just put the current price in the appropriate column and you have a record of how much each item has cost you. This helps you to keep track of how much items have gone up or down and will help you decide whether you need to reconsider the purchase.
If you carry a small calculator and tally as you go, you’ll easily pick up checkout errors and notice immediately if you go over budget.
Today, being the first Friday of the month, is my OAMS day (once a month shopping). I've already done the groceries, I didn't have a lot to buy as you can see from the picture above. I included a few stockpile items this month too, in preparation for the Christmas/New Year craziness.
Since Disaster Struck I've watched our grocery spending like a hawk. We have a very strict grocery budget and I try very hard to not go over it. I need to tell you what is included in our grocery budget, just so you know what's covered by my $320 a month.
For my family groceries include:
3. Whatever fruits and vegetables we don't grow or get via bartering
4. Cleaning products
5. Basic toiletries and hygeine products.
I shop for my family of five adults. Yes, our kids are all grown up but still studying and living (and eating!) at home. I buy meat once every three months, so to be sure I have the "meat money" I put $60 a month aside to use. This is usually more than enough (thanks to Tasman Meats great prices and some good specials at our local butcher).
Today I spent $215 at Aldi. For the first time in ages I was able to get everything on the list, including as I mentioned earlier, some stockpile items. The meat money has been put aside and I have $45 left to buy milk (the only grocery item we will actually need) for the next four weeks.
So how do I keep the grocery bill low?
1. Meal planningI typically plan our monthly menu a few days before shopping day. I shop for a month so I meal plan for a month. Cheapskates Club members can see what we are eating in the Member's Centre. By doing this, I buy what exactly what we need for the month. Meal planning is a great way to stop "random" shopping, which really causes chaos with a grocery budget. Meal planning also stops the takeaway temptation. Knowing you have something planned for dinner is half the struggle of getting tea on the table. I'm not saying we don't ever have takeaway or eat out but the temptation to do so isn't there if we know we have something delicious already planned.
2. Planning my shopping tripsI shop with a list, a very comprehensive list. It has the item, size, quantity and the last price I paid on it. I write my shopping list in order of stores and I try to write each stores list according to the layout. My shopping list keeps me focussed on the task at hand: getting the groceries. I do one big shop on the first Friday of each month, then buy milk and cream and any fruit and veg top-ups once a week. That's it. I stay away from supermarkets until shopping day.
3. Shop the salesWhen I'm writing my shopping list, I always do it with the Coles, Woolworths and Aldi websites open. This is probably the biggest way we save on groceries; having the online catalogues open lets me compare prices between the supermarkets quickly and easily. This means I can jot items down under the supermarket they are cheapest.
4. Build a stockpileI practice the buy-ahead principle as much as possible, in order to create a stockpile and build up our pantry with items we will use later. I aim to have a twelve week supply of our basic grocery items at all times. I don't have stuff stashed everywhere and I don't stockpile things we rarely use. I do use the grocery slush fund to stockpile things we use a lot of when they are on a super great sale, especially if they are the pricier items like shampoo, conditioner, dried fruit, meat and so on. When I'm creating our meal plan I shop the pantry, fridge and freezer and use the groceries we have on hand. This way I always pay the lowest possible price for groceries.
5. Ditch brand loyaltiesI am not a brand snob. Flour is flour, sugar is sugar. Most basic grocery items available in Australia are excellent quality regardless of the price. I try to buy Australian owned, then Australian made when they fit within my grocery budget. There are times I'll have something on my shopping list that isn't on sale. When that happens I buy the best value brand I can find. If the cheapest brand is the store brand, then that's what we buy.
I could write a lot more about how I keep the grocery bill low, but for today these five points give you the general idea. Everyone is different, every family's needs and wants are different and that is fine. You may live hours from supermarkets or you may be catering to special dietary needs. Your grocery budget doesn't have to be the same as anyone else's, you determine what meets your needs. If you're struggling with cutting the cost of groceries, implement these five simple steps.
I guarantee you will save money and if nothing else, you'll have your grocery spending under control. You can work on getting it as low as you want it to be then.