Cheap cupboard nut roast

If you’ve got some nuts to use up, but no fresh food, and a food processor, this recipe is great. I made it up myself. No eggs, either!

300g mixed nuts
Tin tomatoes
1 small onion or large clove garlic, chopped
Big handful fresh herbs: basil, parsley (or heaped tsp dried)
1 can beans (red kidney, cannellini etc)
100g dried out wholemeal bread
1tsp mustard
Generous salt n pepper
Bit of oil

It’s really easy. Put the nuts and bread into the food processor and process until all are chunky. Then put everything else in, and blend until a paste that still has chunks of nuts etc. Oil a loaf tin, and put the paste in. Put in oven at about 180 c for approx. 50 mins – but keen an eye out and check whether burning. Check middle cooked, then tip out onto a serving plate.
I chill this and wrap up portions for the freezer – I can stick it into the microwave and use throughout winter. Enjoy!

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Saving jam jars – what to do with them?

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I’ve got a huge box of jam jars. Some of them are soaking in hot water at the moment, in preparation for making some lovely bramble and apple jam (some great free food in my area at the moment). I’ve been saving these jars for ages, and wondered if I’d ever get round to using them. I’d been hoping to make apple jam and chutney every year, when my apple trees produce their harvest, and did it for the first time last year. I gave them away as presents at Christmas, and ate my way through them too.

But there have been some other uses for the jam jars.

  • Sprouting seeds in them, a good way of making fresh food when you haven’t been to the shops for a while.
  • Chucking out old oil, rather than putting it down the sink.
  • Using them to hold water when painting.

So all in all, I’m glad I’ve kept these old jars hanging around, rather than putting them out for the recycling van.

Picking brambles: freely available fruit

I notice that fruit on the bramble that’s happily set root in my garden is about to ripen. Free fruit, with absolutely no effort to me. Great. No way is it a weed.

I’ll have lots more too, soon. Near where I live, there is a great big quarry, which has been overrun by brambles. Remarkably last year, two weeks after they started to ripen, there was still an abundance of blackberries to pick. I had seen a few Polish guys having a go, and many of the good berries were out of my reach. But there were still plenty to be had, and they are totally free.

I picked 1kg of brambles in total. I froze about a quarter of these, made another quarter into a smoothie, and have made apple and blackberry jam with the rest. I’ll put up the recipes at some point. This year I’d like to make blackberry cordial, too. The latter two are a great way to reuse jam jars and bottles, part of my quest to have no waste.

You’ve got to watch out for the creepy crawlies, and give the fruit a good wash. I avoided all brambles that were lower than the height of a dog, even if they were particularly plump… for obvious reasons.

It did make my hands go purple, but the dog loved prowling around while I was busy!

Stuff. Addictions. Simplicity. Why live a simple life?

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Shopaholic (Photo credit: Monerda)

What do you worship? What can’t you live without? It might be your fast car, lipstick or your football team. It might be your new house, your carefully selected wardrobe or your TV. It might even be your partner or your job. I think that making a list of these things can really help us to learn spiritually.

If we look at Jesus, we see someone whose only priorities were loving people and his Father. He told us in Matthew 8:20 that he had ‘no place even to lay his head’. He was homeless, and without possessions. He was supported by some disciples, we learn in Luke, and he was blessed with other people’s perfumes and hospitality. But his life was one of pure simplicity: loving, teaching and serving.

If this is our model, we can question some of our attachments to things of this world. Are we actually addicted to our techology and our material possessions? An alcoholic can’t live without his drink – what’s the difference with being attached to other kinds of material objects? What would happen if everything went up in smoke – the computers, the DVDs, the clothes and the cars?

Perhaps material objects were meant only to serve us and help us in our life – but we’re in a situation where most of us are serving them instead. I love this which flies round social media now and then:

We were created to
Love people and use things
The world is in a mess because
We are loving things and using people

The less stuff we have and need, the more we can give to others: of money and time for example. The less time we spend buying and earning, the more time we can spend loving. Let’s follow the example of Jesus, and worship only the Father, and seek our treasure in heaven alone. God is the only thing worthy of worship, after all.

Making free fuel from scrap paper. No more shredding!

I’ve found a great way to beat the fuel crisis, plus avoid all that boring shredding of bank statements and so on.

Turn all that scrap paper into fuel!

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I bought a paper compressor, to make logs with. You have to soak the paper in water, then put it in the compressor, and press down hard. You then have to leave it to dry for a few weeks – so you need space that is reasonably warm. I dried them in the conservatory. The results are on the right in the picture above (the other paper is for kindling)

It’s only just got cold enough to try it out, so I’ve been burning them along with normal paper as kindling and a few coals in my wood-burning stove. The paper logs last almost as long as a normal log.

They call themselves ‘briquette makers’ and all sorts of strange things, but if you google eco paper log maker, you’ll probably find it.  I got mine second-hand on ebay so it was cheap too.

Salmon with nettles & roasted veg

I just had the most delicious meal… made with nettles!

I got about 15 nettle leaves (fairly young ones), washed and chopped, and put them into an aluminium foil parcel. I added about 3 tbsp. of white wine, a glug of olive oil, plus lots of salt n pepper, and then put a frozen salmon fillet on top. I rubbed about 2 tsp of English mustard into the top of the salmon, and wrapped it all up. I popped it into the oven with some potatoes, artichokes and parsnips roasting in thyme alongside it. The fish took about 20 mins (it was a small fillet) and the veg a bit longer… it was delicious!

Rhubarb and ginger jam recipe

I was round at some friends’ house, and they offered me some rhubarb. Now, I love Rhubarb and Ginger jam, and you can’t get it in the shops. So I jumped at the chance.

I adapted a recipe:

1.4kg Rhubarb, clean and trimmed
1.1kg sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ginger paste
200ml water

Use a pan that won’t react – I used a proper jam making pot, but stainless steel will do. Stew rhubarb and ginger in water until soft. Add sugar and lemon juice. Bring to boil, boil rapidly for 15 mins or so. When it sets, put on a cold plate to see if a skin forms. Don’t overboil, though.

Meanwhile, sterilise jam jars by putting in oven on 150 degrees for about 10 mins. When jam is ready, spoon into jars. Put a wax disc over jam, ensuring all bubbles are out. Cover with wet cellophane and a jam cover, fix with a rubber band.

I must find a friend who can divide their plant, so I’ve got my own free supply in the garden!