Leftovers pie and pie leftovers

Monday night was pie night in our house this week! On Sunday we had enjoyed a  roast chicken dinner, so on Monday I used the remaining chicken, leftover veg and gravy, added some frozen peas and popped on a puff pastry (frozen puff pastry of course!) top.  It was really really easy…an assembly job more than anything with just a little bit of rolling out of the pastry (and my dad kindly picked the meat of the carcass and joints for me which was really especially lovely of him as he was not going to get to stay and eat the pie…that’s unconditional fatherly love for you). And it was T A S T Y !!!!

It came out of the oven all golden and bubbling

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And when we cut into it the meat, veg and gravy was delicious and moist and the pastry had that awesome combo of crispiness with a soggy (in a good way) bit nearer the bottom.  Yum yum yum. As Monday this week was B’s Friday (when you work in retail there is not a typical Monday to Friday routine and his weekend was Tues, Wed this week!) he added a bottle of cider as an extra treat!

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So when I had trimmed round my pie dish I had a fair amount of pastry left…too much to throw away.  What to do with it? I contemplated making a quick desert by adding some frozen summer fruits but knew even I, with my love of pie (can take the girl out of Wigan etc….) could not manage pastry then pastry for tea! So I turned to my mum for suggestions and she told me Grandma Sheffield would make Fause Cake with leftover pastry.

After quite a lot of debate over spelling and meaning of “fause” (is it sly or is it false) and a rummage in the pantry to see where the rogue smart price sultanas where hiding I embarked on recreating an old family favourite of which I knew Grandma Sheff would be proud.

Grandma Sheffield was the queen of make do and mend…she could not throw anything away…but didn’t simply hoard it, everything was put to good use.  She was amazing.  I loved going into her bedroom as a child.  It was at the back of her 2 up 2 down terrace in Lancashire and in the afternoon the sun used to pour in the back window giving light and warmth and emphasising the smell of dried lavender which was always present in that room.  If I was really lucky I was allowed to have a look in her big cupboard at the back of the room which was an aladdins cave of buttons, bits and fabrics, and fabulous things she was creating for the next sale of work at the salvation army, where she was a dedicated soldier all of her life. I am so privileged to have some of these buttons, trims and fabrics in my own stash now…and the look and still now the vague smell of them evokes so many memories I love it! I endeavour to keep the make do and mend spirit alive in Grandma Sheff’s memory and hope she would be proud.

But anyway, back to the fause cake…I rolled out the remaining pastry into 2 rough rectangles, and at one end added a small dod of butter (dod being a technical term obviously!) and a handful of sultanas.  Folded over pastry with some slits in top and brushed with milk.  These were then baked alongside the pie in the oven. B and I enjoyed one with our coffee on Tuesday morning while Plum was at playgroup and it was delicious.  Kind of like a rustic pain aux raison (I can hear Grandma Sheff shouting “a what?”). And the remaining one was wrapped in tin foil and sent away with B for an energy boost before he embarked on his ice climb in Glen Coe yesterday.

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So all in all the leftovers pie and the pie leftovers were both a great success.  Since Monday I have done a bit more googling to try and find out more on origins and meanings of fause cake, and there is a lot out there and many regional varieties.  I think my conclusion is that this particular one was a speciality of Baxter Street, Standish and I look forward to hearing more about it when Plum and I take a road trip to Lancs to see the family there in the Easter hols…you never know, I may even make some fause cake for sustinance on the road down…as long as we have had a pie the night before of course!

And finally, before I go, as I have spoken about it in this blog, I feel just have to share this shot of Grandma’s button tin and just a tiny fraction of the button delights which hide within it.  A true mix of buttons gathered over many many years, most of which still have thread and fabric attached from where they have been removed from garments…I love love love being the custodian of this button box.  It is more than a cheap thrill, it is a downright privilege as there is more history than Dan Snow would know what to do with in this tin and every time I attach one of these buttons to something I make I feel I am passing on a little bit of that history and love with that item. I love it. x

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Cheap thrills at the supermarket

So in January I decided that I needed to reconsider the way we shop for food.  Our weekly and monthly food tally was creeping up and it was getting to the stage that the £450 per month budget was only just covering it.  This is ridiculous for the 3 of us (one with a small appetite!) so something needed to be done.

A good look at my shopping pattern, a glance in the pantry (ha ha….check me, thinking I am Nigella with a pantry…in fact its an ikea unit in the utility room!) and a good old rummage in the freezer showed that I simply buy too much! And mainly too much in stocking up items and not enough to eat on a day to day basis, which meant that on top of the weekly online stock up and basics shop I was needing to top up through the week.

So I decided to set a target of reducing the monthly shop by £150 (it was easier to look at it as a monthly target than set a weekly amount as some weeks you simply have to spend more if lots of things run out at same time, but one week may need to spend very little) and only buy what we needed for that week and that week alone.  Also I based the weeks menus around what was already in store in the cupboards and freezers.  And finally I changed from an online Tesco shop with a top up at asda (tricky as that is Plums favourite place to go!!) and sometimes M & S, to the bulk of the shop being at Aldi and if a top up was required it was value brands wherever possible at whatever shop we were in.

And it worked!  In February I saved £143 on the months shop! And we ate really well!  Tasty home cooked dinners which were more interesting for being more creative, packed lunches for Bruce and more variety at lunctime for Plum and I which was both tastier, cheaper and more healthy than our usual cheese sandwich and crisps combo that is all too easy to slip into!

So what does a weeks shop look like now?  This is my shop from yesterday when I visited Aldi and Sainsburys…the shops were side by side and I took a basket round each.  It is both a curse and a blessing that Plum is unable to sit in a trolley…it is hard when you need to buy heavy items and are trying to steer a buggy one handed and balance a heavy basket, but it is a blessing as makes you more mindful of what you are buying as if you pop in extras you can’t carry the essentials!  Makes for a more focused and therefore thrifty shop! This cost £28 in total.  I will probably need to spend another £15 later in the week.

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I do make one exception to the “only buy what you are going to eat” rule however, and that’s on meat. I look every week for one or 2 items that are reduced but could be frozen…that makes the basis for the following weeks meals for a fraction of the cost.  Yesterday I got turkey breast fillets for just over a pound which will be a fab stir fry (combined with the carrots, cabbage, celery and spring onions which were 49p each as part of aldis super 6…the rest of which will be turned into a huge coleslaw!) and a huge turkey drumstick for £1 which will be delicious roasted with veggies in the oven and with yorkies made from the 15p batter mix will be a very cheap but very tasty roast dinner.

So how do you shop?  What are your supermarket cheap thrills? What are your shopping downfalls and do you think you could save.  I have worked out that if I save £150 a month over last years food bill that adds up to a whopping £1800 per year, and it is in effect found money!  I find that thought quite intoxicating!

And what was my biggest cheap thrill this week?  It has to be this washing up liquid from sainsburys…ok, I could have got one for 20p cheaper if I had gone to the basics but this was 49p and the cool retro bottle that matches the tiles round my sink will make me smile every time I need to pull on the old rubber gloves and get busy with the dishes!

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Happy shopping xx