Tag Archives: ethical

Kale Yard soup


I I feel that finally I’ve cracked winter and spring green growing for years I’d had a few successes but never enough to make more than a token gesture at dinner time. Its the end of February and we’ve had Leeks, Artichokes, Salad leaf and 5 types of brassica all ready for the kitchen for the past few months. In a bid to celebrate this bounty I decided to make a ‘half the garden soup’ with what I had to hand in the veg patch.


5 Cabbage Kale Yard Soup

Bunch of Cavolo Nero

Bunch of Russian Kale

Bunch of Curly Kale

Bunch of Spring Cabbage

Bunch of left over Wild Cabbage or you could use Purple sprouting Broccoli leaves

5 Leeks

4 medium Potatoes (the last of my pink fur apples I had in store/had forgotten about)

5 cloves of Garlic

Veg or Chicken stock

Sprig of sage and thyme

Wash and chop the leeks, Crush the Garlic and add to a large pan with a knob of butter and the chopped herbs, let them all sweat. As that’s doing its thing wash and remove the tougher stalks from the Cavolo Nero and the Curly kale but the others should be fine as they soften quicker, chop then add them to the pan. This allows them to wilt. Next add your stock. At this point I put the soup into a food mixer as we don’t have a hand blender, with the potato and blitz keeping a bit of texture. Add a vigorous twist of black pepper and a pinch of salt and simmer for 10 mins. You could add chilli which would have been good but I wanted the taste of the garden.

Serve with cream if your greedy like me, and a huge crusty bread. done grew it ate it!


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Suburban fuel foraging


The gas bill arrived today and for the first time I didn’t tut, it was in fact cheaper than last year, partly to do with a so called ‘reduction’ in prices but the exact amount of gas we’ve used is half! from 5625 kWh to 2509 kWh. I put this down to two things, 1 we didn’t use the central heating until November and 2 we’ve been using the wood burner more than last year. Using the stove not only to heat the house but cook on has made a massive difference.

Having a wood stove is seen by some as a middle class toy or only for those lucky few who live in the countryside but if you care about your environment and want to save money I’d say you can’t go wrong. After the initial cost of instillation your next issue is fuel cost, there’s no point saving on gas if your spending hundreds of pounds on fuel, that’s when they become a toy.

I used to think that the only way to be totally self-sufficient in fuel was to live in the countryside because where else did wood come from? However having spent a year living in a small hamlet I realize the country mouse is not always better off than his townie cousin. If you live in a house surrounded by fields it might be beautiful but your access to fuel is limited to your nearest woodland, which may or my not be private or even someone’s livelihood, on the other hand living in the town opens up a mass of free fuel opportunities.

You don’t have to walk far in the suburbs to find a skip, these are the suburban foragers friends the trick is to see whatever’s inside as a potential fuel. As long as it’s not MDF or chipboard it’s free warm for you. I used to walk past skips that didn’t have pallets in but now a broken chair, carpenters off cuts, anything wooden gets brought home and chopped up.

Pallets are an obvious one and many places are more than happy for you to take them off their hands, just remember to ask first some companies reuse them. It’s surprising how a few pallets can heat your house for an evening. Another place to look is charity, junk and auction houses they often have things which are unsellable or broken, most places will happily give you something that’s destined for the tip.

Last year a neighbours tree blew down in a storm so I offered to saw it up for them if I could keep the wood he was only too happy and we ended up with about a weeks worth of fuel. Every time we go out for a walk in a park or in the woods around the city I make sure I at least pick up one piece of wood however small, if you do it all year you’ll soon have a ready supply. I’m going to have to get a trailer for my bike or perhaps a trolley so that I don’t miss out next time I leave the house, having set my foragers eye for fuel as well as food has made me realize I should never need buy fuel again.


Next years fuel is stacking up nicely we are aiming to fill this by the end of the year.

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economy drive day 4

I would not say that we have got the hang of it but apart from £1:70 travel today was another relatively cash free day. lunch prepared and dinner leftover stew and baked potatoes with enough food in cupboards and the freezer to make numerous meals.

Ive really been taking stock ‘literally’ of the food we have and without giving a list it contains one large cupboard filled with preserves many from 2010, pickles, jams, chutneys mainly. Loads of dry food, rice, pasta, noodles, beans. What seems like endless half bags of different flour and sugars, daily supplies of eggs and best of all fresh winter greens. I start to wonder where the money goes? Meat, fish, cheese, milk etc are the obvious answer but it still doesn’t seem to add up to food bills of £70/80 + a week.

A drink in the evening obviously adds up during the week, I guess this is one of the tough ones, we don’t go out much so having a drink in the evening some nights and religiously on a friday as if it were set in stone, is a welcome treat, not essential but thats probably the problem. Much of what we buy at the supermarket is a treat rather than a meal. We are used to treating ourselves, we deserve it don’t we? but when did snacks become the way we treat ourselves?

99% of the time we cook from scratch creating food we love together, it’s a pleasure and we all enjoy it, so why do I still reach for quick snacks? Does it really save time? it certainly doesn’t save me money. Its just laziness i admit it, things must change.

I do really like Kettle crisps and Fentamens Curiosity Cola though.

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the economy drive DAY2

Ok this is getting beyond a joke. After yesterdays pathetic attempt I decided to try and claw back some dignity and bake some bread, wholesome, fresh, organic and smug, or so I thought. As the two loafs were slowly ballooning in the oven the phone rings, it’s a friend from uni, we’ve not spoken for a few weeks so gossip, sorry discuss life etc. As we chat he reminds me that regardless of my thrifty week we have to go into uni tomorrow! Pound signs flash in front of my eyes!! ££££££ just like that. Train, coffee, lunch, coffee, coffee, train home.

No it will be fine I’ll only spend the £2:50 for the train and take sandwiches for lunch with the bread I’m making………………..BREAD!!!!! Throwing down the phone shouting, almost killing  the cat does nothing to change the fact that the bread is burned. I softly weep.

This morning fairs no better, my OH takes the car as she has a cold as I crunch through what is not unpleasant burnt bread toast, perhaps a new fashion? but not yet ready for the world so I get the train lunchless.

They say that every cloud etc etc and mine was that I remembered that I have a check for £40 to put in the bank, perhaps were winning anyway? In theory that cancels out yesterday and makes me king of tuesday. well that is until I come home.

It was the trains fault, I missed it, it was the Co-op’s fault for being next door. I have 33 minutes to waste, I’ll just look at the reduced section, that’s all. In my defense everything I bought was on offer or reduced and all were necessary and stop us visiting the supermarket hopefully this week.

Ok I spent £14 on potatoes, olive oil, vegetable oil, broccoli, honey, tin foil, sausages and goats milk.

Bringing tuesdays grand total to £16:50

Meaning if added to yesterdays and taking away from the £40 check leaves about £2:30, and I forgot toilet rolls!

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