Sunday, 20 October 2013


I'm starting my gift list now in order to help me budget - saving money takes time - unfortunate, but true and we can't buy all our Christmas gifts from one pay cheque- well, I can't anyway! 
If we leave our present buying until the last minute it will cost more - I've just found that out the hard way, as the huge Christmas tins of choccies I usually buy for nieces and nephews have already been on offer and then gone back up in price!
Anyway to get back to the list - always have a list! I am taking ideas for presents from close family - they know how much I'll spend! Then, as for other relatives, I'm keeping my list with me - and when I spot a suitable bargain I'll get it, then cross them off my list. 
For families, I'm thinking of buying a large gift bag (hope Poundland will have some) and filling it with chocolate (still got to bargain hunt that), wine (ditto), nice shortbread biscuits (hoping to make those), fudge, chutney (definitely making that), and marmalade or jam (ditto).
Happy Frugal Gift hunting!
 Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


My hunt for store cupboard ingredients for my frugal Christmas pudding is done! I am still torn between making the 2 puddings quantity in my recipe or making just the one pudding and saving some outlay on ingredients (not that I need much). Of course we could eat 2 puddings- or rather my other half and I could - but should we? No.
Inevitably, the size packets of ingredients as bought, e.g. almonds, will give me some leftovers as making one pudding will require half of them! 
What a dilemma! Trouble is, I've lost over a stone this year on the very frugal 5:2 diet (no club to join, no fees, no special foods or recipes) and I know a month of Christmas pudding eating will undo much of that loss!
Anyway, to get back to the pudding ingredients - I have found that I only need some almonds, suet, candied peel, a lemon, an orange, a few cooking apples, 225g currants and 275g raisins - not bad as that is only going to cost me around  £7 (with quite a few amounts of some things left over) and I don't believe I will get a good Christmas pudding (actually 2!) for that price. I know you can buy puddings as cheap as £1 each, and I have cooking costs to factor in, but I will know what's in mine and it will be bigger than most on the market!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


I've dug out my very old Christmas pudding recipe to start hunting through the cupboards for ingredients, but more of that in a bit.
My Christmas pudding recipe is a little out of the ordinary, because it's not steamed in the conventional way - its cooked in the oven in a deep roasting pan of water for 3 hours (more of that later too). 
So, brilliant - no steaming up the kitchen for hours!
Anyway to begin - here's the list of ingredients for my Christmas Pudding which makes two 2 pint (1.2 litre) puddings. Just halve the ingredients if you only need one pudding.
225g/8oz cooking apple grated
350g/12oz sultanas
275g/10oz raisins
225g/8ozs currants
100g/4oz blanched almonds, chopped
100g/4oz dried apricots, chopped
50g/2ozs candied peel
100g/4ozs glacé cherries
grated rind of one orange
grated rind of one lemon
100g/4oz plain flour
2 tsp mixed spice

½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
175g/7ozs vegetable suet
100g/40zs dark muscovado sugar
100g/4ozs fresh breadcrumbs
3 eggs, beaten
250ml/8fl ozs brown ale
2tbsps brandy

Phew! I'm now off to root out, weigh and put aside any ingredients I have and make a list of those I don't have - we'll see just how much I can save myself!
Back soon with the rest of the recipe!

1. Grease the basins and line their bases with a circle of greaseproof paper.
2. Sift the flour & spices into a large mixing bowl and mix in the sugar, breadcrumbs and suet. Add the chopped almonds, candied peel, cherries, orange & lemon rind, dried fruit, apple and apricots. Mix well.
3. Add the ale, eggs and brandy and stir well.
4. Fill the basins with the mixture and smooth the tops. Cover the basins with two circles of greaseproof paper, pleated across the middle and tie with string.
5. Put both puddings in a large roasting tin and pour 5cm/2" boiling water in. Cover with a double layer of foil and seal tightly around the edges of the tin.
6. Cook for 3 hours at 150c/300F/Gas 2, topping the water up halfway through cooking time.
7. When cooked, allow the puddings to cool completely, cover with fresh greaseproof paper and tie tightly. Store somewhere cool and dry, but do not put in an airtight container.
To serve, heat individual slices in a microwave for a few seconds. Take care not to overcook as the pudding could ignite!