Two years ago I started an experiment to see if I could afford to retire on my Civil Service pension at 60. With the State Pension age at 66 I had to be sure I could learn to live on less money. I discovered that by growing a little more in the garden, changing the way I shopped and by tweaking others things I could indeed live on my pension without altering my lifestyle or feeling deprived. So in October 2016 I retired. Its officially the best job I've ever had.
Thursday, 29 June 2017
Best Laid Plans
When I got up bright and early yesterday morning I had it in my head that I would get the sewing machine out from under the stairs ready to begin some sewing. I kept my promise to cut the free pattern out last week and retrieved the material that I bought last year in Portugal from the under bed storage. I did a little bit of ironing that's been hanging around and used the opportunity to iron out all the creases in the material making it easier to lay the pattern out.
Having made myself a cup of tea I did what I normally do every day, step outside and check over the garden and greenhouse. We'd had some rain but not as much as I expected. I knew the green beans needed picking and so did the some of the courgettes. Once they were picked I went over to the strawberry trough and picked the last of the strawberries even though they were tiny. There was another 10 raspberries ready and a I pulled up one of the many mature lettuces. Having brought all the produce into the kitchen I had to decide cooking or sewing. When you have produce in the garden ready you have to deal with it so I found myself thinking out a meal plan to use it all making sure there is little or no waste.
Corned beef and potatoes ready for mixing
First thing on the agenda was to make something to go with salad, so I set about making two dishes of corned beef hash. I only had enough potatoes for one but I did have a butter nut squash that I could add.
When my oven is used it has to be full so I went on to make some quiche using up the bread that was getting stale. I only get 6 slices out of the freezer at a time now as bread goes mouldy very quickly in this warm weather. I rolled each slice thin like pastry and lined a greased tin as you would pastry. All the leftovers were crumbed in the blender and frozen. The filling used some of the odd shaped courgettes that I'd had to pick as there are so many coming, they were chopped and fried off in a little oil with onions garlic and spices. The courgettes are growing more uniform now but I don't really care if they're wonky they taste the same, everything gets used up.
The over ripe black banana was added to a half packet of leftover sponge mix. Raspberries were placed at the bottom of the individual cases and sponge mix poured over the top. There wasn't much but its better than wasting it.
The strawberries were washed and put in the nutri bullet to turn into a liquid as I thought I'd make a nice strawberry syrup that could be poured over ice cream or fruit. Sugar and drop of water was added before boiling it on the hob for 12 minutes. It was poured in a sterilised jar and once cooled it will be kept in the fridge for the next few weeks (or days!).
Some of the lettuce was made into a coleslaw and the rest left to be served with cucumber and tomatoes. My cucumbers are getting bigger, garden update at the end of the week. The dwarf beans were topped, tailed, chopped and blanched ready to be frozen as I need to use salad first. If I manage to get to my peas before the meeces than I will serve them sprinkled raw on the top of the salad. I need to find the mince that I know is at the bottom of the freezer so I can make Bolognese, that way the spaghetti can be have courgetti added to it utilising the courgettes.
The egg shells were whizzed with a little boiling water in the blender and will be used on the tomatoes in the greenhouse, providing a great natural feed full of potassium, calcium and nitrogen. Peelings went in the composter, butternut squash seeds in the conservatory to dry ready for next year, everything used up.
The best bit is that I have meals ready for the next few days so I will be able to get on with some sewing hopefully, although I'm out with friends tomorrow.
The rest of the butternut squash was roasted and it will be served with quiche, salad and green beans. As you can see the oven was filled to capacity in order to keep bills down. Do you have days were you start one thing and it goes completely off in another direction? I really need to get on with my knitting as its too late to start sewing, that's the down side of not having a dedicated craft room. One day perhaps I will.