Posts Tagged ‘frugal’

Cheaper, better – vegan – bread – the results

I’ve finally tried the Real Bread recipe from my “Baking cheaper, better bread” post. I have to admit I was pretty sceptical. about a third of the yeast I usually use, no sugar to feed it and no butter? I put it into my standard one-hour breadmaker cycle and was expecting a flat, solid, uninspiring loaf.

Opening the breadmaker was not very encouraging, it had risen less than my usual recipe, but not by much:

It wasn’t a nice glossy brown on top, but it did look encouragingly bread-shaped:

Time to open it up then! The best reflection on taste and texture was that the loaf was half-gone by the time I managed to get a pic. It was a lot less crumbly than my usual  loaf, tasted nice, was pretty light, and sliced nicely. Pretty much all you could want:

So, it’s edible, how much does it cost? We’re using the same prices as my original “How much does it cost to bake your own bread” recipe, minus the milk, butter, sugar, and with the new Doves Farm large packets of yeast we’re getting from Waitrose – 125g for 99p.

250g Strong White Bread Flour 11p
250g Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour 16p
1 tsp salt 0.2p
5g yeast 4p
Electricity 3.14p
Total 35p

So this “Real Bread” recipe costs only 35p in comparison to my usual recipe’s 78p. That’s a pretty significant difference, so it’s our new favourite – until the next comes along! Any other suggestions?

Almost forgot to add – now it doesn’t use any chilled ingredients it’s even more green, and it can be made out of standard store cupboard ingredients – even better for our Peak Oil prep.

Baking cheaper, better bread

An interesting challenge this – a comment from Chris Young from the the Real Bread Campaign on my post on “how much does it cost to bake your own bread“.

Apparently I can make delicious bread without the sugar or milk – Chris gave a link to this Real Bread recipe. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but will do next time I have a chance to play again. I think the main issue may be the small amount of yeast combined with the rapid cycle I tend to use, which produces a loaf in under an hour. We’ll see!

Here’s the recipe:

500g Flour (wholemeal or a mix of white and wholemeal)
5g Salt
350g Water
5g Dried yeast (or 10g fresh yeast, or 3g easy-blend yeast)
15g Butter or olive oil (optional – makes bread slightly softer)

Unless your machine’s instructions say otherwise, pour the water into the loaf pan and, if you are using it, add the fresh yeast. Disperse the salt in the flour and then sprinkle this over the water. If you are using dried or instant yeast and/or butter or oil, place them – not touching each other – on top of the flour. Secure the pan in the machine, close the lid and press the start button.

I’ll post a picture once I’ve tried it.

How to make your own Dripping

OK, I’ll be up front, this is a little bit of a joke post, but I just bought the Victory Cookbook and there are lots of interesting food snippets in it to share. It’s a compilation of three of Marguerite Patten’s during and post-war cookbooks, and so is great for frugal, ration-based cooking. One of the items that caught my eye was called “Save that Fat”:

Collect all the oddments of fat that you can from frying pans, baking tins and stews. Melt and strain them all into a big bowl and wash them by pouring on some boiling water (you will need about a pint of water for 2 oz of fat). When the liquid solidifies, lift off the solid fat and scrape the sediment off the bottom; it is now quite suitable for frying or roasting. Wise housewives will take this a step further. They will heat the at up again until it stops bubbling. This means that it is quite free from moisture and will keep literally indefinitely. It can be saved for anything, even cake making.

Not sure about you, but that was new to me! Now I can’t cook a pan of sausages without feeling I shouldn’t be throwing the fat away – surely this is some of the ultimate recycling.  Maybe one of these days I’ll become a “Wise Eco-Housewife” and try it. I might leave a note explaining to the Paramedics what I’ve done though.

How much energy does your car use?

As part of our Energy Descent Plan we’re trying to progressively reduce our energy consumption – fuel for the car, electricity and gas in the house. This’ll save us significant money but also will reduce our carbon footprint and dependance on Fossil Fuels.

The first thing is to work out how much energy we’re using, and to that end we’ve started measuring it monthly. We’ve just finished the second month of monitoring our car usage, although they have been two crazy months (due to moving in to the eco-house) so the results may not be typical of our normal lifestyle. We’re converting all our energy use to kWh/day so that we can compare fuel/electricity/gas on an equal basis:

Month Miles MPG Litres Used kWh kWh/day
June 429 46 42.4 454 15.12
July 423 47.2 40.74 436 14.06

So we’ve already seen a significant drop in our daily energy consumption from the car 😀

I’d have to say that is a bit of a fluke – we haven’t tried particularly hard to reduce our consumption yet. It’ll be interesting to see how our consumption changes as we settle into our new routines here.

As it’s the first of the month I’ve just taken the first Gas and Electric readings in the eco-house so we can work out our standard consumption for those next month too – it’ll be interesting reading and will give us a base to measure our changes.

One of the first learning  points from this is that if we had a plug-in electric car we’d have to have at least 15 kWp of solar panels installed – that is a LOT of solar panels. It makes you realise how big an impact the car has on our energy consumption.

Reducing our Water Charges

Having been looking at increasing our resilience and reducing our impact by using rainwater internally from a large Rainwater Tank, one thing to note is that it can also save us money. Firstly we need to get a meter fitted, so that we’ll only pay our standing charge plus actual water usage. If we’re not using any external water then, according to United Utilities’ Rate Sheet we could be paying as little as £43 a year – saving about £100 a year. Secondly we can apply for a reduction in our Sewerage charges as the water will no longer be entering the sewer. It’s not a huge reduction  – about £34 a year on the fixed charge, plus about £100 a year on consumption charges, but better than nothing! 

So in total we’ll probably save just over £200 a year – not enought o make it a no-brainer investment decision, but certainly a nice bonus for something we were already wanting to do.

What is the Good Life?

In the middle of this dire economic crash, with peak-oil and climate change suggesting that the “best” is now behind us and that a long, slow (or short, quick) decline is what we face, a wonderful movement is being reborn. It shoots can be seen everywhere – in the flowering of Transition Towns across Britain, in the ever-growing waiting lists for allotments that were unwanted just a few years ago, local farmer’s markets sprouting in every town centre, and proposals for 2,012 gardens clinging to London’s rooves. It’s even discussed in the Guardian’s forecasts for 2009. Whatever your particular name for it, it seems that we are being shocked out of our ongoing “Greed is Good” mentality to ” The Good Life is Better”.

But what is this Good Life? I suspect everybody has their own. It depends on what has brought you to this point: increasing prices for petrol, gas, electricity and food? unemployment or financial uncertainty? unease at the origin and safety of your family’s food? concern over your environmental footprint? or a belief in the impending energy shortages that peak oil will bring? Whatever your overall direction or philosophy, frugality, self-sufficiency, and the rediscovery of community seem to be some common themes.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of this, but when it all gets a little too interesting I like to take a step back and think “Isn’t this one of the most exciting times to be alive – to have a chance to shape a future for our children at this pivotal period in our history.”

Bring on an interesting year decade …

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