26 June 2008

Fires and frugal food

I have a secret pleasure at work. It's a pleasure Hanno disapproves of so it makes it all the more special for me. Before you start thinking I've taken leave of my senses, I have to tell you my secret pleasure is a wood heater. It's an old metal fire box in the 1930s house I work in. It's been sitting there like an old worn out battle ship since we moved in March with all manner of things sitting on it, but in the past week I've brought her to life each day with blazing fires that have warmed the house to its core. It's just wonderful how people appreciate and feel comforted by a warm house when it's cold and windy outside.

I would love to have a fireplace at home but Hanno thinks they're dirty and polluting so we have reverse cycle air conditioning, which I think is dirty and polluting. ;- ) Consequently, we don't heat our home and instead start off with many layers of clothes in the morning and shed them during the day. So I am really enjoying the entire process of the fire - building it up each morning, adding more logs, poking it at every opportunity and, of course, just looking at it and feeling the warmth.

It was a busy three days at work this week. We always seem to have more people need us in winter, it's the end of the financial year, we have a lot of new building planning going on and there were about 20 other things thrown in for good measure to keep me engaged and interested. I am lucky to work there surrounded by kind and generous people, and in a position to help so many.

Today I'm at home again. I'll catch up on the washing and do some baking but mostly I'll be sewing. It's birthday season in July and I need to get Shane's quilt finished. I have a lot of emails waiting to be answered so if you've written, I'm not ignoring you, it's just the nature of my days and I hope to reply to you in the next day or two.

We were talking about the cost of lunches yesterday and I was really pleased to read that so many of you are packing lunch boxes. Food is an ongoing cost that everyone has to deal with and with the prices rises so much lately I thought we should continue that theme and see if we can get a few ideas for frugal dinners/suppers. No doubt most of you would have your main meal of the day in the evening, but some would have it around noon. I thought it would be helpful for many of us to concentrate on one main meal and cost that out.

So, my challenge to you is to choose a nutritious hearty meal that you cook for your family, break that meal down into its parts and price it out for us. Post your recipe along with the cost of the ingredients in today's comments. On Monday, I'll use your recipes and food costs to make up my post. It should make a very valuable frugal food guide for us all. Try to make your contribution as short as possible as I think there will be a lot of recipes submitted. I will include a curreny converter in Monday's post so everyone can convert the costs to their own currency. Each post will be added with a link to your blog, if you have one, so make sure you include your blog address.

I would like to welcome all the new readers. If you get a chance, make a comment and say hello. There is a lovely community of readers here and it's nice for all of us to know who is here. There have been well over 100,000 page hits over the past month so I know a lot of you are reading through the archives. If you have a question about an old post, comment in the current post as I never have the time to go back.


  1. You can't beat a fire for warming the cockles!

  2. I'm with Hanno! I took out a hideus oil heater and replaced it with gas central heating. I, too, don't heat my house in the mornings. I figure that we're just here for an hour or two, and we're spending most of that racing around getting ready for school/work so we don't need it on, but at night it's another story. (The quilts I've made mean we don't have to have the heat at tropical levels though!! In Melbourne at the moment it's getting a bit nippy.)
    However, I do have an open fireplace where the oil heater used to be. So far I've never used it... but if gas supplies get short, it's nice to know that we have a back up plan.

  3. Beans and Rice

    Prices in USD. I did the best I could with the metric conversions.

    1 onion, chopped
    1/2 green bell pepper (capsicum), chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tbsp vegetable oil
    1 cup (approx. 180 g) raw white rice
    1-2 cups (approx. 230-500 ml) cooked red or black beans, drained
    1 14 oz (400 g) can tomatoes (any kind), drained, liquid reserved
    Enough chicken broth to make 2 cups (500 ml) with the liquid from the tomatoes
    2 tsp ground cumin
    2 tsp mild chili powder, or a few dried chiles, soaked in hot water and pureed
    1/2 tsp ground coriander (optional)
    1 spoonful tomato paste (optional)
    1/4 lb (1/8 kilo) smoked sausage, sliced

    Heat oil in a heavy pan with a lid. Saute onion, pepper, and garlic until soft. Add sausage, spices, tomatoes, tomato paste; cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have dried out a bit. Add broth, bring to boil, stir in rice and beans. Cover and cook over low heat 30-35 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Serves 3-4.

    Beans-$0.50 (using dried beans at $1/lb); sausage-$0.63; onion and garlic-$0.40; bell pepper-$0.30; rice-$0.30; seasonings and stock cubes-$0.40; tomatoes-$0.54. Total $3.07.

  4. Food Group Glop (my own recipe)

    1lb hamburger - $1.99-2.15 on sale

    2 cups white rice
    (or substitute with white/brown rice and barley mix) - Estimated $.50

    1 bag frozen veggies (Sweet corn, mixed veggies, or broccoli mixes do especially well) - $1.10

    1 10oz package of extra sharp cheddar cheese - $2.50

    I start the rice cooking, often putting in a couple bouillon cubes and/or spices. Then I brown the hamburger, add just a tiny dash of milk, and add the cheese, shredded, by handfuls, mixing it until the cheese appears to 'disappear' and the hamburger 'drippings' turns yellow. I mix the vegetables and hamburger-cheesey mixture all into the rice and stir it all up together.

    Feeds 6-8 for roughly in the neighborhood of $7!

    I got directed here by Anna's Domestic Felicity blog, btw, and am intrigued because "Hanno" is the name of someone in my UT clan and I don't know how popular the name is. :)

  5. You cant beat fish cakes for a warming dish and a frugal one too.

    Cook some potatoes in water - 3-4 med ones.Drain and mash up and add 1 can drained tuna or similar fish. We pay $1.30 for a can. Add a sauteed chopped onion. Salt and pepper and chopped parsley ( we have in garden). If mix is a bit mushy add some breadcrumbs (I make my own) or some flour to stiffen a bit. Form into patties and fry in a med frying pan in some oil or butter. Takes around 3-4 minutes per side. Take care not too not move too much as they can break up a bit. You can also add any herbs or flavourings you like to make them spicy or more tasty. Even different veges and other main ingrediants.
    They would cost around $3 at a guestimate.
    Pumpkin soup is also very good. Saute onion, add chopped pumpkin, stock and water. Simmer till pumpkin is soft. Blend or mash up. Add water or milk to thin down. Season with Salt and pepper and you can add spices etc if you like. I buy pumpkin at the local market and its around 3$ for a big pumpkin. This can make a really big pot of soup. Also freezes well. So the soup itself would cost around $3-$4 for the pot.
    Very nice on a winters day. We can also cook on our wood burner so I often cook our soups and casseroles on the fire.
    Cheers Juanita.

  6. We live in Gympie and we have a Norseman slow combustion fireplace - we light it up at about 4.00 in the afternoon, earlier if it is a grey day and when we go to bed we put a large log on which lasts all night, it is then easy to get going in the morning. We burn fallen timber from our 5 acre block so it is free :) This heater was there when we bought the property but we don't think it is dirty or polluting, it is very cosy and economical. Love your Blog Rhonda, as I am about your age, retired and live fairly near to you it certainly resonates with me.

  7. Carrot Fritters.
    2 tablespoons plain flour 40c
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 clove garlic, crushed 10c
    2 tablespoons chopped parsley
    3 spring onions, thinly sliced 30c
    2 eggs, lightly beaten $1.20
    3 carrots 30c
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 spring onions, thinly sliced length ways to garnish 20c
    yoghurt to serve 15c
    Combine flour, cumin, garlic, parsley and spring onions in a large bowl. Add eggs. Mix well to combine
    Coarsely grate carrots. Squeeze out excess moisture. Add to egg mixture. Season.
    Heat oil in a large fry pan over medium heat. Fry up as fritters with 1/4 cup to each fritter. Cook in batches for 3 minutes each side until golden.
    Serve topped with yoghurt and garnished with spring onions.

    Total $2.65 serves 4 so 67c per serve

  8. A wood stove inserted into the fireplace chimney, a big east-facing window, and morning muffin baking warm this place in the winter - we took out a little gas heater years ago and never replaced it. The only bad part is that a fire MUST be made during the coldest times or our water pipes will freeze.

    Summertime cooling is open windows after sunset, small electric fans in every room (when necessary), a shade hung outside that eastern window, windows closed by 9 am and all with adjustable blinds, lots of trees, and 6" thick block walls.

    We're comfortable year-round, averaging $25 a month.

  9. www.thetinhouse.blogspot.com/
    Swiss Onion Tart

    for the pastry:
    1 cup plain flour
    1 cup SRF
    pinch salt
    125gm butter (1/4 lb)
    cold water
    wizz in a food processor and line an 8inch fluted tart tin. Blind bake for 12 minutes.
    (cost for pastry: 80c)

    for the filling
    2 tbl oil (20c)
    3 med onions sliced ($1..ours are homegrown)
    1/2 cup sour cream (50c)
    2 eggs (50c)
    1/2 cup finely grated swiss cheese (eg. gruyere)(80c)
    cayenne pepper (5c)

    heat oil in pan and add onions. Cook, stirring often over a low heat for 15 mins or until onion is lightly browned and very tender. Spread over pastry base.

    Whisk sour cream and eggs until smooth. Add cheese and stir to combine. pour egg mixture over onion and sprinkle lightly with cayenne pepper. Bake for 40 mins at 180C (350F) or until filling is set.
    Cost of tart: $3.85

    Serve with garden salad: even a purchased bag of salad will cost $3 - ours is garden fresh.

    So - fully costed if you have to buy everything: $6.85
    if you don't: $2.35
    Lisa x

  10. Hi Rhonda,
    What a wonderful post. We LOVE our fireplace and heat with wood all winter. We do have electric heat, but use it very little.
    Nothing like a warm, cozy fire.
    Blessings to you my friend,

  11. I'm new here myself, I just found your blog today, and I'm very interested, since I do many of the things you do (sewing, crafts, from scratch food) and I'm just learning to do some of the things you seem expert on (gardening, keeping hens). I just posted a recipe on my blog with costs for Egg Sandwiches on Bacon & Cheese Biscuits. You're welcome to use it in your post if you'd like, but I'm not sure if it's appropriate since it's breakfast (though breakfast for dinner is one of the most frugal things, and so comforting somehow!) and it's not precisely healthy. I'm looking forward to seeing the other suggestions!

  12. My daughter and I were talking today and she said she had copied your dog biscuit and soap recipes. We love so many of your posts and refer to them often. Several gals did an animal site together - it was a wonderful site full of information. One day it crashed and the girls said they were sorry they just didn't have the time to put all of it together again. Rhonda if you have time please back up your blog so we can enjoy it forever.

  13. I find it challenging to figure out the prices because I used to cook for 5 with leftovers and now it's only for me, with leftovers. This meal is a good and cheap one but my vegetarian son won't eat eggs so he won't eat it.

    This would serve 3 to 4 I think. Or two people twice.

    Hungarian Stacked Potatoes. (Rakott Krumpli)

    Boil six good sized Idaho potatoes and six eggs.(You can do this in one pot.) Make a blend of one cup of sour cream thinned with about 1/2 cup of milk.
    When the eggs and potatoes are done, peel them. In a casserole baking dish put one layer of potatoes, one layer of eggs and salt and pepper. Pour some of the milk mixture over it. Continue til it's all done. Bake at least 1/2 hour at 350degrees Fahrenheit. (About 175 C.)

    I would serve this with a salad or steamed vegetable. In this case, a pound of steamed broccoli.

    Potatoes about $1.00
    Eggs. 1.00 (I buy organic eggs for $2.00 from a neighbor.)
    Sour cream about 75cents.
    Milk about 25cents.
    Broccoli $1.50
    Total about 4.50.

  14. Lentil and Vegetable Cottage Pie (AUS $)

    1 tbs olive oil (18c)
    1 onion, finely chopped (30c)
    2 celery stalks, chopped (53c)
    1 large carrot, chopped (22c)
    2 tsp crushed garlic (10c)
    250g tinned diced tomato (25c)
    2 tsp mixed herbs (20c)
    1 cup (250ml) vegetable stock (85c)
    400g can lentils, rinsed, drained ($1.09)
    800g potatoes, peeled, chopped ($1.00)
    100g unsalted butter (50c)
    1/2 cup (125ml) milk (16c)
    2 egg yolks (27c)
    100g grated cheddar (90c)

    Preheat the oven to 200°C. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat and cook onion for 1-2 minutes. Add celery, carrot and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add pesto, pasta, bay, thyme and stock.
    Simmer gently for 15 minutes until vegetables are cooked. Stir in lentils and season, then transfer to a 1.2-litre baking dish. Meanwhile, cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender.
    Drain and mash. Stir in butter, milk, yolks and cheese. Spread over lentil mixture and roughen top with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbling and golden.

    Total Cost: $6.55. Per Serve: $1.64.

    Even my kids loved this recipe and my extremely fussy daughter went back for thirds!

  15. cfljhHi Rhonda,
    There's nothing like that warmth of an open fire or wood heater...we do have a heatpump though too :(
    The question that I had was about your soap making. I've just been given some money for an upcoming birthday and I thought it would be a great opportunity to set myself up for making my own soaps.
    I was wondering what you grease the moulds with and and also if you don't mind - is that a special mould that you have for your soap making or just an ordinary plastic dish?
    Thanks so much, enjoy your day,

  16. You don't heat your home at all? How cold does it actually get where you are? I probably heat up out house too much and would love to be able to adjust the temperature on a room to room basis but unfortunately the housing association that own our house aren't interested in changing to a more energy efficient heating system.

  17. I yearn for a fire, my husband is like Hanno. My dream kitchen would have a wood stove.

    Our AC isn't working so we are using a gas heater, was taken out of a nursing home before demolishing - it does the job and keeps us warm but it's ugly.

  18. Hi!

    Just wanted to stop by and say how much I've enjoyed reading your posts. My family and I are from Idaho, USA and have to smile when you talk about having a fire in June.....it's been so hot in the 90's here!! :-D

    We also have been trying to look at how we eat and spend our money lately. We are moving in August so we haven't been able to plant a garden but I've been having a lot of fun planning for next year in our new house! I also try to limit car travel and plan my errands better.

    Great recipes, too!

    We don't post daily but we'd still love to have you stop by!

    In Christ,

  19. I actually posted this recipe on my blog (http://myimaginaryblogspot.blogspot.com) on Monday. It is from my Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook (from early 1950s.) It is called Monday Macaroni and uses up leftover meat and vegetables (1 cup of each.) Because the meat and vegetables are leftovers, I did not include them in calculating the cost of the recipe. The entire recipe costs about $2.25 US to feed 6 to 8 people.

    Monday Macaroni

    * 2 Tablespoons butter (17&cent)
    * 1 Tablespoon olive oil (28&cent)
    * 2 minced onions (80&cent)
    * 1 cup finely chopped cooked meat (leftover, so already paid for)
    * 1 small can tomato purée or soup (75&cent)
    * 2 teaspoons minced parsley (minimal cost - free if you garden)
    * bit of bay leaf (minimal cost)
    * 1 cup cooked vegetable (leftover, so already paid for)
    * 1 cup meat stock (free if saved from cooking liquids)
    * 8 ounces uncooked macaroni (25&cent)

    Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Sauté the onion in the butter and olive oil until yellow and soft. Add the meat and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée, parsley and bay leaf. Simmer 15 minutes. Add vegetables and stock. Pour over macaroni and stir before serving. May sprinkle with grated cheese if desired.

    Serves 6 to 8


  20. Hello from New Zealand,
    I've been reading your blog for a couple of months and find it entertaining and informative. I'm a frugal housewife from way back and it is good to see there is a community of us.
    I read your soap making instructions yesterday and am seriously thinking of giving it a go. Why not, I've tried everything else!

  21. I'm in North Carolina..years ago after a big ice storm that took out power my husband and I decided to put in a fireplace for emergency heating, plus it's lovely to sit by with a cup of something and read. After another few years we got a wood stove insert and used that for supplemental heating. We cut our own wood and believe it or not I loved the physical work..it really does warm you several times..when cutting, splitting, loading the truck and finally burning. We finally quit using our oil heating system entirely and I've never gone back. Widowed now,after 39 yrs of marriage, so I buy my wood but still come out way ahead on money spent to heat the house. It is messier at times but nothing warms you up quicker than coming into the house and backing up to the stove. Talk about heaven and if you bake your own bread you will get the best rising of the dough. So now I have the fireplace, in one part of the house, for pretty heat and the woodstove, in another part, for functional heat, best of both worlds.

  22. Well, I know I'm unusual, but my largest meal is breakfast. The rest of the day I just kind of nibble along while I'm working outside, and I don't really have a dinner.

    So here's my recipe for buckwheat pancakes- we eat them with bananas, maple syrup, and local raw honey.

    1.5 cup milk ($5.50 a gallon)
    2 tablespoons butter ($2.75 per pound)
    1 large egg (free for us, but $3.75 for a dozen)
    1 cup buckwheat ($1.75 per pound) (or combination oat flour and buckwheat)
    2 teaspoon baking powder ($2 for way more than we use in a year)
    1.5 table spoons honey (or 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, $3.95 per pound)
    .5 teaspoon salt ($3 for way more than we use in a year)

    Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine egg and milk. Melt butter and honey together, add to wet ingredients, then mix everything together. Pour by 1/3 cup fulls on to a medium heat frying pan, flip when the bubbles near the edge stay open.

    Top with what ever you'd like. Fruit, honey, maple syrup, jam.

  23. Nacho Spuds:

    6 potatoes ($.25???-$2.49 for 5lb bag) sliced fairly thin (not so thin they fall apart when baked)
    3-4T butter ($0.20)
    sprinkle with cumin and s&p

    *toss to coat with oil and seasoning, spread out on tin foil covered baking sheet, back on top shelf of oven on 400 for about 30 minutes or until done (you'll want them a little crisp.

    1 lb ground turkey or beef or chicken ($1.75)
    3 T cumin ($0.10-$1.00 for the whole container)
    1/2 cup water
    1/2 jar of salsa ($1.00)
    -brown meat, add seasoning, salsa and water, let simmer until it starts to get thick.

    Top baked sliced potatoes with meat mixture. Shut off oven.

    Top with 1-2 cups of cheese ($1.00) Stick in (turned off)oven until cheese is bubbly.

    Top with black olives ($0.50 can)
    1 green onion ($0.15) and sour cream ($1.00)

    We serve with lettuce salad and vinegar and oil dressing.

    Serves 6 @ around $8 for everything.

    We make it alot in our home!

  24. When we were looking for a house to buy, my one requirement was a fireplace. I grew up with one and could not imagine not having one to heat with. We also have central heating, but we don't have enough money to upgrade to a more economical model. It's not too efficient. So, I only heat with it, if it is absolutely necessary. I use the fireplace and a reverse fan to send the heat down the hall to the bedrooms, just before we go to bed to warm them up just enough.
    I pack my lunches every day. Every day. At my last job, if I went out to get lunch I would end up picking something up for everyone in the office. While I didn't mind doing it sometimes, everytime was ridulous, and it got old, fast. So I started taking my lunches and made everyone get their own at work. I saved money on food, and gas and could read a few chapters every lunch, so I got my pleasure in too.
    I will work on my economical dinner recipe and send it along tomorrow.
    Thanks for a wonderful blog. You have helped make me mindful of what I am doing these days!

  25. Hi Rhonda
    I love my open fire, one of my favourite things about the winter. Burning wood is also carbon neutral.

    Have a happy day,

    from Pippa

  26. Just stopping by to say hello! I am another reader in the UK, (and another member of the creative living forum too!)

    I love fires, we have a woobdurner and its so comforting in winter, as well as mesmerising to gaze at. I think theres something very primeval about the human respose to fire.. :-)

  27. I only heat my house when I have friends over and we are sitting around. Otherwise if it gets cold I get doing something or I hop into bed and read a bit then go to bed and get up earlier in the morning.


  28. Hi Rhonda,
    The best thing about winter is a wood fire I think.My stove is gas but in winter I can do most of my stove top cooking on my wood heater as it is in the Kitchen.In winter our favorite food for the family is stew with a fresh loaf of home baked bread. The children and I get home late from soccer prac on Wed night and love to come home to the smell of stew thats been simmering all day.I havn't had a chance to cost it out but I'll to later this evening.

  29. Hi,

    I must tell you how much I enjoy your blog - I really look forward to reading it when I get into work. Specially enjoyed your posts on stockpiling - and I've started the process with rice, sugar, soya chunks and teabags.

    I'm with you on the heating - we have two wood burning stoves and the living room and kitchen just don't feel the same without them lit. I live in England so at the moment its warm enough without them. Can't beat a real fire!


  30. When we bought our old house, we took out the oil heater to replace by a little wood stove. That's the only heating system we have and we adore it !
    Even at -30 C in our canadian winters, it can heat our entire two storeys house. The oil heater had never been able to do that.
    And can you imagine that our miniature poodle, Carbon, wakes us when the fire is down ? She likes her comfort !
    Thank you, Rhonda, for sharing your life with us.

  31. Oh how I envy you that little stove, the one thing we have missed so much since we left the cottage is the open fire......mind you had it been a wood burner it would have been far more efficient.

    Years ago when I was married to No 1 husband we had a wood burner out in which fuelled the central heating, boy was that a great stove, I could cook a pan of stew on the top and a circulating pump sent the warmth round the house, I used to leave all the doors open and let the heat just go round the house, we only used the pump to warm the bedrooms before we went to bed and first thing for about half an hour....wonderful thing...

  32. Hi Rhonda,

    I am delurking - been reading your blog for a while now and getting all inspired. I finished work yesterday for the last time (at 26!) to have a baby, and I look forward to making our lives simple, frugal and serving.

    Love Di x

  33. I love a fire, it brings back memories of my mother having one lit on cold winter days when I got in from school. And if it had been raining all day, there would be a pot of pea & ham soup slowly cooking on it.

    I'd give my recipe for pea & ham soup, but I don't know the current cost of ingredients. So, instead here is my tomato & tuna pasta - very cheap to make, with ingredients I always have stockpiled.

    One can tomatoes (49c at Aldi)
    One small can tuna - ($1.50)
    one onion - (30c)
    1 tbsp olive oil (10c? we buy in bulk)
    1 bag pasta (59c)

    Heat the oil, slowly saute the chopped onion for about 5 minutes - soften the onion, don't brown.

    Add the can of tomatoes, turn the heat up & cook for about 10 minutes. Flavour with some pepper to taste.

    Drain the tuna (I think one packed in olive oil tastes better in this dish, rather than one packed in water), flake it slightly with a fork & stir into tomato mix. Toss in some chopped parsley if you have some available in the garden. Cook for about 5 minutes.

    Meanwhile, boil a pot of water, toss in the pasta & cook.

    Drain pasta, serve with the tuna/tomato sauce.

    This serves our family of 2 adults & 3 children (who only like a small amount of the sauce but will demolish a huge amount of pasta to make up for it) for just under $3. To serve a few more people, just add an extra can of tomatoes; to serve lots more you will also need to add more tuna.

  34. Sorry Rhonda, It seems Hanno is right about his suspicions. This is from a NZ leaflet about wood burners:
    Did you know?
    • Combustion of wood in domestic wood burners typically contributes 80-90% of fine particles in the air.
    • Smoke from burning wood is especially harmful to children and people with respiratory health problems.
    • If everyone in Auckland lit their wood burner for one
    night the air pollution released would be equivalent to running 90,000 cars for one year.

    Some types of wood (painted, treated, driftwood) should not be burned at all. I have heard of people in the UK who run their burners on scrap wood, which may of course have been pre-treated.



  35. Split pea soup
    1 kg split green peas soaked in cold water 8 hours ($2.28)
    2 medium onions diced (50c)
    2 large heavy carrots peeled and sliced (40c)
    ½ bunch celery sliced ($1.85)
    1 litre vegetable stock ($2.79, less for homemade)
    salt and black pepper to taste

    Drain peas and rinse until water runs clear.
    Add all ingredients to a very large stock pot plus another litre of water.
    Bring to a rolling boil then a low simmer for 1 hour 15 mins.
    Use a stick blender to puree all.
    Reheat and serve 4.

    Leave pot (with heat off) on stove overnight to mature (in cool weather only!) Next morning add another 750ml-1 litre of water as the soup will be very very thick and can afford to be thinned a little. Stir well.

    Adding bacon bones to the soup will raise the per serving cost only a little.

    12 servings. Cost per serve .69c.

  36. Hello, am liking your blog, and advice! I'm a new reader from the UK, where its hot at the moment! Got totally confused about why you'd have your heat on for a minute..

  37. Here in Michigan, U.S. heating our homes are a big part of our energy costs. We've been burning more wood during the winter and I always keep at least one ceiling fan on to circulate the hot air. The whole house stays a comfortable 65 degrees. We're constantly doing things so we don't sit down too much.

    My husband loves splitting wood as he gets a great workout and feels like he's truly contributing to the household. We've had a good number of storms in the last year so fallen wood is plentiful. We also have a 4 acre woodlot but we haven't had to touch that for any wood yet.

    This summer we're going to look at having a fireplace insert installed so we can heat with wood more and more efficiently.

    Thank you for all the work you do with the posts and keep up the good work.

  38. Hi Rhonda,
    I'm with you. I love a fireplace. We used to have one in our other house and it was lovely. Living in Canada we have central heat and central air conditioning. We do have extreme temperatures here so it is necessary. Down to minus 35 celcius in the winter and up to over 30 celcius in summer.
    Here is my recipe for frugal mostly vegetable chili. We love it with a garden salad.
    (Canadian Prices)

    1/2 pound ground turkey ($1.50)
    1 large can tomatoes ($ .69)
    1 large can kidney beans ($ .49)
    1 large can white beans ($ .49)
    2 large onions, chopped ($ .50)
    2 green peppers (capsicum), chopped ($1.20)
    1 large carrot, grated ($ .20)
    2 cloves garlic, minced ($ .10)
    1 Tbsp chili powder
    1 tsp. black pepper
    1 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. hot sauce (more if wanted)
    1 tbsp. olive oil

    Saute onions, peppers in olive oil until translucent. Add ground turkey and brown. Add remaining ingredients except canned beans and gently simmer for 1 hour. Add canned beans and simmer additional 15 mins. Taste and adjust seasoning and chili powder.

    Serve with a green salad. ($2.50)
    Serves 6

    Price: $5.17 or $.86 a serving without salad
    $7.67 or $1.27 a serving including store bought salad

    We can actually get 8 servings out of this recipe.

    Very little meat and my husband doesn`t complain that it`s vegetarian.

  39. I will post and say hello. I have been reading here for weeks and am so inspired by all I have learned. Thank you!

  40. IN our old condo we had a 2 sides gas fireplace and we never turned on the heat except for at night a tiny bit. That fire went on when my feet hit the floor and went off at bedtime and was so cozy a warm!

  41. Hello to the new readers and to the lurkers.

    There are some wonderful recipes here. Thanks for sharing them with us. I'll certaily be trying some of them. I'll make them into a post on Monday and keep the link on the home page.

    If you want your blog linked, make sure that info is in your post or your name is linked. That gives us more to read too. ;- )

  42. I love your site as well. I have been doing some sample reading for the past few weeks, but this is my first comment –
    We have a wood burning fire place at my cabin (much needed even in the summer up here in Canada). It is in the center of the cabin, and is cone shaped black metal which radiates a lot of heat (we do need to be super careful not to touch it though!) – 2-3 logs is all you need to warm up the whole cabin and keep it warm for 1-1 1/2 hours. I love it because nothing replaces the smell and sound of wood burning!

    My recipe – usually have this for lunch all the time – but now I love it for dinner as well.

    Summer Salad – (for 2)
    40 almonds ~ 90 grams ~ 1/5 pound @ $6/pound = $1.20
    2 cups Spinach (squashed down) ~ 1/3 bag @ $4.99/bag = $1.67
    ½ cup tomatoes (or from your tomato plant) ~ $ 0.90
    1 Tbsp Rice vinegar ~ 14ml ~ 1/35 bottle@ 4.99/bottle = $0.14
    ½ cup broccoli ~ ¼ head ~ ¾ pound @$1.5/pound
    ¼ cup Raisins ~ 1/8 pound @$2.99/pound = $.39
    Grand total = $5.8/ 2
    I also add some cooked and cooled potatoes when I am really hungry or some left over meat if I have some. The almonds really fill you up though.

  43. I'm with you!!! I simply LOVE wood heat! I hated it growing up because my father loved it. He passed away the year we built this house and after one winter, I couldn't wait to have a wood stove installed. I wish he could see me now. I love the whole process,lighting it, the heat, the poking, the glow, the crackle. Call me crazy but I love to knit and drink tea the by the fire in winter.

  44. Hello again Rhonda,
    Please ignore my questions about soap making...I've just read the instructions through thoroughly again and the answers are right there - I must have been too excited the first time and missed them :)
    I have all the ingredients now - just have to hunt down the coconut oil and I'll be soap making.

  45. We are at home pretty much all the time, and it gets pretty cold, wet and miserable here in the Welsh winter, so we have a wood burning stove in the sitting room and I have to confess, I worship it in the winter months! We have recently discovered that we can burn just tightly-rolled newspapers and get a decent heat - enough to take the chill off the room of an evening (and yes, this is the great British SUMMER here). So we don't need to take the newspapers for recycling now, we will just burn them late afternoon and have a "proper fire" in the evening. With the price of oil (and the fact we have oil central heating and a big rambling old farmhouse) we have to cut corners every way we can to save on fuel.

    We have a copse on our land, and areas of trees bordering a stream and around the ring fence of our 5 acres too, so can utilise some of that to burn.

    Looks like there are some interesting recipes turning up on here. I cook from scratch too, do all my own baking, preserves, chutneys, pickles, wines etc.

  46. Mums Excellent Fried Rice:
    4-6 cups cooked rice (any sort)
    4 (or more) eggs
    2 (or more) big onions
    6-8 mushrooms (any type)
    2 rashers of bacon or any left over ham or cooked meat, (if you are a meat eater)
    Any fresh, tinned or frozen vegies such as corn, peas, shredded cabbage, green beans, carrots, broccoli or caulflower (all chopped about 1cm or half inch squares).
    Just DON'T use soft vegies like pumpkin or potatoes.
    Get out a big frypan or pot (one with a close fitting lid), put a little oil, marge, fat or butter in pan, beat up eggs and cook them like an omelet, then remove them and cut into squares 1cm or half inch wide and put the squares of cooked egg aside in a dish.
    Next throw in a little more oil and then add the chopped onions and any chopped meats (about 1cm, or half inch square), get the onions brown and then throw in the chopped mushrooms.
    Give the mushrooms a minute or two to cook and then turn down the heat to moderate and start putting in the vegies, if some are frozen put them in first as a layer on top of the onion /meat /mushroom mixture, then layer with the fresh vegies and then the tinned (and drained) vegies.
    On top of these put the chopped cooked omelette and then place the cooked rice in the top layer of the pot and place the lid on the frypan or pot.
    Now make sure the flame or heat is not too high at this stage, you only need about 10-15 minutes and all the vegetables will be cooked through.
    Give it a good but gentle mix with a big serving spoon after 10 minutes and just taste test to see if vegies are all cooked, if not put the lid back on and give it another couple of minutes.
    However you don't want the cooked rice to go mushy so don't walk away and forget it at this stage as you are about to serve it up!!!
    Now season to your taste with soy sauce, salt and black pepper and get out your largest soup plates or bowls.
    Pile the fired rice high in the bowls and call in the hordes!!!!!!!!!!
    The best thing about this recipe is that it can be made up with just the basics, the cooked rice, the onions and one or two other vegies plus the soy sauce.
    But the really really terrific thing is that if the numbers for dinner suddenly increase just add more of the most bulky ingredient you have left (like more rice, fried onions or half a shredded cabbage). There were seven of us at home and we absolutely loved mums fried rice.
    Probable cost 50c a serve or less!


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