Thinking about what I might talk to you about, I thought, oh, I know, I’ll do one of those list thingys of the 10 best ladles or something. As we’re all about making something tasty from scratch here, rather than buying ready made, a list of things to make instead of buy was the obvious choice. I’ll do a list of what you can make instead of buy thinks I. Well, blimey, I only thought about it for 5 minutes and I had a list of 25 things! It would take me all week to write that up! I also asked the question on Facebook and got even more ideas, many of which I would need to test intensively before I could write it up! Or maybe, I could write a linky post, linking to people who have tested intensively. Perhaps it’s a little unrealistic of me to expect to know all these things myself. The list currently runs to 60+ items. So I’ve split up the list kept a record of all the other items on it, and here are a random mixture of 5 of them.
1. Pasta sauce
A basic pasta sauce is extremely easy to make. Sauté a chopped onion in a splash of oil until soft, add some garlic if you like, from a tube may be best, specially if you are unused to cooking. Tip in a tin of value tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for ten minutes or so and taste. You may need half a tsp of sugar depending on the acidity of the tomatoes. If you like a smooth sauce, blitz it with a stick blender. If you have any fresh basil, tear in a few leaves now. Cost – about 35p, much cheaper than anything you can buy, and much tastier too. Serves 2 to 3. Use fresh tomatoes when available for an even tastier version.
Cook your pasta and stir your sauce through the drained pasta in the saucepan before tipping it into serving dishe(s) for the Italian way of serving. Grate or flake over a little Parmesan, grana padano (the cheaper version of Parmesan) or use cheddar which works fine, especially if extra mature.
Customise it by adding other things to it. Stir through some of my favourite ingredient, value soft cheese, for a version that tastes remarkably like mascarpone. Chop in a few mushrooms. Top your dressed pasta with some toasted pine nuts or raw peanuts that have been gently fried.
This is a basic pasta sauce. Many, many different things can be used to make a pasta sauce. For instance, flake some value smoked mackerel and mix with value cream cheese and use as a pasta sauce. Zest in some lemon skin if you have any. Or, roast some root vegetables in oil and garlic. Blitz to a smooth paste, mix with cream or cream cheese and stir through pasta.
Once you’ve made hummus at home, will you ever want the bought version again? For the smoothest version, you’ll need a food processor, stick blender or similar. Although if the chick peas are soft enough, you can mash them with a fork.
Drain a tin of chickpeas, or for an even cheaper version, soak and cook some dried ones until very soft. Tip the chickpeas into the food processor or jug, add about 125ml of olive oil and blitz. Add the zest and a squeeze of lemon juice and a good squirt of garlic paste or equivalent. If you have any, add several tablespoons of tahini or a little peanut butter, which tastes amazingly similar. I have successfully made this with just water and it didn’t taste that different, so you could do that if you want a low fat version, or use rapeseed oil, cheaper than olive oil.
That’s the classic version. You can do exactly the same using any kinds of beans. Change it up by adding caramelised onions, roasted veg, bottled roast peppers, any of the miso’s. Or use a higher proportion of veg. Use half the amount of chick peas and add a value pack of beetroot, maybe some horseradish or chutney. A favourite chutney of mine is Pataks Brinjal (aubergine). You could add a tbslp of that to an ordinary hummus to get a completely different flavour.
All sorts of things can be added to ring the changes. Drain and rinse a tin of value baked beans and use those in place of the chickpeas for an extra cheap hummus.
All hummus freeze very well. So they could be frozen in small pots ready to be grabbed for a packed lunch, or make a sandwich, generously filled with hummus and wrap and freeze.
I found this wonderful infographic on Pinterest for hummus. It shows lots of different versions, and I will definitely be trying several of them. In particular the Ranch and the Italian.
Pesto is one of the most favourite things for a rapid and tasty tea. And although it isn’t wildly expensive to buy a pot of pesto, make it at home and a whole world of inexpensive pesto’s opens up to you. I have found that a delicious pesto can be made by adding lots of basil to a variety of things. Make pesto with a head of broccoli or even cauliflower stalks, or spring greens, and you will be having more veg too, always a good thing, and as pesto pasta is a kids favourite, maybe getting them to eat more veg too. Then there is one of the first posts here, wild garlic pesto, or more recently sage, lemon and pumpkin seed, or rocket, watercress, basil and sunflower seed. All pesto’s freeze extremely well. Store them in containers that are 1 meal size for your family unit and you practically have a ready meal right there.
I love a generous spread of pesto on toast, or in a sandwich, with or without value cream cheese.
4. Gourmet ice cream
A while ago, I experimented with a tin of condensed milk and discovered that condensed milk, double cream and thick greek yogurt make easy peasy gelato. No machinery is required for this, it’s just mix and freeze. I’ve discovered many delightful variations along the way. The chocolate one and the lemon one being my favourites, Mike would also add the Ovaltine one. I can’t have either the chocolate or Ovaltine of course, just a little taste.
So for gourmet ice cream, I would add maybe cocoa powder, crushed maltsers, and some caramel. Or make a luscious fruit compote, nice and thick, maybe with some alcohol in it, and ripple it through. Or do a rocky road one with chocolate, marshmallows, small chunks of honeycomb, crushed biscuit etc. Or mix in lots of lemon zest and juice, crushed meringue and lemon curd. Or for that classic combination, flavour the ice cream with coffee and mix through some fine chopped walnuts, maybe serve with some coffee syrup.
5. Fish cakes
We’ve made several different fish cakes on Thrifty Lesley. Some used a tin of sardines in tomato sauce, some a tin of tuna and some a bit of salmon. Fish cakes are pretty easy to make, much cheaper than bought and freeze very well too. You can also introduce flavour variations with lemon zest, sun dried tomatoes and you can use breadcrumbs, or not, as you like.
Well, that’s our first 5. Linky post next time to all kinds of home made cleaning type products.