Monday 30 November 2015

Nit picking the gluten free issue

For the past few years, there has been a surge in gluten/wheat free eating. A recent commentator wondered whether it is yet another diet fad?

There are articles galore on this issue, but this one helps explain (see here) the differences between having Coeliac Disease (an auto immune condition), and having wheat intolerance. Wheat allergy is different again and the same authors speak about that here.

Going gluten free when you don't really need to (ie believing you have coeliac disease, wheat allergy or wheat intolerance), can cause issues of its own, see this American article here.

What is one to believe or to do, if having dietry issues?

For a start, if you think you might have Coeliac Disease, consider going to see your doctor. A blood test can help diagnose it - unfortunately you need to be eating a gluten rich diet for it to be 100% accurate from what I have read.

It is estimated in the UK, that 1 to 2 out of 100 people have this auto-immune disorder with an estimated 24% still un-diagnosed. A follow up endoscopy is needed to really confirm the diagnosis, as it is in your small intestine that the damage often shows up.

Having read the articles, I think if you had wheat allergy you would probably already be aware of it if you experienced an acute reaction. If not, you may eventually become aware of it, but maybe not until it has affected you for some time.

Wheat intolerance is different again, ranging from mild to adverse effects, similar to Coeliac Disease.

Going without wheat, which is a huge part of our everyday eating, may lead to other problems, according to the American article above, such as deficiencies in iron, calcium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate and may potentially cause a decrease in the amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut (Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus), which can negatively impact the immune system.

Here are just a few, of the many wheat alternatives which may help replace some of these losses:

Sorghum flour which is high in iron, protein, fibre and antioxidants.
Teff flour is high in minerals, calcium, high in fibre, iron and protein.
Garbanzo flour is high in protein and fibre.
Maize flour is high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.

You could also argue that taking a daily dose of probiotics as well as a multi-vitamin and mineral pill would also replace what is lacking. Chosing to do it that way rather than by food, is entirely up to you.

As for me, I don't believe I have Coeliac Disease or a wheat allergy. I might not even have a wheat intolerance. I do have however, a few long term mild symptoms, that have built up through the years. Until I knew that one of our Christmas guests was gluten free, I had never thought much about it. Now I have!

I am actually enjoying GF baking and trying to get to grips with it all. Yes, I am probably going OTT for such a short time of having a GF guest. However, investigating all these alternatives has made a difference to some of my symptoms. Being gluten free has helped with my guest's symptoms. I might even decide to go GF or mix these other flours into our wheat based ones!

A fad, who knows, who cares!  I shall carrying on investigating, playing with ingredients and seeing where it takes me. Life is all about travelling roads and seeing where they take you:)

Sunday 29 November 2015

We have won!

Team GB have beaten Belgium in the final of The Davis Cup. To those who don't know what that is, it is the World Cup of tennis. This is the first time we have won since 1936, a long, often once in a lifetime event.

This end has ended a 79 year drought. All hail the lads, well done:)

Saturday 28 November 2015

GF Farmhouse Seeded Bread - semi successful

I thought I would have a go at a different GF bread, hoping after reading, that I could make some rolls. Nope! Here is where the recipe came from Farmhouse Seeded Bread

I decided to make 1/2 a batch just in case it didn't work properly and also because we had no psyllium husks, so I needed to substitute those with ground golden linseed!

It was supposed to eventually be just sticky with the addition of 1/4 to 1/2 a cup more of flour. Nope! Eventually, I gave up and left it in the bowl:(

Here is the first stage, ready to prove:
It took an age to prove but at least it did that okay. However, it was still very sticky and there was no way it would be able to be formed into rolls or even into a free form loaf.

The only thing I could do with it was to put it in a lined silicon loaf tin, in 4 balls, still hoping that somewhere along the line, the loaf could be broken into 4! It was put to one side for another hour to prove which it did half heartedly.

This time, the timing of 40 minutes at 200C was okay but it was not brown like her loaf was. Herewith a sideways shot:
Here from the top - a weird colour:
We sliced it and ate it over the next two days with soup. Texture was exceedingly gummy, taste was not great but it was edible. I think some of the problems with these GF recipes it that they have created their own bread flours from various things. Most of us can only buy a bag of GF flour ready prepared, we don't have any choice as it what is in it! Onwards and upwards.

We shall be enjoying the tennis Davis Cup final all this weekend. I thought Kyle might have clinched it yesterday after going 2 - 0 up but I think he just ran out of steam as he normally plays on the less taxing Challenger tours. Still, a very good start and I think he will just get better and better over the next few years.

Andy did well but I think we really need to win the doubles today to give us any chance. Either way, win or lose, we know we will have done our best.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday 26 November 2015

Lunch is served

Still feeling the need to be eating soup in this dismal weather, we didn't quite have enough for a bowlful each so had some in a mug with a toasted cheese sandwich:
To tide us over until tea time, we had a milky drink with a mince pie in the mid afternoon.

I have updated our menu for last week.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

GF Orange 'Bakewell' Tarts

Welcome to Katherine Hodge via Bloglovin.

Six of these are for Christmas, the rest for us to eat over the next few days.

Using 1 1/2 times the GF pastry mix used in the mince pies, see here
I found it easier to use 1 large rather than 1 1/2 medium eggs to bind it all together. In fact, just a little less than 1 large egg sufficed.

After being cooled in the fridge for 10 minutes, the pastry was cut in half, each half rolled and re-rolled to get 12 large cicles for the tins. The tins had been greased with lard and GF flour. I find greasing the pans with butter, it seems to boil out during baking:
Each pastry shell was filled with a level teaspoon of home made marmalade:
They were topped with a mixture of 3oz of ground almonds, 2oz sugar, mixed together with a medium egg and 4 - 5 drops of orange oil extract.

Two rounded teaspoons of this mix was put on top of each base before they were baked for 25 minutes at 200C:
They look and smell lovely.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Christmas Baking...

Our all in food, toiletries etc spending for this last month is only just above our normal rate of £130 per month for everything, coming in at £132.56. That included getting all the ingredients for the baking below, and everything I shall need to make a GF cake and puddings.

It will be higher next month when we buy the meat for Christmas day, other meat has already been bought in the above total. Mind you, we might be able to offset that by eating out the freezer for a few days, which we need to do to make room for all this baking!

Finally got around to making the Christmas Dundee cake, not GF free as our visitor doesn't eat this type of cake or pudding:
I made it slightly smaller than normal so I could make two 'Christmas puddings' from the mixture. Just got to keep feeding it with whisky now each week. I shan't be decorating it as none of us are too keen on icing although most of us love marzipan - maybe some marzipan:)

Also made some more mince pies, this time GF and not GF:

I used a large egg to make the GF pastry and it only requires a medium one. The leftover was brushed on the top (GF first so as not to contaminate) then baked for 25 minutes at 200C. Hardly any difference in looks or taste - the GF ones are on the left.

Another 6 non GF were baked and the remaining pastry filled with a little cheese to make some cheese squares to eat with our soup for lunch:

Monday 23 November 2015

Drinking Chocolate

We lit our wood burner for the first time this year on Saturday afternoon. Judging by the weather forecast, the weather should warm up more towards the end of the week so after lighting it again yesterday, we might not need it again for a while!

For a while now I have been making my own drinking chocolate as I have grown to dislike the artificial tasting bought stuff.

A bar of dark chocolate, 70% plus is chopped into bits and put into a mini processor:
Whizzed up bit by bit:
Then stored in a jar:
The jar above is actually full but I knocked it over before photographing and forgot to level it again! I use 3 - 4 teaspoons in a mug of hot milk.

The bar of chocolate weighed 100g and cost £1.15 from Lidl. It contains:

Cocoa mass 72% [Sugar, Cocoa butter, Cocoa powder], Vanilla flovouring.

Although there is 26% sugar (according to the label) in the above chocolate, 3.5% of it is starch, 10.6% fibre and 7.6% protein. Each 15g - 20g serving contains between 4.1g - 5.5g of sugar as broken down above, a smidge under or over 1 teaspoon. No more sugar is needed as the mug of hot chocolate tastes sweet enough.

Cadbury drinking chocolate, my old drinking chocolate costs 60p per 100g and contains:

Sugar, Cocoa Powder 25% minimum, Salt, Flavouring.

What I can't fathom out is the look of drinking chocolate, is it nearly 75% sugar if there is only 25% cocoa in it? Each 18g serving (according to online date) contains 13g sugar - that is just over 2.5 teaspoons per mug.

Okay, my home made drinking chocolate costs nearly twice as much but the taste of the home made is much nicer, really decadent and as an occasionaly treat, I know which one I prefer.

Friday 20 November 2015

Gluten Free Comparisons...

Welcome to Lavender Rosemary via here.

I thought I would show you the comparison between bought and homemade GF bread, and bought and homemade GF pastry products, as that is what I have baked so far.

Bought GF white bread:
Maize Starch, Water, Potato Starch, Tapioca Starch, Rapeseed Oil, Humectant: Vegetable Glycerol; Psyllium Husk Powder, Yeast, Stabiliser: Hydroxypropyl Methyl Cellulose; Ground Golden Flaxseed, Free Range Dried Egg White, Rice Flour, Dextrose, Iodised Salt: Salt, Potassium Iodate; Fermented Maize Starch, Partially Inverted Sugar Syrup, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Iron, Riboflavin, Thiamin, Folic Acid.

Home made bread:

Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Starch, Maize Flour, Buckwheat Flour, Xanthan gum, linseed, salt, milk, egg, butter, vinegar, honey, yeast.

Obviously I can't add the 5 vitamins that they have added at the end of their list.

Same bread brand bought pastry: here

Margarine (Palm Oil, Water, Rapeseed Oil, Emulsifier (Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids), Salt), Tapioca Starch, Maize Starch, Water, Egg, Stabilisers (Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum), Salt, Rice Flour.

Another brand bought pastry: here

Maize Starch, Margarine [Palm Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Water], Emulsifiers: (Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Esters of Fatty Acids, Polyglycol), Salt, Antioxidant: (Ascorbyl Palmitate, Extracts of Tocopherols), Aroma, Acidity Regulator: (Citric Acid), Colour: (Beta-Carotene)], Lard, Rice Flour, Water, Pasteurised Whole Egg, Glucose, Whey Powder (Milk), Potato Starch, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Disodium Diphosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Salt.

UK brand pastry P & P here:

Rice flour, potato starch, gram flour, non-hydrogenated vegetable margarine (palm oil, rapeseed, water, salt, emulsifier: E471), water, egg, xanthan gum, disodium diphosphate, sodium hydrogen carbonate.

Home made pastry:

Gluten Free Plain Flour, butter/fat, egg, Xanthan Gum or linseed, salt, Orange zest.

Quite a difference isn't there? The UK brand seems to only be available via post if you don't live near the shop and the P & P is quite high. The other 2 brands can be bought in the supermarkets though you have to hunt to find them. Personally, I am not sure I would want to use them.

If working full time and can't do with the faff of making either product, then yes, I can see why you would buy them. Being at home, and if I was GF, I think I would want to try making them and hope I got better at it with each try.

If you have other allergies such as dairy, gum or are vegan, you would be making them as well.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Thursday 19 November 2015

Gluten Free Bread Trial - almost successful - UPDATED

Having read numerous sites on gluten free bread making, most were dire in their early experiments. Often reporting 'best learn to bake other things before tackling bread'.


Although I have planned on buying the requested GF bread, having flour leftover from other GF baking, thought I would give bread making a go. Although I used a recipe off a web site, they had linked back to the original which is here

Go down to Champion Sandwich bread for the original recipe - which I had to adapt as I didn't have everything needed! However, if you decide you want to make up the Brown Rice flour blend from scratch, here in the UK some changes are needed:

1 1/3rd cup brown rice flour
1 1/3rd cup tapioca starch/flour (interchangeable)
1 1/3rd cup cornstarch - British cornflour, the kind we use to thicken sauces
1 tablespoon potato flour - here use dried potato flakes

Here is my version for 1 loaf rather than 2. Make sure everything is room temperature:

2 level cups of GF Plain Flour (Asda in my case - no bean flour in it)
1/2 level tablespoon xanthan gum
1/2 level tablespoon ground linseed steeped in 1 tablespoon boiling water
1 level teaspoon salt
1/4 level cup powdered milk
1 1/2 large beaten eggs (One egg was beaten then measured, it filled a 1/4 cup so half was used plus another whole egg)
1 dessertspoon of butter
1 teaspoon vinegar - not malt
1 dessertspoon of honey
1 slightly rounded teaspoon of instant - put in the flour kind of yeast as it was all I had
1 cup of warm water.


Grease a loaf tin.
Mix together in a bowl, the yeast, flour, xanthan gum, powdered milk and salt.
In an electric mixer bowl on low speed and using the paddle attachment, (you will need an electric mixer or very strong muscles to beat this enough!) mix together the vinegar, butter, honey and eggs for 30 seconds.

Add half the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.
Add the other half and mix for 30 seconds or until fully blended.
With the mixer turning still on low speed, gradually add the cup of warm water until used. Once fully blended in, increase the speed to medium and blend for another 4 minutes.
Your mix should look like a cake mix or very thick batter:
Scoop it all out into your loaf pan and with wet fingers, gently smooth the top:

This next bit is where things didn't time out the same.

The recipe suggests leaving the mix for 50 to 60 minutes in a warm place. I covered mine with greased cling film and put it into the airing cupboard but after an hour, nothing had happened. If you have a proving drawer you are onto a winner here!

I don't so did it the hard way.

I put my small top oven onto its lowest setting, when the light went out, I switched it off, put in a bowl of boiling water on the bottom shelf, placed the bread on the top (making sure the oven did not feel too hot otherwise it would kill the yeast before it would have chance to get going) and draped a tea towel over the bread. A bit fiddly but it kind of creates a tent. I had to do this twice.

Once risen to just above the tin, remove from the oven carefully (treat it a bit like a souffle at this stage), turn the oven to 190C. When ready place your loaf pan in:

Here again, I went a little astray.

It says to cook the loaf for 50 to 60 minutes. Mine went brown after 20 minutes so I inserted the thermometer into it and it read 98C. I had misread the recipe which says when it reads 200 it is ready. Obviously they meant 200F rather than 200C. Eventually I got to 200F in about 30 minutes, by which time it was getting very brown.

I left it to cool in the tin and had a real struggle getting it out (I shall use my silicone pan next time). Eventually it came out and it was left to go cold:
As you can see, not anywhere near as tall as a normal loaf and certainly nothing like the ones on the web site!

However we got around that slightly by trimming of the bottom and sides. It was cut in half then sliced along its longer side to give decent sized slices. We got 8 and the trimmings were made into breadcrumbs:
It is very springy, like normal bread. How did it taste? Well, we both had some of the trimmed top and were impressed. DB even remarked "I could happily eat that"

I can't really work out what it cost for those precious 8 slices - maybe around £1.30, but reckon with more practice (if I needed to), they would get taller and less brown so more slices, maybe 10 or 12 might be available.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Gluten Free Mince Pie success

Welcome to Wendymac via Bloglovin.

Another day dawned. Despite it being one of those days when anything that could go wrong, did so, both in and out the kitchen, I carried on!

I had read many different recipes on how to make GF pastry, loads of dire warning etc so was a little apprehensive. In the end, I made up my own recipe:

4oz Gluten Free Plain Flour
1oz of cold butter
1oz cold lard or other white fat or even all butter.
1 medium beaten egg
A good pinch of Xanthan Gum powder (maybe 1/8th a teaspoon)
A little pinch of salt
Fine zest from 1/4 of an orange

Sieve the flour, salt and gum together. Rub in the fats until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add all the zest, stir in, then the egg bit by bit. I needed to use it all but you might not need to. If still just too dry, use a smidge of cold water to bring it all together.

When gathered roughly together, gently form into a flattened ball, wrap in a large piece of cling-film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Once time was up, I set the oven to 190C. A large piece of cling-film was laid on the worktop. The pastry was un-wrapped and laid in the middle. The piece of cling-film used as a wrapping was opened out and laid on top - trying to reduce waste!

The pastry was gently rolled out in both directions until the thickness of a £1 coin (1/8th"). Using two different sized biscuit cutters (2.5" and 3"), I cut out 5 large discs and the same amount of the smaller ones.

It had to be re-rolled to achieve this, as well as the 6th large and small circles.  Each time doing so in-between the cling-film.

I greased 6 parts of a tray used for mince pie, jam tarts etc, then used GF flour to dust them. Each large circle was carefully picked up and put inside the tin. Rather than pushing the centre as I would normall do, I kind of cupped the outer edge of the circle to 'entice' it into the tin.

Each was filled with mincemeat (GF), before the tops were added. I used a quick brush of milk to attach them to the bases, then lightly brushed each lid and sprinkled on a little sugar:

The were baked for 20 minutes, though  I might bake them for 25 minutes next time to see if they would colour a little more. Some recipes ask you to leave them in the tin until cold, though these were stable enough to carefully lift out the tin to cool.:

Apart from one sliding off onto the floor (back left), for a first attempt they looked okay.

We tasted the one that fell off (still almost intact) which had a thicker layer of pastry (R), against the final one that used all the scraps and was thinner (L):
We were both surprised to find they tasted almost like normal ones and overall, were impressed. There was no discernable difference in taste or texture due to pastry thickness. They were a little pale so I will use a little beaten egg on their tops next time.

4 have been frozen for Christmas, some more will be made later, as well as some non GF versions for us.

A small amount of people cannot tolerate Xanthan, Guar or other forms of gum. This site here explains it in more detail and suggests what else to use.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Gluten Free Baking Trials and tribulations

Not having any ingredients in the house to make my own flour or pastry, I decided to use a loaf of GF bread as a trial.

The first thing made was a bread and butter pudding, seen here before baking:
I cooked it for the normal length of time and temperature. Once cooked it was well risen though an odd grey in colour probably due to using a wholemeal version of bread. Taste wise for us, it wasn't too bad at all:

Don't think I will make it again though as the GF person doesn't like custard. Maybe because it was a GF loaf, it didn't suck up enough of the egg and milk mixture so was a mix of eggy bread and omelette in its texture!

Removing crusts from more (falling apart?) slices of bread, I rolled them out and used cutters to make two large and small circles for a mince pie trial. There was no discernable colour change (still grey after cooking) once cooked. Taste wise, again not too bad but the texture was odd, a little like a toasted mincemeat sandwich!
The final trial was a small amount of shortbread. I used butter, almonds, gram and cornflour. They were then divided into 8 balls and pressed flat before baking.

Unfortunately once in the oven, I discovered the sugar still sitting in a bowl:(

Once cooked, they crumbled badly once picked up, tasted awful (not surprising with the lack of sugar and overpowering taste of gram flour) and ended up in the bin. They couldn't even be rescued by some custard:
Ah well, the next batch must be better!

Monday 16 November 2015

New Soap Flakes, ATP tennis, Menu Update - Updated

The 2 boxes of soap flakes I ordered, arrived after 4 days:
I have no need to use them for quite a while but when I do, will let you know how they work out!

It is such a shame that the BBC have chosen, for whatever reason, to only show the tennis from 2pm to 5pm. They are not showing any doubles that are on at midday, or presumably any matches in the evening. What is the point? How would football or rugby fans feel if they only got half a match.

If you have Sky Sports or Tennis TV or any other type of pay sports package, you are okay, the rest of the country is stuffed. We are lucky to have paid until the end of November on the middle one, so internet connection not withstanding, should be able to watch the matches not shown on the BBC.

They may of course change the schedule, to accommodate evening matches showing Andy, though I doubt it but you never know. It looks like, yet again, Jamie will be left out in the cold for the most part, unless he has an afternoon match.

Well done to Jamie and John Peers for hanging on in the tie break to take the win. I have updated our menu tab for last week.

Also well done to Kyle Edmund on his win on clay, Dan Evans and James Ward for their wins on hard courts. I'm hoping Kyle will be chosen for the Davis Cup, unless Aljaz Bedene wins his appeal (probably unlikely), as he is ranked higher than Kyle. Tomorrow we will know.

Good luck today Andy - well done Andy!

Saturday 14 November 2015


My heart and thoughts go out to those families in Paris who have lost loved ones and to those families and individuals injured in this terrorist attack.

Friday 13 November 2015

Christmas Catering

Welcome to Dina Beaulieu via Bloglovin.

My current £30 weekly food/toiletries spend will rise as I start to factor in items needed for Christmas on the food front.

This week, I spent £37.44, the extra going on ingredients for cake, puddings and gluten free baking trials.

One week will see a few bottles of beer, cider etc (we don't go mad).

Another week will be meat, sausages, bacon, ham etc. Not huge amounts (except for a small turkey) but enough for 4 people for 5 days with leftovers to re-purpose and freeze for January eats by us! I think I will be able to do that in the next 4 weeks then should be fine to revert back to normal.

We will be opening and counting our £2 savings jar soon, which will go towards presents. I have already got what I need for my friends local/postal presents. Just had to pick up something today to finish those off.

We don't like to go too mad over Christmas and when we don't have visitors (every other year), we are more restrained still.

For Christmas Eve we all buy each other presents, 2 for each person there (but not for ourselves obviously), each to be no more than £1. They must be useful, personal where possible and nothing to eat or drink. It is for all of us, our favourite time.

It is like a secret Santa thing but DB's family have been doing it since before he was born and is something we carried on once married. Now DB and DDiL are carrying it on, but just with us and hopefully one day with their own family. They do something different when with DDiL's parents.

I usually write out the labels so only one style of handwriting is available. We either save old Christmas paper or this year, will be using saved brown paper from postal deliveries.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Thursday 12 November 2015

Welcome and a Gluten Free Christmas

Welcome to bronzewing via Bloglovin.

One of our Christmas visitors is gluten free so I am having a think about how to cook or what to bake for them so they can still take part in the festivities. I know what bread to buy as I don't want to go down the home made route just yet.

They don't eat Christmas cake or Christmas pudding and normally I would do a sponge pudding as a substitute. Luckily, the other week I made a variation of a whole orange cake (with flour) and it was lovely. I used 2 manderins or clementines (can't remember what I bought) in place of the whole orange, halved the sugar and it was lovely:
It did sink a little after coming out of the oven but I think I brought it out too early!

We had previously found, that for us, the pith part of a whole orange is too bitter. The skin of the replacement fruit was far thinner and worked very well. To make it gluten free I can either replace the flour with almonds, cornflour or other substitute so that is what I shall do and yes, I do know you can buy gluten free flour.

Instead of baking it only as a cake, I shall divide it into two. One part will go into a small tin as a cake, the other into my small pudding tins to be steamed as a puddings.

Although there are plenty of gluten free items in the supermarkets nowadays, I am going to play with making some mince pies using gluten free bread as their bases and either bread as a topping or an almond/rice 'bakewell type' topping. Again, I know you can get gluten free pastry which I might also try but want to try this first.

I have checked my stock cubes and they are gluten free. I thicken soups, sauces and gravy with cornflour so that too should be okay. Just breakfast to sort if it needs to be anything other than toast.

As of yet, I haven't decided on our meals in full. I know a couple of them and can easily adjust them where necessary.

You know me, I likes a challenge and am looking forward to this:)

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Menu and War Diary Updates and tomatoes

I have updated our menu tab for anyone who is interested. We are still managing to keep our total meat costs for the week, for us both, to under £4.

The War Diary tab for Year V has also been updated, Quite a long missive this time!

I needed some tomatoes the other day to make something. As we were out shopping in town, I came across a small, but rapidly expanding market stall, where you can buy a dish of tomatoes for £1:

When I got them home, they weighed 1 1/2lbs, which is cheaper than Lidl where we normally shop. Needing some more another day, as we were in town, I bought 2 more tubs. Very good value for money but I have to admit, not as tasty as homegrown.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Frugal Laundry Liquid Old and New Price

I was asked yesterday if it was worth me making my own laundry liquid:

Answer 1 - is yes.
Answer 2 - I know what is in it, what it is doing to the environment etc.

For example, here is what is in an own brand value liquid detergent:

Value biological concentrated laundry liquid contains amongst other ingredients: Anionic Surfactants 5-15% Non-Ionic Surfactants, Soap, Phosphonate Less than 5% Also contains: Enzymes, Optical Brightener, Dimethylol Glycol, Perfume, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citronellol, Geraniol.

It comes with this warning:

DANGER Causes serious eye damage. If medical advice is needed, have product container or label at hand. Keep out of reach of children. Read label before use. Wear eye protection. IF IN EYES: Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing. Immediately call a POISON CENTER or doctor/physician.

Using the above costs 6p per wash but I for one, would never want to use it!Other makes cost between 20p and 30p per wash and have similar ingredients.

Liquid Soap

Dri Pak and Wilko have decided to stop making/selling soap flakes and replaced them with liquid soap. I thought I might just do a price comparison with the liquid soap flakes per wash.

Dri Pak (greater than 30% soap content) is for sale anywhere from £3.00 to £4.81 per 750ml bottle. In hard water (here) I would need to use 80ml per wash and would get about 9 washes from a bottle. Using the lowest price as a guide, that would cost 33p per wash.

Wilko's own brand (between 15% to 30% soap content), is for sale at £2.50 in their own shop. Again, using 80ml per wash equates to 24p per wash.

On that front, you pay your money and make your choice.

Soap Flakes

Dri Pak soap flakes used to cost £2.20 - Wilko was about £1.99 if I remember correctly.

Using 2oz of soap flakes as the base of frugal laundry liquid would cost 27p with Dri Pak and 25p with Wilko, so let's say 26p as an average per wash.

Washing Soda Crystals

The other ingredient in my frugal laundry liquid is washing soda crystals. Dri Pak have now introduced that in liquid form as well (I do hope that means they are not going to stop producing the crystals). The price difference is huge. 1 kg of crystals is 99p, whereas the liquid version is £1.35 for 500 mls + an unknown amount of water to make it into a liquid.

Using the same weight for making frugal laundry liquid amounts to 5p for crystals or 34p for liquid and being watered down, I have no idea whether it would work - probably not.

Price for crystals and soap flakes for old price frugal laundry liquid

2oz of soda crystals = .05p  
2oz of soap flakes    = .27p  
Total                         = .32p

But wait, there is more!

Once made, my soap flakes based frugal laundry liquid has a total of 4 litres of water in it and 1 cup or 250 mls is used per wash. That meant that 16 washes for 32p used to cost 2p per wash.

New price includes P & P unfortunately so new price now equates to 16 washes for 3.25p per wash. Everything in it is bio-degradable or safe for the environment - and us:).

Using washing soda crystals helps keep my machine clear of scrum or soap residue, fresh smelling and shiny.

Not a huge difference and if I could buy them in a shop I would save on the P & P.

Monday 9 November 2015

Well, that's a bummer

Having run out of homemade laundry liquid, I needed to make some pronto. I used to use half a bar of grated soap, then I found soap flakes which made the process easier. Unfortunately, it would appear that the main producer of soap flakes have now stopped making them. Instead they produce liquid soap for laundry, at a slightly higher price.

Off I went into the kitchen, started as normal. Obviously I didn't need to dissolve the soap flakes to begin with so just put 1 cup of liquid soap into 1 litre of water and stirred to mix. Then I added in my washing soda and stirred.

Straight away it was obvious something was different. Normally, when adding the washing soda, it quickly thickens when stirring, this just stayed the same. I felt it and it was very waterery and runny, not how it would normally feel, which is slimy.

I didn't add my usual 3 litres of water to make a product that would normally fill 2 x 4 pint milk cartons. It just didn't feel right so I poured it into one 4 pint container and topped up, so maybe 1 1/2 litres of cold water. The next day, it is the same, very runny, not slightly gloopy like it should be.

Guess then, that there is a big difference.  On their own (i.e. not used to make into frugal laundry liquid), a box of flakes would give up to 10 washes as opposed to the liquid version that gives 15 (for a higher price).

However, it is now clear that the liquid soap flakes cannot successfully be made into a frugal laundry liquid, unless a very large amount of it is used. Even then, I am not sure it would work as it appears to be made differently. If anyone knows differently please let me know.

I did find online here someone asking a similar thing with an answer from the producers themselves:
Not to be outdone (and yes, I know I could go back to grating a bar of soap), I found another make online and ordered through them. I shall use the liquid soap flakes up though, adding some to my laundry liquid as I go.

You live and learn all the time!

Friday 6 November 2015

Good heavens...

Seven weeks today is the big day - where did time go? It seemed just a few weeks ago that there were 18 or so weeks left:(

We have had a busy time pottering about and sorting out. Two more boxes of good stuff for the charity shop we support, a list made on what needs to be prepared in advance on the present, cooking and eating fronts.

We sat and watched Andy eventually win his tennis match. Boy was he struggling. It seemed to be his back and hamstring. He certainly finished his match yesterday with a very slight limp, and it was still there when he played first thing, getting worse as the match progressed.

I'm glad he won though as this was the only 1000 tournament he had not managed to proceed past the quarter final stage. How far he will progress tomorrow will be anyones guess - probably not far.

The weather is certainly mild at the moment which is saving on the heating and logs. Problem though is the rain. I am looking forward to Sunday when I might actually be able to dry some washing outside.

A few days ago, we went to a pub to check out their Christmas menu, so we can have our annual 'school' dinner. Whilst there we thought we would have a little something to eat. DB tested out the mug of soup and chunk of bread which filled him up! So now we all know to have a 2 course rather than a 3 course meal when we eat there.

T. and I weren't very hungry so thought we would have a small bar snack - cheesey chips for £3.50. When she walked out with the plates we thought it was for someone else:
That pile of chips was around 4" deep in the middle and it was on a huge plate. We both only managed just under half a plate each. So wasteful - I can't begin to imagine how much food they must throw away. I think they thought we didn't enjoy them as they enquired if everything was okay.

We explained that we would happily have shared a plate if they had informed us how big the portions were.

Anyhow, that is all for now. Hope you all have a good weekend.

Thursday 5 November 2015


First of all, welcome to Deborah Riendeau via here.

I caught bits and bobs of a programme on Channel 5 tv last night "Secrets of the scammers" see here and how they get more of your personal information than you realise! If you are able to watch them do so. Yes it can be quite frightening, but forewarned if forearmed.

One story featured a lady in a block of flats where all the new style letter-box types mail boxes were just inside the entrance door. It was shown just how easy it was to slip your hand inside and pull out mail within reach - quite easy as it happens!

Mail such as bank statements, can taken which give the scammers your bank details. They then found out more personal information by looking on line at electoral rolls (easily available), Facebook, Twitter etc. Not just the targets online links, but also those of your  friends and family, gradually building up information as they go. Such a trawl was also repeated on others. Birthdays, pets names, parents names etc.

Before long (and it really was not long), they had filled in bank loan forms to request £8000 I think it was. Luckily, she had realised that something was wrong before that and informed her bank who stopped the application.

The next bank did not and this time, a larger loan was being requested. She was vigilent and lucky but despite being aware and checking her online credit information on a daily basis, she knows that eventually they or those they sell the information onto, will try again.

Others scams were shown such as getting an app for your mobile phone that takes photographs of you, listens to you, building up more information as they go. It can just as easily be your pad, tablet or computer.

DB and myself stuck a little sticker over our camera's many months ago, just in case. We never walk away from our computer leaving it on. At the very least, they get put to sleep.

How easy are your online passwords?. Do you mix and match upper and lower case, numbers and symbols? Do you use a similar password for all your online activity? How often do you change your passwords to be on the safe side?

People today do seem to readily give everything away on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Even members of my own family have their birthdays on there, where they live and work, what they are up to on a routine basis.

Even if they didn't, then chances are, their friends will and before long, their information is being bandied around.

Everyone likes to think it won't happen to them. However, if it does, how would you feel if you needed a loan, a mortgage, even a credit reference for a job to find out the only information the institutions can access, is all negative.

What if someone steals your identity, runs up huge financial debts in your name, declares themselves bankrupt before moving onto the next sucker. You would really be in a pickle, probably for the rest of your life.

WAKE UP and ACT,  before it is TOO LATE!

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Dull, dull, dull...

Despite starting off and finishing with fog, Sunday turned into a gloriously sunny and mild day. Yesterday was dull and chilly (9C), today is the same but at least the fog has gone.

The weatherman has promised us a break in the clouds and maybe a bit of sunshine later on. There is a slight breeze blowing so the washing machine has been on and we now have a lineful of washing wafting gently outside. I don't expect it to dry, but half dry and after a day or two in the back room (if we get the sun), it will be ready for ironing.

I began a project the other day. Well, to be honest, DB got the first bits ready for me and now I am carrying on with it. All will be revealed soon as I am determined to get it finished within a few more days - yeah right! No, I will really try - honest:)

We are still managing to not have the heating on in the evening, or light the wood burner. It has been on (along with the hot water) for just 40 minutes each morning. Once or twice it has gone on, just until it switches itself off, then I turn it off fully.

I read somewhere recently, can't remember where, that we might be in for a reasonably mild November. Well, that will be a bonus if it happens, especially if the predicted cold winter due to El Nino arrives - who writes these articles anyway and where do they get their information?

Our menu for this week has been updated, still managing to not yet be fully eating winter stodge, another bonus!

Monday 2 November 2015


First of all, welcome to Mrs. L. Hughes and Johanne Forth via Bloglovin.

Rhonda at Down to Earth blog, ( see my blog roll to the right), always adds links to her Friday blog. This one in particular caught my attention See hear

If ever there was a reason to not eat so much processed food, this has to be it. So okay, we might not be able to recreate all of these ourselves, but why so many ingredients, why so many fats, why so much sugar, why so many chemicals?

If you take the time to read what is in these products, and in particular what is in the ones you eat on a very regular basis, would you still eat them? We do on occasions use the chicken soup in a pie as a thickening and flavour. What is in that is ridiculous.

If you flavour your meals with packets in particular, your taste buds seem to adapt to them. When deciding to give them up and create a similar meal from scratch, you may well be disappointed with the lack of flavour.

However, if you persevere, your taste buds should adjust. When they do, I think your body will thank you for it.