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Thrilling new loveliness

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I’ve never been a New Year’s resolution sort of gal. I don’t think “party harder” counts.

But this year I am resolved to be thrifty… after a fashion.

While not being too prescriptive about the whole thing, I aim to fritter away less of my allowance on mundane stuff, so I can spend it instead on things I really need. Or want. Like a decent-sized dining table. Even maybe lovely luxuries, like a holiday.

Really, I just need to be a shit load more organised.

More than anything else, that means getting up earlier in the morning for a proper brekkie at home, rather than buying a cheese scone and a coffee on the way into work, and making a delicious packed lunch at least three times a week.

I know these two things alone will make a huge difference. I was doing them before. But then I moved to Wellington and I came up with all sorts of excuses to stop. To be honest, after months and months and months of living abstemiously, it just all got a bit… boring. And it was exciting to have a pay rise and not be forced to live quite such a hand-to-mouth existence.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve still been chipping lumps off my debts and KiwiSavering like a trooper, but now there are a few dollars left over, I’ve been getting increasingly lax.

NO MORE.

I am putting a stop to my financial slacking.

more thriftiness

  • grow my hair: I’m already colouring my tresses with supermarket specials, rather than having the hairdresser do it, but after the hated December chop, I won’t need to pay to have it cut either
  • no more massages: my lovely masseuse is being booted out of the country. Awful for her. Good for my pocket. I’ll swim and cycle and stretch my computer-hunched body into submission instead
  • homemade beauty treats: avocado face masks. Lovely for the skin, and with the added glow that comes from actually using the squishy avo forgotten at the back of the fridge, rather than throwing it in the compost

avocado face mask
half a very ripe avocado
2 teaspoons runny honey
Mush it all up, smother it on, leave for 15 minutes while you soak in the bath, wash off and revel in baby-bum smooth skin.

Also, clean the bath carefully, because it looks like poo.


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Vegetable broth with potatoes and cavalo nero

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Food, Recipes

Earnest bread

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I’ve been steeped in wholemeal goodness all week. The couldn’t-be-simpler recipe comes courtesy of Lois Daish, via an archived Listener column, and makes two loaves.

No-knead wholemeal bread
3 cups wholemeal flour
3 level tablespoons gluten flour2 level tablespoons Surebake yeast
1 rounded teaspoon sugar1 rounded teaspoon salt
1 and a half cups of cold water
1 and a half cups of boiling water
extra 2 and a half to 3 cups wholemeal flour

Generously butter 2 one-litre bread tins. Put into a very large mixing bowl 3 cups of wholemeal flour, the gluten flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Pour in the cold water, followed by the boiling water and beat enthusiastically to form a smooth batter. Allow to rest for 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the remaining wholemeal flour, adding just sufficient to keep the dough moist enough to drop off the spoon. Continue to beat hard for another 3 minutes. Scoop the dough into the bread tins and smooth the tops. Place the tins in a warm place and cover loosely with a damp teatowel. Turn on the oven to 200˚C.

Leave the bread to rise until the dough reaches to just below the rim of the tins. This will probably take 20-30 minutes. As soon as the dough has risen, place the tins in the lower third of the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the crust is dark brown and the bread is pulling away from the edges of the tins. Remove from the oven. If the loaves are loose, tip them onto a rack straightaway. If they are sticking, leave for a few minutes and try again. Leave until cold before slicing. Store the cold loaves in a loose plastic bag. In warm, humid weather, place the bag of bread in the refrigerator, if it is not to be used the following day.

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Food, Recipes

Frugal food to warm your cockles

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I had plans to laze about in the garden all day, doing nothing more strenuous than reading the paper from cover to cover. But the rain rather put a dampener on that.

Nothing for it then except to brew up a pot of spiced lentils. There’s something infinitely cheering about these, not least that they manage to pack so much flavour into every mouthful for so little dosh. And they taste sublime.

I’ve been practically living off these for the past few months and I haven’t got sick of them yet. This is my version of a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi, tweaked to make it even cheaper.

It makes four portions and is a great freezer standby. It’s good to know there’s something hearty and healthy to bung in the microwave if you’re feeling too knackered to cook – or too hungry to wait more than 10 minutes.

Equally good spooned up in its simple soupy glory or pepping up a bowl of brown rice.

200g split red lentils
1 bunch fresh coriander

1 small onion, peeled

40g ginger, peeled

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 green chilli

1½ teaspoons mustard seeds

4 tablespoons peanut oil

1½ teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon paprika

1 tin chopped tomatoes
70g butter
juice of 1 lime

Wash the lentils in plenty of water, drain and soak in 350ml of fresh water for 30 minutes, while you get on with the spice paste.

Cut the coriander bunch somewhere around its centre to get a leafy top half and a stem/root bottom half. Roughly chop the leaves. Put the stem half in the bowl of a food processor, add the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli – all roughly broken – and pulse a few times to chop up without turning into a paste.

Put the mustard seeds in a heavy-based pot and place over medium heat. When they begin to pop, add the onion mix and peanut oil, stir and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.Add the spices and continue cooking and stirring for five minutes longer.

Now add the lentils and their soaking water, the tomatoes, and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked.

To finish, stir in the butter, lime juice and chopped coriander leaves, taste and season generously with salt.

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