Short. Hungry. Addicted to tea. Hi, I'm Emma. I like to write stuff.


Early, on Monday morning I was casually perusing some blogs when my stomach started to turn.  I shook it off, and went back to reading, but it kept dancing around, feeling off.  I had to go home to let a workman in, and it was then, that I started to feel pretty weird.

I'll cut a really long story short and tell you that the weird feeling turned into a fever, sickness and um, other nasty things and the last 5 days have been pretty horrible.  This is my best attempt at a header.  I can't be arsed to fanny about with graphics.  BOO.

So what do you do when you can't think about food, or eat it?

Go fricken mad. That's right, I watch films.  Weird, happy, colourful and downright awesome films.

So I decided, in honor of the sickness bug I have probably given to everyone.  Here are my favourite sick bed films.  No hard hitting documentaries, no depressing satires of our world.  I want to feel encased and happy like a child, thank you very much.  Just pure "Feel better soon" serum directed directly into your brain.

Here's a wee selection:



The Princess Bride

Here's why it's a good sickbed watch.
+  The film opens out on a bored kid in his sickbed.  HELLO, I CAN RELATE TO THAT.
+  Young Cary Elwes and his floppy mane, come rescue me from this sicky hell.
+  You know what, this is just the best cast ever
+  SWORD FIGHTS.  MANY SWORD FIGHTS





Clueless

Here's why it's a good sickbed watch.
+   It's sunny and colourful.  Everything you are not feeling right now.
+   90's fashion & music.  Yes.  Yes to it all.
+   As if!   So many things to quote to clueless husband later.



Hercules

Here's why it's a good sickbed watch.
+  The music.  It will uplift you and junk
+  In my opinion, more people should wear tunics.  I like a bit of knee.  These are my sickbed thoughts.
+  I'm gonna have to point out the music again.  Zero to hero!




When Harry met Sally

Here's why it's a good sickbed watch.
+  Well, for starters it's a classic.  Yes it is.
+  My god, we're on an emotional roller-coaster ride with just Billy Crystal's jumper selection.
+  This is making me feel like I have friends in the room with me.  Not just my sickbowl and a pillow.
+  The chemistry.  People talk about chemistry but in this, it's totally real.




1995 Pride and Prejudice series

Here's why it's a good sickbed watch
+  The height of drama is a woman living with a man without being married.  So you won't exhaust yourself going "BUT THAT'S NOT FAIR."
+  Colin firth, constantly looking out of windows & leaning on fireplaces.  Seriously, make a game out of it.
+  This is six hours long.  Perfect way to while away a dull day in bed.
+  Everyone is awesome in it.  And the costumes are vaguely similar to the duvet you are wrapped in.  Feel free to imagine you are Elizabeth Bennett swanning around the countryside.





Bridget Jones's Diary

Here's why it's a good sickbed watch
+  You know that chemistry thing?  It's here as well.
+  You have ups, you have downs.  But you got the laughs too.
+  IT'S RAINING MEN.  BEST FIGHT SCENE EVER.
+  She is wrapped in a duvet.  You are wrapped in a duvet.  Her hair is mostly a nest, your hair is mostly a nest.  She is your sickbed spiritual sister.  Or some crap like that.  I'm not even sure anymore.  I'm a little feverish obviously.
+  COLIN FIRTH.





13 going on 30

Here's why it's a good sickbed watch
+  I will not apologise for this one.  It is the ultimate feel good chickish flick.
+  Two words:  Mark Ruffalo is my favourite.  I can't count when I'm sick.
+  Those two sort of sounded like a poem.
+  Thriller!
+  This is the film equivalent of bubble gum.





Legally blonde

Here's why it's a good sickbed watch
+  These films are getting more and more pink.  Pink is my sick colour,
+  Reese Witherspoon is a babe.  When I'm better, I'm going to be more like Elle.
+  This is also my second sickbed film where someone dresses up in a bunny outfit.  So that's totally my thing now.
+  Oh yeah, the film.  C'mon.  It's so good.
+  It's like a feverish dream of pink and dogs and shizz.





The Rocker

Here's why it's a good sickbed watch
+  This film should be more popular.  It has an awesome selection of music.
+  Emma stone!  As a moody alternative rock chick? Hell yeah!
+  You know what?  This is just another fine cast of banging actors.
+  That guy just put sick in his pocket.  Sick on your clothes is something I need to feel normal about right now.


There are SO many more.  So many, but these are just the ones that came to mind.  So what's your sickbed watch?





Here's the thing - To go travelling, you need money.  Not as much as we all think, but still,  it costs more than we had sitting in our dusty savings account at the time.  We had to start getting serious about saving some dough.  Or else we'd be in a pickle.  We couldn't just turnip to these places with no money.

See what you get with me?  Food Puns & money saving tips.  The fun never stops here folks.

Anyway, I started to do the dreaded "look through the finances" to see where we could scrape together some savings each month.

I became someone who kept receipts & actually read them, someone who made notes of what she bought, and went through old bank statements.  It was horrible.  The good part was I made spreadsheets and everything looks better when properly presented onto a spreadsheet.  Extra cool points if you can make a power point presentation with cool effects and music.

I didn't do that.  This time.

It was from this that I started to realise our food budget was out of control.  We are two people, how on earth are we spending SO MUCH MONEY ON FOOD.  It was our second biggest expense every month.  More than 4 of our other bills combined!

So I got researching.  I realised it was going to take a bit of work to do this and still eat the food we liked.  It would involve some serious planning.

It was then I was started making the excuses for myself:

"I like to make food from scratch, and husband hates structured & pre-planned meals"
"The ingredients I like are a bomb at the supermarket!  Plus, I'm so busy!"
"Vegetables are expensive, I have no idea how I'm going to cut back!"

"You know what I hear?"  My subconscious said.  "I hear someone who just doesn't want to do the hard work.  They just want all the results for nothing.  Shame on you."



Damn it, when I'm right, I'm right.  I can't complain about my budget being too high and then not do anything.  That's why it's bloody high in the first place.  So I got to work.

 I read multiple budgeting tips,  I completely re-arranged our finances.   I watched a programme where old ladies gave their money saving tips and made everything themselves.  I read old recipe books, scrounged blogs, I worked out where it would be better to plan and save money, and where it would be better just to spend a little extra and eventually, after two months, I had managed to cut our food budget by half, without cutting out anything we had before.

How much by?  I hear you ask.

From over £450 to just under £200 every month.

You fecking what?!


So, how did I do it?  Did I make a sacrifice to the supermarket lords?  Am I eating out of bins?  Am I on the streets holding "Will dance for food" signs?  Is it witchcraft?!

Nope.  All it took, was the implementation of my research, which I have kindly collated into this post, just for you.

REALISE NOT EVERYTHING CAN WORK FOR YOU

Whilst doing my research I started to realise that a lot of the advice I was reading was completely unusable in my situation.  For instance, one woman claimed the cost of keeping chickens cut down her budget dramatically, and then every couple of months they would slaughter one for dinner and that was that.

Yeah, that wouldn't work for me.  I would get too attached.  I would give them all names, personalities and yorkshire accents.



Another guy grew all his own potatoes.  I can't grow my own potatoes right now.  I can't even keep a mint plant alive.

So, I'm aware that some of you might read this and not have the time to do some of the things that I do,  or have fussy eaters in your household and not have the resources I have.  Every household situation is different.

That's why my first piece of advice on creating a food budget, is to get your research from different sources.  Use what works for you from each one, and don't feel bad if something that works brilliantly for one person, is completely useless for you.  That's the brilliant diversity of life.  Or something like that.

I'm childless, with my own house, I work a structured week, with weekends off, so I have time to do a bit of shopping around at the weekends and I don't have to worry about anyone nicking my food out the fridge.  I only feed two of us, with a few dinner parties a week, so I'm aware my numbers won't match those with families, room mates or weird work hours.  But hopefully, you will find something to help you here.

BE SMART ABOUT WHERE YOU SHOP

One of my close friends lives near a Lidl.  For months she kept telling me how amazing it was, and for months I waved it off as something to check out at some point in the future.  I mean, they probably wouldn't have all the vegetables I like anyway, and I get vouchers from Tesco, plus how much cheaper can it be?

The answer is that I'm an Idiot.  Lidl is amazing.

ALL THE FRUITS.  ALL THE VEGETABLES.

Far from being the barren wasteland, with shitty discount veg, they had everything my previous supermarket had, just alot cheaper.  We came out of our first shop, with as much food as before, but almost half the price.   They even had Sharon fruit.  And the brand of potatoes Husband loves.  AND KALE.  The stupidly overpriced leafy green is not stupidly overpriced there.  Life is good.

We talked about it endlessly for hours.  We were so pleased that budget shopping wasn't crap that I could have cried.  I kept shoving my receipt in people's faces and saying "LOOK.  LOOK HOW MUCH STUFF I GOT FOR £30!"

I now do my weekly fresh stuff shop at Lidl, I'm not buying less food, or cutting anything out.  The fact that there isn't a coffee shop to tempt me, or excessive choice over cheeses and cans means I don't spend as much time in there, or spend any extras on stuff I don't need.   Lidl kicks actual ass, me and my clever friends are actually in love with it.

No, they don't do some of the things I use, like coconut oil, or the dog food my fussy pooch likes, but I'll get to that part later on...

So for now, I've cut my fresh weekly shop down from £75 - £90 to an average of £30 - £40.

So stop being a snob and check out some of your local discount supermarkets, yes some of them will be pants, but some might just be that lifeline you need.


DEALS EXIST

Have you ever walked into a supermarket and seen that something was on offer, and you thought "What a fricken bargain, I'm glad I came in here today!"

You can pre-plan that feeling of elation!  With science!

Okay, not with science.  But I've got you excited for my next tip, right?

We get bombarded with supermarket "deals" magazines.  These used to go in the recycling bin, now they are perused, noted and THEN put in the recycling bin.  They contain the the insider knowledge to these amazing bargains.






So I see it, and I plan a meal around it, sometimes that will be our treat  (like if they are selling off cider cheap, or squash)  Sometimes, it's a lifesaver, as they have household essentials like loo roll, washing up liquid and washing powder too.  It really pays to check.



Here's my favourite bit.  Sometimes those magazines even have coupons in them, and I love coupons / vouchers.  So have a snoop and you can cut your 'expensive taste' portion of your food budget by half.



MAKE A PLAN

I meal plan for the week, but it's not stringent, I have a husband who decides what he wants to eat on a whim and hates structured meal plans.  So it works out like this:

- Breakfast stuff (oats, milk, fruits etc)
- Lunch stuff (Decided based on deals - usually veggies to make soup and bread for sandwiches)

Dinner food get split into five categories.
- One big meal on a Sunday using whatever meat / veg are in the reduced / offer sections.
- Two meat meals a week after that, usually two different meats each week.
- 2 veggie meals (from blogs, recipe books etc etc)
- One pantry meal (More on that later...)
- One freezer meal (made from leftover foods from the week before, more on that in a moment as well)

Obligatory stock photo of a pen and paper.  That's how professional this post is.

If we're going out that week, or have someone over, I make amendments to it, but generally, this works out for me.  If there's a certain recipe I want to make one week, I write down the ingredients I don't have so I don't forget them.  Apart from that, it's a bit of a free-for-all, but gives me the flexibility to make what I like, whilst keeping my food waste to a minimum.  All leftover food (if there is any, is bagged up, frozen and used for the freezer meals)

KEEP A STOCKED PANTRY / CUPBOARD / FREEZER

I'm going to tell you a little story.  You know, to keep the passion alive in this blogger/reader relationship.

When we were searching for our house, I would hate a house if I hated the kitchen.  It became the thing we were known for.  So, after months of vetoing places, I knew we had a winner when the estate agent bypassed all the rooms in our house and took me straight to the kitchen, told me to hold onto my knickers and opened up A PANTRY.

I was so excited I could've crapped myself.  I didn't, because I'm a lady and whatnot, but still.  Excitement aplenty.



Pantries ARE AWESOME.  They are also lifesavers.

I keep that bad boy full.  Because when your fridge is empty, your pantry is your best friend.  I'm aware that not everyone has one of these, and space is limited in most kitchens, but keeping a good stock of dried foods, cans & jarred goods will save you butt-loads of money because it lasts, it's flexible and best of all, can be bought in bulk.

But as usual, I only bulk buy things I will actually use.  None of us are innocent, we all have weird cans and packets stored away  (I have jars of pickled things, and poached pears in mine)

For creating my pantry meals,  I use "search by ingredients" websites, like these and either follow them, or get enough of an idea to make a meal by inspiration.



As for freezer meals, My mother in law will sometimes bring us meats that were down to about 10p in the reduced section and we freeze it.  A reduced section is a gold mine, because 9 / 10 you can freeze what's in there and use it for meals (for next to nothing).

If I make too much of something (which is most of the time) I'll freeze the leftovers.  If a recipe calls for half an quantity of vegetables, I'll cut it all up and pop the rest in the freezer.

If there is stuff left on my plate at the end of a meal, I add it to my "stock box" which is quite simply, a lunchbox of frozen veggies & meats that I turn into stock when it gets full.


We also go to 'pick your own' farms in the summer, and for a quarter of supermarket price, bulk buy fruits and veggies and keep them in the freezer for defrosting in the winter.

 Also, there are so many recipes you can make in bulk and freeze the leftover.  Here's a some links to wet your appetite,  you might even be surprised.





USE WHAT'S ON OFFER, BUT USE IT WISELY

This kind of calls back to tip number two, but I'm going to expand on it.


I'll only buy things on offer if I think I'll use it.

I don't buy my normal list and THEN what's on offer either, I'll sub it for something I would have bought instead.  For instance, I have pork joint on my shopping list, but I see a whole chicken for half the price in the reduced section.  I'll swap the chicken for the pork.  I'll only buy both if I think I'll use both in the week ahead.

As I said above, I'll buy things in the reduced section and freeze them too, but only if I can see myself using them within the month ahead.  Deals are only a good offer if you think you can use it.  If I think I'll be throwing things away in a months time during a freezer purge, I don't buy it.

SNACK YO'SELF

So, here's an example.  One of my favourite snacks is popcorn.  Big bags of popcorn are about £1.50 and full of crap.  The tiny healthy snack packs of popcorn are nearly a quid each.  But a bag of kernels, costs £1.20 and makes enough popcorn to last a year.  Pop that in some coconut oil, sprinkle on a bit of sugar or salt and you've got yourself cheap snack right there.  Another example:  The other night Kris wanted flapjacks, they were out and cooling on the side less than half an hour later because of my well stocked pantry.  I have a simple, small quantity cake mix for 'spur of the moment' cake making too.  There's nothing wrong with splashing out on a chocolate bar, or a biscuit, but it's much nicer, cheaper and better to just do some research, get a baking cupboard together and make it yourself.

THE INCREDIBLE BULK

I bulk buy things I used to buy weekly.  I get my (usually quite expensive) cooking things, like special vinegars, smoked garlic, nice cheese & free range eggs (my goodness, the sentence made me sound like a bit of a dick) from local farm shops & delis.

Don't think you have any near you?  Seriously, give it a Google.  I did and I found over 10 within a 20 minute drive from me.  The drive to them is beautiful as well.  And those extras, the things that usually cost a bomb in supermarkets are usually (I say usually, because some take the piss and charge for being twee) much cheaper in farm shops.  A smoked garlic in my supermarket, came packaged all fancy and cost me £3 a bulb.  In a farm shop, it's £1.80 and it's bigger.  BOOM.  SAVINGS.  Plus your helping out a local business.  Get in.



I get things like lentils, grains, herbs, noodles and other specialty ingredients (soy sauce, weird oils, spices) from the market, foreign food shops (there's a little local Indian one near me that does BAGS of spices for about 50p) or a little local wholefoods shop in my home town.  It sounds like a hassle, but I go so rarely, that it becomes a little monthly adventure.

Here's just one price difference:  One weekly shop of 500g bag of lentils in Tesco: £1.50.  One 2kg bag of lentils from my local world food shop - £2.50.

Unsure of where to start looking for these bargains?  Google is a start, but it's not the only place. Ask around on Twitter, or ask your friends.  Even just taking a walk about your home town can provide results.  On a drive towards the countryside, There were loads of homemade signs saying "Free eggs, help yourself, or veggies for a £1 a box"

I found a lot of these places by going on local Facebook pages, blogs or looking in my towns 'shopping guide' that they hand out in the independent shops.  It literally took me five minutes and saves me buttloads of money every month.

LOOK TO HISTORY

I have a few wartime recipe books, including my nanna's handwritten ones, because they are fantastic at making things s t r e t c h.  I learnt how to make a chicken last for several meals, and use it's carcass to make stock.  It was in a 50's freezer guide that I found the tip about keeping a "Stock box" of leftovers to make soups.  I learnt how to make bread, mock cream and stretch out a small amount of vegetables, grains and eggs into a filling tasty meal.  Have a look on eBay, or down your local charity shop and seriously be amazed and what they can teach you about making the most of what you buy.

Here's a few newer editions with the same principle:



Now I'm not saying I'm perfect, and you know what, sometimes I can't be bothered to check the magazines for deals so i wing it, sometimes I forget to defrost what's in my freezer to eat it that day and sometimes, you just want to buy a piece of cake.

But by occasionally, not stringently following these, is how I keep those bills low.

What do you use to keep your food budget low?  Share below and give me some more ideas, you can never have too many, right?


Fiona: 
Lidl is my budgeting tip!  Don't mock it until you've tried it!

Laura
I only ever write lists, plan meals for the week beforehand usually going by what's already in and whatever else we need goes on the list as does whatever we're running out of, rice, pasta, spices etc
and if anything's on offer usually stock up on it.  I'd also say, it's worth going to different shops
like we get a lot of stuff from sains/tesco  but there's the odd bit of meat, veg, stock cubes, ketchup, salt etc that we get from lidl/aldi  I had a receipt from lidl, and worked out how much it would have cost if I'd have bought the same things from sainsburys, there was a massive difference.

Laura (Day Dreaming Foodie)
I'm terrible at budgeting.... take today for example. I've just impulse bought a cow... *had to go in, this was my favourite*

Vegan Budgeter
My local shop deliver fresh veg every few days, I market bulk buy my stock food, like lentils and pulses.  I make everything else from scratch.  If I can't make it, we don't have it.  Simple saving technique.  As a vegan, I find it easier and cheaper to do it this way, even though it might cost more than some families shops.  I save by not having meat, so it balances out.

Gemma
We shop as a house, get a food shop delivered once a week, on a Thurs, so all the yum stuff is fresh for the weekend, we all suggest things we fancy for dinner and anything else I buy general ingredients to create dinners from for the other nights.  The bits we run out of we get from the local shop ie. milk - I usually get a few treats from whole foods for weekends and generally get my fruit n veg from the market.  Oh and I try and spread 'household' items out so I don't need to be buying toilet roll, kitchen roll and cleaning products the same week each month if that makes sense?  Like spread the cost out to an item a week?

Rachel
When I cook in the evenings I try to make my lunch at the same time but change it slightly so if I'm having pasta bake for tea I'll use the remaining pasta in a salad over the next couple of days.

Anon
I shop wherever the bargains that week are!  It's easy to get into a habit of buying things out of habit, so shopping somewhere different means I never get in a shopping rut.

Here's some helpful links:

31 Insanely Smart Ways To Save Money When You Cook
Budget menu: Tips to cooking well for £1 a portion
How little money can a person live on?
'We're trying to stick to £50 a week for our food budget – but it's tough'
How to Plan Your Meals When You’re on a Tight Budget




Hello there.

A few of you have asked where I've been, why I've not been posting TFIF or any recipes of late.

Well....

Every day, I open up a brand new blank post page, write three sentences, have a fit, curse at my screen a little bit and close it down.



An hour later, I'll start it up again, have a little read, realise that everything I write sucks and a bored monkey slapping it's knob on a keyboard could write better than I ever could.

So that's where I am right now.  I have the blasted curse of bloggers block.  It sucks and I'm grumpy.  This is my draft folder right now.  Look at that.  21 unfinished posts.


So I can't blame it on a lack of cooking, because I've been doing loads.  I can't blame it on being busy because I always am and it's never stopped me before.  I can't even really blame it on a lack of ideas, I just have no SOLID ideas.  My brain is fizzing over with little sprouts that never take root.  It doesn't help that most of them are weird anyway.




I'm starting to feel like there must be some magic formula around that makes bloggers able to post 3 times a week, cause I can't.

So here we go, I open it out to you.


Help a lady out.  Throw me some ideas for helping me get out of this rut?  Things you used to get out of your own if you have had one, or an idea, prompt or anything?

Post in the comments or send me en email.   Or don't.  It's up to you, but I'll really like you if you do.

I might even make you cake.

A big fecking cake.

With a sparkler on it.




As the year opens out, I'm finally fulfilling my lifelong wish to travel.  After years of saving for grown up things like a house, a wedding and a bathroom (16 year old me would hate me), we are ready to go.

But it's my first time.  The getaway to Disneyland Paris, whilst fun, really doesn't count and apart from lots of trips around the country and my very food-centered honeymoon in Edinburgh, we're not traveled.  I can't say I've explored what I want to explore.  So this is all new.

So I'm documenting everything.  This week, it was all about the preparation.  Guide books, research, blog reading and insurance comparing.  Thrilling I know.  So, this week, it was less about being hungry and addicted to tea, and all about the shortness.  This gif just about sums up my life as a shortarse....

Pats on the head?  Check.  Tip toes?  Check.  Shirts as dresses?  Check.

I say my height doesn't effect my life in a negative way, and it doesn't, not really.  Here's a list of how my height can affect my holidays:

1 - I can never find a maxi dress that isn't a foot too long.
2 - I have to tip toe to see over the airport check in desks, in fact, there's a lot of tip-toeing.  My calves are intensely more powerful than yours.
3-  My collection of steps and stools aren't travel friendly.  Which means a lot of jumping, parkour on kitchen work tops and climbing to highest view points.

And that's about it for holiday related short people problems.  My life is not drastically altered by being five foot 1, my holiday photos are just a little lower down than yours.

Yeah....

The final thing I had to do last week was renew my passport.  Mine didn't' match my new travel documents and it was holding up bookings and all sorts.

Well, to renew, you need new pictures.  Something I was quite looking forward too because in my last set, I had an...er... very distinguished style.



The joys of getting your first adult passport at 18 is that your questionable style choices, and make up woes are there for everyone to enjoy for the next 10 years.

Lucky for me I'm changing mine early, thanks to marriage.

Everyone suggested I go and get my passport photos done in an actual shop, using this 'special service' that promises to get your photos right for the passport office.  They have a little set up, in full open view of the shop.

I wanted to use a booth.  I'm old fashioned and I like to veto if I look too crap, but people persisted that this was the better choice.

So I walked in, on a busy Saturday afternoon, got in line and waited.  Once I arrived at the front, the woman looked me up and down, paused, and then went to get a child's booster seat.  Let that sink in, okay.

A BOOSTER SEAT.  FOR CHILDREN.

The short people jokes already come in thick and fast without active encouragement.

But my Englishness froze me to the spot.  I'd already initiated this woman in the process of doing my photos.   I was in a line and everything.  

I had two choices.  I, a 25 year old adult, could literally hop onto a throne of embarrassment and let a room of 30 people watch this happen.

Or I make a stupid excuse and leave.

I went with the latter.  I get the car booster seat joke about 50 times a day.  I can only imagine the mirth of anyone who knows me, walking past that shop window only to see me, legs dangling about a foot off the floor, sitting on a booster seat my ass was too big for.  I would never live it down.


Three days later, I sat at the post office, with my form and my new slightly manic looking passport photos. (I got them done in a booth in the end.  One with a beautiful adjustable stool.)  I hand it all over, along with a butt-load of money and the rest of my sanity and there we have it....

The last hurdle in my travel planning.

When my shiny new passport plops onto my doormat my less than 5 days later, I take it as a sign, that even though it puts me out of my comfort zone, and can be difficult at times, I am so ready for this.

LET IT BEGIN.

If anyone has any great travel blogs, sites or guidebooks, please post them below or email them to me, research makes me happy.






So, I have never traveled with my husband.  We've always been saving for something else (houses, weddings, house modifications.)  We've been on holidays, sure, toured the UK and had weekends away - but we've never seen the things we always wanted to see, we've only been abroad together twice.  One of those times was Disneyland, which whilst awesome, is hardly an exploration of the world.

What the hell does this have to do with a glaze?

Don't you know that there's a story behind most food bloggers recipes?  It's kind of our thing.

That's what this year is all about.  We celebrated our year anniversary at the beginning of this month, and after walking, taking in a show, we sat in a hotel room and mapped out places to see, and how to logically visit all of them.

Yes, yes, I'm getting to the recipe...

These plans are doable thanks to the wonderful help of some brilliant travel bloggers, but it does mean that our food budget has been DRASTICALLY cut.

It's hard to run a food blog when you're trying out food budgeting.  We followed brilliant advice (seriously, blogs are amazing sources of information) and managed to cut our monthly food bill down by over £200.  That topped off with some seriously easy money management (blog advice again) we have done it, and are continuing to do it.  We have started booking our travels.

So what's on the menu, when you're budgeting?  Crap?  Rubbish?

TADA.  WE GOT TO THE BLOODY GLAZE.




You know where some of the best advice for budget cooking comes from?  Old cookbooks.  Wartime cookbooks are also amazing (I found some really cheap on eBay, and my nan gave me a few as well.) They are also great for advice on making the most of what you buy.  Glazes and sauces take up quite a lot of the old cookbooks I own, I'm guessing because they are cheap and easy and can cover up cheap cuts of meat or boring vegetables.

I might be on a budget, but I'm not looking to eat cardboard or fill my body with crap.  So how do we do all that?!

I'll get to all that at a later post, but at the moment, I'm going to stick to this glaze.  A jar of glaze in the supermarket (Decent quality, and not full of crap) can set you back £2.00 - I once purchased one for a fiver.

Instead I made this one using things I keep stocked in my pantry, or always have to hand.  So technically it was free, I said technically...

You can use it on anything, but it tastes especially good on the following:

MEATS
- Pork Joints
- Chicken thighs
- Chicken legs

VEGETABLES
- Roast Sweet potato
- Onions

NUTS
-Pecans
-Almonds



Obviously, in the pictures, I've glazed a pork joint, but the uses are endless.  It really is a simple Maple glaze... a simaple glaze, if you will.

This will make about 1/2 cups worth of glaze, how much that covers is up to you.  As a rule, it covers a whole pork joint.

YOU WILL NEED
100ml Maple Syrup
1 heaped tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon mixed spice
2 minced garlic cloves (Garlic paste works too)
Juice of half lemon

FIRST OF ALL
Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.  That's it.  Prep done.

SOME LIKE IT HOT
Apply the glaze 30 minutes before the end of your cooking time.  For chicken thighs / wings, it's better to marinade in the glaze and then put it in the oven for the entirety of the cooking time.

SERVE
As you wish.  You'll only need a brushing of it for things like vegetables or nuts, so the cooking time will be less.

Thin brushing = 5-10 minutes in a hot oven

Glazing whole meat joint = at least 20-30 minutes at the end of the cooking time
Marinade = 30 minutes, be careful to watch for burning.






Here we are again.  I'll start off by saying there are 3 previous installments of this:

Food photography blunders 1
Food photography blunders 2
Food photography blunders 3

God.  There are so many of these things, I can actually start doing themed editions.

On that note:

WELCOME TO THE:  Food photography blunders 4: "That literally looks like poo" edition.


ONE: 



So we're back a few years when "any surface will do" when it came to food photography.  This was my first attempt at low fat chocolate moouse, a mistake (or a moussetake if you will) I will never make again.  Not only did this picture come out as well as sticking my phone down a used toilet, but it tasted about as good as well.

I still put this on my blog when I first started it up.  So there's that.


TWO:




I just love these cookies.  Go one, scroll back up, and have another look.  I'll wait.  It's just so good. You can give each one a little personality and back-story.  For instance, the giant guy straddling a lumpy headless dinosaur.  I imagine he would name his dinosaur Stanley.  Don't blame me, Stan's head got eaten fell off before the picture was taken.


For the rest of the cookies though, I appear to have baked the source of all children's nightmares.





Sweet dreams kid.




THREE:



Well, you're making truffles, and you've decided to step-by-step the process.  What looks better than rolling that dark lumpy dough around, in what looks like, a mixture of sand and tiny bits of toilet paper.

Yep, that looks tasty.  Doesn't resemble used cat litter at all.  GOOD JOB EM.





FOUR:



You may not be thinking these look to bad.  Maybe you do.  The main thing is I took these to a party.  The main feedback I got on them?

"Oh yeah, they're a little dry.  And they make me think of assholes."

Great.  Wasn't my first thought, but thanks.  Maybe I'll call them Doughbutts.

Doughbutts.  Yes.





FIVE: 



So you're halfway through eating your pudding and you think "ooh I just started a blog, better take a picture of this"  So you stop, and take 20 identical blurry pictures, edit 4, crop them, place your logo over the half eaten part and say to yourself "That is good.  That is really good.  I'm posting this"

Welcome to Fork & Good, folks.






SIX:



Nothing says "good enough for the blog" like a thumb in the way and a battery just randomly in shot.  If you think this was a one off, you'd be wrong, there were 16 versions of this, and this was literally the best one I could use.  But it's cool though, cause you know, sprinkles and shit.  Oh that icing?  Was light brown.  Why it appears pink I have no idea.  Magic, I guess.





I've been asked a few times (okay twice).  What's the deal with your dog?  Do you take her everywhere with you?  How can you describe your dog as a best friend?!  I once had someone tell me that I should post her less on here.  We all remember that hilarious farce of an email, right?



Well, this Sunday (1st March) is her 12th Birthday, so if there ever was a time to dedicate a chunk of space to my furry crap-machine, this would be it.

When I was 13, my parents tried to bribe me into being less of a narcissistic lazy butt-lord by promising me a puppy.  It would be my puppy.  The deal was I had to train it, clean up after it, feed it, name it and generally take care of it.  For life.

I spent nights laying awake, imagining life with my future best buddy.  I expected a happy-go-lucky mutt, that would bring me my Mizz & smash hits magazines and basically be a mix of every dog from any Disney movie ever. 

Spoilet alert: This Didn't Happen

What I got was this sassy little package of black fur....


 
Here's a tip;  13 year olds don't have the best ideas for dog names.  She was called Princess FuFu for about an hour, then Black beauty, before my dad shut that down and I settled on Genna.  I'm pretty sure I picked that name because it sorta sounded like mine.  I am cool.

So she had her name, and her place by my bed.  I patiently awaited my instant Disney dog and instead I got a dog who adopted the personality of a teenage girl, the eye-roll of Tiny Fey and the sarcastic glare of Chandler Bing.

Thing is; I wouldn't have it any other way.  She's the dogs bollocks, even without dog bollocks. 


We can laugh about my school uniform later, ok?

So, you've given a dramatic 13 year old a puppy.  You'll given her complete control over this animals life.  You bet your ass that dog ended up in a wig.


OKAY MULTIPLE WIGS.

NAILED IT.


Now let's deal with the reality.  Puppies are hard work.  Most 13 year olds are completely immune to this word.  I was NO exception.  Life is pretty sweet at this age, yeah you're hormonal and you hate everyone, but your mum still makes you dinner and you're biggest problem is which cast member of Harry Potter to crush on this week.

Okay, there was no decision.  It was mostly this guy.

ENTER RESPONSIBILITY.

I remember crying because I had to miss top of the pops by carrying a gleely weeing Genna outside.  There were a lot of times I was annoyed because she didn't want to sit quietly with me when I was reading.  I remember every time she nipped me playfully, I would scream SHE HATES ME and dramatically fall into my bed.

And she ate ALOT of shoes.

I can't remember the turning point, probably around the time I stopped making it all about me, but we became inseparable.

I mean, yes, She deals with most problems in life by putting her arse on it.  She wipes her butt on anything I value and then looks like she's done me a favour.  I'm going to cut this whole paragraph short and just say I deal with her butt for about 60% of the day.

Seriously, she's more butt obsessed than Kim Kardigimon, or whatever her name is.

Anyone obsessively watch and play digimon as a kid?
Are you seriously wearing that today?  I haven't rubbed my arse on it yet.

So yes, she will sometimes ditch me for food, and she can be really uppity, but she's also my soul mate.  We grew up together.  Even as I write this, she's sitting on my feet.  It's 12 years later, I'm on my lunch break at work - My best bud is by my side.

Unless the heater is on, or a new man to impress turns up, and she's gone like a light if she hears someone opening up a sandwich.

But apart from that.  We're inseparable.



She pulled all-nighters with me during exam season.  During my first break up, she refused to leave my side.  In fact, as I moped over blurry Nokia pictures whilst screaming Rasmus lyrics, she would reverse up and stick her arse in my face.  Her universal sign of "Everything is going to be okay, look, here's my butt"

We even went through our difficult teenage emo stages at the same time.  We perfected our myspace poses together.  As a team.



It's a running joke in my family that if I'm ill, Gen is my nurse.  If I'm sick, she barges her way into the toilet to sit with me.  If she can't get in she'll scratch and bash on the door until someone opens it.  Then, she is just there for me.  Every 20 minutes or so, she will nudge me to check I'm still alive, and then lay back down on my feet. 

From the common cold, or the flu, she will not leave my side until I am better.  I got glandular fever when I was 15, and she had a permanent spot on my sickbed.  When I was at my worst she had to be tempted away from me to even eat.  Walks were out of the question, which was fine by her.  She was too busy offering me her butt and keeping me warm to bother with that.



When I was 16, I met Kris,  now known as husband.  Other boyfriends hadn't really given Gen much thought, but suddenly, Gen had a number one fan.  He loved to come on walks with us and always suggested new places to take her.  He didn't mind when she plonked herself between us, or that he needed her approval to win mine and he would turn up with food for her.  As a result,  she fell haplessly and completely in love with him.

Like dog like owner, AMIRIGHT?!



When I met Kris' family, it wasn't long before Gen came along to meet them as well.  They are now our family too.  She is queen of us all.



I've been told multiple times that it's like we have a secret club that no one else is invited too.  We share all of life's adventures.  From breakfast, to dinner to other minor stuff like moving house, getting married and growing old.  My friends, are her friends.  My family, is her family.  Apparently, my food is her food.  When I have to leave her, my mental family makes sure I'm never really without her.




She likes balloons (she picks them up by their nibs), any ball that she can squish and ice cubes.  If she hears a glass clinking with ice in it, she will be right at your side, giving you puppy eyes worthy of an Oscar.  If someone is fighting with me, or shouts at me in front of her, She will stand in front of me and give them the dirtiest look possible.  She truly is my best friend.  Just a lot hairier.

I've got her butt back and she's got mine.


Look, do you mind?  We're having a private conversation here.





She lost weight with me, another massive change that we tackled together.  I was told to exercise more, and Gen came along.  As the doctor told me to put more vegetables in my dinner, the Vet told me to do the same for Gen.  Which leads to a lot of scenes like this...

Screw your carrots.

Plus, she's put up with 12 years of me putting her in hats, glasses & wigs.

There's a lot of folders like this on my computer.

F*ck.  I'm picking up signals with this thing.

Don't hate me 'cause you ain't me.


#Flawless  #Eyeroll

So there you have it.  That's why she's my best bud, that's why she appears a lot on here.   I'm not saying it's been easy, I'm not saying she's been perfect, she's naughty, moody and sometimes incredibly stubborn, but I love her anyway - even if I come home to mess, or a disemboweled recycling bin or my personal favourite, a massive bum wipe from one end of the room to the other.

It's kind of her trademark.



Happy Birthday Gen.  Cheers for 12 years of offering me your butt.

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Emma | Fork and Good
Married. Mid-20s. Documenting it all via vaguely sarcastic and sweary blog posts. Obsessions changes weekly.