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Reader tips and a question from the UK

Reader tips and a question from the UK

By Frank and Muriel Newman

A few weeks back we extolled the virtues of backyard chickens. However, the Auckland Council has just released proposed controls for livestock in urban areas: keeping more than six chickens, a rooster, ducks, geese, a goat, or a sheep will require a licence! The message is clear - check with your local council first, before embarking on the good life in urban NZ.

Our mail bags are again full of interesting money saving suggestions.

Jackie has this tip about broccoli. “The stalks of broccoli can be peeled, chopped and cooked with the florets. After cooking, mix with hummus, or you can use hummus as a dip. An eye specialist once told me that broccoli is good for eyes, and should be eaten every day. Cauliflower is delicious with hummus, also silver beet.”

And her tip about making compost using nothing more than large black plastic rubbish bags, helps with the slug and snail problem too. Jackie recommends filling the rubbish bags with soft green waste rather than stalks, keeping them in a warm sunny place, and turning them occasionally. She says the warm bags attract heat seeking slugs and snails. “Gather them each day, tie in a plastic bag and pop in the rubbish bin, or douse them with boiling water and put them in the compost.”

Joker has this tip for blokes. “The common G3 type razor blades work out around $4 each and the cheaper ones cut me to ribbons. I am getting over 6 months from a blade. Use baby oily instead of shaving foam as a lubricant, and on the blade after shaving to preserve the edge of the blade and stop it from rusting. Plus you get a really superb shave, even against the grain without any shaving rashes. Keep the blade sharp by honing. Cut the leg off an old pair of denim jeans and rub the blade the wrong way 20 times, reverse it and repeat. If the blade is really old and blunt then do it again.”

Lori from Paraparaumu has this tip to make a cup of tea go twice as far. “I use my tea bags twice, even the herbal ones. The sweet mix berry tea work only once but others did fine.”

Jacqui from Blochouse Bay has a couple of interesting tips, the first one in response to a recent column about winter time slow cooking. “Many people can't afford to buy a slow cooker. I have used my oven, putting the casserole or whatever into the oven in the evening, and turning the temperature on very, very low so that it just "clicks" on. I leave it overnight and wake up to a toasty warm kitchen and a cooked meal. It can't overcook, and the meat is always so tender. If it hasn't quite cooked, then turn the heat up for another half hour or so.”

Jacqui also has this creative tip. “Another slow cooking tip is to make a straw box or hay box by using a chilly bin or a carton, and putting a folded towel in the bottom. Bring your casserole to the boil so it is all bubbling, then put it into your straw box. Push clean towels around it so there are no gaps. Fold another one on top of the lid to make sure it's surrounded by this padding material. Leave for the required time. I actually cooked a one pot meal using this method as I drove from Auckland to Morrinsville. The meal was ready when I got there!”

Gary from Christchurch has this comment about freezing. “Freezing food is a great cost saver but don’t forget the cost of power to freeze it. You can reclaim the energy you used to freeze the food by taking it out and storing it in the fridge for a couple of days before you need it. The defrosting food will keep your fridge cold without using any power.”

Lin, an oily rag reader from Leamington Spa in the UK, has a cooking question. “It’s summer here, in the UK, and despite trying very hard to stagger my vegetable crops, I always end up with a surplus of mature broad beans. Does anyone have any ideas of what to do with broad beans once they've got big and tough?” If you can help Lin, please let us know and we will pass your comments on.

Don’t forget, if you have some favourite low-cost hearty winter meal ideas - or other money-saving suggestions - please send them through to us and we will share them with others. You can send us your tips by visiting or by writing to Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.


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