Friday, 21 June 2013

Bargain of the week - 2 pairs of glasses for £23

This has to be the bargain of the week. There is an offer in the rather excellent weekly email from MoneySavingExpert. com website (the people in the forum and advice on the site were instrumental in me getting myself out of severe debt issues a few years ago) where you can get 2 pairs of prescription glasses for £23 using a combination of an existing offer on the glasses direct website and a discount code in the email -
Now you may be thinking that either you haven't had an eye test for years or you had one within the last 2 years (the length of time they're valid for)  but lost it. Well you have 2 options.  Firstly if you go back to an opticians where you had a test done in the last 2 years they have to provide another copy of the prescription free of charge.  Otherwise it happens that Boots are providing vouchers online for £10 eye tests,  just Google for "Boots eye test voucher"  or something similar -  you should find it. Print the voucher,  take it along to your eye test and only pay a tenner.  If you need glasses you've then got 2 pairs and an up to date prescription for the grand total of £33.
You can use the offer with 2 separate prescriptions as well if you like,  although to get 2 tests for a tenner each you'll need to print 2 vouchers and pay for each test separately.
And having looked at the glasses covered by the offer there are some ratger nice looking ones,  you can even have tint added for another £10 and you have a pair of prescription shades.
Needless to say,  as the offer ends on 24th June,  the wife and I have hastily booked eye tests on Saturday.  If we need new glasses and end up using the offer I'll let you know how it goes....

Sunday, 9 June 2013

First harvest

Well, admittedly 250g of small gooseberries isn't exactly a harvest, and it feels like a bit of a cheat as it's from a fruit bush that I inherited with the plot, but it's still progress. As well as planting 20 strawberry plants yesterday we thinned out the gooseberries to let the remaining ones have some more growing room. Late last night, deliberating what to do with the small tub of hard green fruit, I decided I probably had just enough to make one jar of jam. The theory being that if it worked well and was considered edible by at least half the household then I wouldn't be wasting food and effort making a much bigger batch once the rest of the fruit was ready.

Realising halfway through the process that I didn't actually have any jam jars I resorted to pouring it into a tupperware container, as it only needs to last a few days so a few people can try some. Also added about half a teaspoon of ginger, as a taste test showed it could do with something extra and I'd seen ginger and gooseberry jam mentioned a few times when searching for recipes.

I have to say the results this morning are quite impressive - despite the slightly off-putting dull green colour there's a lovely flavour and it set really well. As gooseberries don't need any additional pectin the recipe and method is very simple. I'll repost here.


Gooseberries, with tops and tails removed, any dodgy lookign ones removed and washed.
Granulated sugar, the same weight as the gooseberries
Water, half the number of grams you have in fruit, in ml seems to be a good formula. So for my 250g fruit I used 125ml of water. The less scientific measurement is apparently 'until they aren't quite covered in the pan'.

I also added about a 3rd of a teaspoon of ginger, the paste type in a jar in this case. It goes well, but depending on your personal taste you may want to leave it out. I think it would be easy to add too much and overpower the taste of the gooseberries (mine seems close to this point), so it may be worth making a small sample first to get an idea of how much works for you.


Place a saucer into the fridge or freezer (for the setting test).
Put fruit and water into a suitable pan for jam making. Simmer for 10-15 mins till the fruit is soft (in my case they actually went very squidgy after about 5 mins but then most of them were touching the bottom of the pan as I had so few).
Add the sugar - some people recommend warming it gently first to aid dissolving and therefore avoid a grainy texture in the finished prodcut but I had no problem with it added at room temp. Stir well and boil for around 10 minutes then do a setting test.

A setting test involves putting a spponful of the jam mixture onto your chilled saucer, then putting it in the fridge for 5 minutes. If after that time the jam wrinkles when poked it's ready.

Once setting point has been reached pour mixture into jars (I won't put the instructions for sterilising etc here, they're easily found online).

Very easy, and in this case a way to get something that isn't easily bought in the shops - both gooseberries and their jam are quite hard to find these days which is shame considering the flavour.

Looking forwards to making a bigger batch, and also there are a lot of raspberry canes on the plot so raspberry jam is also definitely on the todo list :)