Efficiency and austerity. I have in the past mentioned maximising the usage of your appliances and having just seen the winter quarter utility bill I am reminded how making the most of your cooking practices especially when using your oven. It can be a vast hollow of a space to heat if you are only putting in one dish and once extracted there is all that residual heat to evaporate into the atmosphere – or pound notes blowing away in the wind.

So when you are planning your meals do try and cook on the hob or in the oven and not both. If you are fortunate to have a combination oven/microwave then that is a smaller space for the odd small dishes that need cooking. Vegetables can of course be steamed in the microwave giving fuel efficiency – though I admit it takes little practice to get it just right.

My other efficiency is bulk cooking for the freezer. Why one cake when you can bake 3 or 6. Minced Beef 10 – 15lbs at a time basic recipe. This is frozen in blocks and when required can be made into bolognaise, chilli con carne, a pie or a crumble. Stewing Beef again 10 – 15lbs basic recipe. Add to a batch kidneys for Steak and Kidney – add Mushrooms, Potatoes, Winter Vegetables – make into a Pie, Cobbler or add Dumplings. The basic recipe always includes carrots and onions, sometimes garlic and tinned tomatoes or tomato paste too and of course herbs for extra seasoning. A slug of wine or beer can also enhance the flavour.

Taking a batch from the freezer to defrost can mean Lunch or Supper on the table within an hour!

One of my adapted dishes is a South African Bobotie which puts a different twist on Cottage Pie. Curried Mince with a little Dried Fruit and topped with an Egg Custard



2lbs of prepared and cooked Basic Mince

1 Slices of White Bread cubed and soaked in water

2 tbsp Madras Curry Paste or Powder

1 tsp Ground Cloves

1 tsp Allspice

2 tbsp Mango Chutney

3 Tbsp Sultanas


300ml Full Cream Milk

2 Large eggs

Put the mince into a bowl. Squeeze the water from the bread, Add to the Mince as well as all the other ingredients and mix well.

Put into a an oven proof dish and press down making a flat top.

Make the topping by mixing the Egg and Milk together.

Pour on top of the mince.

Place in a hot oven 180C – Gas 4 for about 35 – 40 mins till Custard is set and turning golden.