Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Half a Pound of Thrifty Mince.... Endless Possibilities..

Hello there ...
how do you fancy a bit of tasty mince.

As a child I was brought up on mince ... as no doubt many of you were too.
 It was a conversation I had with an elderly lady today ... that got me in the mood for mince ... Hubby P will eat it anytime ...mind you he eats most anything 'meaty' ... any 

Anyway ... back to the elderly lady ...we were talking of Thrift ... and the price of food .. and how its all very well saying these young families could stretch their pennies if they cooked good wholesome filling meals ...but a lot of young people do not know what to do ... cannot budget and cannot cook.
The lady said she remembered her cookery lessons at school ... it was basic cooking ....such as a good handful of different dishes all made from half a pound of mince. And that stood her in good stead to raise a family and feed them well.
As I sat in the fresh air (watching the rain ... Yes .. we were doing that 'making a living' thing again)... I pondered this conversation.
Just where have we gone wrong ... we have given our young people so much ... extensive education...better diet... health care...more home comforts ...more equality etc etc....
But have we equipped them for the hardships ... the skills of living ...if they cannot cook...make do and mend...use their money wisely ...how are they expected to survive the hard times.

I worry for them ....

So back to the mince....      

I made a bit of pastry..

Browned the mince .. added a bit of onion and bulked it out with some carrots and mushrooms.

 And made a couple of plate mince pies ... one for tonight's tea and one to freeze for another time. I made Richard a little veggie pie.

 These rolls have been sat in the bread bin a while .... so I thought they ought to be used up .... 

 A nice bread and butter pudding ...with a hint of marmalade (I have got one or two jars handy)... seemed to a good idea...and I had the oven on for the pies.
The ciabatta rolls were another good buy from Approved Foods...they are just handy to have in the freezer.

I'm afraid I slightly forgot the pies ....bit on the brown side ..but they tasted just fine ... I was on the phone trying to get a decent quote for house insurance. Just basic straight forward ...simple Insurance ... why they insist on trying to add on all these extras...how many times do I have to say 'NO I don't want it to cover my goldfish/steamroller ...or whatever ... just my house ...in case it burns down'.

Anyway the pie was nice .. I made a bit of gravy too...although this is Hubby P's ... he doesn't really like gravy ...strange ..I know!

Anyway what I was going to say ... before I got carried away with the pie making and the Insurance was... what about the mince and the poor people who cannot cook.
What can be done?
Should we encourage schools to teach basic life skills ...and if you were the teacher what would you teach.

How many of us have a handful of dishes to make from a half pound of mince?  



  1. My daughter's cookery lesson was pasta and sauce ... The ingredients they needed were pasta and a jar of Ragu. Yes, really!

    It would have to be a pound of mince in this house ... Spag Bol, chilli, cottage pie, meat and potato pie, mince and dumplings ... The possibilities are endless as they say!

    Love Claire xx

  2. I've never recovered from my daughter telling me, 15 years ago, that she was going to make cottage pie in home economics and needed a packet of Smash and a tin of mince!!
    But yes, I have at least 7 mince based dishes I still make regularly. Spag bol, chilli, cottage pie, minced beef and vegetable pie, potato hash and mince stew and dumplings are the most popular here and I add a lot of veggies to whatever i'm making to make the meat go further.

  3. I spent most of my 'cookery' lessons at school designing packaging for frozen ready meals. My mum doesn't really cook well, so I had to teach myself. Fortunately, I really enjoyed it, and now I love to cook.

  4. I have this conversation with my mum all the time. Kids don't get taught how to do "useful" things now like unblocking a sink or changing a plug! I have three daughters and they all learnt to cook with me in the kitchen as I cooked our family meals. They can change a plug, unblock a sink, plant herbs to cook with and cook fabulous meals with a pound of mince. I'm very proud of all of them.
    Kay xx

  5. Start them young, that's what I say. Twiglet is now 7 and under supervision, can make a Victoria Sponge, chocolate buns, biscuits. We'll save the savoury stuff until later.
    They had a little baking session in school and apparently he was showing the other children how to crack eggs so they don't bite you :) and how to whisk with a fork - do you think he'll be the next Paul Hollywood?
    Twiggy x

  6. Hello there! Firstly - thank you for the little house that arrived! I shall include a photo or 2 of Iris unwrapping it soon! Splendid!

    Secondly - we are lucky here because at age 11 and 12 kids get cookery classes, woodwork, sewing (fabric technology - they all have new names like that!) gardening (bio technology?) in blocks of 3 hours a week for 6 weeks on each one - ish. It is absolutely brilliant. I got all my basic skills from those days at what we call 'Intermediate School'. (I used to teach at one too) However, the powers that be are now trying to change all the education system that we have - and I fear that this aspect will be going at some stage soon. Grrr.

    Thirdly - re lemons and limes etc.. I just freeze the juice in icecube trays (about 2T) and use them as needed. I also freeze larger quantities of the juice (cup fulls) for making cordial etc in the summer. I make brilliant grapefruit and sweetcorn iceclocks in the summer (ice lollies) which sounds hideous but are absolutely smashing!!!

    End of my lecture!
    Love your posts!

  7. I am a teacher, according to our DofE our children only need to be able to pass SATs tests, GCSE/EBACC's and A'levels to survive in the modern world.

    So, I teach mine to make bread in science lessons (yeast, reversible and irreversible reactions). We make apple pie / crumble in maths (ratios and how to scale a recipe up and down. We make other meals in our D&T lessons, did you know cooking is design and technology? And there was me thinking it was a life skill.

    I am constantly horrified at how many of the 11 year olds I teach have no knowledge of cookery and where their food comes from.

    I am also used to finding inventive routes into the narrow curriculum I have to follow to teach them something useful.

  8. Funnily enough I still think back to those school cookery sessions which started with fingernail inspection as we were all lined-up in our sewing-class-made gingham aprons and caps...my O Level failure was gooseberry fool (what was I thinking of?) and if I hadn't realised that the best thing was to ignore all they taught, I don't think I'd have cooked another thing!
    As it I cook and bake and love my kitchen immensley, and with canny meals we've never gone hungry yet!

  9. haha- I got so caught up thinking about those school cookery classes I forgot to say thankyou for your kind comment on my post

  10. I will be forever greatful to my lovely Mum for teaching me how to cook good basic meals and bake nice treats. I was always in the kitchen with her as a child (happy memories!) helping her chop and mix and roll pastry. You're very right that most children these days don't grow up with that. It makes me a little bit sad about what the world is coming to.

  11. As ever you photos make me hungry immediately !!
    Your post does get you to thinking... so many youngsters probably aren't sure how to turn on a stove !!


  12. Ohhh.. and mince dishes? Of course! Chilli con carne, lasagne, bolognaise, cottage pie, beef and onion pie... so many yummy things to make.

  13. I have to agree with you that kids don't get taught enough life skills these days! I learnt cookery and needlework at school and have never forgotten those lessons. It's such a shame that there just isn't time in the curriculum to teach these important skills. That said, as I work full time, I am guilty of being unable to devote enough time to teaching my kids to cook etc, although I try my best. I remember Charlotte, my daughter, making a fruit crumble in school and having to take a tin of fruit and premade crumble mix as ingredients! Wish we all had more time!!
    Love your blog,

  14. I went to Grammar school but had cookery lessons, however we didn't get much beyond cheese pie (cheese mixed in with mashed potato and cheese on top), cauliflower cheese, scones, cheese straws - but I could already cook anyway.

    We had needlework too (these classes were only in the first two or three years) and made an apron, using so many different stitches, a blouse, a skirt and a nightdress. There again, I could already sew as my Mum had taught me.

  15. Love your blog- so happy you are posting regularly again! Here in the States I think a lot of extra lesson time is used up in Sex education and other things that should be learned in the home. Most parents are too busy working (to pay for the big cars, big houses, TVs, vacations, etc) and either eat out all the time or use ready meals.....sad. I am using less meat and more veg in the recipes and truly don't miss the meat. Just made bean soup with a ham hock. Next time I will double the recipe and still just use the one ham hock..."Poor" families moan when they can't manage to buy their ready meals and McDonalds food anymore...sad!

  16. I was lucky that my mum was a tailoress, so my sewing skills get me by. I used to sew some kids clothes when my children were little, I know how to knit and do basic crochet. I had very basic needle craft lessons at school, but had learned much more from mum.
    I attended a B-tech college for economics and my cookery is such that I can make anything out of left overs as well as cook a decent dinner or roast. Basic cooking skills like how to savely cut an onion were learned at home.
    My grandmother was a professional housekeeper and cook in her youth, so I also learned an awful lot from her. I know how to cook venison to perfection because of granny and I`m not afraid to try new recipes or invent my own. My kids cooked with me and know how to provide for themselves. Most youngsters nowadays just know how to open a packet of ready meals or a tin, the rest eludes them. Society isn`t concerned about teaching them anything vaguely relevent to propper living. This failure carries on through school and beyond. Unless you were lucky enough to be tought some truely valuable life skills at home you will not be able to fend for yourself in the real world. We see the result already in the new generations around us. It`s such an awful shame!

  17. Your pie looks lovely! My OH loves mince & can make a really good budget cottage pie. I really wish I was taught life skills at school & I think it's even worse now. I can't cook but I'm thrifty so that helps! I can't believe I have to teach people how to sew on buttons!!! :) x

  18. MMmmmmm! All looks so good! Only my husband's Aunt Bea made mincemeat pie and shared it every Thanksgiving.

    Here in the U.S. I think young people don't do as much cooking from scratch because both adults are working full time and there is not as much time for cooking, sadly. On the other hand, there are some couples who have enjoyed learning to cook together. Hopefully this trend continues.
    sandy :)

  19. Hello, just found your fab blog! I spin out my mince by cooking it with a big spoonful of oatmeal. xx

  20. I couldn't help but smile when I spotted the little pie in the Fray Bentos tin. I have a couple of those too, perfect for the little bit of left over pastry. I must have had mine about 23 years, lol. I agree with all you've said, I love being thrifty but eating good old fashioned 'propper' meals and never throw anything away.


I do so like to read your thoughts and my blogg-y doings ... Thankyou for leaving a comment.