Thursday, 10 July 2014

frugal friday

there's a wonderful independent grocer/green grocer not far from where i's not one of those super sophisticated places where to shop there comfortably you need to get dressed in your finery, have a manicure and a blow's more laid back..

i like shopping there for several reasons..for one thing it's a family run business and as such the shop has an intimate and friendly atmosphere..and they stock a great range of products some of which are not available in the conglomorates that are threatening to take over the country..for instance i can get trachana and pasta for pastichio there..and they're not caught in a time warp because they stock a variety of spelt and gluten free thing i particularly like are the huge bins they have out the front of the shop which are laden with seasonal fruit and vegetables..most of it is not of conglomerate supermarket quality..but it is still good quality..for instance yesterday i bought new seasons apples and of the apples had the occasional branch mark, they weren't all uniform in size and some were misshapen but otherwise they were perfectly fine..same with the oranges..navels and valencias were mixed up together and some had too thick skin but they're easily avoided..they were $0.98 and $0.78 a kilo respectively..and i bought a 2 kilo bag of slightly brown skin bananas for $2..i ate one later..perfect..not soft at all..and even if one or two do go a bit soft before i can eat them all au naturale i'll just make smoothies with them..and they had lovely large fennel bulbs that i bought for a $1 each..they also had 5 kilo bags of potatoes for $2 but i didn't get one because i'd already bought a bag for the same price a few weeks earlier..ten kilo sacks of onions rarely cost more than $6 there so i always buy them this way and i rarely have any rot..i just keep them in a cool place and if any start to sprout i just use those in stock..

it never ceases to surprise me that anyone would choose to pay more at a conglomorate supermarket when this shop is only 100 metres away..i've done a rough and ready calculation and worked out that the fruit and vegetables i bought yesterday cost a third of what it would have cost me at the supermarket..and i wonder if some of the people shopping in the supermarket are also those who find that food prices are increasing..go figure!

roasted fennel and potato soup
tea with hazel


1 large female* fennel bulb
6 -8 small potatoes**
3 medium onions** 
4-6 garlic cloves (i used homegrown)
2 teaspoons (tsp) fennel seeds*** 
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (i used my own homegrown, dried flakes)
2 litres stock**** (i used homemade)
salt and pepper
olive oil
extra chilli flakes or tabasco


~ remove stems from fennel bulb, retain fronds and cut bulb into thick slices
~ cut potato and onion into medium chunks
~ place fennel, potato, onion, garlic, fennel seeds, and chilli flakes in a large shallow baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
~ bake at 180 deg c until the vegetables are starting to caramelise
~ remove vegetables to a saucepan along with the stock, bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the vegetables are soft
~ puree the soup with a stick blender or in a blender
~ serve garnished with fennel fronds, a dusting of chilli and a drizzle of olive oil


*       they're tastier..or so they tell me..
**     the potatoes and onions in the bags i'd purchased were small to medium in size
***   i used seeds collected in summer from plants that have naturalised in parts of the dandenongs
**** i retained the carcass and the vegetables from boiling an organic and free range chook for soup stock and i roasted and reboiled both to create a second but just as flavoursome stock


not including electricity and gas costs this soup, which would be enough to feed about 6-8 people, cost about $1.30..add a loaf of homemade sourdough and you've got a very cheap and nutritious meal..

happy weekend one and all


  1. Your local grocer sounds brilliant Jane. Do you know I have never cooked or eaten fresh fennel, I need to rectify this soon! Cooking frugally is not hard is it? Your soup looks delicious, the best kind of simple meal. Have a great weekend x

  2. I love this post (not that I don't love all your posts and the fabulous food you do) great food, locally bought, fractional prices, its got it all!

  3. Alas we don't all have great providors close to home and some of us have to still buy from the dreaded supermarkets and their prices are starting to skyrocket here in Tassie. I can get apples from an orchard nearby but the price is more than the supermarket price (I just don't eat apples ;) ) There are down sides to "artisan" and "boutique" and they tend to revolve around price. We penniless student hippies have to think smarter, not harder and have to spend more on buying our own fruit trees, more perennials etc. to grow ourselves as one day no-one is going to be able to afford to shop in supermarkets in Australia any more! I guess they will cut their own throats?

  4. i know i'm lucky to have such a great shop close to home fran..i'm working on being even more self sufficient too so that i am able to rely less and less on commercially produced food..x

  5. That does sound like a great shop.