Your tips

Your letters and queries have been keeping our mailbags full.

Fred from Northland has this tip. “I have a birthday coming up so I redeemed $250 worth of credit card reward points for Farmers vouchers. I used some of those to buy clothing, which I have now given to my family to give to me so they don’t have to stress about presents (and I get to choose the gifts that I want!). Farmers were having a sale, so I got 25% off the retail price. That means I got a discount off clothing that in effect cost me nothing anyway. I now have lots of new clothing and some money left on my Farmers card to spend when I like. How’s that for a good deal! And the key point about my credit card spending is that I only use it to pay for things I would ordinarily pay for with my cash flow card – and I have a direct payment system set up so I never miss a payment and never incur interest.”

Fred also said now that the cold weather had arrived, he had dug out his favourite Yorkshire pudding recipe. He writes, “I have this dead simple recipe for Yorkshire pudding. I saw it on TV – it’s so simple that we will now be making it regularly over the winter. I use 2 eggs, 100 ml of skim milk, 100gm of flour, and a pinch of salt. Mix it all up into a thin batter. Place a little cooking oil in the bottom of a muffin tin and put into a hot oven at 250 degrees Celsius. Once heated through and smoking hot, take the tin out and quickly pour in the batter. Place into the oven and leave for 10-15 minutes until the Yorkshires rise. The trick is to make sure the tin is really hot to start with – and not to open the door while they are cooking! We have them with roast meat – yum!” We have tried Fred’s recipe – and can report that it is delicious and works every time … almost!

Murtelli says they love cooking on their wood burning stove. “One of our favourites is a whole chicken cooked in a cast iron pot. The slow cooking makes it nice and tender. We add some tinned tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers, and whatever else is available towards the end. And we serve it with greens picked from our garden and fresh buns hot from the oven which we dip in oil from our own olive trees.”

Ruth from Pahiatua writes, “I often use Lemonade/Coke bottles as hot-water bottles. They are made to stay sealed under high pressure so are safe as long as the lid is screwed on tightly and it is easy to regulate the heat you put into them. My children often had 2 or 3 in their beds at a time and we would only fill them enough to be able to squash them a bit to get the air out and so they stayed in place a bit easier. They make cheap and easy foot-warmers for in the car or at the desk too.”

Brownie from Whangarei has this nifty trick. “To remove permanent ink from painted surfaces, use hairspray. We had graffiti on the painted top of our letterbox and I removed it with hairspray.”

W.G. says he uses dead flax leaves as a fire starter. “I take a few leaves, fold them over and wrap them around to form a tights bundle. It’s excellent kindling.” Another reader uses the dried stalks from the flax flower as kindling. It’s light like balsa wood and very easy to burn.

Julia from Christchurch writes, “I use wood chips to keep slugs and snails off the garden – spread it liberally around the paths and the slugs and snails won’t go over the chips into the garden.”

Bill from Papamoa asks, “Does anyone have an answer to keeping Birds from scattering bark from my garden?”

And Jesse asks, “Does anyone have any ‘life-saver’ family dinner ideas they can share – suggestions for ultra-quick and thrifty meals that you can fall back on when you are running late and devoid of ideas?”

If you have some suggestions for Bill or Jesse, let us know and we will pass them on.