Fruit, fried silver beet, power, and more

This week the frugal living tips include a tasty sounding recipe for silver beet – which is in abundance at present, ways to make the most of in-season fruit, and there are a couple of questions from oily rag readers.

Canny Scot from Christchurch has a cleaning tip. “I use WD40 for heaps of things. It is brilliant at removing oil stains from concrete drives – just spray on and hose off immediately. Also polish your stainless steel fridge and shower cabinet with it. Stops water marks on your shower and fingermarks on your fridge door.”

And also this tip for fruit harvest. “I have been enjoying a good fruit harvest from my dwarf fruit trees this year. When they all seem to ripen at once I slice nectarines and peaches and simmer them in some honey and cinnamon for five minutes then cool and freeze. Handy for whipping up a quick fruit tart or fruit cobbler when the family comes round. I am trying to avoid sugar and have a friend who has bees so some free honey. I freeze it in recycled takeaway boxes which I scrounge from my family as I don’t often have takeaways but the boxes stack really well in the top of my freezer and keep it tidy with clear labels on the ends of the boxes. Great time savers.” That’s a useful reminder for those planning an orchard – make sure you select varieties that will give you progressive fruit throughout the season.

Thrifty from Hamilton has a question for those who use part sachets of yoghurt starter. “How do you store the remaining sachet for next time so that it doesn’t go off? I’ve heard that you can seal the packet with sellotape and store it in the deep freeze – but wouldn’t that kill the culture?”

Thrifty also has this tip to save money on power. “I recently switched to Grey Power Electricity because the quote they gave me was $9 per month less than my previous electricity provider. A saving of $108 p.a. (single household user assessed on 100 units). To qualify for Grey Power Electricity you have to first become a member of Grey Power (contactable via your local telephone directory). Membership costs about $20 p.a. With that you get a discount book and other benefits. If anyone is interested in getting their own quote from Grey Power Electricity they can contact them on 0800 473 976 Mon-Fri and have an electricity bill handy for comparison and quote.” Also try It makes shopping around for the best power price deal easy.

XS from Auckland has this gourmet tip for preparing silver beet (or chard). “In the rural reaches of the Basque Country (Spain), silver beet is known as chuletas de la huerta, which translates as ‘chops from the vegetable garden’. Here’s a recipe from a book by Teresa Barrenechea (in Spiain they grow silver beet for the stems). You will need 10 silver beet stems with the leaves removed and cut into 50-75mm lengths; 1/4 cup flour; 2 eggs, beaten; and 1/2 cup olive oil.

“In a large saucepan, bring about a litre of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the stems, and cook it for about 15 minutes, until soft. Drain well, then roll in flour, dip in the egg mixture, and drop in a skillet of oil over medium-high heat.

“Cook the stems for about a minute, turn and cook them for another minute. Drain on two layers of paper towels, and serve immediately.

“If you like, you can serve the leaves as an accompaniment. Chop and boil in salted water, drain well, then sauté in 2 tablespoons olive oil with a sliced clove of garlic.”

Madcow from Opunake asks, “I would like to know how to make frozen roast ready meals, like the well known brands we find in the shop freezer. Can anyone help with ideas of what to put in them and how to cook them?” If you can help Madcow please drop us a note.

Thank you to everyone for sharing your questions and tips – please keep them coming!