Rental Relocation – holiday free!

In Labour Weekend in October, we’re heading for the Wellington Folk Festival to perform in the Ewan McColl Tribute Concert, as we did in January at the Auckland Folk Festival. We thought we might then go on down to Christchurch to see my mother, who lives there now. However, we’ve been a bit stalled by the costs of getting across the Cook Strait, and the petrol costs. I was delighted therefore, to read about this NZ site, which is about relocating rental cars. Rental Car Relocation

I haven’t actually booked anything yet, because I need to make sure we can do what we need to do ie have a car to get around in Christchurch, but it looks awesome! The different companies vary in what they offer, but some of them pay for the ferry, for both the vehicle and driver.

You can get put on a database for a Camper, and the company then send out an email when they have a camper van that needs relocation. This could be a way of getting a Camper Van holiday for free! Some of them pay petrol, or pay for one tank of gas. You have to find your own way home again, but looking at the site, it should be possible to get a relocation job from another company to get back again.

Obviously you have to have the time and flexibility to do this, but if you do, what a win!

An added interesting fact, is that the Interislander will let musicians “Sing for their Supper” on the journey instead of paying fares. Hopefully a combination of these factors will help us afford the trip.

Lovely Largesse! Salmon Pasta and Butter Bean Hummus

Some weeks are awesome! This week has been one of those. We have had a lovely week with three different lots of visitors, and an afternoon out with some colleagues.  It was so heart-warming to see them and spend time catching up. It was an added delight when I looked in my fridge, and found, not only left-overs, but some very tasty treats left behind for us.

I enjoyed cooking for my friends, and it was a good challenge to provide healthy, nutritious food, without breaking the budget, and I’m very glad to have done that. Clam Chowder with cockles picked from our bay, Fish Pie, and my Go-to dessert made with apple and blackberry, was one dinner, and a dinner of meatloaf and potatoes cooked in the Crock-pot meant that I could be out showing my Australian friends around, without having to worry about getting dinner cooked when we got back late.

So, using the largesse gifted to us, tonight I made Salmon Pasta.

This is the recipe I based it on, but of course below it is adjusted for what I had available! Salmon Pasta Recipe

Salmon Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Print


250gm pasta (on special 50c) Reserve some pasta water to add to the sauce instead of wine, or in addition, if the pasta seems dry.


1 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of minced garlic

1 onion (optional – I didn’t have one)

1/3 cup white wine (half a bottle left brought by a friend, Thank you!)

1 tbsp lemon juice (a lovely bag of lemons gifted by one of my colleagues, Thank you Helen! )

2 tbsp lemon zest divided into 2 piles.

2 tbsp chopped fresh chives (from my garden)

400 gms smoked salmon chopped into bite sized pieces (left in my fridge, Thank you, Phil!)

Fresh ground black pepper.

(Optional: You can add cream or evaporated milk if you want a creamy pasta. I didn’t, and it was fine.)


  1. Boil a large pot of water, add 1 tsp salt, and then add 250 gms of your pasta of choice. 6 minutes for al dente, but read your own packet!
  2. In a frying pan heat olive oil, (moderate heat) add minced garlic and an onion if you’re using one. Cook for two minutes, and then add wine, lemon juice, first tbsp of lemon zest. Reduce the sauce by half.
  3. Drain the pasta (reserving 1 cup of liquid). Add the sauce to the pot, and add in chives, lemon zest,
  4. Season with ground black pepper.

Because I hadn’t had to buy the salmon, I bought some extortionately priced vine tomatoes, and chopped them up with mint, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Perfect.

Prep for Salmon Pasta
Prep for Salmon Pasta


We also had a Memorial Concert we were performing in, and needed to take a plate of finger food. Phil had left a packet of crackers, and I had a tin of butter beans so I whipped up a Butter Bean Hummus recipe to take with us. Butter bean dip is much smoother than hummus made with chickpeas.

Butter Bean Hummus


1 450g tin butter beans (drained) $1.00

3 tbsp tahini paste

1 clove garlic, minced

s & p to taste

1 tbsp lemon zest,

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp chopped Herbs of your choice – I used Lemon Balm which made it extra lemony, but parsley would be good too.


Chuck in the blender and blitz until smooth!

And I still have lots of lemons AND a piece of smoked marlin in the freezer to decide what to do with!  (Thanks Robyn!)

Don’t buy Pastry!

I had a look at the packaged Pastry price and was shocked to see a packet of frozen sheets was over NZ$6.00. Wow.

I have a recipe that I use a lot, and it’s quicker to make than it is to thaw out the frozen sheets, and costs a fraction of the price.

I used it tonight to make a Potato, Cheese and Thyme pie and it was delicious. The original recipe is on but this one here is with my adaptations to make it more economical. We ate one of the pies, (me 1/4, him the rest!) so we have another one left for lunch tomorrow. Cost – tiny- pastry – about NZ$2.00. Filling – potatoes 50c, cheese 79c, thyme – free, evaporated milk – 70c. Total –  NZ $3.99 for 2 meals $2.00 for 1! Then the veges…Can’t do much better than that can you!

Potato, Cheese and Thyme Pie

  • Servings: 4
  • Print


1 quantity home made Flakey Pastry Recipe (see below)

400 gms Desiree (or other) potatoes scrubbed and sliced

100 gms cheese – needs to melt easily and have a bit of flavour – not mozzarella. I used Colby, but the original recipe used Taleggio. Gruyere would be good – needs to match your purse!

4 Sprigs fresh Lemon thyme stripped from the stalks

100 ml evaporated milk

Use a little left over soured milk from the pastry recipe to brush the top with.


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C
  2. Roll out the pastry and cut 4 circles – 2 X 23 cm, 2 X 20 cm I didn’t worry about the exact size – just cut around a larger and smaller plate.
  3. Put the sliced potatoes into a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil, and simmer gently for 6 or 7 minutes until tender but not falling apart. Let them cool a bit before using.
  4. On the baking tray (greased or baking paper) place the SMALLER circles. Layer the cooled potatoes on top slightly over-lapping. Put cheese, thyme, s & p between the layers.
  5. Cut a 4 cm hole out of the middle of the larger circles. Dampen the edges and seal the edges.
  6. To glaze, use a little left over soured milk to brush the top with.
  7. Bake for 10 min then take out, and pour 50 ml Evaporated Milk into each pie. You may need to carefully lift the edges of the pastry so that it goes INTO the pie.

This pastry while called “Flakey” is more like a rough puff pastry  I think. However,it’s crisp and tasty, and always successful.

Flakey Pastry

  • Print


1 cup standard flour

1 tsp baking powder

125 grams butter

1/2 cup milk soured with 2 tsp of lemon juice or 1 tsp of wine vinegar.


  1. Put the flour and baking powder into the blender bowl. Pulse to mix.
  2. Cut the butter and add. Blitz until it is like breadcrumbs – not long.
  3. Sour the milk, and add gradually. You want to keep a bit to glaze the pie with if you can.
  4. Mix until the dough forms a ball.
  5. Remove, and place on floured board ready to roll.

I used a few bits of left – over pastry to make a couple of little jam tarts. They got gobbled up before I could photograph the cooked version!

Jam Tarts
Jam Tarts
Flakey Pastry
Don’t buy it! Make it from scratch!

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Fast Food Cheaper than Home Cooking?

I was totally shocked today to read an article in “The Herald” saying that more than 50% of NZ’rs think that fast food is cheaper than home cooking. They also think that the price point of NZ$15.00 per person is about right!  If this were correct, it would mean that to feed 3 people for one meal would cost NZ$45.00. How can anyone think that this is cheaper than home cooking?

My tonight’s meal, didn’t set out to be extraordinarily cheap – I’ve been focussing on putting more beans into our diet, after reading about the “Blue Zones” where the longest living people on the earth are, and that their primary diet is often based on beans. However, after reading this, I’ve worked out the price of the meal. Two of us ate it, but there is enough left over for another meal for one.

Meat – Lamb steaks $8.80 – (I got the supermarket to take some out of a larger packet for me, as there were only too large packets available.)

1 tin butter beans $1.00

1 tin tomatoes $1.00 (It was supposed to be cherry tomatoes, but at $5.99 a pkt that wasn’t going to happen.)

1 onion – 35cents

Mint – free from the garden.

This brought the total for 3 meals to $11.15 – which is $3.71 per person.

Quite a bit different from $45.00 don’t you think?

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it.

Lamb and Beans

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


400 gms lamb steak

1 tin butter beans (450gm)

1 tin chopped tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes, or tinned cherry tomatoes)

1 onion

large bunch mint


Brown lamb in hot pan (can add oil but I used my non-stick frying pan) for a few minutes,

Add chopped onion and cook for another minute.

Add some of mint leaves and allow to wilt for a minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer on a low heat  until the meat is tender and the tomatoes nice and saucy. Could be 10 to 20 minutes. Add in the drained butter beans and heat through. Serve and top with remaining mint leaves.

Lamb and Onion Browning
Lamb and Onion browning
Tomato added
Tomato added
With butter beans
With butter beans
Served with Mint leaves
Served with Mint leaves

Go-to dessert…

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp is my go-to dessert. It’s cheap, it’s quick and easy to make, you can switch out the fruit for seasonal fruit, and it’s hugely popular. Apple mixed with other fruit is also good – feijoa and apple or blackberry and apple are great, pears, plums, tamarillos, tinned peaches or tinned anything I guess! If it’s already sweetened in the can, you won’t need to add any extra sugar.

Apple Crisp

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


4 cups of sliced apple

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup Self Raising Flour

1/2 cup Sugar

1 egg

75 grams butter


Heat oven to 160C

Slice the apples into a pie dish. Sprinkle with the brown sugar.

In a bowl mix the flour and sugar. Add the egg and mix with a fork. This makes quite a lumpy mixture.

Pour this over the top of the apples.

Melt the butter, and pour over the top of the pudding.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

It’s nice with ice-cream, but it’s fine with just a trickle of milk to cool down the hot apple. Left-overs seem to disappear without even the benefit of being heated so it must be nice cold!

Apple Crisp
Here is the Apple Crisp cooked and eaten!
Apple Crisp before cooking
Ready to go into the oven.

Changing Recipes

I used to think that you should follow a recipe religiously to get the flavours the chef intended. Now that I’m living the Cheapskate way, that’s changed, and it’s a matter of trying to honour the intended flavours, but doing it the way I can without forking out for it.

Tonight, I used a recipe of Nadia Lim’s, and changed a few things, but it was still delish. The only reason there was any left over was because there was just too much for the two of us!

You can find Nadia’s recipes on her My Foodbag page. She packages up the ingredients for 5 days of dinners, and delivers with the recipe. This one was published in The Herald newspaper. This recipe has my alterations in it! The volumes are different too, because I made it just for the two of us. Her recipe is quite a lot spicier than mine, so if you like spices double what I’ve put in, and then use the same mix and squash onto the halloumi before you cook it.

 Halloumi with Spiced Warm Roast Vegetable and Egg Salad (Cara’s Version)

Halloumi and Spiced Roast Vegetable Salad
Ready to Serve

Halloumi and Spiced Roast Vege Salad
Close up


200g Halloumi (only buy on sale) ( I really want to try making it, and will do when I find a source for unpasturised milk.)

1 golden kumara, cut into wedges

2 beetroot (free – given to my husband Gavin Asher when he was busking at the Howick Market last week.)

1 onion (red or whatever – I just used a regular one I had in the cupboard.)

1 tsp each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and celery seeds. (I altered to celery seeds because the recipe called for mustard seeds and I didn’t have any.)

1 tbsp oil

1/2 doz vine ripened small tomatoes (or cherry)

A few red chard leaves (free from garden – you can use baby spinach, or silverbeet)

2 or 3 eggs (I did 3 because I have a hungry husband, but 2 would have been enough.)

Mint leaves (free from garden)

Flat-leafed parsley (free from garden)

Lemon balm (free from garden)


Heat oven to 220C

Toss chopped kumara, beetroot, and onion with oil and seeds, in roasting pan.

Roast for 20 minutes, then add tomatoes and cook for 6 minutes longer.

Fry Halloumi in olive oil or butter (I prefer butter, but I know oo is more traditional for Halloumi.)

Hardboil or softboil eggs according to preference. Cut lengthways.

Chop chard leaves, and put in sieve – pour the egg water over to wilt them – you don’t have to do this, but I find my chard leaves are quite hard raw and prefer them softened just a bit. Mix in with the roast veges. Serve with halloumi and eggs.

Dressing – I added chopped mint to a dressing I’d used the day before which had oo and cider vinegar. Nadia’s recipe uses yoghurt, so if you prefer a creamier dressing you could do that. I do make my own yoghurt but just didn’t happen to have any at present, and did have my other dressing to use up. However, you can just use whatever dressing you prefer. The mint flavouring was very good with the salad though.

Celery Leaves

There’s a wonderful young woman near where I live who runs an organisation called “Bellyful” She cooks meals and stores them in her freezer, and then donates them to women who have had a baby recently, and need help getting things organised. She offered some free greens from the local Community Garden, and I went and picked some up. There was one small bunch of silverbeet, and two bunches of celery, which had very thin stalks and were mostly green leaves. I investigated celery leaves on the internet and found a recipe for celery soup. The leaves taste very much like celery does, and apparently have more nutrition than the stalks itself do.

The recipe is on the page Italian Food Forever It uses a couple of Italian Sausages and some croutons to give it a nice crunch. I bought two Italian Sausages from my local butcher for $2.45. He was a bit put out and wanted me to buy more! He looked very puzzled when I told him I was using them as a topping on my Cream of Celery Soup!

Croutons and Sausages cooking
Croutons and Italian Sausage for topping

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Cheap Box of Fruit and Veg

Yesterday at my local fruit and vege store, where I was buying a couple of things for our next days meal, I spotted quite a big box of fruit and veges which were on sale for NZ$1.99.

Once I got it open, I found a bunch of bananas, all with black bits, but I’m lucky, my husband likes over-ripe bananas, and doesn’t mind cutting out a couple of black bits. The last lot I bought cost $6.99 and lasted about two days, so even with just the bananas it’s a good win! The apples I immediately turned into apple sauce to go with the (on special) pork chops I had bought at the supermarket.

Apple Sauce Recipe

Slice apples into a pot. Put in a slosh of water to cover the bottom. Simmer on a low heat until they’re soft. 

Add in a couple of walnut sized blobs of butter, a slosh of lemon juice, mash together. Done. 

I like my apple sauce to be quite thick, and not over-mashed. I like it on toast for breakfast as well as with my pork. 

There was also a rotten strawberry and kiwifruit which I’m afraid went straight into the bin for my worm farm. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do with them. I wonder about juicing but I think it was too late for them.

There were a couple of Chinese Aubergines which I chopped the bad bits out of and sauteed with a couple of potatoes which also had bad bits. There were quite a lot of potatoes of the red-skinned variety, but I discovered they were totally green inside so inedible. They’ve gone into the compost heap, where perhaps they will grow and produce potatoes for Xmas – we’ll see!  There were four other potatoes which don’t look to have anything wrong with them at all.

There was also a pear which was mostly edible, and a half-dozen oranges which look totally edible. If you see a box like this at your fruit and vege market, don’t hesitate to snap it up! You may have to use it quickly, but it’s a good save!

I feel for NZ$1.99 that I did pretty well!

Box of Fruit and Veges
The box with potential!
Price Label $1.99
Cheap as!