Thank you all so much for the support, it's so welcome. I wish I had the same kind of support in real life....or any support, come to that.
I'm just totally pissed off with everything at the moment, it's all really getting me down. So yesterday I did what I love doing and keeps me occupied - I spent ages cooking. I had a block of pastry to use up (took it out of the freezer 2 or 3 days ago, got sidetracked and didn't use it). I needed to have the oven on yesterday to cook battered cod steaks for dinner, which we were having with new potatoes, coleslaw and salad, but didn't want to put the oven on just for the cod. I knew there were 2 very small smoked haddock fillets in the freezer, and a bag of king prawns. I also had loads of eggs - one of our neighbours keeps hens and has tons of eggs (I thought they stopped laying in winter?) so keeps giving us a dozen at a time - very welcome. So I made a smoked haddock and prawn quiche, with sweetcorn and Cheddar, it's cut into 6 portions, 2 for tonight's dinner and the rest frozen. There was a little pastry left, along with a portion of cooked apple in the fridge, so I used it to make a little crumble-topped apple & sultana tart, which will do husband for pudding for 2 days. I also baked some potatoes, so every bit of space on both oven shelves was used.
I only use my oven 2 or 3 times a week now - before the energy price rises, it used to be nearly every day - the other days I use the CleverChef or microwave, or both. I read somewhere the other day that someone had made bread in their slow cooker, so thought I'd give that a go. They'd tried using both their biggest slow cooker with the bread in a bread tin, and just putting the dough in the slow cooker itself (lined with a silicone liner, I think). Both ways worked well.....just remembered, it was Thrifty Lesley who has her own blog and runs a couple of budget cooking pages on Facebook, she does come up with some really interesting frugal recipes. I thought I'd give it a go - I have 3 slow cookers - small, medium and large, I used the biggest one which my bread tin fits into, luckily. She makes the dough (just a normal white bread recipe) and puts it in the slow cooker overnight, then switches it on in the morning when she gets up. Which is what I did, although I used half white/half wholemeal flour and a handful of mixed seeds - it worked really well, although next time I think I'll extend the cooking time by another 20 mins or so. The bread had a lovely flavour (from the long overnight proving) and a nice open crumb. I'll definitely be doing it again, it's a great idea to be able to cook bread in the economical slow cooker rather than the expensive oven. Sorry, I didn't think to take a photo, I'll try to remember next time.
Tomorrow it's the Age UK advice session in the village hall in a nearby village. I've had dealings with Age UK before and they are really kind and helpful, so I'm hoping to get some good answers. Husband will have to take me as it's not in walking distance (I can't walk far anyway) but he's not coming in with me - I need to talk to them alone without him butting in all the time, he can't keep silent to save his life.
I don't know if this is a taste of things to come, but we had several power cuts yesterday evening - each one lasting just a minute or two, the power coming back on for 10 mins or so and then going off again. Once it was back on, the lights kept flickering too. We frequently get power cuts here anyway, but usually only one at a time, not several. Well, at least it gave us a chance to test out our new battery lights we bought a few weeks ago, for just this sort of occurrence.