Archive for April, 2009

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Quick dairy bleg

April 29, 2009

Where can a man get cheap cheesecloth in Wellington? I need to strain me some curds.

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Yoghurt report

April 28, 2009

OK, I’m sold. The end product was delicious and thick.

On the frugality front, I think on balance making your own yoghurt is a winner in several ways. (Yesterday’s post has links to instructions).

  1. The actual time investment appears to be in heating and then cooling the milk. Specifically, you need to keep an eye on the milk and stir it if you don’t want a boiling milk disaster. Depending on the texture you want, and whether you’re prepared to risk the dormant bugs in pasteurised milk taking over, it appears from my reading that you can get away with not heating the milk past 40C — which would save you the cooling time. Anyway, I put the milk on while I was prepping dinner, so the miracle of multi-tasking meant this wasn’t actually an issue.
  2. There is no need for special equipment beyond what I normally have in the house.
  3. A kilogram of plain yoghurt is about twice the price of a kilogram of low-fat milk. Specifically, one saves about $2. We go through a kg of yoghurt almost every week, so that’s $100 annually. I’d like to find $100 in the cutlery drawer, wouldn’t you?
  4. The end result could be considered superior to the bought one, so there’s an added win.

Today I had a little look at Woolworth’s online supermarket just to remind myself of costs. I found this instructive. It’s much easier to scan their page than it is to be in a supermarket and scan a shelf. Have you noticed how hard it is to concentrate and do mental arithmetic in a supermarket? I’m sure they’re designed that way.

Want bifidus or acidophilus? Just use the dregs of your last commercial yoghurt for your starter culture. The posh special culture yoghurt is about $6kg rather than $4.50 or so. We can culture the bacteria ourselves when we make our own yoghurt, so it interests me that we are to pay $1.50 for special bugs. Are they that special? I suspect that this is actually an example of segmentation. People who are into yoghurt for “inner health” reasons are people who are prepared to pay a premium, which the manufacturers obligingly charge. I tend to feel this is a racket, so expect to see Dr Judd’s Cultural Treasure yoghurt in the dairy chiller soon. (My Dad is distinguished looking and has an actual PhD, so we’ll put his portait on the back of the container.)

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Antibacterial soap is a waste of time and money

April 27, 2009

Or so says this post on the mundane but currently very relevant subject of how to wash your hands. Be well, everybody.

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Yoghurt

April 26, 2009

Made batch of yoghurt just now, partly following the Tibby Method ™ and partly Harold McGee at the NYT. Full report tomorrow.

I’m not sure this is really that frugal, since yoghurt is basically only twice the price of milk and it takes a while, but I have high hopes anyway.

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More reasons to luuuurve Moore Wilsons.

April 23, 2009

I found a 3kg tin of roasted capsicums for $12, and a whopping 700g tin of anchovies for $15!

Now, 80g tins of anchovies normally sell for about $5, so that’s too much of a deal to go past. Mind you, if you hardly eat anchovies then… don’t bother. But me I think they should be in almost everything.

The peppers are good in pasta dishes during the winter when peppers are both out of season and very expensive.

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They cheat us, washing powder edition

April 22, 2009

The chaps at NZBC notice a curious phenomenon in washing powder packaging.

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Cheap exercise — barefoot running

April 21, 2009

Running has always been one of the cheapest ways to exercise. No need for classes, or training, or admission fees, and no need for equipment except clothes you can sweat in and special shoes.

Except it turns out that the special shoes might be a giant con too.

I saw this story from the Daily Mail yesterday, but it’s not the first one I’ve read that claims that running barefoot or in plain sneakers is better for you than running in expensive “running shoes.” In fact, you get the impression that they should really be called “injury shoes.”

Money quote:

Despite all their marketing suggestions to the contrary, no manufacturer has ever invented a shoe that is any help at all in injury prevention.

If anything, the injury rates have actually ebbed up since the Seventies – Achilles tendon blowouts have seen a ten per cent increase. (It’s not only shoes that can create the problem: research in Hawaii found runners who stretched before exercise were 33 per cent more likely to get hurt.)

In a paper for the British Journal Of Sports Medicine last year, Dr Craig Richards, a researcher at the University of Newcastle in Australia, revealed there are no evidence-based studies that demonstrate running shoes make you less prone to injury. Not one.

I can attest that back when I had time to run, I switched to barefoot running for half hour sessions on the pavement. No problem, and previous issues with pain in my shins never re-occurred.

My Dad trained with Murray Halberg, following Arthur Lydiard‘s method based on “long slow distance”. Dad is fond of recounting how they pounded the hills of Auckland for hours wearing canvas sandshoes “and we never got hurt.”

So, dear readers: we recommend running, if you like it — and it’s now cheaper than ever before!