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Big money saving tips and giant pumpkins

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Frank and Muriel Newman

The mail bags have been bulging with fantastically frugal tips from readers. In fact, we can't recall having received so many letters, which just goes to show how popular living off the smell of an oily rag is. More and more families are realising its possible to live well without high cost. Here are some of the tips received this week.

R.D. has a tip about saving money on milk and yoghurt. "I used to buy yellow top milk and drink up to half a litre a day, to make sure I got enough calcium and protein. Now I use skim milk powder plus a 3 month calcium prescription from my GP, which costs $3. Skim milk powder makes 10 litres of milk per 1kg. I also have a yoghurt maker. To make the first one I get a probiotic packet mix, use 1-2 tablespoons plus 140g skim milk powder. I keep the rest in the fridge in recycled peanut butter container. Then I just leave some in the container to act as a starter for the next batch, plus 140gs milk powder."

Stella Hughes from Napier has a tip about transporting pets. "Put in a pet cage and cover with a towel to keep pet calm. Securing the cage with a seat belt gives extra protection in case of an accident."

Shirley from Masterton has a Vogel-type bread recipe. "You will need: 2� cups (315g) white flour, 2� cups (315g) wholemeal flour, � cup (75g) kibbled wheat, � cup (35g) kibbled rye, � cup (70g) sunflower seeds, � cup (22g) rolled oats, 2 tsps Surebake yeast or 1 tsp Bakels dried yeast, 2 tsp salt, and 3 cups plus 1 tbsp of warm (30-35�C) water (total 765ml). Combine all in a large bowl and mix till a shaggy dough. Place in loaf pan and leave on top of hot water cylinder for 5 hours or until risen to the top of the pan. Fan bake at 220�C for 45 minutes. The ingredients can be altered (e.g. different flours, seeds, etc) successfully." Shirley estimates the cost including electricity to be about $2.20 a loaf, which is less than half the normal retail price.

Anonymous from Rotorua has this Hurry Curry Beans recipe. "You will need an onion, some cooking oil, 1 tablespoon of cheap brand curry, 500g mince, 2 cans of baked beans (house brand or on special), cooked rice, and green beans. Fry up onions with oil and curry till clear. Add the mince and fry until brown. Add baked beans and simmer for 15 minutes. Add seasoning then eat with rice and green beans. Yummy and filling!"

And now, from the "that's fairly oily rag interesting" department - we have in the past mentioned growing pumpkins, and the fun of growing giant pumpkins. Well a new New Zealand record has just been set by the Barton family from Parua Bay (Whangarei) with a 721kg whopper. That smashed the previous record of 540kg set last year by a grower in Taupo, and is only 100kg from the world record of 821kg grown Wisconsin, USA. We have no doubt it won't be too many years before we see a New Zealand grower as the giant pumpkin world champ!

The trick in growing really big pumpkins starts with the right seed, and feeding the plant lots of horse do-do-dung and other fertilisers including commercial formulas, seaweed, and fish emulsion.

If you want to find out more about growing giant pumpkins have a look at It's a great site with lots of "how to" tips to get you growing.

While on the subject of pumpkins, if you have a favourite pumpkin recipe then please send it in to us so that we can share it with others. You can contact us via the oily rag website ( or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei. Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ.

* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at

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