Oily Rag: For a cheep meal, crack a few eggs

By Frank, Muriel Newman

Did you know that, according to the Egg Producers Federation, every one of us consumes about 230 eggs a year? That's about as many as the typical back-yard chicken produces in a year.

It should be no surprise that eggs come in for close inspection by those of frugal dispositions. To find out how much eggs cost, we went to a supermarket. We looked only at the 7-sized eggs. Here's the per egg cost, from cheapest to dearest:

1 dozen 36c each (32c on special)

1 dozen pack 37c

dozen 39c

1 dozen (free range) 60c

dozen (free range) 61c

10 pack (organic) 85c

In this case, cheaper by the dozen does hold true, especially on special. The cost of free-range eggs is another perch up, and the top price was for organic eggs at a whopping 85c each. We have not looked at the per-egg cost of buying a tray (2 dozen) but some oily raggers tell us a tray costs about the same as two one-dozen cartons, in other words, a 20 per cent saving. Then there are gate-sales, direct from poultry farmers, or having your own egg production unit.

An oily ragger in Whangarei told us how he got hold of a free chicken coop (only minor repairs required). He stocked it with three young Brown Shavers, which are fed kitchen scraps kitchen and mash. The cage is movable so the chickens also provide a constant source of manure, which is dug in to form fertile ground for next year's harvest.

K.J. from Wellington has sent in this "no fail" custard recipe. "Put a litre of milk into a pan on the stove. Heat it until almost at boiling point. Meanwhile, in a big mixing bowl, beat one egg, add 2 tablespoons of sugar (more or less to taste) and a tablespoon of cornflower. Mix with a little cold milk until smooth and very runny. Pour in about a third of the hot milk, mix and quickly pour back into the pan. Stir continually until the custard is warm and thick. Vary the amount of cornflour for thickness."

K.W. from Waitakere City has this quick chicken recipe to share. You need: 1 chicken or chicken pieces, 1 cup of strained tea from a teapot, 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1-2 tablespoons honey. "Cut chicken into portions and place in a casserole dish. Mix tea, honey and soy sauce, then pour over chicken. Bake at 180C until cooked. Add potatoes wrapped in foil to oven at the same time. Carrot and other vege can be included to save electricity. This is a family-sized meal, but I live alone and buy only one or two portions of chicken at a time and scale it down. I bought smaller casserole dishes from the Salvation Army, and whenever I use my oven I make sure that I cook two different casseroles at once to save electricity. On the second night it's just a quick zap in the microwave to heat my dinner."

M.E. from Auckland buys fresh or frozen whole chickens on special and cuts them up (known as jointing, but it's really dis-jointing!). "It is so easy, and you get 2 full chicken breasts, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 drumsticks and a carcass for chicken stew and dumplings. Cooking for one, a chicken can last me up to two weeks. I also get three servings out of each breast by cubing and using in gravy and steamed rice dishes like butter chicken, Thai curries or teriyaki chicken."

Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ.

Submit tips online at www.oilyrag.co.nz

- Hamilton News

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