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Top Oily Rag Town

We have been receiving quite a lot of mail recently from Whakatane, which got us wondering which is New Zealand's top oily rag town?

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman

We have been receiving quite a lot of mail recently from Whakatane, which got us wondering which is New Zealand’s top oily rag town? Whakatane would certainly be in the running to take that prestigious award, but come on New Zealand send us in your favourite money saving tips or recipes to cast a vote for your home town!

DF from Whakatane has sent in a pumpkin pie recipe used by her daughter in law who lives in Cape Town. “It’s a main dish but her kids eat it for pudding. This recipe serves 12. Ingredients: 4 cups cooked pumpkin/butternut, 1 cup flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, a pinch of salt, half a cup of sugar, 3 to 4 eggs (beaten), a sprinkle of cinnamon. Cook and mash the pumpkin/butternut. Sift in the flour, baking powder & salt. Add the sugar and beaten eggs. Pour into pie dish, sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake at 180C until edges pull away from pie dish (which will be about an hour).”

Jen from Whakatane writes, “If you cover rhubarb with water, and slowly bring to the boil, then pour off the water the bulk of the acidity will go down the drain. Add more water and when cooked you will only need a fraction of the sugar you would have needed before. Rhubarb cooked like this is comparatively 'acid free'.”

L.J. – yes, also from Whakatane – says, “My grandmother wanted me to share her tip after reading an article about food wastage. With soft biscuits she places them in the oven for a few minutes (even if they have filling) and they come out crisp, fresh and taste beautiful!”

C.W. from you know where, says “I read an item from someone, saying not to use a full strip of toothpaste on the toothbrush, and so save fifty percent. I am a retired dentist and always recommended my patients use a good quality electric toothbrush – I used to point out to them that it would pay for itself in saved toothpaste, as you can only put on a "blob", onto the small circular brush, whereas most people put a long strip, at least 3 times as much, on a normal brush, and then foam at the mouth with excess paste!”

J.M, also from Whakatane, says, “For cleaning glass-fronted wood burning fires – use a damp paper towel dipped into the cold ash. Rub over the glass. Absolute magic! Spread a piece of newspaper on the hearth to catch the mess.”

Just to prove Whakatane is not the only place to have good oily rag ideas Nana of five, from Rotorua has a great suggesting about teenagers and electricity. “When your teenagers have jobs and are still living with you, get them to pay the monthly power bill in lieu of a board payment. It is powerful (excuse the pun) motivation to turn off lights and heaters and have short showers. The more power they can save, the more money in their pockets at the end of the month. They will probably start policing other family members' power use too.”

Melanie from Auckland writes, “Here’s an idea to make a cheap jam or fruit to spoon onto porridge or desserts without using sweeteners or sugar. Boil down rhubarb then add 1/2 to one package of Weight Watchers jelly. Use berry flavours then put in fridge lovely over cereals and desserts; it’s even great on toast. Use your imagination with other fruits and jellies combined. You can also use regular jellies.”

Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. If you have a favourite tip then share it with others via or post it to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei 0140.

* 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