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Winter Warmth

While the country was coated in ice like a wedding cake we got thinking about ways to keep warm in winter - without having to go on holiday to a tropical island! Some people say there's nothing like a good hot cup of tea to make them feel warm.

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman

While the country was coated in ice like a wedding cake we got thinking about ways to keep warm in winter – without having to go on holiday to a tropical island! Some people say there’s nothing like a good hot cup of tea to make them feel warm. That got us thinking about meals that make you feel warm. Fortunately it’s something oily raggers throughout the country have been thinking too. Here are some of their ideas.

Homemade soup is easy to cook and best of all its cheap. Y.W. from Christchurch says, “To make very cheap stock for soup and other dishes, keep a 3-4 litre tub in the freezer to which you progressively add onion, garlic, carrot and celery trimmings and peelings as you make them. Don't add too much of the brown outer skin of onions as it is bitter – go for the ends and inner skins. Spring onion trimmings and leek trimmings also work. Also add chicken bones, whether raw or cooked. When the tub is full, add the contents of the tub and 2 teaspoons salt, 10 peppercorns, 4-6 bay leaves a big handful of parsley, and lots of water, into a big pot. Simmer it for 4 hours. Allow to cool, lift out most of the solid stuff with tongs, and sieve the liquid. Taste for salt and add a little more if needed. You can do the same with other meat bones, e.g. beef and lamb and venison. You can mix all red meat bones together but don't mix red meat and chicken.”

T.S makes free soup – well almost!  “Any cooked vegies left over after dinner, pop into a clean ice cream container and pop in freezer. Cut all the vegies into approximately the same size first and continue to do this until container is full. Defrost. Fry an onion in a little oil, add contents of container, add home-made stock or a teaspoon or two of stock powder mixed in water, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and puree. Season with salt and pepper. You can add 1/4 cup cream if desired for a rich creamy soup.”

Soups are also ideal for work lunches – keep warm in a thermos if you don’t have a microwave at work.

There are lots of low-cost feel-warm protein rich meaty meals. Crock pot meals are perfect for chilly days. Just throw everything into the pot when you leave to go to work and by the time you get home dinner will be ready!

MN from Wellington has a favourite hearty crock pot meal for a hungry family: “Place mince in the crock pot, add a chopped onion, some garlic, salt, pepper, and a packet of dried tomato soup mix. Stir thoroughly. Then add handfuls of chunky veges such as carrots, celery, pumpkin, kumara, potato… almost anything at all! Mix then cover with a tin of Mexican spiced tomatoes and two tins of water. (Any type of tinned tomatoes can be used for this recipe – we wait for the specials at the supermarket and stock up.) You can make your mixture the night before and leave in the fridge, then just before you go to work turn on the crock pot and when you get home your meal will be ready. We serve it in bowls with a handful of finely sliced cabbage underneath and fresh bread or toast to accompany it. Yummy!” 

C.K., from Christchurch has a favourite slow cook curry sausages recipe. Turn crock-pot onto high for about 20 minutes and heat while preparing the rest. You will need: 500-750 grams sausages (I use pre-cooked), 2 medium onions sliced, 2 teaspoons curry powder, 1 x 440 gram can chopped tomatoes (I use the budget variety for the supermarkets.  What ever is the cheapest), 1 or 2 x 440 gram cans of baked beans or chilli beans (the cheap ones again), and 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Put the onions in the crock pot, then add the sausages.  Add the tomatoes beans and curry powder and brown sugar and mix. Turn crock pot onto low and cook for 6 – 8 hours.”

If you have a favourite winter meal share it with others by visiting the oily rag website or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei. The book Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag by Frank & Muriel Newman is available from all good bookstores or online at

* 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