Frugal Summer Treats

Fresh plums on wooden background .

Fresh plums on wooden background .

Fresh summer produce, either from your garden or the roadside stall, is delicious and great for you! Oily rag gardeners are being rewarded for their investment of time and energy with barrow loads of fresh and nutritious produce. The problem for many will be finding ways to use the bounty – but it’s a good problem to have because the oily rag community has lots of ideas for summer treats using in-season and plentiful fruits.

To make a cheap and very filling pudding, try a plum cobbler (this has nothing to do with holes in your shoes!). A cobbler in the kitchen is a deep-dish pie with a thick crust. Any type of fruit can be used, but this is what you need for a plum cobbler. Preheat the oven to 200 C. Take 650g of any type of plums (red ones look very good), 300ml water, 100g sugar and 25g chopped almonds (optional). Place plums and water in saucepan and simmer until soft. Remove and place in a greased baking dish with half the cooking liquid, plus the sugar and almonds. Rub 75g butter or margarine into 175g self-raising flour and add 25g sugar and enough milk to mix into a soft dough. Roll dough out to 10ml thick, cut into rounds. Place rounds on top of the plums. Brush the rounds with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the top is golden. Serve hot with cream, custard, or yoghurt.

For a really gorgeous and dead simple peach pudding to show off to dinner guests, take 450g peaches, simmer in a little water and sugar until soft, then drain and place in a shallow heat proof dish. Sprinkle over with 50g blanched or toasted almonds or sunflower seeds and leave to cool (if using preserved peaches, simply omit the cooking part). Whip 300ml of cream until it is thick, and spread evenly over the fruit completely covering it. Sprinkle 100g soft brown sugar over the cream and place under a hot grill until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Remove the pudding and serve at once.

Banana treats – bananas are cheap to buy and versatile. They can be used in lots of tasty b-a-n-a-n-a-l-i-c-i-o-u-s ways. Slice a banana and spread over a piece of toast. Sprinkle brown sugar over the top of the banana and grill.

To make a banana smoothie take 2 very ripe bananas, 200g of natural yoghurt (homemade of course), and a few scoops of vanilla ice cream. Puree all ingredients together in a blender and pour into glasses. If it’s too thick, just add a little milk. Smoothies can be adapted to use any soft fruit that you have available.

Banana split. Slice a banana lengthwise. Place the two halves on a plate. Place two scoops of your favourite ice cream in the middle of the banana slices and add a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and pour over your favourite topping.

American style pancakes are great for breakfast, lunch, or as an after dinner dessert. All you need is 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of milk, 1 egg (use a duck egg if you have one), a couple of tablespoons of sugar, a heaped teaspoon of baking powder, a tablespoon of melted butter, and a pinch of salt. Mix the dry ingredients. Lightly beat the egg and combine with the milk and butter, then add to the dry ingredients. Blend together and pour about a quarter of a cup of the batter into a hot, lightly greased frypan. Cook until bubbles break the surface, flip, and finishing cooking. Pile the hot pancakes on a warm plate, with a dot of butter between each. Serve with heaps of maple or golden syrup and cream or yoghurt, and pile on top lots of chopped fresh summer fruits.

Melanie from Auckland has this easy super cheap ice cream recipe. “Freeze left over ripe bananas in slices or chunks. Blend in a food processor until ice cream consistency. Add flavouring ideas – like shredded coconut, a splash of cream or coconut milk, a spoonful of Milo or cocoa, nuts, peanut butter, chocolate chips. Give it one more blast and you are good to go. Easy, cheap, healthy and yummy.”

If you have a favourite way of using fresh summer fruits to share with others, please send it in – you can do that by visiting the oily rag website ( or by writing to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

By Frank and Muriel Newman. Read more here.