Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cost of Living

With the mention of feeding one person on a budget of 66p a day, my little grey cells are working madly again. You know, it could be done. Start off with a bowl of porridge made the Scottish way with water and salt and that should take care of 5p. Doubt that a tea-bag costs much, and could always be used twice or thrice if you like weak tea. Drink tea without milk or sugar (same with coffee) again you save loads. Come lunchtime, a bowl of home-made vegetable soup, and still around 50p left for the main meal of the day. An omelette served with fresh greens (free or garden produce) could take care of that. Might even have money left over. Expect a weight loss, but that can be all to the good. As ever, cutting costs can be somewhat easier to prove on paper than actually rolling up our sleeves and doing it for real.

Even so, the recipes today do use cheaper sources of protein, so at least I am still tightening the purse strings not to mention our apron strings as midriffs get smaller due to eating less. Some people pay to get this effect, we can get it for free. Well, they do say every cloud has a silver lining!

Onion and Potato Quiche: serves 4 - 6 - 8
1 short-pastry flan case, baked blind (approx 8")
1 large onion, finely sliced
olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tblsp chopped fresh herbs
1 small can new potatoes, drained and sliced
2 oz (50g) grated hard cheese
2 medium eggs
5 fl oz (150ml) cream, yogurt or milk (see above)
Fry the onion in as little oil as you can get away with (or use saved 'free' chicken fat, or bacon fat etc), stirring in the garlic as the onions soften. Spread over the base of the pastry case and sprinkle with half the herbs, place layers of potato over the onion, together with the cheese and herbs. Beat the eggs with the cream or chosen 'liquid', and pour this over the layers, give a little shake to get rid of trapped air bubbles, then bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for half an hour or until set. Serve with a green salad.

This next recipe uses canned salmon, but it could also be made with any other canned fish. A good recipe when you have mashed potatoes left over. Or you could make it using the cheap instant mash. If you use canned fish in oil, the oil can be used for the frying. If serving only a few people, the fried eggs could be omitted, but to make a good family dish, include these as they make the rest of the ingredients go further.
Looking at the ingredients, with the addition of milk, they would also make a good filling for a quiche, so what - in this instance feeds 2, could then (with the milk and pastry case) be extended to feed four or more.
Salmon Hash: serves 2
12 oz (350g) mashed potatoes
1 small can salmon. drained and flaked
3 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 shallot or 2 spring onions, chopped
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tblsp oil
2 fried eggs (optional)
Put the potatoes, salmon, tomatoes, onions and parsley in a bowl and mix together gently, avoiding breaking the fish up too much. Put the oil in a frying pan over medium heat, then when hot, add the potato mixture, flattening it down with a fish slice so that it covers the base of the pan. Fry for 3 - 5 minutes until golden brown beneath. Break up with the fish slice, stir around to mix together, then flatten again to a slightly smaller 'pancake' and cook for a further 3 minutes. By that time it may be possible to turn the pancake over to crisp up the topside, but if it breaks, just flatten again and give it a minute or two more.
Reduce heat to low to keep the hash warm, and fry two eggs in another pan. To serve, divide the hash between two plates and top each with a fried egg. Serve immediately.