Sunday, March 17, 2013

Round About A Pound...

Once upon a time nothing seemed to be priced in round figures, reason being because if we saw something sold for 99p we always thought "great, less than a £1 (it always seemed to feel a lot less)".   Same thoughts when we saw (say) a 'ready-meal' priced at £1.99p  "great bargain, a meal for under £2, how good is that?". 
Even large items (like sofas) would be sold for 'under £3,000"(with a price tag of £2,999).  How easily we can be persuaded that what we see isn't really as good as it seems.

Suddenly things have changed.  Now we see many food items have gone that extra mile (or added that penny) and now have £1 printed on the packaging.  My favourite liquorice allsorts are £1 a bag. A 'net' of oranges (and lots of other fresh fruit and veg) also £1 a bag.  True, sometimes these are on "extra special offer" at 50p a bag, but not really half price, just a lot less in the bag, and quite honestly feel that if we shopped around we could find the same produce sold loose at a price that would enable us to buy more than provided in those £1 or 50p 'packages'.

At one time the supermarkets would boast that if we bought their products we could make a meal to serve four for 'under' £4.  That rose to a meal for 4 for 'under' £5.  Now it seems that they have given that up and begun tempting us with 'dining in' offers (three courses plus a bottle of wine) for 'only' £10 (and that's just a meal for TWO).  

Another thing that's happening is that now packaging has (say) £1 printed on it, the price will probably not rise for months (perhaps even a year or two).  This doesn't mean the weight/contents will stay the same.  Already we are getting less choccies in a tin of Quality Street (or similar), and five bars of something like Kit-Kat for the price we used to pay for six.
With today's rising prices, it seems it is the cost we have to pay that concerns us most, few bother to check on the weights AS WELL.  So we need to be diligent to make sure we get what we pay for.

As Gill will be phoning at 9.00am and I will be mega-busy today, am aiming to publish today's blog before her call, so will press on replying to comments...

Not sure if you are referring to the gingerbread recipes I gave the other day TravellingNijas.  Or others you may come across in recipe books.  Generally speaking, once the mixture is made up, if it can be rolled out, then it will be a gingerbread 'biscuit', if soft enough to flop from a spoon it would cook like a fairly dense ginger cake. 
For a 'chewy' type of ginger 'cake', the Yorkshire Parkin is a good one to make, you can always blitz the oats down to turn it into a flour which would make the Parkin texture less 'rough'.

For everyone who has requested (Les, Cheesepare et al) am today giving the list of contents for the 'singles' basket.  Recipes using these contents (and ONLY these, no eggs, fats etc) are welcome, but a.s.a.p as I am hoping to have the booklet completed by the end of this month.

As you say Frugal Queen, once we become fairly regular customers with a local butcher, it is surprising how generous they can be once they know we are seeking the more unusual cuts that they often can't sell.  Myself sometimes take a huge bunch of fresh rosemary to the butcher (he lets people help themselves to it), and so this is another way to 'barter at the butchers''.

Certainly in the booklet Cheesepare,  I'm suggesting that oil from canned fish (sardines, tuna etc) can be used for frying fish cakes etc.  It could also be added as an ingredient in other dishes as long as these contain the fish, for the oil is very 'fishy' in taste. 
Liked your idea of offering fresh herbs to the Foodbank 'clients', but in all honesty doubt that many would know what to do with them.  Seems that when visits have been made to some houses, their kitchen cupboards are completely empty, no half bottle of vegetable oil, no salt and pepper, all because they live of the 'readies' and have never bothered to learn how to cook at all.
The suggestion of 'foraging' can be a great money-saver, but unless you know what is safe to gather and what is not, better the subject is left alone.  Those that know will, those that don't had better not be told.

Interesting that Rossendale Foodbank do supply fresh milk, butter and cheese Janet.  You didn't mention eggs (VERY useful when cooking, as are onions....).  The Morecambe Foodbank supplies milk, but only the UHT, they don't seem to bother much with dried milk which I would consider essential, so am hoping to persuade them to carry this as well (if none donated they could probably buy some using donated money). 

Myself am hoping to go to Morrison's late one afternoon to see what bargains are on offer jane, as am sure this is the best time to find foods that have been reduces as they have just about reached their 'sell-by' date.
The mention of dates has reminded me to 'spill the beans' on one of my 'fresh foods'.  Yesterday made my Beloved a Chinese stir-fry for his supper so I could use up all the odds and ends of veggies, meat etc.  Discovered a pack of sugar snap peas in the fridge drawer, and these were perfect to add as they looked so attractive mixed with strips of carrot, onion, bell pepper etc.  I even munched one or two pods as I was chopping up other veg.  So crisp and sweet, as if they had just been picked.
Couldn't remember buying these (recently) so looked at the date on the pack.  'Sell by' end of November (2012!) it said.  So that means they've been in the fridge (pack unopened) for over 3 months, yet still perfect. 

A welcome to Bets (or is it welcome back?) who raised my spirits when I read how her Granny used to make a savoury suet pudding, serving this with gravy (somewhat similar to yesterday's recipe, but even easier).  Proves that simple meals are often more enjoyable than the more elaborate (and costly).

Now we come to the requested Food Allocation for a single person.  This is not set by the Foodbanks as far as I know, but by some central bureau to make sure that everyone ends up with a 'balanced diet' over three days.  As with many packaged foods (sugar for instance), not all is used during that time, so some left to use another time. 
Not sure whether the 'slashed' items mean this OR that, or one of each.  The sample shown to me did have one of each, but regarding milk it was one larger pack of UHT milk and one smaller, but no dried milk.  Not every 'small' can was small.  'Small' is about a 200g can, but several were 400g because that's all they had.
Soup could be any flavour the volunteers chose according to what had been donated. Vegetables were the same (in the above it was one small tin of mushy peas and one of carrots).  If a client is vegetarian they have no canned meats, but an extra two cans of vegetables.
Regarding the pasta/rice/noodles.  Normally one pack of pasta or rice, but with the above it was a 500g pack of pasta penne, and I did see a couple of packs of those cheap noodles, PLUS (as an extra) a pack of savoury rice.
The cereal would be one small pack (perhaps porridge), but with the above were given three of those individual assorted packs that are often sold in packs of six different varieties.  One for each day.

Anyway here is the list.  Make from it what you will....
Food Allocation.....Single Person
Cereal: 1 small)
Soup (can/packet): 2 standard
Beans/spaghetti in sauce: 2 small
Tomatoes/pasta sauce: 2 small
Vegetables: 2 small
Meat: 2 small (or vegetarian: 2 small veg)
Fish: 1 small
Fruit: 2 small
Rice Pudding: 1 standard
Biscuits: 1 small pack
Sugar: 500g
Pasta/Rice/Noodles: 500g
Tea OR Coffee: 40 bags/small jar
Juice: 1 carton
Milk UHT/powder: 1 Carton/pkt
Extra treats when available:
Sauces: 1 pkt
Chocolate: 1 small

Someone had scribbled 'potato' on the bottom of the paper, so not sure if this meant these had forgotten to be added to the list (there was a can of new potatoes in the 'basket').   In fact the Foodbank had added quite a few more (packet) items because they had them to spare and they needed to be  given out by their best-before date had been reached.  But not all food banks have enough spare to do this, and so for a recipe to work it has to be limited to what is in the 'allocation' although suggestions to add other ingredients (if you have them) could be included.

Regarding the recipes Janet, I could show some on this blog, but have suggested to those that print them up that they should put 'copyright Morecambe Foodbank' on the back cover, purely to prevent unscrupulous person 'stealing' the recipes and getting them published in a 'proper' cookbook, and making money for themselves this way.  Actually there is no copyright on recipes when it comes to the ingredients used, but the method of making is covered by this rule.
No reason why any food bank couldn't use the recipes - if they wished to -  so you or Kate (from the Rossendale Foodbank) could contact Annette at the Morecambe branch and get her to send you a copy of the booklet.  Suggesting this because it will be 'their' cookbook, not mine.  I just work out what to put in it and will have no say in what happens to it after printing.

Think I've managed to cover most of what I wished to 'chat' about today, and as time is pressing on, think I'll finish now to make sure my fingers are free to be glued to the telephone receiver for the next hour.

We are still getting weather reports of snow (mainly in Scotland) but this could work down the country.  At the moment the sun is shining, and although still very chilly outdoors, certainly seeing the snowdrops, crocus and miniature daffodils nodding their heads in the garden does make me feel that spring is not far behind. 
Think someone said that this time next week it will be Easter Sunday.  Lent will be over and we can all go back to having out 'treats' again.  My idea of denying myself something for Lent would probably be 'giving up dieting'.  Thankfully I didn't fall into that Devil's trap, although still struggling to lose those stubborn pounds.

Must stop rambling, get on with the editing and spellcheck (although that doesn't always work - so apologies for any errors).  Make the most of your day, and hope you find time to return to my open arms tomorrow.  If so - see you then.