Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Which Path to Travel?

Do hope that some of you were able to listen to The Food Programme (either Sunday or the Monday repeat) as I'd love to hear your view on this. It was very good to hear 'the girl called Jack' mention how she costed out virtually everything she cooked/made, and I was very impressed with her version of 'restaurant style salmon mousse' (made with a pot of fish paste and yogurt!!). Something I ought to have a go at myself. Problem with me is that once 'Jack' mentioned the cost (per head: 27p) of the above 'mousse', my mind instantly went to 'what else can be made for that amout - per head (and more nourishing)'. Chicken liver pate for instance. Yet, in today's world, perhaps it is more 'the treats' that seem to be missing from pauper's plates. Good nutrition is not the be all and end all of eating (even though it should be). A man on the programme mentioned that life is nothing without treats, yet myself know that it IS possible to make plenty of foodie delights that cost a lot over the counter, but pennies to make at home. And there's the rub. We first have to learn how. Mixig together fish past and yogurt a child could do. So that at least is a start. Have to say my 'curry dip': creme fraiche or yogurt with a teaspoon of curry paste and ditto mango chutney also falls into that category. 'Jack's' mention of having only £10 a week to spend on food (for herself and small son), again made my mind tick over again. £10 is quite a lot of money when spent wisely, but again we need 'the knowledge'. Something else puzzled me. 'Jack' mentioned using food banks, once a week for 8 weeks, yet I've been told that only three 'allocations' are allowed (one per week for 3 weeks), although 'Jack' said she could have only 7 food items, plus some fresh fruit and veg. Here in Morecambe a lot more food is allocated, approx £40's worth at a time, but no fresh foods. Perhaps it's all to do with the area and who runs the food banks. What would I buy for £10 to last me a week (with some left over for a following week - or to feed a small child?). I've a good idea, but think this will be my next challenge. Go to the supermarket and see what I can buy for that amount. For anyone on a very tight budget, unfortunately the supermarket would have to be within walking distance as bus fares would take a goodly proportion of the budget before we even start shopping. Alternatively we could shop at local shops but prepare to pay more for the same foods. It's often hard for me to remember that many people who have a very tight food budget often don't keep many foods in store as there is little money left over each week to begin building up stocks. Once we have a few packs of 'dry goods' and tinned foods to tall back on, then we can spend less each week on what is needed, using the surplus money to build up even more stocks. All we then need is knowing the best way to put them all together. I've personally always felt that if someone is interested enough in food (whether the costing side or the actual cooking), then they will make good use of their kitchen. Some people are just not interested at all in cooking and even dangling the carrot of 'look how much money you can save' is not enough to encourage them to make a start. My B tried that approach when I had a car. "Learn how to do car maintenance" he would say "it will save you loadsa money". But I just wasn't interested. Thinking about it, he could have looked after my car as well as his, after all I cooked meals for him, but then a man's mind doesn't work that way. This mention of 'men's minds' has led me away from food poverty to an article I read yesterday by Mindy Hammond (in the Sunday Express supplement), maybe some readers also have read this. Mindy (who is married to Richard H -of 'Top Gear' fame and other TV progs), wanted to improve her kitchen, but her husband felt it would be too expensive. Considering Richard owns a goodly number of cars, and also motorbikes, plus - I believe - has the use of a helicopter (could have got that bit wrong), and almost certainly earns a LOT of money, you would think that spending a few thousand £££s on providing a new kitchen and Aga for his wife would not be too much to expect. At least they have 'compromised'. New worktops, an extra cupboard or two and a new (maybe reconditioned)Aga. It can't be easy living with a man like Richard who - considering all the TV works he does, hardly ever seems to find time to be at home. But I do enjoy reading his wife's 'diary of her life' each week. With such an amazing variety of animals to care for (horses, ponies, ducks, chickens, sheep, dogs, cats....) how does she find the time to clean, feed and water them all, drive her girls to school, do the shopping, the house-work, the laundry...? Am sure, in the background, there are people employed to help her, but it wouldn't make such interesting reading if they were mentioned. Returning to the topic of 'food poverty', is it me, or am I now just too old to see things as they really are? In today's world it does seem that providing food for the family is more to do with buying the 'ready-prepared' and cooking (other than re-heating) doesn't really come into it any more. Even if it did, like the man on the programme said - he doesn't want to know about the 'economy meals' as shown in Sunday Supplements etc, or the '100 different ways to use rice'. He just wants to know general stuff then make his own mind up what he will do with what he buys. Have to say I'm now extremely puzzled as to what road to take next. It's doubtful I'll travel along the 'fish paste and yogurt' path as that's just not 'me'. Maybe the difference between me and the rest of the world is that I'd take time to make some chicken liver pate (much cheaper than 27p a head), because I do have the time, others may prefer the speedy 'paste and yog' approach, and who would blame them? I'd be more than interested to receive as many comments from readers as possible as to the road they have chosen to take re 'food budgeting'. Do they prefer the quick and speedy approach, or do they wish for economy recipes that make take a little more time, but have more food value? Have any been 'forced' to learn to cook (as happened to me) because of food poverty, but then found they enjoy the 'making and baking', or do they still find they don't enjoy cooking. If so, why not? Two comments to reply to. One from Sooze (and welcome, or welcome back). We do have a Morrison's about 3 miles from where we live, so will look out for those spicy sausages next time I go. Loved hearing about the 'pantry meals' you have been making Margie. This is a perfect time of year to use up the rice, pasta, couscous, etc as they make great 'bases' for all sorts of cold summer salads. My comp. wouldn't accept the typing again this morning, but by devious ways I've managed to get it to accept it, not the normal print type, but hope it publishes as normal. Tomorrow is Norma the Hair day, so will again take that day off 'blogging' and return on Thursday, and although I miss writing daily, have to say the extra free time I am now getting has improved my life considerably, even though some of it I do spend sitting in the garden getting more of a tan. Almost feel guilty at the good weather we are having in Morecambe, the rest of the country seemingly suffering from very heavy downpours of rain, flooding, and extreme thunderstorms. We too have had rain, often during the night, the days still fairly sunny, yesterday being very hot sun all afternoon (so I sat outside and enjoyed it). So far we haven't had any thunderstorms other than a slight rumble. Storms are forecast over Cumbria today so maybe we will catch the edge. Have to wait and see. Seem to have twisted my left knee as it pains me greatly when I walk. Feels like it's being stabbed with sharp knives from the inside with each step. I shout with the pain sometimes. Have found it easier if I use a walking stick in each hand as then I can take more weight off the leg as I walk. Have had this pain before, is it something called 'housemaid's knee'? Am sure it will improve, but the sooner the better as far as I'm concerned. One of my favourite 'easy-to-cook' meals is just pasta with pesto sauce. Usually I buy ready-made pesto, but as I have plenty of home-grown herbs and the rest of the ingredients in my store cupboard will make 'salsa verde' to use as an alternative. You see, this is one of the problems that I find difficult to cope with. I love giving economical and cheap recipes, but almost always expect readers to have most (if not all) the ingredients ready to hand. So my recipes won't suit everyone, however cheap and tasty they are. Salsa Verde' 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley 1 clove garlic, crushed zest and juice of 1 lemon 2 tbsp capers, chopped 3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper Chop the parsley finely, then add the remaining ingredients. Toss through cooled, cooked pasta. As the comp is playing up again, think I'd better leave it before it shuts down altogether. Do hope this publishes properly (spell check won't work so excuse errors). Hope to able to return to you on Thursday, see you then.