Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No Two are the Same

Watching Jamie O's prog found it still didn't really reach the parts that matter.  Yet, much of what he said is very true - such as:  "You need to spend money to save money". 
Regular readers may remember that when I began this blog some six or seven years ago, I stocked up with both fresh and dry goods, allowing myself a budget of £250, and then challenged myself to live off that, buying nothing else and see how long I could last.  Ten weeks later most of the food had gone, but there was still a bit left, and unfortunately it was then I had cellulitis and had to spend nearly 3 weeks in hospital.  Even so, had proved that both B and myself ate exceptionally good meals for the whole of the ten weeks, and this for £25 a week (or £12.50p a head).

Of course, only people who have enough money to buy in bulk can do the above, although if a salary is paid monthly, and the housekeeping comes out of that, AND a credit card can be used, as long as the 'big shop' is done at the right time, paying by credit card means that it should be at least 4 weeks before the money is taken out of the bank account to pay for the purchases. 
This way, when working to a £10 a week budget (£40 a lunar month - slightly more for a calendar/credit card month) a wider variety of foods can be bought than if having a weekly shop.  We could get more to keep in store, and have the meats, fish, cheese etc that otherwise might not have been able to be afforded until week 3.
But not everyone has a credit card.  This is the problem when it comes to writing a blog where I hope to suit every need and taste, no two people are the same.  I have often to take the middle road, which is not as much help to some as I wish it could be.

Another thing Jamie showed was his large stock of 'larder products', saying that when we have these we can use them to make economical meals (making the more expensive go further etc).  This is very true and why I've hoped to inspire readers to have a go at the £10 a week challenge, and if possible do it the 'spend more- in one go - to save more' (using a credit card). The more'basics/dry goods we have in our larder, the easier it is to cut costs. 

Last night I was so engrossed with watching a repeat of the Hairy Bikers, that I missed seeing 'EastEnders' (shock, horror!) didn't even watch the later repeat.  But who cares, food progs are much more interesting.  Yesterday's particularly as they H.B's were talking about pub grub. 
Nowadays we seem so engrossed in cooking more elaborate dishes that we forget how good a chunk of crusty bread, a wedge of (good) cheese, and some pickled onions can taste.   Or just a good old traditional Steak and Kidney Pie.  Not forgetting Pork Pie (I love pork pie).

Later watched '....British Bake Off' and - this is now happening every time - I nodded off halfway through again.  Is it me, or is it something to do with the bitter taste that has been left in our mouths due to Paul H.? Or is it the contestants?  Somehow, the prog just doesn't seem to have the fascination for me that it used to.  Which is a pity.

Went to Barton Grange with B and our neighbour.  I was surprised and a bit shocked to see that the garden furniture, barbecue section had been screened off and could see that already the Christmas decorations/trees/chandeliers were being erected behind them.  Apparently it will be early October and then all will be revealed.  The Christmas display at B.G. is always worth seeing, so we will be going again in Oct or Nov. to see the full glory.

Didn't buy much, but got a pack of green lentils reduced to 99p from £2.40.  Haven't been able to get these at Tesco (or even Morrison's), and these are really tasty when boiled, then stirred into onions that have been fried with snippets of bacon.  My mum first cooked these in wartime after eating some given her by a Czechoslovakian refugee who was billeted with us (also her son).  As she was Jewish, she didn't include the bacon, but my mother did when she had any to spare (which wasn't often at that time).

Other than some daffodil, tulip and hyacinth bulbs (the latter to 'force'), my only other purchase of note was yet another book (I can't resist them).  This called 'Bombers and Mash', all about domestic life during World War II.  Flicking through it I saw lots of posters that encouraged us during that time, also the problems re rationing etc.  Pretty sure there are recipes too.  More about the book when I've read it.

Because Norma was here today, am a bit short on time, and for those who wrote in asking me not to stop blogging, can promise I will continue, even if not every day.  As I think Kathryn is finding, cutting down 'screen time' (computer etc), does free a lot more time to do something else, and - at least for me - makes me feel as though some pressure has been lifted from my shoulders.  When I read about it, it is surprising how many youngsters today seemed chained to their mobile phones, I Pods, tablets, computers, as if these are an addiction, almost as bad as drugs.  Do they get withdrawal symptoms if - for some reason - they are prevented from using these?  Am sure they do.

Sorry to hear you have back pain jane, perhaps this is due to the colder weather with dampness caused by the rain.  Myself am finding my knees are more painful over the past few days.
Am hoping to grit my teeth, wrap up with enough layers of clothing, extra blanket on the bed etc, and not put on the heating until October.  When in Leeds,  (we were there for 40 years, and much of that time the weather was as it should be), we always switched the heating off at the end of April, and never put it back on again until the end of October - six months on, six months off.   Now it seems we switch it off at the end of May and feel the need to put it back on again at the start of September.  No  wonder our fuel bills are rising so rapidly.

You mention Barbara, of learning how to make and keep to a budget is very definitely something that should have priority in schools.  Not sure whether it was done in my day (certainly not at my school anyway), but didn't have much problem when married as it was pretty common for housewives to buy a 'household account' book where they could list their daily/weekly purchases and payments and keep a regular record. In most instances the pages were already printed with things like 'meat', 'fish', groceries, bread, milk, fruit and vegetables etc.  We just had to write the amount of money spent on each of these. 
Also I had a large cash box.  One of those black metal ones with a gilt stripe on it (still have a small one that holds all the old 2p and 1p pieces that I now use to fill the pastry cases when baking 'blind').
The big one I had was very long with five slots in the top and the weekly budget would be divided up between each section: one for the milkman, one for the baker, one for the butcher, one for the grocer etc. Or I might lump the food money together and use the other slots to pay a little in each week to go towards the electricity bill and the gas bill, and probably the telephone.  Other times a slot would be to save money for a holiday, or for Christmas.  There were so many bills, so many things to save for that I can't remember them all, but the cash box certainly worked well.  Today (because we no longer have worries about whether B earns enough to pay his way - he was often on commission only, and many times out of work), the state pension is enough to cover the necessary and as bills are now paid by direct debit there is no need to fear those red 'demand' (pay or else) letters plopping on the doormat any more).

Dear Stephanie, you are not anywhere near 'old'.  Just had a long enough life to become experienced in things that really matter.  Glad you mentioned power cuts as I nearly forgot to mention the programme 'Blackout' on the other evening.

The above prog. was very gloomy, and it did show what could (and probably would) happen if our nation's electrical grid system failed.  In a way had almost a taste of this when we lived in Coventry, for several days after the Blitz when we had no gas, electricity or water.   Thankfully, my mother had filled the bath with cold water, and we were able to use that for cooking/washing etc, along with  rain water from the butts in the garden. 
Cooking had to be done on the coal/log fire in our front room, and not just for my mother, father and myself, but for a household of ten as my parents had collected some refugees whose houses had been bombed.  All I can remember is my mum cooking pan after pan of porridge over the fire to feed us all, but am sure she managed to cook other things too, but not a lot as she had to feed all from just 'our rations' as our visitors probably had no ration books with them.  I don't know all the details, but the memory of what happened when we lived in Coventry during the war years stays firmly fixed into my memory.

In a disaster such as the above, the only thing to do is go home and pull up or respective drawbridges. One thing wartime taught me was that we should always keep a certain amount of food in store, even if only for small emergencies, but food is not the main priority.  Water (or liquid in some form) is a NECESSITY.  We can live without food for many days, but not without water. 
Remembering wartime (again!), with all the bombing and dreadful things happening, great shortage of food etc, am pretty sure there was no rioting or looting as was shown in the programme. Could be wrong but possibly looters (a that time) would be shot when discovered. I dread to think what life would be like today if a disaster struck. 

Have made a note of your request Angela, and will give some recipes for one or two servings, but not today as have 'things to do' and already it is lunchtime.

Apologies to those who sent in comments and have not had a reply.  All comments have been read with pleasure and interest.  Hope to get myself back on track again tomorrow and catch up with my blog.  Hope to see you all then.  TTFN.