Monday, January 20, 2014

Lessons to Learn

I read that Edwina Currie has put her foot in it again.  She has been pointing a finger at those who are forced to use food banks, and - as so often happens when we generalise (as I sometimes do), any criticism of a few is taken that everyone is tarred with the same brush.  
Personally (and feel free to hate me when I say this), I believe that much of Edwina's criticism was right, her main point being that when people did have money, they wasted it on having tattoos - this being one thing she mentioned (personally, I never see the point of tattoos, little ones are OK but great armfuls look so ugly, and if I'd had a large tattoo done I'd make sure that when I died that bit of my skin would be removed and made into a lampshade or something to remember me by, then at least some of the cost wouldn't have been wasted).  Edwina went on to say that in times past people (such as her parents and grandparents) would always make sure they put a little money away regularly to save for a rainy day.  Also today people haven't even bothered to learn how to cook.

Today it seems that it is common to spend 'disposable' income, for doesn't 'disposable' mean to get rid of? We've even been 'groomed' to do just this, as after the war, when our nation needed to raise itself from the ashes, there was much need for industry to sell products to get the country back on its feet, and we were all urged to buy new instead of making do.  As those were the days before technology had moved robots onto the factory floor, there was little unemployment, so more money to spend, and - bless their little cotton socks!!! the banks helped by introducing credit cards so we could all buy now and pay later (and keep on buying and paying...).  We cannot blame the present generation for this is how life has become.  When a recession bites, those who know how to cope have probably gone to the great kitchen in the sky.  Today cooking can seem quite an alien skill, and I would feel exactly the same if I was suddenly expected to learn how to keep our car in running order, I wouldn't have the slightest understanding of how to, and even given books to read to learn what should be done, quite honestly would never wish to even make a start.  Let someone else do it. 

As ever, I blame the government and banks for the situation as it is today. Once the war and rationing was over, quite rapidly the 'working classes' had a great improvement in their standard of living,  so wives and mothers then went out to work to earn more so they could improve their already good life even more, and to ease their domestic work-load many varieties of convenience foods and 'ready-to-heat' meals began to be sold.  There was no real need to learn how to cook any more.  This is where we stand today.   There have always been recessions, but in the 'old days' people managed far better as they had learned enough skills to cope until things got better.  Needs then were not so great, holiday abroad had not been invented (except for the very wealthy), cars were only for the rich, clothes were patched, socks were darned, meals were always home-cooked, and a lot of fruit and vegetables grown on allotments or in gardens.  No TV, no computers, DIY was what everyone did, from carpentry to home-decorating.

Today it seems that many people don't even bother to read books.  Certainly I read a lot less now I have TV to watch, but still read some books (mainly non-fiction), and back reading a whole lot more now B regularly goes to our local library.
This last weekend have been re-reading a book of mine I unearthed from the bottom of a cardboard box (filled with books we had brought with us, but still not properly unpacked).  It was packed full of suggestions and recipes for what people used to make in the  past, but that manufactures now make and expect us to buy (and buy we do).  Things like cosmetics, room fresheners, cleaning materials, laundry softeners, and lots more.  I was amazed at how we are surrounded by 'the makings', but not having the knowledge then spend our money (over the year quite a lot of money) buying the 'ready mades'.
My greatest delight was finding that horse chestnut leaves and conkers really DO have a (not edible) use, and this next autumn I'll be making use of them. 
If anyone is interested in making and using some of these preparations, then I'll pass on the really useful recipes.

It's sad that Edwina Currie has upset so many people (mainly organizations). What wasn't said was that foodbanks supply foods for those who - for many reasons - don't have enough money AT THAT TIME to buy food.  Maybe they would have just managed if food and fuel prices hadn't risen so much over recent years/months.  The blame should be place more with companies who keep putting up their prices, and make enormous amounts of profit by doing so, this putting more money in their share-holders pockets, not to mention huge bonuses for their directors.  Am afraid that greed comes first these days. 

Reminding myself that it's not for me to say who is right and who is wrong (there is always another side to an argument), it was good to see 'a girl named Jack' doing a commercial for Sainsbury's.  That girl has gone a long way since she began her blog, and all power to her elbow.  If nothing else, it just goes to show that even when life is really hard, and you have to turn to using foodbanks, it is still possible to make this work FOR you, not against you. 

Sorry to hear you have not been feeling well Margie.  Do hope you will soon be better.  Am sure your soups will be comforting and 'do the job'.  What is it they say about chicken soup?  'Jewish penicillin' it is called, even the medical profession are admitting it does seem to help in curing colds and fever.
Let us hope the Cock-a-Leekie soup I'll be making for the Burns Night works as well, it's very similar in the making.
Like Margie, I do find adding a bit of spice to soups etc (Fiery chilli ketchup in may case) really does help to give us 'inner warmth', and there is nothing like a bit of this glow on a cold day to five us comfort.  Even found I don't need to put the central heating on for several hours once I've had my spicy soup.

A welcome to Carole. Can't really give advice re controlling diabetes, other than to say follow any you have been given by your diabetic nurse.  Even these can vary in what they say.  The one thing that has worked well with me is losing weight.  Still got more to lose (am at that dreaded 'plateau' at the moment), but hopefully my next check (in 5 months) will show even more improvement. 
The one thing I have found (after many years of yo-yo dieting) is that when we diet we always have a time when however little we eat, our weight stays the same.  But this is fine because at this time our bodies still seem to shrink, so we can feel/look slimmer even if our scales don't show a loss.  Maybe it is nature's way of giving our bodies time to tighten up the slack skin.  
Another thing is that if we reduce our food intake too much, then our body goes into starvation mode and stores every last little bit it can to see us through hard times (much the way we should save money to do the same).  If we then increase our calories slightly (eating extra protein is the best way) our metabolism then increases and our internal fires then begin to burn again more brightly.  For those who remember how real fires burn (in home grates) will remember that they burn very slowly when packed down with 'slack' at night, and shut down any draughts.  Next day, rake out the ashes, open up the vents to let air in, and the fire then begins to burn more brightly.  Perhaps that is what exercise is all about - just making us breathe more deeply to burn up our personal 'coals'.  Maybe I'll try standing at an open window and have an hourly deep-breathe to see if it has an effect on my weight.  Could be I'll have invented a new way to keep fit without ever needing to go to a gym. 

As I've only used one on-line meat supplier Emma, can only give Donald Russell a recommendation, but their meat really is excellent.  Far too expensive for most people, but certainly comparable in price to local butchers when on offer. Take a look at their web-site.
Their recent offer that tempted me has now expired, and am glad to say I didn't (this time) need it, as I still have plenty of their previous offers still in my freezer.  In a couple or so months I'll have saved so much money (money that would normally have been spent buying food), that some can be used to pay for D.R. 'offer' meat.  My way of getting quality meat using money 'deliberately saved' (and to me anything bought with this money feels it is almost 'free').

Other readers may be able to recommend D.R. meat (the more people who recommend someone the better), or may prefer another supplier.  In which case please let us know the name/s.

My one concern this week is how on earth I'm going to get 25 pints of soup to the social club without it being spilt.  I've borrowed several deepish cooking pots from the club house, so those with mine should just about hold it all, leaving room at the top for the swishing around of the soup.  Problem is the steep hill the car has to drive down to reach the club house.  Maybe if I use wide (plumbers) sticky tape to glue the lids down it might help. 
An alternative is to make the chicken stock (base) really concentrated so it sets to a gel, then it goes in the pans like that, the (cooked) chicken and leeks to be placed on top.  More water can be added to bring it to the right height in the pan, and when heated, the lot can be stirred together.

Today I'll be making the oat cakes and the shortbread.  Tomorrow I have the Tesco delivery of all the food I'll be needing for the 'do'.  Wanted to have it delivered on Wednesday, but there were so many offers (on things needed) that only lasted until Tuesday, that I thought it made sense to take advantage.  I've been a good girl and not ordered anything for myself that wasn't 'fresh' (top-up etc).
Hadn't the room in the fridge/freezer anyway as I need spare shelves to chill the 'club grub'.

Yesterday toasted the oats for the Cranachan, also made an EasiYo Rasberry and cream yogurt (to use in 'Tipsy Laird'.  The more I can make in advance the easier it will be for me. 
Still have to work out what to make for B's supper tonight, as ever it will be made from 'using it up'.  Maybe soup would be the easiest.  Or I might make a chilli con carne using pre-cooked mince beef from the freezer.  See how I feel once I've got the oat cakes and shortbread made and put away.

Time is moving on so must take my leave of you, should be back again tomorrow so hope to see you then.  TTFN.