Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Check Before You Purchase

An email from Tesco re 'prices down and staying down' caused to check the offers.  Looked good as 'Hovis bread, milk, free-range eggs and butter for just £1 sounded good - especially the eggs and butter.  Should have looked harder because there was an arrow emblazoned with £1 pointing to a pack of butter, and checking all the products shown at that price all were £1 - except the free-range eggs (cheapest F.R. were ££1.30 for six).  Maybe nothing wrong with the promotion as it was true that butter WAS £1, but it seems the intention was to get us to believe the free-range eggs also were. 
Maybe I'll drop a line to customer services to point out that 'little mistake'.

Your comments - as ever - always make good reading.  Both Anonymous and Margie have agreed that children should be taught life skills, and how true that parents should be the ones to teach their children life skills, but sadly they probably haven't been taught them by their own parents, or when at school, so life just hits each generation harder.  Have to admit that my mother didn't teach me about cooking, apart from scones - this just shortly before World War II, and food rationing prevented any further practice (couldn't afford to make mistakes).

The one thing that was dinned into me was how to budget, and not to spend all disposable income, but always save some.  During my teenage years did not always follow this advice, and after marriage there wasn't enough money left to save, but once I'd taught myself how to cook then began to spend a lot less on food and since then every penny has been saved - it has become a habit.  But what a relief not to have brown envelopes with 'final demand' bills dropping through the letterbox anymore, scared stiff the bailiffs weren't going to descend on our home.

There have been quite a few recipes for mock cream Sairy, one I read about recently is several tablespoons of dried milk powder mixed with just enough milk to make a thick consistency. 
My mother used to have a gadget where you put milk and melted butter(possibly marg in wartime) into the top, then pumped a handle up and down and thick cream came out in wee blobs from a tiny spout into the glass bottom half.  She always gave me this job to do and it took AGES.
Another job I had (for years) was to rub a knife down a huge block of cooking salt then gather the crystals and store them in a jar.  This also took ages.  I still have the knife, the blade now almost worn away with all the scraping.  Another job I hated doing.

Today (Wednesday) the national concern is for the high level of pollution covering at least half of England.  This cause by the Saharan sand in the atmosphere holding in all the gases from power stations and transport (esp diesel).  With a grading of 1 - 10, the worst areas (London, Norfolk) have reached 10, and people who have breathing problems have been asked to stay indoors.  Apparently it is worse than Beijing.  
With winds and rain forecast over the next few days, it is expected this will clear the air, and although moving across to the west, so far we have not experienced any visible 'smog' did notice today (when in the car) that we could not see the land (Lake district hills etc) across the Bay (and that is only nine miles away).  It was almost like looking 'out to sea' with nothing between us and Iceland.

The other news - more of a debate - is we are now being urged to eat at least seven fruit/veggies a day instead of five.   Today's newspaper had a two-page spread showing 44 examples of these healthy eats, and giving portion sizes.  Being a vegetable, potatoes were included with the info these don't count as one of the seven, as classed as a carbohydrate.

On the TV news, experts were giving their opinion, and more than one said as many people don't yet eat five a day, expecting them to eat seven just won't work.  Mind you, it has made me think more about how many I eat, and it really isn't that easy to munch our way through seven (although I am trying hard).  Since I've taken to eating more salads, it has become much simpler and I often exceed the five, and even the seven. 

Though I knew most things published in the above list, and to get our 'five/seven' a day each should be a different fruit/vegetable, was pleased to discover that although one small banana counts as one portion, when we eat a large banana it can count as two.
Many of the fruits and vegetables contain their highest proportion of nutrients (vits and minerals) in the outermost layers of leaf or closest to their skins.  So peel only if necessary, and then very thinly, and with onions just remove the papery brown skins.   Myself tend to remove the first layer of onion that lies under the skin, so now I'll make sure I use it.

Oh yes, another useful bit of knowledge for those who don't eat the full five/seven - half a can of beans counts as one portion, but the sauce in the can counts as another.  So you could say eating half a can of beans with the sauce, and one large banana and already that's added up to four.  Only one (or three) to go. 
That - of course - is not the right way to deal with it.  We should eat as many different fruits and veggies as we can because it is the variety that gives us most (if not all) the vitamins and minerals our bodies need.

This brings me to another puzzle.  The article says "most people in this country do not eat five a day as it is, so if we're not meeting this target, how can we be expected to leap to seven all at once?
Setting such a high target may have the effect of making those who know they can't manage five a day to give up altogether.
The new advice does not take into account the root cause why shoppers don't pick healthy foods: they are more expensive."

Next bit I don't agree with:  "To buy fresh fruit and veg for a family of four costs almost £1,500 more a year than more convenient options".  We would - presumably - be replacing the 'convenients' with the 'fresh', not buying both.  So how do they come to that figure?
Based on the cost of my organic veggie box, delivered once a month (around £20 - more than enough for two), a smaller box that would serve four over seven days when delivered once a week, would still work out (year's total) far less £1,500 shown above. 
We all know that organic anything is more expensive, but not necessarily less nutritious so even when on a tight budget, we can still buy the healthy 'fresh'.  Since I've been buying from Riverford there has been no real need to buy veggies from the supermarkets.  Just a few 'favourites' if the boxes don't contain them (avocado, iceberg lettuce...).

Because the organics ARE more expensive, and not always what I would choose to buy, I'm discovering new 'greens' that I've not eaten before.  The latest box contained white Chard, asparagus, and dark green 'frilly' lettuce (to name but a few), and I've enjoyed eating all of them.  The hard stems of the asparagus were saved, then later chopped and boiled until softened, steaming both the shredded green leaves and the white stems and root of the chard above.  When cooked and cooled, I added all these to some shredded 'frilly' lettuce, with diced cooked beetroot, some cucumber, watercress, and diced sweet peppers, plus some small tomatoes.  Oh yes, a thinly sliced banana shallot added for good measure. With a salad dressing (and some seasticks) it really did taste very good indeed.  I even had a banana for 'afters'.  Although it made a massive bowful (due to most things being shredded or chopped) doubt very much it contained many calories, but more importantly, umpteen vits and mins that we DO need.

Good news about frozen veg and also canned veg.  Both can contain more vitamins than the fresh - as these are processed within hours of picking, whereas the ones on supermarket shelves could be days old.   Canned carrots have more vitamin C than fresh carrots - perhaps not surprising when we know that carrots are one of those veggies that can be stored for months before being eaten.  Mind you, I've never really been fond of tinned carrots, always preferring fresh, but it's always worth knowing facts such as these, particularly when feeding a family of small children and every penny counts.  Tinned tomatoes are also better than fresh, but then as I use a lot of tinned toms, have no problem with that. Anyway, at this time of the year, 'fresh' tomatoes really don't have much flavour at all.

Incidentally, although dieticians are happy for children to have tomato ketchup, it can't count as one of the daily portions due to the sugar it contains.  Win some, lose some I suppose.
The good news is that one 40g pack of vegetable crisps (made from root veggies: beetroot, carrot, parsnip..) will count as one portion, but eat sparingly as the salt and fat negates the benefits.

Reading how - in the US - people on low incomes are given food vouchers for food and veg, and (presumably) because of this obesity levels in pre-school children has dropped, paying dividends by lowering medical bills.  It would help the finances of our NHS if the same could be done here.  Perhaps if we had to pay for medical treatment, we would take a lot more care of our health.  If we didn't have state pension and benefits we would take a great deal more care of the money we earned, saving for our future rather than over-spending.
But then am very grateful indeed for our state pension, for if we didn't have it we would probably end up in the workhouse.  My Beloved said he'd already paid for it as taxes etc were taken from his wages every month, but I didn't earn money (except for a very few years), so hardly contributed, so my share of the pension is more than I'm worth.  I give thanks.

From now on I'm going to eat as many of the 'seven' as I can.  Hoping also that B won't be short-changed (although he is not as keen on salads or veggies as I am). I've had at least 8 today and B has had 3, so it sort of averages out.  Even without eating so many 'greens' (although he does like peas and Brussels sprouts), B is far healthier than me, so perhaps this could be all the meat and fish he eats? I tend to veer more towards a veggie diet.

All this chat about food is making me hungry, and as the clock shows half an hour after midnight, it is time for bed, not time for a snack.  Am signing off now, and will be back again in 24 hours (give or take an hour). 
Yesterday it was nearly 2.30am when I finally got to bed (still can't get used to the hour going forward), so got up later than intended.  This late blogging and the BST is really messing up my routine (not that I have much), and may go back to writing first thing in the morning as now the dawn chorus (birdsong) gets earlier (and I used always to get up at first light).  Have to wait and see.  TTFN.