Tag Archives: economy

Riot Riot

I have been on more demonstrations than I can remember in my time.  I have picketed buildings, slept outside embassies, boycotted consumer goods and marched with my head held high, lustily singing campaign songs, sometimes in two part harmony.  I have leafleted, canvassed, collected signatures and stood for election.

The right to demonstrate, to protest and the right to free speech are absolutely essential in a democratic society and I wish more people would do it.  I find the political and social apathy of  people abhorrent and the only time they seem to take to the streets is if someone challenges their inalienable right to personal comfort or threatens their access to free Wi-Fi connection in Starbucks.

OK, I admit that’s a little harsh, but I stand by the sentiment.  We are turning into a society of whingers, tutters and softies who think the world owes us a living, that we deserve everything, yet we need do nothing in return.  Not for nothing are references being made to the ‘L’Oreal Generation’.  Well it’s come back to bite us on the bum.

This year, Britain was days away from being in the same financial state as Greece or Ireland.  A country which once (rightly or wrongly) administered half the world, had manufacturing industries which were the envy of other developed countries, we had shipyards, farming, car plants, steelworks – you name it.

And we buggered it all up.  Successive governments borrowed and borrowed, wasted and wasted, taxed and taxed and spent and spent.    We have not supported our own industries and we have become such slaves to greed that our desperate and misguided pursuit of cheap goods and cheap food have put our own businesses out of business.

If a household finds that it has a reduced income or finds itself with its outgoings outstripping its income, the first and most sensible thing to do is look at how it can trim down the cost of living.  Luxuries go, leisure activities are cut down, shopping bills are curbed, wine consumption may be limited, holidays may have to be curtailed.  This is all done to keep the finances under control so the family doesn’t incur debt whilst strategies are found to stabilise or increase the household income.

If that family carries on as normal, buying on credit and spending  the same as they did when their income was higher, they are soon going to find themselves with mounting debt and unmanageable interest payments.  Even if their income subsequently increases, they will be saddled with the debt they incurred for a long time to come.  If they manage their finances carefully, when the good times come round again they will be in a far stronger position.

If you have over-indulged and  become too fat, however valid the psychological reasons, you have to endure a period of pain where you are obliged to forego eating the things you like and to move about more, in order to have the body shape you want and the comcomitant health and increased energy.

I am no economist and I am no politician and I’m quite sure that those of you who are, are jumping up and down and asking what the heck I know about it and how dare I be so obnoxiously simplistic.  Obviously I am aware that a family is a micro-economy and a country is a macro-economy, and that the numbers and complexity of managing the beast in the red box are eye-wateringly immense.

But it strikes me that the basic principles are the same.  If we stand any chance of enjoying the benefits and services to which we have become accustomed, well into the future, there has to be a major overhaul of the nation’s economy and a major change in our own attitudes to what we can do for ourselves.

As I said at the beginning, I have been on many demonstrations for many causes in which I passionately believed and, occasionally, with hindsight, I was mistaken in my beliefs.  I was delighted to see so many people taking to the streets (shame about the violent and malignant tossers who got so much attention, but they always turn up and always will) to protest about what they believe to be wrong.  I do hope that those marching people will go back home and play their part in supporting local economies and community projects and trying to make a difference on their own doorsteps.

If you have only £15 in your pocket and have to buy school shoes and something for dinner, you (may) have two choices.  You can complain loudly that you can’t possibly manage on that, overdraw by forty quid, buy a pair of branded leather shoes, a tray of lamb chops and knuckle down to a bit of compound interest.

Alternatively you can buy a pair of £12 shoes and make a nourishing lentil and vegetable stew that will last two days.  It may not be ideal – the lentils might make you fart a bit if you’re not used to them and the leather shoes would probably have lasted longer than the supermarket version.  But in the long term,  you won’t owe anyone anything and you’re not giving free money (that you could have saved up for the next pair of shoes) to the thieving, shameless, scumbag banks.  Or the EU.

Right then,  I’m bracing myself.  Put the pitchforks down.

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Still Mincing: Rissoles

If you need your minced beef or lamb to go a little further, you can fall back on the good old British rissole.  They are delicious and are lighter than a burger.  My grandmother used to make small rissoles using the minced up remains of the Sunday joint, as a late supper dish and eaten on their own.  I like them with a green salad, spinach or dark green cabbage. 

If you’re using fresh mince, brown it in the smaller frying pan and drain off the fat before using.

RISSOLES

Utensils:
1 x large mixing bowl
2 x small bowls for dipping and coating
1 x blender or mini chopper for making breadcrumbs
1 x large frying pan
1 x smaller frying pan if you’re using fresh mince

Ingredients:
1 ½ lb / 720g potatoes – boiled and mashed
12oz / 360g minced beef or lamb
1 onion – finely chopped
2 tblspn fresh chopped parsley (mint, sage or chives also work well)
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
salt and pepper
2 tblspn plain flour
2 eggs – beaten
4oz / 120g fresh breadcrumbs
Oil for frying

Method:
Using the large bowl, thoroughly mix together the meat, potatoes, onions, Worcester sauce, herbs and seasoning
If you have time, let the mixture chill in the fridge for an hour as it makes the mixture easier to shape
Shape the mixture into eight patties
Dip each one in the flour, then the beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs
Heat a little oil to a medium heat in the large frying pan
Cook the rissoles, turning occasionally to make sure they are evenly browned and crisp
Drain on a bit of kitchen towel and serve

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Two Good Dinners from one Piece of Brisket

Brisket is a really tasty joint of beef and is significantly cheaper than topside, silverside or sirloin.  I bought a good sized piece from the butcher for £6.50 (I’m not sure what weight it was) and there was hardly a scrap of unnecessary fat on it.  Brisket needs slow cooking and I decided to do a Pot Roast for Sunday lunch.  At the same time, I bought 4 kidneys, which cost just over £1 in order to use the leftovers for a Steak and Kidney Pie for tonight.

Pot roasts are incredibly versatile because you can chuck almost anything in, and if you work out of the home, you can put the slow cooker on in the morning and have a mouthwateringly good dinner to come home to, with all the attendant cooking smells emanating from the kitchen.  I, however, was insufficiently organised to do this on Sunday, so I cooked it for 2 ½ hours on the hob top.  I also forgot to photograph it before we all tucked in.  I’m sure you’ve all seen a Pot Roast before!

This is what I put into my Pot Roast.

POT ROAST

Utensils:
1 x slow cooker or casserole dish
1 frying pan (although if you’re using a casserole dish you don’t need this)
1 x chopping board

Ingredients:
A little oil for searing
1 piece of brisket – remember it has to do 2 meals
1 large onion
4 carrots – cut into chunks
2 large-ish potatoes – cubed (I don’t peel mine)
1 small or half a large swede – peeled and cubed
1 ½  pints of beef stock
½ pint of red wine
Mixed herbs
Dash of  Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons of plain flour for thickening

Method:
Heat the oil in the casserole or frying pan
When it’s hot, put the meat in until it is brown all over.  This seals in the flavour.
Remove the meat and either put it in your slow cooker or put to one side
Add the onions to the oil and just toss around for a minute or two to slightly brown.
Put everything into the slow cooker or casserole dish. 
Slow cooker:- Cook on a low heat according to the cooker’s instructions
Casserole:- Cook on a low heat for about 2 ½ hours
Just before serving, Mix the flour with some water to form a paste and add to the meat, stirring well until the gravy has thickened

If you serve it with green beans or cabbage, it will stretch a bit further.  Remember to leave some for the next day.

S & K pie 12.10.09STEAK AND KIDNEY PIE

Utensils:
1 x chopping board
1 x small frying pan
1 8″ pie dish
1 x rolling pin

Ingredients: (for the purposes of this recipe)
The remains of the pot roast
4 kidneys – cored and cut into chunks (*substitute mushrooms if you don’t like kidneys) 
A little oil for sealing
1 packet of shortcrust pastry
A little milk for glazing

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 180 / 350 / 4
Cut the meat remaining from the pot roast into pie-size chunks, cutting off any fat
Heat the oil in the frying pan
Add the kidneys or mushrooms and cook until nicely browned
Add to the remains of the pot roast
Cut off one third of the pastry and set aside
Grease and flour the pie dish
Roll out two thirds of the pastry and line the pie dish.
Put in the meat mixture
Moisten the edge of the pastry with water
Roll out the remaining third of the pastry and lay it on the top of the pie
Press the edges together firmly, put three slits in the top then brush with milk
Trim off any excess pastry
Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown

S & K pie open 12.10.09

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Chocolate

Chocolate 13.08.09Last week, Mr De Worde and I decided to entertain ourselves with an evening in front of the television set.  This activity is naturally not complete without a full teapot and a large bar of chocolate and I was despatched to the shop having been put on confectionery detail.  There is a massive array of brands and types of chocolate on sale, and I would sell my own mother for a Lindt Bunny, but naturally the Wartime Housewife is keen to combine quality with economy and I can be easily swayed by an attractive package.  My eye fell upon a pink cardboard packet of Co-operative Fairtrade milk chocolate which had a 50’s style picture with an amusing caption on it.  I was really impressed by this, as it is unusual to find imaginative packaging for an own brand item.

It was with absolutely no reluctance that I decided to conduct a taste test into the supermarket own brand milk chocolate (I don’t like dark chocolate but I am happy to sub-contract this one), and my findings were as follows.  I will note that Tesco didn’t sell an own brand Fairtrade bar at the Metro in Market Harborough, but it is available in bigger stores.  Also, I couldn’t find a Fairtrade bar in Sainsbury’s, but when I asked the very handsome young man at the till whether such an item existed, he went to so much trouble to find one for me, I didn’t have the heart not to buy that one as well.

Supermarket brand

Comments

Price

Marks

out of 10

The Co-operative Fairtrade milk chocolate  This was gorgeous; creamy but not too gloopy, chocolaty (?sp) but not cocoa-y.  One immediately wanted a second bar.28% cocoa solids 

 

99p

 

9/10

Sainsbury’s Belgian milk chocolate This was nice, but tasted quite buttery and left a slightly cocoa-y aftertaste.  One bar is quite enough between two people.30% cocoa solids 

 

80p

 

7/10

Sainsbury’s organic Fairtrade milk chocolate This was not nearly as nice as I expected it to be.  It was lovely and creamy, but had a really odd initial taste which I can’t place and left a slight sharpness on the tastebuds afterwards.  One piece with a cup of coffee would be ample.35% cocoa solids 

 

£1.29

 

5/10

Tesco milk chocolate This was really nasty.  It tasted like the unpleasantly sweet, cheap, pretend chocolate you get with ‘Jazzies’ or other children’s sweets. Only suitable for cooking.26% cocoa solids 

 

£1.09

 

2/10

 There is no Waitrose within 20 miles of me.

Homespun Fun with Chocolate

Game 1:  Take a box of chocolates, essentially the ones with different centres.  Take one out of the box without letting your friend see which one it is.  Put it in your mouth and chew it five times.  Open your mouth and let your friend guess which chocolate you took!

Game 2:  Buy several packets of chocolate buttons and place them in the freezer for a couple of hours.  Put as many of them as you can in your mouth at once  and crunch them up without dribbling or choking.  I can manage 45!  What can you do?

Pip Pip!

Post script:  I am sorry to report that the Co-operative packet mentioned above was a Mothers’ Day Special Edition and therefore no longer on sale.  The chocolate, however, is still out there.  Well done anyway, Co-op!

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