Thursday, 29 August 2013

Day 3 of raiding my cupboards; have I lost the plot? Has Jamie Oliver?

Something A Girl Called Jack said rang true.  Why are we so judgemental about people?  Why does it matter what people eat, what people spend their money on?  Doesn't the judging turn people off?  After my first post on Jamie Oliver's comments on what people on low incomes, it's interested me and I've started to think about it much more.

Perhaps I've got off on the wrong tack.  Perhaps, although I can write a thrifty recipe in my sleep, I'm like the person who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing?

I am soon going to be setting up a house.  I've been flooded with offers for 'stuff'.  Mostly TVs (ironically considering Jamie's comments about the chips, cheese and massive TV) but all kinds of stuff and offers of decorating, gardening, etc, etc.  It's fantastic that loads of people have rallied around.  Money will be tight though, (really tight) which is why this has been an interesting challenge for me.  But I've not had an offer for food.  My family and friends are pretty supportive though so I doubt any of them will turn up empty handed but how many people are as lucky as me?

A friend of mine made me think.  He came to see me many years ago, out of the blue and admitted he was homeless.  I was so angry with him for not calling me for help.  We'd lost touch, he'd been sleeping on friend's couches for months.  What had happened was he'd fallen out with his parents over his fiance, then he'd split up with his fiance, lost his flat and loads of friends with the end of the relationship.  At the same time he'd lost his job and bam!  An intelligent, attractive, qualified and charming man was homeless.  By the time he was telling me this, he'd got another job and had lined up somewhere to live but it had been a tough time.  He'd not told me out of a sense of pride.

Imagine going through that with a family?  I can't.  I've been lucky never to go to bed hungry.  Some people do genuinely start and end the day hungry, even in the UK.

We all forget sometimes how close we are to homelessness or poverty.  It's just life dealing us a couple of major blows at once.  It's not as impossible or unlikely as you might think.  We all might be on the edge of a precipice, in reality, what keeps any of us from tipping over the edge?

So I hope my posts this week don't come across as patronising and it's something I'm going to think more about towards the end of the week.

Anyway, on with what I've been eating.

The lasagne from last night was a huge hit with the 3 year old.  He kept saying he was done, I'd move to take his plate away but he'd return for seconds, then thirds until it was all gone (and he had as much as me).  What's more I've got some leftovers for lunch today and tomorrow.  Great for reheating at work and I had two slightly jealous "that smells lovely" comments.  I'm never 100% convinced about reheated pasta in the microwave but somehow at work when hungry, it's a little touch of home and so comforting and obviously attracting the envy of my colleagues.  So that one lasagne will have fed 3 adult portions and a toddler.  Not bad.

In the evening, I raided my freezer for the sourdough, bit poncy I know, some bacon which was frozen at the end of life and my intention was to make some soup.

This probably isn't a regular occurrence in everyone's life but the joy of sharing a workplace with foodies is one of my friends has had a glut of vegetables and had a beetroot going begging so my soup is pretty vibrant!

Obviously bacon isn't going to convince anyone of health benefits but better than a bacon sarnie and soup is a great way to fill up and squeeze vegetables into everyone's diets.  My original intention was to raid the fridge and freezer to make an impromptu concoction of what I had in but this turned out to be a 'proper recipe' and here it is...

Beetroot and Bacon Soup - Serves 2 adults


2 small or 1 large onion
1 carrot
90g, 3oz Bacon, chopped up
220g, 8oz Peeled and chopped beetroot
A couple of sprigs of Lemon thyme (optional)
or use herbs of your choice if you have any
1 tbsp Oil (I used olive oil)
350ml, 12 fl oz hot stock or water


Chop the carrot, onion and peeled beetroot into chunks, put in a baking dish and drizzle with oil and add the thyme if using.  Put in the oven at approx 170oC / 350F for about 40 minutes or until softening and browned at the edges.  To save money, put this in the oven at the same time as you're cooking something else.

Chop up the bacon, fry gently in a dry pan.  Once cooked, add the roasted vegetables and the stock.  Bring to the boil.  Once boiling take off the heat and blend.

Sprinkle with more fresh lemon thyme if desired.

A top tip is if you have, say, half a loaf of nice bread like I had, wrap in foil and put in the oven at 170oC / 350F for 15 minutes or so or until warm through.  This remelts the starch and makes the bread taste fresh from the oven.  Something as humble as bread, warm from the oven is transformed.

“Linking up with Nomday Monday


  1. I might have to try this recipe - I find it really difficult to find soups that appeal to me!

    I've been following your 'no-shopping' posts with a lot of interest - as a student I think I'm pretty thrifty, and often go without a 'big' (£20) shop for two weeks, but I find myself topping up quite a bit. Whilst I didn't spend overly much (I averaged £13.50 a week on food) I felt I could've done better. I'm definitely going to try the pulses route a little more next academic year!

    1. Yeah, some lentil based curries and soups are definitely really thrifty. They expand loads on cooking so you get far more out than you expect. Also lentils can 'pad out' other dishes like mince based dishes. If you're in a shared house, you might find sharing the cooking helps or at least buying in bulk and sharing ingredients. You might find you'd struggle to get through a pack of spices in a term but shared you might and it shares the cost and you can get some bargain deals on Indian spices in supermarkets nowadays.


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