Thursday, 20 March 2014

Savings vs. Ethics vs. Health--part two

1) Jack also uses cheap strong cheese and bacon scraps to give a punch of flavour to dishes. Clearly for us, cheese and bacon are out of the question. The thoughts also of *why* they are so cheap and how badly and intensively must the animal have been reared to be sold for that price makes me want to cry. Animals are not vending machines to just give parts of the body, their children, their lactation fluids for us just because we want something. They are creatures with thoughts and feelings and emotions who can feel pain and loss and I would not want to cause them suffering, not for the world. One thing she does do in the cookbook that I find interesting is that in the very small meat sections in the back of the cookbook she refers to the animals as animals not the meat name for them (e.g. pigs not pork ) which is one of the ways people make the disconnect between the animal on their plate and the real living, breathing animal it once was. But the best bit about the cookbook is that she knows that vegetarian food is cheaper and healthier than eating meat. There are 92 pages of vegetarian meals and only 50 pages of meat recipes. But some of the meat recipes can be adapted. I’ve got some smoked tofu in the fridge that can substitute for ham in the ham, pea, mint and potato casserole  (using some of those fresh herbs!)  I’ve got homemade smoky black eyed pea and mushroom “sausages” in my freezer which I can make into the sausage and lentil one pot dinner.


2) One of the things she often uses is tinned vegetables because they are infinitely cheaper than fresh and don’t go off like fresh food does. I am  a bit skeevy about some of that. I’ve always thought tinned carrots were like  totally grody and tinned green beans-- Don’t get me started. The smell makes me gag. Gag me with a spoon. There is something about tinned veg that brings out my inner Valley Girl. But tinned potatoes I was up for if they were used in a soup. I’d be willing to try it. I wanted to try the  ham, pea, mint and potato casserole as I had some smoked tofu to stand in for the ham and I always have frozen peas. The recipe said I needed 500g of potatoes. I bought 2 tins for 15p each (total 30p) which would have cost me at least £1 if buying fresh potatoes.

Result: This soup was delicious. I had a momentary wobble when I opened the tins because a metallic sort of smell emanated out slightly, but a quick rinse under cold water cleared that away. I ended up chopping them and then putting them back in cold water to keep them fresh until Spiderman got home from the zoo. The soup is basically 2 onions, garlic, potatoes, mint and parsley, veg stock, smoked tofu (I did add a bit of liquid smoke to ramp up the smoked ham factor), white wine and peas. It came together really quickly due to the tinned potatoes already being cooked. Then you take out about half the potatoes and a bit of stock and whiz it in the blender and then pour it back into the soup to thicken it..  


Spiderman and I discussed it at length-- fresh potatoes would have been *slightly* better, but the tinned were nothing to sneeze at. They were not mealy (one of my fears) and had a firm outer texture with a soft interior. We both agreed they had roughly the same consistency of day old potato soup where the potatoes lose a bit of firmness and get a bit softer but still stay in potato chunk shape from being in the fridge overnight.  Score one for cheap and healthy and vegan!


3) Cereal is an issue for us. We eat it loads. As a snack, when you want more dinner but there isn’t any etc. We love cereal. The one we like the best is called Mesa Sunrise and is a fancy cornflake made with corn, buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth. It also costs  between £3.35 and £3.50 for 355g depending on where we have to buy it. We can go through a box in a week easily. Sainsbury’s Basics cornflakes cost 35p for 500g. But they’re just regular old cornflakes, not this wholegrain kind. Is there a way that we could marry the cheap and the healthy? I decided to mix in 100g of the cheap cornflakes in with the 355g of the brand we like. Just that little bit doesn’t seem to have made a difference in taste but will make it last just that bit longer before having to buy a new box.

Plus, the posh brand we love has 13.3g of sugar per 100g while the cheap cornflakes were just 3.6g of sugar per 100g.  The cheap cornflakes were higher in sodium (but so were expensive Kellogg’s version!) but came fortified with niacin, iron, B2, B6, B1, folic acid  and B12.


I had so many of the cheap cornflakes coming out my ears (not literally!) that I made the My Cakeys recipe from A Girl Called Jack. This was the name Small Boy gave these cheap and easy treats.  Basically you melt 100g chocolate and 1 TB peanut butter and stir into crushed cornflakes and then spoon into lumps and let cool and harden up. There were lovely and reminded me of ferrero rocher . Spiderman said he wouldn’t go that far, but he said they were quite good.


So I think I’m starting to prove that the cheap can go along with ethics and health.

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