Saturday, 24 January 2009

*expletive of your choice* the Credit Crunch

If I read one more newspaper article about how to cook great food cheaply, how to furnish your house on a budget, how to buy cheap wine, how our (still incredibly prosperous, people!) society has been plunged into the chasm of recession with no lifeline - I swear, I am going to do more than scream.

This media hysteria is driving me wild. Yes, it's a shitty time. Yes, people are losing their jobs. P hasn't worked since November. He might lose his house. He probably will lose his house if he doesn't find work soon. It's a bummer. It sucks.

BUT. We are still lucky beyond measure in what we have. In fact, for most of us, I dare say nothing much has changed since the beginnings of this recession but perception. And for food - now it seems to be as trendy and fashionable to buy a cheap chicken as it was practically social death, darling to do it this time last year; hell-oh!

For heaven's sake we were getting there. We were getting towards responsible, considerate eating; we were considering provenance, and the care of the flesh we were eating when it was alive (well, we doesn't mean me here, but you follow me) and now - now we are steps away from "I don't care how it came to be on my plate, I just care that it's there (and also that I scored a miraculous bargain at one of the cheap-as-chips supermarkets, aren't I clever?)", and the farmers, the growers, the artisan producers who care about their craft can just go hang.


See? One more word, and I am going to go postal.

And breathe.

Tonight, I am cooking for friends for the first time this year. We are having leek, onion and jerusalem artichoke tarts (which means I am making a veggie filling and putting it in pre-made pastry for them and not for me); the most beautiful January King cabbage I have ever seen and that I want to frame and treasure for ever in its majestic brassica-ry-ness rather than slice and steam; rosemary carrots; and possibly sweet potato mash or roast potatoes. And I'm going to pull the last of last year's gooseberries out of the freezer and make gooseberry crumble. It will be a frugal meal but by happenstance (chance?) and not because it is fashionable.

I admit I am naive. I know we are in dark times. But I cannot help feeling that we are mentally driving ourselves into deeper times and I wish it would stop. Just look at the hope that arrived this week in Washington. I'm not expecting miracles because that would be foolish but a spread of optimism across the western world is very much needed and then we can stop focussing on our "collapse" and help those who are already collapsed and already in need. Shift those priorities back to where they always need to be. Is MHO.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Back To The Land

This morning was the year's first venture back into the garden, to dig the rest of the Jerusalem artichokes from their winter bed. I've got some kind of flu-ey bug again so the whole thing took longer than it might, what with me stumbling around weakly and tripping over my own wellington boots and, at one point, burying myself knee-deep in soil when the pile of earth I was trying to shake the tubers from collapsed around me. But now there is a huge pile of artichokes sitting under running water in the sink; some destined for my neighbours, and the rest for soup. Mmm, soup. Granted they aren't the most low calorie vegetable in the world but as far as I remember they are packed full of iron and good things.

I don't even try to calculate the calories in the batches of soup I make anyway. I've never quite worked out how to do that with CoM. This morning, because I was feeling a little better than I have been, I made a batch up with half a leek, a couple of celery stalks, onions, garlic, a tin of tomatoes and 100g of red lentils, simmered for hours and topped up with water every so often, flavoured with thyme and sage and oregano and a little chilli, cinnammon and a teaspoon of demerera sugar to balance the flavours. It was just what I needed after a morning's digging and I have 2 batches frozen and 1 more in the fridge. Today's CoM report will be incomplete because of it but considering I have been invited around next door for pizza and salad this evening, this is probably a good thing.

I've been tracking calories and nutrition again when I can. I'm not surprised by the results. Eating as I do (if I don't give into the temptation of yummy bread and evil dairy, which I tend not to do when I am eating alone), my calorie intake is low but the nutrition is high. I still need to work really hard on protein though. Yada yada...

I'm already looking forward to this year's gardening although I can't believe it's 12 months since I was planning last year's with the neighbours. We'll probably spend some time this evening making up our planting plan and sorting through the mountains of seeds we've acquired. I think I need to organise a village seed-swap. In fact, that's not a bad idea... Hmm. Must think more.

Hot lemon and honey and Saturday papers and a nap now, I think. Hope this bug buggers off soon; it's really annoying me.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Broccoli Kitten

In lieu of actual content...

Saturday, 3 January 2009

The New Start (# 1)

2009 brings me success in downloading the right version of java to run Cron-O-Meter again! Yay yay yay. So now I have no excuses not to watch what I am doing. I remember how interesting logging my nutritional intake was two years back (two years, what happened to 2008??) and I wonder if it will hold the same fascination this year. I can only try and see. Given that the scales had me leaping off them in horror this morning this can only be a good thing. Surely 3lbs in one week has to be water retention. :-( I suspect, however, it is the legacy of evil dairy and (being honest) wine. Sigh.

Today is a gorgeous frosty blue-skied freezing winter's day. My friend L and I took a walk around a nearby town, Bruton, this morning. Not only did we manage a bracing walk up steep narrow lanes and woodland paths, we had wonderful coffee that gave us both caffeine shakes, shopped in a vintage shop that had 50% of the vintage clothes and yielded me up a gorgeous cafe-noir faux fur jacket for twenty quid, and then stumbled like giggling kids up the still-frosted slopes to the Bruton Dovecote (scroll down to bottom of page for pic) after driving down several narrow lanes trying to find the thing (now you see it, now you don't, over and over again). Then we headed home to my place and had the butternut squash / lentil / tomato soup that I made for lunch yesterday from the remains of NYE supper. Now I am contemplating heading out into the blue yonder once more to hunter-gather a Saturday Guardian and do no more with my day than curl up reading with a blanket.

My New Year with all its good intentions will begin on Monday. I want another few hours of wallowing before I have to face reality and all its horrors. I want this to be a good year, better than last, but I know (with no desire to be melodramatic) that there is no way barring infinite miracles that it can be. I need all the strength I can get to give to those who will need it.