Monday, 21 March 2011

#Waste, Half-Pay Pudding, and doing a (budget) stretch #stretchingthebudget #ockhamsrazor


Bernadette Hince is a woman after my own heart. Yesterday's Ockham's Razor contribution enchanted me.  It is entitled Half-Pay Pudding, a recipe from Mrs Beaton, and, dear Networkers, I have found the recipe for you here.
Bernadette speaks of waste - all sorts of waste but the emphasis is on food waste.  From limited means to relative prosperity, our attitude to waste changes.  She speaks of her own experience of a limited income, a family to feed, and the money not stretching to the next pay-day.  A story familiar to many of us!

It puzzles me that there does not seem to be widespread take-up in Australia of Paul McCartney's call for a Meatless Monday. Why?  Australian eating habits have changed.  Few people would eat meat three meals a day,. seven days a week as in my grandmother's day (well, six days a week if you were a Catholic; six days a week for the six weeks of Lent if you were Anglican).  

Like Bernadette, my money didn't always last the distance until the next payday and I had to make the most of being creative with what was in the pantry.  This usually meant some form of quiche or egg and onion or asparagus concoction.  Usually, pastry was involved to make the meal more substantial and to make it go further. It's Lent at the moment, so it is a good time, spiritually, to take on the traditional meatless Friday or, if you are spiritually innovative, Meatless Monday.  

I live on money courtesy of Centrelink due to my great age and antiquity.  I live in a small cottage which I rent - a reasonably priced piece of real estate but I need subsidy from my family to keep things together.  So I try to stretch things - my bandwidth usage (peak and off peak times), petrol, gas, electricity, water, washing days, bathing, flushing, and on it goes.

I am vegetarian these days - and I commend this as a way to stretch the budget and still provide yourself with interesting cuisine.  I am fortunate insofar as I live in walking distance of two major shopping centres.   It is easy and convenient for me to shop competitively.  I can go to that low priced international chain first while picking up other stuff at my favourite one of the Australian supermarket duopoly and the Asian fruit and vege shop has some attractive offerings as well.  

I glean other people's hard rubbish.  I compost - although it only mounts slowly in a one person household.  I recycle. I do things up. I am happy to receive my sister's hand me downs.  Seldom find a fit in opp shops. I sew, I knit. I renovate, refurbish, and rejig furniture.  I garden.  When I was feeding a family, I made my own bread. Don't do that anymore.  The little I eat is not worth it.  And one of the two faith communities of which I am a member, has - each Sunday morning - day-old bread and other bakery items for the taking (small donation suggested) from an independent bakery.  

Yesterday, at Quaker Meeting, one Friend had come with some garden produce.  So I came home with a couple of handfuls of cherry and roma tomatoes and four green figs.  The tomatoes will become a salsa tonight to have with pasta.  The green figs have become a small bowl of jam.  As well, my daughter was carried away over cheap plums and grapes last week and gave me some.  I have picked at the grapes and there are still some left.  The plums were over-ripening quickly, too quickly for me to eat.  They have become two small pots of jam.They will keep company with the unfinished plum and cherry jam from my friend Belinda's kitchen

I loved Bernadette's attitude to food, friends, and hospitality - and my jams will go well with Lemonade Scones and Pikelets.  So, Networkers, if you have time to drop in when you are in the outer east of Melbourne, come and have a cuppa.

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