Mind you I manage to turn a supermarket visit into a hunting and foraging adventure, carrying my basket as if it were a collecting sack, keeping my eyes peeled for that elusive prey… a bargain or two. It isn’t the buying of the bargain, the marked-down item, which excites me; it’s the thrill of making something that tastes great from and for almost nothing. It makes me feel good to know that I’ve made something beautifully tasty for pennies – after all it’s what everyone is trying to do these days; just look at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (such a hard name to remember how to spell).
Hugh, I have to admit, is a bit of a hero of mine. I love his approach to food - he cooks it rather than chefs it; making sure that he uses it all, and where he can he grows and kills his food himself. It’s hunting-gathering with organisation and at home. Of course it helps if your home is as beautiful and grand as River Cottage, but I genuinely believe Hugh has it right; which is more than can be said for most of the other TV chefs – Jamie, Raymond, Pierre, that ridiculous and annoying Blumanthal bloke and of course not forgetting the overly-aggressive fcuking idiot that is Gordon Ramsey.
Hugh celebrates thrift, making delicious food from cheaper cuts, using leftovers in delicious ways, encouraging experimentation. Such a shame that he went to
My God, just listen to me – I should get myself an ‘I love Hugh’ badge!
Of course, I mastered the ‘scrag’ cuts of meat long ago and can make a soup from, well almost just water and some wilting veg. But without Hugh I don’t think I’d have taken the leftover cold stuffed breast of lamb on Tuesday and then slicing it very finely, tossing it with some home-grown baby tomatoes, rocket, finally splashing it with a little rosemary flavoured olive oil. Nor would I have served it with my yard-reared sack-grown crushed and peppered new potatoes. It made a really great lunch from almost, and for almost, nothing.
Last night I cut a long pocket into a piece of belly pork that I bought for two quid and had divided into three meals worth. I stuffed the pork with leek greens, red onion, and sage and onion stuffing (basics stuffing 15p from Sainsburys). Then I sewed the pork back up with string and bunged it in the oven until it was crisp and succulent. I served it with frozen sweet corn and a few tiny, crisp, roast potatoes and onions. Fantastic and all for under a quid for two portions!
You may have noticed that I’m not calorie counting, life’s too short to fixate over ultra-healthy eating and a lettuce leaf is… well, a lettuce leaf – besides the wine will get me before the food ever does.
Mind you, there are a few downsides to my obsession for food bargains. Our freezers are, and keep getting, fuller. Also, I can’t bear to throw anything away; it makes me angry with myself when I let even half a pepper go over.
Oh well, it’ll soon be soup season – and everything goes into my soups. Goulash soup with ribbon noodles anyone?