Wednesday, 16 July 2008

HAVING to be frugal.

Click on photo to enlarge

I think many of us these days is not in the habit of being frugal. I know that in the papers in the last year or two, there was mention of a few people who bought nothing new for a year and greatly reviewed their buying habits - and habits is what they are. So many of the "things" we purchase we don't actually need, just want. I am a guilty party here, especially with books and magazines, though the books I buy are usually 2nd hand from charity shops or car boot sale stalls, and are often useful books of recipes or craft ideas. I also keep my craft magazines forever and refer to them over the years.

Pause a while then, and think what the future may hold, if inflation continues to soar, food prices make grocery shopping increasingly difficult, and people actually have consider leaving "treats" on the shelf. On tv recently, a Sheffield couple were interviewed about the cost of living. The wife said that they "were having to eat leftovers" - um, doesn't everyone? - and then the husband said, "Yeah, and we have to buy fruit and veg from the wholesaler," at which point there was much rolling of eyes in my household, as we get the majority of our fruit and veg (though we grow some ourselves) from the local wholesaler in Abergwili. It is a FRACTION of the price of supermarket fruit and veg. True, some needs to be eaten or used quickly, but it is priced to reflect this. During the current week, for £1 per box, I have had plums, bananas, peas and damaged apples. I will be jam making today (Dark Plum and Banana Jam), shucking peas for tonight's meal and the freezer, and we are still eating the apples. Dessert tonight is going to be an Apricot and Blueberry Crumble Cake - I bought several punnets of Blueberries when they were on offer in a certain supermarket earlier in the year and froze them. Fresh apricots were £1 for 2lbs in the wholesalers this week. Even at £8.50 per 56lb sack, Maris Piper potatoes are FAR cheaper than small bags in the supermarket, as they work out at around 15p/lb.

I need to go and get some more eggs today. A neighbour has a free-range set-up and I swop jam or chutney for eggs; I like bartering.

Let's hope that things never get so bad that we HAVE to exist as folk did in the Channel Islands in WWII, when they were occupied by the Germans and supplies were extremely difficult to get hold of. Housewives had to return to Victorian habits, such as gleaning, which provided grain which they could take to the mill in return for the same weight of flour. Frying Pan Scones were made from gleaned oats and flour, baking powder and salt. Once supplies ran out, baking powder was made from cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and either ground rice or cornflour. Alternatively, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar was a useful raising agent, although the vinegar flavour needed to be masked by ground ginger.

When tea ran out, islands became very resourceful and turned to the hedgerows for inspiration. Bramble tea, made from blackberry leaves, became a very popular drink, as were the leaves of wild strawberries which, when dried and brewed, made a passable approximation of China tea. Young bramble shoots and woodruff were sometimes added to greater improve the flavour. The islanders also made "tea" from baked parsnips and carrots, camellia leaves, lemon balm, lime blossoms and green pea pods, although the name "winklewater" was often given to the resulting drinks! Coffee was made from grated and roasted parsnips, and even acorns were also used, and of course dandelion coffee was popular. I'm not sure if the coffee substitute of Lupin Seeds ever caught on though! (Many thanks to Bryan Chalker's "Out of the Frying Pan into Der Fuhrer" - the story of the Channel Islands' Kitchen Front of World War Two.)


funkymonkey said...

Just found your blog today. There are a lot of posts, so I've just had aquick flick through for now. I will be back though when I can sit down with a coffee and enjoy properly. Will add you to my favourites.

Bovey Belle said...

Hi funkymonkey - glad you like my witterings! I'm off to check YOU out now!

LBP said...

Good Morning Jennie!

My husband and I were discussing this very thing this morning! We have always lived well below our means, and this was how I was brought up. Him, not so much, not he has learned over the years. We garden, I sew and shop a thrift stores for our clothes. I am afraid many people are going to have to learn how to make do, do it over, or do without!

silversewer said...

I was born at the end of the war, so well remember rationing and my grand mother taking me to the park where she had an allotment, I was pushed there in the pram, but had to walk home, the pram was full of produce!!

In a lot of ways it would be very good for us to go back to those days, I do think we have become very 'spoilt' by supermarkets etc, I know I was a bit guilty, even though I was brought up in the country on a small holding, it took the breakdown of my marriage to bring things really home to me. I do not have a lot of choice but to shop at Mr T's they have a big store in our local shopping centre, if I need to buy veg I use the local market. I try to use seasonable fruit and veg, but its difficult at times.........we only use the car for our monthly shop, but I can see us having to use the delivery service with OHs problems, the costondritis is agravated by lifting stretching etc.......but I will use the bus to do my top up shop, my trolly bag is very useful for this.

My present OH and I would have loved to have been able to buy a small holding and be as self sufficient as we could, but we never had enough money, so we have done the best we can in gardens and now with our allotment.

We grown only what we like to eat, unlike some of the allotment holders who seems to grow any and everything and then let it rot on the plants. I wish liked pigeon, we could live for a year on the blasted things, they keep pecking my brassicas......I will stop them somehow!!!!!!!!!

I used to drink hazelnut coffee at one time, but have not been able to get it locally for ages.

My Romoska is so useful in keeping the electric bills down, I can cook all sorts in it, only use the oven when I really have no alternative. I have a combination microwave which is cheaper to use than the main oven......wish we had a gas hob, but in the apartments we only have electric... I have 2 fast hobs which I use most, but they are not nearly as controllable as the gas hobs. I always switch them off at least 5 minutes before the end of cooking time and allow the residual heat to finish off what ever is in the pan.

Bovey Belle said...

Hi Linda - it sounds like you "wos brought up proper"! It is all too easy to take things for granted and so many people use their credit cards like there's no tomorrow. I have a little on mine but I only use it for internet shopping - I don't remember the card pin no. so have NO temptation to use it in a proper shop!

Silversewer - Hi to you too. I assume a Romoska is a slow cooker. I bought an old slow cooker from a car boot sale for £2 but haven't tried it yet, so I really MUST pull my finger out and try a curry in it. Pigeon breast is lovely in a Game Pie where you wouldn't notice it was there so much, as combination of other flavours. I am not rabidly anti-supermarket, but try to shop around and buy certain things from Lidl, and only buy from T*sco what I can't get elsewhere or what's on special offer.

I loved the mental picture of your mum and a push-chair full of veg and you trotting along behind!

Mam said...

I love the name of Chalker's book, even though the situation was not at all funny. Here, people have made coffee out of chicory. I don't know if you have it there at all. My gosh! Having to eat leftovers? What a trial! :)
I know that people live very wasteful lives and are so busy working and raising kids that they don't have time to be creative about thrift, but it gets more and more difficult to do as our culture deteriorates.

Bovey Belle said...

I am hoping Nancy that folk will have to do a radical rethink about their rabid consumerism and that the throw-away society we live in will have to change. With the way fuel prices are rocketing (gas in line for 66% price increases!) and the cost of oil, fuel and food, everyone will be hit, although the poor hit hardest of course. Time to learn how to cook from scratch again perhaps?