LBTL day 4: Kidney bean falafelish things

Kidney bean falafelish things

I am calling this falafel but its just mashed kidney beans dry-fried into little cakes served with leftover pasta sauce and a little natural yoghurt. It was actually not bad, there just wasn’t enough of it for the two of us really. However the kidney beans were just 21p so it was one of my most frugal dinners.

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LBTL day 3: poverty tourism and headaches.

I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how the LBTL Challenge is ‘Poverty Tourism’ – how we are dipping our toes in the water, safe in the knowledge that there’s a Flat White & Almond Croissant shaped light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t like the expression or the connotations but it is, to an extent, true. I have the luxury of being able to live like this temporarily, I know it won’t be forever and am SO looking forward to a MASSIVE BACON SANDWICH at the end of the week. And that’s the thing. Of course you can endure a week of living on £1 a day but if you live like this In Real Life there is no end, this is how you live. When Iain Duncan Smith claimed he could live on the £53 a week that some benefit claimants receive I think it was Caitlin Moran who said that the horror of this type of poverty wasn’t being able to live on £53 a week but the thought of this being the case indefinitely.

I totally agree.

So, a little update on how it’s all going here. Yesterday was alright: breakfast was toast using the increasingly stale homemade bread. A spoonful of leftover dahl for lunch. And a basic spaghetti with tomato sauce for dinner. It’s fine actually but I feel a bit grumpy, I’ve got a bit of a sore throat and have a low-level headache. I imagine this has something to do with the fact that I MUST HAVE COFFEE NOW!!!! Sorry didn’t mean to shout…. I also usually eat more fresh fruit and veg than I have been so maybe that’s why I feel thirsty? Today I skipped breakfast as I’m running out of bread and went straight to lunch with toast and a few spoonfuls of the pasta sauce I made yesterday (kinda bruschetta….). Tonight I’m going to make some kind of bean burger thing so have with some more of the pasta sauce – I’m actually quite excited by this as at least it’ll have some crunch and texture. Sigh.

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LBTL day 1

The ‘Live Below The Line’ initiative starts today – its a campaign that invites people to live on £1 a day for all their food and drink in order to raise awareness of food poverty (and to raise money for charity). I’ve signed up for it and, given that my blog started many moons ago as a place to catalogue my frugal food efforts, it seems like a good place to share my experience. So, at 11.30am on Day One my thoughts are this:

– Bloody hell, I need a coffee

– Bread takes AGES to make when you’re hungry – I wish I’d started at 7am!

– Thank god I (unlike millions of others) can see a light at the end of the tunnel

Anyway, I did all my shopping in advance and my plan for today is toast for breakfast (homemade bread), carrot soup for lunch and lentil dahl for dinner. I’ll post pictures and recipes as I go along.

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Aperol Spritz

One of the many, many civilised things about Italy is the Aperitivo habit. The idea of starting the night with a glass of something very cold and bubbly accompanied by a few nibbles makes perfect sense to me. For the unenlightened, the Aperitivo ritual is essentially pre-dinner drinks with some complimentary nibbles or “stuzzichini” – all designed to stimulate the appetite in advance of dinner. The antipasti is free, although you often pay a premium for a drink at an Aperitivo bar, which seems fair enough. The drink of choice is usually something slightly bitter like Aperol or Campari and the nibbles range in complexity from a bowl of olives to great platters of cheeses, meats, salads, bruschetta, pizza….well, you get the idea.

You know, I think we unwittingly instigated our own form of Aperitivo when I was a poverty stricken student many years ago. This took the form of starting the evening with a few pints at “Judge Tindals”, a Chelmsford pub which handed out bowls of free chipolatas and chips if you stayed there long enough. Oh, the glamour… I pity the poor students of Italy… missing out on the BOGOF lager and low-budget-sausages and leading a much less glamourous existence sipping Prosecco and nibbling aged pecorino.

And if they are really lucky they’ll be drinking an Aperol Spritz. We don’t seem to have caught onto the Aperol Spritz here in the UK but it is massive in Italy and taking off in the US too apparently. Aperol is a delicious bitter-orange liqueur which is delicious simply mixed with soda and served with a slice of orange.

But it is at its best in an Aperol Spritz, the cocktail which originated in northern Italy but seems pretty ubiquitous across the summer drinking establishments of Italy. It barely needs a recipe but here we go anyway:

Aperol spritz
1 part Aperol
1 part Prosecco
A splash of soda
Slice of orange and a green olive
Fill an ice filled tumbler a third of the way up the glass with Prosecco. Add another third of Aperol and then a good splash of soda water. Garnish with the strange orange and olive combo and enjoy, ideally al fresco. Chipolatas optional.

Roasted Salmon and Japanese Carrot Salad

I’m not usually a massive fan of Allegra McEvedy. It’s nothing personal I’m just not hugely excited by her food, it feels to me like its a little bit too hearty to be healthy but not indulgent enough to be really yummy. She also reminds me of a very jolly, sporty schoolgirl at Malory Towers (click herefor the uninitiated), someone who’d be good at booming at people, horse-riding and joining clubs. 

That said, I do really love the way that Leon looks – gorgeous promotional material/packaging/interiors etc – and I am a huge fan of her Japanese Carrot Salad which I found on the Guardian’s website the other day. As ever, I slightly adapted it to suit what I had hanging around in  the fridge. 

Roasted salmon with Japanese carrot salad 

  • 2 super-crisp carrots grated (not those slightly bendy ones you’ve had for a while – they’re good for cooking though so don’t bin them!) 
  • Thumb sized piece of ginger grated
  • 1 chilli chopped finely 
  • Handful of sugar snap peas chopped in half so they are mouthful-sized
  • Couple of tablespoons of unsalted peanuts roughly chopped 
  • 10 mint leaves 
  • Handful of fresh coriander finely chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce 
  • Half a teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 2 Salmon fillets 
  • 1 whole lime

Pop the salmon in an oven dish with a drizzle of sesame oil and a lime cut into quarters. Roast at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes. While the salmon is cooking mix together the grated carrots, ginger, sugar-snaps, chilli, mint and coriander in a bowl. In another little bowl make the salad dressing – mix together the sesame oil lime juice, fish sauce and sugar, whisk until combined and the sugar has dissolved.

When the salmon is cooked, dress the carrot salad and pile onto plates. Top with the salmon fillet and drizzle with a further tiny splash of sesame oil. 

It makes a really fresh and sparkly tasting dinner that is super-quick to knock up after work.

It’s probably not such a winner at a boarding school midnight feast though.Image