As sure as day follows night, if the subject of food is mentioned at all, it will inevitably touch on the debate between processed and cooked from fresh food in the UK today. And unless you know everyone in the discussion well and get side tracked into swapping recipes or discussing one’s favourite deli, someone will take the chance to opine on how poor people just need to try harder, be less lazy, just read the labels and realise you can buy a week’s veg for two quid if you’re a good enough member of society. These people are at best out of touch and at worst, running our country.
They are also idiots and liars. What you eat may have an impact on your dietary fibre, but it has bugger all to do with your moral fibre. It’s patronising and reductive to suggest otherwise and to focus on the actions of an individual, rather than those of the food industry, helps no one and hinders many, while causing massive divisions in society. But what would I know? I’m a nice middle class food blogger who grew up on homemade yoghurt and makes their own bacon. Surely I’m part of the problem?
I’m also poor. Not in a pretend can’t afford to split the bill including cocktails for a friend’s birthday or using Orange Wednesday vouchers for Pizza Express way. I’m properly poor. Due to ill health that stretches back to my early teens, I’m currently unable to work and live on benefits. Thanks to the welfare state (for which I could not be more grateful) I have the basic amount of money to live on each week and do just that. I can afford to live and eat well enough to write about it once a week simply due to careful budgeting, being a good and resourceful cook, having time and the generosity of friends and family who shout me lunch and bring wine to dinner. If you buy one Starbucks medium latte a day, picking up a muffin even once, you spend the same in a week as my entire food budget for 7 days. I think this qualifies me to talk about cooking and eating on a long term low income rather than a summer between uni where you have to make money stretch.
A neglected box of Sugar Puffs whose contents have set into a solid, intractable lump is a fairly regular sight in our kitchen and it is only recently that I hit upon the (though I say so myself) rather brilliant idea of turning them into beer.
Provided they have not gone completely stale, using Sugar Puffs to make beer is not as mad as it sounds. Although barley is by far the most important cereal for beer-making other cereals are used too. Well-stocked bars will often have a few bottles of wheat beer sitting on their shelves and they are well worth trying.
Sugar Puffs come complete with fermentable sugars, including 3% honey, and there is also plenty of sugar locked into the starch of the puffed wheat grains. Puffed wheat is also known as torrified wheat and occasionally finds its way into commercial beers.
My Skoda Octavia has been bombproof for over 10 years – with the exception of being hit by third parties the only issues have been with door-windows dropping out of their raising-mechanism seats.
However a fault with the central locking this week drained the battery – or so I thought. This morning a neighbour and I tried jumpstarting it but he MX-5 – albeit equipped with a new battery – was not able to turn over the hefty 1.9L VAG TDi. I considered stripping the battery out until I found the battery clip’s retainer bolt corroded in place, with which I did not want to mess while it was raining.
So I called the AA – who after taking £130 of my earth pounds upgraded me to “Home Start” and sent an engineer who arrived within 20 minutes. Colour me impressed.
Diagnosis: there is a fault with the central locking, yes, but the battery itself is naturally shot. We jumped it, tested it, and basically it’s a replacement job; thus I drove to Aldershot, left the car with my favourite Skoda service team with a ticklist of issues, and Brompton’d a mile or two to Aldershot station there to catch a bus home.
Then it started sleeting. Wet, nasty stuff.
The trains were/are up the duff due to a broken-down engine somewhere, so I was doubly happy to be taking the bus. Stayed in the station for 30 mins watching the wet flakes go plop, got my bus, and one hour later, via a roundabout route, I’m home. And freezing.
a walnut-sized chunk of bitter cooking chocolate
3x teaspoons of dark raw muscovado sugar
1x teaspoon spanish cocoa mix (ie: cocoa and a touch of cornflour)
mug of milk
into saucepan, whisk while bringing to just below simmer, allow the cornflour to thicken slightly.
Serve in mug.
…which is what I am sipping now. The world is a nicer place. It may involve a duvet a bit later on.
When a nuclear apocalypse comes calling, the first thing most of us will yearn for is a drink. And thanks to our government’s foresight and willingness to bomb stuff, you can rest assured that the surviving cans of PBR and Bud Light found in your now flattened local 7-Eleven will be safe to chug.
This is actually no joke. Alex Wellerstein, an American Institute of Physics science historian who also runs a blog about nuclear secrets, recently posted some old government documents and photos from “Operation Teapot.”
The subtitle to this 1955 report (PDF) on the experiment undertaken at the Nevada Test Site says it all: “The effect of nuclear explosions on commercially packaged beverages.”
The idea was to try and figure out how non-zombie residents of a post-apocalyptic society might find safe fluids to drink. The always readily available shelves of soda and beer seemed like the best option, but would they be safe to drink after a nuclear blast?
Fresh, intense and with no little complexity. Good length and with hints of benzine this reminds me of a high quality 10 year old Beerenauslese Riesling from the Rheingau but at a fraction of the price.
Note that this isn’t a full 75cl bottle, but is a ’bouteille a deux’ 50cl, perfect for two to share over a nice supper a plein air. Lovely.