Friday, March 18, 2011

Too Cheap?

Life has been as usual chaotic around here and what with escaping chickens repeatedly eating the fresh plantings and car accidents and renovating it can be hard to settle down to a definitive blog topic.
I went to Kmart today to buy some pillows as we have had to get our domestic situation into gear for a friend and his two little girls are coming to stay tomorrow for eight days. The last two weeks have been a frenzy of painting, bed buying( $30 each at St Vincent De Paul charity shop) Freecycling (the logistics of collecting two mattresses and a sofabed whilst looking after two small children!) and random dusting. Anyway, the pillows; I found a pack of two for $7, then Belgian chocolate for $2 a bar, shoes for $3 (lots) and a pack of five knickers for me for $5. Now I never thought I would be the type to think something was so cheap I would doubt it's quality but seriously how can they make a profit on cotton knickers for $1 a pair or shoes for work for $3 if the quality is any good or the conditions of the workers is good?. once upon a time I would have gone into a buying frenzy but I found although I needed the cheap pillows and couldn't go past the cheap chocolate (just to see... the Belgian dark one is vegan too) I balked at buying armloads of cheap clothing etc that was destined to fit poorly and become landfill quickly. these days I really genuinely prefer to buy second hand as I find a twinge of conscience when I buy ridiculously cheap products (unless they are obviously of a good, long lasting quality). I used to be a classic shopaholic but have found I enjoy shopping more if it is a bit of a challenge, hunting out worthwhile bargains gives me a thrill whereas buying loads of cheap stuff that looks cheap, feels cheap and is so mass produced half of town will have it seems empty to me nowadays.
There was a woman frantically filling her trolley with $3 shoes- how many pairs could she really need? I hope there was a background story and she was buying them for her family as well but I fear she was just taken in by the price and they will be coming soon to a landfill near you.
I was a bit taken aback by the fact you can also buy 24 hours a day and use "self serve" checkouts to buy your ridiculously cheap gear at 2am... am I overreacting?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

How to be a perfect Housewife?

I started this post with a right Royal whinge about the weather coming over all cold when it shouldn't be this way until May but today we had beautiful weather so we went for a traipse to the Seaside and had lunch at Georgetown and saw some Penguin Burrows with Penguins in them and have fitted a (new- well one from the spare room to replace the awful one in the sitting room) woodheater and so now things don't seem so grim if it is cold from now on.
So I had to find a new topic to blog on.
Then I made a bread and butter pudding from one of the many old cookbooks I have collected over the years "Our Cooking"with Flora Pell. It was awful, tasteless bland soggy pap and not like the firm golden dense puddingsI have had of late. Does anyone know a good tried and true bread and butter pudding recipe?
I have found that although I can't stop collecting them, my old cookbooks are nearly useless when it comes to assisting you to make decent food. I did make a decent rough puff pastry from a turn of the 20th Century book but by and large the results are underwhelming at best and jolly abysmal at worst. This is partly due to the vagueness of many of the old recipes where you find a previously unmentioned yet vital ingredient popping up in the middle of a recipe method or omitting the amount of a given ingredient leaving it to your unguided imagination, or measurements such as one breakfast cup of milk, or cut up small. I love old books but I have to confess I think food is getting better so I find that turning to online resources with the added bonus of reviews rather than the One Shilling Mrs Beeton's (who by the way was never a Household manager herself and plaigarised much of her content...) is a more reliable method of finding recipes.
I use my Margaret Fulton cook books, a large expensive one called "The Cooks Book", a Mrs Beeton's cakes and baking (definitely not a Victorian era collection of recipes but instead trading on her name years after her untimely death probably from Syphilis) and my bread maker recipe book but everything else I regularly turn to is an online recipe I have pasted into my own recipe book.
I find online recipes can be a bit unreliable too, like a recipe for "Rich Tea Biscuits" which were claimed to be a British favourite- perfect for dunking so I started the recipe and then wondered why there was no sugar, or currants and realised to my horror I was in the midst of a batch of scones! North Americans call scones biscuits. Luckily I improvised and ended up making a passable oat biscuit (a proper biscuit) instead.
I like the fresh loaf for it's amazingly helpful bread obsessed forum members, for it's variety of recipes from many sources and comments and any number of vegetarian and Indian food websites. And of course blogs, probably a food blog with step by step instructions and photos, so thank you to those who take the time to post such helpful things- you are better than a Mrs Beeton!