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Feeling the pinch?

Chef Caro helps you to remain calm and full.

by: Caro de Waal: Food24 | 31 Jul 2009

How many times a day do you hear the word ‘recession’, and, ‘in the current economic climate’ or, my favourite, ‘dicky financial times’. I get it, we’re in deep, trolley and all.

In fact, my trolley is starting to look anorexic, and I really have to think twice and ask myself ‘do I really need that?’ I know I want it, but do I need it, and all importantly, can I afford it?’

The answer is, ’no’. I don’t need those expensive out-of-season strawberries, or the shiny Parma ham, lying there all foreign and freshly flown in, packaged with their guilty carbon footprints.

And I don’t need meat like fillet, with its nauseating price tag. I admit to once (or twice) scandalously dropping one into another fridge, and quickly scuttling away red-faced, when I realised a little along the aisles that I simply couldn’t justify the triple digits.

Fear not, foodie people! You need not go hungry (gasp), or sacrifice flavour (double gasp), in these dubious days of penny pinchdom.

In the garden
Arm yourself with some homemade compost from the kitchen and a packet of seeds and grow your own seasonal produce. I have managed a small garden for the last few months, and it’s been surprisingly easy.

I can’t tell you the joy I felt, when the first dainty shoots of pink and green beetroot leaves poked the surface of the little patch. And when I dug them out the other day to reveal small, but perfect, dusty purple baubles, my pride swelled.

I made a simple warm beetroot and orange salad with feta that was wonderful, and easy on the pocket. The flavour was intense and earthy and I can’t wait for the rest to be ready. I might make some soup or grate them raw with apples and toasted walnuts for a fresh and healthy side dish.

And what about the knarley old lemon tree you have forgotten about? Make lemonade and ginger beer or preserve them in old bottles for your own use or gifts. A tablespoon of this golden stuff also adds depth and lifts dishes like this neck of lamb with peas.

In the pot
There are many cuts of meat that are affordable, and are even more flavoursome than the usual favourites. Our blogger ’my-easy-cooking’ hits the nail on the head with this beautiful aitchbone roast.

When it comes to fish, the prices are extortionate, but hake is still fair (R44.99 per kg at PnP). Fry in an angel-light beer batter and enjoy with some gorgeous crisp wedges.

Using cheaper ingredients like butternut and beans, you can make all sorts of curries and soups that are delicious and comforting in the winter chill.

It’s all about using a little imagination, and having some fun. There’s so much good economical food to eat.

Embrace the times and get cooking people, life is good!

- None


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