Saturday, 9 July 2011

Day 5: Feeding the Nation

As I feared, there is no internet access at this conference centre.
The following pages were written daily, however, and uploaded all at once

Where am I? 
If I said Schwerte, would you have heard of it? 
There's a reason for that.

My home for 5 days
Actually, the conference centre is very nice, right next to the River Ruhr and surrounded by the kind of tree-covered hills that Germany specialises in. It's other advantage is that it is way out of Schwerte, so no tempting shops anywhere. And as there is also no internet, I don't have to confront the ironic frugality dilemna of spending money on internet access in order to boast about the money I've saved.

So there is not much to report in terms of frugality. I spent 1.50 euros on a Holunder Bionade (a fizzy cranberry juice to you and me), which seemed reasonable, given that the supper buffet lacked even tap water to drink.  But that is all.

Luckily, I brought with me a book that I acquired a few weeks ago, just in case there was nothing much else to report.  It is called Feeding the Nation: Nostalgic Recipes and Facts from 1940-1954, and does exactly what it says on the tin. It was only when I was reading it on the plane to Düsseldorf that I realised that a book with a British flag and wartime photos on the cover might not be the most tactful thing to be reading on the plane to Düsseldorf.

But in the privacy of my room, I have been exploring it. It is a godsend! Marguerite Patten OBE ousts Delia entirely in the frugality stakes! Marguerite Patten was doing frugality when Delia was not even a twinkle in her daddy's eye!  And it is real frugality!  Proper frugality!  Frugality for people who are not pretending!

In her first chapter, on Soups, I am intrigued by her description of a soup pot. This seems to be a kind of permanent stock which would have sat on the corner of the stove. Her (edited) instructions are as follows:

Put your root vegetables (all except turnips), bacon rinds, etc, in a large pot with plenty of water.
Cook slowly for 1/2 hour. Boil vigorously for a minute or two then put straight into the oven when the baking is done to use up the last of the heat.

So far so good. But here's the intriging bit:

The soup pot should be brought to the boil every day. Green vegetables and outside leaves may be added to the stock if it is to be used at once. Don't disturb the fat on top of the stock for this preserves the flavour, but remove before use. When you want to make a soup, you just take some of this stock, and add what flavourings or vegetables you fancy.

So basically, this soup pot can be reheated time and again for days on end? It seems to fly in the face of all health-and-safety advice, for we are told never to reheat anything more than once, especially if it contains meat. But then, I remember my mother's soup being reheated two or three times, and not even being refrigerated in between. Maybe we have just become too paranoid - after all, how poisonous can a few watery cooked carrots really be?

I think therefore that this may be worth a try, though this may also be a time when I caution, "Don't try this at home".  Actually, I am not convinced that it will be cheaper than a simple stock cube, but It will at least use up the rind that came with my 1lb of bacon from Lidl. And I shall report back with devastating honesty on the absence or presence of a dodgy tummy.

Total Expenditure: £1.20

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