Before the Year of Living Frugally project began, when I was still at the 'mental preparation' stage, I noticed on a friend's bookshelf a cookbook entitled Delia's Frugal Food. Immediately interested, I pulled it out of the bookshelf - and there on the front cover was a picture of a savoy cabbage.
Now, 'hatred' would be too strong a word. I don't hate cabbage. I just thoroughly dislike it. I can swallow it down, but I WILL NOT enjoy it. So it would be fair to say that my heart sank. Delia Smith has led the way in British Cookery for almost four decades now, and her recipes are widely reputed to be the most reliable in print. Often have I heard it said, mainly by my very wealthy cousin as she whips up Duck à l'Orange followed by a Crème Brulée Soufflé, "If you follow Delia, you won't go wrong". So if all Delia can come up with for frugal food is a savoy cabbage, then I am well and truly screwed.
The next day, in a slightly depressed state, I visited a supermarket and spend around an hour staring at all the vegetables. They stared back at me. For it is not just cabbage - I am not good with vegetables in general. But Vegetables Are Cheap, so they claim, and I fully expect to be choking down a fair number this year. I stared and I mentally compared, and concluded that the cheapest vegetable on offer in my local Asda was a savoy cabbage.
This was becoming a theme.
In something approaching despair, I decided to get a copy of Delia's book for myself. Maybe she had a magical recipe which would transform the cabbage into a thing of wonder. It turns out that the copy pictured here is a later reprint of the original 1976 "classic best seller", which I managed to find for 1p on Amazon. (Even with the £2.88 postage on top, that still seemed like a good deal, especially if it succeeds in making cabbage more palatable.)
When it arrived, I was heartened to find a rather wider range of food pictured on the front: an onion, a lemon, a green pepper, a cauliflower, a pile of dried legumes, a couple of eggs, and what I assume is a whole mackerel. There are even four almonds lurking in the bottom right hand corner. The pictured purse has £1.22 spilling out of it, which I think was ambitious for all that food even in 1997. And over all this goodness is the benevolent smile of Delia herself, in her own little oval window. "You can do it," she seems to be saying, and I said out loud, "Yes, Delia - I can!"
Inside, there are indeed some cabbage recipes. "Thick Country Soup" specifically involves half a small savoy cabbage. This dish will be my first frugal venture.
Courage, mes amies! We shall overcome!