a frugal week

With the furore about horsemeat and supermarkets, I’ve been thinking a little more about how I shop. I’m not a great lover of supermarkets but like most people I shop there, though I won’t use the one closest to home because I hate the fact that it ships in fruit and vegetables from abroad when there’s a plentiful supply of British produce.

So although I’m not giving up supermarkets, I’m trying to use them less often and choose more carefully where I buy my food. We already buy our potatoes by the sackful at a local farm, our meat is either home produced or bought from a butcher. I buy flour from the local miller or grind our own wheat and we grow some of our own fruit and vegetables. I used to buy the rest of our fruit and veg from a market stall until the woman who ran it handed over the reins to her son. Too many dodgy oranges slipped into the bag, cherries labelled “English” on sale weeks before the English season and a disappearance of the locally sourced in favour of easily sourced at the wholesaler meant that I bought fewer things each week until I gave up and resorted to the supermarket.

Our local town is not a foodie haven. There is no greengrocer or fishmonger, no delicatessen or independent grocers, we have one butcher and our only bread shop is part of a large national chain. We do have four large supermarkets in town with two more on the outskirts of town, which perhaps explains the lack of small shops.

Last weekend there was a farmers market in the town centre, so I went along with my bag to see what I could buy. I was hoping to see stalls like this market stall we saw in Paris …

Paris veg store

… but instead there was a little huddle of uninspiring stalls. No fruit. No vegetables. Very few local stallholders. The apple juice was from Kent, the pies from Leicestershire and the bread stall is the same one you see at every street market. I walked away empty handed. This was not the sort of farmers market I was looking for.

Consequently, meals this week have been rather frugal. For the last few months I’ve  ignored the spring onions in the garden that we didn’t get around to eating last summer and the beetroot which are all leaves and no root.

veg from the garden

But not this week.

spring onions

The spring onions were chopped

home made butter

There was a pot of cream in the fridge with a use by date of 28th December. It smelt fine. I dipped my finger in and curiously, it tasted fine too. Erring on the side of caution I thought it better not to spoon it onto a pudding, but put it in the mixer with a pinch of salt, beat it until it turned to butter, rinsed it, patted it with a couple of flat wooden spoons and hey presto, I had butter in which to fry the onions. The parsnips and two tiny beetroot were added to the pot with some stock, macaroni and a carrot I found lurking in the pantry and left to simmer quietly.

frugal meal

Finally, I picked through the beetroot leaves to find a few green ones, which together with some green ends of the onions and some stale bread brought a little colour to the meal.

Delicious as it was, I’m hoping to find something more exciting to eat in the next few days.

3 thoughts on “a frugal week

  1. Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse says:

    It’s very dispiriting when farmer’s markets turn out to be anything but. Exactly the same deal with my nearest one. Your frugal food sounds much more attractive. Fascinated about the cream! I am afraid this is one thing I always find very difficult to judge how much we’ll eat and it’s difficult not to waste some. Making butter out of left over cream may be the answer. Thank you! E x

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  2. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial says:

    I think the food you’ve put on the table is thrilling and exciting! Making your own butter to fry the freshly harvested spring onions in? It doesn’t get better than that. I wish I could share Sydney with you – we have so much on hand that it’s often hard not to take it for granted. But even with all that, the best and most rewarding meals for us are still the ones we make mostly from garden produce. We too are making a serious attempt to wean ourselves from supermarkets, and usually only make the trip there once a month to buy washing detergents and cereals and longlife milk. But we are able to access large fruit and veg markets, specialty stores and meat wholesalers. I think you do a wonderful job given the reasonably limited options you have available! xxx

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