All set for CCC

The Birmingham chapter of the Clandestine Cake Club meets today. This month’s theme is “Blow Away the Dust”, so I looked through my old cookery books and found an interesting sounding cake I’ve never made before in an old Cranks cookbook (published 1985).

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The book is well-used and many of its yellowing pages are coming adrift, but there are lots of recipes in it I’ve never tried including this one:

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So here’s the finished Date & Coconut Gateau! I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like inside (I already know it’s going to be various shades of brown …) and trying a small piece of it later – and of course I should get to sample lots of other cakes too!

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It’s been a while …

I’ve just realised I’ve not written a blog post since last year’s Live Below the Line challenge. I’ve done the challenge again this year and raised over £300 thanks to generous friends and colleagues – you can see how I got on here: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/jenb

So, what else? Well I’ve bought myself a new sewing machine with birthday/bonus money, so am hoping to get back into sewing, perhaps I’ll use this blog to show what I’ve made. Don’t hold your breath though – I’ve not even tried to thread it yet! I’ve bought some cheap fabric to play with – the plan is to make some pyjama bottoms.

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I went on a bread-making course at Loaf Cookery School recently, and I had a great day. So I thought I’d share some bread-making efforts here too. Tonight I have made some pitta bread using a Dan Lepard recipe, it was magical to see (most of) them puff up in the oven, they aren’t perfect but they should be better than the vacuum-packed cardboard ones which we have bought sometimes.

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Post-LBTL breakfast

It’s over! I had an early morning cup of tea, lovely.

Then for breakfast I had some freshly squeezed orange juice (it tasted so fruity and tangy), two mini-croissants with cherry jam (the jam tasted so sweet), and a small cup of coffee (it tasted so strong)!

No idea how much that all cost!

The challenge?

Spend 5 days feeding yourself with £1 a day – the UK equivalent of the extreme poverty line.

The reason?

To give a glimpse into the lives of 1.4 billion people who have no choice but to live below the line every day – and who have to make £1 cover a lot more than food…

The details?

Sponsor me here, or sign up to do it yourself at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/uk

LBTL Final Day!

Another repetitive day … but it’s the last one of the challenge!

Breakfast – toast with margarine again, cost 7.5p.

Lunch was my Mock Hummus again, cost 32p. I’ve probably only eaten just over half the quantity I made. I did enjoy the slices of fresh pepper and onion I had with it!

I had a great boost this afternoon when I updated my workmates about my progress this week and got more donations, I am now well over my target of £300 and actually over £400. Thank you so much everyone!

For my last supper, I defrosted the chilli left over from Monday and we had it with some plain rice, cost 40p. Yet again there was a bit left over, I may have it for lunch tomorrow, perhaps with some salad and tortilla chips ….

Some stats to ponder on from my spreadsheet (I haven’t deducted anything for uneaten leftovers so the nutritional details are higher than they should be):

  • Average cost of meals per day: 80.5p
  • Average calories per day: 1180 KCal
  • Average protein per day: 44.5g
  • Average fat per day: 26.1g.

So, not long to go now. I am wondering whether to stay up until midnight and have a feast? Or maybe just a nice cup of tea and a biscuit? Or maybe I’ll have an early night and dream about what I can have for breakfast tomorrow!

The challenge?

Spend 5 days feeding yourself with £1 a day – the UK equivalent of the extreme poverty line.

The reason?

To give a glimpse into the lives of 1.4 billion people who have no choice but to live below the line every day – and who have to make £1 cover a lot more than food…

The details?

Sponsor me here, or sign up to do it yourself at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/uk

LBTL Day 4

Sorry if this blog is getting boring, but so is my week. It’s a quiet time at work, plus I’ve deliberately chosen to do this challenge in a week when I’ve got no evening commitments, and the food is getting very repetitive …

Breakfast – toast with margarine again, cost 7.5p.

Lunch was the last of my soup and garlic croutons, cost 28.5p. It’s getting thicker every time so I am adding some water, shame I used the last of the passata last night.

And for the evening meal, out came the biryani and dahl again, cost 47.5p. There was loads of biryani left, I think I overestimated the quantities on this one.

I am pleased that I seem to be coping without caffeine and alcohol okay so far, no withdrawal headaches or hard to ignore cravings. When boiling the kettle for a nice cup of hot water, I’ve found myself reaching for the teabags a few times though, but have stopped myself before pouring the water on. I’m definitely looking forward to coffee at breakfast and wine with dinner on Saturday though!

It struck me while I was eating my evening meal that it was made of almost exactly the same ingredients as the soup! I think using some of my budget on spices from the store cupboard (I haven’t attempted to cost the spices in detail) and making sure I included onions, garlic and lemon plus margarine for frying on my shopping list  has made the week’s menu more interesting, varied and tasty than it might have been. Without that this week would have been a lot more boring – in fact spice has been the variety of life this week, or something ….

The challenge?

Spend 5 days feeding yourself with £1 a day – the UK equivalent of the extreme poverty line.

The reason?

To give a glimpse into the lives of 1.4 billion people who have no choice but to live below the line every day – and who have to make £1 cover a lot more than food…

The details?

Sponsor me here, or sign up to do it yourself at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/uk

LBTL Day 3

Today I was working at home so managed to have my breakfast (toast and margarine, 7.5p; cup of hot water, free) at my desk and while it was still fresh!

My plan for today’s lunch was Lentil Pate, but while I was cooking it last night I decided to whizz it all up in the blender to give a smooth consistency, and it ended up rather like hummus. I had it with some dry toast and some slices of red pepper and onion and it was rather good, despite containing no olive oil or tahini. I am including some notes on the method here in case I make it again (or someone else may even want to try it!). I would normally use oil but I could not afford it on my budget.

Mock Hummus

Makes 2 generous portions:

100g red lentils

10g margarine

Half a medium onion, finely chopped

Juice of half a lemon

Half tsp ground cumin

1 large clove garlic, crushed.

Rinse then cook the lentils on a low heat with the pan lid on in a minimum amount of water; cook carefully without stirring, so that the lentils are cooked and dry and almost fluffy, with all the water absorbed; keep checking and top up the water by a small amount as necessary.

Fry the onion in the margarine until starting to caramelise; turn off the heat and add everything else plus some salt & pepper to season.

Spoon into the food blender and whizz it up until smooth.

Cost per portion: 32p (including 2 rounds dry toast, plus some red pepper and onion slices to garnish).

Tonight’s meal was (value) Spaghetti with a Lentil & Veg Sauce. This is the last thing I need to cook this week as  previously made dishes will be coming out of the fridge and freezer to take an encore for the rest of the week. It was tasty and filling – M had Parmesan on his and I tried not to notice!

I’ve just realised I’ve mentioned three pieces of kitchen equipment in this post that I take for granted and have certainly made this week’s challenge a lot easier, and that anyone living in poverty probably wouldn’t have access to. As well as thinking about food and cooking this week I have been reflecting on why I am doing this and what it must really be like to live in poverty – I think I will post about this at the end of the week.

Spaghetti with a Lentil & Veg Sauce

Makes 2 generous portions.

150g spaghetti

10g margarine

1 medium onion

200ml passata

2 cloves garlic

50g lentils

65g mushrooms

90g peppers

Pinch mixed herbs, half tsp Marmite, salt & pepper.

Cost per portion: 41.5p

NB I am now watching Secret Eaters (C4: This groundbreaking new series about the psychology and science of eating scrutinises the eating habits of overweight families by putting them under 24-hour camera surveillance) out of some sort of perverse curiosity! And it’s not making me feel hungry at all!

The challenge?

Spend 5 days feeding yourself with £1 a day – the UK equivalent of the extreme poverty line.

The reason?

To give a glimpse into the lives of 1.4 billion people who have no choice but to live below the line every day – and who have to make £1 cover a lot more than food…

The details?

Sponsor me here, or sign up to do it yourself at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/uk

LBTL Day 2

The same breakfast (toast and margarine, 7.5p) and the same lunch as yesterday (soup and croutons, 28.5p) except that I left my soup bowl at home so had to eat it straight out of the plastic container, very elegant!

This time I waited until I got to work to have my toast and so ran the gauntlet of a number of coffee outlets on my way having had nothing more than a few sips of water. Incidentally I have been ‘enjoying’ some cups of hot water, if I shut my eyes I can almost imagine it’s rather weak tea!

I’ve concocted a clever spreadsheet to help me with planning and costings of this week’s meals. I’ve also found all the nutritional data on everything I bought (yes it has been a rather quiet week at work!) and added that data too, and it turns out that I had about 1080 KCal yesterday. Doesn’t sound a lot, but then I’m not very big so maybe it’s not that much less than what I need, and although I felt hungry at various times during the day I didn’t go to bed feeling hungry!

Tonight my evening meal was cooked for me, still adhering to the guidelines of course, and very tasty it was too! Thank you Mick. We have learned though, that ‘value’ rice is probably best just boiled in lots of water, it managed to be both soggy and undercooked somehow in the biryani!

Vegetable biryani and dahl

Ingredients for 4 generous servings:

350g rice

30g margarine

190g onions

300ml passata

450g frozen mixed vegetables

50g mushrooms

130g peppers

200g lentils

4 large cloves garlic

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Various spices!

Cost per portion – about 47.5p

After we’d eaten, I invented a dish I am calling ‘mock hummus’ using yet more lentils, to have for lunch instead of soup for a couple of days. I’ll let you know what it’s like tomorrow!

The challenge?

Spend 5 days feeding yourself with £1 a day – the UK equivalent of the extreme poverty line.

The reason?

To give a glimpse into the lives of 1.4 billion people who have no choice but to live below the line every day – and who have to make £1 cover a lot more than food…

The details?

Sponsor me here, or sign up to do it yourself at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/uk