Good Food Blog
Frugal foodPosted at 12:02PM, 19 March 2008 by Jenni Muir - Food writer
With all this talk in the news of banks failing, food price increases and recession, food and wine writer Fiona Beckett could not have picked a better time to be working on 'The Frugal Cook', the book of which is due to be published in September. Do you have any of the great old budget cooking books? I loved Richard Cawley's 'The Artful Cook: Secrets of a Shoestring Gourmet', which includes his own paintings, and 'Poor Cook' by Susan Campbell and Caroline Conran has so many fans that a second-hand copy is being offered on Amazon for £75!!
Fiona has noticed, as have I, that the old standard-issue advice to buy fresh local seasonal produce no longer holds up when shopping on a budget, particularly not in supermarkets. As the Financial Times has said this week: 'Fresh vegetables are fast becoming a luxury.' Supply and demand is clearly a factor, but with tv chefs and food writers promoting seasonal ingredients as things to be cherished and celebrated, retailers and some market stalls are also grasping the opportunity to sell them at a premium.
"Even my mother... is disturbed by my tendency to hoard parsley stalks, leek tops and asparagus trimmings..."
People joke about traditional kitchen economy practices but I find some of them very satisfying. Deep down in my DNA there lurks a mean gene, definitely, but even my mother, who used to wear dresses made of hessian sacks during the last years of WWII, is disturbed by my tendency to hoard parsley stalks, leek tops and asparagus trimmings. I've always despised wasting food, but fortunately that's become rather fashionable. And once you've embraced stock and soup as a habit, parsley stalks do come in very useful.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has been campaigning to get more people making full use of their chicken - could we do the same for veg? The trick is for it to be genuinely delicious rather than just miserly.
My all-time favourite is using stripped cobs of sweetcorn to make corn stock - it tastes surprisingly like shellfish stock once reduced (even my mother approves of that one). You can also just bung corn cobs in simmering soups for extra flavour and remove them before serving. What are your favourite tips?