Monday, 29 March 2010

In the soup

Back from Brussels and very well fed, it's time for month three of rationing. I've got a couple of conflicting goals that I need to make fit this month's project.
  1. I need to save money. Christmas turned out to be virtually impossible to pay for - I've been running an overdraft since December - and bills continue to pile up. Being responsible people, we've made new wills after getting hitched last year, but they cost over £200. Also, rationing didn't save money. Quite the reverse - it appears to have cost a lot more, but that's likely due to a lack of planning capabilities. And I want a satellite dish in time for the forthcoming General Election (the existing digital aerial, designed for outdoor use, is propped up on a pile of books and a chair in the middle of the living room, so is slightly inconvenient; a dish will solve this issue) but it's going to cost £90 and require me to be all butch and climb a ladder and everything.
  2. The lack of fat was easy for me to cope with last time, even if I did run out before the end of the month. It was harder of CJBS, nay, impossible, but I'm not going to let him have my fat ration so he'll have to live within his means. However, he's put his foot down: he wants cheese. 2oz a week, a portion that's almost impossible to cut, has been, he says, "killing me". So I'd like to find a period that will have more cheese and use those rations for this month. But it's impossible: the cheese ration fell in every year of the war and beyond, getting down to barely over an ounce by the 3rd year of peace. It was one of the last items off the ration, in Spring 1954 (meat was the last off, in May 1954; petrol was rationed, albeit generously, until 1957, whilst Ribena and orange juice could only be got by showing your Family Allowance/Child Benefit book at the chemist until about the same time).
My thought is that I'm going to give up my cheese ration to CJBS, giving him 4oz, a respectable 100-ish grams, a week. That should allow him to put the cheese to non-cookery uses, although I'm not sure exactly what he wants it for, to be honest. I don't think he knows, either.

But that will take cheese out of my arsenal of dishes to make on the ration. Add to that the saving of money I need to make and I'm in a real bind. It could be worse: if we went on to 1946/47 rations, we'd lose bread and potatoes to points; I'd be making gruel, or possibly ersatz gruel.

I spent the 4 hours of train trips yesterday thinking hard about this and have found what I think is a solution. It'll make the blog a very boring place for a month (sorry), but will achieve these odd aims. I'm going to spend a month making soups.

Yes, soups. I went out today, the last day on holiday, and bought about £10 of vegetables to last the week. I drew down my fat ration and spent points on evaporated milk and some pasta. I also got some lentils (for the protein - hat tip to Michelle). The £10 of vegetables got me a lot, thanks to my greengrocer's low prices, so I've some leeks, a cabbage, onions, tomatoes, a parsnip and potatoes. I'll start a new stock pot today, and choose the first soup from the available veg.

With plenty of bread still allowed, we won't go hungry. And we'll get the right nutrients. And the flavours should be pretty varied, even with each soup lasting two days. And there'll be less reheated cabbage (hat tip to Scott). Yet, somehow, I suspect "dull" is going to be the watchword for this month. I may have to fall off the ladder whilst putting up the Freesat dish just to provide some light relief.


Merseytart said...

Good luck with another month of rationing, particularly on such terms. I can see why you stayed away from the no meat/potatoes period though - unbelievable that our parents/grandparents had to live through all that.

I'm curious about this outdoor arial you have in your living room though. Aren't you afraid you'll be electrocuted halfway through Corrie?

rushworth said...

You two will be like matchsticks after living off soup for a month! Make sure your calories stay up..

I highly recommend a 'Chrimbo Standing Order' fund next week - I have one that chips ten quid a week out of my current account all year round into my ISA, then I draw it out a fortnight before Chrimbo! It's kept my head above water for the past two years..


rushworth said...

When I say 'next week' I mean 'next year', doh x