Monday, 28 January 2008

Can you be frugal and ethical?

Heated discussion over the lunchtable yesterday as to whether you can be frugal and ethical? I.e. if you're on the breadline you're not going to be fussy about whether your food comes from. It's been raised in connection with the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall/Jamie Oliver chicken debate and I can see it applies here too.

Most people who are on a truly frugal lifestyle have a budget to stick to and don't go buying organic shoulders of lamb, even if they use every bit of it. Point taken. If I'm serious about this book - and this blog - we'll have to spend a week on a genuinely tight budget. No eating out (see yesterday's post) obviously.

In the meantime I have to admit the lamb was great. I studded it with garlic, smothered it with dried rosemary and oregano, crushed with salt, pepper and a little cumin and roasted it for 4 1/2 hours, giving it an initial blast at 180°C/Gas 4 then turning the heat right down to 130°C/Gas 1. You have to keep pouring off the fat after a hour or so but the low temperature is great as it means the pan juices don't burn (so long as you chuck in some wine or stock once the fat has gone) and you get a brilliant tasty sauce at the end. I say sauce rather than gravy because I don't think gravy goes with this style of roast.

I also found a use for the unloved spelt bread. Bases for the smoked haddock paté. Sliced it, cut it into bite-sized squares, sprayed them with olive oil and baked them. Problem was the oven temperature was so low it took them about 45 minutes to crisp up by which time they were the consistency of a ship's biscuit. Everyone gamely crunched through them hoping they wouldn't break their teeth on one. But I think it would work with a higher cooking temperature and shorter cooking time. Not that I'm going to buy that bread again.

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