So… you’d have to have spent the last few months living under a rock in the desert not to have heard about the credit crunch.
Yes, folks, it appears that apart from:
a) the environment going to hell in a handbasket;
b) social values and the nuclear family going to hell in a handbasket;
c) democracy going to hell in a handbasket; and
d) our food supply going to hell in a handbasket,
it appears that the world economy is soon to follow suit. Seems some folks invested in a very risky part of the market, gambling on the “big risk, big returns” premise. But as so often happens with gambling… it turned out to be a very, very bad bet and now we are being told that we are on the brink of a global recession. Jobs are being lost, house prices are tumbling, stock markets are taking a beating… and food prices just keep on rising.
What’s a wannabe gourmet to do?
At chez Cooksister, I am pleased to find my lifelong love of leftovers has suddenly come to be viewed as a virtue rather than just stinginess ;-) But you still have to go and buy food. Which is expensive. One thing we do is to try and get our fruit and vegetables from the Queens Market, which is not too far from us. But recently I have also been discovered some rather delicious things in unusual (and reasonably-priced!) places.
I have written before about the odd phenomenon that is Lidl. Or maybe it’s just our local branch that’s always a hothouse of weirdness. The bizarre selection of random merchandise (raclette grills one week, tents the next, and fishing tackle the next) sitting alongside the food. The general wariness of the (largely) Baltic states clientele who all seem to be from just outside the EU and permanently looking over their shoulder in case the immigration police should pop in to pick up a raclette grill. And the general preference for using cardboard boxes for ferrying your groceries around the store rather than a trolley.
So at first glance, it’s possibly not the kind of place where you’d go to pick up the ingredients for a chic lunch. But… surprisingly, you can find some rather good continental goodies there (and it’s also the place where I bought all my English purple sprouting broccoli this season!). Nick has always loved sauerkraut – even more so when it’s served with some sort of German sausages. A brief trot around the store revealed that Lidl not only does a nice line in bottled German sauerkraut, but also these dinky little packets of 8-10 bratwurst sausages. I usually keep the sausages in the freezer and the sauerkraut in the cupboard, so if you drop into our house unnanounced over a weekend and you look as though you need feeding, it’s more than likely that this will be on the menu if I’m feeling lazy. Grill the sausages, heat the sauerkraut with a few cracked black peppercorns, garnish with sweet wholegrain mustard and voila!
And to drink? Well, for that, you should head over to that well-known gourmet store, erm, IKEA. Yes, we all know about the meatballs in the chiller cabinet and the delectable Daim sweets. But lately I’ve been buying the most delicious drinks there. For your non-alcoholic friends there’s the lingonberry drink on the right. Think cranberry juice but with more oomph – delicious! And to serve with the meal? Forget expensive Alsace wines to serve with your sausages & cabbage and pick up a slab of Kopparberg Swedish pear cider – my latest addiction. Once you pour it into champagne flutes, your guests will be intrigued by this undiscovered, fruity bubbly – keep them guessing before you reveal the tin. And at 95p per can, it’s an affordable luxury