This was good.
It is almost like the German version of pizza. I didn’t add the bacon but there is quite enough lard, eggs and double cream to be getting on with thank you very much.
The taste of marjoram is nice in the pastry.
This horse meat scandal has shown how hard it is to trace where your food actually came from and where in the world it was actually processed. It is also a classic case of it being not our fault, oh its not our fault it’s their fault, it’s not our fault, we bought it from them, its not our fault, we got it over there, its their fault, we clearly followed the rules, its their fault, etc etc.
When I was a student I spent one summer working night shift at a large pig factory. My job was to power hose the plant after production in preparation for production the next day.
I used to see the Cookstown products clearly labelled and beside those pallets of identical sausages labelled as well known supermarket own label brands. They would lbe labelled as ‘Made in the UK’, somewhere in the UK. I didn’t care too much about these sorts of things in my younger days but I’m not sure if the ‘Made in UK’ label said anything about where the pigs came from. The sausages might have been made in the UK but it said nothing about the pig or the other ingredients.
I’ve a bag of Tesco own label coffee that says ‘Packaged in Belgium’ on it. I’ve tried to track down where this factory might be in Belgium and who actually processes it, but I can’t find that information out. I bought a bag of Co-Op coffee beans last night and they say ‘Packaged in Belgium’ on it. Is this the same factory processing own label coffee beans for Tesco and the Co-Op?
Another smaller example is of Coleraine cheddar which isn’t made in Coleraine, it’s made in another factory.
Do these things matter?
It could all considered a 1st world problem, a case of we should just be grateful that we can go into a shop and afford to buy food freely without having to worry about where our next meal comes from and not be so fussy that what is sold as beef might actually horse.
Or you could take it the other way and say that being in such a privileged position should actually make us think about where our food comes from . In our church each week we pray the lines ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ .
Do we wonder enough about how God is actually supplying our daily bread or are we happy enough to think that God is using corporations and supermarkets (who are chiefly concerned with profit) to supply our daily bread without bothering to see what is going on behind the scenes?
Should we be thankful that we can buy a chicken for £3.99 in the supermarket and ask no questions or should we start poking behind the scenes a bit to see how the chicken is so cheap?
I know a man who previously worked with the poultry industry here in Ireland and used to visit various farms with the job. During Christmas he told us that he used to tell farmers that if they found the conditions in a chicken shed unbearable and unpleasant then it was unfair to keep chickens in the same conditions. I was surprised at this as I imagined that back 30 or 40yrs ago nobody cared so much about these issue and where more concerned about selling chicken feed.
But enough of that, I won’t rest easy until I find out where this coffee packaging factory in Belgium might be.
Last week I felt compelled (well I believe God told me to do it) to mark the locations of some of the biggest copper mines in the world on a Google Map
Today I typed in the words ‘copper’ and ‘corruption’ into Google which led me to the Mopani Copper Mine in Zambia and it’s creepy owners Glencore who according to this video trade on life’s commodities.
As world food prices rising due to poor harvests companies like Glencore who trade food items like wheat will be rubbing their hands with glee at the thoughts of healthy profits (as was reported back in August)
And as a Christian I feel like I’m staring right at the beast when I read about this sort of stuff. We pray to God ‘give us this day our daily bread’ but a company like Glencore wants to be the ones who supply our daily bread for maximum profit to their shareholders.
Watch this priest in this clip as well.
I have been feeling a bit low the last couple of days and sometimes when I feel like that baking bread cheers me up and so I decided that I would try an easy rye loaf recipe from Elizabeth David.
A few things
1 It is like only a 1/6th rye, the rest is strong white flour. Should that even count as rye bread?
2 It was really hard to knead, like tough. On the plus side it didn’t stick to my sideboard which usually puts me in a grumpy mood
3 After I baked it the loaf had the hardest crust in the world, somewhere between cement and brittle granite. Although the recipe did say to put it in a tin, and because I am without tin I just put it on a baking tray. Maybe in a bread tin the crust might have been softer?
4 Elizabeth David just doesn’t agree with me as a cookery writer. I’m not sure why that is. Is it because she seems like a bit of a snob or lacking in humour?
The butcher looked genuinely happy to see me and kept on calling me ‘Sir‘.
‘Is that all sir?’ he said.
I started laughing and said ‘I’m not used to people calling me sir‘ and the butcher said that old habits are hard to break and that you would have got a slap on the head if you didn’t call people sir years ago.
I told him that I hadn’t noticed the butcher before and he said that there actually used to be another one in the village and then I thought I’d say the word ‘Tesco’ just to see what would happen and he said ‘Tesco? They just do whatever they want..’
I had a similar experience from my nearest butcher who said ‘Tesco? If they were running the country I’d vote for them tomorrow…but they’re hoods‘ ….or words to that effect.
The butcher I was talking to today was only too eager to help but this made me sad because you got a sense that he was eager to make the most of every new customer that comes through the door and make sure it counts purely to make sure the business survives.
I’m glad he was nice but I hate to think that he’s having to be extra, extra nice and helpful because supermarkets have come in and taken his custom.
Maybe that is the law of business, the law of competition and fighting for customer share etc etc but it seems more like the powerful against the weak and it doesn’t seem to be particularly helpful for community as the people who can’t compete get left behind and forgotten about, and what is Christian about that?
Suddenly the street is boarded up and all the economic life has shifted to the other side of town, freedom and choice have disappeared from your town or village and another big box appears near a roundabout a few miles away.
G.K. Chesterton had this to say about big shops
The truth is that the monopolists’ shops are really very convenient–to the monopolist. They have all the advantage of concentrating business as they concentrate wealth, in fewer and fewer of the citizens. Their wealth sometimes permits them to pay tolerable wages; their wealth also permits them to buy up better businesses and advertise worse goods. But that their own goods are better nobody has ever even begun to show; and most of us
know any number of concrete cases where they are definitely worse.
All I’m saying is that although I only popped into this particular butcher for the first time today I care for him or worry about what will happen if the local supermarkets continue to drain business.
I would hate to think that because I chose to buy my meat in a supermarket (that already makes billions of pounds in profit per year) he would be struggling to make a living or make it work.
Which makes me wonder why our local politicians think it’s a particularly good idea to charge extra for parking in towns. If you’re having a revenue shortfall don’t charge people for parking in their town centre while allowing planning permission for huge stores on the outskirts of town which don’t charge parking. Tax the huge stores per parking space per year if you are going to charge people for parking in a town centre or else don’t charge people for people for parking in town centres. Fair is fair.
There are few butchers in Lisburn city centre and it is no surprise because why would you circle around looking for a car parking space,
put in 30 or 40p,
walk 5mins to get to the butcher,
and then carry your meat back before the traffic warden snares you for being a few minutes late?
Why would someone be bothered when they could just pop up to Tesco, park for free and run in and run out? )
My mind is swirling about corporations and supermarkets after reading ‘Shopped‘ by Joanna Blythman over the weekend so be prepared for a series of supermarket based rantings. They might be a pile of rubbish but I’m just trying to work out why supermarkets and corporations wind me up so much while at the same time being impotent to escape their clutches and also often enjoying their products and services, or even earning some money from them.
However I find there is something particularly creepy about the way supermarkets conduct their business, something which gets me worked up in ways I don’t really understand.
I realised tonight that it may have something to do with supermarkets dealing and trading with one of the essentials of life, food. Supermarkets have a huge say in the distribution of ‘our daily bread’, they provide for us and would like to be seen in that way by their grateful subjects. They want to be seen and worshipped as our benefactors, as the ones who provided manna at dirt cheap price, or an artisan olive manna at affordable prices. Which I find a bit creepy, especially from a Christian point of view. Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer literally want us to look to them to provide our daily bread. They want to be seen as our providers, our benefactors. Ultimately they want to take the place of God. If that sounds a bit melodramatic then you should listen to what a supermarket like Tesco freely admits is it’s core purpose.
‘Our Core Purpose is to create value for customers
to earn their lifetime loyalty.‘
They want my lifetime loyalty and they want your lifetime loyalty. That is their core purpose in life, to do whatever it takes to make little Tesco disciples.
Is it going to be any different with any supermarket or any corporation? And we probably have to remember that the core values, mission statements, visions of companies are made for a reason, which is basically to make the company as profitable as possible, which more than likely means ‘make as much money as possible for whoever owns the company’. As the introduction to ‘Shopped’ mentions
‘Let’s be clear that large supermarket chains are companies whose aim is not, first and foremost, to meet society’s interests…The bottom line is that they are stock market-driven corporations whose overarching goal is to keep their shareholders happy’
Surely the god at the top is Mammon, or money which drives the whole thing from top to bottom, bottom to top?
At the top you have the supermarket trying to get more and more profit/money each year, growing and growing.
At the bottom you have someone like me who might be impressed that I can save money and get more and more profit by shopping in a big chain. Money is driving the whole thing. I think Coolio said it best
‘power and the money
money and the power
minute after minute
hour after hour’
Or maybe not. More some other day when I’ve chilled out a bit. Maybe not:)
I’m not sure I’ve ever lived in a house that didn’t have a half empty bag of muesli sitting in a cupboard, dry and unloved in it’s dust. Nobody seems capable of eating an entire box or bag of muesli and so it lies forgotten about until one day you think ‘I’m never going to eat that bag of Alpen so I might as well bin it‘
This has been my experience of muesli.
Then this weekend I flicked through a book on bread making and stumbled across a recipe for muesli bread and thought ‘I’m going to redeem you unloved muesli in my cupboard‘
Mix a sachet of quick action yeast with one teaspoon of honey and 150ml of warm, body temperature-ish water and leave for 10 mins. Or leave for a few hours as I did after forgetting and going out of the house.
Mix 650g of strong white flour, 90g wholemeal flour and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the yeast mixture and 300 ml of water (the recipe in the book said 250ml but added 300ml by accident). Knead for 7mins and leave to rise until doubled in bulk (whatever that means)
Work in 125g of muesli and knead for a few more minutes, seperate dough and shape into rounds on baking tray. Leave for 1hr.
Bake in an oven for 30mins or so at 230 c.
Well that’s what I did and I got a nice little brown loaf. It was maybe not as light as it should have been but I just had a slice a few days later toasted and it tastes grand to me. Plus the bag of muesli in the corner has been tamed.
There is also a recipe in this book for Weetabix and it just so happens that there is a packet of unloved Weetabix in the cupboard as well so I must give that a go next time.
We had a little party on Wednesday for Mrs Canalways which involved some cooking and preparation of food, of making tortillas and baking bread, whirling up some pesto and dips, cleaning and washing up afterwards.
This might sound like hard work or a lot of effort (why not just go to M&S and buy a few bits and bobs?…which we did do) but I enjoyed doing it. And it seems like a good thing to do.
If there is one truth that I’ve learned about Christianity over the last decade or so, and if there is one setting where it seems to make sense it is around a few olives or a beer or two. Around a table there is a bit of give and take, you can enter long and lazy conversations, you can get to know your neighbour and it seems like an equal relationship.
I’m not talking about over the top, best china and dressing up type of hospitality, but the casual gathering with a few bits and bobs. |
I was reading this in Mediterranean Cookery by Claudia Roden.
‘Mediterranean society is family-based and that is where real Mediterranean cooking at its best is to be found. The home cooking of a society with strong family ties, large clans and women at home has none of the rigid rules of haute cuisine. And when dishes are passed down in the family they are fill of the little touches which make them both exquisite and individual.
I once asked a wrought-iron craftsman in Turkish Anatolia who builds pavilions in Seljuk and Ottoman styles, why he thought food in Turkey was regarded as being so important. He replied ‘What we enjoy most in life is being hospitable. That is all we have. You must not eat alone.’
That seems to me like pretty good advice for a church to take on board as well.
‘It is assumed by most people nowadays that all work is useful, and by most well-to-do people that all work is desirable. Most people, well-to-do or not, believe that, even when a man is doing work which appears to be useless, he is earning his livelihood by it – he is “employed,” as the phrase goes; and most of those who are well-to-do cheer on the happy worker with congratulations and praises, if he is only “industrious” enough and deprives himself of all pleasure and holidays in the sacred cause of labour. In short, it has become an article of the creed of modern morality that all labour is good in itself – a convenient belief to those who live on the labour of others.’
taken from Useful Work versus Useless Toil
By William Morris
‘I have come to understand that a person that a person can do nothing good oneself, that for a person to be glad, to be well-off even to be able to eat and drink and enjoy oneself in the press and change of daily life – all this is purely a gift of God’
Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13
‘Only when Grace covers the toil, the rising up early, the sitting up late, eating the bread you worried about providing, only under and out of Grace does work find meaning, and can a person go on content’