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Vegetable adventures

July 26, 2010

We’ll’ve been in the new house for a month come Sunday, and so far the experiment in communal living is going pretty well. We eat together, maintain a common stock of food and household necessities, share the washing-up and so on, and have friends round for board games on Saturday evenings. Yes, yes, it’s cosy and hippyish and very, very middle-class, but it seems to be working.

The household diet is basically vegetarian. Rhiannon’s been veggie for years as part of a general disposition towards Not Killing Things,* and J and I both quite like quorn and realise that meat is pricey and are, crucially, lazy. Keeping the house food supplies vegetarian and cooking for three every night makes splitting the food budget easier, makes said food budget smaller, and is also a lot more efficient in terms of cooking time and washing-up generated.

We get a small box of organic fruit and veg every Thursday (yes, that hippyish and middle-class)** which works out to about £4/person/week. It means that we always have vegetables in the house, which has a surprisingly massive effect on eating habits. In particular, improvised meals are much easier when there’s lots of veg (which don’t require much preparation and are tasty and good for you) readily available, which in turn means that I’m a lot more likely to actually eat during the middle of the day (and eat in the house instead of nipping to Co-op for a sandwich.)

Today I came downstairs, looked in the fridge and observed the following: the end of a lettuce, three courgettes, two mushrooms, and a cabbage that hadn’t gotten any smaller since the last time I looked at it. I ended up slicing up a courgette, the mushrooms, and a few leaves of cabbage and sautéing them (well, frying them) with some rosemary, and then dumping them in a bowl with torn lettuce, a handful of cashew nuts, and a bit of soy sauce. And it was damn tasty, despite being the end product of a game of What’s In The Fridge Today? (Fried courgette is one of my favourite things like, ever. The slices go all squishy in the middle and crunchy on the outside and damn.)

I’ve written before about the benefits of being able to cook on the fly. I think having a lot of veg to hand – which are much, much harder to mess up than animal products, and usually can’t kill you even if you do get them wrong,*** and almost anything goes with almost anything – makes the improvised cooking process an order of magnitude easier. They also keep for ages. In light of which it’s even more of a shame that veg – even the common-or-garden things that we can grow by the ton right here in Britain – tend to be represented in supermarkets by over-priced, under-flavoured varieties and the decent stuff is harder to get hold of and even pricier.

And then findings that say the poor live worse and die young and the class divide is getting wider are greeted by the middle-and-upper-class media with great and (I suspect) genuine surprise.


*EDIT: Rhiannon has pointed out to me that Quakers do not have doctrine – the nearest thing is Testimonies – and also that her adoption of vegetarianism at 12 was under various spiritual influences rather than specifically Quakerism. Apologies. It would have been quicker to ask in the first place, wouldn’t it?

**Joke by Hugh Dennis on Mock the Week: “If Mary has one apple, Thomas has an apple and an orange, and Tarquin has two apples, an orange, an ugli fruit and two kumquats, whose parents read the Guardian?” . . . Touché.

***Except red kidney beans. Buy the tinned sort, that have been safely denatured.

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