What can you do to help? Buy someone #22mealsforacoffee (That’s 22 meals for the price of a £3 coffee…)

While typing my previous post, I had a bit of a brainwave. And I wonder if I can get something going here, with almost 10,000 Twitter followers, 5,000 Facebook fans, 2,000 Facebook friends, 3,000 email subscribers… I wonder if… If, instead of spending £3 on a coffee today, tomorrow, this week, you could do this instead. Go to your nearest supermarket, and buy the following: (I’ve priced mine at Sainsburys, but other major supermarkets are similarly priced): 2 tins of baked beans – 22p each 1 jar of fish paste – 32p 1 can of sardines – 55p 1 tin of chopped tomatoes – 31p 1 tin of carrots – 20p 1 loaf of bread – 50p 1 jar of jam – 29p 1 bag of pasta – 39p TOTAL: £3.00 And go and put it in a carrier bag and take it straight to your local food bank, or a friend or neighbour in need. Because one latte = 16 slices of bread and jam + 6 portions of beans on toast + 2 portions of pasta with fish paste + 4 portions of pasta with sardines and tomatoes. One latte = 22 meals. No, not nutritionally perfect, but better than hunger. If you have the extra cash, replace the jam with peanut butter. Add some tinned spinach or more tinned tomatoes, some stewed steak or tinned meat. I don’t care what you spend that £3 on – just […]

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Hunger Hurts – Still. A year on…

Today is exactly one year since I typed out, on my battered old Nokia, the words that have been reblogged and repeated in international news reports again and again and again over the last twelve months. The post, entitled ‘Hunger Hurts’, starts with the line: “Today has seen fourteen job applications go in…for care work, shop work, factory work, minimum wage work, any kind of work, because quite simply, this doesn’t work…” I repeated the words in Parliament last month to a shocked, silent assembly: “This morning, Small Boy had one of the last Weetabix, mashed with water, with a glass of tap water to wash it down with. Where’s mummy’s breakfast? He asks, all blue eyes and two year old concern. I tell him I’m not hungry, but the rumbling of my stomach calls me a liar. But these are the things that we do.” Publicly falling apart at the seams, I continued: “People ask me how I can be so strong. People say to me that they admire my spirit. Days like today, sitting on my son’s bed with a friend, numb and staring as I try to work out where the hell to go from here, I don’t feel strong. I don’t feel spirited. I just carry on.” And I did. I carried on. Hunger Hurts was my turning point – the rock bottom that I hit, the night I decided to hold a big open house […]

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Behind the scenes at the book shoot…

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So today was the first day of shooting my book with the team from Penguin, and it’s been a fun – if exhausting – day. I’ve managed to smuggle my own plates and crockery into the shoot, so eagle eyed readers may recognise some of the bowls, plates, wooden boards and pretty forks salvaged from local charity shops and boot […]

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“This woman here has tattoos, and mirrored kitchen tiles. People like this show the same behaviour as crack addicts.”

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I don’t normally respond to online comments to news articles, but I have been astounded over the past few days by some assumptions and ‘advice’ on the Guardian forums. Apparently having tattoos and mirrored kitchen tiles makes me akin to a crack addict. 1. Those mirrored kitchen tiles were put in by the landlord that owns my previous flat. They’re […]

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Fishes!

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I’m editing and adding to my ‘fish’ chapter today, and decided to venture away from the sardines and frozen white fish fillets (and occasional bargain trout!) that I normally rely on. I’m old enough to remember when a can of tuna was just 27p – and I also remember a few years ago the cost skyrocketed to just over £1 […]

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Mixed bean goulash, book preview!

This is my mixed bean goulash recipe adapted from the found-and-loved notebook I discovered in the bottom of my wardrobe earlier, and although I intended to cook it for tea tonight, I am still squirrelling away at my book draft, typing up the aforementioned notebook, and contemplating a peanut butter sandwich instead… So, I promised I would blog the recipe this evening, so here it is, in “book draft” format, so a real sneak preview! “I will never tire of this quick, simple meal. Originally adapted from a beef goulash recipe, and tweaked, and tampered with, in the way that all recipes are, it has become a sweet and spicy staple in my household, and never disappoints. Eat warm on toast, with rice, or stuffed in a pitta bread with lashings of cheese for lunch. Eat from a bowl, water it down and eat as a soup, or eat it straight from the pan in the name of ‘testing.’ I use cheap baked beans in place of haricot beans, as they are simply haricot or borlotti beans slathered in that bright orange tomato sauce – but usually for a third of the price of a tin of plain haricot or borlotti beans! Ingredients (serves 4-6): 4 tbsp oil, vegetable or sunflower will do 1 onion 3 tsp paprika 2 x 400g cartons of chopped tomatoes 1 fat clove of garlic, or a generous shake of the dried stuff 400g can […]

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Roasted courgette and feta potato salad

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Like many of my recipes, this was a toss-together of some ’fridge stuff’ – some rogue Greek cheese and a courgette that was kicking about. harking back to my Cypriot roots for what was initially going to be a tzatziki, this ended up as something else entirely. The sauce or dip, or whatever it should be called, is immensely versatile, […]

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It is the state that is shirking its duties, not the parents, Mr Gove.

As half a million people are reportedly reliant on the distribution of emergency food from food banks, the Government seems adamant to blame feckless parenting and a ‘scrounger mentality’ for the rise of food poverty in Britain. First, Lord Freud commented in the House of Lords this week that there was no link between the recent welfare cuts and the rise in demand for food banks. In a gross slur against the desperate families referred to food banks for help, he claimed that people were turning up just because there was ‘free food’, and not out of necessity – which simply isn’t true. Surveys show that one in five people suffering from food insecurity would not consider turning to a food bank for help, as they find the stigma attached to ‘asking for food’ humiliating. Then in today’s news, Michael Gove blames child poverty and hunger on reckless, irresponsible parenting and, in doing so, distracts from and denies the reality that most people using food banks are doing so as a result of benefit delays, sanctions, low income and unemployment. Other factors such as illness and domestic abuse certainly play a part, but these are the key causes, cited time and time again by food bank users. Many parents tell of going hungry themselves in order to feed their children, as the biting austerity measures wound family incomes – or lack thereof – deeper and deeper. It’s hardly the picture […]

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Brie and bacon risotto, 26p

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While testing recipes for my book this week, it was inevitable that I would start to put leftover ingredients together to come up with accidental dishes. This speedy and satisfying late lunch was born of some scraps of cooking bacon left over from Spring Piggy, and some sad looking Brie from the Courgette and Brie gratin. I have been criticised […]

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MPs pay rise scandal: “They said pretend we’ve got no money…”

HALF a million people are reported to be relying on food banks in Oxfam’s Below The Breadline report taken to the house of Lords for debate this afternoon – dismissed by Lord Freud, but more on that later. In what could easily be mistaken for a woefully out of touch parallel universe, Members of Parliament are considering giving themselves a pay rise, in addition to their £65,000 a year salaries, and expenses. You know, the moats and the Laura Ashley curtains and the like. The valuable use of the taxpayers money on making second and third homes “nice”. If you ask me, I’d rather have an extra member of staff at the local Sure Start children’s centre, but nobody asked me. But why did nobody ask me? Or you? Or any of us? I thought this was a democracy – but it seems the only people that want the MPs to snort more taxpayers money out of the alarmingly short public purse, are MPs. In January, an Independent Parliamentary Standards Association revealed that 69% of MPs think that they deserve a pay rise. As the poll was anonymous, it is suddenly impossible to identify whether those clamouring through the press that they wouldn’t accept the raise, were those eagerly (anonymously) deciding that they should be paid over £100,000 a year. The average results of the poll were as follows: LABOUR MPs thought that they deserved an average salary of £77,322 […]

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Airy Fairy Easy Peasy Soda Bread

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Think you can’t make bread? Or that you need a fancy pants bread maker to do so? RUBBISH. You have a natural, free bread maker in your palms and your knuckles – and this easy recipe with no proving or rising time is a great place to start. A lot of soda bread recipes use whole meal flour, salt, and […]

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