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Reader’s Recipes: Patricia’s Dried Broad Bean Soup (Bessara)

I must say I use more and more pulses in my cooking now, as I am also trying to balance my budget, but I have to say that I really enjoy this kind of food. If you have a chance do try this recipe. It is absolutely delicious. Beyssara, or Beyssar, depending on who you speak to, is a street food staple, somewhere between a thick soup and a thin puree. In Marrakesh it is cooked in large, round earthenware jars which are balanced over charcoal fires in a tilted position. The narrow opening of the jar faces the cool and he ladles the soup out into bowls using a long handled spoon. Ingredients (Serves 4-6.) 250 g/ 9 ounces dried split broad beans, soaked overnight with 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda added to the water 2 unpeeled garlic cloves 1 ½ teaspoons each ground cumin and paprika scant ½ teaspoon dried chillies crushed to a coarse powder, or taste (or use chilli powder) salt to taste extra virgin olive oil Directions: Rinse the broad beans, which will have swelled to twice original size, and put them in a large saucepan. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves and the spices and cover with water (about 2 litres / 3 ½ pints). Bring to the boil over a medium high heat, then cover the pan and leave to boil for 30 minutes or until the broad beans have turned into a mush. […]

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You’ve got to believe it will be alright in the end.

I stepped off the BBC Breakfast sofa this morning, said goodbye to Louise Minchin and Charlie Stayt, and hello to a thousand new Twitter followers. I stepped into a lift at the hotel the BBC had provided for me in Media City, Salford, and a woman jumped in with me to say she had just seen me on the TV. With tears in her eyes, she told me she had just been made redundant, and that she had stopped to watch it, because the information about cooking meals on a tight budget had come at ‘just the right time’ for her. I had just eight floors to reassure her that no matter how horrible and awful things are, you find a steely determination and a strength you didn’t know you had, to just bloody well carry on. As I said on Facebook last night, I’m not pretending it’s ben easy. Constantly feeling like a failure, two suicide attempts, sitting with my back against the door as the bailiffs hammer on it for an electricity bill that I know I can’t pay. Applying for jobs week in, week out, with the deafening silence as not even a rejection email comes through. My ‘£1 a day food’ started a year ago, when, with just over £6 in copper coins and five pence pieces in a dish in my kitchen, I went to my local supermarket to see what I could buy. Yes, […]

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“I Do Not Intend To Die, Washing A Teacup”. Margaret Thatcher, 1925 – 2013.

MARGARET Thatcher has passed away today, aged 87, following a stroke. She entered the Houses of Parliament with drive, with ambition, and with a vision that she truly believed would change this country for the better. The daughter of a grocer, and a woman, she is often described as ‘shattering the glass ceiling’ for women in politics. She was the first, and only, female Prime Minister of this country. Many on the Left joked about having “the champagne on ice” for her passing. Although I despise her politics, I am writing this with a heavy heart. I will not be hypocritical enough to write a gushing tribute, as I disagree profoundly with a lot of what she did. I know enough of my history to know that she was a truly divisive figure, and that many suffered under her leadership. I do not dispute that, nor dismiss it. It is both history, and a legacy, an undercurrent into our current Conservative Party politicians mindset and policies. Yet Margaret’s death does not change anything. It does not turn the clock back to May 1979. It does not undo what has been done. In this, I am saddened by todays events – not the death of the first female Prime Minister of this country, although this will be in itself a historically significant day – but at the jubilation and exultation displayed by people vulgar enough to celebrate the death of another […]

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Dear George Osborne, I Am Not A Sociopath

Dear George, I would like to address your comments that have been in the national media today, Thursday 4th April. When asked whether Mick Philpott, the now-notorious killer of six of his seventeen children, behaved in the way that he did as a result of the benefits system in the UK, you replied: “It’s right we ask questions as a Government, a society and as taxpayers, why we are subsidising lifestyles like these.” Now I am not the Government, so cannot ask the question ‘as the Government’, but as a member of society and as a taxpayer, I can ask the following questions myself, and seek to offer the following reassurances that I am not a sociopath. Firstly, while we’re making sweeping assessments about what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ and what ‘should’ and ‘should not’ be funded from taxpayers money, let’s have a glance around. As a member of society and as a tax payer, why am I funding lifestyles like, say, Iain Duncan Smith claiming £39 on a breakfast, while I queue in a food bank for an hour in the freezing cold to collect a can of chopped tomatoes, some pasta, and some haricot beans? Why does 20% of my salary go towards these gross excesses, when I cannot afford to feed myself? How about Sir Peter Vigger’s £1,165 ‘floating pond feature’ for his duck pond? Or for £41,000 of furniture for the Care Services Minister, […]

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School Dinner Days Jam Sponge, 23p

School Dinner Jam Sponge, 90p for 4 at 23p each. Ingredients:* 100g self raising flour, 4p (65p/1.5kg) 70g butter, 34p (£1.20/250g) 2 eggs, 44p (£2.65/12 free range) 50g sugar, 5p (89p/kg) 4 heaped teaspoons of jam, 3p (29p/454g) How To: 1. Place the butter in a microwaveable dish and heat on the defrost setting for 30 seconds until soft. Transfer […]

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Breakfast Sunshine Buns, 6p each

Breakfast Sunshine Buns – Pineapple, Carrot and Sultana) – 49p for 8 at 6p each. Ingredients:* 250g flour, 11p (65p/1.5kg) 1 sachet fast action dried yeast, 11p 30g sultanas, 6p (99p/500g) 1 carrot, 5p (part of a 1.25kg vegetable pack, £1) 1/2 can pineapple chunks, 16p (32p/227g) How To: 1. Weigh the flour into a large mixing bowl and add […]

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Feisty Soup

I make this for myself whenever I feel as though I am coming down with a cold. you know – when you’ve got that shaky, exhausted feeling and general self-pity. Instead of spending a fortune on various over-the-counter paracetamol and lemon drinks, I drag myself into the kitchen and cook myself a cure. This is called feisty soup for a […]

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Gigantes Plaki

Gigantes Plaki literally means ‘Really Big Beans’! I’m heading back to my Mediterranean roots with this simple but delicious dish. I can have it for dinner, then lunch the next day and pulse any leftovers into a soup. It makes me chuckle to see these spicy butterbeans retailing for almost £5 per pot in certain supermarkets, when they’re really just […]

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Bubbles And Squeaks, 7p each.

Bubbles And Squeaks. Makes 10 bubble and squeak patties at 7p each, eat one or two or five, depending on how hungry you are. I was really hungry, so didn’t even get a picture of these. However I have half the mix left in the fridge for tonights dinner, so will fry it up and snap it later. In the meantime, here’s a recipe for ridiculously cheap food. Ingredients:* 2 potatoes, 10p (5p each, from a 1.25kg vegetable pack, £1) 1 carrot, 5p (5p each, from a 1.25kg vegetable pack, £1) 1 onion, 5p (5p each, from a 1.25kg vegetable pack, £1) ¼ cabbage, 20p (Savoy Cabbage, 80p) 1 egg, 23p ( free range medium eggs, £1.40 for 6) Tbsp flour, 2p (65p/1.5kg) Tbsp lard, 4p (49p/250g) Vegetable stock cube, 1p (10p for 10) How To: 1. Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a medium sized saucepan. 2. Dice the potatoes and carrots (I don’t peel mine, but this is optional) and add to the stock. Simmer for 20 minutes or until they are soft. I find prodding a knife into the saucepan is a good indicator; if it slides through a chunk of potato smoothly, you’re good to go. 3. While the root veg is boiling, take a separate saucepan and add a little lard or oil to it. Some of you may balk at the thought of using lard – I was brought up cooking eggs […]

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Vegetable Masala Curry, 30p.

Proper Vegetable Masala Curry, 89p, serves 3-4 at less than 30p each. This isn’t vegan. I tried but my pre-first-work-pay-packet budget just couldn’t stretch to £1.99 coconut milk versus 32p of natural yoghurt. I’ve failed my Lent experiment but I’m happy to hold my hands up and say ‘have a fabulous curry recipe’ while I feel a bit guilty about […]

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Carrot And Coriander Soup

Carrot and coriander soup is a classic fresh soup that crops up everywhere – from inside cardboard cartons in the supermarket to on smart restaurant menus. here’s my simple recipe for making your own. I often substitute the fresh potato and carrot for their tinned sisters, for an even easier version. Serves 2 1 onion 4 carrots 1 potato 1 […]

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LOVE SOUP [VG/V/DF/GF]

There are many different recipes entitled Love Soup – I’ve seen some rich chicken soup recipes, some with heady garlic and some deep red tomato ones. By chance, the ingredients for this were what I had kicking around in the fridge last Valentines Day, so this warming carrot, ginger and onion soup is mine. Nothing says ‘I love you’ quite […]

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