Tag Archives: living wage

In whom we trust…..

In my last post, but one, called Short Stories, I promised to provide recipes for the featured spicy lentil soup and easy fruit and nut cake.  I dealt with the soup in my previous post, so now it is the turn of the cake. Whilst the soup recipe had its genesis in my trusty Edmonds Cookery Book, the fruit cake recipe comes from another trusted and reliable source of everyday cooking wisdom in New Zealand; Dame Alison Holst. ( http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/new-years-honours/4504137/Dame-Alison-Holst-Queen-of-the-cookbook/ ) A food writer and television chef ( and oh so much more, in my opinion ) she produced the first of her many cookbooks in 1966. Today, there are approximately  four million of her books in print.   Again, like the Edmonds Cookery Book, that would equate to about one Alison Holst cookbook for every person in New Zealand!

The fruit cake recipe is from ‘Very Easy Vegetarian Cookbook” by Alison and Simon Holst, first published in 1998 by New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd P1020775The recipes that Alison and her son Simon present are meticulously tested and are fail safe.  They are utterly reliable and delicious, easy to prepare, and I haven’t met one yet that I didn’t like.

The ingredients for Easy Fruit and Nut cakeIngredientsThe method (with apologies for the poor photos)  and the final result.

Dame Alison, who was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011, graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Home Science and was a lecturer in Home Science before she began her present career. Over the years, as well as cook and write, she has raised over $4 million for charities.  She is a ‘star’ in New Zealand and held in such high esteem that, one year, it was  rumoured that she was to be appointed as our next Governor General. She was not, but, this year, she was placed 4th on the annual Reader’s Digest  most trusted people list. (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU1306/S00264/new-zealands-most-trusted-in-2013-revealed.htm)

At the top of the most trusted list is  Sir John Kirwan, former All Black, coach, and depression awareness spokesperson and advocate.  Next comes Willie Apiata, soldier and Victoria Cross winner and, in third place, is  Richie McCaw.  He was the All Black captain who brought home the all important Rugby World Cup in 2011!  At the time, he was akin to the saviour of the nation.  The current Governor General holds the position of the 8th most trusted person in New Zealand, well behind Dame Alison, the cook.

Now, the most trusted list is  not something I take very seriously but I do find it interesting. And it’s fun to compare our list with the Reader’s Digest list for America where the top positions of trust seem to be held by actors and news anchors.( http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/readers-digest-announces-100-most-trusted-people-in-america-206435821.html)  In both countries, politicians occupy lowly places on the list, which makes me wonder, at least in the case of our country, why we vote for them at all,  if we don’t trust them!  In fact, it seems quite nonsensical.

Perhaps we would be  better off if we simply voted, via the likes of Reader’s Digest, for John, Willie, Richie and Alison to lead the country. Under the guidance of these multi talented individuals,  we would most likely be a fitter, healthier country. Alison would see we were well nourished, John would guide us mentally and physically, and Willie and Richie would  help us maintain the  team spirit  to fight the good fight for the nation’s wealth and prosperity. Indeed, with these four trusted leaders in charge,  the governing of our country could become efficient and economical and ‘common sensical’, just like one of Alison’s good, wholesome, everyday recipes. With our improved health and nutrition and fitness, the Ministry of Health would have very little to do; as would the Transport  MInistry, because, with our new-found energy,  we would all be able to walk so much further and faster than we do now. Alison, with her teaching skills and home science degree, could organise the education and budgetary needs of the country; Willie could take care of security and defence, with a little policing thrown in; and Richie, being a lad of the land, could take over all matters agricultural. Lots of politicians and massive Government bureaucracies would be surplus to requirements. What a saving; there would be enough money freed up to provide everyone with a living wage, and a lot else besides.

Joking aside, Sir John, Dame Alison, Willie Apiata and Richie McCaw, and many others at the top of the list, are wonderful examples of fine citizenship. We are lucky to have them. They make a fine mix.

Enjoy your cake.

Photos from these sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Apiata

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richie_McCaw

http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/sir-john-kirwan-most-trusted-kiwi-5470276

http://alumni.otago.ac.nz/page.aspx?pid=782

© silkannthreades

In thrift gear

Every now and then, when the large figures on household bills loom larger than any figures have a right to loom, my brain shifts in to thrift gear. It determines, with complete and utter disregard for reality, that, if I save a little money by making, say, my own soap powder or fabric softener, this will magically  translate in to a less overwhelming invoice. No matter how many times my little forays in to thriftiness are squashed like a fly under a swat, the thrifty portion of my mind refuses to die quietly. Thriftiness is engrained, engraved, stamped and imprinted deep in my being; it’s inescapable and, when thrifty thoughts power forth, I find them irresistible. Such was the case yesterday.

I had barely swigged my morning coffee (yes, I swigged it,) before I was off to the garden to gather fresh thyme and sage for a room freshener and a scented drawer sachet, the inspiration for which came from ‘Household Wisdom’*  .  I dried the herbs in the microwave, crushed them between my fingertips, tossed them into some baking soda, and seasoned the mixture with a few drops of lavender oil. And there, in a trice, was a lovely fragrant powder for a dainty dish, with enough to spare for a sachet.The sweet smell of thriftinessPlease note that, whilst searching for something to use as a sachet, I realised that my brown paper package,  pink tissue paper and green ribbon from my Lizzie Rose purchase was the very something required. It was the ideal receptacle for home-made freshener. And ‘Household Wisdom’ informs me that by wrapping dried herbs in tissue paper I  will always  have scented paper on hand to enfold a special gift. How wise 🙂

But onwards with my day of inspired thriftery… (sorry,  but I was getting tired of the words thrift and thriftiness and I didn’t want to be a penny pincher, which sounds mean.) Next step was to gather up the runty and disfigured early season apples from the front yard and transform them in to stewed apple and apple cake……..Cake + Apple = Apple Cake

but, wait, that’s not all …I  then took the apple peelings and added a few  handfuls  of Chilean Guavas aka New Zealand Cranberries from the hedges by the door, Guavas or Cranberries, take your pick.

and simmered them together in a little pot of lemon flavoured water. After some minutes , the resultant slush was strained to obtain a pearly  pink base for a delicious fruit cordial ( yet to be made!)Pink Lemonade?

What next? Why a thrifty supper, of course. One of my favourites; mini meatloaf muffins. Meatball muffins

The recipe I use is related to a basic meat loaf recipe but my version includes grated carrot and zucchini and plenty of my home-grown herbs for flavouring.  I make small individual meat loaves by baking the mixture in muffin pans. Why? It’s nothing to do with being sparing.  It’s a visual thing. I prefer the look of small portions. Yes, weird, but I digress.

We ate our meat with home-grown corn, tomatoes and beans. We did not have to eat the string or herbs. There are limits to how far my thrift extends.

So, that was my day in full thrift throttle. I am sure I saved cents by the dozens. Yet, despite my best efforts and enthusiasm  those fat, fulsome figured bills remain determinedly fixed and undiminished. They haven’t shed a penny.  Might have guessed. SWAT! SPLAT!

Footnote: I started this post as an idle exploration of life fueled by thrift. However, it has raised a more serious question, and that is, no matter how thrifty and hardworking we are ( and thrift requires a great deal of hard work and dedication), saving money real enough to pay bills can only happen if we have the opportunity to earn, at the very least, a living wage. If that is not possible,  either through personal, unavoidable circumstances or because economic models prohibit full employment, how do we, as a just and moral society, ensure that  non wage earners are provided with a decent living.  I find these articles written from an Australian point of view, very thoughtful and interesting.  http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/payrise-for-dole-makes-sense-20130315-2g5oo.html and http://newmatilda.com/2013/01/30/stand-welfare-state

I don’t know what the solution is but I do know that, as it is on the road, so it is in life. To make the best of the conditions before us,  we  need to change gear from time to time or we will grind to a horrible halt.

*’ Household Wisdom’ by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming

© silkannthreades