Sunday, 24 April 2011

Waste Not Want Not

“You’re such a dad,” asserted Wife-features with arched eyebrows and half a smile.

“What?” I replied in all innocence.

“That banana’s been sitting out since this morning…”

Dang. She had me bang to rights. Toddler had expressed an interest in a banana at breakfast, had eaten a mouthful and left the rest. I chopped it into chunks and put them in a bowl thinking they’d be grazed upon in due course.

Now it was teatime and here I was stuffing the chunks into a just-past-its-sell-by-date pitta bread with some hazelnut chocolate spread. The bits of banana looked awful but tasted great.

I’ve always been a fan of hoovering up scraps. Maybe it’s my thrifty Scottishness or the fact I had three siblings - you could bet if you didn’t finish your tea someone at the table would offer to clean your plate for you.

I read this fascinating piece in the FT at the weekend about a woman who’s managed to raise lots of money for good causes by scavenging perfectly good food that gets dumped by retailers and at markets. I draw the line at rifling in skips but I hate to see waste. If that makes me ’such a dad’ make me a badge and I’ll wear it with pride.

I recall a visit to the excellent Bakehouse Café in Findhorn a couple of years ago. It was late on a Sunday afternoon and our hopes of finding somewhere open and serving decent coffee and cake were fading but our cups of joy overflowed in the Bakehouse. Not only were they not doing the traditional Highland welcome of putting a chair in the door at 3.45pm and turning off the milk frother but they did us proper coffee and the most amazing cakes at knockdown prices. It seems they lowered the price of a slice to pennies towards closing to ensure no leftovers. Genius.

(To date my favourite Highland hospitality anecdote came from an acquaintance who went into a west coast shop on a hot summer’s day and asked for an ice cream only to be told he couldn’t have one as they had 'washed the spoon'.)

I know some local authorities like Stirling give households yet another bin for their collection - this one’s for food scraps. The waste is then sent for digestion in a Willy Wonka style industrial plant where it magically transforms into heat and power. Maybe we’ll get that here one day. Mind you, I’d probably want to hang on to my tattie peelings, etc for our compost bin - it has a practical application now we have an allotment.

Wife-features is a fervent supporter of the idea of making meals using what you’ve already got in. It always reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Homer’s left to look after the kids. “Let’s see what’s in the cupboards. Pie crust. Cloves. Tom Collins mix. Mmmm…”

I wonder what we could whip up using ten tins of chickpeas, three different kinds of white wine vinegar, a jar of Marmite and some bicarbonate of soda?

We always seem to have jars and jars of lentils and split peas and every now and then I go a bit mad and make a huge pan of soup so thick you can stand your spoon up in it just to reduce the accumulation of pulses.

Maybe if I stir a scoop of Marmite into each pan no-one will notice. It can’t be any worse than Clove and Gin Pie.

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