Posts filed under ‘Food’

One Tin a Month?

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I have joined a Community Committee in my department at work. You may think it sounds a bit naff but it has good at its core. We did our bake sale for Comic Relief and, with a generous ‘uplift’ from out Management, raised £1,500. And everyone had a great time doing it although I haven’t eaten much sweet stuff since.

We are now looking wider afield and this is where I hope I have had a good idea which I would like to share. I find myself appalled that food-banks are becoming a necessity for many people but am glad that they are there. There have been documentaries covering what they do and how they can help families in need through redundancy, ill-health, poverty. This isn’t just happening in the UK – if you watched the BBC documentary, America’s Poor Kids, you will have seen that the First World has Third World Issues. It baffles me that this can happen but we know it does.

Many may think that people shouldn’t rely on ‘the system’, they should be out looking for work. I agree that those who can work should but life ain’t that simple. There is unemployment, there is poverty, there are parents who don’t eat so that their children can. Yes, there may be parents who spend more on themselves and not enough on their children but that is a small minority, don’t let this colour your thinking.

More cuts are coming, services and jobs will be cut; this problem won’t go away.

So, my idea? It is simple – one tin a month. If you can afford it, why don’t you take one packet or tin, just one non-perishable item to your local food-bank once a month. I have been talking to a local food-bank and am proposing to organise this through my office. I will ask people to bring one tin a month. If 25% of the workforce does this we will have about 400 items a month. That will make a difference. The food-bank I talked to has to spend additional money every week to make enough food parcels. They try to help 300 households every week. If they had an additional 400 packets or tins it would make their work easier.

What do you think? Can you do the same? Will you miss one tin per month from your larder? I will be sending this post out on Twitter and will start a little hashtag – #OneTinAMonth. I am hoping you join my little party and of course you can also donate to a charity and write to me about it:)

Food

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading,

Lesley

March 28, 2013 at 11:11 pm 2 comments

M&Ms The Sequel. This Time it’s Personal!

Today I will be asking you to comment, not about a donation to charity as is my normal plea. Today I would like your opinion on the contents of this post. This is a follow-on from my previous post on M&Ms, link to the post here; I also include a brief summary below.

I wanted to follow up for one reason, the reply I received from Master Foods USA, the manufacturer. I quote the reply in full below:-

=================================================================================

“Dear Ms. Miller,

In response to your email regarding M&M’S CHOCOLATE CANDIES.

Thank you for your email.

We’re pleased to hear you enjoy our M&M’S CHOCOLATE CANDIES and appreciate your taking the time to tell us so. Your comments will be shared with our Marketing Associates.

Have a great day!

Your Friends at Mars Chocolate North America”

=================================================================================

Hmmmmmmmmm. I think they missed the point? Was I too reticent in my original post? I try to be balanced and perhaps that dilutes my message. In that case, let me be more clear….

Although there are no untruths in the packaging of a ‘Big Bag’ of Peanut M&Ms they are being sleekit. Definition – smooth in manner, plausible, sly, cunning – the perfect word in this case.

Summarising the sleekitness, the ‘Big Bag’ shows a portion of M&Ms to be 45g and 232 calories as per the front of the bag.

This is normal, calories and percentages clearly stated on the packet. HOWEVER, the packet was not one ‘portion’ of 45 g, it was 70 g. The second picture below shows the reverse of the packet:-

At no point is there a clear statement of the number of calories in the bag. If you had a quick look you assume there are 232 and not approx 360 calories in the bag. In my opinion this is deliberately done and that is wrong. We talk a lot nowadays about transparency, we talk about openness. We also talk about value for money during these lean times. We talk about understanding what we eat and teaching our children to eat healthily, balancing all food groups with the occasional treat.

I believe that this kind of labelling goes against all of this. It is not open or transparent, I think it is an attempt to sell more candies by letting people think they are consuming less calories than the bag contains. I wonder why food manufacturers do this? I know we live our lives in a rush, everything is grab and go so that we can get on to the next thing. Why would anyone want to take advantage of this?

I would ask all manufacturers and retailers to do the following:-

  • Label clearly. If you are going to have a calorie count on the front of the bag then make this the amount of calories in the bag. If it is a family-sized bag then by all means state calories per portion but state clearly how many portions are in the bag and/or the number of sweets in a portion
  • Stop trying to hide price rises by making the product smaller and charging the same price. Prices are going up, this is not palatable for any of us. However, I feel more cheated when I know a manufacturer has reduced the packet size and charges the same price, when I know my crisps or chocolate bar has got smaller. Why not provide both? You are investing in different packing and this has a cost; why not have both and let the consumer make their own choice.
  • Stop trying to play games with your customers. Do not have a display showing ‘Big value pack – Four Tins for £2.20’ when you have single tins for £0.52 just underneath
  • If you are going to have a BOGOF (buy one get one free) then ensure that if it is fresh foods than it can either be frozen or has a long sellby date. Let the BOGOF be good value, not an excuse to get the shelves cleared
  • Stop rearranging the shelves to disrupt customers’ routines. You say it allows people to see foods they wouldn’t normally notice, I say you are trying to get more product shifted through impulse buys.
  • Remove the sweets from the checkout – this one has been irking parents and the weak-willed like myself for decades.
  • When a customer takes some of their time to provide feedback do not take the compliments and ignore anything that could be perceived as criticism. I was quite gobsmacked at the reply from Mars. Yes, I said how much I loved M&Ms but surely my use of the phrase ‘sleight of hand’ could have been at least acknowledged? Sending my feedback to the Marketing Associates does not make me feel that my comments will be given any consideration, let alone serious consideration.
So, today I ask you to comment on this blog to tell me how you feel food manufacturers and retailers get up your nose. Do you agree with me? If so please let me know, if not then please let me know. If there are other bug-bears that I have missed please let me know. I want to have comments attached to this post so that I can send this on to the Mars Company and see if they have any further comment to make….

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

May 22, 2012 at 10:40 am 6 comments

When I Don’t Want to Write……

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I love blogging, I have been at this malarky for almost two years and have loved every minute. Well, perhaps not every minute. There are times when I struggle. Sometimes I lack inspiration. I know successful writers say you should put words down even when you aren’t in ‘that place’ but when I do I am always disappointed and trash the result. The other time I struggle is when I find the topic upsetting.

I read yesterday’s news about the latest Save the Children report on the risk that 500 million children could suffer from the long-term effects of malnutrition. Yes, this is a headline-grabbing figure meant to hit you between the eyes. Do people look at a figure like that and think no, that can’t be? I wonder. Would it be better that the figure was four hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine? Facetious perhaps but whatever figure is out there the story remains sadly the same.

We have a global recession, fact. We are seeing the impacts of this recession. Food and fuel prices rising and for most salaries not keeping pace with these increases. We see stories every day of families struggling in the developed world. It may be easy to dismiss stories of the previously affluent now struggling due to redundancy but isn’t it a sense of scale and expectation? You start to struggle when bills go up and you don’t have the income you had before. You must adjust and that adjustment is painful.

However, the sense of scale takes on a whole new level when you struggled before the recession hit. Poverty has levels of desperation. There can be enough food and shelter but nothing spare to give life joy. Hard but at least you survive? Then there is not quite enough, where to have enough food means some other necessity will be sacrificed; perhaps heat or shade. And then?  Then you get to the level where no matter what you do there isn’t enough to eat and what you have will not provide the nutrition to maintain good health. Beyond that lies starvation, not something any of us want to dwell on.

I have written before of my love of words. There are words that make me smile. Thrive is one of those words. Children should thrive. Those two words put together give me that mental image of toddlers taking their first steps with chubby baby cheeks and half a dozen white teeth showing as they smile. I know that sounds like a Hallmark card but that is the image in my head, baby curls and all.

There are words that I don’t like. Malnutrition is one. When you look up the definition of mal you get this – a combining form meaning “bad,” “wrongful,” “ill,” occurring originally in loanwords from French. Combine mal with nutrition and you get bad or ill-nourished. The effects of malnutrition are well-documented. Stunted growth and development leading to long-term poor health. An inability to fight disease thus shortening life expectancy, sometimes dramatically. Even when malnourished children reach adulthood they are more likely to live in poverty and so their children will suffer this same fate.

Lastly, we should not forget the ‘here and now’ effect of malnutrition. That is hunger. Not enough food and not enough nourishment from the food you have means that you never feel well. You exist with an ache that never goes away, it is there when you wake and is the last thing you feel before sleep. I have always believed that children need joy to thrive, that joy must be hard to come by when you exist with that ache……..

I close, as always, with this:-
  • Please donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are older.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

February 17, 2012 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

Ask the Obvious Question?

A little reminder of why I do this. The premise is simple. You donate to a childrens charity and comment on this blog about the donation and what you wanted to be when you were 8. Want to know more? Please read the About Lesley page….

I had, as is my wont, a wander through the news pages today. I found this – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15904408, NASA has launched the most ‘capable’ machine ever built to land on Mars. Read the full text, it is a great story and evidence again of man’s committment to exploration and science.

I am in awe of the brains that drive these scientific initiatives. Knowing our brains are mere neurons sparking small electrochemical signals I am astounded that we have such variety in the Arts and Sciences. I envy all great brains that bring beauty and new discoveries day after day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the talent to move or astound? I always wanted to possess artistic talent but alas have none. I literally struggle to draw a straight line using a ruler. I am told I have some talent with words but I just witter away on here and hope to make people think. This is not false modesty, I have read too many great words from others, I know my place:)

Back to the NASA Rover, aptly named Curiosity. Launched today, they hope it lands safely next August. If it does, it will roam Mars sending images and collecting samples from the planet’s surface. Hopefully it will allow the scientists who monitor the output to determine if the Red Planet can or could have supported life in any form. Mind-boggling eh? It is stirring stuff.

However, (you must have known it was coming), this one mission is costing $2.5 billion. Two and a half billion dollars. Whoa Nelly. That is a lot of cash. All that money and brainpower. I wonder. If that funding and those brains were put into ending poverty and cruelty to children how much difference could it make? They say that it would take $30 billion a year to start the agricultural programs to end world hunger. The costs for the Curiosity module wouldn’t cover a month but does that mean we shouldn’t consider it?

I add another link for you. This is a link to an article on the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation’s website. The article is a few years old but the figures still have the power to shock me as I know the sitation hasn’t changed that much. Please read – http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000853/index.html

Once you have read this then answer me one question. Which do you prefer?

This?

Courtesy of BBC website

Or this?

Perhaps we can have both; I would like to think so…..

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

November 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm Leave a comment

Lesley Does Random…..

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

I like to think, some would even say I overthink. Like everyone else my thoughts are sometimes dark, sometimes on the daft side and sometimes just random. I like random thoughts, they often come unbidden and keep me occupied for seconds. They are often prompted by people-watching. I won’t believe anyone who says they don’t people-watch, we all do that. Travelling gives you people-watching options by the bucket-load. Strangers and scraps of passing conversation will always give you plenty to mull and invent. Perhaps it is a female thing but do you ever invent personas for people you see in passing?

As I sit in airports when I travel I see families and couples. Children are a great source for my imaginings. I see the elder sister ‘herding’ her younger siblings and the style employed will have me pondering her future career. The child who smiles and persuades, perhaps she will be a teacher or psychologist? The child who orders and lines up the siblings, perhaps she will take a supervisory postition? Then there is the child who does both, persuades but ensures that everything is orderly, perhaps a Manager in the making?

I have other thoughts too. There are things I see that are normal to most but bring out my more bonkers side. When driving about and I see a jogger, particularly one who looks a bit tired, don’t you get the urge to stop and offer them a lift? This may be influenced by my convinction that jogging just isn’t natural but I am always tempted to stop and say ‘Have a wee rest love, you need to catch your breath’.

Then there are supermarkets. For a woman who loves cooking as much as I do, wouldn’t you think that the process of picking the raw ingredients would be something I love to do? I watch cooking programmes, you see the chefs looking through the ‘produce’ and extolling the virtues of the green and leafy ingredients, waxing lyrical about the taste and endless possibilities. Ha! I hate shopping. I get around the supermarket as quickly as I can. I don’t throw items in at random, I  have a list in my head but I always go in with that secret wish to break the land speed record with a trolley. I shopped tonight, spending more money than I see as reasonable to get one trolley of food to keep my family for a week ( just don’t start me on the prices). As I left, I met a woman going in. She looked as cheerful as I had been going in. It was all I could do to stop myself saying ‘Don’t do it, it is hell in there!’. I wonder if this is normal behaviour for a grown-up or is it just me? Please tell me that I am not the only one who feels like this? When I mention this to friends they ask me why I don’t shop online. Don’t start me. Just because I can sit on my sofa while shopping is no compensation for having to trawl through online lists that take forever to refresh. Then you can’t find the one thing you are looking for on the online selection, hmph! It takes longer for me to do a shop online that it does to traipse through the supermarket so no, I don’t do online grocery shopping. If someone can tell me how to make it not a chore then perhaps I will try again but until then.

My last musing for tonight? There are two reasons you have children, at least that is what I tell mine. They have a couple of useful functions. When I come back from the dreaded supermarket I have had my fill of bags and tins and vegetables and meat. All I want to do is sit down, kick my shoes off and have a cup of tea. So, when I arrive home from the supermarket, I walk in the door, sit down and demand tea. Strangely enough, this is one of the few times when my children kick into action without any nagging. The bags are taken in, unpacked and, with only a few queries about what goes where, everything is put away and a cup of tea miraculously appears by my side. Just goes to prove that Lesley’s random thoughts (and demands) sometimes succeed. Bliss……..

I close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity. Donate a present to a family or child that will not have the holiday season that you might expect and plan for.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

April 14, 2011 at 11:06 pm Leave a comment

Stuffed?

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

So, are you all stuffed? Full of turkey, brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce? Did you pull crackers and tell daft jokes? Did you eat your fill of pudding and chocolate? I do hope so, I know I did! I hope that whatever you did on your Christmas Day you had the day you wanted. Some choose solitude, some choose small groups of friends and family, some go with crowds. All are good, whatever pleases you is what I hope you had. I also hope you received gifts that mean something to you. To me it isn’t the cost of a gift but the thought around it that matters the most. I like choosing gifts, I hate shopping but choosing something for someone else is fun.

It is now Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s day if you prefer. The clearing up will be finished and the leftovers nibbled. I love leftovers and will boil up turkey bones to make broth tomorrow, yummy. Then there is the finding space for all the gifts received. This makes me think I have too much stuff. I will therefore start a clearout, declutter, implement a minimalist strategy – I wish! I may not get everything just as I like it but I will make some room in the cupboards over the next few days. I will then recycle the bottles and those things I can now live without. I am sure you will all do the same so that someone else can benefit and even enjoy those possessions you can now live without. I love recycling, the notion that someone can use what has had its time with you is sensible, practical and helps others, why wouldn’t you want to do that?

At this time of year I start to think about resolutions as well. When asked I say I never make them but I do in my head. I will be nicer to people, kinder, fitter, thinner, work harder, travel more, get my life how I want it to be. All these thoughts run through my head now. I make too many resolutions in my head, will not succeed at them all but if I can achieve a couple then perhaps that will do:) One thing I do intend to do is keep going with this blog. I am amazed that so many people have written to me in only 10 months. It is heartening to see all the good that you do, you really are a wonderful lot.

So please, take this as my thank you to you from me. I could not do this without people and I am truly humbled that you take the time to read my words and tell me about the kindnesses you do. I know there is a lot of darkness in this world but you counteract that with your actions and words……..

Thank You!

I close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity. Donate a present to a family or child that will not have the holiday season that you might expect and plan for.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

December 26, 2010 at 8:34 am 1 comment

Comfort?

I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want you to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on the blog. Please read the ‘About Lesley’ section of the blog to find out why I do this; the Comments and Running Totals pages to see how far we have come….

I cooked today. Nothing new there but I cooked one of my favourite dishes from childhood, broth. There is something about making a large pot of broth that comforts me nearly as much as eating it. At the risk of coming over all Nigel Slater (and that is something I am happy to be for a while), there is a joy in peeling and chopping when you can see, smell and taste the final result in your mind.

If you have read the blog before you will know I am from Northern Ireland and we have many popular dishes that are pretty unique to us. The recipes for champ, potato bread (aka fadge!) and soda bread are all pretty standard. However, when it comes to Irish Stew and broth family traditions are followed. Some make their stew with lamb or mutton, I make mine with shin of beef. When it comes to broth I have to follow my mother and use ‘our’ traditional ingredients.

This is not a cooking blog but this is one recipe I will share with you. If you chance to make this then I hope you enjoy the end result as much as I do……

To start you need chicken stock. If you have a chicken carcass then place it in a very large pot, cover in cold water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour. Strain the stock and you  have the basis of your soup; wash your very large pot and return the stock as this recipe will make a large pot! If you don’t have a chicken carcass then use some decent quality ready-made stock.

Once you have your stock then the chopping begins. I will give some instruction on the quantities but if you make this a few times you will know what balance you want to achieve with your broth. This is good, broth is a personal thing and  should end up how you want it.

Bring the stock back up to a good simmer and add 3 chopped onions. Then come the peas and soup mix that will give a real substance to the broth. You will need a cup and a half of soup mix and a cup of non-soak dried peas. You can use the peas that require soaking, the only thing you have to remember is that they need to soak for a few hours before you start. Some of you may be asking at this point what soup mix is. Soup mix consists of barley, lentils and small split peas and adds flavour and oomph to the broth.

Once you have added the onions and soup mix leave to simmer for about 30 minutes. I use this time to prepare the rest of the vegetables and herbs to be added. Be warned, you are about the enter the chopping zone!

You will now need – carrots, parnsips, leeks, parsley and celery. I use 4 large carrots, 3 large parsnips, 3-4 leeks depending on size and a large bunch each of parsley and ‘baby’ celery. If you can’t get the young leafy celery then use 3 stalks of celery but chop quite finely. Chop the carrots, parsnips and leeks into medium pieces. Chop the parsley and baby celery finely; I use only the parsley ‘flowers’ but like to use the baby celery stalks as well as the leaves as they add real flavour.

Once the 30 minutes have passed add in all the above and bring back to a simmer. Add more water during this time if you feel the broth is too thick, again a matter of personal taste. In about another 30 minutes when the vegetables are tender your broth is ready and it will be mighty fine.

Then comes the eating, bliss! I will eat the broth as it comes but you may like to have hot crusty bread. Others love to add boiled potatoes to the broth as well; another good option. The best thing of all? Broth is always better on the second day if it lasts that long. The flavours come together and it will warm you from tip to toe. It may not look Michelin starred but for me, it has the taste that takes me back to childhood and will always bring me solace…..

We all have things that take us back to childhood in the best way and this is one of mine. Making and eating this lovely broth will always make me smile. Sometimes we need to smile and when I do I will make this. I am keen to hear what takes you back and makes you smile; perhaps you will come and tell me?

I close with my normal request to you:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity.
  • Visit this blog and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I love the stories of childish ambitions.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

The steps are simple. Again, if you like the idea please tell others so that they will come and tell me their stories.

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

November 6, 2010 at 1:50 am 2 comments


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