Winter Blues

November 1, 2023

Although the season is Autumn, the weather makes it feel more like winter. With the clocks “going back” and losing precious daylight with have to content with storm after storm. Storms are named alphabetically and we are already on “C” on the 1st of November. It is no wonder my body & my soul are earning for calm.

Last night I prepared a supper using some of the freshest ingredients I can lay hands on. A beef stirfry made with locally sourced produce. Shopping local has it’s advantages which out way the failings. Allow me to elaborate. There are at least 3 key reasons why local is better. First and foremost is quality. A carrot is a carrot so you’d think. The journey a supermarket carrot makes to get to store versus local green grocery buying from local farmers, means produce is fresher, usually better quality and are sized as you’d expect; huge! Instead of prepping 3 punny, 1 will do! That’s labour saving. The second benefit is the relationship with the merchant. Ask for asparagus in October and the answer is no. The best is available in May. Tastier and less woody so my greengrocer is not willing to accept inferior. This local knowledge is not on offer in the supermarket aisles. My 3rd key factor is service. Like the business relationship there’s also the personal. Banter is everything, a smiling face can make my day; but also the ability to phone up and have the goods delivered on the same day at no extra cost. Also for, I assume, trusted customers, the benefits of paying by phone after delivery – now try that at Tesco! In addition, I am helping to keep the local economy ticking over.

Alas, we do not have a permanent butcher in Burry Port so I have to restore buying meat in the supermarket but again it is using the local store which employs locals and is a part of the “Red Tractor” scheme.

I spent about 10 minutes prepping the marinade, slicing the meat, and then using a ‘julienne’ peeler to make my own stir fry veg mix. Onion, carrot, parsnip, cabbage, mushroom & leek masquerading as spring onion. Another ten minutes cooking time when we were ready to eat.

Garlic, ground ginger, soy sauce, chilli flakes, tomato ketchup & OXO beef stock makes for a sauce with no MSGs or flour based thickeners. The SW SYNs came from the ketchup at 1SYN per TBS. My fake noodles are as they look, spaghetti.

Rage, Rage, against…

As the storm is raging and comfort is the order of the day; tonight I will be using my SYN allocation. One aspect of lockdown which made for inventive measures was Slimming World Zoom calls with “Success Stories”. Advice on how to stay on track and work the diet programme. One piece of advice which repeated was regarding SYN counting. I have always used the daily planner, trying to use the minimum amount possible, and/or, allowing myself the ‘space’ for a treat. The treat could be anything from a few Liquorice Allsorts, or a measure of malt whisky, to a packet of “Pom Bears” or a pint of “Double Dragon” at the rugby. The ‘Super Slimmer’ advice was to count SYNs on a weekly basis, which in theory meant if you exceed on one day and there is any deficit on other days, this will balance out over the week for cancelling the excessive day.

Although I am no where exceeding today’s allocation; tonight I am using SYNs for a comfort meal from my childhood: faggots, mushy peas, & potato in beef gravy. This is food preparation not cooking, as it is a supermarket fast food. No skill and minimal input. “Welsh Pantry” faggots, basics mushy peas, and “Bannisters Hassleback Roast Potatoes”, with instant gravy. Easy, comforting, no brainer – & why not?

I am estimating for 2 faggots, 2 potatoes and the gravy a total of 15 SYNs out of a daily allocation of 35. And that my reader, is TheLatestSupper!

The greengrocer I’m referring to is William Seward & Sons Llanelli. A 50 year friendship in and out of the market as well as being featured in the podcast.