Are you one of them?
Long long ago we moved into a new house on a new street in a new town in a new country with a brand-new baby two weeks old. We had hardly any furniture and knew no one. From the day we arrived, and every morning afterwards, unasked, there would be 2 pints of milk on our doorstep. Over the next few weeks our baby required feeding at multi-random hours during the nights. In all those times, I never ever heard the milk deliverer. I had no idea when s/he came or left. A silent delivery via electric milk float, with a silent bill at the end of the month, paid by cheque rolled into the top of an empty milk bottle, going back to an unknown destination.
Recently, our daughter (yes, that same baby of long ago) decided she was tired of buying milk in plastic. With her, I went over to deliveries in glass bottles. Kevin Milkman is a bit more visible than my first Milk Person, his float no longer electric, but hard to catch up with as he zooms around, serving his 400+ clients. And at least I can text him.
I started wondering about all the people in the background that made our lives so much easier. I knew a cleaner of an office block, who started work in early morning and finished before the business day began. She knew a lot about those who worked there, and they knew nothing of her. But their jobs were eased because of shiny floors, cleaned desks and emptied wastebaskets.
I walk into a place of worship – serene and quiet and peaceful. I don’t ever think about who cleaned it, why there isn’t any bat excrement dropped from its high ceilings, nor spider life, nor feathers from a trapped bird. Instead, I am free to revel in beautiful windows, beautiful flower arrangements, and beautiful thoughts that strengthen me for the time to come
How many people, I wonder, are my unseen unsung heroes from the misty periphery of my reality-life, that enable the easy pleasurable access I expect to see? Who are they? I know they are there, faithfully doing their duty.
Until they don’t. We all know of failed garbage collection, of dirty public facilities, of something not working because “well, So-and-So used to do that without being asked but she’s died now/moved/got a job/pregnant”. Milkman Kevin’s gout was so excruciating one day that he couldn’t drive, and the village was in in turmoil. The shop ran out of milk in the first hour, and locals had to postpone temporarily their favourite topic — the weather — and swerve to the unimaginable horror of tea without milk.
So let’s occasionally raise a toast to the unseen unsung heroes of our lives! And if you are one of these untiring, faithful people who believe in order and beauty for all of humankind, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Two Meat Recipes
When I first arrived in England, the mysterious milk person sold me The Dairy Book of British Food published by the Milk Marketing Board. This told me a lot about Great Britain – what grew where, and the traditional foods from each area. I still use it today.
Recently Kevin the milkman sold me More Taste and Less Waste (ISBN 9781911388395), recipes for planet-loving waste-free cooking. The UK deposits 4.5 million tonnes of food waste each year, but hurrah! The amount has gone down by 7%. It still has a long way to go to meet the government’s commitment to halve food waste in the next 10 years. Waste is ruining the planet! (Just for interest’s sake, why not find out how much food waste your country produces per year,and let us know in the “Comments” section.)
The book has pages and pages on what to do with left-over everythings, how to make 2 or three completely different meals from one item, caters to vegetarians, vegans and carnivores, plus good sound advice on zero-waste shopping: make a weekly menu, shop only for the required ingredients, buy fruit, vegetables, meat and cheese only in your desired amounts, rather than pre-packaged foodstuffs. Many recipes only take about 15 minutes to prepare. (Once all the ingredients are collected, I add hastily.)
Here are typical two-for-one recipes for minced (ground) beef, lamb, pork or turkey. Next month I’ll offer a similar duo for vegetarians (can’t wait! There are some good ones!).
Below: Page 100 from the book, and my result!
Lean minced (ground) meat: 250gms, 9ozs.
Garlic: 1 clove, peeled and crushed.
Fresh parsley: 6 sprigs, chopped, plus extra to serve.
Ground cumin: 1 tsp
Ground coriander: 1 tsp
Dried chilli flakes: a pinch
Sesame oil: 1 tsp
Salt: ½ tsp
Olive oil: 1 tablespoon
Tahini paste: 1 tablespoon mixed with 1 tablespoon of water.
Serve with Salad – greens with red onion, and cooked rice or tabbouleh
Put meat, garlic, parsley, spices, chilli, salt and sesame oil in a bowl. Mix with your hands. Divide the mixture into 5 cm (2 inch) sausage shapes. Chill for 30 minutes while you cook rice and make salad.
Preheat grill to medium hot. Thread the meat onto skewers, brush with olive oil. Grill 6 – 7 minutes on each side, or cooked to your liking.
To serve, mix tahini paste and water and drizzle over grilled kebobs. Serves 2.
I used lamb, added turmeric to the boiling rice. My tahini sauce did not drizzle; it blobbed. So I just lathered it joyously onto the meat.
The recipe was easy and swift to prepare with no fuss. Good. Will do it again.
Keema Naan Pizza
Page 99 and my “pizza”. Maybe I need food photography lessons?
Keema naan pizza. Serves 2
The name itself – a conglomerate of Indian and Italian – aptly describes the cultural fusion of today’s Britain.
Lean minced (ground) meat: 250gms (9oz)
Onion: 1 small peeled and finely chopped
Garlic: 1 clove, peeled and crushed
Mild curry powder: 2 – 3 tsp
Tomato: 1 large ripe, chopped
Frozen peas: 100g (3 ½ ozs, about ¾ cup)
Salt: ½ tsp
Naan bread: 2 small or 4 mini
Mozzarella cheese (or halloumi or paneer) 1 pack.
Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), lemon or lime wedges
To serve: salad and mango chutney.
Put the meat, onion, garlic, and curry powder in a pan and dry-fry for 5 minutes, stirring until browned all over. Add tomato. Cover. Cook gently for 5 minutes.
Stir in peas and salt. Cover. Cook gently for a further 10 minutes until everything is cooked through.
Preheat grill. Sprinkle water on one side of the naan. Toast 1 – 2 mins until lightly golden.
Spoon the meat over reverse side of the naan. Break up the cheese and dot on top. Cook under the grill for 2-3 minutes until melted and bubbling. Serve immediately sprinkled with chopped coriander (cilantro) accompanied with the lemon/lime wedges, salad, and chutney.
Getting naan would demand a 21 mile drive, so I used a pitta (pita) bread. I only added 2 tsp of curry powder. It needed 3.
I’m sorry I didn’t go for the mozzarella cheese, opting instead for the more alternative-described halloumi, because, as promised, it didn’t melt. I think I prefer the gooeyness of the mozz, a more “fusion experience”. In addition (and this is what the book is all about) the left-over halloumi could be considered “waste”. So, it will now be dry-fried in bits, added to sundried tomatoes and oil, given a squirt of lime juice, folded into pasta for a cosy soon-to-be-eaten meal.
Note: there was no mango chutney in the vicinity, even in the array of homemade chutneys available from the church porch. I also ran out of salad, so I stir fried cabbage and carrot with cumin seeds and coconut.