Thursday, 23 October 2008

Cheap and Nasty...

I appear to come from a long line of bargain-hunters. It must be in the blood; a twist in my DNA which was created when first I was just a twinkle in a boiler-house fitter's eye. My mother is the most repugnant bargain-hunter: belligerent; rude; arrogant and embarrassing. I mean to say, one simply doesn't haggle the undies down in a charity shop, does one?

However, I am a watered-down version of her when it comes to bargains and the 'reduced' aisle in our local supermarkets. Only today, I informed Mr P that I was going to the Co-op for milk and prawns. I returned with a bag filled with miniature cheeses - those ones which are very poncey, look great on the dinner table and make you bankrupt (reduced from £2.19 to 40p); a lemon cheesecake (reduced from £3.29 to 60p); six organic, free-range eggs (reduced from £1.75 to 75p) and Scotch eggs (reduced from £1.99 to 99p).

I forgot to get the prawns.

I am always seduced by the reduced...

I shop at charity shops and second hand shops most of the time - eBay is my best friend. I don't mind wearing other people's cast-offs in the slightest. I have even been known to make 45 minute drives over to Wilmslow, home of the Manchester United players, whose wives and girlfriends (WAGs) donate their Armani, Gucci, Versace and D&G to the local Oxfam, British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research shops. It's the place to pick up a designer bargain most of the time. 

On one of my trips, I got chatting to a fellow bargain hunter who told me only that morning he had purchased a Hugo Boss suit, pure wool, still with tags for £25.00. It had been donated literally minutes ago by footballer, Roy Keane. Colleen Rooney (Wayne Rooney's new wife, little Scouse bundle of fluff and £££s that she is) makes a point of donating all her cast-offs to the charity shops in Wilmslow. And women fall on them like ravening wolves. Particularly as she doesn't fit the usual WAG stereotype of being rake thin and shapeless. She is 'all vumman'! And therefore, half of Unposh Cheshire, those of us filled with Pies and Prejudice [apologies, Stuart Maconie] (that's where I live) cannot wait for her to have a jolly good clear-out. And I don't mean on the toilet...

Now, my bargain hunting doesn't always turn out for the best, I have to be honest. I have risked 'sell-by dates', forgotten about them, having stored said items in the fridge, and returned to find a green, furry mass of seething cures for the diseases of the Third World. I have also bought items of clothing from eBay, claiming to be such and such a size, got them for £3.50 plus P&P and the discovered that they are size 8, but only if you are a midget with anorexia. I even, much to my utter dismay, bought the most fantastic Karen Millen dress the other month from eBay for £40 when it should have been £200. It was on the kinky side, I must admit - all black, fitted satin; bondage style zips and just quite dirty, really. I bust the side zip, trying to pour myself into it in a very ungainly manner. I had to actually be cut out of the damned thing. Mr P got his pliers and broke the zip so I could breathe again. I decided to take it to a seamstress to have it let out slightly and have the zip mended, but I left it on a pile of books designated for donation to Oxfam before doing so. 

And the dress went with the books...

I was extremely, very, awfully, very, exceptionally upset...

Now, we are attempting to tighten our belts at the moment and save money where necessary as we are in a rather precarious financial situation, waiting for Mr P's house down south to sell. So, I have been bargain hunting in ways which I know would make #1's and #2's stomachs turn were they to ever read their mother's blog...which they refuse to, because IT'S BORING!!! 

So, they will never, ever know that last night, their 'chicken casserole' was actually 'bunny brew'...A whole bunny for three quid! I can't even buy one decent sized chicken breast for that amount! It was a pretty grotesque thing to behold, I must admit. It was vacuum-sealed in plastic from our local Master Butcher and had this bit of absorbent 'paper' upon which it lay, and which appeared to be speckled with the detritus from a hairy man's razor blades. It turned my stomach and I had to ask Mr P to take it from the plastic, give it a wash and make it slightly more presentable before I could attack it.

Although my best intentions were to carve the uncooked meat first and then casserole it, I simply couldn't do it. Outside, gambolling in their run, were Lambert and Butler, our two Netherland Dwarf rabbits. I felt evil; a turncoat; a pariah of virtue.

Then I snapped its spine and popped it in with the leeks, carrots, garlic, shallots, cider and stock...

Mr P reckoned the smell emanating from the oven was fantastic. It did smell pretty good, I must admit, but I was starting to sweat profusely. It was six hours before the girls returned from school. Would they suss? Would there be a row? How could I blag my way through this one? I have never, ever managed to pass fish off as chicken, but an esteemed cookery website informed me that 'young rabbit tastes just like chicken'. I just hoped my rabbit hadn't been drawing its pension...

'What's for tea?' said #1.
'Chicken casserole,' I replied.
'Oh Yum! Great!...What's this? Is this fish?'
No. It's not fish. What I did was, I didn't have any chicken breasts, so I bunged a whole chicken into the casserole pot, cooked it up, then pulled the meat off. That's why it looks like your meat from a Sunday Roast.'
'It's fish, isn't it?'
'No, I swear to you. It isn't fish.'
'It's not fish, Rosie' [from #2] 'Look at it, fish doesn't look like that. You've never eaten fish like I have, so you wouldn't know.'
'OK. I want to see the bones'
*thinks* Oh Gawd. They are in the outhouse. The cat has cleaned them dry. They don't look chicken-like any more. At all...

'I didn't know chickens had such prominent spines...'
'Yeah. That's because we clean up after the Roast Dinners.'

They both ate their Bunny Brew. Even complimented it. You will never, ever understand the sigh of relief I released when I washed up later on.

Trouble is, my conscience is pricking me dreadfully. I cooked Thumper. I may as well have killed Bambi's Mum. I feel sick to my stomach. £3.00 or not, to feed three people.

I have bought a kilo of tomatoes to make tomato and roast pepper soup. Nobody cares when a tomato screams...


7 comments:

Ian T - Parsnip no longer... said...

Just to reiterate that the meal was delicious.

I am looking forward to announcing to both #1 & #2 that they have had rabbit at some dramatically and comedically appropriate moment.

As to the bargain hunting. Go Annie!

Karen ^..^ said...

Besides, it isn't like a cute little cotton tail bunny, it is a nasty ugly hare that looks very little like it's domesticated alter ego. Its rabbit, not bunny. Not really.

I'm glad it was passed off successfully. Good lord, the girls really inspect thier food, don't they?? I'm fairly lucky. My little one feels pretty grateful these days to have food at all. LOL. she never complains. The oldest is a pescetarian, so she now mainly makes her own meals. *whew*

As for the Karen Millen dress? Oh, wow, I would have cried my eyes out. I've been on the Karen Millen site, after reading the shopoholic books, and I'd love to have one of those shops here, and at the very least, one of the cast offs from one of the well to do women who shop there.

Annie T AKA Agnes Mildew said...

Ian: If you tell anybody, I shall have to kill you. Mum's the word on Thumper. Simple as that.

Karen: It is a nasty looking beast once its fur is off, you are right. Thankfully, the head wasn't still on.
And yes, those girls will get bloody magnifying glasses out on their food for inspection. If it doesn't come frozen, out of a bag, it is not to be trusted. They are pathetic.
Let's just not talk about Karen Millen. It still hurts...

Keli said...

I find bargain hunting tremendously satisfying. It's become so that I will no longer pay retail. Ah the finds! The marvelously low prices! I had a field day at my favorite boutique when it rained during their semi-annual sale and all the stupers stayed home. I braved the weather and bought $170 dollar jeans for $40! Yes!
The things we must do to get our children to try new foods! Even I breathed a deep sigh of relief when you revealed success at the completion of the meal. What a clandestine operation!

Linda and her Twaddle said...

You sly fox. I tried to give my son a vegetarian sausage once. He dry retched after one bite. Took ages to gain his trust again.

Annie T AKA Agnes Mildew said...

Keli: Bargain hunting is inordinately satisfying, I agree. I don't think it's to do with being a tight-wad, as such...it's more to do with being smug!
Getting food down the girls' throats has now become a chore upon which I have given up. After yesterday when I appeared to get everybody's strange foibles wrong, I threw up my hands, spat my dummy out and declared a strike. They now make their own meals, so the pasta has gone down rapidly...

Linda: This is the first time I have got away with anything...in nearly 14 years. But see my answer to Keli above. I am now officially on strike. Without pay.

Mars said...

you do what you have to do...