Faith and Charity: Recipes for frugality

On the day on which a special edition of a newspaper reminded us of the need to write charity into our wills and told us what tasks are done with our money and how it can help those in need, I was reminded of this scrap of paper I cut out of a newspaper some time ago from something called: Sacred Space

As quoted in the newspaper:

Charity – to be moved at the sight of the thirsty, the hungry and the miserable and to offer relief to them out of pity  – is the spring of virtue:

Kundakunda, Pancastikaya 137

Let him without tiring, always offer sacrifices and perform works of charity with faith, for offerings and charitable works made with faith and with lawfully earned money, procure endless rewards.

Guru Nanak

They feed with food the needy, the orphan and the prisoner, for love of Him saying: “We wish for no reward nor thanks from you”

Quran 76 8-9

Charity is a virtue of the heart and not of the hands.

Joseph Addison

But I shall add some more quotes that resonate:

The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

The charity that is a trifle to us can be precious to others.


Charity is willingly given from the heart.

Rush Limbaugh

The only genuine elite is the elite of those men and women who gave their lives to justice and charity.

Sargent Shriver

At the weekend I went to a local park festival and was saddened to see a FoodBank stall there. In the midst of all our talk of tea and cakes and the abundance of food we see as we walk down any local High Street here in London, there are people who need immediate help to feed themselves for that day. I gave them cash of course, but more importantly, I have their shopping list and every time I shop in the supermarket I shall buy for the food bank too. I read that food banks are making a real come back – there are more and more of them in the UK towns and you wonder how that can be in a society which has – apparently – a fall-back position for everyone of sufficient money through the social services and income support etc for food and shelter. I am not sure that Jamie Oliver has it entirely wrong when he says that many people don’t know how to cook good quality, low cost food, but then, can they afford his cookbook? And to supply their kitchens with the ingredients? Many live a long way away from fresh food supplies at a cheap price and can only buy that which is sold to them and if that is at an inflated price so be it.

I only know my own experience when I was learning to cook and how some frugal Northern women taught me to cook frugally and also I used the cookbook about Frugal Food which was very popular at one time. We used eat (I wasn’t vegetarian then) rabbit and stuffed hearts or stuffed neck of lamb, and so on – food which is not so often seen these days, but then was very cheap and needed a long slow cook but was very tasty indeed. I also took advantage of the end of the day at markets and came home with crates of vegetables and fruit that the stall holders wanted rid of..just like last week when I got 5 kilos of on the vine tomatoes for less than £2…wonderful sauce it made too…

 So here are some frugal recipes that I’ve used in the past. One thing I’ve always found is that, on the whole, a vegetarian meal is cheaper than a meat meal and provides good tasty wholesome food. I could provide more but time is passing and I have to go out…

From BBC Vegetarian Magazine:

Mushroom and Barley Casserole.

Serves 4.

1 tbsp oil

225g baby onions

675g mixed mushrooms (ensure there are plenty of chestnut for they hold their texture well) some tinned or dried can be used, if using dried then use the water from them to add to the stock

2 chopped garlic cloves

100g pearl barley

2 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp dry sherry (optional) use red wine vinegar , balsamic etc instead

300ml veg stock – you may need more

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  • Heat oil and saute onions until soft and brown.
  • add mushrooms and garlic and cook on high heat until mushrooms begin to soften and release juice – around 4 mins.
  • stir barley, soy sauce, sherry, stock and season.
  • simmer 30-40 mins until most of the liquid removed and barley soft.
  • add parsley
  • serve with mashed pots or good fresh bread.

Curried Potato and Spinach layer

serves 4

oven 190/375/mark 5

(magazine unknown)

900g potatoes, thinly sliced

200g quark

2 tsp curry paste (you choose heat)

2 tbsp milk

125g fresh spinach


  • cook potatoes in boiling water for 3 mins
  • mix curry paste, quark and milk together
  • layer potatoes and spinach in dish with quark on each layer
  • finish with potato layer
  • cover
  • cook 40 mins
  • uncover
  • cook 15 mins until top crispy

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