Free seeds (worth £16/kg) with every pumpkin!

Image: Rob Harris

Image: Rob Harris

With the “holiday season” nearly upon us, trust the prices to go up! It seems that year after year the headlines are the same and the shoppers are disappointed, again, at how far their £ doesn’t stretch. The thing is, this doesn’t refer to all the toys and specials that are touted as gifts. This refers to the stuff people like to buy to celebrate their holiday preference with family and friends – food!

It appears that many stores try to cash in on Christmas (or Hannukah or Hogmanay) as the cost of some foods rise by up to 20%. Even Brussels sprouts have been reported to have soared 17% in price (Why?) and other items by similar increases. You might even find that some stocktakers dealing with the supermarkets have “Holiday Inventory Spreadsheets” to deal with the requests their clients make on them at this time of the year. It begs the question though, how many people will promise this year, that they won’t be caught next year?

Isn’t the logical thing to do is wait until the prices drop to reasonable levels again, then buy what you want for next year and keep it in the freezer? That would be fine if you have the ready cash when you see the turkey, the smoked salmon or the Stilton you want and if you have the space to store the purchases. And don’t forget the self-discipline to not partake of the treats in July when they are earmarked for December!

I’d watch out for storing some of the fish products, though. According to some investigations the ‘fresh fish’ isn’t quite that fresh. It appears that it might just be ‘freshly defrosted.’ So when using ‘fresh’ it might be appropriate to use your fingers to make inverted commas around the term unless you know for sure.

Image: Adrian van Leen

Image: Adrian van Leen

On top of the stress of the suddenly increased prices greeting you when you get to the supermarkets, for those who celebrate Thanksgiving (and there seems to be growing support for this American holiday) and you’re into making pumpkin pie, be careful how you ditch the pips. Especially if you’re in Cheshire East. The council have ruled that this is not garden waste and cannot be put in the green bin. Well, here’s something that can be done to thwart the clipboard-and-rules brigade – roast the pumpkin seeds and eat them!

Any reputable restaurant and chef will always seek to use whatever they can to ensure that waste is kept to a minimum, thereby making profitability easier, and also keep things on the menu new and exciting that will make people want to return. Professional stocktakers like Jon Rutter and his team do whatever they can to help their clients achieve this. I wonder whether they have a stock of recipes and ideas on how to use things like pumpkin seeds stored somewhere on their tablets that they share. And, by the way, roasted pumpkin seeds taste great, have nutritional value and are cheap if you prepare them yourself. But Jon will tell you, don’t buy them at the store (yes, they sell them) because it’s more economical to prepare them yourself. Why pay £16.00 per kg when they come free with your pumpkin?

Also coming free, but not anticipated with as much joy, was the python belonging to Karen Jackson’s pal. The second-hand cooker from their friend was delivered to their home and they used it for a while not realising that hiding somewhere in the back was the friend’s escaped pet snake! When it made its appearance it caused quite a stir.

It was slightly warmed, still fresh but a bit niggly.

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