I am so thrilled to be on a budget. No really, I am. I have X number of British Pounds Sterling the bank and I must use this and only this amount (until 29 November when Thomas More will bring in reinforcements). I am thrilled to have a budget because...I have never had one. Not that T.More and I spend excessively (...not that we are thrifty either...) but our finances (students, patchy income(s), fluctuating stock market, student loans, house still not sold) are rather complicated. Now I am the daughter of an
extraordinary woman: a woman who balances her check book. I have always envied her neat little book with all those neat little check boxes which she neatly checks--as well as this mysterious number ( 0 ) at the end...ZERO: it must add up to zero. Why? I don't know. How? a Mystery.
When I got married I had grand schemes for the managing of our little financial world. "Thomas More," I said, "I want to know where all our money goes. We are going to Budget. We are going to tithe the proper amount. I am going to have an Excel file and pie charts and projected savings. Therefore, you must write down EVERYTHING that you buy. But everything." I gave him a little notebook and a little pen and sent him on his way.
Two days later I discovered a *Snickers wrapper* in his tossed-away pants. "Did you write this in The Book??" I asked him, wrapper in hand. His guilty look betrayed all. I remember this very vividly. I think we argued. A few weeks later he surprised me with some cheese and a bottle of Two Buck Chuck (a big splurge for us in those days). Wine and cheese are two of my favorite things. Had he written the wine and cheese into The Book. Well, of course not. But how could one be angry with a man who brings you wine and cheese?
After this, all was lost. And if my beloved dream of a budget has failed, its failure rests almost completely on my/our love for wine, cheese and everything else edible and (as they say here in the UK) very "dear." Some of our weaknesses include (but are not limited to): Neils Yard Stilton, Port, Chilean Sea Bass (ethically caught, of course), imported Pancetta, imported olive oil, grass fed beef, organic tomatoes, crab cakes, St Germaine elder flower liqueur... The list goes on.
And all of this is my husbands fault. Really.
Now that I'm on my own, with a set budget, I have become a culinary model of frugality (does that make sense?). I made a *casserole* the first night and ate it for 5+ meals. Now, I will never eat that casserole again, but note: 10 British Pounds Sterling...5+ meals--less than 2 British Pounds per meal. And I wrote the purchase in my little book.
I was feeling pretty good about myself until I talked to Thomas More the other day. "Are you eating?" I asked. "Yes." "Good! What are you eating?" I asked. Well, as it turns out, he was eating like a three star Michelin restaurant: Night 1: Fillet of beef sauteed in butter and after deglazed in port-dijon sauce. Night 2: Taggliatelli in pancetta and vodka sauce, tuna crustinis with shallot and sherry (topped with lemon zest), and fresh home-made cherry pie. As I listened my mouth began to water. I began to feel jealous. I began to doubt my culinary thrift. I decided to make lobster.
But blame much of this said culinary thrift on the the markets here in Fife. NOTE: I live on an island (surrounded by a sea full of lobsters), on a peninsula, in a fishing village--I see the lobster-full sea as well as actual lobster traps every day of my life. And yet I found no lobster. I went to three places, hung around the harbor. No lobster.
So I substituted langoustines. They were lovely, an only 4 British Pounds Sterling per pound, which is really not that bad.
Recipe: (Lobster) *Langoustine* corn chowder (a la the Barefoot Contessa), with sherry and chives, along side lemon muffins, made with freshly
squeezed lemons and fresh lemon zest. Lovely.