Eat the rich

Any nation state led by a man like Boris Johnson and governed by an organisation like the Conservative & Unionist Party is quite clearly a failed state; a rogue state utterly beyond the pale and not fit for purpose. This rabble of deeply horrible, ultra-rightwing wreckers, charlatans, scoundrels, inadequates, thugs and morons is visiting catastrophe after catastrophe upon the people of the UK, to the point where public services have all but collapsed in a de-regulated, privatised hell designed for billionaires, money-launderers, criminals and oligarchs, and there are unprecedented levels of poverty, indebtedness, deprivation, ill-health, homelessness and hunger.

It is only going to get worse as the Brexit disaster imposes vast increases in costs, paperwork and bureaucracy, intractable border delays, crippling labour shortages and empty supermarket shelves while what remains of UK farming goes to the wall, fruit and vegetables rot in the fields and livestock is culled en masse. Then there is the imminent 50% rise in power bills that will shatter the finances of everyone except the super-rich, while Big Oil makes huge profits and the free-market chaos of the privatised energy sector pays out record bonuses and shareholder dividends. On top of that, the 12 years and counting of Tory ‘austerity’ that has already destroyed the social security system, irreparably damaged the NHS and the care sector and hollowed out local democracy is being ramped up further with devastating cuts to Universal Credit and punitive increases in National Insurance. Of course, the very notion of increasing Income Tax to help patch up the welfare safety-net, begin to repair the social realm and reform the UK’s untenable spiv economy is out of the question because such a measure would slightly diminish the obscene wealth of the Tory crooks and their paymasters. Add rocketing inflation, wage reductions, and massive rises in rents, basic foods and petrol to the mix and we have a scenario that is approaching the apocalyptic. People will be dying of cold and hunger in the 5th richest country in the world – not that Boris ‘let the bodies pile high’ Johnson will give a damn…

So, the ability to live on a shoestring, be self-sufficient and utilise a few very basic domestic skills is going to be more crucial than ever. For an old hippy like me, all that is second nature: I’ve been doing it for decades. The recipe below, for instance, costs around £3 in total to produce, including the power, and comfortably feeds four with plain, nourishing, healthy and palatable food. Those who live to eat rather than eat to live, those who want ever-changing, ersatz taste-bud sensations appropriated from around the world, and those who use food as a tragic displacement activity to fill the loveless void in their lives would probably consider it inedible – which only underlines its real value.

It’s an endlessly adaptable recipe that will take whatever lentils or vegetables you have lying around and can be enhanced by whatever herbs and spices you fancy.

Serves 4

vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 courgette, sliced
100g (4oz) greens (eg: cabbage, spinach, kale, etc)
2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
200g (8oz) brown/green lentils
2/3 teaspoons of any available mixed dried herbs (eg: thyme, oregano, sage, etc)
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato puree
250ml (½pint) vegetable stock
250g (9oz) potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed

salt & pepper

1) In a large saucepan gently fry the onions and garlic in the oil until soft
2) Add the diced carrot, celery and courgette and continue cooking for 10 minutes
3) Add the tomatoes and simmer for a further 10 minutes
4) Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan cook the lentils with the herbs in boiling water for 15 minutes
5) Drain the lentils, retaining the liquid as your vegetable stock
6) Add the lentils, bay leaf and greens to the main pan
7) Pour in the stock (topped up if necessary), add tomato puree, season, simmer for another 15 minutes
8) Remove bay leaf, transfer the mix to a 25cm x 15cm (15″ x 9″) ovenproof dish
9) Spread the mashed potato thinly and evenly over the top
10) Bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes