Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Poverty Line

Okay, so I talked about the poverty line in my last post. It's not official. There doesn't seem to be a clear standard. One person told me that the $2.25 was an international extreme poverty line. Another one said that the amount was around half as much going on this article - a claim I dispute as the article talks about supplementing by this much (for healthcare and school costs).

It's a bit of a political minefield. If you set it really low, then you give the impression that more of your people are being cared for and the inverse is true - you don't want to give the impression that a great deal of your population aren't being cared for.

Then there's the actual cost of living. While inflation is an almost constant 1-1.5% per annum, the cost of living goes up at a steeper rate. For example, the cost of petrol going up results in the cost of ALL goods going up and the cost of wheat or corn.... good luck for food. As a comparison: My brother in law in Perth earns a 6 figure salary but is still on family support. This also has an effect on what you should expect from a pay rise. While it may go up to meet inflation and cover the rise in living costs, if it isn't an actual increase, the company involved may be dissatisfied with you.

I said in my last post that I thought that amount should be higher. I love the fact that in New Zealand, we have a tendency to care about people first. I've heard of some hospitals turning a blind eye to over stayers and the like who aren't legally entitled to healthcare. Rather than be upset about this, I think we should be proud. People matter here.

So the cost of living in Auckland is relatively high compared to other places in New Zealand. What does this mean for my little experiment? The meals I've come up with thus far are probably a little off the mark - and I'm cheating in places... I think they're close but I've got to spend some time at the super market in order to quantify it.

So my first recipe (single serve):

Asian Inspired Pepper Prawns

Ingredients:

  • 3-10 pepper corns (needs to be quantified but very low)
  • 6 frozen prawns (assuming a 1 KG $15 bag contains at least 100 prawns - $0.94)
  • 1/2 a large onion - quartered (needs to be quantified)
  • 1/2 a carrot - julienne (a little bigger than match sticks) (needs to be quantified)
  • some other veges - prepare them to be about the same size as the rest of the ingredients (snow peas are REALLY cheap at the moment - I brought a punnet that's lasted me around 3 weeks thus far for around $3. Beans are great and frozen beans are available all of the time. Capsicum is great if it's cheap etc. Seasonable. Avoid things like peas, cauliflower as these don't really fit)
  • 1/2 a cup of rice
  • A splash of soy sauce (needs quantifying)
  • A tablespoon of corn flour (Ha! You can see how much research I've done).

Method:

  1. Put your rice on. For the 1/2 cup of rice, throw in 1 cup of (cold) water and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. Put it on a high heat. When it starts boiling, turn it down to a simmer (still boiling but not violently). When the water level reaches about the same level of the rice, turn it down low and throw a lid on the rice. When it's finished, take the lid off and break it up with a fork. You don't really want it to solidify. Do this while cooking your meal.
  2. Throw your veges (all of 'em) and prawns into a hot frying pan (with just a touch of oil - you really don't need much). Keep the stove up high. Don't be shy about using high temperatures. Chinese food is based around high quick temperatures (burning bamboo) and doing otherwise normally results in overcooked food.
  3. Flip them around (or move around with a spoon) for about a minute. Add some water - about half way up. Don't cover everything - you're not looking to boil anything - just cook it through. Put in a dash of soy sauce.
  4. Crush some pepper corns.
  5. When you're satisfied that your veges are cooked through (don't worry - the prawns won't take long to cook. Use the veges as a guide), mix some corn flour with cold water and throw it into the mix along with the crushed (crached, ground) pepper corns.
  6. Cook until your liquid has become a thick sauce around your veges and prawns.
  7. Serve on top of rice.
Here's one I made earlier.

Before I end this post... I'm looking for a cheap substitute to parmesan. While bacon, eggs, pasta and parsley (grown at home) is cheap, I still don't have an answer to what to use for parmesan.... Anyone have any ideas?

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