Day 4: More Jammin’ with Bacon

21 Apr

[Time of writing: Sunday PM]


Sorry for the hiatus, peeps.

Hadn’t counted on (what I think is me dropping my electrolytes due to) refeeding syndrome – especially having deliberately loaded myself daily with a banana-shaped dose of the good stuff. Vitamins B1/2/3/6 & C – constituent parts of Pabrinex.

Or I could have just subconsciously channelled all my energy to Mo Farah as he whizzed past our flat in today’s Virgin London Marathon. What a hero!

(Him, not me. heh)

In any case, one is feeling better after substantial quantities of chocolate (magnesium), OJ (potassium) and dairy (calcium) and now we soldier on.



‘Takka Takka’, Roy Lichtenstein 1962. The bit about tropical fungal infections may (or may not?) be an exaggeration. Everything else applies.


Subsequent entries to be drip-fed here over the next few days.


* * *

Day 4: Thursday 18/04/2013


Breakfast last Thursday:

1 supermarket banana – 0.14

1 tbsp (nice, also half price) instant coffee + milk – 0.16 + 0.08 = 0.24

1 (reduced price – see, I try to be frugal in day-to-day life…) hot cross bun – 0.20


Breakfast this Thursday:

1 BL banana – 0.07

5g instant coffee + only 50ml milk (cf usual 6g coffee + 100ml milk – read on for explanation of where the rest went) – 0.10 + 0.04 = 0.14


Lunch last Thursday:

Hospital canteen salad bar salad (inc. staff discount) – 2.10

Tap water – 0.00


Lunch this Thursday:

Ragu etc + rice (see earlier entries) – 0.42

1 BL apple – 0.08


On-call sustenance last Thursday:

Nature Valley Sweet & Nutty bar (bought on offer) – 0.24

1 can Red Bull sugarfree – 0.75 (4 for £3! Yup, it was me that cleared out the Aldgate Tesco Express supply :S)

2 patient chocolates (i.e. chocolates from patients, not chocolates who are very patient) – 2(0.20 each, based on current RRP of standard 420g Thorntons box) – 0.40.

Of course I helped myself without paying, but for LBTL I am factoring in the actual cost I would have had to pay.


Not on-call this Thursday. 


Dinner last Thursday:

Soy braised pork with cabbage – 0.65

Rice – 0.15

1 glass orange juice – 0.43


Dinner this Thursday:

Bacon jam! – 0.23

Half apple, sliced & pan fried – 0.04

2 eggless pancakes – 0.08

Toshiba apple – 0.09


Total spend last Thursday = £5.55

Total spend this Thursday = £1.15 (Crap, in debt now) 


* * *

Many of you have enquired about the rationale behind my choice of main protein.

Basics bacon? Why?!! Why not eggs/lentils/beans/canned tuna etc etc etc…”


6 Reasons I Went With Bacon:

6. Most bang for buck. I did all the calculations – trust me on this – and this has worked out to be the cheapest proteinaceous food per unit (it being mostly water weight notwithstanding/not discovered until much too late)

5. Horrifyingly high in fat = good for satiety. It’s easy to judge when living above the line; but when living below, fear of hunger >>>> arterial health any day

4. I don’t know how to cook with lentils *sad face. Somebody please teach me?

3. To be able to namedrop Kevin Bacon. Obviously.

2. Salt already added so
i) no extra spend on salt (how cunning are we??), and
ii) less risk postural hypotension, given all the extra fluid retention (in fact I didn’t faint once this week, so not a bad strategy)


And the No. 1 reason:

…To make BACON JAM. 




Let me hold a mirror up:


[Waiting for your face to unfreeze.]

Done? Moving swiftly on.


One major factor in my choosing to undertake this challenge is my having been a long-time silent fan of this blog: Back to Sainsbury’s Basics.

Basically (<— pun!) this guy is a friend of a friend – I think some of you know him in real life too. He writes up unpaid reviews of various products from the Basics range and works them into recipes. The blog is original, hilarious and utter genius. Please visit and be thoroughly entertained like I have been.

This is my version of his version of Bacon Jam, which in turn is adapted from the also-brilliant Not Quite Nigella.

I do not own the rights to the original recipes; all credit is given anywhere credit is due.


* * *

Bacon Jam

Ingredients in original no-costs-barred NQN recipe:

  • 500grams/1 pound smoked bacon (or use regular bacon and liquid smoke)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium brown onion sliced
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Tabasco sauce (according to taste)
  • 1 cup coffee
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Extra water

Method in original NQN recipe:

1. In a non-stick pan, fry the bacon in batches until lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Using a pair of scissors cut into 1 inch pieces.

2. Fry the onion and garlic in the rendered bacon fat on medium heat until translucent.

3. Transfer the bacon, onion and garlic into a heavy based cast iron pot and add the rest of the ingredients except for the water. Simmer for 2 hours adding 1/4 of a cup of water every 25-30 minutes or so and stirring.

4. When ready, cool for about 15-20 minutes and then place in a food processor. Pulse for 2-3 seconds so that you leave some texture to the “jam” or of course you could keep whizzing and make it a smoother and more paste like.


Ingredients in Jo’s scaled-down, budget LBTL version. Makes 2 portions: 

  • 150g Basics bacon, unsmoked – 0.24
  • 3 tbsps ragu from Tuesday – 0.00 (already factored into Tuesday’s costs)
  • 1/2 can Basics kidney beans (for bulk) – 0.11
  • 1 Brick Lane apple, diced (to substitute for onion/garlic/apple cider vinegar – that should provide enough plant fibre and the appley taste… right?) – 0.08
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar – 0.01
  • 1g instant coffee, shaved off the morning cuppa – 0.02
  • 1 dried chilli – 0.01
  • Extra tap water – 0.00

Method in Jo’s LBTL version: 

1. Pan fry bacon to a crisp. No need to cut into 1-inch squares as per original recipe; Basics bacon automatically disintegrates to pieces when heat is applied. (Win.)

2. No onion or garlic to fry. Too poor. So fry diced apple. Add beans.

3. Cast iron pot? One does not have enough spare energy while Living Below The Line to lift a cast iron pot. So – continue cooking bacon and apple in the same pan. Add sugar, coffee and chilli. Simmer for a long time, adding 1/4 cup tap water every half hour or so and continue stirring.


4. Theoretically one should not be able to afford electricity (or gas) for 2 hours. So take off heat after 1 hour.

5. Cool for 15-20 minutes. Pulse in food processor.

Not quite Not Quite Nigella...

Not quite Not Quite Nigella…

6. Serve up with eggless pancakes and pan-fried apple – see recipe below.


* * *

Eggless Pancakes

Did you really think I was going to have bacon jam with rice?

Makes 4 pancakes (2 servings).



  • 80g flour (80p/1.5kg) – 0.06
  • 100ml milk (50ml each saved up from today and tomorrow’s allocations) – 0.08
  • Rendered  bacon fat for frying – 0.00
  • (Which didn’t work out so great, so eventually one had to add a smidgen of proper oil – 0.01)
  • 2 tsp baking powder – 0.02


1. Mix flour and baking powder.

2. Whisk milk in with dry ingredients. Rest batter for 2 minutes.

3. Take a fresh pan. Fry up some bacon that is meant to join the rest of the bacon jam later on.

4. Remove bacon, leaving rendered bacon fat behind.

5. Ladle a spoonful of batter into the pan.

Oops. Not part of the plan.

Oops. Not part of the plan.

Not part of the plan. At all.

Really not part of the plan. At all. (The crispy bits were tasty though.) (Of course I ate this up, what else was I going to eat?)

6. Change tack, as that is the only way one is going to have any meaningful dinner. So – take pan to sink. Scrub the hell out of it. Dry pan. Ration out 1 tbsp of cheapest oil in the house (‘vegetable’) and add it to pan.

7. Cook pancakes as one normally would – spoon it out, wait for bubbles to appear on surface, flip over.


* * *

Pan-fried Apple

Ingredient (yup, singular):

1 Brick Lane apple, sliced – 0.08


1. After frying up pancakes, add sliced apple to same pan (don’t wash it just yet).

2. Pan fry until lightly caramelised.


* * *

This is more like it.

And dinner is served.

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