Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Student living

So. A package from Amazon arrived for me on Thursday, but I wasn't here to collect it and it was too big to fit through my letter box. I knew exactly what it contained (having ordered it my very own self), and was too excited to wait till after the weekend to get it, so I got up extra-early on Friday morning to head to the package depot in deepest Green Lanes to pick it up. I waited patiently (and very Britishly) in the queue, picked up the package and headed for the bus on my way to school. Once seated, I eagerly ripped open the corrugated cardboard packaging and beheld the contents: Schaum's Outline of Probability and Statistics (not what had me excited) and two new cookbooks: The Pauper's Cookbook and, the pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance, Cooking in a Bedsitter, by Katharine Whitehorn. This was a book written in about 1958 for newly independent young people, out on their own in the world and living in tiny, one-room, sink-less apartments called bedsitters, which are more or less like studio apartments (aka bachelor's apartments, aka 1 1/2s), only they didn't have ovens (coughcough), only had shared sinks and bathrooms between the other people on the floor, and had one gas ring, or two if you were very lucky. Also, these young people survived without fridges!!!

I've been searching for a copy of this book for a long time, being a newly independent young person myself, but unsuccessfully. It has recently come back into print, and then amazon.co.uk lowered the price to around £5, so I felt the time was right. Many of the recipes are pretty dated (it was written 50 years ago!), and they basically all contain meat, but there is some good inspiration in there. In particular, that it is possible to survive (and eat meat!) without a fridge. I may attempt to put this concept into practice next year if I end up living on my own, but I'll let you know about that if and when it happens. In the meantime, Elizabeth and I are going to be briefly reunited here in London in a couple of weeks, and I hope to test out one or two of these recipes when she's here (although maybe we'll leave the tripe for another visit...).

Anyways, in homage to poor students everywhere and with a nod to life's simple pleasures, I present to you a recipe to which I have recently been introduced by a Swedish friend of mine. It has already brightened a couple of days, and I'm sure it will be the light at the end of the tunnel for the next little while, or until my bread runs out. So here it is:
Cheesecake Toast (for one):
Bread (filled with lovely seeds, flax and whole grains if possible)
Cream cheese (I'm a very recent convert, and only in this recipe!)
Lemon curd (if you can't find it in your grocery store [it should be in with jams or pie fillings], it's pretty easy to make)

Cost of loaf of bread: about £1, although you can get ones that are about to go off for as little as 30p!
Cost of tub of Tesco brand cream cheese: 80p
Cost of Tesco brand, el cheapo lemon curd: 58p
  • Toast one or two slices of bread, in the toaster or the oven, to your desired toastedness
  • When toasted, spread with cream cheese, slightly thicker than you think you should
  • On top of this, spread a very thin layer of lemon curd. The Swede in question likens the lemon curd to the middle note of a major chord: just enough to give it some colour, but not enough to overpower the tonic and dominant.
  • Enjoy. Go on, have another one. So delicious and yet so cheap!


  1. Oh man, that book sounds AWESOME. Just exactly what we need. The bedsitters remind me of kommunalka in Russia (mostly just in Saint Petersburg now):

    Some people I stayed with did not have fridges. Maybe I should introduce them to this book.

    We will most definitely try out some recipes when I get there. SO EXCITED ABOUT SEEING YOU, by the way. While I wait I will have to try out this cheesecake toast masterpiece. I already love cream cheese AND whole grain bread (the lemon curd will be an experiment).

  2. WOAH so I already had the opportunity to try some version of this today at work.

    Someone was kind enough to bring in fresh bagels and cream cheese, and someone else happened to bring in some muffins (cupcakes?) overstuffed with lemon curd. Remembering your idea I spread some of the extra lemon curd on my cream cheese bagel, and it was fantastic. Such a wonderful combination I would have never thought of. I will have to try it with actual toast soon.