Pay as you weigh?

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I’ve seen this article on various news sites over the last few days:

Samoa Air boss defends charging passengers by weight

Basically Samoa Air charge passengers a fare based on how many kilograms they weigh. Its a mainly domestic airline, with small aircraft, and families are charged based on the total combined weight of themselves and their baggage.

Whatever websites this has appeared on it generates an enormous amount of comment from readers. They vary between people who think its fair that if you weigh more you should pay more and then be accorded the privilege of extra room and seating, and people who say that a person is a person and its discrimination to charge one fee for one person and something different for another.

Its clear that when it comes to treating people as a pile of kilograms it evokes an emotional reaction that you don’t get when simply talking about baggage. This must be because somehow a number is not just a number when it comes to a person. That number comes with other overtones.

Many people feel that making heavy people pay more to fly is a judgment or punishment and thus enforces the perception that weight is a bad thing. The stereotype of thin healthy people and fat unhealthy people is not always true in every case.

It seems to me to be slightly fairer to base a charge on the combined weight of family and baggage, rather than saying for example that a larger person must pay double for the use of two seats instead of one. However it also seems intrinsically unfair because on the genetic level there is no doubt that the tendency to be obese does run in families. One doesn’t always have to nurture those genes and become obese, but it does seem as if the predisposition has a greater tendency in some families than others.

A charge on body size therefore definitely has an element of discrimination. A tall family may well weigh more than a short family and there is nothing they can do about it. Its hard to feel that its fair for them to pay more to fly.

In general clothing and footwear does not cost more depending on the size. A size 8 ladies skirt costs the same as a size 20 ladies skirt – despite the fact more material is used. In extremes of size it is true that people would possibly be advised to obtain specialist footwear or clothing which will come at a premium – ladies undergarments are a classic example of this.

There is no cut and dried answer it seems to me, either scenario – the same price for everyone, or differential prices based on weight – offers some form of unfairness to some of the parties concerned. But then isn’t that the nature of life? Life isn’t fair! Should we accept the unfairness or try to alter things so that things are fair for the largest amount of people possible. One thing is for certain – whatever you do, you wont keep everybody happy.

So, I’ve sat nicely on the fence here. What’s my actual opinion?

I think that if a person can fit comfortably into a seat then they should be charged one price for that seat. I think that children old enough to sit in a seat should also pay full price for a seat. Babies I can accept as going on free as they can be held or go in their carrier. I think parents with young children should get first dibs on the seats with more leg room as it works to everyone’s convenience – happy children means happiness for other passengers.

I think any person who is too large to fit into one seat comfortably should be required to purchase an additional seat but at a discounted price. Many flights go with empty seats and if this happens people are not required to pay extra to spread the total cost between the seats that are full. I would say purchasing an extra seat for yourself at one third to one half of the full cost depending on the popularity of the flight would be acceptable. Otherwise, the consequences for the person sitting next to the larger person are not good – they cannot enjoy the comfort of the seat they have paid for.

What’s your opinion – should we pay as we weigh to fly?

 

 

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Recipe Organisation

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As a follow up to my post on where to get recipe inspiration from, I thought I would go on to discuss how to store your favourite recipes. I store cookery books and magazines on bookshelves of course, but it can be frustrating trying to remember exactly which book and on what page a recipe is on. I spent half an hour the other night looking through magazines for a recipe I knew was there somewhere. It didn’t come to light until a couple of weeks later when I found said magazine under the coffee table instead of in the magazine box.

I’ve got a couple of these folders:

expanding organiser

 

They are called expanding organisers, and when you open the lid you have a row of slots that you can slip papers into. I found this useful for storing magazine recipes where I didn’t want to keep the magazine, and just tore out the relevant pages and put them in the folder. They are also good for the recipe cards you pick up in the supermarkets.

I also inherited a box of family recipes on index cards that were stored in a box similar to that at the top of the page. I later reorganised them into the expanding organiser to try and get everything in one place.

I also had one of those blank recipe books that you are meant to copy your recipes into, but of course the problem with that, and also the index cards, is that it involves handwriting every recipe either in the book or on a card, which is a bit tedious. When the original family recipes were done some of those were typed onto index cards, but it was probably easier to get an index card in the typewriter than it is in the printer.

The other thing is that these days I use recipes off the internet. I do end up printing some of them so I have a copy in the kitchen, but simple recipes I tend to note down the details on a post-it note and chuck it afterwards, or stick in on the back of another recipe if it was any good. Sometimes I just bookmark them on my phone and then use the phone to help me do the recipe, although that can get irritating it the phone keeps turning off. I suppose I could find that setting and change it though.

Some recipe websites also have recipe boxes that you can log into and tag your favourite recipes, or even type your own in, but I find I pick and choose recipes from all over the place not just one site, although some sites I use more than others.

Anyway, what I want to be able to do is it to have a core of recipes that I have tried, that work and that I can easily cook on a weeknight, and that I can just refer to the day before and decide what I am doing. Many of the above methods of storing recipes are things that might be nice to try, or things you did once for a special occasion and you end up with a mass of paper that you have to flick through and it takes ages to decide on what to cook.

As an aside, its useful to annotate cookery books and recipes to remind yourself of how the recipe went. I keep a pencil in the kitchen, and if I try a new recipe from a book I will lightly annotate to say if it tasted nice, or any improvements I should try next time.

So, I think I’ve found my recipe solution. I have a Google account, and I use Google Drive to store documents on. Google Drive allows you to store spreadsheets, straight documents, presentations, photos, and other things. It’s basically the equivalent of Microsoft Office but the documents are all stored in the cloud, and it has an app for my smartphone so that I can access my documents from my phone or any computer, providing there is an internet connection.

The plan I have just started is to create a recipe folder within Google Drive. Within that folder I have created different folders for dinners, lunches, desserts etc. I am then creating documents with copy and pasted recipes from the internet, including my own blog, which sorts the internet side of things. Only tried and tested useful recipes will make it into the folder. Then to deal with magazines and cookery books I am taking photos of the recipes with my smartphone, and uploading the photos to the same folder so I effectively have a picture of the recipe instructions. I’ve only done a few so far and it’s working pretty well. You need to get the pages properly flat and have a decent light but they have turned out quite readable.

So if I build up the folders over time with favourite recipes it should give me a complete recipe book, a mixture of documents and pictures from all my recipe sources, of things I cook on a regular basis.

What do you think? Any improvements to this system I could add? What’s your system for storing recipes from different media?

 

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Quick Tip: Hash Browns

hash browns

For a lot of people here in the UK its the Easter holidays. It’s a shame that the weather hasn’t been very spring-like but there you go. Admittedly it hasn’t rained for a couple of weeks and today the sun is even out, however there is still an icy wind that really puts me off any major outdoor activity or any gardening. 

Anyway, enough moaning about the weather. Perhaps at holiday time you fancy cooking an English breakfast – bacon, sausage, egg, tomatoes, mushrooms etc. Quite often holidays are the only time you get round to it. When I cook fried breakfast the most difficult thing is getting everything finished at the same time.

The main nightmare element is the hash browns, see picture above. They are frozen, and take about 20 minutes to cook in the oven or 15 to fry I think.

So today’s quick tip is to put your hash brown into the microwave for a minute or two to defrost it first, then finish it off in the frying pan with the eggs or bacon. It vastly reduces the cooking time and it tastes just the same!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays despite the weather.

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Happy Easter!

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Wishing you all a happy and blessed Easter!

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Recipe Inspiration

Pizza dough and ingredients

Do you ever get fed up of cooking dinner every evening? There is a big difference between having a hobby where you cook a special dish or two at the weekend, and the regular every day cooking that you have to do to feed yourself and your family. Its easy to to run out of ideas, or stick to repeating the same few meals over and over again. I remember reading an article that said out of the people in the UK who actually cook dinner every night, the majority of them do not cook more than 4 or 5 different meals. I think I do a little better than that but I still run out of inspiration from time to time.

So where are the best places to get new ideas from and improve your cooking skills – whilst fulfilling that everyday need to get a quick meal on the table for your family every day?

Here are some of my personal sources of inspiration when I need a new idea or want to try cooking something in a different way:

Magazines are good because for £2-£3 pounds you get about 100 recipes and chances are there will be something that will suit you. Magazines also keep up to date with current trends and so are more likely to keep up with seasonal and fashionable food trends, so if you have a current issue, you should be able to find the ingredients easily.

EASY-COOK_ISSUE-56My favourite magazine at the moment is Easy Cook. It has lots of quick and easy recipes (as the title suggests!) and ideas for using up leftovers products, easy entertaining and basic cooking techniques. Its aimed at the person who doesn’t have too much time but needs to get a nice meal out.

I used to have Sainsbury’s magazine, which is quite good, and an interesting read, but I found that I didn’t often try any of the recipes as they were often designed for special occasions or dinner parties. However I think there is generally at least one feature each time talking about budget or weekday quick and easy meals.

There are many more magazines on the market to browse – BBC Good Food and Olive are ones I buy once in a while.

Cookery books  are an obvious choice of inspiration and every has their own favourites. I think everyone should have a good basic book that tells you how to cook a bit of everything. The kind of book that tells you how to make a Victoria sandwich or roast a chicken. I have an old Marguerite Patten one, and a Mrs Beeton one which are good for this purpose, and I know that Delia’s Complete Cookery is also a good one.

I like the BBC Good Food series of cook books. They are small books with nice pictures, and the recipes tend to be straightforward with not too many ingredients. My two favourite ones are Low Fat Feasts and Simple Suppers.  low fat feasts

I’m not that into celebrity chefs, but I did like Jamie Oliver’s back to basics campaign. I have his Ministry of Food cookbook and its one I keep going back to. His instructions are designed to make it simple for people who haven’t done much cooking before, and the results are very good.

Then of course we have The Internet. The easiest way to find inspiration is simply to Google your recipe and browse the pages to see what you can find. However you should be discerning when viewing the results to make sure the recipe sounds like it will work out the way you want it to and watch out people in the UK for recipes from typically from the US using different measurement systems or ingredients we can’t get hold of over here.

Other specific recipe websites I browse for inspiration are BBC Good Food and Epicurious. They both have a recipe box feature where you can log into the website and bookmark your favourite recipes so you keep a kind of online recipe book within the site. I have the odd few recipes on each of those sites in my box although I use so many sources for inspiration its not something I’ve got into that heavily. Its also useful on those two sites reading the reviews of other people who have already cooked the recipes. Often you get extra tips, hints and variations to try out.

Pinterest is a great source of inspiration. Just type in your search term and away you go. Most pins should have direct link to the original website with the recipe. Be warned though, once you get hooked on Pinterest you’ve had it…

Finally on the internet, its worth looking at other people’s blogs for inspiration. This one for example! Or just browse food blogs and then look at their blogrolls for links to other food blogs. If you use a blog reader like Google reader then sometimes they have features to recommend blogs similar to those you already read which can be useful.

Smartphone apps - whether you have an iPhone or an Android, just browse the app store for recipe apps. You will find all sorts of different apps to download. I have an Android, and the apps I have for recipes at the moment are Tesco, BBC Good Food, All the Cooks, My Kitchen, and Epicurious. I can’t particularly recommend any of them as apps aren’t my first port of call, but there are so many free ones its worth taking a look.

My final inspiration is reading the packets of the food you buy. Often they will come with recipes on the side, especially things like packets of flour. That’s particularly useful if you buy something like gluten free flour and don’t have a clue how to cook with it – you will find a few recipes to start you off on the packet. If that fails often the people who make the food have a website with recipe suggestions. That was how I found the recipe for my duck breast post a couple of weeks ago.

Failing all else – post on Facebook “what shall I cook for dinner tonight?” and see what your friends have to suggest!

P.S. None of these are affiliate links or in cahoots with the publishers, they are just things I happen to like.

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