As long-time readers and people who know me in real life are aware, I "went back" to college in 2011 (the quotation marks are because I don't actually physically go to lectures, it's a distance degree). That decision was motivated partly by boredom, partly by a nagging feeling that I was somehow "lesser" because I didn't have a degree, and partly by desire to prove something to myself. What that something was, I'm not quite sure. 2.5 years later, I'm still slogging along and will be halfway through my degree this May. The reason for the snail's pace of progress is that I'm only doing two modules a year, because a) I can't afford any more than that, and b) I'm doing two very wordy subjects, and would pretty much have to give up my job in order to do any extra modules, which would kind of defeat the purpose of doing a distance degree in the first place.
While I've never been the most diligent student, my motivation this year is at an all-time low, mostly due to the fact that I find the two modules I'm doing incredibly dull - Literatures of the 17th and 18th Centuries, and Land, Politics and Society in Ireland: 1800-1922. Never have I been as tempted to drop out as I am at the moment. I sit here marvelling at the stupidity of spending the guts of eleven grand on a poxy Arts degree. When I tell people I'm doing a degree they always go "Oh, what are you planning to do with it?" and I'm forced to mumble "Erm, nothing, really." Cause let's face it, there really isn't anything you *can* do with an Arts degree. On its own, anyway. So I have spent a lot of time since September wondering why the hell I'm putting myself through this, all for a big fat nothing. I could keep my sponds and use the time I'm spending studying to do something else. What else, I'm not sure, but you can be guaranteed it would be a lot more fun than slogging through Paradise Lost or trying to pinpoint the reasons for the rise of Fenianism in the 19th century.
So what's stopping me? Stubbornness. And fear. Fear that if I don't see this through, I will forever be confirmed in my mind and the minds of my family as a person who is incapable of seeing anything through. I admit that this perhaps isn't really the noblest of motivations for doing well in college, but dammit, it's all I have. My steadfast refusal to give my family the opportunity to exchange sage glances and go "I knew she wouldn't stick it" to eachother. That, and the feeling of supergalactic creamy oneness that will envelope me when I'm standing in DCU, receiving my degree, basking in the knowledge that I will never again have to lug those stupid folders around with me.
Anyway, enough of the academic navel-gazing. I promised you the Lidl/Paul Flynn recipes for 7 Family Meals for €50, and recipes you shall have. Today's is a perfect Friday night dinner, and should be a hit with both adults and kids. I'm not going to lie, I was really tempted to replace the baked beans with kidney beans, but for the sake of experimentation I stuck to the recipe, and dammit if the end-result wasn't fookin' delish, man. It's actually one of my two favourite recipes out of the seven.
Meatball & Bean Casserole - serves 4
2x 12 packs of meatballs* Tin of baked beans
Tin of tomatoes 1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp paprika Half a chicken stock cube
Salt & pepper
1. Heat your oil in a large ovenproof pan or casserole, and saute the garlic and onions until just beginning to soften.
2. Add the meatballs and allow to colour, turning every so often, until everything is a lovely golden-brown.
3. Stir in the tomatoes, beans and paprika. Crumble in the stock cube, then cover and pop into an oven preheated to 160C for half an hour.
4. Remove from the oven, stir, season, then serve with potato of your choice. As you can see, I did little wedges, mostly because they could go into the oven with the casserole (hey, we are being frugal this week after all).
* As I mentioned in the shopping-list post, if you can get one pack of beef and one pack of pork meatballs, do that.
As these aren't my recipes, and the whole basis of the €50 week depends upon using the ingredients as listed, I'm not going to be making any adjustments to them in the writing. I will, however, add some suggestions for tweaks/additions you could make, if you happened to have any of the extra bits handy. But believe me, every recipe in the collection is perfectly lovely without any changes. I just can't help myself sometimes.
Anyway, a pinch each of cumin, cayenne, cinnamon and ground coriander will add even more depth to this dish.
Let me know how yis get on, and if anyone with particularly fussy kids can report back with their seal of approval, I'm sure others would appreciate it.
We shall speak anon, dear readers.