I love chocolate and I love ginger, so what better than some biscuits that combine the two. They also contain a little orange peel to further add to the flavour combination, so now is a good time to make them as we still have local fresh oranges available. We go through quite a few biscuits at home, I having at least one every day with my morning masala chai……. an Indian tea and spice mix to which I add lots of fresh ginger.
Fresh ginger is something that can be quite expensive in England yet it can be so cheap here. In large supermarkets it tends to be expensive, but the local town of La Almunia has several shops run by and catering for north African workers. They are over here working in the fields, caring for and later collecting the fruit from the many thousands of vines and fruit trees. These shops have all manner of dried and fresh fruits, herbs and spices overflowing their shelves and baskets in a veritable Aladdin’s cave of culinary delights. It is here that I can buy the majority of what I need and at very, very competitive prices.
But is the small independent shop an anachronism in this modern digital age? Indeed is any shop, large or small, able to hold its own against the macro shopping centres they are building these days?
The nearest city to where I live, Zaragoza, has done little to support the existing local shops, opting instead to support the building of humongous “shopping resorts”, their words not mine! Local people, like lemmings, rush off to spend the whole day there, apparently happy to be parted from their hard earned cash in a dazzling variety of different ways.
Zaragoza, in spite of having a population of only about 700,000 people, opened the first macro complex, Plaza Imperial, in 2008 with 170 shops. The second, Puerto Venecia, was completed in 2012 and has 158 shops. They expect to open the third one, “Torre Village”, with 90 shops this year. It sounds like a lot of new shops per capita and of course their being out of town means a lot of travel by car, consumption of fuel and environmental pollution.
The other problem with these large retail outlets is that they employ few people and little by little they are making us work more so that they can work less. We, the often gullible public, have been sold on the advantages of self-service. Sold on the insidious myth of it being quicker and easier to do it yourself rather than wait for one of their agents to become available. The fact that if they had more agents we wouldn’t have to wait seems to have escaped us!
I don’t often leave my cave here in the Sierra de Algairén, but a recent trip into the outside world had me realising just how far things have changed. I visited a few large stores and realised that many, like Ikea or Decathlon and many of the larger supermarkets, had far more automatic check-outs than manned. Around midday I made one of my rare incursions into McDonald’s and found that even they had changed and many people were ordering their own food via automated stations.
I could go on and include petrol stations where it is now normal to fill one’s own car, green grocers where you have to pick and weigh your own fruit and vegetables, if you ever manage to open the flimsy plastic bags they give you, or toll booths on motorways which I have always found troublesome, what with being sat on my wallet and the way my change rolls around the floor of the car, as it falls out of my pocket in the cramped conditions, all whilst trying to find out what to stick into which slot……. no, give me an agent any day.
And don’t get me started on flight or hotel on-line check-ins, on-line purchases via the ubiquitous Amazon, on-line banking and whatever happened to real, paper Christmas cards? Don’t get me wrong, for many people who live in remote areas or are physically challenged, this modern world has many advantages….. but why have those of us who can easily choose where we want to buy products and services opted for automation? Has personal contact become so abhorrent?
Yes, we have bought it, hook, line and sinker! Not only are they not hiring staff to meet demand, the use of automated tills and the like are allowing them to reduce staff still further. Thousands of people are losing their jobs and we quite happily are taking up the slack. Is this really what we want?
Sometimes much can be achieved by the smallest of steps, so I incite you all to rebel….. ignore the automated check-outs and the like and opt instead for the manned stations. Choose establishments that are manned and value their employees and the customer service they provide. Find petrol stations that give you people and service not some plastic gloves to keep your hands clean.
And when you, fellow Luddites, get hungry on the picket lines, have a nibble of one of these biscuits…….
Chocolate Ginger Biscuits
Makes 18 large biscuits
350g Plain flour
3½ tsp Baking powder
½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tsp Ground ginger
50g Golden syrup
2 Large eggs
55g Candied ginger
100g Dark chocolate
Zest the orange into the dry ingredients then mix together.
Gently warm the butter and syrup in a small saucepan until melted.
Lightly beat the eggs.
Roughly chop the ginger and the chocolate.
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.
With a wooden spoon beat the butter mixture into the dry ingredients.
Beat in the eggs.
Stir in the ginger and chocolate pieces.
Turn out onto the work surface and knead lightly to bring the mixture together.
Cut into 18 balls. Flatten each ball slightly to form thick burger-like discs.
Place a good distance apart on a lightly greased oven tray. (5 per large sheet)
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Leave to cool for about 10 minutes on the tray before carefully moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
Simple biscuits that are easy to make, and as I said above, now is the time to make them. Of course you can get oranges all year round, but in Europe at least now is the best time before the Spanish oranges disappear from the shelves.
As I have mentioned in the past, I enjoy eating seasonal produce and in general I am more than happy to wait, saving up recipes, until a particular ingredient becomes available locally again. Looking forward to something is often better than having it……. we appreciate it more and we are supporting local producers. Would Christmas hold any value if it were to happen every week?
This week I have chosen two more biscuit recipes to tempt you with:
Not a typical biscuit perhaps, but it does use ginger, which as you know by now is one of my favourite ingredients! If you like ginger then give these Ginger Crunch bars a try.
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
Imperial to Metric Measurement:
1 oz – 28g
1 lb – 16 oz – 454g
1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml
1 inch – 25mm
Common Flour Types:
Gluten: 8% to 10%
Type: ES 70W
All-Purpose Flour / Plain Flour
Gluten: 8% to 11%
Type: DE 550 / FR 55 / IT 0 / ES 200W
Bread Flour / Strong Flour / Hard Flour
Gluten: 12% to 14% protein (gluten)
Type: DE 812 / FR 80 / IT 1 / ES 400W
2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge