Tuesday, 24 June 2014

What's in my lunch box? A tale of two pancakes

I’ve had a real craving for some kind of vegan cream tea. A scone with strawberries and vegan cream of some kind. Then a non-vegan chum told me they were planning Eton mess but had forgotten to buy meringues so they used pancakes. And so was born my lunch of stuffed pancakes.

From top right:

  • Cucumber
  • Vegan pancake filled with macadamia crème and strawberry compote
  • Vegan pancake filled with cashew cheese and raw spinach
  • Cherry tomatoes

To read: She-wolves by Helen Castor

I love to read about history, and Elizabeth I has always been one of my heroines. That said I have a slightly less rosy view of her than I did as three year old. Anyway I was intrigued by the thought of reading about other strong charismatic queens and I haven’t been disappointed. Family trees for the various noble families are always complicated and confusing so looking at three families in detail has been brilliant for filling in the gaps in my knowledge. I now understand why the loss of the White Ship was so significant. I’m finding this hard to put down which has got to be a good sign of readability.



Thursday, 19 June 2014

What's in my lunch box? Posh toast

I'm reading, in a terribly slow fashion, An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. I can only manage about a page at time because I then feel the need to think deeply about whatever brilliant truth about food she has revealed. And I then want to follow that up by experiencing it. So this time it was about putting things on toast. In fact pretty much anything on toast. No one can deny toast is a marvellously versatile food, which works at al lends of the gourmet scale.

So today it was lightly toasted bread topped with hummus, peppers, tomato, and radishes. I had just enough cashew cheese to cover a single slice. Then I followed up with plenty of strawberries. You don’t get much more gourmet than that!

To read: Night Film by Maria Pessl

I adored Pessl’s first book Special topics in calamity physics. This one wasted no time in setting the scene and making you question everyone and everything. I particularly liked the bits of media scattered throughout the book revealing information about the mysterious Film maker Cordova. A great way of dragging the reader into the story.


Thursday, 12 June 2014

My year of less and more: month five

I’ve now completed 5 months without purchasing clothes, shoes, or accessories. It feels so normal that I’m wondering if I might do a second year. How long would it take me to use up everything in my wardrobe? Would I find myself wearing a bizarre collection of items?

My New Year Revolution targets for May were:

  • Create a list of places to visit in Essex
  • Make a button collar
  • Come up with some ideas about developing Not the vegan police

I managed the list of places in Essex with no problems. I finished it ahead of schedule. However progress on the other two was shockingly bad. I found it hard to find the time to sit down and sew. I considered this fair enough as I would need to meet various criteria to carry out this task (i.e. be at home, daylight, capable of stitching).

It does occur to me that if I’d taken 10 minutes to select the buttons I wanted to use this would have been a portable project. Likewise there is no excuse for not even starting to brainstorm ideas around Not the Vegan police. Getting started does seem to be the issue here. With future targets I will tell myself to do 2 minutes just to get started and hope this gets the ball rolling.

June targets are:

  • Keep a sugar diary – just to see if I am indulging too much
  • Write a real wild biography
  • Upcycle a raincoat

Let’s see how the 2 minute rule works with these. I can also apply it to my Forty for 40 project which seems to have slowed down. My only progress has been to read a book on wild swimming.


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

What's in my lunch box? Take four


Summer has definitely arrive on my allotment. I came back from my plot with potatoes, spring onions, spinach, and strawberries. Sag aloo suggested itself as the ideal recipe. I decided to use the recipe for from indian cookery from Pebble Mill at one by Lalita Ahmed. It's a cracking little book. Very matter of fact.

It might have helped if I’d actually started following the right recipe and not in an absent minded fashion gone along with the potato curry in gravy on the opposite page.

However the end results were good, if a little spicy. I think some flatbreads will be making an appearance with other servings to offer a contrast in texture and taste.

Sweet, fresh strawberries were very, very welcome for dessert.

I’m wondering what other recipes I can create using the four ingredients from my allotment. Potato salad? Some kind of frittata?

To read: My Amish childhood by Jerry S. Eicher

Arcadia, which I read last week included some Amish characters, but you only caught a glimpse as if they weren’t of much interest to our main character (a pity as his community surely had much in common with theirs – they ‘d just been doing ti longer). Anyway it seemed fitting when this turned up on my ‘to read’ pile. Admittedly I wasn't expecting a tale of a new Amish commute in South America but it's opened my eyes. I wasn't entirely surprised by an Amish community that was so trusting and calm, but was expecting the struggles to adapt to a modern world and the questions about the direction their religions should take.



Tuesday, 3 June 2014

What's in my lunch box? For a grey June day


This seems at first glance a warming, hearty dish, and so surely inappropriate for the height of summer. However as we've experiencing our usual changeable weather with a good dose of grey it actually suited summer vey nicely.

Plus it's very easy to put together. It's a vegan version of this Butter bean, parprika and chorizo stew. It's a very forgiving recipe which happily adapts to the ingredients at hand, and you pretty much just chuck it in a pan. Mine included gently fried onions, garlic and peppers. Then I threw in parprika and rosemary, gave it a good stir and finished off with a can of tomatoes.

I served with toast, lettuce, radishes and advocado.

To read: Arcadia by Lauren Groff

With most of the actions taking place on a commune it's a delight to find a book where the characters are pretty much all vegan. As a result a reference to quesadillas filled with mushrooms and soy cheese, or squash ravioli is a meal that I can really relate to. We follow Bit through his hippie childhood until utopia falls apart. And then we pick him up in his adult life when things don't seem to be much more stable. Yet the thing that makes this so enjoyable is Bit's ability to appreciate small delights. From his observations of nature on the commune to the feeling of connection that domestic lights create in a city.