Tuesday 17 March 2015

What's in my lunchbox? Miso, muffins and oranges

I had a Japanese cookery lesson with Kamikaze Kitchen a few weeks ago and it's given me an urge to get back in the kitchen. The class was amazing with tips on miso, sushi and gyoza dumplings.

Now I now more about how to make miso I've become really enthusiastic and have been trying different combinations of ingredients. This included garlic, ginger, kombu, kelp powder, kijiki, carrots, potatoes, tofu, edamame and miso. It turned out rich and thick and flavourful.

I followed up with an orange and a couple of home made muffins. Much like the soup the muffins were full of different ingredients. They included Apple purée, oats, brown sugar, and grated carrot.

While I ate I read The Princess Bride. I've started watching Game of Thrones and its reminded me how much I enjoy fantasy and adventures tales. I can't believe The Princess Bride had slipped through my hands before but as with so many things better late than never.


Friday 15 August 2014

My year of more and less: month seven

I'm starting to realise a major benefit of not shopping this year. I no longer have to try and find space for new purchases. No more trying to squeeze one more item in the cupboard. I'm also become much better at just going with what I have. I needed a new phone case and rather than buy a new one I just grabbed a pink fluffy one (purchased by my mum but never used) out of the car boot sale box. Ok it's not totally my style, but it does the job and is easy to find in my bag.

July goals

My July goals were to give blood, clear 5 items from my 40 for 40 list, and get in with my letter writing ebooks. How did I do?

  • I looked into giving blood, and got lots of useful advice from friends about bring nervous. I can't give blood at present because I have some lingering cold sores, and the blood.co.uk, which had lots of useful information indicates I have to wait until these have sorted themselves out. I'm hopeful I might make an end of September donation session, and what better excuse in the meantime to take better care of myself than I have been.
  • I've did a couple of items on my 40 for 40 list but am feeling less rushed about the whole thing. I don't currently have 40 items on it, and if it takes me until I'm 49 to do them all so be it. The important thing is to keep doing new things and not to be put off by fear of the unknown.
  • I've decided on the sections/chapters for my ebook, and written notes for what the content in each section will be. I just need to start doing the actual writing.

My three day rotation through my goals wasn't as effective as I hoped. I'm not certain if this is because it just doesn't work for me, or if being overwhelmed by all the other stuff in my life interfere with things.


August goals

I was away for a few days at the end of August and failed to do my usual big picture, and mini goals planning for the month. I intended to do it on my return and was struggling to come up with some not too exhausting sounding goals. I was pretty horrified when I opened my planner to discover that at some previous point I'd written in some energetic goals and decided on effort for my word of the month.


Happily I usually write in pencil so I took an eraser to my words, and replaced them with:

  • Sleep more
  • Read more
  • Clear niggling tasks

My word of the month is no.


I think a month of rest (relatively speaking) will do my lots of good and allow me to get on with new exciting things in future months.


Wishing you green ink and good food,




Tuesday 12 August 2014

What's in my lunchbox? When I grow up I want to be a sandwich

Aubergine, tomatoes, olives and bread

It's that glorious time of the year. The market is full of produce. Friends drop by with food to share. Lunches are easy to prepare, and eat.

The man at the vegetable stall added a few extra aubergine to my purchases. So I roasted them on Sunday morning. The form this basis of this lovely sandwich ingredient salad. For best results you should add the olives, tomatoes and bread while the aubergine is warm. However I can't say that waiting until it was cold has impaired the flavour. The sourdough bread is softened by a morning in a tub with the fresh vegetables but remains chewy. This works well against the other softer textures.


Celery and grape

I was a bit surprised by how well this combination worked. I suppose though it's only a Brie, grape and celery sandwich minus the bread and Brie. Sweet and savoury. Soft and crunchy.

To read: Real World by Natsuo Kirino

Does one enjoy Kirino's novels? I was drawn into Out, and the same is true of this one. Maybe it's something about the way the characters feel as if they are acting out their own lives. The ways secrets are never secrets. The glimpse of Japan that isn't the exotic Western view. This had a David Lynch feel in the way the actions of one character impacted on a community.


Tuesday 22 July 2014

What's in my lunch box? Just add veg


Lunch box

Saturday was the monthly gathering of Chelmsford Veg Up, a vegan meet up group. I made cashew cheese to share as part of our pot luch arrangement, and was pleased to bring some home. Teamed up with a little veg, some bread and a little dessert it made an easy and tasty lunch.

Clockwise, from top right:

  • Cucumber and wonderfully sweet cherry tomatoes
  • Greengage and piece of Sue's flapjack, packed with fruit and seeds
  • Lightly toasted sour dough with cashew cheese
  • Radishes
Book jacket the yard by Alex Grecian

To read: The Yard by Alex Grecian

The review that prompted me to track this title down pointed out this the author was American, and had never visited the parts of London he describes, but added that this was hard to believe. I agree. Grecian conveys the atmosphere of London in the 1890s with no effort. You are simply sucked in wanting to now what happens next. What happens next is you devour as many pages as you can before having to go and do something else.


Tuesday 15 July 2014

What's in my lunch box? Sling it all in potato salad

Box of potato salad

On Saturday I headed to the London Vegan Beer festival where I drank various fine vegan beverages, listened to bands, took part in karaoke, and partook of some vegan BBQ.

One of the dishes on offer at the BBQ was a potato salad. Alas it was so tasty I ate the lot before thinking that I should have snapped a photo. However let me describe it as the house special fried rice approach to potato salad, only not fried and minus the kind of animal related items. The potatoes had been mixed with peas, corn, gerkins, and mayonnaise. Possibly a few other items crept in to this king of potato.

I attended a family BBQ on Sunday. As is the case with my family it was over catered. So it would have been rude not to bring home with me some leftover jacket potatoes and create my own multi ingredient potato salad.

Into the mix went: chopped jacket potatoes, radishes, carrot, cooked peas, Fry’s Polony, Plamil garlic mayo, and gherkin burger relish.

Book cover on stranger tides by Tim powers

To read – On stranger tides by Tim Powers

I’ve been trying to find a title of his that lives up to The Anubis Gate. This isn’t it, but it’s still pretty good. A good tale with plenty of swashbuckling, and a bearable amount of magic to add spice. I found the descriptions of sea battles hard going but it was satisfying watching our hero develop, and seeing plot elements come together.


Friday 11 July 2014

My year of more and less: month six

So June was busy, and included among its highlights a very sunny car boot sale, a reception at the Japanese embassy, and plenty of time spent in parks. I resisted the urge to buy any clothes of shoes so I think I can consider month six of my project/experiment/exploration a success.

I am actually horrified by the size of my summer wardrobe. I really only need a third of the clothes I have. That said I do wear most of them, just over a few years rather than a few days or weeks. So maybe I should be continuing with my ‘no purchases’ experiment into 2016.

My June goals were:

  • Keep a sugar diary
  • Upcycle my raincoat
  • Do a Real Wild biography

Progress in June

Keep a sugar diary – I keep reading things online and getting in flap about my sugar intake. I’m fairly certain that it’s ok; my diet is pretty clean. However there seemed to be all kinds of things to take into account, and I wasn’t sure about fructose, glucose, and sucrose. So I did some reading up around the subject, noted down what I ate every day, and then analysed the sugar content. As it turned out my diet is largely clean, and when I do reach for sugar it’s with open eyes.

Upcycle my raincoat – take one stained and torn raincoat that I can’t bear to part with. I decided to dye, purchased and applied dye, and came up with a design to cover the rips. I just need to do a few minutes of sewing and it’ll be done.

Do a real wild bio – I enjoyed Do What You Love’s New Year Revolution pack so much that I thought I’d give their Real Wild Bio a go. Despite breaking it down by section I found it quite difficult to get cracking on it. However when I did it took much less time than I expected, and I was quite pleased to be able to see some themes that run across my life.

July goals

I’m taking a slightly different approach to my goals this month. I’m working through each of them on a three day rotation. That means if circumstances mean I miss doing a task I can pick it up on the next day assigned to this goal. I’m hoping this will make me feel less stressed, and give me more flexibility.

  • Plan and write a draft of an ebook on letter writing
  • Give blood – I’m terrified of needles so this should help me get over that, and behave in a socially responsible manner.
  • Work on 5 forty for 40 goals- I’m starting this by picking 5 things to work on.

I’m anticipating July will be another busy month with burlesque, allotmenting, vegan meetups, BBQs, and books.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

What's in my lunchbox? Rice, not potatoes


Usually at this time of the year I’m all about potatoes. But I had a big bag of rice in the cupboard that seemed to be heading to be way out of date. So I cooked the whole lot and froze it. This was a brilliant move as it allows me to make dishes like this spicy rice. Perfect for using up the odds and ends in the fridge. Also perfect for when you find you have no soy sauce left.

Use plenty of oil and fry an onion and some garlic. Dump in the cooked rice. Then add whatever you have to hand. In this case the last of a pan of marinated tofu ( a soy sauce free marinade), my faithful chilli flakes, and my new favourite seasoning turmeric. Then take this from plan old fried rice to amazing fried rice by turning off the heat and stirring in a few handfuls of greens.

It reheated really well in a microwave. Clearly it’s one of those dishes that benefits from reheating. I served with tomatoes and cucumbers. They complement the flavours and the heat nicely.

To read: The long earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

This is so easy to read, but at the same time fills your head with thoughts about how you would cope with the situation, and what the right thing to do would be. It’s the literary equivalent of enjoying a really well prepared and presented meal that leaves you feeling full but not stuffed.

I like the way that individuals are presented as being different, and that they are not always thrilled by this prospect. I'm intrigued by the different ways they deal with not fitting in. By contrast other characters think that they’re thinking outside the box, but they’re not. It’s a great demonstration that when mankind is presented with something really exciting their first thought is money, and their first action seems to be destruction.

This reads like a perfect blend of Stephen King, David Brin, and Philip Pullman. I'm delighted that it's the first in a series.

The concept of the long earth itself is massively exciting. To be able to be elsewhere in an instant. To be able to escape from the madding crowd. To be alone. I was almost tempted to put my potato crop to use and build a stepper.