Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever. And quinoa.

With the exception of those whose job it is to be as ungenerous as possible (insurance companies), everyone has been so incredibly generous with me following my flat smokyness. Which has reminded me that I'm fine, and that things are just things, and that I'm in a pretty good situation (I have a job, I have a place to move into soon, I have somewhere to stay in the meantime, and I have lots of looooooooove).

However, the one thing that has kept me from turning into a ranting, raving bitch is my yoga practice. I've been getting on the mat most mornings and whispering "Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever", which is some not-random mantra that I read years ago in some hippie-woo-woo book that one of my flatmates had left lying around. And you know what? It works. Of course I'm frustrated over the beaurocrats and the unfairness of some idiots setting fire to a flat. But saying this every day keeps me focused on what I do have, which, let's be honest, is more than most people on the planet, even now. And when you can have so much of your material possesions wrecked and be depending on others to put you up and still have more than most of humanity, you're in a pretty good position. So, just to reiterate: Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.

Complaint-free quinoa and roasted cauliflower:

1 cup quinoa. Cook that. You know what to do.

While it's cooking, roast 1/2 large cauliflower, separated into chunks that have been tossed with olive oil and cumin seeds.

When the quinoa is cooked, stir in some chopped kalamata olives and some raisins, and douse it with lemon juice and salt, and crumble in some smoked tofu.

Just before the cauliflower is done, toss it with some chopped kale and pop it back in the oven for a few minutes.

When the kale is bright green and happy, mix the roasted veg with the quinoa. Yum.

dancing along to: random conversation with friends.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

up in smoke

...is what happened to my place, when the flat downstairs went up in flames. So now I find myself with far less stuff, staying with friends, and kind of shell-shocked from knowing first hand what it's like to be pulled out of my kitchen window at 2.30 am in my jammies by a fireman. The only things I grabbed between my bed and the window were my glasses, and then, only because I instinctively put them on as I get out of bed.

So, I give you the most comforting soup in the universe, which is what I've been having most nights. It's very loosely based on the "behead the chard" soup in Don't Feed The Bears. My sweetie and I just call this The Soup. I think that The Soup has magical powers to make any situation seem better.

In a pot:
-Crumble some dried shitake mushrooms (say 3 of them) and a few dashes of soy sauce (maybe 1 tbs - go easy, because you can always add more later, but if you oversalt the soup at the beginning, it's harder to save) into enough water to make you a giant bowl of soup
-Set it on the stove to boil, and while it's heating up, add 1 heaping tsp of nut butter or tahini (I've been using walnut butter lately), as much chopped garlic and ginger as you want, a dash of mirin or white wine, and a healthy pinch of dried chili (chipotle is especially fun, but anything hot works, really).
-When the soup is boiling and the nut butter has dissolved, add one serving of rice noodles
-When the rice noodles are nearly done (say, when you've got a minute left), add in whatever veg you want + some smoked or marinated (or fried...whatever you want, really) tofu in cubes. I like to use a green veg (broccoli or kale) + mushrooms + whatever bits and bobs of leftover cooked veg are in the fridge. Sweetcorn is oddly good in this soup
-In your serving bowl, dissolve a tbs of miso in some soup broth that you ladle out of the pot.
-When the soup is done, ladle it into the bowl with the miso. Stir. Add herbs if you've got them (cilantro or basil or both)
-Taste. Adjust seasoning by adding more soy sauce or more mirin, and then add a drizzle of sesame oil. A nice variation is to use walnut butter as the nut butter and then walnut oil at the end, in which case fresh parsley is amazing.
-Try replacing the noodles with cubes of sweet potato. Sweet potatoes and miso are best friends.


The whole thing takes about 15 minutes from the time I walk into the kitchen until I have a wonderful bowl of hug in front of me.

Lessons learned this week:
1. Never get all your Xmas chocolates made in an organized, early way. This is the first time I've managed to get everything ready by mid-November and my FRIKIN' FLAT WAS SMOKED TO DEATH. Next year I will resume my sending-presents-late routine.
2. The fire dept is amazing.
3. My friends are amazing.
4. Eat soup. It helps.

Dancing along to: Mink, Schmink by Eartha Kitt. November is an Eartha Kitt kinda month, no?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

I have an agenda.

It's true.

Yesterday I commented to a friend how many diseases correlate with the (excessive) consumption of animal products. This isn't my opinion, it's just an inconvenient fact if you happen to love cheese.

The hardest part of being vegan isn't finding something to eat when I'm travelling (that's easy), or trying to find a warm-but-not-wooly pullover that isn't polar fleece (that's having awesome crafty friends who trade me knitting for chocolate), or getting enough protein (where are all these protein-deficient people, anyways?). It's watching my loved ones consume food that hurts others and, at least on average, hurts them. It's watching my friends who are still relatively young start getting diagnoses for diseases that are in many (though not all) cases preventable.

So yeah, it's Movember. Terrifying facial hair abounds. Raising awareness and encouraging people to go and get tested for various and sundry diseases is probably a good idea, as is trying to cure what ails us. But you know, it's also a good idea to lower your chances of getting said disease in the first place.

Being vegan doesn't have to be healthy (crisps, coke, and sugar are all vegan), but a healthy vegan diet does seem to produce pretty damn impressive results. If drugs could do what food does, we'd be dancing in the streets. At least give it a read. If you care enough to grow a scary mustache, or fork over money to friends who are doing it, consider caring enough to actually change a little something about your lifestyle so that after your mustachio'd, newly-aware self goes to the doctor to be checked out for rogue cell growth, you've skewed your chances towards health rather than illness.

I'm not a doctor, or at least not *that* kind of doctor, so read the research yourself. Don't take my word for anything, but hell, don't extra-special-ignore it because you like bacon and I like tempeh. I care about pigs, but I also care about people. I don't really want either of you to suffer more than you have to. Read. Eat. Stack the deck in your favor. Especially if I love you, cuz I want you to be around for a long, long time.

Some links
The China Study

dancing along to: I wantcha around, by the ever-inspirational Eartha Kitt