Books on Seats

Forget bums on seats, it’s books on seats that count in our house... If pictures speak louder than words then this latest collection (all given to me for Christmas) just about sums up my life: books on raw food, running, Buddhism, vintage clothes/dressmaking, yoga, and a peek into someone else’s life via a journal.

It’s an odd time of year, the days feel muddled to me, and I can’t wait for the clarity of the new year, but in the meantime, feast your eyes (if you haven’t already) on Poppy’s very beautiful raw cacao site!


Raw Reindeer

At Winchester Farmers’ Market last Sunday. The reindeer is sticking close to the carrots! Happy Holidays to one and all.


Biodynamic Gardening

I was in Oxford yesterday. I studied for my doctorate there and the Botanic Garden was always a welcome respite when my poor brain couldn’t take looking at a dusty document for a second longer. According to my trusty moon planting/gardening guide, yesterday, and today, are fruit days (for planting out and pruning fruit trees), and work was underway in this vein at Oxford.

I love gardens at this time of year. Everything appears sleepy and lazy, but a lot is going on despite the drowsy exterior. It’s not a bad description of Oxford itself. It appears unchanging but behind the panelled doors, brains are hard at work...


Secret Messaging

I love the fact that people write me little ‘secret’ messages via this blog. I completely understand. I used to read various blogs avidly but felt too shy to even leave a message. I have gradually progressed over the last few years from leaving messages on favourite blogs to eventually writing an admittedly very non-personal and sporadic blog.

One of the recent ‘secret messages’ to me referred to the fact that many of the ‘juicy fruit’ I have listed on my side-bar no longer post or post very sporadically. I understand, being a sporadic blogger myself. Sometimes, indeed often, there is ‘life’ outside the blog that takes precedence, sometimes the blog is written to outline a specific experience, or sometimes a blog just feels too public. Much as I miss regular updates from some of my favourite bloggers – Shell and Neeta this means you – I love the fact that they’re clearly living their lives away from a computer screen.

Many of my ‘juicy fruit’ links wrote vividly about juice feasting at the beginning of the year. Once that experience finished, the blogging stopped. Are you like me though and miss their regular musings? Are you curious about whether the intense juice feasting aided a steady raw/high raw path, or did it lead to dietary fluctuations over the year? I miss the musings of Jack/Jill and Poppy particularly. How was the rest of 2008 for them? I’m so curious that I’m just about to leave messages on their blogs to say how much I miss their updates.

Another matter of curiosity: Nigel Slater’s Thirst. Such a great book on juicing combinations, but so little mention in the juice feasting world...

P.S. Poppy – this link is dedicated to you – I’m a fellow Levan fan ...


First Slice Your Cookbook ...

One of my resolutions before the end of the year was to somehow organise a huge pile of magazine/newspaper cuttings. Anything interesting or inspiring I rip out. One particular pile is of adult human height (I kid you not). In my attempt at reorganisation I stumbled across a cutting on the re-launch of Arabella Boxer’s First Slice Your Cookbook (I grew up with a parental cooking bookshelf overflowing with authors such as Boxer, Jane Grigson, Margaret Costa and Elizabeth David).

I’m not someone who makes a big deal about eating a raw/high-raw diet, I just get on and quietly do it. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never been interrogated by family/friends about where I get my protein, or how much my daily calcium intake is (or perhaps I’m just lucky)?! Oddly enough though, from time to time, I interrogate myself. I know it’s ridiculous, these questions never occurred to me when I ate a ‘standard’ diet ‘fortified’ with crisps and sweets, yet despite an unequivocally improved food intake, they continue to cross my mind from time to time. Has this happened to anyone else? When it happens to me, I always turn to Plant Based Nutrition and Health. Written by a scientist and former Chair of the Vegan Society it calmly guides you through everything you need to know about vegan food intake – chapters on calcium, fats, minerals and vitamins, even raw food. Even better, if you’re rushed for time, each chapter has a one-page summary, so you can make instant and simple dietary tweakings. Turning the pages makes me feel better every single time my mind starts its bizarre chattering about minerals, calcium, protein and the like.

Hoisting my own copy of First Slice Your Cookbook off the bookshelf I was inspired to take some of my own advice re. having favourite recipes to hand, link it to my sometimes questioning nutritional path, and present it in First Slice Your Cookbook mode. That way, I can not only plan daily menus and come up with new combinations of favourite food (the book is split into three which allows you to mix and match), but also see at a glance my intake ratios of fat/fruit/greens etc. It’s my first resolution for 2009...



It's December! Once the 1st of December strikes I always have a rush of inspiration to fulfill all of my determinations that somehow fell by the wayside over the year. I am chanting like crazy (4 hours a day!) yet am still managing to fit everything else in. The bright and crispy weather is an aid to all of this - it revs me up like nothing else. My lunches at the moment are mirroring the weather - light and crispy. I'm working through some favourite recipes from Kate Wood's first book and stumbled across her Spicy Carrot and Apple Salad, which is high raw rather than 'pure' raw. My version is somewhat simplified - a grated apple and carrot tossed alongside a handful of Bombay Mix - perfect early December fare!


Don't Try This at Home!

Reading the fantastic Viktoras Kulvinskas interview in the latest issue of Get Fresh inspired me to re-read some of his publications. One of the 'Seven Secrets of Success' listed in the interview encouraged the making of fermented food '... it nurtures friendly bacteria, and is loaded with enzymes and B-complex vitamins ... Cultures that are long-lived always include at least one form of fermented food on a daily basis'. His Life in the 21st Century had a suggestion from a contributor re. jelly coconut fermentation (and I'd just picked up a stash from a new source). The instructions were easy: simply chop the jelly coconut up finely, put it into a jar and seal it until bubbles appear (around 24-48 hours). Then mash in a ripe banana. The contributor wrote that 'To me it tastes like scrambled eggs. Fruitarian egg substitute'. To me it smelt like very bad eggs, so much so that I couldn't even bring myself to taste it!!! More on Viktoras soon ...


Synchronicity #2

The synchronicity doesn't stop at #1. I was going to post on my love of compact raw booklets, starting with the recipe booklet by the Funky Raw gang (I'm guessing from viewing their website that the booklet has been newly republished with a colour cover). I have 'key moments' in my raw journey and the booklet's 'Real Risotto' (with cauliflower being the chief ingredient) was one of them. As I child, I was never a fan of this particular cruciferous veggie, and I insisted on a heavy cheese sauce to disguise the taste. Reading the recipe for 'Real Risotto' I just thought 'no thanks' and carried on turning the pages, but the word 'cauliflower' kept popping up in my brain. Finally, I succumbed. It's now one of my favourite autumn meals. Lo and behold, when thinking about posting re. this, a picture of a very similar dish 'Curried Cauliflower with Currants and Pine Nuts' (albeit cooked and using florets rather than reducing the cauliflower to rice-size particles) appeared in the aforementioned Great Chefs Cook Vegan in a series of recipes devised by Cat Cora ...

The booklet's introduction quotes one of the Funky Raw contributors, Steve Charter, 'Just like normal eating, most people tend to rely on a relatively small number of standard meals that they rotate and vary. So if you get a good set of basic raw food meals then you are more than half way there'. It sounds so simple and obvious but as we all know sometimes things are easy to read but harder to put into practice. Charter's advice is so worth it though. Keep experimenting until you have about a fortnight's worth of recipes that you adore. Raw became infinitely easier when I worked this out for myself! The booklet itself might be small, but it's crammed with tried and tested recipes for daily use. The cover states that this is Volume I, so I hope Volume II appears soon ...

Synchronicity #1

Isn't it funny when the universe responds to musings? I was lamenting recently to one of my closest friends who is a hot-shot graphic designer of cookbooks (Nigel Slater, Ottolenghi, Angela Hartnett etc.) about vegan and raw books published in the UK. I'd love it if as the raw market grows these books looked like some of the classics she's crafted (not too chef-y, not over-designed, but not too kooky and fall-apart paperbacks that have tiny print runs either!). Lo and behold, through the post arrived the very beautiful Great Chefs Cook Vegan (admittedly US published), a book by chefs (the majority neither raw or vegan - thus no rampant didacticism) who outline their enthusiasm for grain, vegetable and fruit based dishes. A few of the recipes are through and through raw, and because the others are vegan they're very easy to adapt. It's given me some great new ideas ... Thank you to the very generous person who sent it (you know who you are - xxx).



We went to Brighton last Sunday and did some of my favourite things: the early morning station market, the monthly farmers’ market and stocking up at Infinity. It was a last-minute decision (one of those which so frequently turn out to be spot-on). The weather was gorgeous for the 2nd of November – it has been gray, cloudy and uninspiring both since and before. The bright colours of my resulting pictures inspired my juice choice the following Monday morning. It was simply an amalgamation of things sculling around: home grown beetroot, carrot and cucumber, hand-picked apple, and then a few organics from hotter climes, ginger, orange and lemon. Like last-minute travel decisions, it turned out so well that I’ve drunk the concoction every day since.
In regard to gorgeous decisions, I couldn’t let a post pass without reference to Obama. Rebecca Walker (as ever) has posted beautifully on the President Elect.


Kitchen Inspiration

Continuing on the simplicity front, I bought a favourite Australian interiors magazine on Friday which always seems to feature at least a couple of exquisite ‘natural homes’ amongst the frou-frou designer offerings in each issue. This kitchen is a dream ... rustic, light, simple (and I love the fact that they’re using the cooker as extra storage space!)...


World Vegan Day

It’s world vegan day today. It’s probably the ‘done’ thing to offer a recipe, but all I can think of is pears. It’s like I’m an addict. I’ve been buying them from the orchard around the corner and simply slice them with a mandolin (to try and fool myself that I’m making an effort with my diet!) and munch away. They’re divine. Thankfully, Matthew Kenney’s Everyday Raw arrived today, so I have an offering ... Unlike his earlier co-authored Raw Food Real World, this book is a paperback, but the same slick production values remain. Indeed, it’s an excellent book to show to non-vegan sceptics. Kenney is clearly a genius on the piping bag front – all his puddings look so deft of hand! I was particularly interested in the raw ice-cream cones (the recipe uses fresh pear!), and I’ve mentally stored it in my head for Christmas celebrations ... (the instructions went a little askew in the book itself, but they’re printed up correctly on Amazon).


Yoga ...

I went to the Yoga Show today at Olympia. Sometimes food and/or exercise hits the spot perfectly in terms of upping the energy. Sometimes just being in London does it for me too. I walked to the show from Earl’s Court. Changing tube lines is a pet hate. I’m always amazed that people hang around at Earl’s Court waiting for a tube to High Street Kensington or Olympia, when the walk (especially once you hit the back streets) is always so pleasant. I passed a favourite garden store and second-hand book store (it was shut and the picture taken through glass has turned very trippy with the ceiling seemingly replaced by outside buildings!). The show itself was um ... rather than om. It made me feel very lucky to have such a great studio and Scaravelli teacher so close by. I should also say that I’m been somewhat entranced by this all week ...


Raw Kitchen Equipment #1

I love reading and seeing how other people live their lives, not just in terms of food, clothes, partners, family, friends, ideas, careers and dreams, but ‘dressing’ their homes as it were too. I like anonymous old things and places, rather than the ‘names’ of interior design and destinations. To that end, this site, and also this (this too!), give me great pleasure and inspiration. I’ve been thinking interiors recently, specifically kitchens. As much recycling and natural light as possible is a given, and whilst I muse on ideas and inspiration (pic from the non-raw Tassajara Bread Book), I thought I’d introduce my occasional series on raw kitchen gadgets. To tell the truth, I’m not a gadget person, I like as little kitchen kit as possible and preferably things that have been handed-down, or bought at boot-sales, flea markets etc. But there are certain (new) things that make life easier.

#1 in my occasional series is my coconut machine. Mature coconuts can be more than a little - ahem - tricky in terms of preparation, but this machine purchased from Southall, West London, for about £10 if I remember rightly, makes light work of the task in hand, and means there’s no more battling in trying to prise the shell from the meat. Simply open the coconut eyes to retrieve the milk, whack the coconut in half, and then wind the handle of the machine to grind the meat whilst holding the shell in your hand. It’s quick, easy and hand-powered - perfect! You can blend the results with a small amount of the coconut milk to make a fantastic coconut sauce, or dehydrate for use in various recipes. A particular favourite of mine is the live coconut pie from I Am Grateful (new book out in the UK on the 1st of November - can’t wait), which I sprinkle with home-grown redcurrants (yes, they’re still going strong).

For me, the blurb on the back of Tassajara Cooking says it all in terms of recipe guidance (indeed life): ‘... The recipes are not for you to follow, they are for you to create, invent, test. It explains things you need to know, and things to watch out for. There are plenty of things left for you to discover, learn, stumble upon. Blessings. You’re on your own. Together with everything’.


Perfect Autumn Day

Out running at 1.32pm. I try to always ensure that I’m outside for at least an hour each day.


Pink Sushi

I’m feeling inspired after seeing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s beetroot ice-cream and beetroot brownies the other night on Channel 4. Some experimenting ‘raw style’ this w/end is called for, but in the meantime, I can highly recommend the following.

This recipe is probably up there as one of my top ten autumnal raw dishes. It’s unattributed on the Waitrose website, but I think it’s one of Katia’s recipes. Her very beautiful website seems to be offline at the moment, but she was famous at Triyoga (alas, she no longer runs the café there) for her beetroot pâté and I do remember a little feature in the Waitrose magazine Food Illustrated about the café ... True, it’s very good with oodles of spouts wrapped in nori, but at the moment, I’m still wading through a glut of home-grown cucumbers so I tend to make cucumber sandwiches, with hefty cucumber ‘sandwich’ slices filled with the pâté. Yum!

An extra word on ingredients: As it’s a pretty decadent recipe (oil and nuts) I’ve found halving the quantity of nuts works just as well and the pâté still sets beautifully in the fridge overnight. I tried substituting non-raw maple syrup with raw agave (which I’m always suspicious of being truly ‘raw’ as it has to go through such an intense processing regime): it didn’t work, the tang was missing. Continuing on the tang front I used Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar – excellent tang!

Blending tip: Unlike the recipe guidelines I’ve had the smoothest results by blending in three stages. First, the liquids: oil, maple, vinegar; then the pepper, beetroot, ginger and chilli; and finally the nuts. I should also say that for the best results it’s best to set the Vita-mix to ‘high’ speed (something I rarely do in my day-to-day life).


Beetroot Salad with Pistachio Sauce

I generally prefer ‘cooked’ cookbooks to raw ‘uncooked’ cookbooks. There, I’ve said it. It’s not that I don’t relish uncook books, simply that I glean more ideas from standard cookbooks (over time, as confidence grows, I’ve found it easier and easier to make the conversion tweaks from cooked to uncooked). I am also, more often than not, seduced by atmospheric, beautiful pictures and the quality of writing. I was given the Moro East cookbook for my recent birthday, and have eaten the salad pictured above almost daily since. It’s that good. The book is not just a cookbook but a homage to the Manor Garden allotments. Despite being bequeathed ‘in perpetuity’ and a vocal campaign to have the allotments incorporated as part of the 2012 Olympic site, like so many other urban allotments their fate has been sealed in a less than happy way ...


Sun, Sea, Sand (and the other)

We went on our annual summer holiday almost this time last month. We were lucky enough to have the best week of the English summer in deepest Kent (with the occasional foray into East Sussex) indulging in all the things I like best – sun, sea, sand (and the other). We walked at least 10km each day (yes, I ran too!), visited lots of lovely gardens for inspiration (although sad to see how many owners let their fruit just drop and rot to the ground, especially the not so easily available quinces and mulberries), and ate raw fruit and veggie goodies from local farms and farmers’ markets. I bought several chocolate mint plants and some organic microgreen/sprouting seeds from a specialist herb nursery, near the fabulous Sissinghurst. Pineapple Mint and Eau de Cologne Mint (which smelt like Savile Row gentlemen) were enticing, but the chocolate mint smelt like After Eights and won me over. I can’t wait to pulverise a couple of leaves and add them to my next batch of raw chocolate...

All Sewn Up

A sewing pattern from the US arrived recently, and whilst the pattern is all well and good, it was the packaging that really caught my eye. Heavy-duty recycled paper secured together with a zig‑zag stitch on a sewing machine rather than glue or tape. Such a smart green idea.

Festival of Life

I felt the opposite of ‘up’ a fortnight ago making my way to Red Lion Square for the Festival of Life. However, what’s not to like about a gathering which was pervaded by the smell of durian, sold the best raw sweeties I have ever tasted (beetroot based from Rainforest Creations), and where everyone looked so inspirationally healthy? I’m not sure of the stallholder’s name but I ate a raw burger from the main hall which was worth the price for the onions alone (marinated in blended dates and tamari), bought some Raw Chocolate Company choc for Jenny who is mulberry obsessed, and a copy of Doug Graham’s 80/10/10 for myself. The light didn’t just sparkle through the trees during the Barefoot Doctor’s talk, it re-ignited in me too. I came away feeling truly rejuvenated.


Shopping is not my thing

I don’t like product placement in blogs (naming a lip gloss here, perfume there or woollen cap wherever is so not my thing). I like to read (or see) about the person and their life, rather than their shopping habits (although I do love a good book recommendation). However, Stella McCartney’s latest collection for Adidas has entranced me so much that I hope you’ll indulge me (just this once). I don’t make my own exercise clothes, but if I did, I’d love it if they looked like this ...
All photographs © Stella McCartney for Adidas 2008


Run and Become

There are many raw transformation stories out there, but Matt’s is a particular favourite of mine. His story and site so inspired me that last year (or was it the year before?) I went out and bought some running shoes and socks. I had flexibility and strength but cardiovascular fitness was my weak point in the sports triad. Instead of ignoring this I faced it head on. I’d never thought of myself as a runner, but if the raw vegan diet is life-changing then running is too. Even with the smallest of baby steps I have ‘run and become’ someone else entirely.


Buddhist Beads

A recent post by Rebecca Walker got me thinking. Two decades as a Buddhist. Me too (almost). Over the years there have been cushions, candles, incense and bells. They’ve served a purpose, but just recently it’s simply been about the beads, the floor and the breath. This summer has been particularly dreamy, but it’s time to let go and breathe into the incoming season. Autumn: I’m ready.


They Can't Ration These

Persephone Books are now a long way from being a bibliophile’s secret. As they have expanded so also has the street they reside in transformed (Lambs Conduit Street, and a newly-opened branch in Kensington Church Street - for the better or for the worse is up for debate depending on your views re. gentrification). They Can’t Ration These (first published in 1940) is another in my list of ‘old school’ raw favourites. As the preface states ‘The object of this book is to show where to seek and how to use Nature’s larder, which in time of peace and plenty people overlook or ignore’. Not a truly ‘raw tome’ for featured amongst the pages: hare pâté; roast sparrow/starlings (eugh), and lots of boil this and simmer that. However, there are great chapters on foraging and some easily adaptable ideas. I was particularly struck by instructions for a violet-perfumed face powder (derived from iris roots), kernel butter (pound up small pine or fir kernels with butter – I’d substitute avocado), ink-making from oak-apples (also known as oak galls) and jewellery-making with barberries, hawthorn and blackthorn berries.


Body Image

It’s not just my food that I like ‘unprocessed’. I like to make my own clothes too, so far as time allows. Whilst lucky enough not to suffer from skewed perceptions of body image via the mass media (and elsewhere), there is a little part of me that has always been seduced by the images on vintage sewing packets. I think for autumn/winter 2008 I’m going to go for the penultimate bottom right (love that deco hipline) and far right (ditto the ‘V’ shaped waistline).


Plum Cheesecake

I spied the first of the season’s greengages today , which are without doubt in my personal top five of favourite fruit . Last year’s raw plum cheesecake (pictured) was such a success that a greengage version is called for this year. (I used the recipe from I Am Grateful).


Natural Diet for Folks who Eat

Another old-school raw favourite: Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ With Mother Nature (New York, 1973). Mother Nature being the ‘solar oven’. Lots to say about juice feasting and especially water fasting. I like the following: ‘Isn’t it odd that some folks refer to drinking too much alcohol as “getting juiced”? Of course, if they really got juiced more often, with raw fruit and vegetable juices, they’d soon lose their taste for alcohol’. Thankfully, I’ve never been a big (alcoholic) drinker.


Yoga Night

The evenings when I attend yoga classes generally follow a very distinct pattern. I arrive feeling a little rushed/irritable/tense/preoccupied and I leave feeling simultaneously invigorated and relaxed. However, the view on my walk to yoga was so damn sparkly the other night that I was instantaneously invigorated and relaxed before the class even started. It made a nice change. Yesterday night I attended a different studio for a John Stirk workshop. Yoga is for Girls describes the Stirk experience beautifully.


Light Eating for Survival

Light Eating for Survival by Marcia Acciardo (Wethersfield, Conn., 1977). I have a soft spot for old‑school raw publications and I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It features dishes that are ‘frugal, simple, satisfying and high’. The preface states: ‘Please share this book with someone you love or is in need of love’. I’m sharing - hello, new friends.