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!
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...
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 ...
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!
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 ...
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.
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).
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).
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).
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 ...
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...
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.
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).
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).
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.
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 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.