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 ...
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’.
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...
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.
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.