Ten things you (perhaps don’t) need to know

1) I mourn the fact that good-quality vintage clothes are becoming harder and harder to find. Ebay has less and less, for more and more. Comparing the quality between, for example, 70s M&S and 00s M&S makes me want to weep.
2) I don’t like shopping but I love beautiful things, especially old buildings. I groan when I read about supposedly ‘improved’ old houses (which generally means that their souls have been ripped out).
3) I don’t wear perfume, but I’m a sucker for good-smelling oils and potions. Unguents make my day, every single day.
4) Scaravelli yoga is my drug of choice and probably one of my most important discoveries of the past decade. The late Vanda Scaravelli’s book on yoga is like no other.
5) Old-fashioned photo booths transform you into a pre-war goddess. I’m a fan.
6) I like to type in the pitch dark. Just my screen and I. It feels cozy.
7) Food. Sometimes I’m good, sometimes I’m bad (and I know it’s daft to refer to food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but it’s a habit I’m unlikely to break). Seasonality has proved the most stable way to keep my choices on track. I will write more about this when I sum up what 2009 has meant to me.
8) Gazing at pictures of raw food never fails to lift my mood. I dream of the day when former derelict tea shops all over Britain, turn into establishments offering glistening, gleaming, sparkling raw treats.
9) I love diaries, biographies and autobiographies. Good places to start are here, here and here.
10) I lived in Brighton during the 90s. I’d move back there in a snap if the opportunity arose. It’s a city that makes me feel good about myself, always. You can’t ask for more than that.

This somewhat random list has been generated due to the bestowing of an award by the lovely Neeta. I am, apparently, a piece of ‘honest scrap’. The rules to receiving this award are as follows:

1) Post the award on your blog. Present this award to 7 others whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged you.
2) Tell those 7 people they’ve been awarded HONEST SCRAP, inform them of these guidelines, and ask that they link back to you.
3) Share ‘Ten Honest Things’ about yourself.

My nominations include several ‘dormant’ bloggers in the hope that they spring back to life in 2010! Others are newly revived blogs, or just plain new and inspiring:

In Beauty May I Walk
Poppy’s Juice Feast
Kurashi Arekore
Raw Mama
Coxeter’s Fayre
Linda in the Raw



My dedication to local eating continues apace. I have one particular exception this month: imported quinces. Once the English quinces have been devoured, I scour the market stalls for imported ones. If, as has been suggested, you need one or two 'foreign' treats in the battery of home-grown products, then quinces are up there (on a pedestal) for me.


Lazy girl blogging

Thanks to Jenny for the blog title. I am, undoubtedly, a lazy girl blogger, i.e. someone who talks about their latest ‘favourites’ rather than weaving the words about their own life. Sometimes, it’s just all about the influences ... these are some of my current favourites.

The team behind My Little Earth and the Little Earth Cafe have a new guise, Brown Sugar. The drinks on their blog are proving endlessly inspiring to me.

I have just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (again). It’s really touched a nerve. From the off, I’ve always considered tropical fruit a treat rather than a staple (although I have a coconut weakness which I’ve slowly corrected this year). I hate the phrase ‘falling off the wagon’ when it comes to raw, simply because, for me, it’s always been about so much more than the percentages, and indeed the food, but saying that, my greatest struggle has always been over the winter months and the dilemma about imported foods/superfoods. This year has increasingly seen a shift in my local food consumption (although there are still tweakings to be made). We’ve always grown our own produce, but it’s stepped up a gear or three this year. Being creative with food produced within a 5 mile, 10 mile, 50 mile radius is really where I’m at (with the occasional raw pudding frenzy which is anything but - that’s what I mean by tweakings). If you’re at all interested in this then Animal, Vegetable, Mineral is a good place to start. In terms of instant transformation (if you’re a *bee*gan rather than vegan) why not replace dates/agave/maple with honey from a 10-mile radius? Baby steps ...

The Raw Model’s push to grow his own produce and Matthew Kenney’s focus on the seasonal continue this theme. In particular, check out the Raw Model’s pictures of Kenney’s new restaurant 105 degrees. Perhaps not truly seasonal but YUM! Nigel Slater’s latest, the very wonderful Tender, wholly focussed upon the seasonal is also proving endlessly inspirational and was designed by my wonderful friend Mrs Wolfson (not that I’m biased or anything).

Continuing the theme of it’s more than the food ... the latest edition of Get Fresh. It’s worth buying for the article by Roz Graham alone. Please, Fresh Network, bring her back into the magazine’s fold on a permanent basis. Also, fabulous to see Holly’s thoughts on diet and brain chemistry featured. Can’t wait for her forthcoming book!

Finally, the November issue of Runner’s World has a great feature on Percy Cerutty (pictured, hugging the runner Herb Elliott), a coach who believed in a high-raw diet and trained Olympic gold athletes in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It's inspired me to pull on my trainers. Not so lazy after all...

Photo © Time Inc.


Local, raw ice-cream!

I’ve finally had some ice-cream – my first of the summer, a little late but better than never I guess. I’m happy to report it’s a local affair too after being stupendously impressed by reading this.

The recipe? Nut milk from cobnuts (essentially cultivated hazelnuts), the juice from damsons (stone, pulverize in the Vita-mix and then strain through a sieve) and some local honey. Churn the mixture around in an ice-cream machine. For a creamier affair you can add some powdered lecithin (but of course that’s neither raw nor local) ...

My other ice-cream of the moment is fig (pictured). Rinse, snip the tops off, pulverize in the Vita-mix (include the skin, no need to strain this time) and like the above affair add honey and nut milk (the thicker and richer the better) and watch it c-h-u-r-n into iced heaven via the magic machine.


Solar Oven

I didn’t make it to the Festival of Life yesterday. I think the above picture shows the solar oven vantage point from my garden instead...

There’s nothing like an Indian Summer. Whilst you’re soaking up the rays (using good sense and moderation of course!) consider the power of the one and only Solar Oven: ‘Sunshine speeds up the circulation, helps the lymphatic system and actually stimulates the heart. And the brain becomes more alert. The rays of the sun build Vitamin D in the skin, which must be present if calcium and phosphorous are to be utilized in the circulation of the blood’. All you have to do is lie there ...

From Ann Wigmore’s Be Your Own Doctor.


Colour therapy #1

I spent yesterday afternoon de-stalking elderberries (catch ‘em before the birds do ...) and gazing, meditating really, on their fantastic glossy colour. Ann Wigmore in Be Your Own Doctor writes so well about colour(s). ‘... I have seen colour have a marked effect upon the mentality not only of the wearer, but also upon those with whom the wearer comes in contact ... This is the age of colour in clothes and surroundings. The trend will help to lift humanity to the better things of life ... Purple gives relief from ... over-emotional disorders. Due to its hypnotic effect, one finds restful and relaxed sleep ... Indigo and violet are considered to be more spiritual than other colours ... When we eat any kind of food, we are actually eating colour from the sun. The chemicals and minerals are there because of the action of the colour in the sun’s rays. Of course, the minerals have to be in the soil and air or the colours could not make the plant grow. The guiding principle in diet should be to eat the finer kinds of foods as much as possible, in preference to the coarser foods, and to seek those foods that contain most of the cosmic solar energy’.

A word of warning: Elderberries are NOT berries to eat raw, as they contain traces of cyanide which cooking dispels. In sensitive people (and children), even the ripest, cooked berries could be a problem, so proceed with due care and caution.

Tenuous link (a purple background!) but doesn't it look like a yummy menu ...?

Oh, and for the record I did sleep very well last night ...


Temporary Lapse ...

Forgive me. I profess to be about organics, crafting, home-spun and the ilk and then something comes along and hits me between the eyes. It happened with the Stella McCartney a/w collection for Adidas last year and it’s happened again for a/w 2009. Please allow for my temporary annual lapse...

All photographs © Stella McCartney for Adidas 2009.



Damsons: the most painterly of fruit.

Snippets of joy from all over the place:

Beautiful hippie wedding.

New(ish) blog that promotes growing your own raw food. Farmers’ markets are fantastic but growing (and picking!) your own is the way to truly understand nature’s cycle(s).

Recipe inspiration. I’ve made no raw ice-cream this summer. I just haven’t felt the inclination. Not much cacao love either ... This changed my mind though. A frozen key lime pie dipped in chocolate ...

A raw version? There’s a recipe for the former in I Am Grateful (pp. 140-1) and I think we all know how to make raw chocolate don’t we?!


Blackberry pie

As promised a fortnight or so ago: a seasonal recipe for blackberry pie. I hadn’t forgotten my promise, it’s just that as soon as I make this pie it vanishes, hence taking a photograph proved problematic (as you can see a chunk has already been carved out)...

This is essentially a ‘root-around’ the cupboard recipe. You can use almonds, pistachios or macadamia nuts in the base depending on preference. Equally, the mesquite, cacao and carob combination can be altered to taste, and sultanas and raisins can be used instead of currants. The filling is culled from the Cafe Gratitude coconut cream pie recipe, substituting blackberry juice for coconut milk. To make the blackberry juice pulverise 1lb of blackberries in the Vitamix and then use a sieve to obtain the juice.

Base: ¾ C cashews, ½ C currants, ¾ C buckwheaties (i.e. soaked, sprouted and dehydrated buckwheat), 2T coconut oil, 1T mesquite, 1T cacao powder, 2T carob and a good squeezing of lemon.

Process in a food processor (rather than a Vitamix) until slightly sticking together (I find it best to process everything except the coconut oil and then add that last). Press down firmly into a 7-inch pan (lightly greased with coconut butter).

Filling: 1½ C blackberry juice, ¾ C of coconut meat, 4 medjool dates (take out the stones!), the scrapings of a vanilla pod, 3T lecithin and ½ C of coconut butter.

Process everything in the Vitamix apart from the last two ingredients. Once everything is pretty much smooth add the lecithin and coconut butter and blend again. Pour the filling on top of the base and put in the fridge to set. Decorate with blackberries or whatever else in the way of fresh fruit is to hand.


The Great American T-Shirt

Sometimes you want to mix it up and sometimes you want to keep it simple. The same goes for clothes as well as (raw) food. In summer, vest tops and t-shirts or a blouse? I’ve always gone for the (vintage) latter. Skirt or shorts? Again, the latter. Recently, that’s changed (or at least the former choice has), perhaps because it’s so much easier to now buy organic cotton t-shirts.

I’ve come to a realisation that I really am a child of my decade (the 70s). I’m more than happy to veer between mixtures of earthiness and glamour, which is in essence my summing up of the decade. The 70s book The Great American T-Shirt makes the case for both ends of the spectrum. A cornucopia of folks, known (for example, Lauren Hutton, Patti Smith, Martin Scorsese, Angelica Huston, Betsey Johnson...) and unknown wearing t-shirts . What really made the book for me was another of those ‘raw moments’: a whole page devoted to a Dick Gregory t-shirt advertising his ‘Food Fun’...

*** On the subject of clothes, the autumn edition of Permaculture has a review of this book (out on the 17th of this month) which looks like a good read ...


I want ... #2

... a Woodstock handmade home.

Via this site ... in turn via this book.


Raw Food Equipment #2

The cherry stoner: it’s an innocuous little thing. It doesn’t look like much at all. However, if you’re faced with pounds (and I do mean pounds) of cherries, it will transform your life. No more slips of the knife, no more rooting around for the cherry stone with your finger and thumb losing valuable flesh in the process. Just pop the cherry in, press the lever and out pops the cherry stone sans excess flesh. It’s not just for cherries either. It worked beautifully with the small and oh so fragrant yellow plums from the other day too.


Sissy Spacek: fasting, meditation, tough girls, the state of ‘adagio’ and no regrets...

Everything that I touch at the moment doesn’t turn to gold, but it does seem to have a ‘raw’ message. This is from a 1977 issue of the fashion magazine 19 that I picked up in a junk shop ...

'A year ago, Sissy never even got a second glance from anyone, but now Sissy has definitely hit the big time ... So what does she do? Does she buy a purple Rolls Royce? A San Simeon mansion in Beverly Hills? No ... she goes on a fast! “It’s true,” she said. “I felt I had to remove myself from the pressures which built up with the sudden success. I didn’t know a better way of doing it than going on a fast ...

Fasting is great because it allows you to eliminate all the physical impurities from your body. But, as far as I’m concerned, the mental cleansing is far more important. After several days of fasting, your mind becomes so clear and clean. In the process, your senses are heightened too ...

The most interesting aspect of the fast is the insight which develops. It allows you to examine yourself and your problems. Amazingly, you’re able to recall incidents from your childhood which you thought long since forgotten ... The confrontation of past with present gives you a new understanding in dealing with your daily life ...

I often went on fasts for several days during the shooting of Carrie ... When the rest of the cast ate, I meditated. I never studied under a guru or anyone like that. I picked it all up from books. Like exercise, meditation helps me a lot during a fast. But I also meditate whether I am fasting or not. Forty minutes a day ... meditation has a very soothing effect upon my nervous system and combats the strains and stresses which seem to accompany this sort of profession ...

There are a lot of tough girls out there in the world fighting to make a name for themselves and to get recognised. They’re trying very hard to escape from the crowd of anonymity. Sure, some are actresses, but they are in other professions too. These girls are in an emotional rage, but they don’t always know why ... Thankfully, I was never so completely consumed by my career that I couldn’t see other choices, other exits ...

I believe that life is a sort of game where you may succeed or again you may not. But you have to live it in a state of ‘adagio’ – complete relaxation which allows you full communication to better achieve your goals. I never pushed as hard as I might and not for a moment do I regret it”’.


I want ...

... a rooftop garden.

Photos (c) of the architect(s): Hiroshi Nakamura and Nap.


Jewels of the Currant World #2

This frozen batch of last year’s redcurrants was consumed by moi today to celebrate my first blogging anniversary (admittedly a little late, but my first post was on these very redcurrants). There are also fresh gooseberries, strawberries and rhubarb galore at the moment, and the other various berries and currants (raspberries, blueberries, blackcurrants and whitecurrants) are starting to form fruit ...


Easter Present

Easter Present is literally that, a present to you. The weekend papers on Saturday featured an article on the New York vegan bakery Babycakes, who will be publishing a cookbook come early May. The recipes strike me as easy to adapt to a raw food world, and you all know by now how seduced I can be by pretty vegan cookbooks ...

Easter Past

I haven’t written much recently, and suddenly Easter is upon us. As you all know, I’m a Buddhist. What you might not know is that I always give something up for Lent (and yes, I celebrate Christmas too). In the past I used to abstain from sugar and chocolate, but as I do that as a matter of course now, it was raw cacao on my hit list this year. It was fine, I had very few cravings, but it was nice to indulge again come Easter Sunday! In full confessional mode I should admit to a teeny tiny taster of the Raw Chocolate Company’s new Minted bar last w/end at Olympia’s Natural and Organic Products Show – very yummmm.

I’ve always found the Lent season a very reflective one . A post by Jeanette Winterson and the stories on The Forgiveness Project have literally moved me to tears. There’s something about looking back during this season that literally ‘springs’ you into the present in the most intense way.

The pictures are both from about a decade ago but seem equally suited to Easter present. The blossom trees framed my walk to work in Edinburgh, and the cat-flap (Easter for me is about the d-e-t-a-i-l) was in New York when I was in NoLita (no doubt on my way to the now sadly deceased Mayle) . I loved the fact that the cat-flap had its own mailbox!



It’s not quite the first day of spring, but it feels like it. From the winter weekends of doing ‘not much’ I am now officially out and about. Last weekend was spent in Lewes (they have a very sweet farmers’ market on the first Saturday of each month), and the weekend just gone was spent in London. Blossom and flowers are everywhere – a welcome hit of olfactory as well as visual delight. My focus is wholeheartedly less on the food I’m consuming and more on the food I’m planting. Fellow biodynamic ‘by the moon’ planters will understand that March is a busy time!


Web Messages

I am feeling wholly inspired by several web posts - both old and new. Kerri Smith’s fabulous Venn Diagram of the 06/03/09 on the comfort zone vs things that make life worthwhile and interesting, Jenne’s brilliant post on Wendell Berry and the handmade, and finally, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on the importance of supporting fairtrade ...

On the raw front, I have shifted from morning juice to something more substantial, what I call my ‘brain feast’ brekkie – loosely based on Raw Rob’s various concoctions. The difference in stabilizing my day has been incredible ...


Kelp Noodles - Raw?

So, here’s my question. I bought some kelp shreds (pictured) and also some kelp noodles in London’s Chinatown recently. I love the texture of sea spaghetti so wanted to try out the kelp noodle craze that seems to be going on in the raw community. However, whilst the kelp shreds (like sea spaghetti) do seem to resemble sea material as it appears in nature (albeit shredded and dried), retaining both colour and taste, kelp ‘noodles’ just don’t. I’m not obsessive or even trying to pick an argument, as I realise that some of the dried fruit and also some of the nuts and other seaweeds I consume are unlikely to be officially ‘raw’ and I’m ok with that, but kelp noodles just don’t seem to resemble anything like natural kelp. Is it just me, or does anyone else think the same?

Clearly I’m not the only one pondering this (see this link) and this too, so it’s really down to individuals to make their own minds up about how much ‘processing’ they want their food to undergo. The Sea Tangle Noodle Company as well as posting some info, sells packs of 12 for $33 plus shipping (i.e. $2.75 a pack). The kelp shreds from Chinatown cost, if I remember rightly, £1.50 per pack.


Yoga Saves the Day...

I don’t really use this blog as an emotional sounding board, but I was sorely tempted to mid-week. Too much travelling, too much work, too much stress. I decided to b-r-e-a-t-h-e through it. Lo and behold the benefits started pouring in. I made a statement a while back that I’m not a fan of blogs that ‘push’ products. However, my first benefit of the b-r-e-a-t-h-e policy was to stumble upon Saree which is a few doors down from Uhuru, the health shop on the Cowley Road in Oxford. Selling ethical/organic/fairly traded clothes, shoes, accessories and household kit, it’s a friendly gem of a shop. I have been searching for a pair of draping, soft yoga pants for ages, and I found them here. The next day I managed to pick up some kelp noodles in London’s Chinatown, and then the working week ended last night with a blissful John Stirk yoga workshop. Things are good here ...


Raw London Menus

I was out errand running today in London. I also took a peek at some (new to me) raw spots. First up was a disaster. I’d heard that Dragonfly Wholefoods (in Highgate) had a raw stall at the organic market under the Westway on Portobello Road. No organic market, no raw food! Undeterred, I ambled a few streets along to Daylesford, where I have previously drooled over their kitchen kit in the Pimlico branch. Sorry to disappoint, but their ‘raw bar’ isn’t strictly vegan! I chanced upon a ‘Karma Kab’ at this point, which made me chuckle and restored my faith in my trip. Next stop was a raw outlet in the food hall at Selfridges. I have to confess that the Daylesford outlet (also in the food hall) looked more tempting with a variety of seasonal (raw!) salads. The final destination (and my personal favourite) was Dragonfly Wholefoods in Highgate. Lovely food, lovely atmosphere.

You can click on the menu pictures to enlarge them and take a closer look ...


Turkish Delight #2

I have run in the snow, worn my new hat and finally satisfied my Turkish Delight craving. It’s a raw-ish recipe, so those 100%ers had better look away now.

Cover in a bowl however many dried organic apricots you want for your batch with rose flower water (if you have edible, organic, fresh rose petals to hand make your own, but I used a bottle sculling around in the depths of my cupboards). Leave overnight. In the morning, most of the rose flower water will have magically disappeared and the apricots will be looking plumper and juicier, and smell enticingly of Turkish Delight!

Using a hand blender (the Vita-Mix doesn’t really work for small-ish batches), whizz the apricots with fresh beetroot juice to produce a deep rich colour. You want to use the least amount of juice possible, just enough to add the desired colour, but not so much that the mixture becomes runny. I tried (on your behalf) using freshly squeezed pomegranate juice but it simply turned the mixture into a very unedifying brown sludge – the beetroot juice is key if you want a good colour. Have a taste – the apricots and beetroot juice are a pretty sweet combination – but if you want to add a little sweetener of your choice, this is the time.

Now, a little more non-raw action. You need the mixture to set. I tried psyllium powder which leaves the mixture quite soft and pudding like, and agar-agar which gave a more authentic wobble. Spoon the mixture into a flat pan or tray, put in the fridge overnight to firm up, and then cut up into chunks. If so desired, you can dust the chunks with lucuma or camu-camu to give them the authentic coated effect, but I like the jewel coloured wedges as they are, so don’t really bother with that.


It's Snowed

Thank goodness I finished sewing up my hat: it’s snowed. Apparently it’s the most significant snowfall in the UK for eighteen years. It reminded me of a Nike clipping I came across at the end of last year and put up on my pin-board: a running machine’s control panel superimposed over a beautiful snow scene and the slogan ‘Enjoy the weather’. At the time I thought, ‘Why go to the gym when you can experience the beauty of the snow?’ Now, when snow is a reality, I’m thinking ‘I understand ...’ (although I’m no gym fan)!

If running is out of the question today then perhaps just snuggle up and enjoy this extremely sweet blog to re-inspire you ...


Turkish Delight #1

I’ve been devoting my spare-time attention to knitting a hat (just the band left to sew on), so perhaps the purple colour triggered the bizarre craving I’ve been experiencing for Turkish Delight? I’m trying to work out a raw version. I’ve been coming close in my experiments but I’m not quite there yet ...


January Juice

Lots of people were juice fasting/feasting last January. I wasn’t one of them. However, buoying me up this year through January has been – you’ve guessed it – substantial amounts of juice. Well, that and the Australian Open (tennis freak that I am). This broccoli recipe is also hitting all the buttons...
Picture © Stella McCartney for Adidas


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year – let nature, beauty, health and happiness dominate your path in 2009!