It’s a jungle out there

I may live in a concrete tower block in the centre of London, but high above the treetops my little balcony herb garden is flourishing.

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It’s all looking so lush I want to spend all my time out there. This morning I was making bread in the kitchen, and the scent of mint wafted in through the open door. Lovely.

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Granola

Every so often I revise my granola recipe. I’ve been sticking to the recipe below for quite a while now.

I figure it’s my daily vitamin supplement. It’s full of fibre and lots of good minerals, with Omega 3 from the flaxseed. You can vary up the nuts – the most delicious turn out to be the healthiest, but also the most expensive. Of course, it’s very high in fat and sugar. A little goes a long way. I eat three tablespoons of granola with about four tablespoons of yoghurt and a big handful of blueberries, sometimes raspberries.

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Coconutty granola

You can add anything you want to granola but this is what I put in the other day:

250g barley flakes
250g rolled oats
60g flaxseed, milled
60g flaked almonds
60g pumpkin seeds
60g sunflower seeds
60g macadamia nuts, chopped
60g walnuts, chopped
60g pecans, chopped
60g brazil nuts, chopped
60g toasted coconut flakes
3 heaped tablespoons coconut oil
100ml maple syrup

Preheat the oven to about 160 degrees. Melt the coconut oil and the maple syrup together. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix. All of the measurements are pretty approximate, once you’ve mixed it up, if it looks like it needs something more, add it in. I don’t like it too sweet but you could add more maple syrup or use golden syrup instead. But remember it’s breakfast, not dessert!

At this stage I generally split the mixture in two and bake half at a time. If you have two large oven trays (preferably with sides to contain spillage) you could do one on the middle tray and one on the bottom tray and swap them halfway. I spread it out as much as I can and put it in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes it should be a bit brown on the top. Give it a stir and put it in for another ten minutes, while your kitchen fills with the irresistible smell of fresh granola.

When I take it out, I like to wait for it to cool before tipping it into a container. That way some of it sticks together in lovely crunchy clusters.

Happy Kitchen, Real Bread Campaign, and more aka The Day Job(s)

So as I mentioned, I’m doing a part-time MSc in Food Policy. But that alone wasn’t enough to make me give up my blog for months on end. Along with my on-going work for the Real Bread Campaign I also fitted in organising a conference for the London Leaders project on sustainable food projects in primary schools. The conference was held at City Hall in February, and went really well. The London Leader I was working with was Lisa Stockton, founder of Happy Kitchen.

She’s running a pop up restaurant at Happy Kitchen HQ this weekend, it’ll be fun to go back. Here are the details:

In collaboration with ex River Cottage Chef Thomas Hunt, also of the festival frequented ‘Poco Loco’ & The Shisha Lounge…
Happy Kitchen’s Lisa is together with Tom creating a decadent, inventive & surprise filled menu – a 100% organic, botanical, living & indulgently delicious food feast!

Held in the HQ space at ‘The Bakery’ amidst the pots and pans, ovens & proving sourdough breads, the pair will be cooking up a menu to challenge your beliefs about what healthy food can mean.

The proceeds are being used to fund a research trip to New York to develop a deeper understanding of social food movements & community-centered food projects to bring back to future London projects around healthy eating, nutrition & sustainable food production.

POP UP WITH THE BEAR & BEE

70% RAW, 100% VEGAN, ORGANIC,
GLUTEN AND SUGAR FREE,
FAIR-TRADE & world inspired foods
delicious, beautiful, indulgeNT

When – 8pm Saturday 16th April and 7pm Sunday 17th April 2011.
Where – The Bakery, Arch 402, Mentmore Terrace, London Fields, E8 3PH.

For Bookings – Call Tom: 07891 023 426 or Email: lisa@happykitchen.org.uk

THE MENU

Rhubarb Bellini, 1/2 Bottle Organic Wine,
Canapes, Three course meal
and Chai with Truffle
£45 head, for bookings of 4 or more – £40 head.

Canapes
Beetroot Humus on Cumin Seed Crackers, Wild Garlic Cashew Ricotta
with Radish, Cauliflower fritter with Quince Syrup
Starter
Avocado and Cucumber Gaspacho with Lemongrass
and Basil Chilli Oil
Main Course
Mung Bean and Pinenut Rissoll with Sundried Tomato Salsa
Spring Leaf Salad with Herb Croutons
Roasted Fennel with Smoked Paprika and Rosemary
Dessert
Coconut Yoghurt Pannacotta with Rhubarb brittle
To Finish
Hemp Chai with Fig Truffle

I’ll report back once I’ve been… I think there are still places for Sunday’s dinner for anyone who is keen to go.

In other news, I’m also working on the Green League with People & Planet. The award-winning Green League is the only league table showing the environmental performance of Britain’s universities and is credited with putting climate change on the desk of every Vice-Chancellor in the UK.

I scored the food section. Results will be out in the Times, Guardian, and Independent next month, stay tuned. Some universities are doing some fantastically sustainable things and deserve to be recognised. Others could do with a bit of naming & shaming… (by the way, I didn’t mark my own university – there were two of us, and we marked each other’s)

In Real Bread news, we’ve got a few things coming up. Real Bread Maker week is 9-15 May. We’re encouraging everyone to get out their unloved and unused bread makers, and either make some Real Bread with it or pass it on to someone who will. A little early heads up now: we’re running a fun competition.

The idea is simple: rummage round your kitchen cupboard, dust off that idling electric baker, and plug it in somewhere you usually wouldn’t*.
Anyone posting a picture of him/herself and machine in action in an unusual location on the Campaign’s Facebook or Flickr page by 13th May stands the chance of winning an American bread slicer from TheCookshopOnline.com and a supply of flour from Marriage’s.

*obviously having read the manufacturer’s safety instruction before taking it scuba diving, or anything else daft…

Click the Cookshop link – that bread slicer is gorgeous.

I’m back!

Hello my lovelies, I’m back from a rather long break and hoping there are still some people with me saved in their feed readers! Uni has finished for the year and I have several months before I go back – and since I’m part-time, no dissertation to write until next summer.

The blog will keep me busy but unfortunately it won’t put food on the table (and if there’s no food on the table, I won’t have anything to write about) – so I’m looking for a job to carry me through the summer and possibly beyond. Full- or part-time, do let me know if you hear of anything.

I have been cooking in my absence. It’s mostly been a mixture of bottom-of-the-fridge student pasta and procrastination-induced baking efforts. Baking is great because it takes hours. I was up until 2am writing an essay and waiting for these babies to rise:

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They make excellent study snacks. By the way, peel is where it’s at when it comes to hot cross buns (there are also currants in the buns above). Love peel, hate sultanas. Feel free to debate in the comments.