Station House Cafe

The Station House Cafe is a community cafe run by FoodCycle. It’s on Stapleton Hall Road in Haringey and is run in conjunction with Mind, using their premises.

I’ve been meaning to go ever since it opened, as I am often in the neighbourhood, but finally ended up going just a week before their first anniversary!

The cafe is open for Friday lunch and I went along with my friend Vanessa. To my pleasant surprise, we also bumped into my lovely friends Peter and Mary there as well – although it shouldn’t be too surprising as I seem to bump into them everywhere!

A three course menu with a choice of starter and dessert and a cup of tea or coffee was available for £4. There was a choice of carrot soup or curried cauliflower soup for starters. Vanessa chose carrot and I went for the cauliflower:



The cauliflower soup was tasty, and nicely spiced. Vanessa enjoyed the carrot soup too.

The main was a pasta bake with leek and brussels sprouts. This was possibly the weakest point of the meal for me as I’m not the biggest fan of brussels sprouts (except done like this).


Dessert was a choice of apple compote and yoghurt, or banana cake. I chose the apple compote but unfortunately they’d run out so we both had the banana cake:


The community feel of the cafe was really lovely and we enjoyed our meal (brussels sprouts notwithstanding).

FoodCycle has most of its food donated by local retailers. This food would normally go to waste, so it’s a really good way of using it up. The cafe benefits the community by being a place where people can go for a cheap, nutritious meal as well as being a nice place to meet people. All of the food is cooked by volunteers, who have the chance to learn skills and gain experience. There’s another cafe in Bromley-by-Bow – if you are near either of them I suggest taking the time to visit.

World Food Day

Today is World Food Day. This year’s theme is Food Prices – From Crisis to Stability. Instead of posting a lot of text, I thought I would show you this video from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on the Global Hunger Index, which was released a few days ago. It does a good job of explaining some of the current issues within the world food system such as rising prices and price volatility.

For more reading, you might like to look at the FT World Food Report, which came out last week.

If you want to do something to help, check out Action Against Hunger and in particular their Love Food Give Food appeal which is on until the end of October.

Green cleaning: mucky oven

I promised this post months ago and I do apologise! It’s been sitting in my drafts folder for quite some time. I ended up waiting for a certain flatmate to move out before doing this, as she had a habit of burning everything in the kitchen (if anyone has any tips on getting a burning smell out of a microwave, 6 months on, please let me know as that one has me stumped).

Anyway, the oven was nice and grubby by the time she left:


Cleaning it, however, was really easy. Just sprinkle with bicarbonate of soda (which I buy in bulk at Unpackaged).


Spray with water, and wait. For a really grubby oven you can heat it up a bit, but not too much.

Wipe off.


Not bad, right?

Obesity Crisis Solved: Eat Less

The above just might be my favourite Evening Standard headline ever. I saw it on my way to teach a class last night, I didn’t pick up a paper as the headline said it all really.

In 2007, the Foresight report Tackling Obesities: Future Choices made the following observation:

Although personal responsibility plays a crucial part in weight gain, human biology is being overwhelmed by the effects of today’s ‘obesogenic’ environment, with its abundance of energy dense food, motorised transport and sedentary lifestyles. As a result, the people of the UK are inexorably becoming heavier simply by living in the Britain of today. This process has been coined ‘passive obesity’. Some members of the population, including the most disadvantaged, are especially vulnerable to the conditions.

(taken from the Summary of Key Messages, here. Full report available here.)

Yesterday, the government published ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A call to action on obesity in England’. This basically rips up the Foresight report that was released under the previous government, and places the emphasis squarely on personal responsibility. A statement from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious Health said “Being overweight or obese is a direct consequence of eating more calories than we need”.

Basically the upshot of the strategy is that the government will not be introducing any new regulation such as the fat tax just introduced in Denmark, or a restriction on the use of trans fats. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley continues to favour the voluntary approach and his precious responsibility deal, which he claims produces faster results.

Many communities in Britain are undergoing a time of extreme deprivation. Jobs are being lost and people can’t rely on benefits as a fallback position as they are being cut too. It’s all very well that big business is on-side but poor families can’t afford to shop at Sainsbury’s or M&S. They’ll be getting their £2 combo from the local chicken shop and stocking up on basics from the corner shop – shops that haven’t signed up to the responsibility deal.

But no, it’s your fault you’re fat. Thanks for clearing that up, Mr Lansley. Step away from that cheeseburger, people! And join a gym. Membership to my local Virgin Active is only £79 a month.*

* Special staff and student deal, City University. Sorry if you get quoted more…

My new Lifebottle

Last week I did something slightly regrettable. Over a year ago, I bought a cheap imitation Sigg water bottle. Until then I’d been reusing bottled water bottles, however they are only meant to be used once and can leach chemicals into the water if you reuse them. Lovely!

Anyway, my water bottle worked well until… it didn’t. It got to a point where the lid wouldn’t screw on properly and it leaked all over my laptop bag. I threw it away in frustration and tweeted for advice. came to the rescue by sending me a rather sexy stainless steel Lifebottle.


The idea behind Lifebottle is you buy a bottle, which you can then refill at any participating shop/organisation. The number of refilling stations they have signed up is really impressive.


(yes, I’m lucky enough to live somewhere on that map, but there are plenty of refilling stations outside central London as well)

Here are some fun facts from the website:

  • The average person will spend £25,000 on bottled water and associated soft drinks in their lifetime. (scary!)
  • The UK consumes 18 billion plastic bottles each year, and since only a quarter of these are recycled this means 38 million plastic bottles end up in landfill every single day!
  • Independent tests show UK tap water is among the safest in the world. It undergoes hundreds of taste tests every year, and is checked 30,000 times a year for chemicals and bacteria.
  • An estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is just tap water in a bottle
  • The British Nutritional foundation found that bottled water was no better for you than tap water.
  • The French senate actually advises people who only drink bottled water to mix up their brands because all of the minerals found in bottled waters can be damaging to your health in high doses.
  • In the US a study found nearly 38 different contaminants in 10 brands of bottled water.
Do you need any more reasons to choose tap water?  Because there are plenty!

Lifebottles are excellent quality, being made out of a really high grade of stainless steel, as opposed to other bottles I’ve seen (including my old one) that was made from plastic-lined aluminium. And for those who really just don’t like water, you can get flavour tablets that you can store in the lid. Another optional extra is the ice stick that screws in to keep your drink cold. I prefer my tap water room temperature, but it’s insulated so you can also put hot drinks in there. Think I’ll test it out by taking some tea along to my next 3-hour lecture!

Thank you for sending me a Lifebottle to review.

Meat Free Monday

As I’m sure many of you know, I was vegetarian for years, interspersed with periods of eating fish as well. These days I define myself as pescetarian, but of course I don’t eat fish for every meal.

Not eating meat, or eating less meat is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to make your lifestyle more sustainable. This is why the McCartney family have launched the Meat Free Monday campaign, which I’m sure you’ve heard of.

A lot of people seem to find vegetarian food daunting – I’ve had friends be terrified at the prospect of having me round to dinner! It seems so strange to me as I think vegetarian food is so much easier than meat – there’s certainly less risk of contracting salmonella anyway! The Meat Free Monday campaign is a great way to start cutting down on meat, anyway – and there are plenty of recipes on the website.

Lately, I’ve been working crazy hours, without much time (or energy) to cook. Enter Sarah, who has recently started working for Purple PR (congratulations on the new job!). She came to my rescue a few weeks ago by sending me the newest Linda McCartney product, a Mushroom and Ale pie.

I’m happy to report it was absolutely delicious! It had a really rich, umami-packed flavour and the pastry was really good too. I would definitely buy one to eat at the end of a busy Monday at work, if I didn’t have the time or inclination to cook from scratch. I would possibly even serve it to vegetarians and attempt to pass it off as my own cooking…

My photos didn’t do the pie justice so here’s what it’s supposed to look like – and I ate mine with broccoli too!