Thursday, 29 August 2013

Recipe revamp

Back when we were first married there was this dish we used to love. I don’t know where the recipe came from--maybe a magazine? But we ate it all the time. I don’t recall ever eating any vegetables with it. But that’s kind of how we used to eat--meat and rice. This was so amazingly flavoured but relatively high in sugar. You wanna know what it was? Course you do.

 Cinnamon soy chicken and sweet rice. Whoa it was good. The recipe has long since disappeared and often we have thought about how we could recreate it in a healthier vegan way but neither of us could remember much about it. But after some recent conversations and getting Spiderman to travel in the WABAC machine he dredged up a memory.

 
Equal parts soy sauce, sherry and sugar plus 1 tsp cinnamon for the chicken. I know we used to buy cooking sherry when we lived in the US, but have not found it here. I had found sherry vinegar which might work. It would make it more tangy. Hmmmm.

 So I marinated tofu with ¼ cup tamari soy sauce, ¼ cup sherry vinegar, 1.5 TB agave syrup and 1 tsp cinnamon.


 

But what about the rice? It was white rice cooked with cinnamon and had 1 cup powdered sugar sifted into it at the end. These days we really dig brown basmati rice as it is healthier and I think 1 cup icing sugar is way too much. I decided to cook the rice in a bit of coconut milk--to add sweetness plus 1 tsp cinnamon and sifted in ¼ cup icing sugar. It was perfect.

 
But what about vegetables? I know we never used to eat those funny coloured things, but these days we love them. So I roasted a sweet potato, and onion and a pepper to go with it.

 The verdict:

Really good--the rice was spot on like we remembered and plenty sweet, the veg complimented it nicely and the tofu was good. Not as sweet as the chicken, but the tangy went well with the sweetness of the rice. We’ll definitely be having this again. How nice to rediscover and veganise an old favourite.

Cinnamon Soy Tofu and Sweet Rice

 Optional: freeze tofu overnight and then thaw in the fridge. it gives it a chewier texture we like.
 
Press your tofu to get the excess water out and then marinate for one hour with:

¼ cup tamari soy sauce,

¼ cup cooking sherry if you can get it, sherry vinegar if you can’t

 1.5 TB agave syrup (or maple syrup)

 1 tsp cinnamon

 
The veg:

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.

Cut up 1-2 sweet potatoes, 1-2 onions and a red pepper and drizzle with 1 TB oil. Cook 15 minutes, stir then 15 more.

While you are preheating the oven start the rice.

 1 cup brown basmati rice

1 tin light coconut milk plus enough water to make a total of 2 cups liquid (or do what I did--1 cup plant based milk, plus 1 cup water plus 2 TB coconut butter)

1 tsp cinnamon

Heat the liquid and the cinnamon and then add the rice when liquid boils, turn down the heat and put the lid on. Our rice cooks in 25 minutes.

 The tofu:

Carefully remove it from the marinade and pan fry--not too high heat as the sugars will burn--until brown on both sides. I started it right before I stirred the veg. Whilst it is cooking add 1 tsp arrowroot (or cornstarch) to leftover marinade and at the end pour over marinade and let thicken.

 This is how it looks when you are done:



 

It really was amazing--all sweet and tangy. Now go and make it yourself. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Bigger than Judas



It came, it came! Our second Jonny and the Baptists CD! I have practically worn out the other CD from playing as we waited for this one to arrive. We got an email saying it was on the way right when we were leaving for Chichester and had to wait until we got back to get it. SOB! But it was well worth waiting for as our favourite comedy blues duo have done it again.


It is still mostly Jonny and Paddy but with a hint of Will Bartlett on keyboards and Lucy Hunt on saxophone. It is a live CD which had me worried for about 2 seconds. You know how some people you love sound really shite live? Neil Diamond I’m talking to you. But then some people sound even better live like Rogue from the Cruxshadows that we saw in that Goth club last month?  But then I remembered, DUH! We’ve seen them live at the Distraction Club so I knew it would all be alright.

 

I was pleased to see several of the songs we heard live that night at Distraction Club on there.

 

Festival of Me is all about that festival of narcissism that is the outrageously expensive wedding. Just to show people you can afford it and that you are better than them. Because splashing out your annual salary on a one day event guarantees happiness, right kids?   Again--doing what they do best--sarcasm and bitterness.

 Best bit: Jonny won’t even get a Plus One in his invitation as he only ever brings the guitarist Paddy and how embarrassing and sad is that. Answer: Very.

 
In the children’s section we have:

 When You Grow Up--a lovely ballad to Jonny’s young niece all about how she can do anything she wants to, grow up and be anything, do anything--but at 2/3 of what the men around her will be earning. She’ll have to decide whether she wants to be known  as the one who brought the tribunal or the one who “let Richard get away with it again.”  But it does end on a hopeful note of making the world a slightly better place by the time she grows up. Awwww. Bless.

Fun fact: I loved this one as that was me in the 9th grade--I complained about the sexist coach Mr V (keeping to initials to protect his identity) we had teaching us science at my high school. Every else loved him because he didn’t make you do much work and everything he said was an innuendo and he touched girl’s on the bottom. I really liked science and being a bit of a Hermionie I complained about him to our principal and Mr V was relegated to a non teaching position: in-school detention. Sadly, I spent a lot of time in there over the next three years due to dress code violations and dying my hair purple, but at least we got a science teacher who taught you something. But everyone hated me all year for getting rid of Mr V.

 Listen up for: Some beat boxing by Paddy and an imitation of everyone’s favourite feminist role models The Pussy Cat Dolls.

 
That’s Dangerous--based on a dreadful sounding children’s book --like a vastly inferior version of one of our favourite stories Officer Buckle and Gloria. If you want a sweet book about safety (safety tip number 101--always stick with your buddy) then check it out.


But I digress. So some things that are dangerous are:

 Getting too close to a stove

Putting things into your ear

Eating jam around some wasps

Putting forks into the toaster

Joining an insurgency

Often shitting blood

Not checking out that lump

Undercutting local dealers

 Listen up for: Paddy doing wicked percussion by beating on the guitar.

 
UKIP Party Song--made me laugh just because that is how it starts. You start thinking something like “I‘m proud to be British“ which grows  into “Gee, there are a lot of foreigners” and then it is an easy slide into voting UKIP.

 Best bit: And at the party there were a couple of black people, see they were born here so they were welcome too. They seemed so English we didn’t have to hide our wallets. I mean, we still did but we really didn’t need to.

 Fun fact: We *are* those foreigners coming over taking your jobs. But as we are white and speak English it is less noticeable. I can pass for Canadian.

 

Soup and Soup (reprise)

Two songs that are a tribute to soup! It’s a meal you drink, a drink you eat, a hearty sloppy soupy treat, you don’t need teeth, you don’t need friends. Soup is all you need!

 
Fun fact: Leek and potato soup is my favourite. This and little statues of hedgehogs were our only link to our beloved England for the first 12 years of our marriage whilst we figured out a way to get back here. We’ve lived here for almost a decade and are now British citizens so no one can make us go away. Plus we can vote….for UKIP. Just kidding. We actually vote Green Party because I love living in a country that actually has an environmental party, even if they rarely win.

 

My top favourite would have to be:

 

No One Knows which tells us that religion is not worth arguing about. Life is a massive queue until you die so why not some good things along the way. It is not worth arguing about God and acting like a complete tool because someone else’s beliefs clashes with yours. Here are some things you should argue about instead:

 1. Whose turn it is to buy the drinks

2. Does anybody mind if I eat these crisps?

3. Who is a better James Bond

4. Who is the best children’s television character--because let’s face it, it’s Rasta Mouse (Spiderman disagrees and would argue Danger Mouse)


5. What’s the proper way to hold a child because if you do it wrong and drop it you’re in loads of trouble

6. Whether certain words are allowed in scrabble like L’oreal, splunk or Chris de Burgh

7. Whether tarantulas make better pets than dogs (OK, this isn’t actually in the song, just an opinion by me. You never have to take them out for walkies, you only feed them once a week, clean out their tanks annually and all seven of our girls can fit on one set of book shelves. ‘Nuff said.)

 Best bit: Are these geese following me? I’m sure they’re the same geese as earlier

 Listen up for: particularly excellent harmonies from Jonny and Paddy

 Fun fact:  The most bizarre argument we ever had was before we were married. Spiderman and I were on the phone having a screaming row (to be fair I was doing most, if not all, of the screaming) about whether Hamlet was the only Shakespeare play to begin offstage. I was so enraged by his answer that I used the receiver to bludgeon the phone in an attempt to hurt his ears and make him go deaf. Spiderman assures me he suffered no ill effects from my outburst as he hung up as soon as I started shrieking like a banshee on fire. Unfortunately, the phone was damaged a wee bit. I had somehow managed to shatter all the outer plastic casing and all that was left was the keypad and some wires sitting on a square of metal.  You have to remember this was 1991, you didn’t own your phone--you rented it from AT&T and so I had to go home at the end of the semester and say to my dad:

 
Um…my phone…it…um…sort of…fell off my chest of drawers ….um….onto the carpet in my dorm room….and got broken. A bit. 

 I don’t think he actually believed me.

 
But our story has a happy ending. Spiderman did not leave me immediately, as perhaps he should have, for a considerably less mad woman but instead married me a year later. That’s right 21 years ago we had our own (budget) Festival of Me.

 Trivia: Hamlet really is the only Shakespeare play to begin offstage.

 So if you like:

Good singing

The energy of live music

Comedy

Blues

Comedy blues

Laughing

You don’t mind a bit of swearing

 
Then please, pretty please with sugar on top, go straight to www.jonnyandthebaptists.co.uk and buy their new CD. Also while you are there, buy their old CD. Watch their videos. Go see them live if you live in the UK. Please support this band!

 
I love you Jonny and Paddy!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Chi-Chi-Chi-Chichester

We’ve just come back from an incredibly restful holiday in the lovely historic Roman town of Chichester. My natural Southern inclination is to pronounce it ChiCHESTER, but here it is pronounced CHIchester or even CH-CH-ster. Those wacky English. Go figure.

 But it was a wonderful time away. We normally try to rent a self catering place so we can cook for ourselves, but as this time of year is tourist season, prices for places are through the roof and even if we could have afforded a place, there weren’t any available. So we decided to stay in a swish B&B thanks to a bit of extra money my mum sent us as a gift. Thanks Mum!

 Spiderman did all the planning and I was surprised to be staying in George Bell House right behind Chichester Cathedral. It was even more exciting because of who George Bell was--he was Bishop Bell, friend of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,the German priest who was executed by the Nazi’s for trying assassinate Hitler.  My first year at Louisiana College I ran props for a play about the Life of Bonhoeffer called The Beams Are Creaking.

I don’t have any photos of my own as we left the camera at home. There was a time when this would have turned into a stinking row with cross words and pouting and tears and grudges. I’m thinking of a particular time in 1990 when we argued about who should have remembered to get the camera off the bus and consequently missed seeing the stone circle at Avebury.But these days we are a bit more laid back. I was sad for about two minutes after he pointed out it was on the table right by my handbag and if I had wanted it I could have gotten it then. I remember that and had wanted to ask, but as it was a late addition did not want to do what I had done the night before when suddenly ,at the last minute, after he had packed the suitcase and I decided I wanted my pillow to go with us. But the internet is our friend and has pictures of nearly everything we saw. So there.

 

This is where we stayed. All these pictures are from www.chichestercathedral.co.uk  You can see the steeple of the Cathedral in the background.


This is inside going up the stairs.


 

This is from the top of the stairs.


 This is like our room. It looks to be a bit bigger than ours was, but the décor was the same (minus the flowers).


 

They had a proper chef and were really kind and bought us some rice milk for cereal and tried, but failed to find some gluten free vegan bread (it nearly always has egg in it). We feasted like Royalty every morning on a multi course breakfast.

 Starting with:

Cereal and rice milk with dried cranberries and banana slices (it is often hard to find gluten free vegan cereal other than cornflakes and I’m just not that wild about cornflakes. Non - cornflake cereal either has wheat or powdered milk or honey but I managed to eat Coco Pops which were chocolate flavour rice pops with a bit of barley malt flavouring--which does not make them strictly GF, but I can still eat barley so it worked out)
What if a monkey made your some cereal?


 Next we had a cooked breakfast consisting of mushrooms, cowboy beans and hash browns. We also had some jam on oatcakes mainly so I could wash out and take home the cute little pots. They were just calling out to be made into a pot of Dr Pipt’s Magical Powder of Life (it’s an Oz thing)
from BBC.com


We spent our days pottering around antique shops and charity shops and bookshops (is there anything better to do on a holiday?) and our evenings at evensong at the Cathedral.
Chichester Cathedral, Chichester, West Sussex, England
from ship-of-fools.com


Our friends from New York were also in Chichester. They brought us some Sunmaid raisins because they remembered my difficulty in finding raisins not glazed in palm oil and the tears of displaced orangutans.  
thanks Karen and Keith!
 
 
 We were all there because their daughter is a chorister and her church choir was on tour and was singing at evensong every night. It was wonderful to hear Gwen sing (we’ve known her since she was a toddler) and I enjoyed the spiritual feeling of church. I forget how much I like to pray on my knees. Our B&B had a small prayer room with a kneeler as well. I would love to have one at home.
from kneeler.com


 

We watched our share of CSI marathons (again what a holiday is all about) whilst nibbling on stuff like hummus and tortilla crisps and salsa, flavoured tofu and falafel for dinner. We also had grits (thanks again to my mum) and goatmeal we could make with boiling water from the kettle so we never went hungry.  

 
One day when I was feeling rather sniffly and sneezy I took some meds that made me drowsy and so between afternoon naps I watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie--the one where Laura runs away to the mountain after the death of her baby brother and is protected by an angel played by Ernest Borgnine. You know the one.

 
We bought a few souvenirs--an Oz book with charming illustrations by Linda Birch and a Doctor Who book.
from ozbookstore.com


 I bought a tube filled with 1000 green buttons of various sizes and shapes to make a collage of the Emerald City. Stay tuned for  details!
from cellexpress.co.uk
 

We found a Montezuma Chocolate Shop--their chocolate is made near Chichester and is really yumilicious. They have a good selection of vegan dark chocolate--we bought a slate of fudge with a marzipan filling as well as a bar of Sea Dog--dark chocolate, lime and sea salt. Mmmmm. All gone now…SOB!
from confectionaffection.net


We also found a cool replica bronze Roman statue of a little mouse nibbling a grain of corn..

from .westair-reproductions.com

 

It seemed perfect as we have both just been reading Margery Sharp’s book The Rescuers. I had only seen the Disney film which is *completely* different.  In the film they are the Rescue Aid Society,,,but in the book they are the Prisoner’s Aid Society. With me being a pen pal with someone on Death Row in Texas and our work to abolish the death penalty, it seemed appropriate. There is a quote from Miss Bianca the mouse which says, “Let nibble who needs.”    We have named the statue Erik after Erik Blegvad the illustrator of some of the Rescuers books whom Spiderman has been researching as of late for a follow up blog post to his revelation about the poem misattributed to William Blake.   
from philipjacksonsculptures.co.uk


Lastly, I will leave you with a blessing from Saint Richard of Chichester. There was this statue outside the Cathedral which was decidedly creepy. It made poor St Richard look a bit like the love child of Richard III and Nosferatu with his hunchback and big sweeping cloak. His head was turned at a strange angle in that traditional vampire pose, but his hand was blessing you. It made us laugh and so we developed a comedy routine that went something like this:

 (evil voice) Mwa ha ha ha!!!

(nice voice) Bless you.  

 
Let nibble who needs. Amen

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Three R’s….plus one

from amperart.com


When I was growing up in Louisiana the Three R’s were:

Reading

‘Riting

 ‘Rithmatic

So it is no wonder, that Louisiana is ranked 49 out of 50 in education. We seemed to have such low standards--as long as we were ahead of Mississippi we didn’t care. I suppose if there were a fourth R to add to the Louisiana equation it would be Running because being good at sport is what matters. If you are captain of the football team, you are a God and can do no wrong and get all sorts of extra privileges and get away with all sorts of bad behaviour because you are a jock. If Louisiana had its way, Running would probably be miles ahead of the other Three R’s in order of importance. Who cares if you can read--can you tackle?

 

But that is not the Three R’s plus one I intend to discuss today. These Three R’s (plus one) are:

Reduce

Reuse

Recycle


from newsletter.etwinning.net
 

With the world being in the state that it is, these are so important. It can be difficult to do some of these depending on where you live. My Louisiana hometown *still* does not recycle. They tried once and less that 5% of the population did it so they quit. That was more than a decade ago and they’ve never tried again. Other cities such as Baton Rouge recycle, so why can’t Alexandria? In this day and age, it should not be an option. It should be the law. You have to. Because if  you are recycling, you are reducing what you throw away. But companies make that harder as well with excess packaging. So many things come in those plastic bags that can’t be recycled. We do try to reduce our packaging--we buy all of fruit except soft berries naked (without a plastic bag or box) and through recycling everything else we throw away a black bin bag about once a month. That’s one bag of rubbish a month--not several a week. When I think of how much waste we generated when we lived in Louisiana it makes me want to cry.

 

We have recently had our recycling upgraded to match surrounding counties. We used to be able to recycle kerbside tins (cans), glass and paper and cardboard but had to take plastic and tetrapaks (think carton of juice) to a collection bin behind the supermarket. It was easy, but for some people still too much trouble. They would do what they could outside their door, but not take it into town. So now we can  recycle plastic and tetrapaks kerbside as well.

 

It’s pretty easy to reuse some things. Most of our store cupboard ingredients like dry beans, lentils, rice or other grains is store in food jars (pasta sauce jars are great for this)  that I washed out and soaked the label off. Salsa jars are perfect for all sorts of things. Even just using a bag for life reduces the need to get plastic carrier bags. The kitchen at our Meeting House is being renovated and we took apart the bits that were going and divided them up to upcycle them into new things. I took the old curtains that were used to cover the pipes under the sink and plan to make some bags out of them to sell. My friend took the drawers from the cabinet that is being replaced and plans to put casters on the bottom so she can store items under her bed and then wheel them out easily. There are lots of creative ways to reuse packaging--yoghurt pots make good seedling pots for starting seeds. Toilet rolls make excellent cable tidies. FACT.

 

But the fourth R I was thinking of Repair. We are a throwaway society. When something breaks, we throw it away and get another one because repairing stuff is becoming increasingly more difficult. There is no repair shop to go to anymore. I can recall my first year at college (1987-88) bringing a pair of boots to a cobbler on Hwy 28 and he resoled them for me so I could keep wearing them. I think that has all but died out. I’m mentioning repair because we’ve had an incident and had to decide what to do.

 

As I have mentioned we’ve been eating lots of banana ice cream made from ripe frozen bananas. Suddenly, in the middle of a batch the food processor made a funny noise and the machine stopped working. The motor was clearly running, but the blade would not rotate. Spiderman took it apart and discovered that the belt was worn through. Whilst he searched online for a belt replacement I resigned myself to looking into a new appliance just in case it didn’t work out. To get one as good as our current one and from a brand rated as acceptable by Ethical Consumer Magazine would have cost us a minimum of £45. Plus we’d have to find the best way to get rid of the old appliance so it wouldn’t go to a landfill. Spiderman did find a belt for it at a variety of prices but we finally spent £5 (£3 for the belt, £2 for postage) and then waited with baited breath to see if it would actually work.

 

It did. Spiderman’s genius at taking things apart and putting them back together  worked its magic and now we can make ice cream again. But how many people would have searched online and ordered one? How many people would have tried to repair it? How many people would have just chucked it away and shelled out for a new one without a second thought? We spent £5 instead of nearly £50.   

from spotonlists.com
 

So that’s the Four R’s. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repair. Oh and Compost. Composting is a great way to reduce your waste. But Spidergrrl, I hear you cry, Compost doesn’t actually begin with the letter R. Well it would if Scooby Doo said it. “Rompost, Raggy! Rooby dooby doo!”

from funnyordie.com
 

This is beginning to be like the Spanish Inquisition.

Cardinal Bastard: “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our three main ways of reducing your waste are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!”

Cardinal Fang: “And Repair!”

Cardinal Bastard: “Oh yes, Repair. Our four main ways of reducing your waste are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and Repair!”

Cardianl Biggles: “What about composting?”

Cardinal Bastard: “Compost doesn’t begin with R.”

Cardinal Fang: “well it would if Scooby Doo said it.”

Cardinal Bastard: “Alright. Start again! So the five main ways of reducing your waste are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repair and Rompost!

 

So do what you can. If your town still doesn’t recycle, contact them and ask why. Then sic the Spanish Inquisition on them.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Nestle is Nasty



Folks, Nestle is at it again. For many years we have boycotted Nestle products due to the baby milk action protest.  You can read more about the campaign here: http://babymilkaction.org/nestlefree

 

The original boycott began in 1977. Basically, despite advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) Nestle was aggressively marketing their baby formula in developing countries. They would have women dressed in a white coat to make them look like medical staff visit women who had just given birth and give them free samples of their formula and tell them how healthy it was. The problem is that these new mothers believed it, their breast milk dried up and they were forced to rely on buying ludicrously expensive formula ( it can cost up to a quarter of the household's income to buy formula) which meant they often used less formula than necessary to save money so the babies weren’t get proper nutrition. Also sanitation and access to clean water are a problem in developing countries so baby formula was often mixed with unclean water.

This makes babies die.

UNICEF estimates that a formula-fed child living in disease-ridden and unhygienic conditions is between 6 and 25 times more likely to die of diarrhea and four times more likely to die of pneumonia than a breastfed child.

 Despite pressure from the WHO and charities such as Save the Children they still did not stop, which is why I will not buy their products.


But now they have done it again, only worse. Spiderman was reading the twitter feed of Stephen Fry and he came across a link that told us of their current misdeeds.


 Nigella sativa -- more commonly known as fennel flower -- has been used as a cure-all remedy for over a thousand years. It treats everything from vomiting to fevers to skin diseases, and has been widely available in impoverished communities across the Middle East and Asia.

But now Nestlé is claiming to own it, and filing patent claims around the world to try and take control over the natural cure of the fennel flower and turn it into a costly private drug.

Tell Nestlé: Stop trying to patent a natural cure.

In a paper published last year, Nestlé scientists claimed to “discover” what much of the world has known for millennia: that nigella sativa extract could be used for “nutritional interventions in humans with food allergy”.

But instead of creating an artificial substitute, or fighting to make sure the remedy was widely available, Nestlé is attempting to create a nigella sativa monopoly and gain the ability to sue anyone using it without Nestlé’s permission. Nestlé has filed patent applications -- which are currently pending -- around the world.

Prior to Nestlé's outlandish patent claim, researchers in developing nations such as Egypt and Pakistan had already published studies on the same curative powers Nestlé is claiming as its own. And Nestlé has done this before -- in 2011, it tried to claim credit for using cow’s milk as a laxative, despite the fact that such knowledge had been in Indian medical texts for a thousand years.

Don’t let Nestlé turn a traditional cure into a corporate cash cow.

We know Nestlé doesn’t care about ethics. After all, this is the corporation that poisoned its milk with melamine, purchases cocoa from plantations that use child slave labor, and launched a breast milk substitute campaign in the 1970s that contributed to the suffering and deaths of thousands of babies from poor communities.

But we also know that Nestlé is sensitive to public outcry, and that it's been beaten at the patent game before. If we act fast, we can put enough pressure on Nestlé to get it to drop its patent plans before they harm anyone -- but if we want any chance at affecting Nestlé's decision, we have to speak out now!

I urge you to go the above  link and sign the petition and then make the compassionate choice and stop buying their products because they don’t care about human lives, they care about profit. Then make sure you contact the company and tell them exactly why you will not buy their products. Kick them where it hurts.

 PS here is a link that shows just what products Nestle owns so you can stop buying: http://info.babymilkaction.org/nestleboycottlist 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Message (on) a Bottle

When we were in Hay-on-Wye I saw these cute bottles in a shop where someone had put a clever label on that made them look all old fashioned and full of something interesting. There were bottles with things like Eye of Newt and Dragon’s Blood.  They also cost a bit of money and I knew I could make that at home for cheap or free.


First I had to decide what I wanted to do. I had some interesting bottles left over from that bespoke cocktail called Musty Books that Spiderman had bought us for our anniversary. I had some parchment paper that looked old. All I needed was an idea.

I decided to make the smaller bottle into Love Potion Number Nine and the larger bottle into something made from the witch’s brew in Macbeth since we saw the play recently. I decided to call it Three Witches Elixir and have the ingredients be everything that went into the cauldron. You know—eyes of newt, toe of frog, etc. but as a joke I decided to add monosodium glutamate at the end.

I looked online for some vintage clip art and found this amazing treasure trove of a website: http://thegraphicsfairy.com/ and found cool drawings of a human heart for the love potion and the skeleton of a chameleon for the witch’s brew. I found a font that looked like spidery handwriting  then printed them out on parchment paper.



I used a ruler to tear the edges in relatively straight lines and then used a brown sharpie to antique the edges. Click on these pictures to see the detail.






Here they are in front of their respective bottles.



Then I used some watered down PVA glue (like Elmer’s glue) to glue the labels to their bottles.  



Then I filled them with coloured water—just add food colouring—and here is how they came out!



 

I am really pleased as they were made from stuff I had just lying about the house.

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this ways comes!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Grits!!!!!

Spiderman and I rediscovered our love for instant grits when we travelled back to Louisiana for the Voyage of the Damned 2 years ago. They are delicious and fairly healthy as far as instant food goes, but being a down- home-southern food practically impossible to find back here in the UK—our friend from New York says it is rare to see grits in the shops where she lives.

 

Enter our saviour in the form of Super Mum. My mum occasionally sends us care packages filled with packets of instant grits. Sadly, they cost her a huge amount of money to post—I am always shocked and appalled when I see the price. But she loves us and so she does it anyway.  

 So here is an acrostic tribute to say thanks.
Groovy tasting and reasonably good for you

Really hard to find in the UK

It costs an arm and a leg (or other unspecified body part) to post

Thank you very much to the best Mum in the world

Should last bloody ages as she sent us 48 packets

Let the eating commence. Nom, nom, nom.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Banjo Ice Cream

In our house we have a habit of calling a word another word, often based on the fact that it was illegible on a shopping list. Hence, the word banjo when you mean banana.

 
I have recently struck gold (and banjos are golden, well at least the peel is gold) with the hot weather because as soon as banjos begin to ripen they go from greenish yellow to lightly freckled to black over the course of a few days. Therefore every time I go to the friendly Greengrocer they kindly foist overripe banjos upon me. I recently got 26 for £1 (they sell spotty ones at a huge discount) and once after that they gave me 10 because it was near closing and they were going to have to throw them away. We had some that freckled up unexpectedly fast and so into the freezer they went as well. Currently every spare container we own is filled with banjos and occupying a rather larger space in our 2 freezers. So what to do? Make lots of banjo ice cream of course.

 
Frozen banjos are a thing of beauty. If you should find yourself with some unexpectedly ripe ones, peel them and break them into chunks and freeze. I used to try to freeze separately and then box up to prevent sticking together but with the amount we have I’ve just bunged them in plastic boxes and thrown them in the fridge. A few minutes defrosting on the counter and they are easy to pry apart.

 
We love ice cream--particularly in the hot weather--but we don’t like the suffering that goes into dairy ice cream. Folks, if you still eat dairy then you support the veal industry. It is as simple as that-- dairy cows are impregnated, begin to lactate, give birth and within hours have their babies stolen away (females to make more dairy cows, males to be trapped in small cages and forced to be anaemic to make veal) so that humans can drink their breast milk. Which I think is just weird. Why are we the only species that still drinks breast milk once we are weaned and why is it the breast milk of a different species? We also don’t particularly like non dairy ice creams as they are full of chemically stuff and high in fats and sugar (but so are cheap dairy ones as well) so what can you do when you  eat a healthy, compassionate diet but need a cold treat? Banjo ice cream is the way to go.

 

Banjo ice cream

 You need:

3 frozen bananas (about 15 chunks)

Vanilla essence (optional)

Food processor

Maybe a splash of plant based milk or yoghurt to help the blades move

 

That’s it! You can add stuff as I show later. But really, for the plain vanilla all you need is bananas. They are plenty sweet as they were overripe when you froze them so don’t need sweetening unless you want to. I find spotty ones to be the ideal sweetness for me.

 Just put all your banjos and splash of some liquid like plant based milk or a blop of yoghurt (yoghurt gives a bit of a tang) and blend until the consistency of soft serve ice cream. You will need to stop and scrape down the sides of the food processor occasionally. I am told that if you like it firmer and want to scoop it, you can put in the freezer in a container for a few hours after blending to firm up, but we can’t last that long. When we make it--we want it NOW.


This is plain vanilla with a chocolate sauce and some peanuts on top. To make the sauce:

2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder mixed with 4 TB agave syrup (or maple syrup)



This is chocolate peanut butter using leftover sauce from above and 2 TB peanut butter.



See how good that looks? I was so excited I couldn’t wait to take a “bowl shot” as all I wanted to do was shove it in my mouth and say “Mmmmmmm.” so I’m afraid all you get is a food processor shot.



This cherry vanilla made with 2.5 frozen bananas (about 12 chunks) and a 3/4 cup frozen cherries plus some vanilla essence. Another one I couldn't wait to eat.

 
I’ve also done some peach vanilla the same way with some frozen peaches, but alas they haven’t been on sale recently so we don’t have any pictures to show for that.

 
The lists are endless as to what you can make and it is not full of suffering or chemicals or high fructose corn syrup and artificial fillers and thickeners. Just fruit.

 
And sometimes peanut butter and chocolate. Yum.

 
Now go and make it yourself.