Category Archives: carnivore

Radical Tea Towel Company rocks

Plate of grub, green and mauve original Art Nouveau suffragette designed oven gloves held by smiling woman in dark glasses in red dress

The Radical Tea Company offered me an oven glove with a suffragette design.

How could I say no?

Firstly, I could not resist the humour of a traditionally-female object, an oven glove, depicted with a powerful feminist message.

Secondly, I salute the suffragettes who suffered to win women the right to vote.

 

Feminism liberates us all – male and female – from soul-crushing expectations of how we should behave.

The Radical Tea Towel Company started when founder, Beatrice Pearce, tried finding a gift for a family member celebrating his 91st birthday. David Finch, part of British socialist history, was not much of a materialist.

Beatrice wanted something practical, that he could make use of, daily. And also reflect his passion for politics.

“And that’s when I thought – a tea towel! But not just any old tea towel. One with a radical or political theme,” says Beatrice.

T-shirts with a message were a-plenty on the Web, in 2011, but not a tea towel to be found.

Beatrice recalls thinking:

“Well, if I want a political tea towel and after an hour of googling can’t find a single one, I wonder how many other people want the same and can’t find one either? Clearly a gap in the market!”

Thus the Radical Tea Towel Company was born.

The Radical Tea Towel Company features the progressive voices of my allies from the past.

I am who I am, thanks to them.

"We have to free half the human race, the women, so that they can help free the other half."  Quote by Emmeline Pankhurst and her and image OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sheepdrove organic goose

There is no getting away from it. Eating meat means taking a life.

I understand the horror vegetarians feel. I love vegan cuisine.

But I am a meat eater. Maybe once a week. I can feel the nutritional value it brings to my body.

If I were a hunter – I imagine – I would kill the animal, and lie down and cry because I had killed it. (I saw this on TV once). Then eat it. Hopefully with reverence.

But I could be romanticising.

The fact is I cannot square killing for food.

At least I can make sure the animal was well looked-after while alive.

Which is why I choose organic meat.

On Christmas day, we cooked and ate a goose from Sheepdrove Organic Farm.

Declaration of interest: I work with Sheepdrove Organic Farm. But – you know me – I can only work with a cause or company I believe in.

Check out Sheepdrove Organic Farm. Lots of great info on its website: including the importance of grass-fed creatures and Eating less meat? Eat better meat!

Sheepdrove Organic Farm’s head butcher, Nick Rapps, is passionate about showing people how to eat organic meat in a budget.

For instance, buy cheaper organic cuts (not pre-cut packages) from an actual butcher who can provide the unusual cheaper cuts. Cheaper cuts need slower cooking.

Nick Rapps’s The Organic Butcher’s Blog at Food Magazine is a treasure trove of tips. Here’s Nick on the organic Christmas turkey on a budget.

My sister, Geraldine, cooked our Christmas goose.

Listen-up. True to our ancestors, she is a real food lover.

My sister said: “How did I cook the goose? It was good, wasn’t it? And simple to cook. I rubbed salt and pepper and fresh grated ginger on the skin. Then scrunched wet greaseproof paper, smoothed it out and covered the goose. The formula is 20 minutes per pound on a low heat roughly 150/Gas Mark 2/300  and 20 minutes over. Our goose took about 5 hours. Regularly,  pour fat off the roasting pan (and keep it later for roasting veg) otherwise the goose fat will overfill the pan. Most importantly, let it “rest” a good half-an-hour after taking it out the oven.”

We served the Sheepdrove goose with an array of colourful vegetables, cooked by other members of the family so not one person did all the work.

Red cabbage and apples, squash and coconut, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, gravy.

PS I lost my ‘phone over Christmas. However – curiously – on the day I lost my ‘phone, I sent a picture of our Christmas meal (above) to myself. Which was lucky as I had not backed up my images since November so the Christmas meal pic would have been lost. Funny, eh?

Fish4Ever challenges big brands

As a journalist and food campaigner, I help Fish4Ever with its communications. I cannot work for a cause or company I don’t believe in.

So, I have the privilege of asking nosy questions and learning about the politics of fish.

Lunch: a fried-medley of Fish4Ever sardine fillets (Steenberg’s Organic online £1.60) on a bed of organic rice vermicelli.

Medly: I fry sliced shallots/onions, garlic and chilli in the organic oil in which the fish are canned – Fish4Ever uses 100% organic land ingredients.

I add the sardine fillets, mashing them (was that respectful?). I snip-in fresh parsley .

Fish4Ever canned fish is in a class of its own, fished traditionally (70% MSC-certified, the rest artisan) and quickly-conserved for freshness.

I am a real food lover and here’s why: you do good – it tastes good.

Why is it important to look after the fish?

Fishing technology is too effective. Desired species are being hunted to extinction.

Its hunting methods are indiscriminate, killing turtles, sea birds, dolphins.

There are too many factory boats and not enough fish. Regulations to control catches are insufficient and often ignored. Out at sea, where no one is looking, rules can be flouted. Poor countries suffer from foreign piracy on an industrial scale.

Hugh’s Fish Fight on Channel 4 earlier this month focused on changing the fishing methods of the big tuna brands and own-label supermarkets.

The food corporations’ proposed changes are far better than nothing.

However, although the big brands may well promise a “pole and line” range, their primary business remains likely unchanged.

Each Fish4Ever can has a story - including the smallest tuna fishing boats in the world.

This is not an eco-add-on. Fish4Ever’s raison d’être is care of land, sea and people.

That’s what I call an ethical company.

St Werburgh’s City Farm Cafe at Christmas

I took this picture through the stained-glass window of St Werburgh’s City Farm Cafe at the weekend.

Bristol is a mega-city but blessed by pockets of seclusion – enchanted sanctuaries such as St Werburgh’s.

This little corner of green near the M32 shields the eco-self-build houses, the Wild Goose space,  the Climbing Wall, the Better Food Company, St Werbugh’s City Farm and Cafe and more, and, as my luck would have it, is a ten-minute walk through the allotments from home.

The icy-cold weather of late has been leavened by such pockets of warmth.

Last night, for instance, we went through powdery snow in the empty allotments to the wildness of a contact dance improvisation jam at the eco-built Wild Goose Space where I lay on the floor watching this compelling film, Baraka, then dropped by afterwards to St Werburgh’s City Farm Cafe for the drinks bit of the staff meal.

St Werburgh’s City Farm Cafe has Wifi and real coffee, and a splendid selection of heart-warming home-made dishes many made with produce from the adjoining City Farm.

It’s run by Leona Williamson – unassuming, hard-working and friendly. She and her team won the 2008 Observer Food Monthly award for outstanding ethical achievement, calling it the “ultimate green eatery…(using) not food miles but food yards”.

I wrote about the Cafe in 2008, and – see comments – received fierce rebuke for praising the Cafe’s use of animals from the Farm. I am with Simon Fairlie and the Soil Association on the meat issue. Although I passionately believe factory-farmed meat is wrong – over-produced, cruel, unhealthy, unsustainable and unnecessary – a few creatures on a family farm is another matter entirely.

Back to last night: I met Jack, and discovered he is the Ethicurean now running the Walled Garden Cafe at Wrington, Somerset. I remet (I know this sounds like a poncy eco-roll-call but it wasn’t really like that) Andy Hamilton, of the Self-Sufficientish Bible,  who is finishing a book (a brilliant idea and once O.K-ayed it, I will mention here…) (and it is Booze for Free – good innit?), and Jamie Pike from Co-Exist at Hamilton House, currently congregating food people to make creative use of a communal kitchen at Hamilton House in Stokes Croft.

We talked about the recent Tesco planning fiasco and the importance of creating alternatives (as Jamie and co has done at Hamilton House).

As we left, Leona gave us a bottle of refreshing homemade rosemary and apple cordial from (very) local produce.

St Werburgh’s City Farm Cafe is now closed for Christmas until 15 January.

Apparently Baraka (the movie) means: blessings in a multitude of languages, and this is appropriate, as I felt blessed indeed as we walked home through the moonlit snow.

You can’t beat US home cooked food

The US Asia bus from Las Vegas (hot tip: cheaper than the Greyhound) drops me on the outskirts of Los Angeles, at Monterey Park.

I buy a new watch strap and a refreshing green tea with succulent mango seeds from one of the many local Chinese shops.

I ask directions for downtown LA, using my rudimentary Spanish as the lady I ask speaks no English.

Poor people, and workers, on the no 70 bus. I am minority White. Everyone helpful and polite.

Downtown LA with its impressive skyscrapers.

After catching another bus, stressed from travelling in a strange land, I am picked up by my Servas host.

Servas was started after the Second World War to promote peace and understanding amongst nations.

Suddenly, I am whisked to heaven – yoga in the garden, fine wines on the veranda, then supper with soul conversations.

I realise that most of the food I have been eating in the US has been ethnic: Thai, Chinese or Indian.

This is my first taste of traditional American food.

Home cooked, with ingredients from the local farmers’ markets, it is superb.

Traditional July 4 food: barbecued and succulent spare ribs, homemade watermelon rind pickle, refrigerator cucumber pickle (Midwest speciality) and – officially – the best coleslaw I have ever tasted – courtesy of Angie’s father with spicy cayenne and refreshing parsley and cilantro.

The pudding: seasonal cherries picked that day by Angie in Leona valley, a nearby microclimate defying the Californian desert. Plus apricots, a blob of creme fraiche, and the most elegantly thin wholemeal pastry (a feat as such pastry is usually cludgy).

Bless you, Angie and Hans, for giving me sanctuary.

Christmas 2009 – how was yours?

Christmas lunch. First course: parmesan custard with anchovy toast, recipe from Café Anglais, executed by my niece, Charlotte.

There was a time when my mother, Fay, good Jewish mother that she is, would insist on cooking every morsel of Christmas fare.

Finally we managed to persuade her we were old enough to take over.

Now we share the cooking.

My sister, Geraldine, cooked the goose reared by wise animal welfare expert, Sheepdrove Organic Farm, which has a shop in Bristol.

From top left clockwise:  the goose, then green bean, cranberry sauce, roast potato, roast parsnips, roast carrots, roast sweet potato, apple sauce and bread sauce.

It sounds bloody grand and it was. A local Big Issue vendor ate nothing on Christmas day, he told me today.

Juliette, eldest niece, cooked all of vegetables including her own concoction, green beans with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mint and a little sugar.

I made the tiramisu. None of my books had a recipe but luckily I found Tiramisu Heaven.

Mine did not look like Tiramisu Heaven pic above.

Mine looked splodgy – see below.

Yet it was delicious, if both bread-puddingy and way-creamy. I used less sugar than recipe (3oz instead of 4oz/ 1/2 cup) and brioche instead of ladyfingers. Lots of strong coffee.

I made the tiramisu late-at-night and last-minute. After carefully separating eggs, I made fatal mistake and did to egg whites what should have been done to yolks.

My mum does not use eggs at all. How sensible is that? Just 8oz mascarpone +brandy +  coffee-soaked ladyfingers, sprinkling each creamy-layer with cocoa powder, and topping with rest of coffee-soaked cake.

Geraldine provided an extra treat: mince pies with homemade pastry.

She homemade the mincemeat too: you assemble the fruit and suet, and warm. “Dead simple,” says mincemeat-demystifier, Delia Smith.

This feast was manageable thanks to six of us cooking. I made my dish in advance while others cooked on Christmas day. So division of labour was not equal.

How did you manage Christmas?

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Anjum’s Gujarati lamb curry

My children are carnivores so when they (now grown-up) visit, meat is a treat.

Cheaply produced meat means people can eat it every day as a cheap takeaway.

But eating meat daily is neither good for the health of the animals, consumers or planet.

Some people need to eat meat, while others argue our soils need  manure for soil-strength.

We just don’t need to be mass-producing meat on an industrial scale.

So it’s about trying to get a balance. There’s a spontaneous revival of the traditional way of eating:  have a feast of (well-reared) meat once a week and live on the leftovers.

Join the Feastarians, Weekend Carnivore or Paul McCartney on a Meat-free Monday.

Which leads me to this delicious lamb curry.

Quadrille Books had offered – on Twitter – a free copy of Anjum’s New Indian.

Canny New Media marketing device, eh? I like - and copied it for my own books!

So I contacted Quadrille on Twitter and the big beautiful hardback copy signed-by-Anjum arrived by post.

Its subtitle is Indian Food Made Easy.

Sadly, not easy enough for me. The ingredients list looked too long. The pages too big and glossy.

I felt daunted.

For simplified Indian dishes, I rate Quick Indian Cooking.

However after months of free-book-on-Twitter-guilt, I finally tackled a recipe.

Gujarati lamb and dumpling stew – it was bloody delicious.

But I did simplify it. I left out the dumplings for a start.

Note: I substituted raw ginger for horseradish because Middle Child cannot stand ginger and takes it Very Personally if I cook with it.

Horseradish works incredibly well. Grate it raw, cover with white wine vinegar and it keeps in a jar in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.

Here’s my version: 

Ask the butcher for lamb for stewing - or mutton. Mutton is cheaper because it is  a grown-up animal. Stewing will soften the tough older meat of mutton.

Unlike pigs and poultry, it is harder to farm sheep intensively - sheep continue to roam freely and eat grass. So if you are going to eat non-organic meat, lamb is your best bet.  

I bought about 400g of organic lamb (about £4) which fed 4. I cut up the pieces quite small.

Then I browned the lamb pieces in a pan to seal the taste, then removed them.

Add a teaspoon of mustard seeds and when they pop, add the sliced onions and fry until brown.

My gratitude to Anjum grew - I don’t know what to do with mustard seeds and now I was using them like a pro.

Meanwhile, in a blender (I used the grinder attachment), make a paste of 20g of ginger – or raw grated horseradish – and 5 large peeled garlic.

This paste is a great discovery. I use it for spicy vegetarian dishes too.

Add the paste to the onions until it gently colours, about 3 minutes. Add salt to taste (I omitted the 1 tsp. of sugar), 1 Tbs of ground coriander and 1 Tbs of ground cumin; 1/2 tsp of turmeric and 1/2 tsp of chilli powder. Cook for 20 seconds.

Add about 100 ml water (I omitted the 3 pureed tomatoes) and cook gently until completely reduced, then fry the paste for 5 mins until the oil comes out.

These instructions were brill as I tend to overcook spices and not get the ratio of water-to-spices right (too watery or too dry). This worked! Thanks, Anjum.

I added a quarter of a block of coconut, not the recipe’s can of coconut milk. I also forgot the 1-2 tsp of lemon juice. I didn’t measure the water but Anjum said 200ml (for 600g of lamb).

I forgot the sweet potato but that would have been a wonderful addition.

I chose this recipe because of the chickpeas. I can’t eat a lot of meat – although I do love its rich gravy flavours – so I was happy to have meat-bits with my beloved chickpeas.

I had already soaked 200g of the raw chickpeas overnight and cooked them for an hour (or, as Anjum says, use a can).

I served it with organic curly kale and brown rice.

And it went down a treat with the carnivores.