Category Archives: carnivore

Junior doctors strike and Cullen skink

My glam mum aged 93

My mum, aged 93, (her pic, left) made me the traditional Scottish dish, Cullen skink.

She bought the smoked haddock at Whole Foods Market.

“Only use undyed haddock” she commands.

A bowl of home made cullen skink

Recipe for Cullen skink

Cook the undyed smoked haddock (500g) for a brief five minutes in (300 mls) water. Soften 1 sliced onion in butter/oil and cook  with two roughly-chopped potatoes in the haddock cooking water for glorious fish taste until potatoes are soft and tender. Remove bones and gently flake the fish and add to the cooked potatoes and onions.  Alternatively: remove the potatoes and onions with a slotted spoon, add 500mls milk, and then add the flaked fish. Either way bring gently back to simmering and serve hot.

(Or drink it cold from a jar as I did happily on my return train to Bristol).

The next day, I received a call that she had fallen and hurt her head. Luckily she had been able to press her Community Alarm and within five minutes of being alerted, an ambulance team had arrived and had taken her to a large London teaching hospital.

And this the day of the Junior Doctors’ strike – against a new contract that will be: “Bad for patients, bad for doctors and bad for the NHS,” according to the British Medical Association reports the New Economic Foundation.

After a scan, my mother was kept in for monitoring, and a battery of tests to ascertain why she keeps losing her balance.

God bless the National Health Service (NHS).

My late dad was one of its first GPs – see Dr John Winkler’s obituary in the Guardian.

The NHS is free health care for all – the embodiment of the world I want to live in.

God bless the NHS.

Animal welfare: fox in charge of henhouse

Is there anyone – apart from a fox – who thinks this is a good idea?

From 27 April 2016, the poultry industry itself will be in charge of writing and upholding its own welfare codes, says the Metro. 

And that is just the start.

“Conservative ministers are planning to repeal an array of official guidance on animal welfare standards,” says the Guardian, whose Freedom of Information request helped reveal the government’s plan to deregulate animal welfare. 

Deregulation is a terrible backward step for a better world.

Campaigners for animal welfare and safe food systems have fought long and hard for regulations, and the battle is by no means over.

Regulations need to be strengthened further – not weakened, in this blatant move to please Big Farma. (Or perhaps it is the current government showing how it can get rid of regulations quite easily without having to leave Europe).

Conservative types (whether anti-Europe or pro-Europe) like to portray legislation as tedious red tape that stifles the entrepreneurial spirit of business.

Poppycock! 

We need legislation and regulations because (sadly) humans with power and vested interests cannot be trusted.

The Metro poll asks its readers to vote yes or no to: 

“Should the meat industry regulate itself?”

What do you think?

PS So far, 97% voted “No, the system could be abused”. 

PPS I stole my title from the New Economic Foundation blog on poultry deregulation by Stephen Devlin. Read his excellent co-written piece on so-called “better regulation”, in whose name “a large and unaccountable bureaucracy has been created to…mak(e) it more difficult for government departments to pass laws which impose costs on businesses.”

PPPS  Sign the Change.org petition to stop the repeal of animal welfare codes.

Stop press

Campaigning works! It looks as if this controversial deregulation will not go ahead. According to the BBC:

“The government has abandoned a controversial plan to repeal animal welfare codes.
The plan would have put standards into the hands of the livestock industry.”

However, the “price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

So, remain vigilant.

 

 

 

 

 

Making chicken soup from scratch

Raw high-welfare chicken and cut-up carrots and red onion covered with water in a panThe secret of chicken soup is to use raw chicken.

By all means, use a cooked chicken carcass to make stock but if you want to make healing chicken soup, start from scratch with raw chicken.

I used two legs from Abel and Cole high-welfare chickens.

Add a cut-up onion and carrots. Cover with water. If you use loads of water, it will dilute the soup. But just covering the chicken and veg with water will create the right concentrated amount.

Bring to the boil and simmer for about one and a half hours to two hours until the chicken is tender and falls away from the bone.

The next secret – imparted by my mother – is not to let the precious liquid boil away. So keep a lid on the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Strain to drink the healing soup – this article explains why chicken soup has healing properties.

The beautifully-tender chicken and vegetables will make another meal.

It is simple to make, and will bring strength.

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.