Simple oat cake recipe

Good Food oatmeal flour packet and butter with bowl of oatmeal
When I am out-and-about, and get hungry, I need healthy food, such as slow-release carbs for sustaining energy. Oats are the nutritional answer. My oatcake recipe comes from Jane Mannings of World Jungle.

Award-winning social enterprise, World Jungle brings people together creating healthier communities.

African drummers and drums

Based in Gloucestershire, World Jungle also holds regular dance classes, and organises festivals and events including African drumming and dance (see pic) . Dance is a great way to bring people together.

I like this recipe because it only uses two ingredients and there is no fancy pastry-cutting involved.

Simple oatcake recipe

200g fine oatmeal – Jane used Good Food organic oatmeal.
50g butter.

Heat the oven to hot – Gas 7 \ 425° \ 220°C

Squish the oatmeal and butter together with a fork adding a little water to bind into a dough. Roll pastry dough (on a floured board ) as thin as you can without it breaking. Lift the flattened shape, draped over rolling pin, place on a greased baking tray, and bake for 15 minutes. Eat warm, or store in an airtight container for when you are out-and-about.

I might experiment by replacing oatmeal with buckwheat flour, butter with olive oil, and adding salt, or caraway seeds.

What ingredients would you use in your oatcakes?

Knob of butter atop oatmeal in mixing bowl

Fork assembling squidge of oatmeal dough

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Simple recipe for energy bars – two ingredients 

 I love healthy energy bars.

I must spend a fortune on them. Thinks: must make my own.

Yes! And here is my simple recipe:

1 cup of ground nuts

(I whizzed pecan pieces in my £20 hand blender nut-chopper)

1 cup of dates, soaked in water for a couple of hours, drained with stones taken out.

(Measurements – basically equal amounts of nuts and dates).

Thus, blend (my trusty hand-blender again) the equal amounts of chopped/ground nuts with soaked-stoned dates.

The mix goes squidgy – good. Separate with your fingers and roll into balls.

No cooking involved!

Voila!

You could add other ingredients such as cacao and coconut and roll them in seeds. I will experiment and report here.

But, for now, two ingredients does it for me.

What do you think?

DIY liqueurs

Right now, I am all about the potions.

Home made potions

It all started when a friend gave me sloe berries from her freezer – and the thorn from the sloe berry bush to prick them to release their juices.

As I added the pricked and bleeding sloe berries to the gin, I thought:

“The possibilities are endless.”

I drink rarely but when I do I like cocktails, and liqueurs. But I don’t like: the sicklyness of too much sugar, and additives instead of real ingredients.

So this Christmas, I concocted the following:

Apricots soaked in brandy – I used Hunza apricots which have a small stone and fine pedigree (one of the founders of the organic movement, Sir Robert McCarrison, learnt about nutrition in the 1920s from the Hunza tribe in Pakistan, so impressed was he by their health and vitality compared to sickly English people. The Hunzas are known for their longevity, thanks to their wholesome diet). Make sure the apricots are completely covered with the brandy. The apricots soak up the alcohol and swell, so leave room in your glass container for this effect.

Home-made Cointreau – organic orange peel from 2 – 3 oranges soaked in vodka

Home made whiskey zapper
Whiskey zapper – 200 mls whiskey + 300 mls expresso coffee + 400 mls coconut milk + agave nectar.

You don’t need to use expensive spirits – the natural flavours will enhance the potion.

Drink responsibly, and drink water too.

Happy shiny new 2016 year!

The kitchen at the heart of hell on earth

The One Spirit Ashram Kitchen is feeding refugees in Calais – beautiful and sad.

Watch this beautiful five minute video.

You can donate here

http://www.sweetpeace.me/#!a-shared-meal/t5yz3

thehumantimes

At the heart of hell on earth there is a place where the cold and beleaguered go to have their weary bodies and worn-out souls nourished.

Twice a day a queue of hundreds snakes around the One Spirit Ashram Kitchen in the Calais Jungle. In the driving rain they wait in single file for the team of volunteers inside to open up and start serving.

hero serving

You can donate here http://www.sweetpeace.me/#!a-shared-meal/t5yz3

Despite the desperation in their eyes, the patient masses give a polite smile to those managing the queue at the door with restless glances to check there is still enough left to go around.

But there is never enough. Even this mammoth effort is only feeding a fraction of the camp’s residents.

The sound of the rice pan being scraped sounds like an alarm in the tent as a man holds an empty plate and says: “but I waited for…

View original post 443 more words

Tahini sauce 

Sauce drips in a stream from a spoon

This image and recipe comes from a new book, Lebanese Home Cooking, by Kamal Mouzawak, the founder of Lebanon’s first farmers’ market.

Lebanese Home Cooking, from Quarto Eats, has all my favourite food words in its title. In the 1980s a friend took me to a Lebanese restaurant in Soho and I was knocked out. Every dish appealed in new, refreshing ways. Tahini, beans, yogurt, lemons, olive oil, garlic. These are now my favourite ingredients. Versatile and health-giving, they are always in the kitchen.

(My posts on making home-made yogurt and hummus both of which I eat almost daily).


Writing about the Lebanese market founded in 2004, The New York Times says that Souk El Tayeb (“market of good”): “reconciles Lebanon’s warring factions through their common love of their food.”

Kamal Mouzawak writes: Food is a window – “the best way to look into people’s lives.”

Make food, not war.

Kamal Mouzawak is full of practical wisdom and inspiring encouragement. The recipes are simple. He says souk food is easy and fast – how I like to cook.

Tahini sauce – Tarator 

Garlic 1 clove or more

240g tahini (sesame paste)

Juice of 3 lemons

1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Crush garlic with little salt, add to tahini in the bowl, and add the lemon juice. Tahini will thicken so continue stirring with a fork and add more lemon juice if needed. The mixture will be smooth. Season with salt to taste, blend in olive oil and serve. Good over dark leafy vegetables.

Fava bean stew – foul medamass

I love the addition of quartered lemons to this fava bean stew.

120g small brown beans

1 onion peeled halved

Garlic

Handful split yellow lentils

1 lemon plus juice of 2 lemons

80 ml olive oil

Ground cumin and salt.

Soak beans overnight. Drain. Add onion halves, garlic and lentils. Add water to cover by 2 fingers. Cook beans for several hours to be mushy. Add quartered lemons 20 minutes before the end. Take off heat and add lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and salt to taste.

Souk food – soul food.

PS On the subject of tahini sauce, I came across this amazing recipe by UK chef and co-owner of Wahaca, Thomasina: Tagliatelle with blue cheese, tahini and caramelised onions. Straining the yogurt and adding tahini makes this into a luxurious and creamy dish, yet it is light too. Comfort food – recommend!

The original recipe (serves 4-6). Here follows my mini-version:

Cook 900g sliced onions slowly (25 mins) in 4 teaspoons olive oil + 30g butter. Cook 450g pasta (I use buckwheat noodles), adding 300g frozen peas in the last three minutes of cooking. Drain pasta and peas but keep 250ml of the cooking water. Strain 450g of Greek natural yogurt. (I added the residual ‘yogurt water’ to the pasta cooking water because I hate waste.).

Put pasta in a bowl. Beat reserved pasta water into strained yogurt, and season. Then add to pasta, so it absorbs sauce for a few minutes. Add more of the cooking water gradually until you have a “silky pile of pasta”. Crumble 100g blue cheese over your luxurious pasta pile, and top with the caramelised onions.

Exterior of Byblos with yellow awning with lettering, Mezza of Lebanon

And, finally, a picture of Rafic’s (see comments) Lebanese restaurant in London. Mezza of Lebanon (1968 – 2004) was at 262 Kensington High Street, near Holland Park.

Easy fruit smoothie 

wine glass of creamy looking smoothie Ta da.

Start the day with a health-boosting refreshing fresh fruit drink.

You need an electric hand-blender to do the whizzing. I use the cheapest, least fancy (about £20) – my most valuable and versatile piece of kitchen technology.

Banana is the base – add fruit such as apple/pear/orange/berries.
Apple, orange and pear in the curve of banana's

Use the whole apple/pear: whizz it up, pips, peel and all. Don’t even peel the apple/pear (especially if organic).

Yes, take stones out of mango/peach/plum/apricot. (Blender blade can’t cope).
Yes, peel the orange.

But no need to de-pith orange. Whizz it up with pith, and pips.

Fruit in cut up piecesI learned this time-saving tip at a raw food workshop by Kira G Goldy. Kira is also a healer.

She encouraged me to write creatively: “You have all these voices inside that want to be heard.”

As a journalist, a challenge. But her words rung true. I focused on writing and two things have developed from my new intention.

I give courses to facilitate creative writing (and at the same time teach myself as it turns out).

And I have written a verbatim play based on interviews of people facing eviction in the hyper-regeneration of Brixton, and Lambeth council estates.

Verbatim is like journalism because it is entirely made of people’s quotes, like a documentary. The subject – how profit-driven thinking wrecks human lives – is a subject close to my campaigning heart.

The play is a collaboration with Changing Face Collective and director Lucy Curtis.

Where Will We Live? premieres at Southwark Playhouse on 25 – 28 November 2015.

I will need to keep my strength up. Time to make an easy smoothie!

Smoothie recipe for 1 – 2

Use organic fruit if possible. Why organic?

1 apple (cut-up with pips and peel ) 
1 orange (cut-up with pith and pips) 
1 banana (peeled and sliced)
Half a glass of water/milk (dairy/plant) to thin
A dollop of peanut butter and/or coconut oil and/or yogurt for protein and good fats. Or a handful of cashew nuts soaked overnight in water 
Optional: ground cinnamon/raw ginger
Blend with a hand-blender in a jug, pour and enjoy.

Ta da!

Blackberry jam is easy to make

Toast with home made blackberry jam

If you have never made jam, blackberry jam is a good one to start with. It is quick (fruit is easy to prepare and jam sets quickly), and no specialist equipment is needed.
Blackberries on a Bristol allotment

Blackberries growing in hedgerows are plentiful now. Nice to know some things are in abundance… Obviously, check you are picking the right fruit. I don’t want you to pick the wrong berries.

Ingredients

Blackberries

Water

Juice of a lemon

Sugar

Amounts

I used 1 pound of blackberries with 1 pound of sugar and 3/4 pint of water

I used equal amounts of fruit and sugar. If you use more sugar (as most recipes suggest), you will indeed produce more jam. And maybe the jam will last longer because of the preserving quality of the sugar. But it will also be more sickly-sweet.

Personally, I prefer my version. Because I only produced a small amount, it will get scoffed quickly. And it is delicious: slightly tart, and very fruity.

(I will convert to metrics later! This blog is written in a hurry because I mistakenly published it via my WordPress App with images only! Mon dieu quel eejit…Now I am swiftly adding words.).

Method

Take the berries off the stem, give them a quick rinse and weigh them.

Put a small plate in the freezer or a cold place which will help to test if jam is set as I will explain later.

Put the blackberries in a saucepan with the water. Get it bubbling for a good 40 minutes until the water is reduced and fruit is soft.

Add the lemon juice and the sugar. Bubble and boil for ten minutes.

Take the jam off the heat while testing to see if it is set.

Blob of jam cooling on a plate

Test for a set by blobbing a bit of the runny jam on a very cold saucer or plate.

Prod the jam gently with a finger to see if it wrinkles. If it is set, it will wrinkle-up (oh yes, we love wrinkles) and not run in a dribble when you tip the plate.

If it is still dribbly, cook the jam for another five minutes (maybe more water needs to evaporate?) and test again.

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This jam set after ten minutes just as the recipes said. It is so easy. Not like making marmalade which is a bit of a palaver.

Here are two jars filled with my home-made jam.

Two pots of home made blackberry jam

Slightly smug rating = 10/10.