Friday, 27 November 2015

Persephone and Curious Incidents in London

A ghostly St Pauls

Hi all, thank you for your birthday wishes on my last post, you are all stars :)  My last post was all about birthday food,  this post is birthday book related.

 I had read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time several years ago and wondered how it would transfer to the stage.  We went along to see the play while in London at the intimate Guelgud Theatre and loved it, I laughed, I cried and was sad when it ended, I could have watched it all over again.  It was very cleverly done with an ingenious set that made you believe you were on a train, on the tube, on the streets of London with very few props.  The small company of actors were playing multiple parts, as well as being part of the scenery, a special mention has to go to Sion Daniel Young who played Christopher.  The whole play relied on the right person playing Christopher, a young autistic boy.  It was a very challenging part which he played to perfection.  If you get a chance to see it I would highly recommend it.

As we were sitting waiting for the play to start, the woman in front of me got out her knitting and was knitting socks as she chatted away to her friend.  I love that.  Yes we were there very early, I am always early, the theatre was full by the time it started.

After being too ill to make it over to Persephone Books on our last trip to London I was determined to  get there this time.  What a lovely book shop, what I would call a 'proper' book shop, books piled on tables and shelves in a tiny little shop tucked away on a lovely little street.  I made some purchases which will sit proudly on my bookshelf, each with their matching bookmarks.

I often ask for books for my birthday, in preparation for all the growing I hope to be doing when we find our new home I asked my son for this, Abundance by Alys Fowler.   I have already been dipping into it and dreaming of all of the lovely food I will be able to preserve.  A dehydrator is something that is mentioned, and would also be useful for my raw food experiments so will go on my Xmas list, any recommendation for which one to buy?

Celeriac puree with spiced cauliflower and quail's eggs

a little bit lumpy but tasted delicious

As I mentioned on my last post I received Yotam Ottolenghi's book Nopi as a birthday gift.  When we got home my veg box had been delivered and contained a large celeriac, it has a very distinct taste which I like in small doses.  I found this recipe in my new book, it was delicious and didn't actually taste like celariac, just very tasty. I will be making this again, as I know I will be getting regular deliveries of celeriac in my veg box and by the end of the season will be getting fed up with it's unusual taste so this will be the perfect way to use it for me.  Yotams recipes can be complicated, time consuming and involve lots of ingredients and in this book even more so as it is the recipes from the restaurant.  But you don't have to make the whole dish, you can make parts of it as I did with this recipe, I just made the celeriac puree which was easy and used ingredients I already had.  Instead of the cauliflower I had it with roasted carrots and sweet potato and salad.

Celeriac Puree

60ml olive oil
1 large onion roughly diced
2 garlic cloves roughly chopped 
2 bay leaves
1 large celeriac peeled and cut roughly into 2 cm pieces (600g)
500ml vegetable stock
2 tblsp tahini paste
2 tblsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
course sea salt and black pepper.

Place the oil in a medium saucepan on a med high heat.  
Add the onions and fry for 5-6 mins stirring often until soft and starting to caramelize
Add the garlic and bay leaves and cook for another minute before adding the celeriac.
Fry for 8 - 10 mins, stirring often so that all sides are golden brown.
Pour over the stock, bring to the boil, then simmer on a medium heat for about 15 mins until the celeriac is cooked through.
Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves and transfer to a blender or food processor.
Blitz to form a smooth puree before adding the tahini, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, 1  1/2tsp salt and a good grind of black pepper.
Serve at room temperature or warm.

I found mine was a little runny so next time I will drain off some of the liquid and set aside before blitzing then adding as needed.  Mine was also a bit lumpy but tasted delicious.

This has been my first week off since last March and the last couple of days I have been feeling really under the weather.  I'm sure bugs wait until my annual leave to pounce on me, or is it that you slow down enough for them to catch up with you.  I'm sure a couple of days curled up on the sofa reading and crafting will see me right.  Anyway I will leave you with some photos I took as we walked along the southbank, the camera did something weird in some of the photos but I like how they turned out, other-worldly.

Chickpea xx

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Birthday Trip and Food Inspiration.


I have been lucky enough to celebrate another year on the planet, another year older and a few more bits not working as well as they used to,  but I'm still here and finding a little something to bring me joy everyday.  It doesn't have to be much, watching the birds at the feeder, listening to music or reading a book, they all enhance my life.  Having said that every now and then we go for broke and do something big, so we decided at the last minute on a trip to London for a long weekend.  As it was my birthday we got to do all the things I wanted to do,  how good is that!!

Our trip seemed to revolve around food.....A LOT!.....all types of food.  It is good to go somewhere different and try something new, the most unusual being the raw food cafe we went to for breakfast.  The bearded one's daughter lived nearby and suggested we give it a try as she knew it would be gluten free and vegetarian.  We really didn't know what to expect but were pleasantly surprised, even himself enjoyed the food which was an even bigger surprise.  It was so nice to know that I could have absolutely anything on the menu, that is a first for me since having to go gluten free.   It is called Tanyas and we went to the one in Chelsea, you can see the menu if you click on the link.  We ordered a few things to share, my favourites were the jam untoast, which was raisin 'bread', cashew cream and goji berry jam.  The fruit crepe was also tasty, made with dehydrated flaxseed and banana, filled with fresh fruit, yogurt and maple syrup.  Even though we enjoyed it I really couldn't see myself eating only raw food and it must be extremely time consuming preparing it all, I will be looking up some recipes though.

Of course we went back to my favourite restaurant in London, Yotom Ottolenghi's NOPI.  I just love what that man does with spices!  The bearded one's daughter bought me a signed copy of the NOPI recipe book which I have already cooked from.  I will share the recipe with you on my next post.  We also tasted orange wine, which was delicious.  It is white wine that has been left to ferment longer with the skins on which gives it an orange colour.  It tastes like a fortified wine, very unusual, I might just have to order some for Christmas :)

The other food highlight was a trip out to Camden Lock Market.  What a fabulous fun place, full of music, colour, smells and delicious street food from around the world.  On week days I find London very 'uptight', people dressed in their dark work clothes, heads down rushing along the streets looking pretty miserable.  It was lovely to go to a place that felt so vibrant and relaxed.   It was hard to choose what to have as there was plenty of gluten free, vegan and vegetarian dishes.  Food heaven!

After we ate I was taken on a cruise for my birthday.....well a canal boat from Camden Lock to Little Venice which was a lovely trip and goes right past London Zoo.  If you get a chance it is something a bit different and not a shop in sight.

Of course there were also German Xmas markets, but sadly not much there I could eat, they seemed to be mostly bread, pastry, meat based offerings, but it certainly brought a bit of sparkle to the Southbank.

I'll share more adventures on my next post.

Chickpea xx

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Spot the Mistake

Ok all you wonderful crochet peeps, please be gentle with me.   I have not really done much crochet despite teaching myself the basic stitches when I was a child, I have never actually made anything.  Inspired by all of the wonderful crochet work that many of you post, I thought I would make a blanket.    How hard could it be I thought.........    Well it does help if you read the instructions properly before you start, not just launch off into something.  But a leopard can't change it's spots so off I went, it did pop into my head that it didn't look quite the same as the photo, but in my inexperience I thought it would all come right when I did the joining bit.  I should listen to that little voice in my head sometimes, it seems to have more sense than me!

So after a few months of not working on the blanket I decided to pick it up again.  Of course I had completely forgotten what I was doing so re read the instructions and realised that I had missed one important point.  It was 3 dtr CLUSTERS I was meant to be doing so I have LOTS of circles which are not right.   I'm not going to start again as I know it just won't happen so I will carry on as I am.  It will not look the same but I'm hoping it won't look too bad.

This is the photo of the circle in the book

and this is my version of it - whoops

They certainly will not look like petals when I crochet the next bit.  I am using the join as you go method so will not see the true effect until they are all completed.  I really need to learn patience.

I was intending to join with Thistlebears Winter Project Link Party ,  but my wonky crochet looks a bit pathetic among all of the wonderful projects people have been sharing on there but what the hell, count me in......just don't look too carefully.  Pop over there and see how crochet is meant to be done, especially by the host of the party Jennifer.

Have any of you got half way through a project before you realised you were doing it wrong?  Go on do tell :)

Chickpea xx

Monday, 16 November 2015

Seeking Solace

"later that night
I held an atlas in my lap
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered

Warsan Shire

Chickpea xx

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

I Like to Knit and Shit

This did make me giggle!

I have started clearing out our attic, yes I know nothing is finalised yet but it needs to be done regardless of when we move.  I came across a bag full of little knitted cardigans that were made by my mum and me when I was pregnant with my eldest son nearly 32 years ago!  Where did the time go?  It really didn't seem that long ago when I had my whole life ahead of me, but now I have to face the realisation that most of my life is behind me.  Such a scary thought, it would be easy to be depressed about it when there are so many things I still want to do but it was not that long ago that I faced the prospect of having very few years ahead of me so I am grateful for everyday I have.  Anyway I don't want to depress all of you as well so I will just say my mum and I liked to knit and shit :)

I'm sure there are going to lots of lovely surprises in the attic, I could probably do loads of posts on 'What's in the Attic'........but I won't.  I will just share a few over the next few weeks.

I thought I would share these 'healthy flapjacks' that I have been making.   Don't ask me where the recipe is from, I saw it in a magazine at the hairdressers and took a photo of it.  Being gluten free means any snacks I buy would be a ridiculous price so these are really nice to take to work.   Diwali was being celebrated at work today so lots of cakes were brought in to share.  It wasn't quite the same eating healthy flapjacks but still very nice.  I take one out of the freezer each day.  I found I can't eat 'bought' flapjacks without them having an adverse effect, but I can make them using Sainsburys oats without any ill effects.

Banana and Peanut Oat Bars

1 tbsp coconut oil plus extra for greasing tray
3 very ripe bananas
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp peanut butter (mine is made from sustainable palm oil)
280g porridge oats
2 tbsp flax seeds ( I used mixed seeds)

Heat the oven to 180C gas 4

Grease 20cm square baking tin (or whatever you have) with coconut oil

In a bowl, mash the bananas with a fork

Melt coconut oil, honey and peanut butter over a low heat in a large pan

Once melted remove from the heat and stir in the bananas

Then mix in the oats and seeds and mix really well

Transfer to the tin and bake for 20 minutes until golden.

Wait until it has cooled before you cut it into squares

I then freeze the individual portions to take out when needed.

Thank you for all your comments on my last post, I am very relieved to be a step closer to our new life.  

p.s. I can't bring myself to get rid of the little hand knits, they are too small for our grandson so they will be carefully wrapped and put away for another 32 years!  Have you been strong enough to give away your little baby clothes or are you a softy like me?

Chickpea xx