Friday, 9 August 2013

A Random Act of Kindness on Eid

Inside the box we were given...

...beautiful honey mangoes!
Today I'd like to share something that happened to me and my husband yesterday: 
We were rushing around grabbing stuff from an Asian supermarket for our daughter's 21st birthday party, and keen to get home to cook. Yesterday many people here were celebrating Eid as it was Eid in Mecca (and today many will celebrate Eid too), so the street was filled with bustle as everyone was getting ready. Outside the shop a tall man dressed in traditional Arabic clothes stopped us, holding out a small, lidded cardboard box. "Mangoes are the best fruit in the world!" he said to my husband, "And today it is Eid. Eid Mubarak! Take these; you are a good man, God bless you!" And, shaking hands with us, he gave us the box, which contained six beautiful honey mangoes. We thanked him and wished him well as he continued to hand out boxes of mangoes to everyone passing by.
We were bowled over and deeply touched. Not only by the fact that we now had some delicious fruit to offer to Krishna and add to our fast-diminishing fruit basket at home, but by that man's unreserved generosity and kindness. In that magical moment there were no barriers of culture, religion, language or gender- just the warmth of human contact. You are a good man. Those words rang in my ears for hours; that man's positive affirmation of us had warmed our hearts well and truly.
It's so sad that all too often different cultural communities living in the same place don't get on; there has been so much mutual suspicion, hate crime and racial tension in the UK lately that it's sometimes hard to reach out and build/ rebuild bridges. That's where food comes in; and that's one of the reasons I love food blogging- food can nourish body, mind and soul when prepared and served in the right frame of mind and no matter where we live in this world, we all need to eat. It's a great leveller. When someone gives us food we feel nurtured, acknowledged, happy. We feel more connected with the person who gave it to us.
 Hoping to cultivate in myself this non-sectarian and kindly attitude to others, to all of you who are celebrating at this time: Eid Mubarak! And Hare Krishna to everyone.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Vegan nachos

Use however many- or few- tortilla chips as you like, but be generous with the toppings!
Today was the perfect opportunity to put into practice an idea we had earlier this week: nachos! They are a great "fun" lunch for the holidays and just the mention of nachos will put a smile on the dourest of faces- especially when the recipients are vegan and have not been able to enjoy them since they gave up cheese. Here's how to make everyone happy:
Make a decent vegan nacho cheese sauce- regular readers will know that we eschew bought vegan hard "cheeses" as they are inevitably highly processed and contain fillers like potato starch. Use plain salted tortilla chips rather than those with artificial flavourings. (Or you could use kale chips instead if you want to keep it raw). Serve with a range of toppings, including guacamole/ avocado, your favourite salsa, salad, olives, plain soya yoghurt or even refried beans. Scroll down below this picture to see exactly what to do and get the recipes for the accompaniments:

Plain salted tortilla chips
Sliced avocado or guacamole- recipe here 
Awesome vegan nacho cheese sauce- recipe here - just make it a little runnier with some more water
Your favourite salsa- recipe suggestion here
Refried beans if you like- instructions here for lower fat version 
Some olives, salad, soya yoghurt, cashew cheese etc.
  • Chop any salad veggies/ avocado ready. (Sprinkle lemon juice on avocado slices to stop them browning.)
  • Using a balloon whisk for extra smoothness, make the nacho cheese sauce.
  • Put the salsa together.
  • Have any other accompaniments made up and on hand.
  • Arrange the chips on a plate and drizzle on plenty of cheese sauce. You can leave them cold or use a microwave or grill to heat them gently- but be careful not to dry the sauce out.
  • Serve covered with or accompanied by all the other stuff, and dig in!

This post also goes to Simply Food's  Flavours of Mexico Event, hosted by Jagruti's cooking Odyssey

Monday, 5 August 2013

Our New Polytunnel Part 2: The Fruits of our Labours...

Salad from the polytunnel: cucumber, tomato, courgette flowers, baby courgettes- and that's not even the lettuce! (The olives were not home grown though)

We're feeling really happy that our new polytunnel has turned out to be a worthwhile investment, and veg production is getting into full swing in there- just take a look:

Remember how it looked back in May? Now everything is so much taller!

It's so handy to have lettuce and rocket available just feet from the kitchen! We also interplanted with beetroot- you can just see the red stalks.

The cucumbers are starting to bear fruit quite prolifically.

Helda and climbing French beans just love the warmth and shelter indoors!

We even have a kadoo plant...

...But the tomatoes steal the show every time.

These beauties will be purple when ripe- can't wait!

We have all sizes, from cherry and plum through to these Russian ones which are already as big as my fist.