Monday, 24 September 2012

Tractors, inkdrops and padlocks

It's that time of the week again when I find myself looking through my photostream wondering what on earthbive been up to lately. I obviously don't have any photos relating to last week's bout of illness.

However I did enjoy a lovely meal out at The Saracen's Head in Dunmow where they actually seemed thrilled when I said I was vegan as opposed to really confused. However I was a little confused as they'd changed from summer to autumn menu between me booking a table and our actual meal. That said they did a very nice job providing me with a 'mushroom' burger and a rather refreshing fruit salad (because it wasn't drowning in juice). Yes I should have started taking photos before eating but I was hungry.

Fruit salad
I also had a nice afternoon standing outside a pub watching a carnival parade, admiring tractors and making friends with dogs.

Pub sigh
And then I embraced a week of telling the world about Inkdrops, sending odd emails (some things will never be super) and being ill.

Happily recovery allowed me to see the Munch exhibition at the Tate Modern (bought back my teenage obsession with his work), go to a burlesque show with friends (lots of whooping, laughing and general fun) and indulge in large bowls of food (being ill makes me really hungry). I enjoyed this combo of cos lettuce, sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, radishes, yellow peppers, celery, crispy tofu and tahini dressing while reading Ms Peregrine's home for peculiar children.

While crossing the Millenium Bridge to reach the Tate Modetn I couldn't help but notice all the padlocks attached to it

Millennium bridge and padlocks
It turns out they are some kind of trend for declaring one's undying affection. One simply writes the initials, name or longer message on a padlock, affixes it to a bridge and throws away the key.

Millennium bridge and padlocks
Anyway here's to a week of feeling alive once again. I'm off to source cardboard boxes, emerald green frilly knickers and follow up a new angle on feather free boas.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

What's in my lunchbox this week? Memory failure

Lunchbox of food
I was in a slight panic on Sunday night about what would go in my lunchbox. I'd planned to do some kind of lentil dish but could work out what els to throw in. Then I opened the fridge and found that I'd got various things that I'd bought or made and completely forgotten about. Clearly I need to shop in a less random manner, not get seduced by fresh produce and eat memory enhancing stuff.

From top right (clockwise):

  • Victoria plums - so sweet, so sour, so chilled, so delicious
  • Celery - does anyone else find that celery seems to have a ridiculously low freezing point?
  • Tamarind lentils (from Veganomicon) with addition of home grown potatoes and spinach
  • Pineapple cake -adaptation of the right side up pineapple cupcakes from Vegan cupcakes take over the world.

Monday, 10 September 2012

My weekend - vegan cake, friends and the great outdoors

I'm seriously starting to enjoy going back to work on Mondays for a rest. Between preparations for cabaret night, work on an exciting, soon-to-be- announced project with Carla from Ducking Fabulous, and my usual weekend routines I'm worn out by Sunday night.

Last night I made the mistake of working on something right up until I went to bed. Consequently when I went to bed I couldn't get to sleep.

So ley's look at cheerier things like this awesome sandwich I consumed at the start of the weekend (Thursday is the new Friday, right?). It was a fabulous combination of aubergine (dipped in gram flour and fried), tomatoes, and baked tofu. Perfect served with a mug of tea and a few pages of Stephen King.

Sandwich and book
Saturday morning's regular walk was great. The weather was lovely, the trail was quiet and the countryside was at its best. It felt like the start of summer, not the end.

After all that exercise I felt the need to spend Saturday afternoon consuming cake. I had a fab time chating with friends and exchanging options on bubonic squirrels, Ponygirls and American cuisine. I wanted to share the vegan love (and ensure that I had plenty of sugar) so I took my latest version of Aero fridgecake and a pineapple cake.

Sunday was photo free because (a) my allotment is too barren for pictures, (b) you can't take pictures while dancing, and (c) food consumed on Sunday just wasn't photogenic.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

What's in my lunchbox this week? Organised eating

Lunchbox with food
The start of September sees a return to getting organised, preparing food on weekends an experimenting with new recipes.

I took advantage of the nice man on the fruit and vegetable stall and snapped up 3 pineapples for a quid plus some Victoria plums. I don't like over sweet things and this combination of sweet and sour is fantastic.

The other two spaces are taken up by not one but two new recipes.

I've often marinated tofu in some manner and then baked it so I just had to try Hasselback tofu when I saw a recipe on lunch box bunch I had to give it a go. It turned out great and was so easy to do. The spread of flavour is good and I found it an excellent opportunity to use up odds and ends of various sauces. I have no idea why it looks like a portobello mushroom in the photo above. Clearly my food styling needs to move beyond open lunchbox and point camera.

Regardless of their appearance (another food styling triumph!) the final item is not a chocolate chip muffin. I adore l corn bread, muffins and the Vegan Lunchbox cookbook but I'd never tried the corn pone muffins recipe before. The instructions warned against the mixture getting too wet but I found mine too dry! Despite the addition of some extra soy milk, salsa and chopped jalapeƱos things remained on the solid side. As a result my black beans just sat on top, masqueraded as choclate chips and went crispy. However these are delicious and a recipe I will make again. I am planning to stir the beans into the mix next time or make a hole for the spoonful of beans to go in.

Monday, 3 September 2012

The art of a well planned life

Pile of notebooks
I've always been a bit uncertain about long term planning. While I love the idea of having a five year I know it's simply not for me. For starters I have trouble actually thinking where I want to be at that distance point. I have a terrible feeling that I'd get to my goal 5 years down the line and realise that I know wanted something else. We live in a dynamic world.

That said making a lifetime to do list has proved to be an interesting experience. Since following the advice in Getting Things Done I've been pleasantly surprised that I done things that I consider to be life experiences (for want of a better phrase) without even trying. I don't know if I've become better at spotting opportunities or just was doing things like this all the time and didn't notice.

However that doesn't mean that I don't like making plans. While I'm a bit more fluid in my approach to the long term, in the shorter term I like to be very clear about what I'm doing.

Over the summer I seemed to lose some of my regular routines. Weekends at picnics, car boot sales and music festivals ate up my organisation time. While part of me is horrified that my life revolves around Monday-to-Friday-9-to-5, I appreciate that it's as good a structure as any other. So I see weekends as a real opportunity to prepare for the week ahead.

And this morning I really reaped the benefits. Routines allow us get the stuff we need done and leave the brain to get on with being creative. So waking up to lunch ready to pack, clean ironed clothes, and not worrying about what on earth to eat for dinner was great.

It takes a very small amount of effort on a regular basis to keep routines ticking over. Little and often (on a great many projects) had better be my phrase for Autumn.