Sunday, 31 August 2008
Technically, Food Neurotic Friend made the soup. FNF did not endear himself to me when he ignored my instructions to use the old wizened carrots from my old vegetable box, having explained to him the premise of the Friday morning soup. Instead I came back to the room to find him merrily peeling the brand new carrots, having made his executive chef decision that fresh ingredients in soup make all the difference without consulting me.
Despite this altercation, not the best start to a weekend, it was a really good soup, one of the best I've ever had. I wish I had taken a photo to document this culinary delight. We added coriander and natural yogurt, and I added a cube of cold butter when I whizzed it in the blender (a chef's tip FNF learned on a cooking course to make your soup restaurant quality.) It was one of those meals where you take each spoonful gingerly, pausing to reflect, carefully considering just which of the ingredients it is that really gives it an edge, determining a theory which is then challenged by the very next mouthful. And so you begin again. In the end, you may conclude that it was the fresh coriander that did the trick.
- Manufactured in compliance with Good Manufacturing Practice, governing the manufacture of cosmetic products.
- Water-soluble make-up.
- Skin colours are dermatologically tested.
I'm not sure this is quite enough to warrant calling it eco-friendly?
I also came across some recipes for making your own face paint with cornflour and food colouring. It sounds like a good solution if you are playing with children at home, but I'm not willing to take this on as an en masse solution - does anyone know a good brand?
Thursday, 28 August 2008
- Two people living together is more energy efficient than one, and reduces food waste.
- Meeting someone who lives locally reduces the relationship commute.
- And the most convincing; people who are interested in sustainability issues may be more interested in sustaining a relationship?
* It's in Balham, South London, coming up soon, on 20th September.
Monday, 25 August 2008
At Greenbelt I also watched a Morgan Spurlock film, What would Jesus buy? It's a documentary which follows Reverend Billy, a bleached blond man with a mission and his own denomination, the Church of Stop Shopping.* Now, I don't know the doctrinal detail, but I think the idea is to make Americans think about the consequences of their consumerist society - both on themselves and on the people who make the goods.
Although there's not progression during the film, and I was a bit concerned how much his wife was 'directing' him, the film did quote some great statistics about consumer debt, and although there comedy act is unlikely to lead to widespread conversion, hopefully it will have made someone think about what they're doing before they open their purse.
*Do you think donations to this church are tax-deductible?
Festival highlights for me this year included:
- Iain Archer, an old favourite, who won an Ivor Novello award for songwriting for Snow Patrol, and just had his track advertise Friends Reunited on tv - this is the song. I've been following his music for more than half my life...
- Silent Light - a slow-moving but beautiful film about Mexican Mennonites which won the Jury Prize at Cannes 2007.
- Simon Parke - an ex-vicar who has a weekly column in the Daily Mail about the characters he met while working in a supermarket for three years.
There were quite a few talks with an environmental slant; if you're interested you can order or download them online. This is one of them:
An Inconvenient Truth 2 by Andy Mellen.
"Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the car, increases in the price of food and fuel are causing concern here, and hardship around the world. How can we understand the underlying realities and face an uncertain future with hope?"
A question for all of us.
- eating leftover lying-low tomato sauce for four days straight. I made it again for a friend coming for dinner. I had good intentions of using up all my food waste too - the sauce calls for the onions to be discarded at the end of the recipe. I was making carrot and lentil soup with leftover carrots from my vegetable box, and the recipe called for tinned tomatoes and onions. So I thought I would just chuck in the onions from the sauce. This would have worked if I hadn't burned the lentils to smithereens.
- not washing for four days. Not by choice, mind you - I have just returned from the Greenbelt Festival.
Festival food is somewhat of a challenge. My friend Ruth and I were camping, and I made an attempt at bringing my own food so that I wouldn't spend a fortune buying food from the stalls around. Well, deep in my heart I knew the call of homemade chickpeas with lemon juice and freeze-dried parmesan wouldn't resound that loudly with me...so I looked around for more appealing options. There weren't many. My favourite festival option is the Tea and Toast Van.
They serve Fair Trade and organic food, and it's all vegetarian and locally sourced where they can. I had to draw the line at the veggie-bacon option (it looked like a rather unpleasant mortadella), but the mozzarella and red pepper tapenade toastie I had was very tasty. Oh, and they have free fruit for kids. There were a few vans which sold organic burgers and sausages direct from their farm (a great idea for a farm to diversify like that, I think) - but on the whole I think sticking to vegetarian is the way forward at these events...
My Eco Self is definitely drawn to pastel-coloured vans. Remember Lola's ice-cream van? I still think selling food from a pastel-coloured van may be my culinary calling.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Sunday, 17 August 2008
I especially love this yogurt notebook, from Photobird's shop. It has graph paper in it, which I love, and I would love to carry this around in an old, battered-up leather satchel, rescued from an unloved pile at a Parisian flea market. That's if I'd ever been to one. I'd fill it with lucid and articulate musings, all written in a dark blue ink from a fountain pen; beginnings of poetry, noting small coincidences I see, recording overheard snatches of conversations to inspire my next novel-writing project.
However, this is what is more likely to happen. I'll write a to-do list, something like the following:
- Write a letter to the council to complain about having to pay to have my garden waste collected. This is a serious bone of contention for me - their suggestion is that people should be composting, or taking their waste to the tip. My garden is overgrown all the time from my neighbour's overhanging plants, which takes lot of maintenance. It is a tiny garden and there is no room for a composter (at some point I will take a picture to demonstrate.) Unless anyone knows where to get a small one - I tried this strategy before, and it didn't work.* A lot of my friends have councils who collect garden waste for free. Oh, and I'm being eco-friendly by not having a car, so I can't take it to the tip. Grrr.
- Make doctor's appointment
- Update my CV
Then I will throw the notebook in the bottom of my bag and never look at it again until some stray chocolate melts all over my bag and over the notebook.
Or something like that.**
Photobird also has a beautiful blog, Simply Breakfast. I have been inspired by it to take more care in the presentation of my food, and this morning I snipped some flowers from the overhanging neighbour's plant, and arranged them nicely in an old milk bottle. I may have a latent talent as a stylist, not yet realised.
* Please don't suggest a wormery; I can't deal with scraping out dead worms. **This may have happened already.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
2 cups tinned plum tomatoes (I used two tins)
1 medium white onion, peeled and cut in half
pinch of salt
1. Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter, and the onion halves in a medium saucepan.
2. Add a pinch or two of salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, at a very slow but steady simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free from the tomato.
3. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and salt as needed.
4. Discard the onion.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Monday: -£35 dictaphone for some freelance writing I'm doing (not very lucrative either.)
-£4.95 jiffy bags to send off Ebay parcels, & graph paper (will reveal more later.)
Total : -£13.95. Not sure this strategy is going to work.
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Gemma's sister, "I'm going to get one too."
Friday, 8 August 2008
She quotes Julie Burchill, who can't stand the eco-warriors, describing them as "po-faced, unsexy, public school alumni who drivel on about the end of the world because they don't want the working classes to have any fun, go on foreign holidays or buy cheap clothes."
But she cites the main reason for a cultural shift away from being green as being the credit crunch.
I have always had rather 'light green' principles, which have stopped far short of solar panels on my roof. I have tried to embrace an organic lifestyle as much as possible, mostly eating organic, Fair Trade, and seasonal food, not buying cut flowers from Africa (see previous post on flowers) and using natural beauty products (some of the time). But this probably comes more out of a concern for my health and the ethical treatment of others, rather than the environment. But yesterday I bought a tin of non-organic tomatoes for the first time in ages, because they were 44p compared to 88p for the organic ones.* I covertly ran to the till before some eco-spy saw me doing it...
A friend who studied Agriculture at university gave me a lecture recently about buying organic food, saying it is a London middle-class phenomenom (as in the Times article) but that people in developing countries were never going to be able to eat organically as the yield from an organic crop is much lower than a non-organic crop, and how we have a whole world to feed. It made me think.
*This was in Waitrose. I live equidistant from Waitrose and Lidl - I should check out if Lidl has a cheaper organic option.
A better strategy altogether would be to eat everything in my organic box before the new one arrives. Food Neurotic Friend would go mad if he could see the mango I forgot to eat from last week's box. Must do better.
Thursday, 7 August 2008
In an attempt to regain credibility and bring this back to the eco issue, Artichoke has written a good piece recently on his seasonal food of the week, fennel - have a look.
After reading the 2007 War on Want reports on cut flowers My Eco Self feels strongly that I would like ethical wedding flowers.
Fair Flowers Fair Plants gives accreditation to florists and wholesalers who meet their ethical standards. You can type in your postcode and find a florist near where you live. Jayne Copperwaite is a London florist whose wedding bouquets have been featured on GMTV. For sending bouquets for other occasions, Arena Flowers is an online retailer who deliver all over the UK.
I try to catch a glance when I give them the obligatory wedding kisses and congratulations, but I’m blinded by the glare of what I know to be a ten-carat Tiffany engagement ring. There’s a blinding fireworks display.
“Are fireworks environmentally friendly?” I ask FNF. “What do you think?” he replies, half-distracted by scouring the dance floor for a potential conquest.
I’m not really listening to him either, waiting patiently and nonchalantly for the bride to throw her wedding bouquet, but there’s no activity.
“Is she going to throw the bouquet?” I ask the bride’s mother.
“No, I don’t think she wants to waste the bouquet when she can dry them.”
My Eco Self doesn’t think that confirming my future destiny is a waste of a bouquet, especially when they’d only been picked five minutes before, and I’ve never known the bride to be a Martha Stewart type who’d install a framed portfolio of pressed petals in her designer apartment.
“If I’d known that I’d have picked a few more flowers for a spare,” I mumble to no-one in particular, Food Neurotic Friend appearing to be making some progress with a petite bridesmaid half his age.
“I prefer it when they have embarrassing childhood photos,” I whisper to Food Neurotic Friend, a mutual friend of the betrothed.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
The next day I get an e-mail from FNF’s flatmate.
“I was introduced this morning to the idea of Eco Bear,” he wrote, “and I know lots of illustrators if you need a contact”.
I have stern words with FNF, not the first.
"That was a rough draft", I tell him, "not for public consumption".
"I only read it to Chris", he says, "and I sent it to Claire and to Jim to see what they thought. They're parents - they know more about children than you and I".
“I know more about children than you do” I retort, my social circle swamped by domestic mum friends with babies.
“You don’t seem very maternal to me”.
My Eco Self is hurt at the attack on my motherhood potential, not yet realised.
Update 27th Sept 08: My Eco Self has since discovered the brilliant children's book, Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel. Ellie just came and did an author event at an eco fair I organised. Almost as exciting is that the sequel - Litterbug Doug is coming soon!
Monday, 4 August 2008
Sunday, 3 August 2008
Little Green Radicals had a stall - I love their slogan tee-shirts for kids. My favourite is "Give Peas a Chance". They had a special fair offer - one for £9 or two for £15.
If you're free today you should check it out - there's so much going on.