Sort-of-kind-of-vegetarian

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About three weeks ago I kind of made a decision. I say kind of because it wasn’t a very conscious decision but more of a logical step that just seemed to happen.

I became something of a vegetarian.

Wait. Stop. Don’t throw your hands up in anger just yet! I know that for many this is a cardinal sin and until only a couple of months ago I too would take great pleasure in mocking vegetarians about the absurdity of their dietary requirements. Just hear me out a little.

The truth is I’m not entirely a vegetarian. What I’m aiming for is more localtarian but this is my first step. I don’t have any ethical issues with the actual consumption of meat, nor do I get very sentimental about the treatment of the poor wee animals in its production. My concerns are primarily social and ecological.

This year I’ve taken two ethics classes, one on economics and one on technology, which have taught me a huge amount and challenged me on many things. One of those is how the production of our food impacts our environment and our human relationships and, more so, the potential that our food has to positively impact these things!

Food that is produced on mass, under the auspices of a few multi-national corporations, in highly controlled environments that rely primarily on technology, I believe, is incredibly destructive. In order to grow more cheaper and sell more bigger we have compromised the integrity of our food production. We’ve lost crop variety, become reliant on pesticides, farmed so intensively that the land cannot cope, manipulated the biology of our livestock, increased the amount of waste and pollution from the industry and robbed farmers of their craft. It’s not right that a supermarket chain can dictate the length, diameter, colour and straightness of the carrots I eat. Nor is it right that they can tie a farmer into a contract which allows them to give him three days notice for a full harvest. We have become so detached from the reality of nature and the reality of our food. We don’t know what’s in it or how it is produced. I no longer want to be a part of that system. 

I want to know where my food comes from. And I mean know as in more than a country of origin on a label. I want to be able to visit that farm and see the crops that could one day end up on my table. I want a farmer who understands how the land works, how to care for and conserve it as much as, if not more than, his profit margins. I want a farmer who respects her livestock and sees it as a part of the bigger cycle of nature, rather than just meat to be fattened up and consumed. I want my food to have used as little oil as possible – in feed, in fertiliser, in packaging and in shipping.

Maybe I’m being idealistic. Perhaps this is completely utopian, fine for me as an individual but unrealistic if we’re to feed the world. Fine. I’m okay with that. I’m going to work on the log in my own eye first and maybe someday I’ll get to the speck in my brother’s. So I’m not going to buy or cook meat for the foreseeable future (my one exception will be an In’n’Out burger when I get to California – if you’ve had one, you’ll understand) and I’ll be looking in to more local fruit and veg very soon. I should point out that if other people buy and prepare the meat, I’m going to be okay with eating it because I won’t have directly contributed to the industry, so friends and flatmates can rest easy. It’s a Romans 1:20 kind of thing.

Localtarianism. I like it.

Post-Christmas

We all know that one of the best things about post-Christmas is the left-overs. We had two Christmas dinners this year, one on Friday and one on Sunday, due to relatives coming and going, so there were even more varieties of meat left over than usual. The obvious conclusion being this:

Bacon
Mini-sausages
Cheddar cheese
Turkey
Cranberry Jelly
Stuffing
Gammon
Duck
Orange Sauce

AMAZING.

We’ve decided it’s going to be a new tradition and that we’re not going to eat for a number of days, or a few hours at the very least!!

9pm Cravings

About 9pm last night I got this hankering for a cinnamon roll. The Americans infected me with the cinnamon bug and last night I really wanted one of these pastry-cinnamon-swirls of goodness.

So I tuned in to Radio nan Gaidheal (Gaelic radio is what we do in my kitchen) and I baked me some. And I took pictures. This is what happens when I don’t have adult/flatmate supervision.

I used this recipe: 90 Minute Cinnamon Rolls, and this one: Perfect Cinnamon Roll Icing.

So here’s the dough, all kneaded and ready to be rolled.

After I rolled it out I spread the brown sugar, margarine and cinnamon filling over it. Rolling it out was a little tricky because, even though I had let it rest for the prescribed 10 minutes, the yeast made it super springy.

Then I rolled it up and sliced it into pretty little cog-wheel type things.

The recipe then said to leave them to rise for 30 minutes. I was quite sceptical about whether or not anything would actually happen but they really did rise (as much as they could in the dish I had squished them into).

So then it was 11:20pm and time to put them in the oven. And twenty minutes later all my dreams had come true!

Slice them up, add the icing and you have the best (though most sugar filled and least sleep appropriate) midnight snack ever!

They’re not as good as the ones I had in SF but they’re not bad for a first attempt!

Oh, and a little advice: get that dish in the sink quick! I had only left mine for five minutes but the sugar had already gone all crusty and boy was it fun to scrape off!

 

Mince Pies

I love mince pies.

Warm with a little cream.

First mince pie signifies the start of the Christmas season.

But they get a little samey. So my dad and I got super excited by Jamie Oliver’s version which he made on his programme the other night. And our’s looked like this:

And they tasted just as good as they look!!

They’re super simple. Just roll out some pre-made puff pastry, thinly spread it with mince meat mixed with chopped dried cranberries, orange zest and a dash of brandy. Roll it up and chop into 24. Then, use a couple of  sheets of pre-made filo pastry basted with melted butter to cover 2 cupcake tins and place each little pin wheel mince pie in each cup cake hole. You can baste them with some beaten egg and sprinkle with flaked almonds if you’d like before sticking them in the oven @ 200C or gas mark 6 for 30 minutes.

They’ll come out like this:

Once they’ve cooled you just turn them out of the tray and crack the filo pastry to get your individual pies! Sprinkle with a little icing sugar and you are good to serve.

Simples.

Merry Christmas!!

Feeding the 5000

There’s a brilliant thing happening in Trafalgar Square tomorrow:

A Free Lunch for 5000 People

On the 16th December a free lunch made from delicious ingredients that would otherwise have been wasted will be prepared for 5000 people. Our aim is to highlight the ease of cutting the unimaginable levels of food waste in the UK and internationally.

I love this idea!

They say:

There are nearly one billion malnourished people in the world, but the approximately 40 million tonnes of food wasted by US households, retailers and food services each year would be enough to satisfy the hunger of every one of them.

All the world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe

The amount of food we waste is crazy!

The Grass Market Mission here in Edinburgh partners with Fareshare who supply them with food that would otherwise be wasted by supermarkets. I’ve seen some brilliant meals cooked with ingredients you probably wouldn’t go near in the supermarket – our expectations of perfectly shaped, coloured and sized fruit and veg is ridiculous! We waste so much when we cook – save it for leftovers for breakfast!

Pancakes and Smoke Detectors

This morning I decided to make me some pancakes for breakfast. I was given Jamie Oliver’s “Ministry of Food” cookbook for Christmas and have been really enjoying using his recipes (mum is determined I’ll be able to cook before I go to uni) and his pancake one is particularly simple – so simple even I shouldn’t be able to screw it up.

But I do.

I can’t seem to get the temperature of the frying pan right. I always burn the butter which leaves lovely black burnt bits which are a real pain in the neck to scrub off. I think I may also be using too much butter. 

So this morning my kitchen filled with smoke once again, as did the hallway and living room. I turned the extractor fan on as high as it would go and opened the back door to the garden but the smoke prevailed! 

It was at this point that we realised the smoke detector wasn’t going off. It really should have been but there wasn’t a peep out of it. Mum went and pressed the button but there was nothing. So I’m off to find some batteries.

Go and check your smoke alarms people! Pressing the little button won’t kill you. You should especially do it if people in your house are still in bed – I know it’s a Saturday but really, it half eleven already!!

(There was one triumph this morning though – I managed to flip the pancakes without any catastrophes!!)