As you know from last week’s post, I’m on a mission to show that British food can be beautiful and tasty. So during my second and final week of celebrating British Food Fortnight I wanted to show off what food culture in this country is really all about and tackle a national favourite: The British pud!
Just like last week, I used cookbooks from the 1920s, 1930s and 1950s as my starting point. This time around, the thing that struck me was how much space each cookbook dedicated to desserts. In fact, about 50% of each cookbook was solely and completely about the art of preparing a good pudding that would make your fellow middle class female friends grind their teeth with envy and blush in awe. Fascinating stuff this thing of stepping back in time.
Looking through those cookbooks also showed me how the Brits’ obsession with a good old pud goes wayyyyyy back. It’s practically in their DNA. So the pressure of coming up with the goods was on.
Earlier this year, my 4-year-old son and I (my husband joined us later) took an epic journey to the Americas. We’d talked about the trip for weeks and were both beyond excited as we boarded our plane on a Thursday evening and set off to the first of many destinations: Miami, Florida.
To be frank, I had been quite nervous about travelling and especially about visiting the States (You know, I always feel rather overwhelmed and saddened by the excessive availability of cheap, unhealthy convenience foods on offer when I enter the US and I was worried about how my son would manage this new and surely tempting experience. (He was fine by the way)).
I knew that cooking and eating healthily far away from the comforts of my own kitchen wouldn’t be straight forward, so I needed to do lots of pre-planning and thinking about how best to make it all work. Sure, I didn’t want to obsess about food either, but I certainly wanted to be cautious and avoid any processed, (factory farmed) animal-based foods, if at all possible.
The flight went well. I brought a lot of healthy food with me and bought some water at the airport, meaning we ate really well and stayed hydrated for the whole of the plane journey. What I hadn’t expected was what happened at passport control…
I have been really keen to use this blog as a space to experiment and to explore what I am capable of in the kitchen. I feel The Little Plantation is the perfect excuse to step out of my comfort zone and just go for it. If I can’t be a daredevil in real life, I better be one in cyberspace, right?
My biggest fear has always been baking bread. I know it’s a bit ridiculous but I just never knew how or where to start and frankly I thought all that kneading business looked rather complicated. Plus I believed that you needed lots of patience (something I lack) and heaps of time (something I never have enough of) (SPOILER ALERT: I was right, you need both but it’s totally worth it and it ain't as bad as it sounds).
So, instead of making my own bread I’ve just popped into the supermarket and bought the best loaf I could find. But deep down inside of me I’ve always known that there is so much I am missing out on by going down that easy route. One of my yoga students put it really poignantly, she said: ‘We all originate from a place where we use our hands, sit around a fire, chat, share stories and make beautiful things.’
Sometimes all your stars align, destiny firmly grabs hold of the steering wheel and you are lead in one direction and one direction alone. Guess what? That’s exactly what happened with me and this pistachio yoghurt. Personally, I even think the pistachio yoghurt fairies were calling my name super loudly cuz this yoghurt just had to happen and this is the story of how everything came about:
Event 1: A few months ago I had been told about this magnificent book called The Art of Fermentation. And ever since that day I had been lusting over it. And then, after weeks of contemplating, I took the plunge and bought it! (I contemplated because I buy WAY too many books and do need to reign myself in, you see).
Tada, so here it is! THE post I’ve been hinting at for a quite while now. I am beyond excited about the video (watch it here) and I’m so keen to hear what you all make of it. I do you enjoy it.
The day of the shoot was loads of fun (with some boring and repetitive bits in between, but it’s all for a good cause, right?). I got to work with the lovely husband and wife team, Jo and Raf from Joasis Photography, who also took the pictures of me on my ‘about’ page. They are talented with a good eye for detail and they are always the people I turn to for anything to do with photography. So when the idea of a video came up, it felt natural to approach them about it. They were super enthusiastic and had lots of ideas and this, my friends, is the end product!
It was a given, pretty much from the start that my little sister Sumera would lend her beautiful voice and song writing talents to this video and I’m so, so pleased that this collaboration has turned into something so beautiful. The song we used 'Try' is my favourite song from her last EP and I’m dying to hear her new stuff, which is due to be released in October. You can follow Sumera on facebook, check her out on youtube or listen to her last EP here.
''When I practice I am a philosoper. When I teach, I am a scientist. When I demonstrate, I am an artist.'' - BKS Iyenger - 14/1218 - 20/08/14
A few weeks ago I shared snippets of my life as a yoga teacher. You can read all about it here, but today I wanted to muse about the joys of being a yoga student…
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we: Being a yoga student is pretty awesome! I get to listen and follow the sound of my breath and observe its ebb and flow as I move every muscle and work every joint in my body. Moreover, when I step into the practice space I feel happy, I feel alive and I feel free. (Of course, there has been some blood, tons of sweat and loads of tears but that story is for another day...).
The best part of my practice however comes at the very end; it is then that I get to indulge in a long, peaceful savasana (corpse pose, the part where you lie down and can just ‘be’) and feel like I have arrived at the place I was always meant to be.
In a perfect world and in the perfect home, I’d be the perfect wife, perfect mother and perfect cook who does all her meal plans weeks, no, MONTHS in advance. There would never been over-ripe fruit lingering in the fruit bowl or unused veg in the fridge as everything would be bought at the right time and in the right quantity. Of course, that’s not what happens in our house! Instead, I buy what catches my eye, a little more if it’s on at a special price and too much if I’m super greedy.
“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul’’ - Rumi
At the end of this year I will have completed my 6th year as a yoga teacher! How can that be - I still feel more like a yoga student than a teacher!? And 6 eventful years they have been; from starting off in a cold room with a leaky roof and dodgy floor, to finding myself surrounded by 16 pregnant yoginis in a stunning converted warehouse – I couldn’t have asked for more.
NOTE: The pictures for this blog post were in part updated in June, 2016.
Question: What’s even better than making some fabulicious, seasonal plant-based food? Answer: Making it and sharing it with someone you ADORE. And for this week’s blog post I got to do just that as my gorgeous and über-talented little sis’ Sumera flew all the way from Berlin to come and visit hubby, son and ME in our humble London home.
Sumera might look familiar as she was one of the finalists on the Dutch X Factor a few years ago and apart from being graced with a voice that sends chills down my spine, this little tweety bird can put together a fierce plate of food too. We were ‘cooking’ up a storm in the kitchen, preparing a recipe handed down to us by my mama. So a true family affair all the way ‘round which resulted in a bowl full of LOVE.
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”
Sorry it all went a bit quiet last week, but I was out of town, in the most magical place and I am so excited I can finally tell you about it! Where to start? Gosh, well my husband, son and I spent 7 wonderful days and nights on our yearly yoga holiday hosted by the lovely Gingi and Ella from the Shala in London (more about that soon ;)). The week long retreat took place in a quiet country village in the Cevennes, a breath-taking, luscious mountain range in South-Central France, about an hour inland from the coastal city of Montpellier. Oh, it was so enchanting…
The avocado is a bit of a star in the raw vegan world, isn’t it? And it is easy to see why - avocado is so versatile, wonderfully nourishing and utterly delicious. Consequently, it is often used in green vegan smoothies and luscious raw ‘cheese’ cakes. Essentially, what the avocado does to perfection is lend all these desserts a smooth, creamy texture without impacting negatively on their taste.
It’s mind-blowing all that it can do, but my husband says that we’re corrupting the poor avocado; that it was never meant to be hidden in some sweet drink or worse still a raw vegan chocolate mousse. Instead he feels avocado should take centre stage in a savoury dish, the good old fashioned way. (Although ironically, on a recent business trip to Indonesia the locals were appalled when they saw my husband sprinkle salt on his avocado. After much persuasion, they tried it, apprehensively, with a polite smile, before quickly scraping the salt off and reverting back to using their avocado where it belonged – in a sweet smoothie, thank you very much! LOL!)
NOTE: The pictures were updated in July 2015
This month, exactly 14 years ago I moved to the UK. YIKES, how time flies! Will I stay in London forever? Gosh, that’s a tough question. Actually, that’s a very tough question. Thing is, I’ve got a little bit of a love/hate relationship with this place. You see when the days are dark, gloomy and grey and it feels like I’m living on Noah’s Ark because the rain just keeps on falling, then I absolutely hate it!
And then, slowly but surely the clouds clear away and Spring arrives in all her glory. With her appearance the short dark days make way for longer and lighter ones. And as if by magic, suddenly and gracefully London comes into her own. London’s countless open spaces turn a lush and beautiful green and it’s then you know that London’s reputation as the greenest city in European is well and truly deserved.
I recently received an e-mail from one of my readers asking me about my stance on sugar. WOW! Big question there. It’s one though that I ponder about quite a lot myself and seeing that I’m posting yet another dessert recipe I feel it’s time to share my (still evolving) thoughts briefly.
Like most of us, I love sweet treats (I really, really, really do!). And if it's plant-based and raw, even better! But I also think it’s wrong to assume that just because a dessert is refined sugar free, vegan, raw or gluten free that it’s automatically healthy for us and/or that we can consume it in unlimited quantities.
It’s been somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster, this whole blogging thing. Ok, so I’m being a bit of a drama queen, but honestly I’m only exaggerating mildly.
There have been a number of lovely highs – my beetroot and orange ice lollies were chosen as vscofashionfood of the day; they were also made recipe of the day by veganfoodlovers on Instagram. And veganfoodshare featured my papatas-not-so-bravas on their Instagram account – what an honour!
But then there are some days where things don’t quite go as planned; and today’s recipe really embodies the downs of my rollercoaster ride. Sure, the recipe itself is stunning, if I may say so ;). The recipe is simple and easy and appeals to young and old. It doesn’t require any fancy schmantsy equipment, is so nourishing and the taste….OMG a-mazing! BUT… I am so, so, SO disappointed with the pictures I took :). I feel I’ve let the recipe down with these photos and let myself down big time too.
Today I wanted to muse a tiny little bit about the raw food movement, especially because I often get asked if I am a raw foodist and what my stance is on the matter. I know many of you are well aware what ‘eating raw’ means, but I also appreciate that not everyone has heard of raw foodism, so I thought I’d very briefly outline what it is all about.
As I understand it, some people choose to eat uncooked and raw plant based foods because they believe that fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables’ nutritional content is at its highest when in its raw, natural, whole and unprocessed form. They believe that once foods are cooked over 42C, they lose most, if not all of their nutrients. Raw foodists often refer to raw foods as ‘living foods’ because it is their belief that uncooked fruits and vegetables contain natural, living enzymes, which the human body needs to build proteins and to maintain optimum health. Many raw foodists argue that humans have thrived on raw, unprocessed foods for centuries and that cooked foods build up toxins in the body, thereby depriving us of much needed nutrients. They also believe that raw foods help us fight off illness and maintain youth.
Interestingly, some raw foodists are vegans, others include raw dairy products in their diet and yet others also consume raw meat and fish.
I have been thinking a great deal lately about where I am on my whole food plant based journey. I suppose everyone’s reason to move away from animal based foods and their attraction to a plant based lifestyle is quite individual and quite unique. For me there were a lot of reasons why I chose this path. Mainly and primarily I was concerned about health and I had a strong urge to find a way of feeding my family and myself that would allow our well-being to thrive and blossom. I would love to tell you more about that aspect of my journey in another post perhaps. But today I wanted to focus on the second reason as to why I shifted to a more plant based lifestyle: my wish to honour the earth.
I know there is a lot of debate as to whether man (and woman)’s demand for agricultural produce places a greater strain on the environment than man’s wish for animal based foods. You can find lots of articles on the net supporting either position. And I suppose ultimately, it is about what research resonates most with you. For me a couple things are quite clear: the way that we consume meat now is completely unsustainable and so destructive. The earth cannot support this growing demand; it is completely impossible. And I feel very, very strongly about that.
I live at the top of a hill, just by a playground and a big park overlooking the city of London. It’s a beautiful, beautiful location and I often have to pinch myself – I feel so lucky. But in the summer, things go a big crazy. Actually, a bit very crazy ;). You see, the ice cream man arrives, – Disney songs blazing from his van and all. And he parks right in front of my home, not once, not twice, but usually about three times a day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a soft spot for cheesy Disney songs, so I don’t mind that. BUT I do mind the content of his van – ice creams full of sugar, non-organic dairy products, additives, colourings and preservatives.
It is SO hard to keep my pre-schooler away from that stuff. So, my trick: make your own, better, wholefood version with gorgeous colours galore and more flavours than your taste buds can handle. HA ice cream man, back at ya!
Adapted from a recipe in the stunning cookbook Rawsome Vegan Baking.
Adapted from a recipe in the stunning cookbook Rawsome Vegan Baking.
NOTE: The pictures were updated and the recipe improved in June 2015 :)
I am happily married and very much in love with my husband. He is wonderful and no other man can compare. BUT despite this I allow myself the occasional harmless crush. And one of these crushes just happens to be on the amazing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall! His commitment to good, honest, wholesome food is infectious. His program on the exploitation of our oceans made me re-think my love of eating fish and his cookbook Veg Every Day is undoubtedly in my top 5 of best vegetarian cookbooks ever. It is on one of the recipes in that cookbook that this easy dish here is based.
‘Mama, can we ppplllleeeaaassssee make some lemonade? Pllleeaassee?’ My son asked as he gave me his best, cheeky smile and batted his enviable long eye-lashes.
‘Yes of course!’ I said.
(Some more smiles and excited giggles followed, in case you were wondering).
So, hubby, my son and I got to work and the outcome of our nice, spontaneous team effort is this looker of a drink, full of vitamin C and minty freshness courtesy of our herb garden.
I can’t think of a better drink to enjoy whilst watching the World Cup. Can you ;)?
NOTE: The pictures were updated, October 2015.
This post is dedicated to my husband and my mother.
My husband was born and raised in the Andes, the official birthplace of the potato. It is this fact that I think explains his utter and complete love - no actually let’s call a spade a spade - obsession for this root vegetable. So, when I want to make him really happy, I prepare a potato dish for him. It always does the trick. I’ve got a few recipes up my sleeve, but this one is probably his current favourite and I like it a lot too, so I make it at least 2 times a month, perhaps even more often in winter time. It’s SO simple and really quick and utterly yummy!
I know that lots of potatoes have specific roles they fulfil like being the ideal salad potato, baking potato or mashed potato, but to be honest I’m not fussy when it comes to which potato I use for this recipe. It’s not an exact science and more about what you fancy. I’ve actually tried this specific recipe with a number of different varieties and it’s always been a winner. Having said that I do prefer using the slightly smaller ones like Anya or Vivaldi because they are ready in no time and have more skin/flavour, but it’s totally up to you which potato you choose.