WARM MARINATED CURRY PUMPKIN, QUINOA AND POMEGRANATE SALAD (V+, GF, ChF, NF) WITH LAUREN CARIS COOKS
If you are a regular, loyal reader of the blog, you've probably gathered that I'm a rather social human being who loves the company of talented, friendly food bloggers. That's cuz...
a) it means I don't have to talk to myself when I'm cooking
b) there's someone to laugh at my silly jokes and
c) collaborations are magical and so, so SO much fun.
Hence you can imagine how I shrieked with delight when Lauren from Lauren Caris Cooks got in touch to say that she'd be in London and would I like to meet up with her. ''YES! OF COURSE! WHY ARE YOU EVEN ASKING?! COME HANG OUT. LIKE, NOW! Thank you :)!'' was my answer. Following some e-mail exchanges we finally got to spend a lovely morning cooking, styling and eating together in late September and despite only knowing each other on-line, having Lauren in the kitchen felt so familiar and totally lovely. The images you see her are just an outtake of the day we spent together before Lauren returned to Switzerland where she lives with her husband :(. Lauren, thank you ever so much for popping by, please come visit me again soon ;).
Would you like to read Lauren's take on the day and see her fab pictures? Of course you do! I knew it! Then just click here and the internet will swiftly take you to your desired destination ;).
Thank you everyone for reading my silly ramblings and for supporting my blog :). I hope you like the recipe below and see you all next week.
After 3 long, ardeous years during which I practically abandoned my friends, neglected my family and pretty much stopped sleeping, I can gladly report that the completion of my nutrition studies is now firmly in sight. In fact if my arms weren't so short, I'd already be able to touch the light at the end of tunnel, but alas, they are short so I still have a teeny, tiny bit to go ;). For me the most important thing though was getting my final exam out of the way and on Friday the 17th of June, 2016 at 11am I handed it in with the hope of never ever writing another exam ever again. Woohoo!!! If that's not reason enough to celebrate, I don't know what is.
A few months ago I got a lovely invitation to spend a long weekend in a rustic farm house in the French countryside. The initial idea was to hang out and have some fun, but seeing that it was super talented Aimee T. from Twigg Studios asking, the lazy weekend concept was quickly ditched for a full blown food photography emersion workshop. See neither one of us could afford one of the luscious food photography retreats run by star bloggers, so we set out creating our very own little version of that on a shoestring :).
Furthermore we thought: What if we got a handful of other gifted women to join us who were all willing to share their specific knowledge and skill base, not for financial gain but instead for sheer pleasure! Wouldn't it be super empowering and a great opportunity to support one another at becoming the best that we can be creatively? So with that idea in mind we approached Aimee R. from Wallflower Kitchen a talented vegan baker and cookbook author, my sister Sumera an artist and singer who is developing her film making skills and Aoife, a wedding photographer with an eye for portrait photography and photo editing. Needless to say they all agreed to take part.
Me, wearing my Grace Apron from Thread & Whisk and feeling like a princess Linen napkins by Heal's
There are hundreds of thousands of food blogs out there. In fact, there's one source on the net which claims that there are over 2 million food blogs currently in existence. CRAZY, right!?! Yet, somehow I feel I've been lucky enough to find the right food blogs to get stuck into and get excited about. They aren't always the most well known (in fact I love 'discovering' blogs with smaller followings ;)), but the food blogs I read all have two key things in common:
1. They are about good, home-made, delicious, flavoursome food and
2. They are written by kind, thougtful bloggers whose voices I want to 'listen' to.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a safe and fun journey into 2016. May your new year be filled with joy, happiness and great health!
I don't know about you, but I sure feel ready to get back onto the healthy bandwagon as Christmas was a feast of utter indulgence *ooops*. That's why I love the fact that the start of a new year and the opportunity to renew my commitments to healthy eating come so close after Christmas. I think that's because the universe knows a thing or two about perfect timing :).
As I was putting my blog schedule together for 2016 I was certain that I really wanted to start the year with a raw and savoury blog post (anyone else had enough of baking?). So when I was asked to do a sponsored blog post for a raw recipe including Tenderstem®, I jumped at the chance. Now, before I delve into the recipe, I wanted to say something about doing sponsored posts, as well as about Tenderstem® itself. I hope that's ok.
In terms of sponsored blog posts - over the past 12 months I have been approached a few times by companies asking me to do sponsored posts or review their products; those of you who visit the blog regularly will know that I have never accepted any of these offers. That's because none of the companies that contacted me were selling products that I would ever eat, would consider healthy or could wholeheartedly recommend to you. So please rest assured that if ever I write a sponsored blog post or review something, it is because I genuinely enjoy the items featured and think you will too. I have no plans of making sponsored blog posts a habit, but when I do one I'll be totally open and upfront about it. Sound cool?
If you've been following along on instagram, you know that I got REALLY lucky a few weeks ago cuz I got to share my kitchen with the sweet and super talented chef Ceri from Natural Kitchen Adventures. Not only has Ceri rubbed shoulders with Jamie Oliver (as you do!) and run a successful blog for more than 4 years, she also has a very non-dogmatic approach to healthy eating which resonated with me from the moment I stumbled across her blog.
Oddly enough, I first got to 'know' Ceri through instagram but only actually met her face-to-face in May of this year. How did it all come about? Well, Ceri mentioned in her ig feed that she was attending a food photography workshop just as I was at a point on my food blogging journey where I desperately needed some guidace and direction. Hence I gladly tagged along to the workshop and not only did I learn loads, I also got to meet Ceri in real life, which was a lovely added bonus.
After 6 long weeks 'on the road' and a rather bumpy, arduous and exhausting 20-odd hour trip door-to-door, we're home. Though it hasn't quite sunken in yet, I must confess. You see, I still keep getting confused about what time of the day it is and what day of the week it is. I am getting all muddled language-wise and speaking more Spanglish than ever. And when I wake up in the morning it takes me a second or two to remember where on earth I actually am.
But that will all pass, I know, as will this mix of emotions I am currently experiencing (saying goodbye is horrible, but coming home is the most amazing feeling ever). Well, it's got to pass presto because I'm going back to work tomorrow and the little one is returning to school on Wednesday :(. So I just have to get on with it, right?!
WARNING: This is another looooong blog entry, mainly about food photography and food styling. So if you're just here for the recipe – no offence taken – just scroll way down to the bottom of this post and you'll find what you're looking for :).
You still here? Great, cuz it's a blog post I've been feeling really excited about sharing with you. But first the backstory: I'm a complete total first born. I think as a first born you always feel responsible and you always want to make things better for everyone. So if someone comes to me and tells me their problem – I go into first born mode. I'm a sympathetic listener, sure, but mainly in the back of my head I'm thinking: OK, this person is upset/sad/frustrated, what can I do to make everything alright? How can I solve their problem and make them smile? Cuz that's what you do as a first born, you fall into that psydo parenting role, right? At least I do.
So what's that got to do with food photography? Well, loads actually. See this time around I was the one with the problem that needed fixing. I just got so bored of hearing myself moan about not knowing how to take good enough pictures (BTW I don't feel that way anymore, but at the time I did ;)). So, I thought about all the ways I could make things better and solve my problem. Ah! Attend a food photography and food styling workshop of course...
''And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'' - Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968)
I have mainly viewed my little corner in cyber space as an opportunity to share my passion for good, healthy plant-based food. Sure, there has been a gentle undercurrent of wanting to empower myself and my readers to cook more and make informed food choices. And I've perhaps jutted down a note or two about eating local, organic plant food. But it's never been more political than that.
However a few weeks, as the run up to the UK elections was hotting up and pretty nasty and disturbing comments about immigrants and other disadvantaged groups in society were being batted about, I felt I needed to speak up and use this nook for more. I mean how could I 'just' talk about yummy food when there was all this 'stuff' going on around me?
Though still in the midst of Winter, the sun was shining brightly the day I got to hang out with the most influential Raw Chef in the UK – Russell James. Many of you will know Russell from his youtube channel and other may know him from his popular blog The Raw Chef. I was lucky enough to meet him at an uber-cool converted South London warehouse which is his live/work space. It houses not one but two stunning, envy-worthy kitchens; the first kitchen Russell uses to teach his super popular raw food classes, the second one (an electric blue one nonetheless), is his personal kitchen which is as high tech as it is inviting and beautiful.
Now what do you do when you meet a vegan foodie superstar with more than 190,000 facebook followers? Talk plant-based food of course ;)
I wish I could say something inspiring, clever, thoughtful, reflective or funny even. And how I wish I could include a quote from some literary master. But the truth is life's been pretty hectic at the mo' and I gotta keep it short and sweet today. You see, motherhood has kept me busy :) as well as this MASSIVE biochemistry/nutrition exam I've been revising for. It's on Friday. :(. YIKES! So, everything else has kinda had to go on hold.
Thank goodness there was time to celebrate Valentine's day with my 3 loves though – hubby, son and... kale. I know the kale bouquet has nothing to do with today's recipe but it was so cute, I HAD to share it here with you guys. (Can you blame a proud mama?)
In December (oh gosh, that seems so long ago now!) I hosted a winter yoga workshop in a converted warehouse in South East London. Some lovely yoginis joined me for a sweaty and fun ashtanga yoga practice. Their hard work didn't go unnoticed and certainly didn't go unrewarded because after nearly 2 hours on the yoga mat, I made sure they had the opportunity to enjoy a nourishing and delicious vegan winter soup.
B/W Photos by: JOASIS PHOTOGRAPHY (gluten-free)
We all tucked into my seasonal curried butternut squash soup, a firm favourite from the blog. It was super yummy and I am proud to report that not a drop remained uneaten. Cheekily I also did some recipe testing on my students and 'made' them try some home-made Swedish crisp bread. I'd discovered the recipe during a girly get-together a few months earlier and wanted to make sure it was blog worthy. The recipe is on the blog today so I am sure you can figure out what the feedback was ;)
NOTE: The pictures were updated in September 2015.
A few weeks ago the lovely Ksenia - the blogger behind At the Immigrant's Table - nominate me for the Liebster Award (remember I mentioned Ksenia last week?). Please, don't get too excited, the Liebsters ain't the Oscars ;), but the award is a superdy duperdy cute way of making the food blogging world feel like a real, caring and tangible community. Consequently I was delighted and rather flattered that I'd been chosen for this award. Thank you soooo much Ksenia :).
First things first, the Liebster Award Rules:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you by providing a link to their blog
2. Display the award badge
3. Answer 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you
4. List 11 random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 11 bloggers
6. Pose 11 questions to said nominees
7. Go to each nominee’s blog and notify them of their nomination
YIKES! I got my work cut out!
No one can claim that opportunities to learn about cooking aren’t all around us. For starters, the internet is such a wonderful source of cooking inspiration; the array of creative food blogs out there is near to overwhelming! And then of course there are 100s of cookbooks to fall in love with, countless stylish cooking magazines to subscribe to and free recipe cards galore to grab hold of at your local supermarket. I mean, come on, there was never a better time to be a food geek.
And though I have indulged in all the options noted above, this week I thought I’d go all old school and do something a little bit different... To celebrate ‘Homemade Bread Day’ I decided to emulate what women did centuries ago i.e. hang out near a big fire, catch up on village gossip whilst preparing a delicious meal together. To recreate a modern day version of this girly tradition I invited some pretty cool female friends into my kitchen where we chatted, cried, giggled, moaned about the pressures of being working, middle-class moms and baked some yummy scrummy goodies.
''La vida no es como deberia ser, sino como es.'' - Facundo Cabral (1937 - 2011)
''Life is not as it should be but as it is.'' - Facundo Cabral (1937- 2011)
I had it all planned. So perfect. So organised. Thinking I was being really clever, I prepared 2-3 dishes for the blog in advance several weeks ago. I photographed and edited them, then stored them away in a file titled 'rainy day reserves'.
That rainy day came this week. It came with a vengence; you see it is getting colder, darker and well... rainier so finding the right lighting for my photoshoots has been quite hard. In addition, my son is off school, my husband is away on a business trip and consequently photographing and styling fresh material for the blog is completely impossible (I tried it in the past, but 4.5 year olds and food photography do not pair well;)).
Today is a pretty special day. I mean a super special day. I mean a super duper special day because my little sister’s first single from her first album has been unleashed! (I mentioned my sister Sumera before, here and here, remember?) (WHOOOOOOOOO!!!!! HOOORRRAAAYYYY!!! YIIIHHAAAA). Oh man, our entire family – in London, Spain, Holland, Ecuador, Colombia, Portugal, the Caribbean, the US - EVERYONE is oh so excited, proud and over the moon that all her hard work has resulted in the masterpiece that is WOLF. And this spot in cyberspace is MY opportunity to brag about Sumera because I am utterly and completely besotted with her work.
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.’
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.
Note: The pictures were updated June 2015. Why? You can find more details here :)
About a year ago I did a little experiment – on facebook I chronicled what I ate and fed my family during our transition to a mainly whole food plant-based diet. Kale was a food that featured very regularly and attracted a lot of attention! Many people had never heard of it before or were made to believe that it doesn’t taste good! So I made it my mission to try and present kale in as many ways as I could possibly think of, hoping to show off its versatility and adapting its use so that there was a recipe to convert even the most sceptical of critics. This salad here was one of my star attractions. I LOVE it. I LOVE it! I LOVE it! And hereby challenge anyone to make either version of it (Summer or Winter) and not feel the same way about it!
Adapted from a recipe by the brilliantly bold and creative mastermind that is Ottolenghi!
Preparation Time: 25-30 minutes (the chopping takes a little while)
Serves: 6 - 8