Thursday, June 30, 2011

Last day rant

I feel obliged to finish my month of plastic-free, irish-only eating with some form of profound revelation that the process has led me to. But I am somewhat devoid of any great learnings. I mean, I've learned some practical things, like how to make coffee out of dandelion roots and how to make pastry and where to get the best honey (Eamon Magee's honey from Supernatural, tastiest honey i've tried by far) and how biscuits are a bit useless without sugar and too much fennel gives me stomach cramps. But my thoughts on the issue of plastic or the food industry have changed little, its something I've long had issues with and an area I feel there is little progress being made in the places it matters, in terms of the consumer's and companies' relation with the environment. There are great changes that have come about, no doubt, and people doing really interesting things. There's the wonderful revival of farmers markets and an increasing awareness of the importance of buying local produce. And while this is obviously a good thing, it seems to me to come more as a response to the country's economic climate, a sort of "get behind your own", supporting economic growth amongst your community. While not a negative thing in any sense, I fear it neglects a much more serious issue that has far out-reaching consequences, both beyond our borders and our generation. It's becoming more and more evident that the real cost of the food industries practices and those of us consumers has little to do with finances, but its one the majority of us may never have to pay. Which is why it's an issue that should be looked at through a compassion that extends past notions of economy or states or even species and matter.

Being the cynic that I am, I would generally think that the damage we've done to the environment and to other life is unfixable and there is no stemming the tide of whatever adverse consequence modern humanity has brought to the world. And I'm not one that thinks we should all go back to the stoneage, throwing rocks at potatoes. Technology and the amazing communications system that we have is always going to be absolutely vital for any sort of positive intellectual growth we might hope for as a species. I just think it's a matter of educating ourselves and understanding our own actions. Our society has become far too obsessed with self-fulfilling rights and wants, that it neglects the indivuals personal responsibilities. The demand for people to be special and important and revered blinds from the fact that no human is special or important more so than any other living thing. I think its that mentality that allows us a moral superiority that justifies actions that betray our own sense of ethics; The idea that my own actions are an exception, my life serves a "greater good", this is ridiculous, there is no greater good. To act with the ideology of "the ends jusities the means" is to ignore that absolute impossibility of predicting the infinite potential of future consequence. Nothing I do ever has an End. And I will never know the whole universe of consequence a single action of mine will have beyond my own perspective. For me it's simply a matter of doing what I think is right at present. And trying to fit as much of that universe into my understanding of what "present" is. Or to put it more simply, "by non participation in anything you believe is evil". Obviously Einstein was talking about wars and the violence of Imperial powers, but I think it holds true for buying Snickers bars and Coca-Cola bottles.

Anyway, enough moralising, tomorrow I'm going to have coffee, a cake and a beer.

Did I mention this is for sale on Etsy?

And I need money to buy coffee, cake and beer.

Also, I think you are a special fuzzy star shine and the universe has extra squishy feelings for you.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

One week to go!

A week left of my self-inflicted food restrictions. Its gone pretty well, overall. I had decided at the start of the month that i would be strict about about it. In that, not only would I not buy food wrapped/served in plastic or from other countries, but I wouldn't accept the cooking of others, gifts or leftovers that didn't fall under the rules. There were a few occasions where I've strayed. At a family gathering I had some apple tart and a bottle of Sam Adams, I got a Guinness at a gig which was served in a plastic cup (plus, apparently it's not entirely suitable for vegetarians, as its treated with fining from fish bladders), and I think there was another occassion of someone giving me food, but i can't remember. But yes, I think that's been the most annoying thing. It is a little ridiculous and potentially wasteful when there's food being offered or even cooked and asking "was it in a plastic bag"? But I wanted to make the rule as otherwise I'd be making all kinds of excuses and avoiding any sort of challenge. Not that its been about a "challenge". I've never been one for that kind of thing. But more a case of trying to force myself into situations where I have to learn something, to alter some aspect of my behaviour.

The gig mentioned was Laura Marling in Vicar St. I've seen her live several times and she's always completely captivating. Very minimal performance, and songs that lie heavily in traditional styles but I personally find her one of the most gifted and earnest singers around at the minute. As fond as I am of the more experimental/alternative end of the music spectrum, give me a good strong singer and i'm sold.

Monaghan is host to the International Blacksmith Festival this weekend. Three canopied areas with master blacksmiths from around the world, demonstrating, teaching and lecturing on the trade. I had a wander round yesterday, quite envious at the idea of being a master at such a disciplined traditional craft, one of those arts that belongs to another time. It was lovely to walk around with this ringing and clanging sounding off around the town. The market was one as well, so picked up some local veg too.

I made a tasty cauliflower and potato bake, topped with sheeps cheese. Its been serving me as dinner the past few days.

I've also advanced from lazy apple crumbles to full on apple and red berry pies and tarts. I now know how to make pastry. Not that much difference from how you make dough. Oh yes, and I made my own coffee out of roasted ground dandelion roots. It took me 6 hours of digging, scrubbing, chopping, grinding, roasting, but was worth it. Tastes pretty good, differs little from regular coffee, not as bitter or strong a taste. I only had a handful of roots (about a tenth of what your supposed to use) but it still made enough (with rationing) to do me over a week. Next time I'll make more and take photos and go through the process.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shop updates and Inspiration

I've a few new watercolours available in the shop, it'd be awful neat if you checked it out;

Kaiser caimo's work has long been of strong influence over my own painting. But its worth visiting her tumblr for the writing as much as the art, which is concise but always eloquent and interesting.

She's also been introducing me to Alan Lomax, who spent his career making field recordings of folk songs. If you're a fan of delta blues and have an hour of nothing to do, here's a video. I particularly like this clip.

I have the utmost respect for people who's work involves great time and patience and skill. As well as presenting such discipline, this is also just a beautifully shot video.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Biscuits, Chocolate and the People's Park

I love biscuits. Beyond mere desire, I feel a profound affinity with their crumbly sugary form that one might excuse the use of so strong a word such as "love". I have been known to finish a whole packet of bourbon creams in one sitting. Biscuits. Cookies. Chocolate. Cake. Buns. Foodstuffs of immeasurable pleasure-giving. I have nothing insightful to offer with this confession, I just wish to talk of biscuits. Fox's chocolate digestives. Maryland chocolate chip cookies. St Bernards Bourbon cream. The classic Rich Tea. All tempt me (often successfully) with a morally questionable self indulgence. Custard creams. Rocky bars. The simplicity of a Twirl, the many layered Moro.

I say morally questionable, but there are many areas of the confectionery industry where ethics are sacrificed to feed demand. (EDIT: apologies in advance for the completely random change of tone. I really did just intend on talking about how tasty biscuits are..) As well being the source of vast amounts of disposable plastic waste, there is also the disturbing fact of widespread use of child slavery and trafficking within cocoa farming (the subject even has its own wikipedia entry). I'm terrible for figures and facts and statistics, I have no memory for such things. And when researching or learning about things like this, i find it difficult to put much of it in context. But I do know when something disturbs me. And I know I've come across the issue of child labor enough times in books and talks and reports that its become an incessant motivator to change aspects of my life.
For me the only way to ensure no abuse, slavery or trafficking is involved in the production of foods and goods we use is to know exactly where it came from. The best way of doing that is to put as little space between myself and what I'm buying. There's also the importance of organisations like FairTrade, though not a perfect solution, if for no other reason than support of FairTrade companies is the consumers way to tell leading brands that they want strong ethics to govern their food production. And, as Auret says, the power to make serious changes globally is in the hands of the major corporations, industries and governments. But obviously, only because the consumer gives them that power. I'd also feel abstaining from indulgence and luxury is always a positive.

Anyway, I was planning on talking about nice things like the market in the People's Park in Dun Laoghaire, but of course I had to just growl about crappy real world stuff instead. But yes, this weekends food was supplied by Corleggy cheese, got some super tasty sheep cheese there, Galtee Honey (6.50 for 454g), Tinnock Farm eggs, and delicious strawberries from Drumullen Co Meath. I bought 6euro worth of strawberries they were so good, and I've already eaten them all. I reasoned I'd normally would spend that on some tea, coffee or a beer so it was worth it. They were in the usual plastic punnets but she was kind enough to empty them into a paper bag and they would reuse the container. I do like nice people.

I used to go to college at IADT, and have always loved Dun Laoghaire's sunday markets. It would've been around that time that I started to take a real interest in the food I was eating. There was a cork farmer, who has a stall there still, from whom I used to get dried mangoes and seeds. Then go climbing around the rocks by the pier looking for interesting looking stones or bits of wood. I don't know how much I've changed in.... 7 years..... wow, 7 years. That part of the city always brings back all sorts of memories. Mainly of people. People who would've had more influence on my thoughts and ideas, than markets and Cork farmers. Back then, I at times would have chosen where I went and where I spent my day based on who I hoped to meet there. You know, that whole forlorn youthful adulation. It's funny how people can shape who you become without their even knowing.

Time to stop talking, yes? Yes. I really aught to do some work.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Its all for the polar bears

I think i'm a little at odds with the reasoning that is generally assumed for alternative ways of living. I find most people often associate abstaining from certain foods or changes in lifestyle as something purely done for holistic reasons or a spiritual self improvement. Whether that's just a result of the last decades upsurgence in new age philosophies and alternative healing, i don't know. But as example, I've found those who would agree with the idea of not eating plastic as a positive thing tend to cite reasons of its harmful effects to the human body, the idea that maybe the food reacts to the plastic and you ingest molecules that mess your chi or whatnot. Now I have no doubts that plastic has some effect on the food we eat and of course we should be absolutely aware of the things we put inside us, but for me such things don't rank high in priority when it comes to these decisions. Food involves such an unquantifiable scope of interaction with the world, its principle characteristics are not its ability to sustain my welbeing and align my chakras.

I find the view with which food is dealt with in society very much focused on self interest, generally focusing on nutrition, personal well-being and economics, when surely it's ecology, environment, animal welfare, land degredation, exploitation of markets, community spirit that suffers most from modern food industries. Even when talking about buying "only irish", the term tends to adopt a more nationalist, economically driven agenda. I personally have no problem supporting foreign labour over irish labour on a moralistic basis. My issues in that subject are more concerned with practical aspects, acquiring food with as little needless energy expenditure as possible, the assurance that the person who is actually doing the work of producing the food is the one getting paid for it and how the market system unfairly favours cheaper imports over local producers. It might be my pessimism, but i tend to suspect the more miles and the more levels of production the more likely someone or something is being exlpoited or misused. I would shy away from using terms like "irish only" or "100% irish". This is an issue that obviously has more to do with semantics than anything else (i tend to asociate the word with states and governments, which are a wholly negative thing, no relation to the people and land), but at the same time, my reason for mentioning it is that i would believe the only way we can do anything to stem the destruction that humans cause to the planet is to recognise that our morality within how we interact with industries should not be defined by our understanding of borders and nations and species.

Anyway, I mean not to take away from the rich culture and food and heritage this country holds, i think it's an amazing place full of beautiful art, incredible musicians and wonderful food. Or to question the motives of others on alternative diets. This rant is really just to address thoughts and comments on why i might be eating an only irish, no plastic diet. My reasons are quite boringly simple. My main hate in all aspects of life, one which i continually struggle to remove from my own, is hipocrisy. And since eating is one thing i know i will be doing every day for the rest of my life, i find it absolutely important to do it as compassionately and as intelligently as possible. I'm sick of seeing seas and lands full of oil and plastic and I want to learn how not to be a part of it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 16 - Garlic and onion bread

Just over two weeks in, I suppose I should do a recap on the situation. For the month I'm eating Irish only produce and no foods wrapped in plastic. Although there is plenty of veg and meat farmers out there, since there is no major suppliers of sugar or salt from Ireland, there is very little produce in the supermarkets that's available. And outside of tinned and bottled food and drink, nearly all shop foods are plastic wrapped. I haven't been drinking alcohol so I haven't actually even checked the ingredients of the common Irish brewed beers and ciders, though I know Bulmers is off the list anyway. The things I've been missing most off the shopping list;

  • Sugar
  • salt
  • caffeine
  • tea
  • a lot of fruits
  • spices
  • rice
  • pasta
  • olive oil
  • lentils
  • jams
  • chutneys
  • biscuits
In saying that I have discovered I seemingly don't have a very an addictive personality. Although it would be great to have a cup of tea or coffee when i'm getting lethargic in the evening and i'd LOVE a biscuit, I've haven't actually been too tempted to stray from the diet. Actually, since getting the honey, I've completely removed sugar as an exception, whereas at first I allowed myself a spoonful for my bread. Ou, I made a tasty garlicy bread the other day!

Mild Garlic and Onion Bread

3 cups of self raising flour
garlic (i used a whole shoot from the top of the garlic, but you could use a clove or two if you don't have the shoots or want a stronger taste)
two shoots of spring onions
few leaves of purslane (you can throw in any herbs really. Purslane's high in omega 3, i'm told. I'd sometimes go for some coriander or oregano either, whatevers in the garden)
2 teaspoons of honey
half pint of buttermilk

  1. Preheat oven to 180 (celcius) and butter up a 20cm round baking pan, or whatever else you have.
  2. Finely chop the garlic shoots, spring onions and purslane.
  3. Sieve the flour into a big basin.
  4. Mix in the dry ingredients and make a well in the middle.
  5. I would then get a glass and mix the honey with some of the butter milk and pour about a third of the buttermilk in.
  6. You want to mix the flour into the buttermilk, pouring into the centre and mixing inward and around, add more milk if needed. Try not to over mix it, but get it so that its, you know, doughy. If its too dry add more milk, if its too sloppy... don't add so much next time.
  7. Put it into the baking dish, cut a wee "x" on the top, so it rises nicely, then throw it in the oven for at least half an hour. If you can, leave the oven the door closed for the half hour. After that you can check it. It'll probably need another 5 or ten minutes. If you're unsure, take it out of the tin and tap the bottom, if it sounds hollow its done.
  8. When its done, wrap it an tea cloth and leave it sit for 10 minutes.
I always find mixing the buttermilk into bread the tricky part. Everything else is straight forward, but its sort of trial and error mixing it enough, but not over mixing, putting in enough buttermilk but not too much. The measurement of a half pint of buttermilk isn't exact, I generally just pour it in while mixing until it looks right. If anything goes wrong it just won't rise properly, but it'll still taste fine. Obviously it tastes best though when you get it just right. If it doesn't keep its shape, leave it in longer or turn your oven up a few degees more.

The recipe is from the bread my granny used to make. Hers was just the flour, a pinch of sugar and buttermilk. Job done. Obviously mine doesn't taste as good. Nothing like nanny's bread. When I'm allowing myself other ingredients, instead of the garlic and onions, i'd put in a handful of mixed seeds, a spoon of crushed almonds, spoon of sugar, zest of half a lemon and a bit of dried dill. It's pretty darn awesome.

Yesterday's meals
  • breakfast Pancakes and honey
  • lunch tomato and cheese on toast with nettle tea
  • dinner A potato and cheese topped veggie bake, with mushrooms, carrots, pepper, onion and garlic and a load of herbs.
  • tea Slightly tastier cookie/cakes than the last time

In other news, meet Reuben;

Monday, June 13, 2011

Love the markets

Panicky Recipe for Weird Looking Sham Cookies

about 2 cups of Self-raising flour
handful of oats
3/4 cup of softened Butter
1/2 cup of honey
cup(ish) of buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven at 180
  2. Mix the flour, oats, butter and honey together with a spoon and then your hand to get it all nice and squashed and dooughy.
  3. When its kind of crumbly pour in too much buttermilk so the mix gets sloppy and you have to throw in a handful more flour.
  4. Mix it all together, despairing at how its not holding well.
  5. Remember that you should have prepared baking trays. Line two baking trays with grease proof paper or flour, or if you're paranoid like me, both. Cover the kitchen in baking dough in the process.
  6. Spoon the sloppy mess onto the baking trays in inch/2 inch circles.
  7. Remember you didn't add the egg.
  8. Put it all back in the bowl, mix in a large egg.
  9. Spoon the not so sloppy dough onto the baking trays in neater inch/2 inch circles.
  10. Bake for about 12/15 minutes.
  11. Add 50g of sugar next time.
I'm a messy baker/cook. and generally when trying a recipe, I'll look at three or four different ones and then just make it up as i go along. Luckily i'm never too fussy with the results. But I am determined to find a tasty biscuit recipe, with the ingredients available to me, by the end of the month.

Thank you Irish food markets! I now have Eamon Magee's honey from Wicklow, onions and garlic from Galway (it is quite annoying how these are so often imported when they are easily grown here), some super tasty cheese from Oisin farm house, Limerick, apples from Brendan at the Temple Bar food market (Just coming into season, have only been able to find cooking apples before), Oats, and a few other random things. But, yes, taste! Especially pleased with the honey. I bought two jars, but I've one nearly finished already. I only went to SuperNatural food market on Pearse Street and Temple Bar as my bag was already full by then. After chatting to a few folks found no word of anyone who does their own salt.

I haven't really done anything lately except look for food, so I avoided the internet for the weekend and got some work done. Finishing off Niamh deBarra's Echo cover. Niamh came across this cd template. Still need to work on layout but suits the image nicely.

I always think this factory looks just right in the landscape. Maybe its the striped chimneys, give it a quainter feel.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Smaller range, Bigger portions

Donegal Rapeseed Oil is farmed and produced in Donegal and a local butcher here in Emyvale stocks it. Though the bottle is glass, the cap is plastic, so for this month it's still out of bounds for me. But definately worth knowing. They have a list of shops that stock it, including restaurants and cafe's that use it. Very handy.

Aoife at icanhascook gave me a few name's to check out and i'll be up around the food markets in dublin tomorrow, so will hopefully have more of a selection of things to eat and a few good resources to share with you after the weekend.

Even though I haven't had as much a range of food to eat over the past fortnight, I've probably been eating more. Both conciously, so as I get enough nutrition out of the food and also just because without the sugars (and my constant snacking on biscuits) to satisfy the appetite I find myself wanting much larger portions. (for those who don't know me, i'm a tiny person, so "much larger" isn't actually very large at all). I baked an apple crumble. Ate the whole thing in one sitting. Yum.

Todays meals

fresh baked bread


  • breakfast Again, very plain porridge in milk
  • lunch Home baked bread, toasted and poached egg, with nettle tea
  • dinner Omellete with mushrooms, tomato, pepper basil and oregano, with three eggs and fresh coriander (i actually forgot i'd already eaten eggs)
  • tea Apple crumble

Sugarless yet Tasty Apple Crumble
  1. Preheat oven to 180
  2. Peel large cooking apple and slice (place slices in water to keep from browning, or do this step just before putting them in the dish)
  3. Make crumble dough with butter and flour. I don't weigh thing generally, but it was roughly 85g of butter and about a cup and a half of flour. Mix/kneed them (i just use my hands) until it makes a kind of bread crumby type texture, may need to add more flour so there's no chunks of butter.
  4. Place apple slices in dish. I used one of these 9.5-in. oval dishes, so if you're using bigger, double up ingredients. I put in one layer, then a layer of oats, then a layer of apple, then the crumble mix and another sprinkling of oats. I also pushed a bay leaf down into the middle of it, which i removed when cooked.
  5. Bake for 30 - 45 minutes

Here's an interesting page on Harvesting Seasalt for anyone not so landlocked.

And here's a painting, just so you know i'm actually still doing something besides rambling about food. Emily's constructing wings while some eegit is off "fixing things".

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why no plastic

What's available in the shops
I made a list of purely Irish foods not wrapped in plastic that I could find in the main supermarkets and shops in Monaghan town. (Note; not including meats, though i imagine its rare you would have meat wrapped in paper.) This may not be a complete list, feel free to let me know of anything to add.

Salad onions
Cooking apples

Although different veg would be available at different times of the year. Condiments, breads, processed foods would generally have at least salt, cooking oil or sugar. It is possible that salts or oils could be sourced in Ireland. (Going to look more into Agripure and Donegal Rapeseed). Most fruit and vegetables used in main brand processed foods are imported. I would generally assume that when a label says "Packaged in Ireland" or "Produced for..." or "Made in the E.U." then its not of Irish origin. I think at the end of this I'll do seperate lists, more researched, of products free of plastic and products 100% Irish. Personally, as I've said before, I feel the use of plastic is a much more troubling aspect of the food industry.

Why no Plastic

Someone had requested the reasoning behind this endeavour, in particular the "no plastic" issue. I wouldn't know how to fully explain why I feel the way I do about industries' and society's use of and disposal of plastic waste, the influence comes from so many sources over many years. But I would imagine much of my knowledge of plastic and the food industry would be no way greater than anyone elses. I'd say you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't know that our disposable societies are filling seas and landfills and rivers and countrysides with plastic refuse, that will be there for a very long time, doing unquantifiable damage to ecology and food systems. I find it an odd issue to raise, you just have to look outside. But here's some things I've found that might add to the discussion.

Some talks and people that have influenced and inspired my thoughts on these matters;
  • Chris Jordan's photography - "The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking."
  • John Francis - his talk on how he spent over 20years travelling without using any motorised transport
  • Susan Shaw - On the Gulf oil spill and indusrty use of flame retardents and chemicals.
  • Mark Boyle - has lived for almost two years without using money, he works to form a moneyless community and runs

Info and videos on gyres, oil, plastic;
  • Very informative talk by Ct. Charles Moore. Lots of pics and stats. "We wanted to see if the most common fish in the deep ocean at the base of the food chain was injesting these poisoned pills... Over a third had polluted plastic fragments in their stomachs."
  • Oil'd - Short film by Chris Harmon on the gulf oil spil. "I've spent all of my free time in the last month putting this together to help illustrate just how dependent we truly are on oil."
  • H2Oil - Short animation by Dale Hayward & Sylvie Trouvé. "Of the worlds total water supply, only half of 1% is accesible fresh water. The oil sands mining operation use up to 4 barrels of fresh water to produce one barrel of oil".
  • Info graph from GOOD - "90% of trash floating in oceans is plastic". "As it breaks apart, the plastic ultimately becomes small enough to be igested by aquatic organisms."

This is all more easily accessible info on the subject that I can think off the top of my head. If I find/remember any more thorough writings and documentaries on the subject I'll share it.

Next week I'll find you some good news :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Week One Over

One week's gone. All's well. Though, I really would love a biscuit. I was pointed to this article the other day, which led me to As for mr. o'connell's "participation", I struggle to empathise with anyone finding challenge in a diet of any kind that lasts 3 days. Seriously, "living off"? I've cooked dinners that have lasted 3 days. Obviously I'm just moody from lack of sugar and caffeine.

Anywho, will be checking the site for some recipes and tips. I'm not sure how much of it I can avail of though. For me, I've found the bigger hurdle, and personally the more relevent in terms of ecological matters, is finding foods not wrapped in plastic. This is especially a problem being a vegetarian. I avoid shopping in healthfood and eco stores, as practically everything is wrapped in plastic bags. There used to be the Olive Green delicatessen in George Street Arcade, which served grains and pulses and dried fruits in big sacks, scooping whatever you needed into bags yourself. It was run by Claudia and Brendan, who are quite passionate about the ethics of food industry (they also own Matchabar in Powerscourt, a lovely little tea emporium). It moved to No. 12 South Circular Road, and though the shop is still there in some form, under different management and name (can't remember the new name), it doesn't maintain the same quality in regards it's dried goods and grains and again most things are plastic wrapped. Worth going to though if you find it, nice little spot. A few of the markets sell loose grains, one I would still go to on Cows Lane on Saturday's Temple Bar Food Market.

All of this is still pretty irrelevant to my current position, as such foods would be predominantly sourced overseas. I would think oats and maybe a selection of seeds would be Irish grown. I'll check at the weekend.

Have started to keep a record of my days' eats.

Tuesdays meals
  • breakfast Very plain porridge in milk
  • lunch Home baked bread, toasted, with soft-boiled egg with mint tea
  • midday snack Apple and oat bake with hot cooking apple water (as a drink. surprisingly tasty)
  • dinner Boiled potatoes, carrots, steamed broccoli
  • tea Rest of midday snack

Sold a few pictures today (including the one below), which means trip to Dublin to get some good farmers market grub. Woohoo.

Like this; John Salminen via curiousities & clockwork

Monday, June 6, 2011

Honey and the Hiltons

I'm thinking of temporarily changing the blog title to "Invert This Plate".

How do you make biscuits, cookies and sweet things without sugar? Answers please. Would like to make some form of cookie/oat bar that still tasted like a cookie/oatbar, sans sugar. Must get some honey. There are a good few Irish honey farms (according to their websites, enquiries in the mail; bunratty fine foods, mileeven) kelkin also do one, but they're a UK company so that probably means double the millage. Obviously when it comes to luxury foods like sugar, chocolate and honey, it's purely a matter of limiting my own demand than any sort of criticism of industry (not that that's what this is about...ish).

Things are starting to grow. Lettuce is of edible size as are a few herbs, potatoes and peas survived the ridiculous winds. Random hint I learned; snails don't like walking over broken eggshells, scatter them around the base of plants. Other thing I was told recently. Grow Calendula Officinalis, it can be eaten as a herb with nutritional benfits similar to tumeric. It's a type of marigold. not the african or french variety that you use in companion planting to keep bugs away. Mine's just sprouting;

Spent the weekend volunteering at Flatlake festival, with the delightful Eilis Een, who saved me after my food rations ran out, arriving with a pocketful of hard-boiled eggs. Fantastic idea. In saying that, it being the hippy side of festivalia, there were a few home grown veg on offer. Oh, and mint tea from the Eco Bus Cafe (runs on its own vegetable oil). There were many great acts. Saw the Amazing Few twice, cause they are that much fun. Henrietta Game, four-piece bit of an Amiina/Mum vibe (though one of the singers verged uncomfortably close to Damien Rice territory from time to time), "ou"s, "aa"s and twinkly sounds, but some nice solid songs. Playwright and poet Tom McIntyre, just one of those voices that fills the air with meaning and stories that make you nostalgic for an old Ireland. His recital of "Miscarraige" was particularly poignant. And The Strypes, four very young boys who played as tight a set as any other act that weekend, with an absolute killer song choice. Possibly the only time I've heard a covers band do Summertime Blues justice.

Of course, I just have photos of trees and houses... I don't try to be this uncool.

I'm awful talkative these days, hope you don't mind. Will start putting together food-related lists later in the week, make this ranting some way useful.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Need Flavour

Phoned some slightly paranoid jam producers, to figure out the source of the fruits they use. They didn't seem too keen on those sort of questions. Found myself answering more than I was asking. Went for G's Gourmet Jam, blackcurrent flavour, berries grown in Wicklow, or was it Wexford... There is sugar in there though of course. I had hoped sugar might be safe enough, but Ireland hasn't produced it's own sugar since 2007. I haven't opened the jam yet.

Undecided for now on how fussy I'll be on ingredients of products like jams and chutneys. Allowed myself a bit of sugar in my own baking (at least till i get my hands on some honey), but I could start making all sorts of excuses for myself if I start letting things by.

Dinner today was potato, swede and tomato stew type thing, in a stock of nettle, fennel, chives, oregano and bit of basil. It was edible (i'll not offer a recipe though). It could do with salt. Pepper. Onion. Garlic. I'd gotten the swede(turnip) more out of curiousity. Will be eating a lot more root vegetables, and I haven't eaten one of them since I was about 5. Its still an unpleasant vegetable. The nettles were purely for nutritional value. I make nettle tea every now and then. Never for the taste.

Heading to Flatlake festival for the weekend....I may be fasting for a few days.

Here's a watercolour, almost finished;

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No Plastic No Air-miles

So, I'm going on a diet. No plastic, no airmiles, for the month of June. I had also planned on giving the blog a break for the month as well, but a friend asked me to keep a diary of how things go, so i'll blog about that, maybe put up a few recipes, if i come across anything interesting.

The basic rules;
  • nothing flown/shipped from over seas - (so irish produce, local as possible)
  • no plastic packaging - (which is everything!)
  • no heavily processed foods - (mainly because the more processed the more unkown ingredients)
I've been planning this a while, as a long term way of eating, and been buying food with this in mind for about a year, since the BP spill and from spending my days learning about gyres and landfills, but more as a vague guide that conveniently avoids things like teas and sugar and salt and bisuits (all those things that make food tasty...).

i've a few exceptions, for the time being;
  1. Milk/buttermilk - tetra paks are 22% plastic. plus i'm not too sure of the sources of ingredients involved in the pastuerisation process or feed for the cattle. Will try source some local producers, that maybe use refillable glass.
  2. Butter - not entirely sure this is an exception, wether or not plastic is a component of the foil packaging.
  3. Reduce to clear sections in groceries - Only if there is an abundance of produce. Hate food wastage, especially when its because of a date printed on a package. But mostly I'll avoid buying things here too.

    Things I'll want to source;
    • Honey - there are plenty of irish honey producers.
    • Nuts, seeds, grains - i'm a veggie, i needs me minerals.
    • Wild herbs/edible weeds - so far my forraging skills amounts to nettle tea and dandelion rissotto (alas, no more rice...) And its not quite berry picking season

    So yes, going to focus the blog on this for the next while. Might make a seperate page for it, somewhere to list food produce and recipes and things. For now, here's some random little sketches;

    my niece and nephew made me some geometrically awesome birthday cards;

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...