Raw vegan crispbreads or what to do with courgette glut

img_20180612_063829I’ve been experimenting with dehydrating my own crisps and breads on and off since last year. This time it seems natural to come back to the idea – I love my corncakes for breakfast, topped with avocado and tomatoes, they’ve been my favourite way to start a day for a long time. I am on a mission to find alternative plastic-free ways to get through two weeks so this time I needed to come up with an idea of my breakfast breads that don’t come in plastic. Secondly, if you ever grown courgettes in your garden or allotment, you know it will come – courgette glut – when you quickly run out of ways of using dozens of new courgettes every day.
I am still experimenting, but for these crispbreads I used three smallish courgettes, 4 carrots, cup of soaked linseed, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, pinch of black sesame and chia seeds, a couple of cloves of garlic, a bit of water, salt and whizzed it all in the food processor.
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When the mixture is ready, spread it on the dehydrator sheet and dehydrate overnight. img_20180611_192826This time mine came out a bit fragile so I might decrease water and add some nuts instead next time.img_20180612_062723However I loved breaking them into uneven pieces and topping with avocado, tomatoes, chilli sauce and sprinkling with nigella seeds.

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Perfect in its imperfection.

No plastic challenge. Part 2

I’m still on a mission to find (preferably organic) weekly veg box delivery that doesn’t use plastic.

A few days ago I contacted Riverford organic asking if I could have my delivery without plastic. The answer was a long email explaining that it was not possible and how basically they had to use plastic, so I had to cancel my orders.

I made an order with Sutton community farm and contacted them asking if I could have my veg box without plastic. I was pleased to receive a prompt response saying it was totally possible, I just had to update a note in my settings. They seemed to have made a manual note too, however my order arrived containing greens in two plastic bags. I really like Sutton community farm as an amazing local initiative and fully support it. I understand that human error happens and I might give it a go another time, but at the moment it’s not very helpful in my plastic-free quest.

It looks however that I found a potential place to stock up with “naked” beans, legumes, coffee, nuts and seeds – it looks amazing. I am also contacting Abel&Cole and exploring The organic delivery company next.

Seasonal veg (no soya) vegan quiche

This quiche is something that never ceases to pleasantly surprise my omni friends and acquaintances. It says “yes it is vegan, and yes, vegans eat nice food too”. I took it to multiple workplaces a few times and made it for potluck-type events. It is simple and you can use any vegetables you like: caramelised red onions, mushroom and onions, asparagus and spinach, bell pepper… combinations are endless.

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I usually don’t bother pre-baking the pastry, it comes out of the oven perfectly cooked together with the filling.

Ingredients for a caramelised onion quiche:
1 short crust pastry block of your choice (or homemade)
5 small red onions
1 cup chickpea flour
2 cups water
a pinch black indian Kala Namak salt (optional, but it gives the filling eggy flavour)
1 veggie stock cube
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sage
3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs Pure spread or olive oil for brushing the top

Method:
– Preheat your oven.
– Preheat a frying pan, chop the onions, sweat them in olive oil in the frying pan with sage until caramelised.

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– Mix chickpea flower with a cup of lukewarm water, whisk until bubbly and well mixed and set aside.
– Prepare the base for the quiche lining the quiche form with baking paper and spreading the pastry on it.

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– Prepare the “egg-base”: preheat the saucepan, place stock cube with the rest of the water, add turmeric and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the chickpea mixture and stir until it starts thickening up. Reduce the heat and keep stirring not allowing the mixture to go lumpy until glossy and “eggy-thick”.
– Add caramelised onions, mix well and pour everything onto the pastry. Spread evenly and bake in the oven. Check in about 20-30 minutes, the pastry edges should look cooked.
– Brush the top with Pure spread and let the quiche cool down before serving.img_20180602_121152

No plastic challenge. Part 1

I want to carry out an experiment – spending two weeks without using new plastic. Plastic is no fun and the whole idea of us poisoning our own seas one plastic bag at a time looks more and more insane every day.
I don’t want it to be a one off experiment – my intention is to find a sustainable way to avoid plastic as much as possible in future. Making it through two weeks (I will obviously keep using any existing plastic I have around the house) will be a proof of concept for me – if it is possible for two weeks, it should be possible long-term. I am hoping to use anything I can grow at our allotment and garden to help with the quest so my two plastic-free weeks will happen in late July or early August.
For an average person living in a big city like London it’s very tricky to avoid plastic within the set up that values convenience above all – going to a supermarket on a weekend or after work or casually picking stuff up from a shop anytime.
Not many of us have time or live on a farm. Not many of us have a no-plastic shop within walking distance either. I live in “south of Croydon” part of London, the part that nice little startups delivering cute wonky veg won’t touch with a stick.
We, Suttonians (is this term correct?), shop at local Sainsbury’s on a weekend. It has a selection of loose vegetables but majority of food is enclosed in solid plastic containers with more plastic to cover them.
As much as I love the idea of The Food Assembly I physically can’t carry a week’s worth of food shopping home on my way back from work on a Thursday night from places like Peckham.
So naturally I started exploring veg boxes alternatives. Me and my husband used to have Abel&Cole delivered weekly a couple of years ago and it was going great until we started travelling a lot last year and kind of lost any desire to deal with too many apples and potatoes so we cancelled it altogether.
In my willingness to resurrect the veg boxes approach and in the hope that it will eliminate the dreaded plastic I decided to add another complexity level – all-organic food, so I thought about Riverford . Great, – I thought to myself, – and ordered a large box of veg with some extras. In a few days I came back home to find a no-lid type of box full of vegetables generously wrapped in a massive green plastic sheet. Inside I found more vegetables in plastic bags – fennel, pak choi and spinach. My heart sank and I cancelled the next delivery. Shame, as the vegetables tasted great.
Next in my quest to find good no-plastic food I am going to try local boxes – from Sutton Community Farm.

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4 days away in Southern France

This week I spent a few days at my friends’ family place – hidden away in gorgeous scenery of Aquitaine. I walked all along the peaceful fields of sunflowers and wheat, free from distractions, and this break was exactly what was needed at the start of my new job – to slow down and check in with myself. I am fascinated by wild plants self-seeding and spreading freely and I am on a mission to create an abundant garden full of perennials: both edible and not, coming back year after year.