Monday, September 14, 2015

Tea fixes everything

I'm back in the UK and staying with my mum for a while. I'm enjoying the endless tea and the long chats, and I am reminded that no matter how adult and independent you get, your mum will always give you cake and hugs and explain everything to you as if you're new round here, even through you've been visiting for years.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Assorted thoughts

::I've got the sound of silence ringing in my ears. It's very very loud, deafening even, but I realise I've been drowning it out with inane tv for the last days and it's probably time to get to know the sound again.::

::Meditation, cups of tea, reading, walks, roast butternut squash. These things are good. Alcohol and wallowing and not getting dressed. These things are bad.::

::Washing up is strangely therapeutic.::

::Postponing unpleasant tasks does not make them any easier, but under certain circumstances it can give you the time to build the emotional strength.::

::Loneliness is a rather bipolar companion, at times restful and at times violently painful.::

::And whatever is happening, the Earth rolls on, the clouds roll by and the minute hand rolls round. However much you want them to go in the opposite direction.::

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Unexpectednesses

It's been awhile, internet-y-folks. There has been much change and drama.

There was the unexpected new job, with new challenges, new responsibilities, and much stress and joy.

This was followed by unexpectedly getting a place on the scheme of my dreams, which means four years of moving around learning all sorts of fabulous things and having the chance to make a difference in some small way and getting to spend much more time with my family and loved ones 'back home' and getting paid for it.

Underneath all this was the rumbling, painful, horrible tummy ache of I'm-not-sure-this-relationship-is-right-for-me. A tummy ache of now nearly two years' duration. And I realise that much of my life - my location, my hobbies - has been built up around my relationship, and I'm horrified to find that I'm not sure what I want in life. But I'm desperately afraid that this is precisely what I don't want.

I'm in the process of moving - moving backwards and forwards at the same time, going home while simultaneously stepping - leaping - into new adventures. But much remains unresolved.
When life is confusing, I start knitting jumpers. I guess you guys know the feeling.
 

Friday, February 20, 2015

{this moment}

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Beyond the humble grain

I listened to a fantastic podcast yesterday. It's an episode of BBC Radio 4's Food Programme, and they generally do really interesting programmes, I highly recommend it. They don't shy away from controversial topics but they also do some interesting delves into culinary history and look at current trends.
 
This episode was from a few weeks ago, and can be listened to online or downloaded anywhere in the world (yay for Auntie! - link). It's partly prompted by a new documentary called "The Grain Divide" which is due out 'soon' (not clear when).
 
The radio programme travelled around the world (including under the Arctic permafrost) and interviewed farmers, bakers, scientists, historians and others about a growing movement to reintroduce older strains of wheat to our diet, and create new ones. Basically, over time as we've selected for a grain that gives good yields and a fine white flour, we've lost flavour and nutrition along the way.
 
 
Everyone who's baked bread will know that commercially-baked loaves ain't got a think on home-made - using stoneground whole-grain flour and a slow rise makes enormous different to flavour. We know a lot of the nutrient is in the bran and other parts of the grain that don't make it into commercial white flours. 
 
The slow fermentation of traditional baking helps break down gluten and other parts of the flour to make nutrients more available for us to absorb in digestion, and there's a theory that the accelerated Chorleywood Bread Process has contributed to a rise in gluten intolerance.
 
Several people are trying to grow and use some older strains to bring us closer to the bread that would have been eaten two hundred or more years ago. There are other advantages to older strains - they are better adapted to the landscapes they evolved on, less susceptible to adverse weather, disease and local pests.
 
My next challenge will naturally be to find a source of heritage wheat locally. (For readers in the UK, there's a guide to local artisanal mills at The Sourdough School).

Monday, February 16, 2015

Eat well for less

When starting to think about eating more frugally and simplify food shopping, I think most of us discover just how freeing it can be to plan meals and create a shopping list, and how much we can save by cooking from scratch. Such a simple change but it massively helps bring down food spending and food waste, and cuts out last-minute trips to the shops to get "something for dinner". 


Now these pearls of wisdom are being brought to a new audience with a fantastic new programme from the BBC called "Eat well for less". A tv chef and grocer help a different family every week to cut their food bills and eat better. They invade the family's kitchen and replace their normal food shopping with unbranded food. Some is swapped for cheaper food, such as dried pasta instead of fresh, or supermarket own-brand products. Some is their normal food without the packaging. Some is even more expensive but better quality.

We watch them nervously try the various foods and try to guess what is swapped and what is the same, and then there is the big reveal, we learn the identities of the products and the savings on each item. It amounts to thousands of pounds saved over the year. And most entertainingly, the families often like least those items which weren't swapped - once the packaging is removed, turns out they don't really it!


They also have a dietician looking at the amount of sugar in different brands of pasta sauce, and comparing the nutritional value of different tins of baked beans. They do blind tastings of yoghurt, tea and orange juice (among others) in the general public and see whether the most expensive is also the most popular.

It's made us look again at our own spending, and we've started trying some cheaper brands to compare price/quality. We've also switched from buying bags of pre-prepared salad to preparing our own from a head of lettuce and a punnet of rocket. 

It's a really interesting programme, and for those outside the UK, the episodes are available on youtube

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