Tag Archives: cooking

Eco tips XXVI, XXVII: grow your own!

Apologies that tip 26 went unpublished yesterday; I was unable to download it then, but it came quietly this evening. I was looking at herb seeds just yesterday, but ran out of time to sow them.

Daily Eco Tip 27

Grow your own little garden on your window sill with some herb seeds. They are easy to manage and when the time is right you can pluck them fresh and throw them into your meals. 

Daily Eco Tip 26

Hair products as well as face ones are now available in bars. Rubbing the bar produces the same result as their liquid counterpart and can sometimes even last longer.

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Daily eco tips XXIII, XXIV: fasting from fast food

I think we’ve caught up with ourselves again.

Daily Eco Tip 24

Invest in mouthwash tablets and store them in a plastic-free container. You can also purchase refill packs that come in compostable packaging. Just dissolve the tablets in some water and gargle.

Daily Eco Tip 23

Reducing the amount of takeaways you have monthly will not only help your diet but also reduce the amount of plastic waste. If you want some alternatives you can look for new tasty recipes you haven’t tried before. Or try some recipes that taste exactly like your local takeaway spot.

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/takeaway-favourite-recipes

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23 May, Proverbs 11.1: a just weight is his delight

scaales
Just and true measurements

A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is his delight.”   Proverbs 11.1.

This Nineteenth Century kitchen balance was an heirloom from our next-door neighbour, Kay; it would have been interesting to hear the story of how she came to have it! It came with an incomplete set of iron wights, each one marked ‘VR’ underneath to tell that they were trustworthy because they had undergone official testing. A false balance is an abomination to society for obvious reasons. You can read here how Channel Island farmers used big stones chipped down to useful weights to measure produce for sale.

Their old French quintal weights would be no use to Abel and me, and nor would the few pounds and ounces that came with the scales, since he will think in grams and kilos – though his mother and auntie speak about their children’s weights in stones!

No, Abel takes delight in these just weights, because we get good results when we follow a recipe to cook using them –  and I take delight in his delight.

Just weights are a form of speaking the truth; the different British, Jersey-French and Metric systems may differ, but by carefully comparing them and using them consistently, we can always get delightful results.

And where Bible texts differ, as in the two versions of the Lord’s Prayer,* we can enjoy carefully and prayerfully puzzling out the differences and so take delight in them.

  • Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4.

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January 7: Body and Soul at Table

shared meal

 

This post is an extract from the article in the Hedgehog Review, Fall 2019, by Wilfred M. McClay and an invitation to follow the link and read the whole thing! As he suggests, food is a strong proof of our animality; it is equally strong evidence of how we transcend it. Did you know that Babette’s Feast is a favourite film of Pope Francis?

We are animals too, with animal needs and animal limitations just like those of our dogs and cats and squirrels and horses and all the rest, creatures great and small. For us, as for all of them—all of organic life, for that matter—the perpetuation of life requires at every moment a steady flow of nutrition, which we derive from our taking into ourselves the lives of plants and animals and metabolizing them, then eliminating what is left over from that process. Not to put too fine a point on it, we kill and appropriate and eliminate. We are guilty from the start, in a sense, of valuing our own life more highly than the lives of other living things. That is, in a sense, the original sin of all living beings, the sin entailed in merely existing at all—a thought that would never occur to us, were we nothing but animals.

But food is not only a strong proof of our animality; it is equally strong evidence of the ways we transcend our animality. Just as we are not souls without bodies, so we are not bodies without souls. The two are distinguishable but inseparable. Unlike the other animals, we are not content to take our food as it comes to us. We don’t do a lot of desperate bone-gnawing. Instead, we do a lot of work on our food, and it gains value from the infusion of all our loving labour.

Post-Christmas is a good time to reflect on our eating and our food preparation, the love that stirs the spoon, the shared table and the love that flows from it; the Shared Table of the Eucharist which transcends all meals. Do go and read it.

A family feast of fisn and chips after a morning’s walking in the hills.

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Signs of Summer

elder.flower

Please excuse my interrupting Austin’s flow of thought with this appreciation of some of the joys of summer. A version of this post has appeared in the Will Turnstone blog.

As I walked along Canterbury’s  Saint Peter’s Street on Saturday I saw a sure sign of Summer. Not the gaggles of French and Dutch teenagers squeezing into the pound shops, nor the obedient American and Japanese tourists following their guides’ uplifted, unopened, umbrellas.

No, It was the cherry lady from Faversham, but selling gooseberries this time. She promised ‘cherries next week’.

I bought gooseberries.

gooseberry.jam

That afternoon as I was cycling home from visiting friends,  I sought out the elder flowers needed to make the best gooseberry fool and gooseberry jam. Along the Crab and Winkle cycle path they were as unpolluted as anywhere.

Mrs T made the fool, and froze some puree to make more when summer is mere memory. The fool all went. We took some to the L’Arche gardening club on Sunday, where our Polish friends could not get enough of it, nor could I. Maybe the spare puree won’t make it till Christmas!

And I made the jam. A few Happy Christmasses there!

But yesterday there were cherries in town.

Summertime can begin! Laudato Si!

cherries

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September 21: Up the Apricot Tree: II

apricots.17

Back in July, I wrote about the bumper harvest on the apricot tree. over the next four weeks I was up that tree a few times, harvesting and pruning. We made more than 100 jars of jam. That’s not really a boast, just a measure of the bounty from our tree this year.

Some of those jars have found their way to other people’s breakfast tables. We’ve had appreciation from family and neighbours, ‘best ever’, ‘lovely jam’ and so on. Those of us who have undergone the after-effects of surgery will empathise with the friend of Mrs T, recovering from her op who really enjoyed the jam with her breakfast toast. So good to receive the sense of taste again! What a gift it is, and how healing.

Where else can we spread a little apricot-flavoured happiness, I wonder?

Are there any people out there who might treasure a small gift from you, far more than perhaps you’d expect on first thoughts?

 

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25 June: Shared Table VII, Lunch with Pope Benedict.

pope-xmas-meal

Pope Emeritus Benedict has contrasted his style with that of Pope Francis,suggesting that he should have got among the people more. Yet Benedict did something radical in this direction when he came out of the Vatican and shared a Christmas meal with homeless people at the Sant’Egidio Community. (Amazingly, protocol demanded that the Pope should not be seen eating!)

He told the gathering:

It is a moving experience for me to be with you, to be with Jesus’ friends, because Jesus especially loves people who are suffering, people in difficulty, and wants them to become his brothers and sisters. Thank you for this possibility! I am very glad and I thank all those who prepared the meal, lovingly and competently I was truly aware of the good cooking, congratulations! and I also thank those who served the food.

At lunch I heard of sorrowful events full of humanity and also stories of love rediscovered here at Sant’Egidio: the experiences of elderly, homeless or disabled people, emigrants, gypsies, individuals with financial problems or other difficulties who are all, in one way or another, sorely tried by life. I am here with you to tell you that I am close to you and love you, and that you and your affairs are not far from my thoughts but rather at the centre and in the heart of the Community of believers, hence also in my heart.

With the words of St John Chrysostom I would like to remind each one: “Consider you have become a priest of Christ, giving with your own hand not flesh but bread, and not Blood, but a cup of water” (Homily on the Gospel of Matthew, 42,3). What riches are offered to life by God’s love expressed in real service to our brothers and sisters who are in need! Like St Lawrence, a Deacon of the Church of Rome, when the Roman magistrates of the time sought to intimidate him, to make him handover the Church’s treasure, he pointed to the poor of Rome as the true treasure of the Church. We can make St Lawrence’s gesture our own and say that you poor people really are the Church’s treasure.

Click to access hf_ben-xvi_spe_20091227_pranzo-poveri.pdf

Pope Benedict XVI visits the Community of Sant’Egidio.

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3 June: E is for East End of London

commerical road

‘You turn by this big Catholic Church’, my son told his mother who was to pick him up from the flat he’d been living in over the summer. ‘That’s where I was baptised’, I said. ‘Limehouse’ is on my birth certificate, and you can’t get more East End than that. More East End than Walford, and on a quiet night, you can hear Bow Bells. Is there ever a quiet night?

Mother, aged 18, had joined Dad at Saint Mary and Saint Michael’s parish where he was running the Boys’ Club, and a whole new world was opening before her eyes. Across the street was the Mosque with whom they were on friendly terms;  there were many synagogues within walking distance. It was by no means just Jewish people who had landed in this dockland parish from across Europe and around the world.

A Frenchwoman took her under her wing to negotiate the local markets and learn to cook exotic dishes such as Spaghetti Bolognese; yes, this was 1948-50! She experienced great solidarity from the Jewish and Italian traders who understood about beginning a new life in unfamiliar surroundings. Somehow the portions she received from Mrs Guazzelli in  her café were that little more generous than the ration books might require. She learned from her friend how to buy wisely on the street market.

Another friend, my Godmother, kept in touch with me and my parents till her death. She was East End English Catholic all the way through.

My parents had to leave Stepney while I was still a toddler, happily watching the largely horse-drawn traffic on Commercial Road. I remember nothing of my time there, but living in the East End opened my parents’ eyes to other, quite  different ways of life that good people were following in good faith. Some of their openness has rubbed off onto their children. May we continue to spread it.

MMB.

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Something We Were Taking For Granted

A couple of days after the Harvest Mass, Deacon Eliam from Zambia asked me about the pumpkin leaves that had formed part of our display. These were from a pumpkin vine growing up through a bush in Mrs O’s garden; the fruit had already been harvested and these leaves had been kept for the Mass.

Eliam was surprised that I’d treated the leaves as a by-product for the compost heap, when they are a vegetable in Zambia.

My quick search on the web suggested they could be stir-fried with garlic and they taste sweet and less bitter than spinach or cabbage, maybe we’ll try it sometime, but if the remaining leaves from this year are any good at all, Eliam should have a taste of home!

We are guilty of taking many of God’s gifts for granted, even including pumpkin leaves! There is something we can do about that because now we know. How much else do we presume we know, presume we are right about? Who will tell us where we are going wrong? Mea maxima culpa.

I’m grateful to Eliam for his observation but also for the reminder, yet again, that all is gift, all is given to us.

I hope I can find some leaves worth his eating, this late in the season. And like St Peter, I should try anything once! (Acts 10).

(Eliam was able to share the leaves with other African students; maybe I’ll grow some pumpkins early next spring, just for the leaves.)

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Martha

At the end of a Martha Day I can sit down and take the better part before I go to bed. Appropriately enough, it is St Martha’s feast today, so my harvesting and cooking activity fits the bill nicely. I don’t suppose, though, that St Matthew was pointing to a ticking clock to remind Martha to get her tax return in on time. But then Martha would have been well organised, her parchments all in good order…

Martha made Mary’s precious hour with the Lord possible, and practical people make so much possible for the rest of us. Don’t take them for granted: it was Martha who said, ‘If you had been here my brother would not have died’, and who professed her belief in the resurrection on the last day and in the here and now. A practical faith, a faith lived in practice, not theoretical but surely reflective.

So no regrets for a day of harvesting, cooking, and washing up; no regrets for time spent on a tax return, especially when it led to a refund. Martha clearly had time for a good deal of reflection while she worked, and at the end of today, I find that yes, so did I!

MMB

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