Plastic Waste

Plastic Problem

My plan for the new year is to try and use less plastic.

Many people have been inspired recently after watching Blue Planet 2 which is great, we just need to keep that momentum up and get more people making changes.

I know it’s not always easy, but getting a reusable water bottle and coffee cup is a good way to start. I’ve been using them for a couple of years now but still used to buy bottles of water and have single use coffee cups when I forgot my reusable ones. This year I plan on making the reusables something I don’t leave the house without.

I already have metal straws in my house too, but I need to remember to ask for drinks without a straw when I’m out. Over Christmas I went to a pub and ordered a lemonade, which came with two straws in, totally unnecessary!

The more people that make the changes I’m describing, the better. Seemingly small actions like this can make a huge difference.

Plastic Bottle Statistics

Another thing I saw today that spurred me to write this blog was an article in the news that Marks and Spencer are stopping selling some of their products that are ridiculously packaged. I’ve been ranting about products like this since I first saw them on supermarket shelves probably more than a year ago. Who wants to spend £2.50 on a slice of cauliflower wrapped in plastic and marketed as a cauliflower steak. Save yourself some money and the world another pile of plastic waste!

I understand that some people are unable to cut fruit and veg, but the packaging for this is a real problem. Plus it seems that the aim of these products isn’t to help people who are unable to cut veg, it’s to sell them to people following food trends.

These aren’t all even convenience products, some are a joke. Selling a coconut and a straw wrapped in plastic is ludicrous, a coconut comes in natural packaging. You’d be hard pressed to damage it on the way home from the shop, and if you did miraculously smash it up on the way home, some plastic film won’t help.

Hopefully something has inspired you to make changes towards your use of plastic products. Go on, find that reusable coffee cup out of your cupboard, treat yourself to a reusable metal water bottle and say “no straw thanks”!

Read more about the plastic waste problem in this article from the BBC.

Advertisements

Hawker House – Street Food Heaven

I’ve been to a few street food markets in the UK, but my visit to Street Feast’s Hawker House in Canada Water, London was my favourite of all. It was Saturday evening, we’d had a day drinking at a rum festival, so were in need of food! My sister and her boyfriend lead the way to Hawker House, an old warehouse that’s been transformed by Street Feast into a street food heaven.

There was close to 20 food traders to choose from, and I’m pretty sure I counted 8 different bars, I’d had a lot of rum but I wasn’t seeing double!

Hawker House Street Food Warehouse
So first things first we needed a beer, draft Sierra Nevada, to bring back fond memories of California. We found a cosy candlelit table up on the mezzanine which housed the Tequila vs Rum bar, the shots happened later in the night! As me and my sister sat and had a drink and a chat, the guys went off in search of food, they came back with brisket burgers, clearly not my kind of thing! It was our turn to go and check out what was on offer.

Loads to choose from, almost all of the stalls had at least one veggie or vegan option. We did a lap first, checking out all of the menus so as not to make a snap decision and miss out on something.

My sister, who’d been before, said we had to get the tofu steamed buns from Yum Bun, so they were a must. We decided to share so we could try more things. Along with the steamed buns we got yuca fries from Petare, a Venezuelan stand. The fries were good, super spicy from the hot avocado coriander salsa. But the steamed buns were definitely my favourite, silky buns, crispy tofu, garlicky choy sum with sweet fruity chillies. A perfect combination. Definitely seek them out if you’re in London. I’ll be hunting them down next time I’m there and trying to replicate them at home in the meantime!

We chilled out with a drink for a bit then decided we were ready for more, we decided on something classic and went for wood fired pizza. Plum tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil, simple and tasty.

After a shot of something that tasted like apple pie crossed with popcorn, we were done! Full and ready to find our way home.

If you’re in London on a Friday or Saturday night and hungry for street food, give Hawker House a try, you won’t be disappointed. Loads of choice, chilled out atmosphere, pool tables and beer pong, fire pits outside, an all round great place to spend an evening.

Homemade spaghetti alla puttanesca

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Last Friday night I was home alone for tea, this is usually the time when I reach for the arborio rice and make risotto. No risotto this time though, mostly because I didn’t have the ingredients and didn’t want to venture out to get them! This time I raided the fridge and cupboards and created a version of spaghetti alla puttanesca.

This Italian recipe translates into English as, whore’s spaghetti. Yep, that’s what I made on Friday night after a busy day at work… I work in marketing don’t get any ideas! There’s loads of suggestions as to how the dish came about and got it’s name but it’s essentially a quick, tasty dish to throw together without many ingredients, most of which you probably have in the back of a cupboard in your kitchen. Quick and easy!

Recipes vary and there’s no exact science to it, which makes it my kind of dish, one I can tamper with! Here’s my version…

It serves two people, generously. I wasn’t greedy and ate the whole lot, there were leftovers!

Ingredients…

200g spaghetti
2 cloves garlic
1 tin of plum or chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 handful of olives, whatever you have (the ones I used this time were marinated in garlic and paprika which worked beautifully!)
Olive oil
Fresh basil or parsley, if you have it

Start by getting a pan of water on to cook the pasta. While that’s getting going finely slice the garlic and roughly chop the olives. When the water has come to the boil add salt and the spaghetti and cook as per the instructions on the packet. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat to make the sauce, add a little oil, then add the garlic. Gently fry for a minute, then add the olives and the chilli flakes. Leave these for a minute, then add in the tomatoes, and if you’re using plum ones, crush them with the back of a spoon. Leave the sauce to simmer until the pasta is cooked and then drain the pasta and add it to the sauce.

Simple as that. Drizzle with olive oil and fresh herbs if you have them.

Homemade spaghetti alla puttanesca

Mac No Cheese

I’m not sure when I first discovered I had a serious love for mac and cheese. It was definitely as a child and it was either at home with a Heinz tin of it, on toast naturally, every tinned pasta in the UK ends up on toast, or on a trip to America as part of an all you can eat buffet. On reflection, it wasn’t the best mac and cheese in the world but it started something. That bright yellow, that isn’t found in any other pasta dish I can think of, just draws me in!

I make a pretty good regular mac and cheese if I do say so myself, but I’m eating less and less dairy lately so have made a vegan version of mac and cheese a few times now. I made it the other night, under the watchful eye of my Madre, and whilst I asked her to taste the sauce, I remembered she doesn’t like mac and cheese… On tasting the sauce, her words were something along the lines of, “oh that’s good, you wouldn’t know if didn’t have dairy in”… success! I’m not sure I agree with her that you wouldn’t know, and maybe she was just being nice but it did taste pretty good. It didn’t taste like the real thing, it never will do, but it’s fast becoming a good replacement.

So reach for the butternut squash and nutritional yeast, yep that’s a thing – vegans will already know full well what it is, and skip the dairy with this mac no cheese recipe…

OK, before the recipe, I feel I need to explain first what nutritional yeast is for those that don’t know. Why do so many vegan essential ingredients have hideous names? So, it looks like fish food, stay with me, it’s got a nutty, creamy, cheesy flavour, so works great in sauces like this to add a savoury cheesy taste to it. You might hear it called “nooch”, I’m not cool enough for that, so seek out some nutritional yeast and give it a taste!

Anyway, on with the recipe… It’s a good base for a vegan mac and cheese recipe but as usual with most of my recipes, I always meddle and tweak it each time I make it.

img_6509-1.jpg

This served 4 very hungry people, would probably serve more though! You’ll need some sort of a blender for the sauce.

Ingredients…

500g macaroni or penne or fusili, whatever shapes you have will do
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into inch sized pieces, ish
1 potato, same treatment as the squash
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp English mustard
1 veg stock cube, and about 300ml water
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
100ml soy milk, or whatever milk alternative you like to use
Oil, again whatever you have, not the good stuff, it’s just for frying
Salt and pepper

Start by getting a pan of boiling water on for your pasta and put the kettle on to make your stock with. While this is happening prep your veg.

In a big frying pan heat some oil and fry the onions over a medium heat. When they’ve softened add the garlic, squash and potato. Let these fry for a few minutes. Add the stock and the milk, you can add more liquid later if you need it. Add the mustard and leave to simmer until the veg are soft.

Put the pasta on to cook, follow the instructions on the packet for this. Once the veg are cooked through, blend the sauce and add the noo… nope, can’t say it, sounds stupid… nutritional yeast and keep blending until it’s smooth. You might want to add some more liquid here if you need it. Give it a taste and season the sauce to your liking.

Now  the next step depends on how patient and hungry you’re feeling. Mix the sauce with the cooked pasta and pop in a dish under the grill to make the top a little crispy, or just eat it as it is if you can’t wait. I sometimes like to add herbs and breadcrumbs to the top before I grill it too, experiment with it!

Carrot Salad

Carrot salad might sound boring, stay with me, it’s not!

Turning various veg into noodles and spaghetti is quite commonplace now and this salad kind of plays on that. Don’t worry, no fancy spiralising gadget needed! Unless you have one, which I do as I’m a sucker for a gadget sometimes, then by all means use it, but all you really need is a speed peeler to turn your carrots into ribbons and make an interesting salad.

I’ve said it countless times, salads really aren’t boring and don’t have to just be a sad pile of lettuce with a few token slices of tomato or cucumber. Get creative with them and your lunch break will be better for it!

This salad is great by itself, or as I had it for lunch today, on a load of different salad leaves. It’d be great as a side dish to a curry for something fresh and crunchy, or in wraps with falafel, there’s loads of ways you could try it.

It makes enough for about 2 to 4 portions depending on how you’re serving it.

Ingredients:

2 carrots, peeled
1 stick of celery
1 red chilli, as usual, take the seeds out if you don’t like it hot!
A handful of each, radishes, coriander, pumpkin seeds
Olive oil
Lemon
Salt

Use the speed peeler to make ribbons of carrot, tear the coriander leaves (use the stalks for another recipe), finely slice the other veg. That’s pretty much it! Pop it all in a bowl and toss it with some oil, lemon juice and salt.

It’s a great base for a salad and you can add new things to it to make it different every time. Don’t have any celery, or don’t like it, just switch it out for something else like cucumber or peppers. Use different seeds and herbs. It’s really easy and versatile. Another reason to never have a boring salad again!

Carrot salad with chilli and coriander.