Week Eight

Vegetarian Mama

So this blog is very much about my personal journey to make my family more eco friendly and our lifestyle more sustainable.  I think the issue of sustainability is in pretty much everything that we do. The way we travel, the way we shop and definitely in the way we eat…

This week I watched the video Vegucated. The long one about 3 people trying to go vegan. It took me most of the week to get through it in small chunks. You know in between nappy changes and playtime and making dinner and putting on the wash. Well in the end I finished watching and I’m glad I did. It made my mind up. Im going vegetarian. In fact I’ve been heading that way for a while so this really just gave me the final push. I quit pork in november and I’ve gradually been decreasing my meat consumption ever since.

I’m really glad that I’ve reached this point in my life. It’s something I’ve been evolving too without realising for a while. I’m not one of those lucky people that can change the habits of my lifetime overnight and it stick. I have to gradually work towards better decisions and habits and I think this is one of those times where the result is actually better than the original intention.

The intention being to eat less meat to encourage a more varied and healthy diet. The result of becoming vegetarian means in essence a total (thought gradual) overhaul of my eating habits PLUS no more eating Mrs chicken and Mrs cow which aligns more with my kindness to all ethics and morals.

The reason I’m not going vegan at this point is because I do rely on cheese and eggs to bump up my protein and also my trade is baking so I think it would make me a bit of a hypocrite to not eat these things at home but sell them gladly in the forms of sweet and delicious cakes. Plus for me it would make cooking for Penny very tricky! Cheese omelette is my fail safe when we’re going through a grumpy day.

With vegetarianism in mind, I’ll be posting some more vegetarian recipes this week!

Have a great day

Jessica x

Vegetable Lentil Dahl

Easy lentils for easy meals, Simples.

Ingredients

tbsp olive oil

1 cloves garlic

1 x finely chopped onion

1 x grated courgette

3 x grated carrot

1 x veggie stock cube

350 gms red lentils

salt and pepper for seasoning

Herbs of your choosing (I like a sprig of rosemary)

Method

Fry the onion, courgette and carrot in the olive oil in a big saucepan or frying pan until the mixture softens and starts to go brown. Mix in the stock cube and a splash of boiling water. Continue to stir for 2 mins. Use a hand blender to blitz the mixture in the pan so it’s quite fine. Gradually add 750ml of boiling water. Once the water is combined pour in the lentils and simmer for 20-25 mins. Use a hand whisk to help the lentils break down (if you’re using your best pan try using a silicone whisk to prevent scratches.) It’s done once the lentils have soaked up the liquid and have gone nice and soft.

After cooking you can eat straight away as a side dish or on it’s own with some salad and bread. Russell discovered by accident that it tastes good as a topper to hummus on toast!

You can vary the vegetables you use depending on what’s in your fridge, great for using up veg that might be on the turn.

Keep leftovers in the fridge in a tightly sealed tupperware container for up to 3 days.

Happy cooking!

Jessica x

Tomato Sauce

This is an easy, tasty recipe for Tomato sauce and is great on Pizza or pasta or even toast!

Ingredients

tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic

2 x onion

2 x tins of chopped or plum tomatoes

handful of fresh baby tomatoes

handful fresh basil

handful of fresh oregano

salt and pepper for seasoning

Method

Chop the garlic and onion and fry gently in the olive oil. Add the tomatoes and cook until the onions are soft and slightly brown. I like to add the herbs at this point and give it a really good stir. I think this gives more flavour than adding later. Also I chop them quite a lot so the flavour can really get into the whole sauce, but you can leave them chunkier if you like. Next pour in the tin tomatoes, stir and simmer for a good 25 mins. Once the mixture has turned from liquid and tomatoes to a  nice thick consistency, it’s ready! Cool and store in individual portions or get cracking and spread it on your pizza base!

IMG_2072

IMG_2073

IMG_2074

Can be fridged for a week or frozen for a month.

Jessica x

Week Two

 

Kitchen Garden

This week I’m talking about growing your own herbs. I’m a total novice so knowing where to start with a kitchen garden was quite daunting.   

 

 

What a week! Russell and myself have been suffering with various food poisonings/tummy bugs so it’s been a bit chaotic here. I hope all your weeks were much calmer! Penny has so far managed to escape unscathed and lets hope that continues. Anyway, to business and this post is about my experiment with growing herbs.

We are a household that likes to cook. Russell likes to experiment with curry flavours and I’m especially fond of Italian, which means that we get through a wide variety of herbs. Fresh supermarket herbs are expensive, shockingly so in my opinion. I’ve been biding my time for a while though, as I thought starting a kitchen garden with a newborn was probably a little optimistic. But now we are achieving “sleeping through” so I took the plunge in March and got some little starter kits from Wilko’s.

They were only 75p each and came with the pot, soil and the seeds and some basic instructions. I started with basil, coriander and rocket. Whilst the little basil pot has flourished beautifully, the rocket and coriander didn’t fare so well. Both failed to thrive after a good start and to be honest I’m not really sure what went wrong. I think I may have planted too many seeds in one go.

I could have got disheartened and given up but in fact it spurred me on. I loved seeing the little shoots coming up and knowing that it was due to my (totally haphazard) care. So over the last two months I’ve gradually added to my kitchen garden. I now have:

basil, lavender, oregano, rosemary, sage, curry leaf and mint

You don’t need much in the way of tools either, I just have a little watering pot for herbs that cost 80p and the herbs themselves aren’t that expensive. I think the most I’ve paid was £2.99 for the curry leaf plant. I’m also looking into ways to kitchen compost so I won’t have to buy that either, although I may have to wait till we move to embark on that journey.

I’m really enjoying using the herbs in my everyday cooking, it’s very satisfying to pick them fresh and put them straight into the pan. Oregano and basil have been brilliant in making big batches of tomato pasta sauce, which I freeze in small portions and take out as necessary. The curry leaf was really great in a lentil dhal I made for a dinner party last week. The only one I haven’t really used is the lavender, but I’m working on finding a drying technique so I can make my own pot pourri.

I use the word garden a little liberally I think. What I actually mean is kitchen windowsill. The word garden always brings big country rose bushes and hydrangeas to mind. But still, it’s my garden even if it’s small. I’m very proud of how much it’s growing and now I’ve got a bit of confidence I’ve started growing some flowers.

I currently have a trough of sunflowers growing on the lounge windowsill and a newly installed hanging basket outside my front door. All of the info on each plant promised they were easy to look after, which I’m definitely hoping is true! I’ll post a picture of the basket once the flowers are in bloom.

Sunflowers

I’d always put off growing my own, because I live in a first floor flat, having always thought I would be better off waiting till we moved into a house. I’m so glad I’ve finally got started though, as it”s been so successful that I wish I hadn’t waited so long. I’ve realised you don’t need much space and actually starting with just one or two plants worked best for me as I could focus on getting those right before adding more.

If you’ve been thinking about starting your own kitchen garden I hope this has inspired you to get growing. Start with your favourite herb and see where it takes you!

There’s a lot more I want to grow but I’m running out of windowsill so I’ll have to find some more space.

I hope you found this post useful, as always comments are welcome and please feel free to share any hints and tips you might have!

Happy Friday

Jessica x

Week One

 

Family Food Habits

This week I’m talking about food, which is a huge topic and I could write forever about it, so this week Im just going to focus on the changes I’ve made over the last few months to reduce wastage, save money and eat better.

ginger cake

I’ve shopped in Tesco all of my adult life. I’ve never really stopped to question it, or consider other options. My mother always shopped in Tesco when I was a child because it was the supermarket nearest to us. When I was a student I bought the value noodles, when I finished and brought in a salary I bought the big brands because it’s what was familiar to me.

Now I’m a mamma and questioning what’s in all this identically sized and coloured food. Even more so since Miss P started on solid food. I decided it was time to make some changes to move my family towards healthier and more eco friendly food habits.

The first thing I did was to order a weekly veg box. I felt strongly that we should have good wholesome organic vegetables that are grown locally or sourced in a sustainable way. When I added up the cost, I realised that I spend a similar amount in the supermarket but usually end up with a lot of wastage because it’s hard to get small quantities and multiple offers tend to mean I buy more than I need. Getting a weekly box means I get exactly the right amount, it tastes much better (who knew carrots could be so sweet) and I know I’m not feeding Penny any unnecessary gm or chemicals.

I also get a dozen eggs delivered as I know that they are coming from properly looked after chickens. (I buy from Riverford organic because they are based nearby and I like their policies and prices.) I’m happy to pay a fair price for good, fresh food that’s delivered to my door.

The second thing I did was plan. This is much harder to stick to than I first realised when I started doing this. Foodwise our whole week now revolves around the vegbox delivery, which comes on a friday. To help me with this, I did buy a few proper cookbooks to inspire me, as all my other books were based on sweet baking rather than wholesome cooking! I now plan exactly what we are going to eat sunday to thursday. Friday’s and saturdays are jackpot nights because we use up whatever’s left from the previous week. I’m not usually one to plug things but Hugh’s Three Good Things cookbook has been absolutely invaluable. I think 70% of our weekday recipes come directly from or are inspired by this book.

I do find it hard to be really disciplined about planning though. I try and sit down on friday when the box arrives and plan straight away, but sometimes other demands mean I don’t get around to it until saturday or sunday. But making sure the planning gets done also means that the rest of the shopping list gets done without overspending. Now when I go to the supermarket for all the other bits and pieces, I have the list and I stick to it. This has saved us a huge amount of money over the last couple of months and also means I know exactly what I have in the kitchen cupboards. No more out of date flour or beans in sight!

The third thing is possibly a bit controversial. We introduced veggie days. On a normal week we now have vegetarian meals on monday, wednesday and friday. Although not intentionally, we both seem to have made the whole day meat free too. I found this has meant we rarely have wasted veg at the end of the week, we’ve both got creative in the kitchen and to be honest, I find lots of our veggie meals as equally tasty if not more so than a standard meat and two veg dinner.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always possible to stick to these three things (except the vegbox) completely. I find that disturbed nights with Penny will often end up with lazy shopping and cooking. When this happens though I try to get back on track as quickly as possible. I think overall it’s made a big difference to our spending and our nutrition. Plus because we waste a lot less food and we don’t buy more than we need, we’re also being a more eco friendly family.

I think there’s more that we could do, but it’s a start!

I hope you found this post useful, do comment if you have any other ideas that could help or if you implement any of the above for your lifestyle!

Happy Friday

Jessica x