Archive | June, 2012

Baring All: My First Naturist Experience

28 Jun
Cross posted from our lovely new friend at http://flowersandfeminism.wordpress.com

 

Less than a fortnight ago, a friend told me that he was a naturist. I’ll admit that I used to have misconceptions about naturism. I thought that it was a little weird and uncool and that it was only full of old men because they liked looking at young naked women. I thought that being a naturist had to mean eschewing clothes at every possibly opportunity. I fell victim to the idea that wearing clothes was ‘the done thing’ and that it would feel odd to be nude around other people. How wrong I was. Within two weeks I have become a total convert to the idea that it’s okay to take your clothes off in public and feel good about it. The fact that naturist groups contain so many senior citizens actually stems from a surge of popularity which the movement enjoyed in the mid 20th century, which faded among later generations of youth. But age didn’t even bother me when I finally took the step of attending a nearby naturist swim session with a group of student friends.

 

The age demographic at the swim was mixed, with my friends and I being the youngest there bar a couple of children who came with their families. At no point did I feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. No one stares at each other’s bodies; no one walks around with an erection or makes inappropriate remarks. The sauna and steam room are great places to make friendly conversation and meet new people. Being naked whilst swimming, relaxing and chatting is treated as a fact of life, divorced from sexual arousal, and nothing to be self conscious about. From my experience, naturists are very accepting people; they see people for who they are rather than for what they look like. The swim also opened my eyes to the huge variety of shapes and sizes out there. Rather than feeling body conscious, I was comfortable in my own skin and judging from the reactions of numerous others who have tried naturism it is great for boosting confidence and positivity towards one’s own body. The thought of exposing a body which you’re not happy with among a group of strangers can be terrifying, because as women we have been brought up in a patriarchal, objectifying and shame-based culture. But naturism shows us that there is no one perfect body standard. Physical differences between humans of body type, size, gender, age and so on seem less important when viewed through the naturist lens. As Larry Darter observes in this excellent article:

“A lifetime of repressive taboos and censorship can be replaced with greater self-confidence and improved body image acceptance when a woman discovers that she experiences empowerment rather than intimidation, acceptance instead of rejection and humanization not objectification.”

Why, then, is nakedness so taboo in modern society when modern humans have been walking around naked for hundreds of thousands of years? The argument that clothes preserve “decency” and “morality” is merely a reflection of a fabricated social construct. Organised religion has inevitably played its part: think of Adam and Eve’s shame when they first notice their own nakedness, and of the requirements for women to dress “modestly” without exposing flesh. Clothing does serve a purpose, but being naked has nothing to do with lack of morality. We have lost touch with our natural state to the extent that even swimming pools – the most obvious places to be nude and comfortable with it – require us to cover our bodies with useless little bits of fabric. There is nothing innately unnatural and indecent about our bodies. For me, naturism is an embodiment of connection with nature and an indescribable feeling of freedom and liberation. I echo the words of CP Reece in Go naked; it’s good for everybody (but particularly for women):

“Bathe without a costume (they’ve only existed for about 150 years and they were invented by men to control what women wear and what women see) and you’ll never want to wear one again!”

Naturism is not about sex. A man who walks around with a huge erection or a woman who harasses other people would soon be asked to leave. What about those who are worried about getting uncontrollable erections at a naturist club? My male friend who accompanied me explained:

“If I’m attracted to someone it doesn’t matter if they’re naked, dressed, or in a potato sack, I’m still attracted…Well, boobs and such are fantastic. I am aroused by nakedness, when it is presented in an arousing context, much as I am aroused by someone in clothes, when presented as arousing.”

For many naturism is about freedom; relaxation; spirituality. For some it just feels good. There doesn’t have to be a deep and profound reason for going naked – it’s about what you’re comfortable with. Nor do you have to want to be naked all the time to get involved with naturist groups or take part in events. The sensation of floating naked in warm water, or treading barefoot through long grasses, or relaxing topless in a sauna, has to be felt to be believed. Shame, repression and lack of self esteem are damaging to our body image; the countries with the most liberal attitudes to the human body, such as Denmark and Sweden, are the best in terms of women’s self esteem and attitudes towards their bodies. In these countries, naturism is far less taboo and regarded as healthy and normal. It’s sad that so many people in the UK can only accept the naked body if it’s sexualised.

It’s normal to be nervous about trying new things and to be concerned about body image. Most people are before they experiment with naturism. But Stasha Boyd’s account of her first naturist experience speaks volumes about the way in which it can transform our self esteem and our attitudes towards nudity, the most natural thing of all:

“I’m a forty-two year old woman with your average, run-of-the-mill body issues. I was raised to believe that the flesh was something you mortify, not display; that social acceptance was more important than personal acceptance. And I just spent three glorious days at a nudist resort. Yep, three whole days in the sun, in the pool, in the spa, in the nude, in public and not only did I not die of embarrassment; I discovered a world of rejuvenation you can’t imagine until you’ve experienced it.”

Image

Useful Materials

http://www.bn.org.uk/articles.php/_/information/youth/youth-body-image-r91

http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2012/03/go_naked_its_go

http://www.bn.org.uk/youth/index.php

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/my-daughter-the-teenage-nudist/4od – a very interesting Channel 4 documentary about nudism amongst young people

Pumpkin and Sage Risotto

19 Jun

Jess made this delicious pumpkin risotto the other day for Greta, Becky and Rodrigo (our lovely couchsurfer guest). Yum!

In other news, we found this article written by a man with “man boobs” really interesting. Thought we would share.

pumpkin and sage risotto

pumpkin and sage risotto

Ingredients: 1 onion (fine chopped), 6-8 cloves garlic (left in skin), 1 small pumpkin, 500g arborio rice, 1-2 tbsp marmite, 1-2 tbsp stock powder / bouillon, olive oil, half a bottle of white wine, 1-2 tsp dried marjoram, 1-2 tsp dried thyme, 2 tbsp dried sage, 3 bay leaves, salt and pepper (to taste), nutritional yeast (to serve – optional)

tasting

tasting

Peel, de-seed and chop the pumpkin into bite-sized chunks. (Save the seeds – they are great fried with a bit of salt). Put the pumpkin pieces in a roasting tray with the whole cloves of garlic, season, and drizzle generously with olive oil. Roast in the oven at 180’C for about 30 minutes til cooked.

Adding stock

Adding stock

Meanwhile, sweat down the onion with a generous amount of olive oil in a pan on the hob. When the onions go translucent, add the arborio rice and the herbs fry for a few stirs. Add a good glug of the white wine, stirring until the liquid has been absorbed before adding some more. Make up some stock in a smaller pan on the stove with the stock powder, marmite and boiling water, and use this to keep adding to the risotto rice once the wine has ran out.

Jess and Rodrigo

Jess and Rodrigo

Once the roast pumpkin has cooked and squishy, add the roast pumpkin to the risotto mixture. The pumpkin mixture should be well cooked enough that it melts into the risotto. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins and into the risotto pan. Add any oil or juices that collected in the roasting tray. Continue adding stock – the risotto rice will drink up loads of liquid. Add seasonings and more herbs to taste. Serve with a dusting of nutritional yeast. Enjoy!

Greta and Risotto

Greta and Risotto

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Vegan Apple Tart

13 Jun

This is a really nice tart that we have been making a lot recently. The apple stays tasting really fresh and keeps some texture and the pastry is just right. The photos here are a bit blurry because we took them on webcam when Jess had taken the camera on a trip  to London.

 

 

For each 4 servings tart you will need

150 grams wheat or gluten-free plain flour
75 grams vegan shortening (like trex) or sunflower spread (like vitalite)
2 – 3 tablespoons water
65 grams (golden) caster sugar
5 grams salt
2 – 3 bramley apples (or your favourite or whatever you’ve got in!)
1 aluminium flan case
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a large round dinner plate (or something similar)
and some clingfilm


Make the pastry: Mix 25 grams of sugar, and all the salt and flour in a big mixing bowl. Add the fat and use a fork to smoosh it into the flour until its all crumbly. Slowly stir in the water then use your hands to bring the pastry together and roll it into a ball. If you’ve planned ahead you can wrap it up in cling-film and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes or overnight.

Preheat your oven to gas mark 5 or 190 degrees C.

Shape the pastry: Lay out a large piece of cling film on a work surface. Put the ball of pastry onto the middle of it and press it down. Place another piece of film on top and roll out the pastry into a rough circle between the two sheets.

Put the pastry into the flan case: There are lots of ways of doing this, but I think this way is the hardest to mess up. All we are trying to do is place the pastry into the flan case or pie dish. If you want to do this another way then go for it!

Make sure the circle of pastry is roughly the size of your dinner plate. Peel off the top sheet of cling film then press the plate down onto the pastry. Turn the plate, give it a wiggle and lift it off. Lay the flan case upside down in the middle of your circle of pastry. You should now have, from bottom to top: cling film, pastry, flan case.

Use your thumbs to gently hold the flan case in place as you turn the whole thing over 180 degrees. Lower the pastry into the case and remove the cling film. Use your fingers to finish placing it. If it rips use a little spare pastry to patch it up. Cut horizontally around the top of the case with a sharp knife. This should give the tart a nice, neat edge.

Cut the apples into wedges: Cut the apples in half and use a teaspoon and a pairing knife to remove the cores. Cut each half into about 8 wedges depending on the size of the apples. Lay the wedges out onto the pastry starting from the edge. Place them in rings so that they overlap slightly, using the photo for reference. When you get to the middle either overlap two small pieces so that they look like a love heart or, take a large slice and use your favourite cookie cutter.

Bake the tart: Sprinkle about three tablespoons of golden caster sugar and a little cinnamon onto the apples. Then pop the tart in the oven for half an hour and turn it half way through.

Done! A fancy looking tart thats down to earth. After you’ve made one or two you’ll find it only takes 15 minutes to prepare. Serve with some soya custard or vegan ice cream and a nice cup of tea :).

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Greens on Toast

7 Jun

This is a really nice, quick lunch, or it would make a great starter for a dinner party if served as a half portion. You can substitute in other vegetables based on what you have in.

Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds which can be found in most big supermarkets as well as in middle eastern shops, it lasts for  very long time and is also an essential ingredient in hummus.

Ingredients (For two): 4 slices of bread, handful of spinach, 2 inches of courgette (thin sliced), cloves of garlic (halved/large chunks) – we used 6 cloves but are massive garlic fiends, you may want to use less… , olive oil (approx 1 tsp portion), tahini (approx 1 tsp per potion), bouillon powder (approx half tsp per portion), salt and pepper, yeast flakes

Thinly slice the courgette and place in a tin-foiled oven tray with the chunks of garlic and liberally cover with olive oil. Grill for 5 minutes or until gently browned, making sure you turn them half way through. Meanwhile, toast the bread and wilt the spinach on the hob in a frying pan. Cut the toast into triangles and drizzle with olive oil and tahini, and sprinkle with bouillon powder. Place the slices of grilled courgette and wilted spinach on top of the toast, and dust with yeast flakes, salt and pepper.

Delicious!

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Veg Thai-style Green Curry with Coriander Relish

5 Jun

Today Jess, Zachariah and Alex teamed up with the fierce and fabulous Agata from Life Drawing + for a life drawing performance as part of the Allery Gallery festival at the Creative Corner Cafe in Whalley Range. The performance was a bit scary for us as it not only involved a choreographed live cooking demonstration but also acting, life modelling, and interpretative cow dancing…

…but all in all the event was a huge success! We managed to feed everyone who came, and entertained everyone with our antics for a couple of hours. The amazing queer vegan poet Dominic Berry also performed one of his poems, which was fab. We will post more pictures from the event, and hopefully a video, as soon as we can get it from the people at the Allery Gallery.

At the event we served Thai-style Green Curry with rice, Tabbouleh Salad, an Coriander Relish and skipped breads and other salady bits.

Thai-style Green Curry Paste

Ingredients: 1 stalk fresh lemongrass (sliced finely), 2 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 2+1/2 tbsp light soy sauce, 1-2 tsp brown sugar (to taste), 1-3 green chilies (minced), 1 shallot (fine chopped), 3 cloves garlic (minced), 1 thumb-size piece galangal (sliced) (use ginger at a push), 2 kaffir lime leaves (chopped up), 1 loose cup chopped fresh coriander leaves and stems, 1/4 cup fresh basil (use thai basil if you can find it), 1 tsp dark soy sauce.

To make the thai style green curry paste, combine all the ingredients in a blender and blitz!

Thai-style Green Curry

Poet Dominic Berry enjoys thai green curry

Poet Dominic Berry enjoys thai green curry

To make the thai-style green curry we simply sweated down finely chopped shallots and garlic before adding the vegetables and green curry paste. We then added coconut milk and a bit of water and simmered for a bit, finishing it off with fresh lime juice, freshly chopped coriander and basil at the end.

Coriander Relish

Relish

Relish

Ingredients: 1 cucumber (cut in 1/4 to 1/6 ” dice), 2 finely chopped fresh red chillies, 1 bunch of fresh coriander (50g) (chopped),
1/2 cup white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup finely minced red onion or shallot (optional – didn’t put this in today!)
Heat water, sugar and vinegar over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool. Combine other ingredients in a bowl and pour over sugar/vinegar mixture. Cover and chill until serving.
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Photos from Manchester World Naked Bike Ride 2012

2 Jun

I had a very “naked day” yesterday. Spent all day rehearsing for our upcoming performance / life model event on Tuesday and then spent the evening cycling naked around Manchester as part of the Manchester World Naked Bike Ride protest to raise awareness of cyclists’ vulnerability on the roads and the lack of cycling facilities. The cause particularly effects me as usually I am way to scared of riding on the roads to get out on the bike (living on the busiest bus route in Europe doesnt help!) but with so many naked cyclists on the road with me I had no excuse not to go! It was pretty terrifying at first, having not ridden a bike for ages, but I soon got used to it. I have muscles aching I didnt know I even had, so the exercise was probably good for me.

Unfortunately my camera ran out of batteries before the ride started and only managed to get a few photos very early on, but Ill post up some of the pictures I have taken or found of the event here, and links to any public galleries / press coverage as and when I find them. If you see any press or pictures, or have any pictures you want me to upload on here, please either pop a link in the comments or send us an email at nakedvegancooking[at]gmail.com and Ill pop them up. If you are in any pictures, or if I have nabbed any of your pictures off the facebook or whatever and you want them crediting or taking down, just pop us an email too. Thanks – Jess


Video on youtube of the Manchester World Naked Bike Ride

This album on rex is pretty comprehensive, although you have to be a pro-photographer to enlarge the pictures up from thumbnails.

Participants of the annual Naked Bike Ride in Manchester pause for a picture outside the Town Hall in Albert Square.

Participants of the annual Naked Bike Ride in Manchester pause for a picture outside the Town Hall in Albert Square.

early on, queue for body paint

early on, queue for body paint

fabulous ghosty / angel person

fabulous ghosty / angel person

melee, early on

melee, early on

banner

banner

bare devil

bare devil

notice us when were not naked

notice us when were not naked

cyclists

cyclists

cycling

cycling

wide load

wide load

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