Our Christmas Menu

13 Dec

We always have about 10 Christmas dinners a year. This is what we are cooking this year. Some of the recipes will follow if your’e interested.

Appetisers

Smoked Tofu with Pesto

Starter

Hazelnut pate served with sesame seed toast

Main course

Red wine and chestnut pie with sweet potato pastry

with:

Roast potatoes

Smoky mashed potatoes

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Sage Butter

(instead of our usual roasted brussel sprouts with apples)

Red cabbage cooked with apples

Parsnip Pancakes

Butternut squash and chestnut stuffing

White wine gravy

Dessert

Awesome Cointreau Pudding

Second Dessert

Fruits dipped in chocolate

Cheeseboard

A selection of potentially dubious homemade vegan cheeses

Drinks

Pomegranate Gin

Rosehip Vodka

Rustic pineapple cider served in a bucket

Mulled Cider / Mulled Apple Juice

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Talking about gender in naturist spaces

2 Dec

Originally printed in H&E magazine 

Last year I was member of one of the local naked bike ride organising groups on facebook. The group was made up of the typical mix of cycling enthusiasts, naturists, and environmentalists with discussion focused around organising routes and advertising, alongside the odd post for bike or nudity related events. I didn’t get involved in discussion much, but one interaction did get me thinking about how we, as naturists, deal with conversations about gender.

Someone from a local cyclist group posted an event advertising a women’s-only bike maintenance workshop. As I understand it, the workshop was organised in response to many women feeling uncomfortable in the mixed gender workshops as there was a problem with some men in the group dominating conversations in a patronising manner. Women’s participation in the workshops dropped, and the organisers decided to try a women’s-only session to see if that made a difference.

When the event was posted in the naked bike ride group, some of the more prominent male organisers commented saying that they didn’t feel that a women’s-only bike maintenance workshop was needed. A long discussion between a handful of men nay-saying the event and a couple of women defending it ensued, getting quite heated. I interjected briefly to comment that perhaps all the men objecting were probably not the most qualified to comment on whether women’s only events are necessary as they are not women themselves.

After making that comment, I got a good few messages from women in the group thanking me for the comment and saying that they didn’t feel comfortable with arguing the case for the event in a group where male voices consistently dominated conversations. It struck me that a similar dynamic can sometimes occur within purely naturist spaces, particularly around discussions around the “Single Man Problem”. I’ve read countless articles online and in naturist publications discussing the issue and it surprised me how few were written by women, emphasised women’s voices or highlighted the role of women’s-only events in increasing women’s participation. What strategies are your groups using to address the male domination of naturist spaces? Have they been successful in increasing women’s participation?

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Hawthorn Infused Vinegar

17 Nov

We went foraging again, this time for hawthorn berries. Hawthorn berries are small berries which sort of taste a bit like apples and a bit like avocados, but taste a bit drier/crap because the trees are prone to water stress. They don’t have much flesh on them as they contain a big stone which should be avoided as it contains cyanide. The flesh makes a good snack whilst wandering through woods, and can be used to make into hedgerow jam.

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Jess used the Hawthorn berries to make hawthorn infused cider vinegar, which is a tart and fruity vinegar which goes well in salads, or makes a nice “lemonade” when you mix a tablespoon of it in a tall glass with ice and soda water.

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Making the vinegar infusion is pretty easy. Simply pick your berries, wash them, and add them to a clean jar / bottle. Add roughly double the volume of apple cider vinegar and close the bottle. Leave for about 5 weeks or so, shaking occasionally, before straining out the fruit and storing in a dark glass bottle. Use within a year or so.

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Smoked Rosehip Ketchup

28 Oct

We made this smoked rosehip ketchup at the weekend after our good friend Jesse came up to forage around the local parks with us. The ketchup is a bit fussy to make, if you want to simplify the recipe it would be easy enough to skip the smoking stage.

Rosehips are awesome, they can be commonly found growing in hedgerows and in parks throughout the UK (and further afield), and have 20 times the amount of Vitamin C than oranges do. They can be a bit of a fuss to cook with because the seeds have little hairs on them which irritate the stomach and so have to be removed. In school we used to make itching powder out of them by breaking open the fruit and pouring the seeds down the back of eachothers’ shirts.

This isnt so much a recipe, so much as a story with a recipe hidden in there. Sorry about that, we didnt really measure anything as we went along. An idea of the ingredients we used: rosehips, salt, brown sugar, garlic, celery, onion, apple cider vinegar.

jesserosehip

 

We went out and collected a decent sized tupperware full of rosehips (I wish I had weighed them now! there were maybe between 150-200 rosehips in there). When collecting, if you aren’t planning on using the rosehips straight away you should take a little bit of the stem with them too and then they will last longer.

When we got home we took off the black/brown end of the rosehips and gave them a good wash and a pat dry, We then smoked them in a steamer pan by putting a bit of aluminium foil in the bottom of the pan with hickory woodchips, adding the steamer on top filled with rosehips and a tight-fitting lid. When put on a high heat on the stove, the chips will auto-ignite and the smoke will fill the pan, smoking the rosehips. We didnt leave them on for too long (about 3 minutes after the pan got smoky) because we didnt want the smoke flavour to be overpowering.

We then put them in a pan with a bit more than double the volume of water and simmered for an hour and a half (with the lid on so the water doesn’t escape, if it does, keep the water level topped up). The water should turn a reddish colour. Occassionally you want to give it a good mix and try and squeeze some juice out of the fruits with the back of your wooden spoon.

We used an old Tesco Value Vodka bottle to store the ketchup.

We used an old Tesco Value Vodka bottle to store the ketchup.

We then filtered the  mixture through some cheesecloth, keeping the liquid. We didnt get enough liquid the first time so we ended up adding more water to the fruit pulp and simmering for another 30 mins to get more liquid.

We finely chopped an onion, some celery and four tomatoes, sautee-ing them briefly before adding the liquid, a couple of teaspoons of salt, half a fat bulb of garlic (minced), a good splash of apple cider vinegar, and about 300 grams of brown sugar. We then let the liquid simmer and reduce until it was at a OK consistency.

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Courgette and Peas Soup

15 Oct

This recipe was submitted by the lovely Joop from the Netherlands, which he cooked for his birthday party! Hope you had a great birthday Joop! The recipe is reproduced in Dutch below. Joop cooked this as a starter for 4 people.

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Ingredients:  1 onion chopped, 1 clove garlic  (minced),  2 large zucchini (diced), dash of olive oil,  800 milliliters of vegetable stock, 350 grams of peas, 2-3 tablespoons soy cooking cream, chives

Preparation

Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and fry the finely diced onion gently in about 5 minutes . Add garlic and diced zucchini and cook while stirring for about 2 minutes . Pour the broth into the pan and bring to a boil . Turn the heat low and add the peas , but keep about 2 to 3 tablespoons behind . Cook until zucchini cubes and peas are tender. Meanwhile, cook the peas separately retained in some water, until al dente. Drain and put aside the peas for later.

Puree the courgette soup in a blender or food processor. Season to taste. Mix the peas through the blended soup and serve, topped with soy cooking cream and chopped chives.

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In Dutch

Courgette-doperwtensoep (voorgerecht voor 4 personen)

 Ingrediënten: 1 ui gesnipperd, 1 teen knoflook, gesnipperd, 2 flinke courgettes, in blokjes, scheutje olijfolie, 800 mililiter groente- en/of kruidenbouillon, 350 gram doperwtjes, 2-3 eetlepels crème fraîche of dikke yoghurt, bieslook 

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Bereiding

Verhit in een soeppan een scheutje olijfolie en fruit hierin de uisnippers zacht in ongeveer 5 minuten. Voeg knoflook en courgetteblokjes toe en fruit al omscheppend ongeveer 2 minuten. Schenk de bouillon in de pan en breng aan de kook. Draai de warmtebron laag en voeg de doperwtjes toe, maar houd ongeveer 2 à 3 eetlepels achter. Kook tot courgetteblokjes en doperwtjes gaar zijn. Kook intussen de achtergehouden doperwtjes apart in wat water, beetgaar. Giet ze af en bewaar. Pureer de soep met een staafmixer of in de blender of keukenmachine. Proef of de soep nog extra gekruid moet worden. Neem hiervoor provencaalse kruidenmix. Meng de achtergehouden doperwtjes door de gladde soep. Verdeel over 4 kommen en garneer met crème fraîche of dikke yoghurt en knip hierboven de bieslook fijn.

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Bobby’s Spicy Spaghetti

17 Sep

This recipe was submitted by the amazing Bobby. Thanks!

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Ingredients:
100g whole wheat brown spaghetti, 120g broccoli cut into chunks, 120g cauliflower cut into chunks, 2 large tomatoes chopped, 1 small red or green chilli, 1 clove of garlic chopped, 1 pint of vegetable stock, 4 spring onions chopped, 2 tablespoons of groundnut oil, 1 teaspoon of thyme dry or fresh, 1 teaspoon of sage

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Boil spaghetti in vegetable stock for 10 minutes and drain, keeping 2 tablespoons of the stock aside. Heat the groundnut oil, gently fry garlic and chilli for two 2 minutes then add the broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, thyme and sage. Fry all together for 3 minutes before adding the cooked spaghetti and the 2 tablespoons of vegetable stock. Cover and cook for further 5 minutes and serve hot or cold.

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Rivvy’s Korean-ish Noodles

9 Sep
Sandra rocks. This is her Korean-ish noodles. They also rock.
Ingredients: 1 pack Korean noodles of your choosing (ideally, I’d have used thin buckwheat noodles, but the ones I had were closer to Japanese Udon noodles), 1 tbsp gochujang (korean red pepper paste), 1 tbsp doenjang (korean miso paste – you can substitute japanese miso), 1 4×6 inch piece of kombu seaweed, 1 medium aubergine (diced), 1 block of firm tofu  (diced), 1 spring onion (finely chopped), 1 bunch of spinach (preferably the asian kind with long stalks, but any will do), oil for frying (I deep fried some ingredients for this recipe, but with patience you can shallow fry them), light (or better yet, Korean) soy sauce, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds and chilli flakes
rivvy Korean noodles
Bring a medium pan of water to the boil, and add the piece of kombu seaweed, and reduce heat. Let it simmer gently while you’re doing everything else, and you’ll be rewarded with a light broth. Make sure it’s the first thing you do, or your soup will be missing something, and taste a little flat.
Heat your oil and fry the diced tofu and aubergine until the tofu has a chewy, golden outside and the aubergine is soft. Remove from oil and pat dry with kitchen towel, or your broth will have a layer of (the wrong kind) of oil floating on top.
Add your doenjang and gochujang to the pan of kombu broth, stirring until the paste is dissolved, and add a good splash of soy sauce. Add the noodles and your fried tofu and aubergine. Remove the root end of the spinach, but leave the stalks on, and add this to the pan (as close to the end of cooking as possible, you want the spinach wilted but still a bright green colour). Pour into bowls (remove the piece of kombu here), and sprinkle with sesame seeds, chilli flakes and diced spring onion, then drizzle with sesame oil and serve.
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