Muscovado and evaporated milk ice cream (with gifs!)

Ingredients

2 eggs
1 cup dark muscovado sugar (if you don’t like it too sweet, 2/3 cup is fine!)
2 cups double cream
1 large tin of evaporated milk
Dairy fudge cut into small cubes (optional)

It helps it to freeze quicker if you leave all of the ingredients in the fridge for some time before mixing. Putting the cream and milk in the freezer for 20 minutes before hand helps too.

I use an ice cream maker to freeze this recipe and I haven’t tried it without one so can’t comment on the results. I imagine for best results you’d be better off using one, but I do know some recipes come out pretty OK without, so it’s up to you. (Edit: I tested it and it’s passable, though does not work as well as in the ice cream maker). I know descriptions of consistencies can be pretty vague, so I’ve added some gifs to try and give an indication of what on earth I’m talking about.

Using a food processor, electric whisk, or anything else capable of whisking things, get the eggs beaten up for a couple of minutes until they stiffen up a bit and begin to resemble a fluffy cream.

Once the eggs are whipped, they should look something like this!

Gradually add the sugar a spoonful at a time while continuing to beat the mixture. Whisk it up another couple of minutes until it’s well blended and thickening up.

After the dark muscovado sugar has been added and the mixture’s been further whipped, this is the consistency you should be close to.

Add the double cream and leave it to whisk for a further few minutes, again until it thickens and starts to resemble thick, slightly whipped cream. Using the food processor, this took around 4 and a half minutes.

After the double cream has been added, the whisk starts to leave trails in the mix, and it starts to look more gelatinous.

Add the whole tin of evaporated milk and whisk for another minute or two, just until it’s all very well blended.

 

Following the manufacturers instructions, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker. Towards the end of the freezing process add the chopped up bits of dairy fudge.

Bonus mesmerising gif of it being turned into ice cream.

 

 

Basic chicken noodle soup

Ingredients
1 chicken breast, diced into small pieces
1 carrot, cut into small sticks
A few handfuls of spinach leaves, shredded
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
half an onion, finely chopped
750ml chicken stock
250ml veg stock
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
Fine egg noodles.

Fry the onion and garlic in a bit of oil or butter, add the diced chicken, carrots and ground ginger. Cook for a few more minutes, moving it all around occasionally. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Turn down to a lowish-moderate heat and simmer (a kind of vigorous simmer, I guess) for around 20 minutes.
Add the noodles and spinach, bring to the boil for another few minutes until the noodles are cooked and the spinach is nicely wilted. Serve it up and get stuck in.
A little bit of soy sauce, diced chilli, black pepper, different kinds of vegetables and any number of other bits and pieces can be added to it to change it up a bit, too!

If you want to make it stretch over days, just take out individual servings of the broth as and when you want it, boiling up each portion and adding the spinach and noodles.

It also goes well as just a broth soup with some bread and the chicken can be substituted for turkey.

A plea to car and van drivers everywhere: Please stop making our lives harder.

I am a wheelchair user. Navigating the pavements of the local towns in the rural West Country can be an absolute nightmare at the best of times. Drop kerbs lacking where needed, uneven pavements, overgrown hedges, and steep hills. Many places here haven’t caught up with the idea that some of us can’t get up steps which means our access can be limited to certain routes. Given how difficult this makes life in this area for people like me, as well as people in scooters, powerchairs, blind people with guide dogs, or people with pushchairs, I humbly request that you don’t make life harder still by parking on pavements and blocking drop kerbs.

Alternative routes to where you are parking your cars is not always available. Without drop kerbs either side of you, going in the road is rarely an option open to us. On busy roads attempting it can put us at risk. Even if you’re doing it for ‘just a minute’, we don’t know how long you’re going to be there or where you are in order to ask. We also don’t know whether asking you to move your car is going to lead to an aggressive confrontation, as has happened to many of us.

For the past few months in trying to get out of the road where I live to get to the nearby bus stop I’ve found my route blocked by exactly this. Cars completely blocking the main pedestrian exit from an estate which is largely made up of elderly and disabled people. To get around these cars I have to ring someone to help me take another route which I cannot manage by myself, either being pushed over muddy grass or adding 20 minutes to what would be a 3 minute journey, subsequently missing the bus.

One of the drivers in question. Upon requesting he move, he has kindly stopped doing this.

Please, please consider people like me more before you do this. The stress and upset it can cause is far more than many people know.

Thinking about getting a bunny? You may want to think again.

Every year around this time it’s the same thing. Easter Eggs begin to line the shelves of the supermarkets along with cute plush and chocolate rabbits, and with those little and hoppy toys many children begin to get ideas. “Dad, can we have a bunny?”

I see social media light up with photos of adorable little baby bunnies, of children holding them gleefully with pride, people talking of their children’s wishes and inklings of giving in and – one which makes me want to fucking scream, – pet stores displaying their package offers. For some time now I’ve wanted to try and write something which covers their needs in detail as well as the realities of keeping rabbits and the challenges they present.

I know people getting rabbits around Easter might not seem too ridiculous to most people beyond ‘you shouldn’t get a pet on a whim’, and that it seems silly to get frustrated at children happy with pets, but with rabbits comes extra layers of concern. Bunnies are one of the most misrepresented animals, and a hell of a lot of people go to get one without having a single clue what the hell they’re getting themselves into.

Bunnies aren’t cheap pets that you just buy a hutch for and then just have basic little costs going along with bags of bedding and feed. They have very complex needs that most, after the initial cuteness of them being tiny little kits wears off and they grow, just aren’t willing to fulfil. It leads to a lot of animals living short, unhealthy, and miserable lives where they’re neglected. What’s most concerning is that many people don’t even realise they’re doing this to them, or what a rabbit’s needs and lives are supposed to be like. Hell, I’ve seen a lot who don’t even understand their diet and exercise needs.

Rabbits are Britain’s most neglected pet, with ones bought in the run up to Easter commonly not making it past a year old. Part of this is considered to be down to mistreatment and part down to poor breeding, where pet stores (looking at you here, Pets at Home) stock up before Easter ready for the influx of customers. 1 year… That’s just 10% of a rabbit’s life expectancy, though I’ve seen many who perpetuate the idea they only live until 2 or 3 since that’s what a lot do end up surviving for. My husband and I can both think of and name over 10 people each who’ve had rabbits who, without doubt in hindsight, have had rabbits die far too young due to poor care.

Many people will even just let them out into the wild once their children no longer pay attention to them, which consigns them to death due to the amount of wild traits being bred out of them leading to them being incapable of surviving.

In 2011, it was estimated that of the roughly two million rabbits kept as pets in Britain, 75% of them suffered neglected and/or mistreatment.

That’s a whopping 1.5 MILLION rabbits being poorly kept, or to put it another way, every 3 out of 4 being consigned to misery. The article I have linked there is worth reading for an understanding of the sheer enormity of the problem beyond just those numbers alone. 60% were unaware that rabbits are social and intelligent creatures who need mental stimulation, which is the idea that leaves rabbits left alone in hutches with nothing to do , and around 75% of rabbits seen by vets were in poor health. Poor diet and exercise having led to overgrown and rotting teeth, overgrown claws impairing walking, and obesity. It’s a wonder some rabbits do make it to 2 years with the situations they’re kept in.

They also cost as much as a dog to keep beyond the initial costs, which are steep in themselves. Almost all of the hutches and cages that you’ll find in pet shops like Pets at Home and Jollyes are actually unsuitable to keep rabbits in, contrary to the ‘Ideal for rabbits!’ labels. The majority of rabbits in the UK are kept in housing that they really should not be in. A minimum size (6ft x 2ft x 2ft – RWAF) hutch will set you back a bare minimum of around £100 and, if you’re keeping it indoors (which is largely considered preferable), you’ll need to throw in a lot more to make it suitable for indoor living, as well as spending time and money rabbit proofing your home itself.

Inside or out, it needs to have an area that is closed off, allowing the little guy somewhere to hide from perceived threats and make things more comfortable. If you do end up keeping a rabbit outside, as many do, having a fully wire-sided hutch can lead to exposure in bad weather, to cold, or to predators. All of these, as with so many things with them, can be fatal.

A hutch alone is never, ever enough, either. Too many rabbits bought in the run up to Easter essentially live their entire lives beyond the first month in a hutch, alone. Exercise plays an enormously large part in keeping rabbits healthy. This is true of almost any animal, but with rabbits often being kept in unsuitable conditions it’s a massive black mark on our collective keeping of them. Obesity, gas, and slowing gut can come with poor diet but poor exercise too. They need the space and time to run around. If you keep them in a little box, or let them into a small run for a few hours a day they’re not going to be able to do the things they normally would to keep happy and healthy. To give it the space it needs to run about, leaving a rabbit in an open garden might sound quite idyllic, but you’d have to watch it the whole time to prevent predators from getting to your newly beloved pet. It would need to be a garden free of all plants that can kill them – which is a hefty list, make sure it’s completely secured to prevent escape and, if they have a penchant for burrowing, some way to stop them getting out like that too.

It’s all well and good thinking that a run with a wire base may help solve the issue but wire bases should be avoided where possible. In the young it can cause splayed feet and in all buns it puts them at risk of sore hocks which can lead to infection.

Runs that are large enough and have enclosed shelter are around the same price as a hutch, but you’ll also need to take into consideration that again, shelter to hide away and keep from the elements, and digging their way out may be an issue. The cheapest of runs tend not to be the most secure against predators either, with flimsy wire and easily broken frames.

I mention the need for shelter again because it’s really very important. If your rabbit encounters something like a fox and is stressed out enough by the experience, it can kill them. The animal doesn’t even have to do anything, terror felt by a rabbit is enough to trigger an extreme physical response. Not only is there a risk of shock in circumstances they take as being extreme, but there can be after effects like GI stasis or other gastric problems. Even if a rabbit seems okay after an encounter, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are. They have very sensitive digestive tracts and them slowing down or stopping can very easily and quickly turn deadly.

Exposure to water can be equally dangerous. Pet rabbits and wild rabbits are very different in some ways and coat is one. We like fancy rabbits to be soft, pleasing to touch and groom. In order to get their coats to that point of delicateness we love so much, we bred out what protects wild rabbits from the rain. They have oils coating their fur which stop water from sinking in, and making it easier to shake off. That in turn protects from the shock which can come from the cold of wet fur in open air, protects from the infection risk it can raise. Pet rabbits should not be got wet, and if it comes a point you have to bathe them it should only be under vets advice, and in most cases they will suggest dry options or damp rubbing before submersion.

It’s common for them to get smelly bums which will need some attention to prevent ill health and, in summer, fly strike. Fly strike being yet another thing that can kill you little bundle of floofy glee.

They need to be vaccinated annually. In their true, ‘bullshit. I’m not a prey animal, fuck that and fuck you, I’ll do what I want, thanks’ style, rabbits kind of fucked up Australia a bit after we introduced them. Our solution was to try and fuck them up right back by introducing viruses to kill them off. Rabbit haemorrhagic fever and myxomatosis, to be precise. Much like how we introduced rabbits and lost control of them, we fucked up the same way with the viruses. They’re still around today and still a major risk to rabbits in a variety of nations across the world. They are horrible viruses that lead to painful deaths, and myxie in particular is still very, very common in the UK. To risk not vaccinating is irresponsible.

They also need their teeth checked regularly (usually done when vaccines are as a kind of package deal) and if you’re unable to do it, their claws kept clipped down to a reasonable length to stop issues and discomfort arising.

They need a good bedding that is not cedar or pine. The majority of the bedding bought in pet shops gives off that tell-tale woody scent which is a big indicator that it’s not okay. That smell means phenols, which like in some other small animals can affect how their bodies process certain medications. Rabbits can get sick very quickly and if that happens it’s important their medications work. To buy hemp or other suitable bedding in bulk can keep costs down, buying smaller bales of suitable bedding can get pricey fast, but you then need somewhere to store it.

Did you know you should limit certain greens due to their high oxalic acid content?

The same is true of hay. They need lots of it. Every day they eat their own size in the stuff, it’s the main staple of their diet and they should never be without it. Dust extracted oxbow or meadow hay is the most common, and your options are to buy by the bale to save or buy small packages of 1-2kg at a time and pay 5 times as much in the long run.

They should have a mix of greens every day. 3 or more types, amount varying depending on size but being careful not to include too much of certain cabbages, avoiding certain lettuces, making sure it’s not too much of this too many days in a row, avoiding giving more than 1 thing a day containing this, only giving a tablespoons’ worth of that… I printed the list out and pinned it to the hutch to form the shopping lists for what to give them, and write it down every day so I don’t end up doing things like giving too many days of parsley or spinach, too much of the cabbages they’re allowed over a week and so on. I can’t bloody remember it and I’m not sure many can.

I recommend checking out the House Rabbit Society’s thorough list of what greens can be given and in what amounts per 0.5kg of weight. It’ll give you a good idea of why it can be confusing for some folks!

Vegetables, contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, aren’t things you give much of, or at least you shouldn’t. Throwing a whole carrot into a rabbit hutch is bloody stupid and should be avoided, it’s a myth they eat a lot of them that sprang from Bugs Bunny. A few mannerisms of Bugs came from a character in ‘It Happened One Night’.

From Wikipedia

The unpublished memoirs of animator Friz Freleng mention that this was one of his favorite films. It Happened One Night has a few interesting parallels with the cartoon character Bugs Bunny, who made his first appearance six years later, and who Freleng helped develop. In the film, a minor character, Oscar Shapely, continually calls the Gable character “Doc”, an imaginary character named “Bugs Dooley” is mentioned once in order to frighten Shapely, and there is also a scene in which Gable eats carrots while talking quickly with his mouth full, as Bugs does.

Their diet should be supplemented by a well balanced nugget mix, too. They shouldn’t be free fed but rather have a set amount daily to correspond with their size/weight. This shouldn’t be museli, which leaves them picking out their favourite parts and leaving others, meaning their nutrition suffers. Given a lot of museli isn’t exactly of the greatest quality already, that can lead to a lot of problems like obesity, gas, and the gut slowing down, much like with a lack of exercise.

Misrepresentation of character is another issue that comes up a lot.

You don’t really see them on TV mid-high kick, or stamping in the middle of the night so loudly that your neighbours complain about you doing DIY at 3am. You see these adorable cuddly little things either being held happily or munching on grass peacefully in a garden, as though their main state is docile and calm. Little angels that are easy to care for and absolutely would never sink their teeth into your hand or use your face as a launch pad in play time. They’re shown with children and are often assumed to be the kind of pet that’s ideal for them. A start along the road of responsibility that won’t be too much for them to handle and won’t cost a bomb.

I think I’ve already made it pretty fucking clear they’re complicated animals already, but the bit that amazes a lot of people the most is finding out the reality of living with them. The docile, calm, and child friendly myth that floats around couldn’t be further than the truth, and this next bit has already got a few reactions of ‘holy shit’, ‘what the fuck?’ and ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ in draft stage when I shared it. While appropriately, a lot of bunny enthusiasts and owners I know have been very ‘lmao yep’.

Bunnies are not child friendly. Rough handling doesn’t go over well with most animals, and some are far less tolerant of it than others. I would put bunnies well within the ‘least tolerant’ list of potential pets. If you handle them wrong, catch them in the wrong mood, or they just feel being a dick all of a sudden, you can find out they can do an incredible amount of damage.

I learned this the hard way. I’ve kept rabbits for around three years now, and within my first year I was bitten clean through a part of my hand. The pain of a rabbit bite is unbelievable and they tend to be deep. In breaking an altercation when introducing my two, moving one away from the other, I was kicked square in the chest and left with some surprisingly prominent scarring as a result. I narrowly avoided similar on my face from similar circumstances twice.

In my first year of bunny ownership I was injured far more, and more severely, than in over 10 years of living with a house full of fostered cats, pet ferrets, rats, and dogs. These aren’t all injuries from mistakes on my part. You will sometimes have to pick up a rabbit for whatever reason and they’re quick little fuckers with strong back legs. They can, and they will, catch you with a claw at some point.

If you catch them in the right mood, they’re still not a pet you can really pick up and cuddle. They’re unlikely to sit on your lap and affection will always be on their terms. All the bribery in the world will not necessarily work to ingratiate you with a bunny that really just doesn’t feel like being anywhere near you.

I’ll use my girl, First Sea Lord Tasty Soup, as an example on this one. She’s very anti-contact when anywhere near what she considers her domain. She’s the dominant of the two that I have, and when in the living room (they have a hutch and pen up one end, and get to use the rest as a run for a lot of the day/evening), all other beings are considered below her on the pecking order (the dogs, my husband, and myself included). She won’t just run away if upset about something, but rather she’ll get confrontational. If she wants to kick up shit about something, there’s nothing you’ll ever do to stop her.

Being part meat-breed, she has strong back legs which are great for making a lot of noise with stamps; something they do when annoyed, happy, know it upsets the dog and just spotted it go passed, or frankly just feel like it. She kicks, uses people as spring boards, nips at ankles, and no attempts at house training will stop her eating the furniture. She has a particular appetite for skirting board and carpeting.

I’ve been asked on more than one occasion why I keep her given her behaviour, which ranges from stamping all night to bullying our Staffordshire Bull Terrier, but the fact is it’s perfectly normal for a rabbit to be a volatile little wanker.

Don’t get me wrong, I love her to bits and it’s not all bad behaviours. She’s a grump but she can also be such a happy little thing, and taken away from that perceived area she’s got labelled as hers and hers alone, she’ll spend some periods of time cuddling up and being stroked. It doesn’t usually last long until she wants to go back to her home area, but it’s still time I can enjoy. Watching her binkying about the place is a great source of entertainment in itself and there’s a lot of games she’ll play with sticks, tubes, and other things.

She’s also got a vulnerable side in that she’s really scared of grass, which is perhaps the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen in either of them, next to her regularly getting hay fever.

My other rabbit, Archduke Casserole, is the opposite. While he’ll also throw the occasional tantrum (I have not witnessed anything quite like The Great Tantrum of 2013. 6 hours of grumbling and stamping because I took a fucking strawberry plant away from him that he’d already eaten the majority of), he loves attention. Nothing is better to him than a good head or ear rub and he’ll follow you around until you give him the focus he’s desperate for. Take him away from their usual area and he’ll start looking for what he can destroy. Usually it ends up being your hands as you try to protect the soft furnishings and your clothes.

He has a mean streak too, though very different than Soup’s volatility.

I left him in the garden for a moment a few years ago while I let the dog in, and he unfortunately met a neighbour’s cat. The cat, incredibly, was the one that fared badly from the situation. The screams I heard that left me scared for his life turned out to be coming from this ginger lump of fur with rabbit teeth sunken into it and getting kicked in the head repeatedly. The force of a rabbit’s kick is so strong it can lead to them breaking their own spines, and having felt what that kind of force can be like with claws to boot, I can only imagine it must have smarted a bit to get that not just full on in the face, but repeatedly while he clung on and stopped it getting away. I broke them up and he chased it off up the garden. Once I was sure he was okay (even if the cat didn’t injure him, I’ve never seen first hand what stress and shock are like in rabbits and was understandably concerned given the risk they pose) I actually felt really bad for the cat.

He’s been very anti-cats since then. We had a problem with the cat belonging to a neighbour directly next to us not long after he’d got it: It kept getting the wrong house. During the summer it kept coming in through our window and we’d have to chase it off before he spotted it or we’d be the audience to a rather grunty war dance. We get to witness the same when there’s thunder, too.

Rabbits are incredible animals with amazing characters that can make you laugh until you cry, but they can definitely test you to the end of your patience. While I find them to be worth the strife, I do often find myself overwhelmed and, to keep them in a way that is fair and healthy for them, I doubt I would be able to manage if not for the help of my husband.

Please, if you’re considering getting a bunny, whether for Easter or any other time, do a lot of thinking and research before hand and be sure you’re prepared to take the cost, the volatility, the education, the space, and the time. No pet should be taken on lightly without knowing all that’s involved, but when it’s one where so many are taken on with such enormous misconceptions being rife, with their welfare suffering in such large numbers and to such a degree, it’s better to be absolutely certain what you’re getting yourself into. For them, and you.

If you’re not, then please, get a chocolate one instead.

 

I am not here to inspire you.

There is a summary at the end of this post for anyone who struggles with the full text.

In the past few days, as a result of publishing a long piece on my physical and mental health, I’ve had a few offers to write for a few different places. Start-up magazines, blogs, nothing major. Most of them have phrased their offers around the idea that I’m an inspiration, how I’m managing with my health and being so open about it, going about my daily life with that as a factor, and somehow that will inspire people. Inspire them to do what, you ask? How does my terrible physical state in anyway inspire you to do something?

Oh yes, it doesn’t, because it’s not really about being ‘inspired’ at all, is it? It’s about sharing a story of adversity and triumph, about people looking at my life, laid bare in  print, and going “wow, at least my life isn’t that hard”. It’s about managing to adapt to daily life and do normal everyday things that normal people do. It’s a message of “wow, if they can get on with things then what’s my excuse?” or at times even just a chance to read a sad or feel-good story of how a person has overcome their disability and learned o cope. Hooray! Happy endings!

They want a sanitised version of how life is, a vague notion of illness which doesn’t really have much of a description. They don’t want the symptoms; the incontinence pads and catheters, they don’t want staying in bed because everything feels so horrible and wrong, or being unable to get dressed without help, fall and injuries. They want a vague idea of some nightmarish scenario that somehow you consolidate with your life and you come out stronger. They want bravery from you, a sense of not giving up no matter how hard it gets.

While for some that can happen, it’s certainly not true for a lot of people with disabilities, illnesses, chronic pain, mental health problems and so on. My life is an ongoing battle with symptoms that pop up, criss cross, affect one another, and it becomes a huge mess of not-coping. I’m not getting a happy ending and I’m not triumphing over my life’s pitfalls, I’m living through them, I’m learning to adapt to them because I have no choice. There are some things where I haven’t learned to adapt at all and have no intention of doing so because I know the difficulties that will be involved. I’ve lost my entire future to disability and no attempt at getting it back will work. Am I less brave for not trying now? Less inspiring?

Asking a person kindly and respectfully to write a piece talking about how life is for them and how it will all play out in future is one thing, but a lot of these offers don’t come in that way. They’re abrupt and to the point. “We want your story, you could inspire a lot of people.” They pay little mind to the fact that the story in question is a life. They’re asking to take a piece of you, lay it bare online for all to gawp at. Your words, your life, you struggles, so that people can read and marvel at your world, be amazed at how you manage to do all these everyday things like a normal person does.  It’s disgustingly exploitative. It’s unbelievable how many people offering these writing opportunities will outright refuse to pay for your time and effort. There’s the idea that the offer of a platform, however big or small, is compensation enough. “It gets it exposure, so many will read it!”, “you get to spread awareness” It’s as though they’re doing you a solid by putting it up, rather than you doing them one by giving your Labour and a part of your life to them.

the-only-disability-in-life-is-a-bad-attitude-1It goes down the same kind of line as ‘the only disability in life is a bad attitude’. You become a shining example of the Good Disabled  who gets on with daily life and wo
w, even though it’s all so shit and depressing and clearly very awful you can still smile and laugh! Who knew?! The default consideration of disability is that the person who lives with it must be in abject misery, there’s no nuance in the overall message, that you can have a big and complex life with ups and downs, just like everyone else, or even of the vast differences in the wide spectrum of disability. All that’s really wanted is, once again, ‘at least I don’t have to live like that, I can’t complain”

This gets particularly insulting of late given things what disabled people are facing in the UK. The lives found so inspiring, the lives that readers use as a yardstick to measure how good they should feel about their own lives, are being turned upside down and inside out by austerity. We’ve been facing cuts across the board, from our housing, our Motability cars, we’ve seen cuts to our benefits, increasing use of food banks, energy poverty meaning you’re having to keep the heating off at the detriment of health,  and more and more sanctions. There’s the bedroom tax, the struggling mental health services so badly underfunded that even if you need help dealing with it all, you could find yourself refused or waiting a long time. Of the demographics that are most impacted by the cuts to social security, health, and social care, disabled people find themselves ranking top, taking the brunt of the hardship.

I’ve seen immense hardship among my circle of elective family and friends. I’ve seen a lot of pain, terror, and panic attacks at rumours of more and more cuts being announced or leaked. The dread of the brown envelope coming through the door and the understanding that you probably won’t get the help you need. Even if you’re too ill to leave the house, you’re expected to move into work anyway, leaving you with nothing and no hope of gainful employment. You have the constant despair of knowing that the inevitable brown envelope could ruin your life, spell homelessness, starvation, and poverty.

As well as completely papering over the hardships to keep this vague, homogeneous and inspirational idea of disability alive, it also ignores what can be considered huge triumphs. Getting out of bed is a mammoth task at times, it can deserve a round of applause. Taking a shower? Get out the party poppers! They’re things that you can be proud of, achievements people don’t expect or understand, but achievements nonetheless. They’re achievements no one wants to hear about. Reading someone going on about their daily life and struggling but overcoming each little challenge presented just isn’t inspiring enough. Making a meal or going shopping just doesn’t give the same sense of personal gratification as someone who, say, has a job, children, or gets an education in spite of it all (I use ‘in spite’ here as it’s precisely how it’s put forward, a triumph over disability rather than it being a part of you).

If you ever feel like offering someone a platform to speak about something person on your website, or an ‘opportunity’ to write an essay for you, seriously consider what it is you’re saying to not only that person, but to those who read it. I’ve seen an astounding lack of consideration in this area for years and it’s infuriating, I’m not tolerating it anymore.

I’m not your inspiration.

Summary: Disabled people have a tough time of it because of stigma and the way we are portrayed in media. It’s regularly turned into ‘if they can do it, what’s your excuse?’. It turns disabled people into a motivational tool instead of being seen as people, it’s dehumanising us by taking away the nuance of our situations. It doesn’t actually inspire anyone to do anything though, it is just used as a way to make people without disabilities feel better about their lives; ‘hell yeah, I don’t have a disability’, in essence. We are also used as a resource for information and stories to make people feel their life isn’t so bad after all, and are often expected to provide this for free because of the awareness it raises around disability issues.

 

Sausage*, bean, and potato casserole

I say sausage casserole because that’s what I usually have it with, but really this is just the base of it so you can chuck in whatever you fancy!

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Preheat your oven to 200C

  • 1/2 – 1 whole tin of chopped pork and ham (spam) cut into cubes, or a packet of bacon chopped up into bits
  • 1 large or two mid-sized onions, cut into chunks
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced (or equivalent in garlic granules)
  • 3-4 reasonably sized potatoes, sliced
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 1-2 pints vegetable or chicken stock (I prefer oxo for this)

Layer the potatoes on the bottom of an oven safe pot and spread the kidney beans over the top of them.

Fry the onion, garlic, and cubed pork/chopped bacon in a bit of butter or oil on a medium heat until it’s browned and your kitchen is smelling amazing.

Layer the onion, garlic, and pork/bacon on top of the kidney beans and potatoes, spreading it about a bit for even coverage

If you’re having this with sausages or beef or something, then fry that up a little and chuck it in the pot too.

Pour the stock into the casserole pot until it’s just about level with the stuff on top, cover it and shove it in the oven at 200C for 1 hour.

It’ll serve 4-6 people, and you can add tomatoes and a beef stock to shake it up a bit if it’s left over and you fancy a change, or add other veggies, beans, meats, etc

With peppered chicken and spinach

Brown sugar tart

Brown Sugar Tart
1 pastry case (either you can make your own with shortcrust pastry or buy 2 of the sweet ones from the supermarket, which work out cheaper)
1 large (400g) tin of evaporated milk
350g of dark muscovado sugar

Mix the evaporated milk and the sugar together until it’s all well blended. Pour the mixture into the pastry case(s) and put it in the oven for 10 minutes at 220C. Leave it to cool and put it in the fridge.

Triple chocolate brownies

Who doesn’t love chocolate brownies? This is another one of my ‘throw everything in a bowl, mix it and shove it in the oven’ recipes. No need for scales or mixing this with that so it’s fuss-free, and they come out perfectly gooey, sticky and chocolatey!

Triple chocolate brownies
¾ cup cocoa
½ tsp baking soda
2 cups caster sugar
1 and ⅓ cups plain flour
2 large eggs
⅔ cup vegetable oil
½ cup boiling water (doesn’t have to be boiling, but helps the ingredients mix better)
1-3 tsp vanilla essence
60g white chocolate, chopped into chunks
60g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
60g milk chocolate, chopped into chunks

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, aside from the chocolate chunks. Use an electric whisk or mixer to ensure the mixture is free of any lumps of flour or cocoa.
Using a spoon, mix in the chocolate chunks.
Spread the delicious chocolate goo evenly over a shallow cake tin or baking tray with sides, lined with greaseproof paper, at a depth of 1-2cm.
Put the soon-to-be chocolate heaven in the oven at 180C for 35-40 minutes.

You can also substitute the boiling water for Baileys, Kahlúa, rum, or whatever else takes your fancy. It may require a little more mixing, although you can negate much of that by sieving the cocoa and flour.

Another option for those not veggie/vegan.. If you’re cooking bacon at any point, keep the oil/fat leftover in the pan. Use that to make up some of the oil content in the recipe.