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.

Spam, sweet pepper, and beans, fried in soy sauce.

Ingredients
1 bell pepper, cut into cubes
1 200g can of spam, cut into half centimetre cubes
1 tin of three bean salad, drained
1 cup of sweetcorn
3 eggs
Dash of milk
Rich, dark soy sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee’s Premium dark soy)
Olive oil

Whisk the egg and milk until blended, and stick in a microwave for a few minutes until resembling scrambled eggs. Set aside.

Fry the spam and bell pepper in a bit of olive oil until slightly browned. Add the beans, sweetcorn, and eggs with about a tablespoon of soy sauce (add more of less if you like, this is just my preference). Continue frying, stirring regularly, until the beans just start to take on a bit of colour and their shells begin to stiffen a little, and the egg starts to get a nice fried up crust.

Serve with rice, on toast, in a burrito, or however else you think you might like it. It works quite well in toasties with cheese, but then I have weird tastes and I’ll put almost anything with cheese, so don’t necessarily trust me on that.

Spicy cajun bean and chickpea burgers

Ingredients
4 slices wholemeal or seeded bread, processed into breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds, processed into crumbs (optional)
2 tins of three bean salad, drained
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
1 tin of kidney beans, drained
2 eggs

Spices
3 heaped teaspoons of cajun spice (I use ‘Butchers’ sundries’ cajun glaze)
2 heaped teaspoons of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
2 teaspoons of hot chilli powder

Greaseproof paper (optional)

Mix the breadcrumbs and ground sunflower seeds together, divide it into
two and set half of it aside.

In a food processor blend the beans, chickpeas, eggs, and spices up until almost smooth, leaving just the odd little lump of bean and chickpea for texture (go for lumpier or completely smooth if you prefer, this is just my preference). Once you’ve got the mixture how you want, mix half the breadcrumbs/ground seeds into the mix.

Pour the remaining breadcrumb mix onto a large plate and, using your hands, take a golf ball-sized handful of bean mixture  and ball it up. Roll the ball in the breadcrumbs until covered and then squash it down a little into a burger shape and set it aside onto greaseproof paper (this prevents any issues of it sticking to plates or storage box, and allows you to pile them up easily).

Cook them under the grill on mid-high for around 7-8 minutes a side, or until as crisp as you want them to be.

Spicy stuffed portobello mushroom

24717007692_7dcd004162_kStuffing
Slice of wholemeal seeded bread
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1/2 tin borlotti beans
1/2 bell pepper (or a bunch of frozen sliced peppers, though it makes it wetter as i found out)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp hot chilli powder (or in my case a smidge of extra hot)
Other ingredients
1 Portobello mushroom

Butter

Pre-heat oven to 200C24808607266_db6edc51d7_k

Using a food processor, blend up the stuffing ingredients until it’s all breadcrumbs and tiny chunks.

Melt some butter and brush it onto the outside of a portobello or other large mushroom. Place it onto an oven proof tray, and spoon the stuffing into it. Put it into the oven for 30-35 minutes.

I put this together in a rather ad hoc way rather than following any strict instructions, I didn’t think to write it down as I went along but this is the gist of it. If you butter a tray and spread the stuffing out about 1/2cm thick, baking it at 180C-ish for around 40-50 minutes, you get some lovely biscuity stuff that goes amazing with hummus.

 

Not so ethical: The exclusionary nature of ‘moral’ consumerism.

A. k. a. Why you can shove your ethical consumerism up your left nostril sideways.

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

For a while now I’ve wanted to write on ethics in consumerism and in particular how those ethics are out of reach to those on lower incomes or in a number of different circumstances. How boycotts are not always practical and how, if you look at ethical consumerism with an intersectional approach you find financial or other forms of privilege are at the heart of it as a movement which is increasingly exclusionary the further down the lines of economic inequality you go.

I’ve tried to write on this before in an essay of a similar title, ‘Not So Ethical‘ but I never felt I really managed to get across the problems that I had with people who tout this and judge others for not doing so. There’s little understanding to the financial and practical barriers it can present to a good number of people.

For example an unemployed single mother is unlikely to be able to afford the inflated prices at her local stores. Butchers and greengrocers are incredibly expensive compared to the cheap meats available at the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury. In rural areas even places marketed as ‘local’ and good for the community, like the Co-op, inflate their prices knowing they have a stranglehold on the surrounding community as there’s no larger, cheaper stores nearby; People will be forced to pay. When the cost of local produce eclipses that of a cheaper shop that can be done 20 miles away, travel or home delivery included, it’s a no brainer which you go for if you’re stuck in a financial rut with little income and a lot of outgoings and responsibilities.

A person who struggles with their sight or literacy and it prevents them from being able to read ingredients printed on packaging is not likely to be aware that the product they’re buying contains palm oil, a product for which a large amount of animal habitat is destroyed leading to the mass deaths of certain species.
They may be disabled in a way which prevents them from being able to cook, leaving them reliant on ready meals and other pre-made foods. If you are disabled you are more likely to be in poverty which means those pre-made meals are less likely to be high in quality and therefore will almost certainly contain palm oil. Frozen ready meals in particular are renown for their palm oil content, but in those situations how many choices do you actually have?

At christmas, a disabled person scraping by wants to buy nice presents for their family but has been in overdraft for 4 months after unexpected bills threw them into financial chaos. Do they risk something from a nice local shop, or one with a good reputation, likely to have a price tag which goes along to match the moral way in which they practice business? Wander around countless shops and physically exhaust themselves trying to find gifts from different retailers that they might be able to afford? Or do they avoid the higher risk of potential financial meltdown if another bill comes in and hit up amazon for cheap but nice products where they won’t feel guilty or anxious about where it leaves them?

Someone working 3 jobs and trying to raise kids will likely not have time to research the manufacturing process of a company’s stock; where the cotton is produced, whether those workers are compensated and living in reasonable conditions or are being exploited. Where the cotton is turned into cloth, the same thing… Are the staff free to do as they please? Can they eat? Are they healthy? What of where they’re stitched together into the products we buy… How are they treated there, and how does it compare to the material suppliers given this part of manufacture is what often dictates the view of the company’s ethical standing? What I mean by that is, you can have a company abusing workers right the way up the chain until a point where people pay attention. Treat those right in areas where people are looking and ultimately you can hide a lot of sins. Is that person in 3 jobs going to put in the effort to dig past that level of every retailer they use?

Someone who struggles with food and nutrition may avoid a vegan or vegetarian diet because they do not have the time or capacity to learn to make changes to their diet or it’s not conducive to their health. If they’re unable to cook and beholden to what’s available in store, the pre-made foods generally being on the pricier side of things, they need to find the time to learn which might not be possible in their circumstances. They may have a learning disability that makes it an awful lot harder for them to learn, they could be illiterate and struggle with recipes so don’t know a starting point. They also may not have the money that it takes to learn to cook; buying ingredients they’re unfamiliar with and wasting valuable food as they learn their way around a kitchen and figure out what tastes they like, and all of the energy use that can entail.

People who can just about afford their food shop and have to search around on pricing is very unlikely to buy organic free range eggs and meat, or organic local vegetables, lamb reared in Wales. They’re looking for a meal they can afford; cheap meat, some vegetables, ready meals. Quick cheap food they can sustain themselves on without it leaving them in a tough spot with cost, health, and time; both cooking wise and education on nutrition for a potential change of diet.

Something galling of those touting their moral fortitude in their condemnation of the actions of others is an ever-present hypocrisy. Twitter is full of people acting holier than thou, telling others they’re ruining the planet and just need to make this change, or that. Mentioning certain companies can be seen as an invitation to be reminded of how awful they are (the implication heavily being ‘you should be boycotting them, what are you doing?).

It’s all well and good being critical of companies if that’s your thing, but you should at least have firm standing from which to preach if you consider yourself high enough morally to lecture individuals on their consumer choices, and you better damn sure know the angle you’re approaching it from given the economic barriers placed in people’s way. For example, are you using Apple products? Do you own an iphone or ipad? Apple have been consistently criticised for the pollution the manufacture of their products causes as well as working conditions in their production facilities and health of their staff.

It’s not just them, either. Other smartphone, tablet, telly, laptop, and PC manufacturers have had similar condemnations. There is no ethical option in that regard, tech is not an ethical business and in using technology you contribute to the harm it’s doing to the planet, to communities, contributing to the exploitation of labour (including of children), ill health of workers in certain manufacturing areas, as well as supporting the poisoning of water sources and land from waste.
A lot of technology is mass produced in planet-unfriendly circumstances by people who are being exploited, and if they’re not being exploited just go further down the line. Look at the conditions workers are living and working in around the mines where the raw materials used in the production of tech are taken from.

If you use technology you are as compliant as anyone else. I’ve heard it said that technology is something that cannot be avoided as the internet is a daily part of life, and that’s true. But if you consider yourself as having a pass for a situation you are effectively forced into, how does that make you different from anyone else forced into a consumer choice against their ethics?
I am not ethical, I am likely to never be ethical, not for lack of want but circumstance. Judging people for not following the kind of ethical decisions they’re expected to make as consumers is not feminist, it’s not kind on disability, on poverty, on people’s capacity and opportunity to learn things, people’s struggle for time, on all manner of things.

The hypocritical call for ethics can be very harsh indeed when so many people feel guilt over the decisions they make as consumers based on the circumstances they’re in. I know many who want to boycott companies, buy better food, buy local, shop around. They can’t.

So eat your organic, local, vegan food, buy your fairtrade t-shirts, drink your independent teas and boycott amazon and Tesco, but don’t condemn others for not doing so. Unless you know a person’s situation intimately and how it relates to any of the choices you make, you’ve no idea what their reasoning is and how much choice they truly have

Intersectionality is a tool for understanding these things, to see how different personal circumstances apply on different subjects and social issues.
Use it.

Summary: While I believe it’s commendable to base your consumer choices on your personal morality, you cannot expect the same of everyone and it is deeply unfair to do so. It takes time to research and learn, as well as the faculties to do so which some with disabilities or literacy issues lack. It can also be very expensive given that ‘ethical’ products are often priced higher than others, which makes it difficult for someone on a low income such as benefits to afford. It’s also very difficult to know which companies are ethical and which are not, given that large companies often hide their practices from consumers. I ask that you consider the potential circumstances of others instead of judging them based on your world view.

Edit: I’ve thrown in a little bit more information about the ways that a vegan or vegetarian diet can be difficult for some and given some examples. I was told I was being dishonest, making going vegan sound harder than it is, and they weren’t able to see how complex that can be, as a result I’ve expanded on it a bit. I have also changed the title to be less confrontational, though frankly the point stands. It’s unfair to push this onto people.

Wholemeal fig and dark chocolate pancake batter

Pancake header

This is very easily my favourite thing of late. I’ve only recently tried figs for the first time and my immediate thought was ‘dark chocolcate’. If ever there were flavours which were made for each other it’s those. This hearty but light mixture makes for a perfect backdrop to those flavours, taking nothing away from them or overpowering them with texture or flavour. A friend of mine hit the nail on the head by describing them as ‘decadent’.

Makes around 25 medium (4-5″ across) size pancakes.

Ingredients

2 cups wholemeal self raising flour
2 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar
350g figs, finely chopped
200g of 85% cocoa chocolate
800-850ml hazelnut or almond milk
4 egg whites

Mix the flour, sugar, egg whites, and hazelnut milk in a bowl and whisk until a smooth battery consistency .

Mix in the chopped figs and chocolate.

Edit: Cook them just as you would normal small pancakes. A ladleful should make two nice sized ones, or one larger. You’ll want to cook them over a lower heat then you’d expect to for pancakes as they’re quite dense. Keep them over the heat until the centre is fully cooked and spongy, and if the edges burn turn it down a little and cook for longer instead.

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!

15512564636_cd1cfac3c5_k

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

Lemon and ginger tea (concentrated jelly)

I’ve seen a few variations of this in recent months, from no-cook, to fresh-but-doesn’t-keep-long, to liquid, and none of the ones I’ve seen seemed to match my own little version that I started making a number of years ago, so here’s my take on it!

15048616377_009f529990_k

You’ll only need about a teaspoon to make a nice, strong cuppa. I personally love it with a bit of cinnamon and a chamomile teabag thrown in, though I’m told it’s really nice with black or green tea as well.
I’ve been asked why I use a jelly rather than a syrup and it’s simple: it’s less messy. I find that syrups require twisting of spoons, frequent wiping of the jar and any sides or surfaces it happens to touch, and somehow I’ll still end up making a mess. By adding a jelling agent, the chances of making such a mess get reduced significantly. I make it into a very firm jelly, but obviously go with whatever you prefer!
  • 4-6″ root ginger, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 3-4 lemons, cut into slices
  • 150-200ml lemon juice concentrate
  • 2-3 heaped tablespoons dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 jar honey (I usually use 250g, but just go with whatever you happen to have)
  • Setting agent (gelatin, or there’s vegan alternatives like agar)

15048621377_7d40148649_k

Have one or a few containers ready, large enough to contain however much you’re making (my last batch I added an extra two lemons and made up a 1 litre jar). Don’t worry about using enormously precise quantities or timings, most of what I’ve written here, as with most of my recipes, is just a rough guide and frankly you just can just wing it. I know I do.

Place the ginger cubes, lemon juice concentrate, dark muscovado sugar, and 1/4 of the honey into a saucepan and bring it to the boil, mixing frequently.
Once boiling, fold in the lemon slices and turn down to a medium-low heat. Keep them simmering for ~15 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and thoroughly mix in the remaining 3/4 jar of honey. Follow the instructions for whichever setting agent it is you’re using and add that to the mixture. Pour the mixture into your prepared jars and leave to cool down before sticking it in the fridge.

It can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 months. When you want to use it, just take a teaspoon of jelly and mix it with hot water, herbal tea, or how ever else you fancy it.15233301196_f8ebf01090_h

Cooling banana & peanut butter dog treats

As the temperature is once again rising, and I’ve already covered banana and peanut butter milkshakes for the humans, I figure it’s only right I share a similar cooling treat for the dogs!

15012989358_aeaf92f642_k-150x150

  • 1 bunch of bananas (you can sometimes get them reduced to clear, which are then super cheap and would be fine for this!)
  • 200ml water
  • 1 pot of peanut butter (I use a pot of tesco value as it’s super cheap and the dogs seem to love it all the same)

Get a tray suitable for freezing that’s roughly 6″ x 8″ (and obviously ensure you have the space in thefreezer for it!), line the base of the tray with greaseproof paper.

Take the bananas and, along with the 200ml water, either mash up them up with a fork/potato masher or place them in a blender/food processor. Depending on what you feel like, you can leave it a little lumpy or carry on until it’s completely smooth. It doesn’t make a difference which.

Pour the squished up banana into the prepared tray and place it in the freezer, leaving it there until completely frozen through. Once the banana is frozen, and still leaving it in the freezer for the moment, it’s time to move on to the peanut butter layer.

15019854759_49c8f15389_k

Empty the jar of peanut butter into a heat-safe bowl and place it into a larger bowl or a saucepan filled with hot water. Once the peanut butter has warmed up a good amount, melting into a consistency that would be ideal for spreading, take the banana layer out of the freezer.

Have a spoon in your hand ready, as the peanut butter will only stay spreadable for a short time!

Pour it over the banana layer and immediately spread it out using the back of the spoon. Once it’s been spread out, place it back in the freezer to cool the peanut butter layer, and refreeze the banana one.

When it’s frozen through you can remove it and, using a hot knife, scour lines into the top which will make it easier to snap pieces off. If you’d prefer (and this is what I do), cut it into cubes and put back in the freezer in a storage container. This way they’re fumble free and ready to use whenever!

15020055047_010770f5d2_k

……………………………………………

Fishy ice cubes
Method one:

Another that my dogs, as well as rats, absolutely love is ice cubes with a hint of fish. If you use tinned tuna chunks or steaks, be sure to get them in spring water (it costs about the same in most brands). Drain off the water from the tin into a jug and also mix in 1 small forkful of the tuna itself. Top the jug up with water to whatever level you think you might want (it only needs a little hint of fish, so you can get up to as much as 1 1/2 litres). Pour the tuna/water mix into ice tube trays and pop them in the freezer. Once they’re frozen, just take them out whenever you want to give your dog, cat, or rat a little treat to cool them off.

Method two:

At most supermarkets you can get some really cheap, frozen ‘white fish’ steaks (usually pollock). When you want to make up some cubes, simmer one of the steaks in water on the hob for a short while, before mushing it up with a fork or placing it in a blender. Top the water up to the amount you want to use, and just like with the tuna cubes, pour into ice cube trays and freeze.