Aleck making bread

Here’s a little video clip of my four year old Aleck making bread yesterday (click play!).

We’re snowed in and have now run out of fresh bread so what better way to channel one little boy’s extra energy! The children have been off school for two days and it’s looking likely they may be off for some or all of next week so activities like this are great – and we all get a delicious loaf of wholemeal bread too (and it was scrummy, thanks Aleck). Please see my other blog over at Tish Tash Toys if you can suggest anymore ‘things to do at home on a snowy day’ with the kids.

Tetrapak Recycling in East Devon

My little boy finished off the orange juice this morning, showed me the carton and said “Can we recycle this Mummy?” What a clever 4 year old!!! Now I know our kerbside collection doesn’t include juice cartons so I used to look up how and where we could recycle drinks cartons here in East Devon. Cartons are now collected by over 370 local authorities across the country, which equates to 86 per cent of UK and Guernsey local authority areas.

Recyclenow advised me to use I used the Where Can I Recycle button at the top of their site to look up where cartons are collected in my area and found this info below:

Picture 1The nearest place for us is Honiton so we’ve started a collection of tetrapaks. Now we just need to work out what to do with the plastic milk bottles!! Anyone?

Susan’s Vegetarian Hotpot

I’m making veggie hotpot for dinner – and my little sister often asks for my recipes, so I’m adding it on here for Susan and anyone else interested in a delicious wholesome vegetarian or vegan dinner, to warm you up on a cold winters day like today. If you eat meat and want to know how having a veggie meal once a week can help reduce global warming – click here to find out more about Meat Free Mondays.

So here you go…

Get a casserole dish (with a lid) and fill it with the following:

One or two onions – sliced, chopped, chunky or fine – however you like your onion (my children prefer onion chopped up small so they don’t even notice it but it still adds essential flavour)

I use at least three big garlic cloves – more if anyone in the family is ill as garlic is sooooo good for you, chop them up finely and stick them in the pot

One parsnip sliced

Two carrots sliced

One red pepper, sliced or chopped

One bag of quorn pieces fried, or a packet of quorn or other veggie/vegan sausages fried or oven baked first then sliced and in the pot (this part is not essential – you could just have a vegetable dish)

Tin chopped tomatoes

2-3 potatoes fairly thinly sliced

Half a tin of chick peas

Then add some stock – I use one veggie stock cube (Oxo or Knorr) in about 300mls boiling water. I add a teaspoon or two of marmite to the stock as it’s so good for you and adds to the taste.

Add herbs & spices – the ones I like in my hotpot (at the moment – as it changes from year to year) are fenugreek, thyme, basil, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cumin and salt & pepper. Experiment with the  flavours you like and please add suggestions in the comment box at the bottom if you find some tasty flavours.

Mix it all round a bit and stick the lid on and put your casserole dish in the oven on medium for about 2 hours or high for an hour, prod with a fork to see if the veggies are cooked enough for you.

This makes enough for my family of four – usually with some left over for lunch the next day! The great thing about hotpot is you can stick anything in it really – especially left over veggies in the fridge like a leek, green beans, swede or bit of cauliflower or broccoli. Sweet potato is tasty in hot pot too.

I serve my hotpot with some crusty bread and/or couscous, bulgar wheat or Quinoa

Don’t forget to put all your veggie peelings into your compost bin or boil them up to make a lovely layers mash for your chickens like I do (thanks to Holly for this idea!)

I’ve found some other Vegetarian Hotpot recipes if you fancy getting adventurous…

Great BBC article on Simon Rimmer’s veggie restaurant including a recipe for Vegetarian Lancashire Hotpot

Vegetarian Society recipe for Spanish Vegetable Hotpot

Spicy Veggie Hotpot from Asda

Future Food Shortages

I read a really thought provoking article in the Guardian last week on food shortages in the future.

“People do not quite realise the scale of the issue,” says Professor Mike Bevan, acting director of the John Innes Centre in Norfolk. “This is one of the most serious problems that science has ever faced.” In Britain the lives of hundreds of thousands of people will be threatened by food shortages. Across the globe, tens of millions – if not hundreds of millions – will be affected.

Over the next 40 years Britain’s population will rise from 60 to 75 million while the world’s will leap from 6.8 to 9 billion. Feeding all these people will stretch human ingenuity to its limit. Crop yields will have to jump, a goal that will have to be achieved in the middle of global climatic disruption. At the same time, farmers will find many aids – in particular, chemical fertilisers – that they have come to rely on will no longer be available .

Click here to read the Guardian article

Maybe having less children would help? What do you think? See my blog How Many Children Should We Have?

You can also read about Meat Free Mondays – and how this could make a difference to global warming.

Are There Plently More Fish in the Sea?

My little family and I were all very tired last night after visiting Taunton after school to get a few Christmas bits, so we thought we’d opt for an easy dinner and get chips from the chippy on the way back home in Chard. The kids and I are veggie so we just had a bag of chips each, but hubby wanted some fish with his chips. I said to him I’d ask the person in the chip shop which was the best fish to buy – the one which has healthy stocks, and is basically environmentally friendly sustainably produced seafood which is not intensively fished. Dan said there’s no way they’d know but I defended them and gave them a chance…

…so (and good job I don’t mind sounding like a total idiot in public) I asked the young girl behind the counter. She didn’t understand me and I had to repeat myself (now with people starting to look at the mad woman holding up the queue in the chip shop!). She said “Sorry I don’t have a clue but I’ll ask the manager” just as the manager walked in. I thought, great I’m going to get my answer now and get Dan some ‘good’ fish.

The manager smiled and said “tuna” and I replied “none of these then?” She explained that all their fish was cod and had been caught way up in the Russian sea, but didn’t know anymore than that. I got hubby a cod anyway and decided on the way home to write this blog and find out which is a good fish to buy at your local fish and chip shop – as to be honest Dan was right and they didn’t know what I meant and didn’t seem to have a clue what they were selling? If this is the same across the whole country then I’m not impressed!

The website Fishonline helps people, businesses and organisations which are concerned about declining fish stocks and the welfare of our seas. The Marine Conservation Society FISHONLINE website can help you identify which fish are from well managed sources and/or caught using methods that minimise damage to marine wildlife and habitats. I used this site to look up cod, it said:

The Pacific cod fishery is reported to be well-managed with healthy stocks. By-catch is monitored and the fishery closed if acceptable by-catch levels are exceeded. The Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Freezer Longline Fishery for Pacific Cod was certified as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council in 2006.

After some more research into the Russian seas – as the lady in the shop said their fish were caught way up in the Russian seas…..I’ve found that those seas are the Artic Ocean and the Bering Sea. The Atlantic Ocean is much closer to home and she didn’t say they were from there but much further north. It’s very hard to find any info on this – but then I stumbled upon this article on the wwf website about the artic sea which is the huge piece of water across the north of Norway and Russia.

This site says that “More than half of the entire world’s cod comes from the Barents Sea – the UK being a significant market. With global cod catches having fallen by 70% over the past 30 years, it is vital that fish are sustainably managed.”

So this is not sounding so good now is it. But if anyone is reading this and knows more about which fishes are good and not so good – please do add your own comments. According to the Seafish website (the authority on seafood) “more than 250 million fish and chip shop meals (featuring fish) are sold a year, the traditional dish of fish and chips is still top of the league of Britain’s favourite fast foods. There are around 10,500 fish and chip shops in the UK.

The Eatwell website says “Around the world, some types of fish, especially in certain areas, are threatened by being over-fished. At the same time, we’re eating more fish and shellfish in this country and across Europe. Fish and shellfish farming (and other types of what are known as ‘sustainable aquaculture’) have a significant role to play in meeting our demand for fish and shellfish, along with fishing at sea.