I had a day off the other week and spotted a ravioli-making workshop online. Making pasta has always been one my list of things to try but always seemed like too much effort. I remember my uncle, who used to be a chef, made a big batch and promptly dropped it all in the cat litter tray, which somehow put me off even though I don’t have a cat. Funnily enough, this was the last thing I did before discovering I had a broken finger. You can see my blissful ignorance (and swollen and bent finger) in the picture below.
- 2 eggs
- 180g 00 flour
- 100g mascarpone
- 100g ricotta
- 40g Parmesan
- 40g rocket
Put the flour on a clean surface. Make a well in the middle and crack in the eggs.
Use a fork to combine the egg and flour. Once it starts to come together, knead until smooth adding more flour if needed. About 5 minutes.
Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.
For the filling, combine the ingredients and season to taste. Leave and allow flavours to develop.
Once the dough has rested, transfer to a floured surface and roll out until you can see light coming through it.
Gently score down the centre of the pasta to mark where you will fold it.
Take walnut-sized balls of filling and place on one half of the dough.
Brush water all around each piece of filling to allow the dough to stick. Fold.
Working from the centre out, seal each raviolo being careful to get all the air out. You can pierce any bubbles with a toothpick. The dough can take rough handling.
Cut out your shapes.
Leftovers can be cut up and used in soups etc.
The only part of this workshop that I really didn’t like was the enormous amount of waste generated. We were not allowed (apparently because of license problems) to eat the pasta, which meant that loads of perfectly good food went straight in the bin. I asked if I could take the ravioli if I assumed the risk but I was told no.
The positive is that I now feel confident to try it on my own.
I received my latest OddBox a couple of weeks ago. It also contained bananas but I had already cut them up and put them in the freezer before taking this picture.
I tried out a few different recipes. I used the mushrooms and spinach in a polenta dish. The polenta was absolutely delicious. I wasn’t that sold on having the mushroom and spinach mixture with it, but I will think about other dishes with which it would pair well.
I spent quite a bit of time on Sunday cooking again. I used some of the cauliflower to make these quinoa meatless balls. Because the recipe calls for cauliflower rice, I blitzed it up in the NutriBullet.
I used the cauliflower florets along with the purple kale in this frittata. The recipe came with the OddBox. I am quite fussy when it comes to egg dishes and think I added too much kale (of which I’m not especially fond), so this was a bit of a miss.
I also made a butterbean and carrot soup that I’ve had before. I have a LOT of dried butterbeans in my cupboard so it was good to use some of them up.
The recipe suggested using three 400g tins of beans but I used 300g of soaked and boiled beans instead. Aside from being less waste and less weight to carry from the supermarket, apparently dried beans produce less flatulence than canned. Good news for my flatmate! I replaced the milk with water + 30g of flaked almonds. I also added the cauliflower stem and leaves to save throwing them away.
I’m quite looking forward to Veganuary. I’ve mostly cut meat out of my diet but I’m finding eggs and dairy much harder to kick. Part of the issue is that it would take more effort for me to look up vegan recipes or convert recipes. I will be more motivated to try harder since Veganuary is only one month.
Since I haven’t yet found a decent nutrition tracking app aimed at vegans, I’ve just been using MyFitnessPal in the interim. So far the app indicates that I’m not doing too badly with protein, though I definitely need to supplement if I want to reach my aim of 100g per day. I have access to pea protein in bulk and I’m building up a bank of recipes that disguise the taste.
My diet is quite high in fat. I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem as long as I’m not eating too many calories, but it does surprise me.
My flatmate and I had a friend coming over for dinner who is also doing Veganuary. I thought this was a perfect excuse to try out some new vegan dishes.
The lentils were flavoursome and my guests commented positively. Even though I added a scotch bonnet (whole during cooking and then discarded) I felt the mix lacked kick. Patties are generally quite spicy. Next time I might add half of a de-seeded scotch bonnet.
I used this vegan pastry recipe since I eat gluten and avoid hydrogenated fats. I added two teaspoons of curry powder to the mixture. Next time, I think I would add some extra turmeric and perhaps a drop of yellow food colouring since patties are traditionally yellow.
I really enjoyed the pastry but I did find it a bit dry and very short. To be fair, I made a mistake in refrigerating the dough before I used it, which meant I had to handle it a lot more than I would have liked. I will probably test again before passing final judgment.
I also know that my grandma’s rule of thumb was half fat to flour so I might up the coconut oil too. I’ve been considering adding pea protein. Not sure what grandma would make of that!
I also made ackee sin salt fish. I can’t lie; I really missed the salt fish. Even though you use only a little amount of salted cod, it’s a huge part of the flavour. I was so immersed in cooking that I didn’t take pictures so these are nabbed from my friend’s Instagram stories.
For dessert we had pistachio ice cream. I might even take some better pictures and write a separate post about it. I thought it was yummy.
As the person who posted the recipe notes, the dates do dull the green colour. I think it’s worth it for the taste.
As a note, I quite a bit less than half a cup of dates (maybe 2/3 cup?) and found that was plenty. If making this, it’s worth tasting and adding as you go. I ended up with a lot more ice cream than expected. Blended with almond milk and ice, it is a delicious mylkshake.
I added spirulina to brighten the colour and I don’t you can taste it. Using matcha might be a great option to add both colour and flavour.
I also made sorrel, which is a traditional Jamaican Christmas drink. They sell hibiscus tea at The Source so it’s really easy. I used this recipe as a base but would note that I don’t think you need that much hibiscus. A cup costs around £2.50 and I think half a cup would be fine.
I’m so proud that this meal was almost entirely free of plastic waste. And really cheap too! The most expensive thing was the ice cream. I’m starting to feel ready for Veganuary!
As an additional note, the leftover patties are really nice cold. They’re a bit dry because I cooked the lentils down a lot- didn’t want to risk a soggy bottom.
I am continuing with my veggie journey. I’ve made a few meals with little to no single-use plastic, including soups, salad and a barley risotto. None of the meals was especially photogenic.
See? (Thai-inspired quinoa salad).
Supermarkets do seem to be making a bit more of an effort to sell unwrapped veggies so some of the meals were very easy to make with little waste. Where food is still wrapped up, I have been voting with my wallet and looking for alternative sources for my nude veg. I’m still finding it a bit of a fun challenge to get ingredients without plastic. I especially enjoy re-filling containers with things like washing-up liquid. It’s very sad but I don’t care.
I only get my OddBox once a fortnight, when know I will be around at the weekend. This system works for me because, while it can be fun to look up new recipes for the OddBox veg, it’s also quite time-consuming. I like to be able to just buy what I want some weeks.
I still had a lot of pumpkin left after last week’s pancakes. I decided to eschew making the same recipe again and tried out a pumpkin vegan ‘fudge’ I saw on Pinterest. Unfortunately the recipe couldn’t live up to the salted caramel bites. In fact, it was inedible. Fortunately I was able to salvage the ingredients by adding almond milk, protein and dates to make a breakfast smoothie.
I used the rest for pumpkin soup.
It’s nice but a takeaway for me is that I prefer sweet potato and butternut squash to pumpkin.
A really easy zero waste hack that anyone can employ is to stop peeling your veggies. I didn’t peel the pumpkin and the soup is still really smooth. I hardly ever peel veg any more- less waste, saves time and the peel contains fibre and nutrients. Win, win, win.
One of my concerns about going more plant-based is getting sufficient protein. I do a little bit of weight training and growing muscle needs protein. I’m looking for a new meal tracking app that has more of an emphasis on micronutrients. But I can’t seem to find one that’s free or even has a free trial. I don’t mind paying but I’d like to test any app before committing.
Bonus picture of a roasted vegetable and quinoa salad with the last of my fourth OddBox vegetables last week. I mixed red quinoa with some amaranth I’ve had hanging around the house for a while (both from the Source) and it was a very nice combination.
I managed to pay a visit to a local shop with a few zero waste options- Eat17 in Hammersmith. I bought some suspiciously cheap coffee beans and discovered that they have plastic-free cheese!
I don’t think I’ve tasted this variety of cheese before but it was very nice. I will definitely go back because they are closer to my house than the Source and I’m pretty sure cheaper too- I think because most of their options are not organic.
I also followed through with my pledge after watching Cowspiracy and picked up some barista-style oat milk.
I have had a vegan flat white in a cafe in Folkestone made with this brand, otherwise I would have been very upset that they had run out of barista-style Oatly. I’m happy to say that even I (an espresso noob) am able to make a serviceable flat white with it. The milk has a mild oat flavour but produces a very similar result texture-wise to dairy milk- unlike other plant-based milks that are frankly disgusting in tea and coffee.
I think my tummy has been feeling better in the last week without milk (I drink 3-4 flat whites a day, with 100ml of milk in each). I’m not intolerant to dairy but having too much makes me feel sick. I’ve heard anecdotally that a lot of people with Afro-Caribbean heritage can be sensitive to dairy. I also have a phobia of rotten milk and the whole concept of cow’s milk freaks me out a bit.
I’ve been away a few times over the summer and mostly on holiday from blogging. It was a broken-up European tour encompassing France, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland and Spain.
Going away has made me much more aware of what being zero waste would mean giving up. It hit me when I was in a petrol station and wanted a pre-made chilled latte. The ZW option would have been to get a coffee in my keep cup and wait for it to cool down. When I’m at home, I’m happy to make an espresso frappe thing. But the idea of drinking a cold filter coffee was just too depressing to contemplate.
Apparently coffee is my main trigger because I had a similar dilemma later in the summer. ZW option: Nescafe. Preferred option: single-serve iced latte drink. I was too much of a snob to drink the instant. So many of my favourite tasty treats- crunchy Cheetos, Bugles, different kinds of chocolate and cheese- are packaged in plastic. I’m glad that my eyes were opened a bit more, even if I’m not sure how I will approach this dilemma.
I got my third OddBox the week I returned home properly. I didn’t use it for anything glamorous enough to photograph but all of it has been used a little under a week later.
Just before the summer I started having terrible sugar cravings in the afternoons. I realised it was because I had got into the habit of having a protein bar every day. Although the ones I have are ‘low sugar’ (AKA filled with horrifying chemicals that I almost certainly should not be consuming), they taste like a chocolate bar. Clearly my body had become accustomed to having its daily sugar hit. To be fair, I have always had a sweet tooth. I just don’t remember having such strong sugar cravings.
I picked up some more dates to make up some more caramel bite things to snack on instead. I bought the dates on impulse at the supermarket so they were inevitably packaged in plastic. Next time, I will get them at the Source. I added a ‘no single-use plastics’ item to my habit tracker and I haven’t been able to tick it off once. I’m quite strict and include everything like milk cartons and yoghurt tubs. Still a long, long way to go.
A disadvantage of trying to reduce waste is becoming hyper-aware of how wasteful society is. Here I share things that have bothered or worried me.
- I can’t seem to find a plastic-free moisturiser. Neither of the shops near me with bulk options stock one. I guess one idea would be to try something from Lush because they at least reuse their tubs in a closed-loop economy.
A few weeks ago I went to the Frida Kahlo exhibition that is currently on at the V&A. Titled Making Herself Up, it displays a lot of her personal artefacts. I believe that her husband’s will requested that Kahlo’s bathroom remain sealed for a number of years after both of their deaths. The exhibition explores how she created and curated her image as well as how she presented herself in her artwork.
I thought I knew quite a lot about Kahlo before attending the exhibition. Looking back, I’m not sure why I was under that impression. I never really studied her when I was doing art at school. I was going through a phase of antifeminism at the time and for some reason picked Roy Lichtenstein as the artist I studied for my GCSE art project. Many a regret was had.
Anyway, it was really interesting to learn about her life and how it influenced her as an artist. In particular, I had no idea that she was disabled.
One of my favourite parts was seeing the display of her clothing. Her personal style evolved quite a lot over the years and she seemed to be very mindful of her image. I liked the way that she wore traditional Mexican clothing.
Many of the pieces were embellished with beautiful embroidery or beading, which must have been done by hand. It was also interesting to think about how Frida’s dress enabled her to present herself in the way she wanted in spite of her health and physical challenges.
I felt quite an affinity with Frida through the exhibition, in particular a love of colour and being inspired by flowers and animals. I had chosen an outfit especially to wear to the exhibition. Sometimes I curate my image very carefully, but there are also days where I don’t bother. I generally don’t think that I dress in a notable way until I see a picture of myself in a group and realise that I am wearing every colour of the rainbow while everyone else is monochrome!
I tried to get a selfie with the Frida earrings I couldn’t resist buying from the gift shop. I discovered that, even with a machine designed to take self-portraits in my pocket, I’m not very good at it!