Vegan Tomato and Chickpea Curry!

I winged this one and it was so tasty I thought I’d share the recipe!

Serves four!

TC curry

Ingredients:
1 onion
1 garlic clove
Splash vegetable oil
2 teaspoons tumeric
2 teaspoons corriander
2 teaspoons gram masala
2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tin chickpeas
1 tin tomatoes
Rice

Method:
Put oil in pan to heat

Peel and dice onion

Peel and grate garlic clove

Put onion and garlic in oil and simmer until softened.

Add spices and heat until aromatic

Add chickpeas and tomatoes

Boil rice

Serve and enjoy!

Vote of Confidence for my Generation

Hey!

I know that, what with the 2015 election, the EU elections, the EU referendum, local elections and now GE2017, you’re probably sick of elections. Me, too.

You’re probably also fed up of people nagging you to go and vote. So, I’ll tell you what: you promise to vote, and I’ll promise not to nag you to.

Sound fair?

I get it. Honestly, I do. Like most 90’s kids (or millennials, as the media likes to call us) I was just becoming politically aware around the time that the banking crisis began. We missed the economic boom of the 90s and have known nothing but credit crunch, recession and austerity, and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.

This is enough to make anyone feel pessimistic about the future, as it seems like it’ll contain nothing except more of what’s already come. So why bother?

Well, my fellow young adults, the thing is… we are young adults. The life expectancy of our generation is somewhere around eighty, so there’s plenty of time in which things could improve, and a lot of things that need improving. So we’d better get on it.

We know how fast things can change. The first, second and cold wars all happened in the space of a lifetime and politics (and the world) changed so much as to be unrecognisable in that time. We can make the world unrecognisable from the way it is today in the best way, but only if we try.

Another problem is a lack of people in who feel trustworthy in government. For some reason, political parties are fighting this campaign on buzzwords (“Let me be clear”, “Strong and stable,” etc. ad nauseam) rather than, you know… policies.

The leader is of course important, but not more so than the laws and budgets that they are going to have to pass. Besides, a person is always flawed (*cough* pig gate *cough*)but policies can be good, irrelevant of who is holding them up.

Apathy is a sign, generally, that something isn’t right. Something being wrong is a prompt for good people to try and put it right. The best way to try and do that is to vote, whichever way you think best, on Thursday 8th June.

If you don’t like any of them, just pick the lesser of two evils. It’s better to be ruled by someone who, even if they won’t fix the house you’re living in, at least won’t try to burn it down completely.

If you absolutely cannot vote for anyone, just spoil your ballot. The more people do that, the more the establishment will get the message that something is not right.

Every election, the older generations vote in their droves (as they are of course entitled to), but this has often led to younger generations’s views being under represented and young people are therefore pulled into/out of situations which they, as a whole, don’t want and will suffer over for years. This year could be the year that we take charge of our future.

So, make your mark on the ballot. Please?

Image result for polling station sign

Vegan, Gluten-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Vegan food can be delicious. Don’t believe me? Make these and see for yourself =D

cookies

It’s a very easy and very tasty recipe!

Ingredients
250g gluten-free flour
170g vegan margarine
185g dark brown soft sugar
110g caster sugar
360g vegan chocolate diced
300g vegan peanut butter

Method
Preheat oven to 170oC

Melt the margarine in a large bowl. Add both sugars and stir until mixed. Melt the peanut butter and add this.

Gradually add the flour and stir in.

Add the chocolate chips. Mix through.

Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Bake for 15 minutes

Allow to cool on the tray (they will be crumbly when you remove them  from the oven until they cool)

Enjoy!

Three-letter F-word

Hello friends. I am angry.

I was going about my evening as normal, and then I suddenly became SO angry.

Let me tell you for why.

I remember when I was two. I was two and I was two stone. I really wanted to be heavier, because that would mean I would be bigger and more grown-up.

That didn’t last long.

By the time I was eight, that had changed. When we went back to school after the Christmas holidays, my teacher told us to write down a resolution that we would seal in an envelope. At the end of the academic year we would open that envelope to see if we had achieved our resolution.

My resolution was to lose weight. At eight years old.

How had I got to that point?

I’m glad you asked. Most of it was society at large. Little comments about my weight and others’. Things that added up over days and weeks and months and years until it infiltrated my mind enough to be the one thing about myself that I wanted to change the most.

Not to be kinder, or cleverer, or work harder, or learn a skill. To be thinner.

Because that’s what’s important, right?

Looking back at photos of myself from that time and after, I wasn’t fat. Not even nearly fat. I wasn’t skinny, either. I was a normal, healthy weight for my age and height.

But I didn’t know that. I couldn’t see that I was fine. All I could think was that I should be smaller.

And those thoughts limited me so much. There are so many things I wanted to do but didn’t because I thought I was too fat. That I would look ridiculous. That people would laugh at me. And so I didn’t do physical activities which meant that, if I didn’t have a weight problem before, I was more likely to develop one now.

So, I decided I’d diet to lose weight. Now, forgetting that the best way to moderate your weight is a mix of healthy eating and exercise, and dieting can just lead to yo-yoing and a myriad of other problems… anyway. The hours of my time I have spent thinking about dieting and planning dieting and trying to force myself to eat certain things or not to eat certain things…

This is time, from my limited lifespan on Earth, that is completely wasted. Time that could have been spent improving myself, or enjoying myself, that I will never get back. But it’s forever lost on these ideas of thinness.

Why?

The irony is, what I wanted isn’t even achievable. The perfect picture of lithe, bronzed, toned “perfection” doesn’t and can’t exist. At least, not outside of photoshop and someone’s imagination. Chasing that idea of happiness will never lead to contentment because you can’t have something that doesn’t exist, and that includes the perfect body.

Even if you have a person in mind whom you believe has the “perfect body”, I guarantee that if you actually spoke to them, they would give you a list of all their “flaws”.

Any person, especially women, can readily reel off a list of their biggest “imperfections”. Very few of them will tell you what they love about themselves.

This is ridiculous and unnecessary.

Even if you feel like society’s ideas of “attractive” and “perfect” haven’t affected you in any way, they clearly affect most people. This can be seen by the number of magazine articles about weight, from the individual anecdotes, the conversations at home and in the pub and in work and in clubs and everywhere about diets and weight and “oh I couldn’t possibly!”

I for one have had enough of this.

So, the weight thing is a cultural and social construct. Therefore, as a society we can deconstruct it. it’s too late for me and a lot of people – I will probably always have that voice in my head telling me that I am too big (too big for what, exactly? Whose space am I taking up?)but we can save others.

I am not encouraging people to put their health at risk by being overweight or not exercising. But I am advocating the end of size-based comments, of weight-based commentary, of photoshop, of impossible measurements being held up as the ideal.

It’s not healthy and it’s not fair to young people. Imagine your daughter, son, sister, niece, so on, being brought up in a world where they are taught that body fat is the biggest indicator of attractiveness and worth. That their brains, sense of humour, kindness mean less than the body proportions that they receive in the genetic lottery.

Think of that, and demand more for them. Demand more for yourself. You are fine. You are a valid, valuable human being in your own right. Don’t let anyone, even yourself, make you feel otherwise.

What to do with runner beans

My gran doesn’t understand veganism. I was vegetarian first, for eight years. She understood that, but she didn’t like it.

But the whole “no dairy” thing is tripping her up. She’s trying. She proudly presented me with Bisto gravy granules because “I read the ingredients and there’s no milk in them!” I didn’t have the heart to point out that they were beef gravy granules…

So she likes to buy me food. Seeing as she’s never sure, she normally sticks to things she knows are safe, like runner beans.

I live in Britain. The way that most vegetables are served here is as follows: boil until mushy, and preferably until it has lost all colour. Serve!

Less than delicious.

Gran very kindly gave me more runner beans on the weekend and I decided to try and make them more edible. And it worked! I’d like to share how with you now…

Ingredients:
350g runner beans
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 white onion
3 small cloves garlic
Splash vegetable oil
Pinch chilli seeds
Pinch basil
Pinch parsley

Method:

Pour the oil into a frying pan to warm. While oil is warming, finely chop the onions. Peel and finely grate the garlic. Add this to the pan.

Wash and drain the beans. Roughly cut them into strips ~2cm long. By now the onions should have softened. Add the beans to the pan and heat until the beans start softening.

Add the tomatoes and chilli seeds. Cook until beans are soft to taste (I recommend al dente) and tomatoes are reduced to a thick, tasty sauce.

Stir in the basil and parsley.

Serve and enjoy!

You could put this over pasta but I ate it with some seeded bread and it was lovely!

Hope you enjoy!

Vegan Red Lentil Pie

Made this earlier today. It only takes about an hour, is so easy and delicious!

Ingredients
Filling:
250g red lentils
Splash vegetable oil
1 large white onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 large carrots
2 medium courgettes
250ml vegan vegetable stock
Oregano
Thyme
Rosemary
Parsley
Basil

Pastry:
200g plan flour
100g cold vegan margarine
Small cup of water
Soy milk

Method

Put the lentils in a saucepan with water. Bring to boil and allow to simmer until soft.

While the lentils are cooking, peel and chop the onion.

Peel and finely grate the garlic.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and garlic and heat until soft.

Peel and dice the carrots. Add to onions and garlic.

Wash and dice courgettes. Add to the pan.

Allow this to cook until the ingredients are all soft. Then sieve the lentils and add these to the frying pan.

Add the vegetable stock.

Add the condiments to taste.

 

While the pie filling is cooking, sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Dice the margarine and add it to the flour.

Gently rub the margarine between your fingers and thumbs until the mixture has the texture of breadcrumbs.

Add water in small dribbles and mix in until your pastry dough is holding together.

Flour a work surface and roll out your dough until it is 5mm thick.

 

Transfer the pie filling to an oven-safe pie dish.

Carefully cover the top of the dish with the pastry, trimming the extra. You can use cutters or a knife to shape the pastry cutoffs to decorate your pie!

Brush soy milk over the pastry so that it browns in the oven.

Cook the pie at 180 Celsius until the pastry is golden-brown.

Serve and enjoy!

Holding a Mirror up to Contact Lenses

Contact lenses can be a great part of a person’s life, as long as they are used safely and responsibly in accordance with the advice of a qualified professional and checked regularly in contact lens appointments.

The Mirror published an article called How To Find Cheap Contact Lenses Online In The UK.

Now, while this isn’t as dangerous as when the Mail Online recommended using breast milk as a treatment for conjunctivitis and contact lens solution (which they later took down, though they still recommend it for ear infections!), it’s still a very bad idea.

The article doesn’t mention that it is vital to have a contact lens checkup yearly. Contact lenses are medical devices and so are subject to a lot of legislation for the safety of people who use them. Like other medical devices, if used wrongly, they can cause a lot of harm. One in six contact lens wearers in the USA have had to go to a health professional due to a contact lens related issue. These complications can be painful, long-lasting and lead to reduction in vision or blindness.

Without going to regular eye checkups, there is a risk that there may be eye problems that you aren’t even aware of. Also, without contact lens checks, contact lens wearers won’t be able to get the detailed advice and information that optometrists spend 4 years training to dispense in the patient’s best interest.

The article tells readers “you may prefer trying out other, cheaper brands instead now that you have the choice (just make sure you stick to your official prescription!).” This is not safe, even if sticking to the official strength written in prescription. The full prescription includes the specific brand and style of contact lens – they are not interchangeable. In your initial contact lens fit assessments, your optician will assess a certain lens on you to see if it fits. Just because one lens fits you, that doesn’t mean another kind will. By wearing lenses that don’t fit, you’re running the risk of several eye problems.

Contact lenses are a wonderful tool when used safely  – I wear them myself. But without regular checkups and advice from a qualified optometrist, they can also be dangerous.

Please go to regular checks with your optometrist, returning sooner if you have any problems or questions. That’s what they’re there for!

Don’t Feed the Yiannopoulos.

My colleague is a Milo Yiannopoulos fan. I found out via Facebook.

The next day I asked him if it was ironic, but apparently not. That night he linked me to a talk by Mr Yiannopoulos and, in an attempt to escape my very left-leaning echo chamber, I watched it.

Well. Forty-seven minutes of it.

I was sure that listening to someone like Mr Yiannopoulos would make me extremely angry. But it didn’t. He didn’t say anything at which I could get angry.

He didn’t argue against Left wing policies. What he did do (a lot) was insult left wing stuff, including left wing peoples’ appearances, leftist peoples’ weights and even Frosties cereal. But not the policies. Perhaps he couldn’t think of anything to say against them?

He didn’t defend any rightwing arguments either. Perhaps he couldn’t think of any good points about them?

It’s interesting that Milo chooses to verbally attack the physical appearance of people with whom he disagrees, rather than their politics. A person could have purple hair, blue skin and green fingernails but that wouldn’t affect their politics. Yet Mr Yiannopoulos seems to think that the way to counter someone’s views is to call them fat.

He also calls the POTUS “Daddy”, which is creepy on so many levels and makes you feel vaguely uncomfortable which is why, I suspect, he does it.

One of the few points he made was that safe spaces don’t work because “the way to overcome the issue is controlled exposure to it.”  The point that he misses here is that trigger warnings are a way to control the exposure. Without them, people can unwittingly expose themselves or be exposed to something which can cause panic attacks, flashbacks or other psychological problems. With a warning, the person can prepare themselves or excuse themselves, allowing them to avoid the issues when they aren’t up to dealing with it. This lets them control their exposure so that they can work through it healthily, rather than being forced into a relapse.

I think that some people, on the right and left, misunderstand what  “triggers”are.  A trigger is not just something that makes you angry, or scared. A trigger is something that causes such a strong psychological reaction that the person is completely incapacitated, suffering flashbacks and reliving their trauma or having a full-blown panic attack. Trigger warnings aren’t to stop inconvenience; trigger warnings are there to allow people to function on a day to day basis.

The more I watched Mr Yiannopoulos talk, the more I realised: I know him.

Well, not literally him. But his kind.

He was the kid who, for whatever reason, always needed more attention. And when they didn’t get it, they’d say and do ever more stupid, ever more theatrical things to get their fix. They don’t care if it’s attention for doing something bad; being noticed is the important thing. It doesn’t matter what for.

And that’s what Milo is doing. You can tell because he absolutely came alive when addressing people who are protesting. He insisted on going out to talk to the large crowd of people protesting his presence on campus, despite the warnings of his security team. He doesn’t do what he does to further the cause of the right, or to smash the left. He does what he does for money and attention.

I have met several people with that character trait, and I like to think I cracked how to deal with them. It’s very simple:

Ignore. Them.

This will make them worse in the short term. They will be angry at the lack of attention that they are getting, and shout and scream louder in the hopes of luring you and the attention they crave back to them.

However, if you stay strong and ignore them, they will eventually twig that you won’t pay them any more attention, and will leave you alone to sit in a corner and grumble at your treatment of them.

He has called himself a troll, and that’s an apt description. And what is the first rule about trolls? Stop feeding them. Protests and histrionics are meat and drink to the man. He has pushed back the publication date of his book so that he can include a section about people protesting his talks. So, for God’s sake, stop feeding him and he will starve.

I’m not saying let him get away with things, but don’t engage. Write a blog, do a vlog, talk to people about why his beliefs and methods are wrong. But don’t let him trick you into protesting him because that’s what he wants and besides, it gives him free advertising.

I can see why some people agree with what Mr Yiannopoulos say, especially people who are one or all of the following: straight, white or male. You have spent your life mostly just trying to get by, being as good a person as you can. And now all these horrible social justice warriors are shouting at you from all sides, telling you that you’re the reason for every problem, that you caused every bad thing in the world. It’s not fair!

And then someone brave, like Milo Yiannopoulos or Donald Trump, stands up and sticks up for you. Points out that these triggered special snowflakes are being ridiculous and they should shut up and stop whining. Phew. See? He understands.

Except he doesn’t. The trouble with living in a society which is built for people like you is it’s hard to see how this can make things difficult for others.

Try to remember a moment of injustice in your life. Perhaps your sibling blamed you for something. Maybe your teacher punished you unfairly. And other people in power, your parents or head teacher or whomever, took their side over yours. Remember how that felt?

Now. Hold that feeling. That is how marginalised people of all kinds feel most of the time.

Imagine how much better it would have felt if someone in power, that parent or that teacher, had taken the time to sit and listen to your side of the story instead of taking the side of the other person in power. Better?

That’s why people complain about injustice. Because they want someone, someone in more of a powerful position, to listen. They aren’t attacking you as a person; they just want to be heard.

The best thing that humanity can do for itself is to listen to each others’ experiences, learn from them, and make themselves better. Try it; listen to the story of someone different to you. You’ll be surprised at what you learn.

Lastly, Mr Yiannopoulos spent a lot of time laughing during his speech. But he didn’t say anything funny. I can forgive people a lot of things, but not making me laugh isn’t one of them.

Vegan red lentil and carrot soup

Vegan food, like all food, is delicious when done right! I made a lovely soup yesterday and I highly recommend it!

Ingredients
200g red split lentils
4 large carrots
2 white onions
250ml vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves
Vegetable oil
Pinch Parsley
Pinch Basil
Pinch Oregano
Pinch Ginger
Pinch Pepper

Method
Boil the lentils until softened.

While the lentils are boiling, chop the onions. Peel and chop the carrots finely. Grate the garlic gloves.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onions, garlic and carrots. Fry until softened. Add the vegetable stock, season with parsley, basil, oregano, ginger and pepper to taste.

When lentils are softened, drain them. Add the rest of the ingredients from the frying pan and stir in.

Allow to cool.

Once cool, blend until smooth.

Heat up and enjoy!

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Terry Pratchett

That title’s a bit dramatic. I would be alive. but I definitely wouldn’t be the same person I am today.

I was going to start this by saying that I started reading Pterry’s books at a pivotal time in my life. But I think that Pterry would point out that all points in every life are pivotal, if only at least to the individual to whom that life belonged.

So. This particular pivotal moment in my particular life was when I was eleven. I grew up on a diet of Disney and the stereotyping usual to British society (my family buys the Daily Fail. I’m so sorry.)

I remember, when I was young, my favourite colour was red. But, from everywhere, I was told that pink was for girls. The females that were held up to me as role models were good girls, they were pretty, and delicate, and graceful, and they liked pink. Oh, how I wanted to be like those role models.

So I started to claim that my favourite colour was pink. Because that’s what girls were supposed to like, right? Right. This went on for long enough that my dad agreed to repaint my room pink, even though pink isn’t a colour I truly like.

Another time, I was arguing with my sister. I don’t remember what about. But I remember telling her: “One day when I grow up I’ll marry a prince, and then you’ll be sorry!”

I know. Bear with me.

Somehow, growing up, I couldn’t think of anything better than marrying a prince. That was the ultimate goal for young me. Not that there’s anything wrong with having marriage as a life goal, of course. But it shouldn’t be one’s only life goal. Besides, there aren’t enough princes to go around.

It came as a disappointment to me (I promise I’ll start talking about Pterry soon) to realise, as I grew, that I wasn’t a Disney Princess. I wasn’t graceful, or delicate, or pretty. I couldn’t sing or convince woodland animals to do household chores. I worried about this a fair amount. If I wasn’t how a girl should be, what could I do when I was older? Would anyone accept me? Was there something wrong with me?

It was then that CBBC aired their adaptation of Johnny and the Bomb. I saw it advertised and was desperate to watch it, but, being the sort of child that I was (i.e. an insufferable little knowitall), I had to read the book first.

That December, my Christmas list read: Anything by Terry Pratchett.

I was given The Wee Free Men and that is how I met Tiffany Aching. She was the girl who, when told “It had eyes the size of dinner plates,” went and measured a dinner plate to find out how big exactly that meant. Fact checking; it’s important!

Tiffany was the girl who was plain, unremarkable, unadmired, and in the background. But she is still a complicated, valid heroine.

Not only is Tiffany physically dissimilar to the heroines that I’d been exposed to before, but her character was different too. Tiffany is resentful. She is selfish. She is proud. Tiffany gets angry. She never once sings with animated creatures. But she is still shown in a positive light, an approving light. She literally hits the embodiment of the idea of putting on a facade to hide one’s true self and impress others (otherwise known as The Queen of the Fairies) in the face with a frying pan.

I had never witnessed angry heroines before. The ladies I had seen were allowed to be despairing in the face of adversity, or hopeful, or even faint. But they didn’t get angry. Tiffany gave adolescent me licence to feel my natural emotions without shame or fear.

Tiffany led me to other wonderful female characters in Pterry’s books, Discworld and otherwise. Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Adora Belle Dearheart, Sacharissa Cripslock, Corporal Littlebottom, Susan Sto Helit, Agnes Nitt, Glinda Sugarbean, Polly, Captain Angua, Sergeant Jackrum, Daphne, Sybil Ramkin to name a few.

These women are a symphony of positive female characters. They all have different personality types, all have different methodologies, all have different body types.  They all do the job that needs doing, whether it’s nice or not and whether or not they look good while doing it. It proves that you can be amazing no matter your personality or shape. Even if that shape is occasionally a wolf.

Even better, they all support each other. So much media pits women against each other, but not in Pterry’s universes. Angua and Cheery, Esme and Gytha, Polly and Maladicta, Glinda and Juliet… they all hold each other up instead of clawing each other downwards. It’s so refreshing and uplifting and wrapped up in the intricately-plotted, ingeniously-written bow that is Pratchett prose.

I know that Pterry wasn’t predominantly a feminist author. He said himself that people were just people; weirdly, that includes females as well. He didn’t set out to write feminist prose (though arguably that is what he did), but he did set out to write believable female characters. In doing so, he helped me accept and understand who I was, and that who I was was okay.

This is the gift that Pterry gives. He would look at something so commonplace that no one ever noticed it, turn it around to a new angle, and present it to you in such a way that you said “Oh, shit.” And then made enough puns and references that you laughed until you cried.

Terry also looked at horrors and got angry. So angry. But then he used that anger to make something beautiful, a masterpiece like Monstrous Regiment or Nightwatch so that other people could get angry too, and maybe – just maybe – change the way they think and act, and make the world a little bit better.

The small change enacted on people who read Pterry’s work cause ripples which spread through the world, improving it one open mind at a time. And, as the man himself told us:  “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…”

So, if you haven’t read them, I implore you to do yourself the favour of reading his books, for all of the above reasons. Also, they’re damn good books in their own right.

Thanks.