Momofuku Compost Cookies

The name certainly sparked a lot of interesting (and sometimes rude) comments! But truly, Momofuku is a cult restaurant chain, especially its Milk Bar.

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This is my version of its Compost Cookies (because its ingredients are everything you have in your kitchen), using stuff that I can easily get. You have to make the Graham cracker mix first, then just put everything in a blender on slow. Be pleasantly surprised how crisps and chocolate chips go oh so well together!!!

Graham Cracker Mix: (I used Jacob’s Cream Crackers but I think any salty crackers would work)

50 grams cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon milk powder (I used coffee creamer, as I wasn’t going to buy something I don’t generally use)
1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Cookie Dough

225 grams unbleached bread flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
225 grams butter
300 grams brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey (original recipe uses glucose syrup)
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
200 grams mini chocolate chips (I used Hersheys – best if you can mix different flavours of chocolate chips)
40 grams rolled oats (not instant oats! I also added some rolled barley)
2½ teaspoons ground coffee (not instant coffee! You want the granules in the cookies)
50 grams crisps (I actually used a bag of Walkers) – bashed up slightly.
50 grams mini pretzels – bashed up slightly.

  • I also threw in a handful of nuts and seeds.

Method:

Make the cracker mixture.

Separately cream the butter with sugar in the blender.

Sieve the flour in with the baking powder and baking soda.

Add everything together in a mixing bowl. Chill for at least an hour in the fridge (OK for 1 week).

Bake in a preheated oven (375 degrees) for about 20 minutes until cooked, but still soft and chewy on the inside.

Store in an airtight container and it should last a few days…..if you haven’t eaten them up, that is 🙂 They are so more-ish! (Probably because I love crisps and chocolates!)

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Photo on 4-24-18 at 18.51

 

Plastics & the universe

A few years ago, I went on a back-to-nature holiday with my dear friend Mario. We went to Bali. Bali is a paradise for those who are environmentally conscious; at least, the part of Bali where we were.  We stayed in a little villa amongst the paddy fields and ate in a raw green restaurant called Alchemy.

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I remember with fondness the coconut shell bowls, the bamboo straws and the reusable food packaging (though they were over-priced).

In a fit of environmental fervour, I started googling these products with the idea of buying them. But wait a minute….they have to be shipped – nay, flown – to me across the ocean, burning carbon as well as a hole in my pocket (postage is not cheap).

Obviously, importing reusable stuff from across the miles is not a good solution. It might reduce my plastics usage, but it creates a burden elsewhere.

For those who are wading into the plastics war, I would recommend reading the Bellagio Principles:

https://www.iisd.org/pdf/bellagio.pdf

Advocacy alone is not enough to rid the world of plastics. It will reduce the usage, definitely….in the educated and privileged classes who have the luxury of making a choice.  This is a reusable mug.

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I mentioned this in a previous post about the people in my neighbourhood (in Asia) who are one of the biggest users of plastic: these people exist on breadline, and they have very little choice. I asked the lady who sells 300 drinks a day in plastic cups (and straws) if she knew about the damage she is doing the environment on a daily basis and her reply was, “OK. Plastics very bad. What you want me do?” She feeds her family on the back of this….and she has a large family, including extended family members. She cannot afford to make changes that will hit her precarious living by increasing her costs.

Any long-term changes must therefore address these three axioms of the triangle of humanity:  “People, Planet, Prosperity”.

A couple of years ago, I had an interesting conversation about the environment with an economist who had a hydroponics project going in my daughter’s school. He said that the only way to stop massive deforestation is to provide the people who live in the forest with alternative means of income (e.g. eco-tourism) so that they do not collude with the illegal loggers….you can preach all you like to them about the environmental impact of deforestation, but unless you provide them with a means  of putting food into their children’s mouths, they are going to cut down trees for money.

My question; is how do we bring people together to work together to effect positive change that goes beyond advocacy?

My daughter suggests buying 100 reusable plastics drinks cups and donating it to the lady who sells 300 drinks a day and ask her to give those to her regular customers, offering them a 0.05THB discount on a 20THB drink (because that’s how cheap a disposable plastic cup is).

Here’s a review of reusable plastic cups. Eeks, mine has only a shelf-life of 30 uses!

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jul/04/five-of-the-best-reusable-coffee-cups

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My children’s father’s most cherished books is Viktor Papanek’s Design For The Real World: If only designers could spend 10% of their time working on solutions for real problems in the world.

 

Plastics – what’s the solution for the real world?

One of the things I tell my children is don’t just lecture people about your values. THINK!

For instance, we, the privileged ones, are telling all and sundry not to use plastics. But what choices do those existing on breadline have? Advocacy alone is not going to rid the world of plastics. It just generates more hot air. Thus, we need environmental stewardship to go with eco activism and I don’t see enough of that.

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Twenty six years ago, way back in 1992, I wrote a book on the Environmental Impact of Paper Recycling.

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Back then, the environment wasn’t a trendy issue, unlike today. Today, each time I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed, I am bombarded with messages about saving the planet.

Twenty six years ago, when my book came out, I was ridiculed. I was called a New Age hippy, a rebel without a cause, a Sloane Ranger, a fool. Back then, recycling was all the rage. I tricked my way into a paper mill to show that recycling can actually do more harm to the planet, especially when the heavy metals used in some inks get leached into rivers.

I don’t think my fairly high profile shouting made that much of a difference back then.

Today, fortunately, much of paper wastage is eliminated with the advent of technology. We seldom print out stuff. We read online. This migration is both good and bad for humanity, but on the whole, it is very good for the environment.

But what about plastics? I hear the battle cry but what’s the solution for the real world?

Here’s the view from ground floor level:

I live in a humble part of town. The people here are normal, working class Thais. They work as tuk-tuk drivers, massage girls, waiters. You can get a drink in my part of town for THB20 (less than 40p) and lunch for THB70. These drinks and food are packaged in plastic cups, plastic straws, polystyrene food boxes.

Straws and a lot of plastic cups are most commonly made from type 5 plastic, or polypropylene. Although type 5 plastic can be recycled, it isn’t accepted by most curbside recycling programmes. When plastic straws aren’t recycled, they end up in landfills, or even worse, polluting our oceans. And they don’t biodegrade. Not for thousands of years. And in the meantime, they choke wildlife, enter into our food chain and kill us silently.

This is my local drinks stall.

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In a day, during high season, she sells 300 drinks on average. That means 300 plastic cups and 300 plastic straws. Just on my road alone, there are 45 of these stalls (I counted).  Some of these stalls are a lot busier than this one. We are looking at 13,500 plastic cups and plastic straws A DAY from just one road in Thailand during high season. That’s heck lot of plastic ending up in landfills!

But here’s the fact: much of the local economy in Asia is run on this cheap, widely available plastic and polystyrene packaging. Every evening, the municipal bins are over-spilling with food and drinks packaging. Where I live, that is the biggest contributor of plastics pollution.

But on the flip side of the coin, the lady who owns the stall and her husband support their whole family (including extended family members) selling drinks at THB20 per pop. They are making an honest living and creating a better future for their next generation, though yes, at the expense of our planet.

What’s YOUR solution for her livelihood, if you are telling her not to use plastics?

It is a privilege to be able to make choices based on our values. I am privileged that I can afford to buy a Starbucks reusable flask, several cloth shopping bags and even tiffin carriers to take my takeaway meals home in. I made this cup for my friend to take green smoothies home in.

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But what about the small-time traders who are the biggest users of plastics, serving a segment of the community that exists on the breadline, for whom choice is not their privilege? What would you propose for them to use instead, if you are telling them don’t use plastic?

Here are my suggestions for food packaging (for fish and chips from the UK, and for nasi lemak from Malaysia) but I have none for drinks. What do YOU think?

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Art classes in Portsmouth

My lovely friend Tina Sanchez from my hometown is offering art classes. There’s not many I would trust my children with, but I did Tina, so she comes highly recommended 🙂

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OFF the Page Art Class is a My Friendly Planet initiative.

2 hour classes are based in Portsmouth in various locations.

The fee, minimum 2 hours:
18 over £20 hour per artist student per hour.
15-17 25% off £15 per artist student per hour.
Usually includes a 3rd free hour.

For more information send a message or send email to: myfriendlyplanetw2art@gmail.com

Kind regards,

Tina
Tina Sanchez MA Fine Art, BA(Hons) Education & PCET, CERT ED & PCET
My Friendly Planet
07960509132

TKG – Japanese fast food power breakfast

The old adage, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” is definitely true. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it sets you up for the rest of your day. I love preparing breakfast for my loved ones because I see it as another way of saying ‘I love you’ first thing in the morning (amongst others 🙂 ) but when I wake up in an empty house this is what I normally have for breakfast. Overnight oats and a big pitcher of green smoothie:

On some days, I put in a little more effort:

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And on decadent days, I do this for myself:

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Recently, my non-foodie partner (who dislikes the stuff I eat) told me about this fast-food Japanese power breakfast called TKG (tamago kake gohan).  Hmm. I decided to give it a try.  It’s simple enough:

  1. Cook rice with a strip of kombu seaweed.
  2. Add one egg to a portion of hot rice.
  3. Douse with soy sauce.

Really?

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I experimented a bit. On my first try, it turned out horrible because the egg white was still slimy. The second attempt (without the egg white) was almost right, but I used too much rice so that it was literally just white rice.

Still not convinced.

I added other bits in: lots of freshly ground pepper, spring onions, fried garlic, sweetcorn kernels and sliced red chilli.

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Verdict: not to my taste, but you might like it. It’s certainly nutritious and filling.  Here’s TKG on wikipedia. Check it out, who knows, you might love it! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamago_kake_gohan

You’ll never know if you don’t knock on the door…..

About a year ago, I came across a really sweet little yoga studio perched on the cliff during my daily runs.

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The door was locked on the occasions I ran past (I usually go for long afternoon runs), but one day, I decided to ring the door bell. And here’s the deal: strange things happen in life when you allow them to. The proprietor, Marion, and I became friends.

I would say we are very different character-wise: she’s a gorgeous, elegant and neat Frenchwoman whilst I am, well, English. She mops the floor perfectly attired (dress and apron), whilst I am uh, a lot more casual. But we sailed through some bumps in the course of our friendship and became firm friends – I always say, you know who your real friends are when things don’t go right.  Because you can tell a lot about a person from how they fix things when things go wrong, the words they use and their true character generally.  Anyway, it works for Marion and I.

And although I have no intention of running a yoga business ever again, I am so happy that this summer, I will be teaching at Marion’s. Who knows. It’s simply the loveliest place I have ever known, and I have found lots of peace and spirituality here.

For more information, please drop us a line at wellness@elanda-villa.com. You can either train to be a yoga teacher or chill out with us for one week in the South of France in July 2018. It is more affordable than you think! 

Better bread

I must admit, I haven’t quite cracked bread-baking yet, though I love home baked bread, raised by hand, not bread machine, and fresh from the oven.

I went on a baking course, which taught me the basics. Simple enough, but sometimes, it is still hit and miss. So I have been experimenting.

And this is my latest:

Bowl 1: 1/2 cup warm milk, 1 tsp sugar and 3 tsp dried yeast. Mix in and leave until frothy.

Bowl 2: 500g all-purpose flour, 11/2 tsp salt.

Bowl 3: 3/4 cup plain yoghurt and 1 egg.

Mix all three together once the yeast mixture is frothy and knead until the dough feels bouncy (about 5-10minutes). Put in the mixing bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

You can use this basic dough to make literally any sort of bread. I used this to make cinnamon rolls, and for once, my cinnamon rolls are soft instead of rock hard.

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When a girl loves a river….

When you teach a child to really love Nature, they will love it for life. It becomes them.

This is my love story.

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It’s beautiful how Life is constantly flowing and changing, showing you Her different faces at different stages of your life. And nowhere can you know Life as intimately as you do through Her many rivers.

In my youth, as a (south) Hampshire girl, the rivers I knew and loved were the Test, Itchen and Hamble. My parents are New Forest folks, and we often went for long rambles here, mushroom-hunting in autumn and long drives in winter. In summer, we picnicked in the woods. My parents, who are both biologists, know the Latin name of every single plant that grows here, as well as the folklores. I remember the book on river insects in my father’s study, The Brook and Its Banks by Reverend J Woods, written sometime in the 1800s, which accompanied us on our long walks, which made me fall in love with insects as I glimpsed their inner world amongst the mushrooms, rotting tree trunks and riverbanks. It felt as if those halcyon days would never end. Later, I would bring my children here to impart to them the magic I found here.

Last summer, we went for a walk along the Hamble in Fareham with my brother and it was as if we never went away, as if we never grew up, though we could now legally order a pint of beer at the Jolly Sailor, the sweet old-fashioned pub on the Hamble. Imagine my surprise when my 28-year-old son mentioned that on his second date with his girlfriend, he kayaked with her up the Hamble to the Jolly Sailor. Though like his siblings, the river of his childhood is the Serpentine in London, where they grew up. They used to cycle along its banks and sailed their paper boats in its genteel waters, and in my children’s time, London became magical.

I thought I knew London well. I thought I knew all her rivers. But towards the end of 2015, when I fell ill, I fell in love with the Thames for the first time. Before that, my acquaintance with this great river had been cursory. Here’s a photograph of me enjoying a glass of wine in October 2015, outside the Southbank Centre, smug and chubby-cheeked.

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Two months later, I was so ill that I could barely walk. Slowly, patiently, my partner taught me to walk and run again, along the banks of the Thames on cold winter nights. He made me walk when I had wanted to curl up in a ball and die. But walked we did, and later, we ran as we had always done, side by side, his masculine stride matching my “girly” one. I felt as if I knew every cobblestone from Battersea Bridge to Fulham. The expensive cars zooming past in the beginning of our walks to the less-known parts as we walked further west. Sometimes, we stopped by the deserted riverbank and skimmed flat pebbles in the moonlight. Once, I paused and picked up a whirligig beetle that was swimming round and round, and showed it to him. Many fascinating river insects go un-noticed, living in the depths of the river, hiding under rocks, crawling along the foreshore or drifting on the surface of the water but without them, the fish population would be without food. He had laughed at me, at my weirdness, and I knew then that I was getting better.

I came back in summer that year with him, to this ugly, lesser-known part of the Thames. I was still thin and gaunt, but I had started living, and this time, he the city boy, pointed out the dragonflies and the damselflies, the pondskaters and the boatmen to me with a wry smile on his face.

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Magic is here, on the River Thames. Come count the dragonflies with me x

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Kidney beans and ginger cake

I never throw food away because whatever leftovers I have left is a good opportunity to recycle and try new things. I had quite a lot of kidney beans left over from making lobiani, so I decided to try something new and totally different with the kidney beans.

And here it is, a very unusual, moist chocolate and coffee cake (no butter too!):

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon candied ginger, chopped but not too fine

500g cooked red kidney beans

1 tsp instant coffee

1 tbsps pure vanilla extract

6 tbsps cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

6 tbsps coconut oil

3/4 cup raw brown sugar

5 eggs

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place all the ingredients minus the baking soda, baking powder, and eggs in your blender. Blend until the mixture is too thick to blend. Add in the eggs, baking powder, and baking soda, then mix until a smooth and evenly mixed cake batter is achieved. Grease a loaf tin and pour in your batter. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the inside is firm.

Different, chocolatey but you can still taste the beans!!!!!!

 

Pint of milk – a lesson in love

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We live at the top of a steep hill, and when the sun is high in the sky, you’d be drenched in sweat by the time you climb to the top.

Yesterday, my daughter opened the fridge and there was no milk. She wanted to make a smoothie.

Immediately, her father said, “I’ll walk down the hill to get some.”

“She can do it herself,” the Asian tiger mum in me chipped in automatically. “She is a big strong girl.”

He waved me off. “No, I will,” in a tone that brooked no argument.

When he came back with the two bottles of milk, he was sweating profusely and slightly out of breath.

“You should’ve let her walk down for the milk,” I grumbled. “Look at you.”

He beamed at me. “No, no, I needed the walk. Good cardio exercise and I sweated out the alcohol from last night as well.”

I know he was just saying this, for who on earth would go walking up steep hills at the height of the midday in the tropics?

Except if it is for love of the purest kind. One without conditions or resentment.

And so, this reminds me of something beautiful in my favourite book that I read on Valentine’s day,

 

Let all that you do be done in love.

Especially in parenting ❤