I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

So it’s probably time for an update on the big plan to change my life.

day 29 - international kiki day

I’ve heard back from Austria and, all being well, I should be fine for staying on there after my TTC (Teacher Training Course). I’ve sent the application anyway, so now it’s just a question of seeing how both sides feel during the TTC. I want to stay for 8 weeks, doing 8 hours of karma yoga (work) a day. That shouldn’t change, I don’t anticipate any problems, but you never know. I’ll be booking my flight back for the 25th of November anyway.

After that I’m going to start making my way round the world. I think maybe 3 weeks in California (San Francisco), with one of those weeks on silent meditative retreat at a cabin in the woods.

Then it’s off to Oz on about the 19th/20th December to spend Christmas at my boyo’s place near Perth. Stick around there until the new year, then head east. See some friends, chill out a bit, find some retreat to go to. 2013 is where the plan gets ultra vague.

the warlock of firetop mountain

I’m not getting too stressed about organising the after Austria part of the plan. That’s just stuff I can book, so there’s nothing needs doing on that apart from laying down the cash. I might not even book it until I come back from Austria. In fact I won’t unless there’s significant savings to be had. That’s something I need to check out this week.

Been delayed in my planning because of work. On the last of my night shifts this week and, man, is it tiring! I mean they were hard enough before, but now I know I’m leaving I can barely keep my eyes open. I just want them over with.

Got just two more to do, then 2 weeks of mid shifts (7 shifts, 11am-11pm), and that’s me done. I finish on the 23rd of August, which gives me 1 week to pack, move, dispose of my car oop norf, before jetting off to the Alps for 3 months. Crazy huh? Been planning this Brand New Life for ages and now it’s finally happening!

I don’t know what the future will bring (who does) but I look forward to finding out. Just 27 days to go and the adventure begins! Wish me luck. 😀

Vegan MoFo : Unthanksgiving Tofurkey Hunt

Much has been written in the blogosphere this past week about the elusive Tofurky, a mythical bird with meatless body and ricey giblets oft seen this time of year, so I thought it was about time I hunted one down and gave it a try.

Now I ain’t American (hence the ‘Un’ in Unthanksgiving) so I couldn’t be sure that any tofurkeys would have migrated their way over this way. But I do live in London, home to many a rich and fertile hunting ground, so if they had chances are I would find them.

I briefly toyed with the idea of staking out the Whole Foods Plains in the hope of a bite, but if I’d learnt anything from the Great Daiya Cheese Expediton of ’09, it was that the Whole Foods Plains were not the font of all things vegan. Instead a quick internet search brought up the possibility of a sighting at the fabled land of Planet Organic.

the tofurkey hunting ground

Armed with my Tofurkey Hunter Playlist (a nice bit of bluegrass to keep me going) I quickly boarded the 27 ‘express’ and soon found myself at the edge of a veritable cornucopia. Upon entry a cacophony of sights and smells wafted over me – mostly lentil soup and middle-class rah’s wielding over-priced veg – but I was not to be distracted. My mind was set firmly on the tofurkey! Making my way to the frozen wastelands at the back I came across my first piece of bird sign.

bird sign

I could tell right away that a tofurkey had passed this way recently; quite possibly a mother with it’s giblets. I carried on and sure enough there it was, nesting on it’s wire perch, the elusive tofurkey bird!

a nesting tofurkey

Larger than I had expected, with a heftier hunting tax upon it too (£26:99!), and being the last one remaining in the wild, I paused for a moment to consider the ramifications. But, faint heart ne’er won fair lady, so I snatched up the wily bird and made my escape.

Preparation of your tofurkey is simple enough. 24 hours in a refrigerator is enough time for the heavily frozen meat to ‘cure’ sufficiently for cooking. Then it is a simple matter of preparing it with vegetables and roasting it in an oven for 1 hour 25 minutes to bring out all the subtle flavours.

ready for carving

I tried putting the veggies in with the tofurkey as recommended by the game wardens, but if I go for it again I’ll probably do them separately so that they roast properly. I’d also be very tempted to do without the dumplings, as they didn’t really add anything to the whole experience.

my first tofurkey

All in all not a bad bit of grub. A little over priced maybe, but still very tasty and a good substitute for it’s elder brother the turkey bird if you’re craving in that direction.

That being said I think I’ll stick with the old nut roast this Christmas. Its a lot easier to find, a lot easier to prepare, and you can spend all the time you save watching movies and chilling out at home, rather than sitting on a smelly bus traveling at 5 miles an hour through Saturday morning traffic. 😉

Time to think

Took a mini hiatus from doing anything to think about what to do next. Here’s what I came up with.

1. Cook more. Gonna stop buying pre-prepared sauces and do more recipes, especially other people’s. Should expand my horizons a bit as well as increase my skill set.

2. Write more. This is actually a no-brainer as it’s what I’m doing already. Just need to make sure I keep making time to do it.

3. Yoga more. Loving the early morning sun salutations. Really looking forward to going to class tomorrow.

And that’s it really. No need to over complicate things. If I can do all of that I’ll feel like I’m getting somewhere.

And now for a couple of links:

Terry Wogan hosts Never Mind The Buzzcocks
I’m not one to push TV programmes, but I just watched this and it’s f-ing hilarious. Only available to bods in the UK I’m afraid, and then only until Sunday night (ah the vagaries of the BBC iPlayer).

Jill Bolte-Taylor’s Stroke of Insight
After re-watching this talk I’ve had to re-write this paragraph. This is the most amazing tale of one woman’s insight and understanding of the day she had a stroke, the profound effect it had on her life, and the monumental understanding of the Universe which she took away from it. Watch it! You will laugh, you will cry, and you will be touched by her story. I guarantee it!

Vegan MoFo : Tofu Cheesecake pt 2

Just a quickie for Vegan MoFo (the Vegan Month of Food). This is a slice of a double quantity cheesecake I made from the recipe I did the other week.

cheesecake pt 2

It was, quite simply, doubly delicious, and all for the same amount of effort! I had to cook it for 40-45 mins rather than the original 30, but as for everything else just do twice the amounts and you’ll end up with what you see above. Good stuff.

Chocolate Almond Crunchies

Here’s a nice simple sweet snack to make that’s well tasty. And I dare you to not lick out the bowl when you’re done.

tea and crunchy

150g dark cooking chocolate (I used Dr Oetkers Continental Plain Chocolate)
50-75g of cornflakes
1/3 of a cup of almond flakes
1/2 tsp almond essence

( makes 8 )

melting chocolate

Break up the chocolate and put it in a medium glass or ceramic bowl with almond essence. Put a medium pan on a high heat with about half an inch of water (so that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and bring to the boil.

Remove from heat and stir chocolate until melted. Return to heat as needed to achieve this.

adding cornflakes

Add the cornflakes and stir in until completely covered by chocolate. How much you put in is up to you, but if they’re not covered properly the crunchies won’t hold together.

Stir in the almond flakes until mixed. Don’t worry too much about covering them with chocolate too.

put in bun cases

Dish out into bun cases and then let cool completely. You can put them in the fridge if needed to cool them faster, it won’t make any difference to the flavour.

Enjoy with a nice cuppa char. 🙂

30 Days of Kiki : day 24

day 24- a letter to your parents

Dear Mum

Thanks for teaching me how to cook. I forgot it for a while, the baking bit anyway, but now I’ve gone vegan it’s coming in very handy indeed. I feel lucky I learnt at such a young age, so it comes kinda naturally, and I’m still a little surprised by people who don’t know how. It’s just something I thought people did.

Dear Dad

Thanks for teaching me to mind my surroundings and know where I was going, especially when going somewhere new. It came in pretty handy when I was in Peru. More than once I used my skill to find my hotel again. I mean I still get lost, sometimes that’s part of the fun, but at least I know how lost I am and can find my way home again.

Cheers both of you. See you at Christmas,

Keith

30 Days of Kiki : day 18

day 18- plans/dreams/goals you have

Just two right now, to write, and to cook.

Now this moustache thing is coming to a close (a grand total of £427:77 so far!) I want to spend all my spare time working on the new writing project I’ve just started, before I lose the impetus and move on to something else.

Then once I’ve finished with this 30 Days of… project I’m going to spend a month doing lots of new recipes and blogging them. I haven’t done enough cooking recently and it’s starting to bug me. I feel like I’m falling behind.

Other than that my dreams are still the same, to live free and prosper. Nuff said really.

30 Days of Kiki : day 8

day 8- short term goals for this month and why

My short term goals this month are similar to what they are every month – get off your arse, go do something, stop being such a jackass 😉 – but more specifically…

1. To do this 30 Days thing every day (and on the day too, not the day after). I know that’s kind of self-evident, but it’s also true.

2. To make some headway in my new writing project. This I did yesterday by knocking out the first chapter (they’re short chapters, very punchy), now I have to keep the ball rolling. I don’t think I’ve time to finish it by the end of the month, but if I can get it done by the end of the year I’ll be a happy bunny.

3. I would like to do some more vegan recipes, as I haven’t done a new one in ages, but I’m not too worried about that. I’ve kind of decided that this blog will become a purely food blog (or maybe I’ll start another one?) some time soon. I want to concentrate on getting a cook book together and see where that might take me.

Y’know what, I can think of two or three more, but I think I’ll stop there. That’s enough to be going on with for now.

Blacks and Rasps Pie (filling)

This is a lovely, tangy fruit pie I made with blackberries I foraged from down by the canal. You can’t say no to free food, especially when it’s so damn sweet, now can you?

blackberry and raspberry pie

250g blackberries
250g raspberries
70g unrefined cane sugar
30g plain flour
1/4 tsp almond essence
1 tbsp lemon juice

1 pack of pastry from Sainsburys (weight to follow)

Pre-heat oven to 220C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of about 3-4mm. Using your rolling pin lay the pastry over a 9″ (23cm) baking tin and press into edges gently, being sure not to break it. Cut away the excess round the edge with a knife.

Re-work and roll out remaining pastry into a sheet and cut into strips to make lattice.

In a large bowl mix all the filling ingredients completely until well combined. Pour into pie tin and spread out evenly. Place ‘weft’ part of lattice work across pie. Lay on the ‘warp’ part line by line, working it over and under the ‘weft threads’ (not as in picture, as I messed it up, but you get the idea). Allow pastry to rest for 15 minutes.

Put pie in oven for 25 minutes. Once pastry has browned and filling is bubbling a little remove from oven and allow to cool.

I’ve said this one is just the filling because I bought the pastry. Haven’t quite got my head around doing the pastry by hand yet. Tried it once and it was a bit of a pain. But now I’ve got a blender there’s nothing to stop me!

I did mess up the lattice work as you can see, but it still tastes nice so who cares, right? I also forgot about the pie and left it in a bit longer than necessary, hence the very ‘golden’ look of some bits of it. 25 minutes should do the trick, give or take. It’s up to you how you like it. And don’t be surprised if the filling bubbles over a little too. I removed half a tablespoon of lemon juice from the recipe to cut down on the amount of liquid, but that might not rectify the problem. Not that it’s much of a problem. Pies bubble over sometimes. Such is the way of things. 🙂