Archives for the month of: March, 2015

Here I am in the ripeness of middle age, learning for the first time about Ruth Stout, practitioner of the “no-work garden,” and author of books with titles like How to have a Green Thumb without an Aching BackGardening Without Work, and Don’t Forget to Smile: How to Stay Sane and Fit Over Ninety.  Since watching this video a few days ago, I’ve been completely inspired to do my own thing and be less vulnerable to other people’s opinions, and to let go of instructioning others (i.e. my kids) quite so much. Ruth Stout is hereby entering my Pantheon of Fabulous Role-Models. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week I taught a fermenting workshop and did some demonstrating and q-and-a, as part of the really brilliant Liverpool Food for Real Film Festival put on by Squash Nutrition and Liverpool Food People, “a network of food growers, composters, buyers, cooks and eaters passionate about a positive healthy food culture for lovely Liverpool.”  If you are working in your way towards food justice and urban growing, health and food sustainability and local responses to hunger– the whole shebang– it’s really worth looking up these groups and exploring what and how they do things.  They are energetic, creative people working hard in unique, inspired ways.  I fell in love with them, and with Liverpool. From my point of view, I was really glad as well to be sharing my knowledge with a truly multi-aged and multiethnic group of people, much more diverse than usual. This made for an especially interesting conversation about how people were going to go home and integrate these new food preparation techniques into their home cuisines.

I also had the opportunity to see a stunning film, Read the rest of this entry »

Watch this video and see how seeds are so much a part of the commons,  in societies around the world.  Seed sharing not selling– a foundation of Food Sovereignty and therefore Food Security, as well as the continuance of culture and community…  It can all be a bit abstract, like the language I’ve just used, until you see women like these talking about the seeds that sustain their lives.

Yesterday I came across these videos and wanted to share them on Kitchen Counter Culture.

Insight Share is a really interesting organisation that brings training and video equipment to remote communities across the globe.  The idea is that people who lack economic and technical access are shared the means to tell their own stories and communicate with each other through video and internet. This movement is called “Participatory Video.” Read the rest of this entry »


Last week by an element of chance I found myself at the bedside of my mother-in-law Grace on the night of her death. Is it odd to say that it was an incredible privilege to share that moment, to witness the transition between living and dying and all the physical and emotional resistance and surrender. There’s the call to rise oneself to the extreme importance of the moment in relationship, and to ponder the magical mystery tour that is life.

As intense and emotional as it was that night, there was also lots of down-time, and I passed some of it looking through a photograph album that happened to be in her nursing home room.


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“Create Your Own Local Food Movement,” or, thought-provoking top tips from the inspiring and effective Fife Diet in Scotland.   I ❤ the worm at 2:52.

  • Know your place, map your region, think potential, understand heritage
  • Create community not just network, eat together
  • Re-skilling in growing and cooking
  • “With not for” — a philosophy of working.
  • Think Big.  Be ambitious.
  • Make space for children
  • Who are you, consumers or producers?
  • Think Global, eat local, but avoid the localism trap
  •  Enjoy!

(and be aware if you are in places with ethnic/ racial/ cultural/ economic diversity, a strong movement will reflect that, and seek to actively encourage and respond to diverse needs and needs of diversity).


Several years ago I began to ponder the internet recipe site of Abel and Cole, the major organic vegetable subscription service in the south of England.  There was was something so incredibly interesting, and original, light-handed yet educational and resourceful there, a joyful and free competence around food that felt rare and precious and kept pouring forth, anew.  Visit that site; it’s such a great resource for recipes (even though I’m more drawn these days to the idea of “freecipes,” there’s still lots to learn from reading them).

For people who cook, who take their cooking “practice” seriously, learning from others is enriching and serious business, and I make it a task to learn as part of my love of cookbooks, and prefer most of all writers with style and a unique way of going about the kitchen.

Recently I met the Abel and Cole food editor Rachel de Thample. She is in person everything her food seems to be: warm, fun, intelligent, committed to a better food system, creative, interesting…  So as a cookbook aficionado I was really excited to read her new book Five: 150 Effortless Ways to Eat 5+ Fruit and Veg a Day.   On the one hand this book is what the subtitle says, an effort to get us all eating the way we should.  On the other hand, and more excitingly, it’s a wonderful insight into an original cooking voice with lots to teach, inspire and entertain.

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I filmed this at a fermentation workshop I gave with Sector39 Permaculture at the amazing Reading International Solidarity Centre.  This place has a cafe with really delicious Ethiopian food which was wonderful to eat with a great group of people.  Sorry the video is badly blurry– it’s nevertheless worth it to me to share it.

A participant in the session was an experienced sauerkraut maker, and showed us all his massage technique.  His hands were so strong and active with the salted cabbage, I’d never seen brine be delivered as readily.  Of course I wanted to film it as part of this Recipe by Gesture tag.

Hands belong to Prof. Chris Rhodes.


The Festival of Holi —  a Hindu celebration of the beginning of spring, of love, and of colour, riotous colour, people throwing colour with spices, pigments, coloured waters, all over each other in frolicsome revelry.  I’ve only read about this, but it’s a source of fantasy, one day before I die to be somewhere in India during this time, to witness, no, to be part of it all.  The experience of colour is one of my greatest joys.  And vintage cookbooks!


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I know people like recipes, and that recipes define the public realm of cooking, including information and instruction to combat food waste in our kitchens.  I’m always struck by how irrational this is, because it’s rare that you’d have, as leftover (i.e.,waste you want to avoid happening), the specific amount of an ingredient that a recipe would call for.  Is there something I’m missing?

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Never mind, it's beginning to feel like spring!

Yes, they’re daffodils, and no, they’re not edible, but I’m trying to cheer myself up and not bring all of you down.  Cough, cough, hack, hack, up in the middle of the night, cough, cough, hack, hack.  Are some of you out there the same? Pity us.

I’ve been really craving good old fashioned Chicken Soup, in which you simmer the chicken with carrots, onions, leeks, celery, parsley, peppercorns, parsnip and dill if you are lucky.  Noodles would be great– I like the way Japanese Udon noodles get all gloopy the way I remember from cans of Chicken Noodle soup when I ate such things. Cough, cough, cough. Read the rest of this entry »

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