Saturday, 11 February 2012

Learning lessons...

So, after my last post I had to revisit my own observations regarding palm oil. I realised that the stuff is in many more products than I had initially thought, so I have definitely learned something.
For example, some margarine I was going to buy for baking... on the front of the package it said "contains vegetable fat" but a large proportion of that is palm oil! How are consumers supposed to make ethical choices based on that? Yes, palm oil is vegetable fat but not the kind I necessarily want in my cakes, given its environmental impact. In the end I opted for buying butter - more expensive but at least I know what's in it...for the most part, that is. It just goes to show that we sometimes have to dig even deeper to get to the information we need, the "real stuff".

The end result of my baking session was a apple & raisin crumble cake (or in German "Apfelstreuselkuchen") :-) - flour, baking powder, butter, egg, sugar, apples, raisins, cinnamon...that's pretty much it if I recall the ingredients correctly. There's a whole tray's worth of it and I have frozen a big chunk to have another day. YUM!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Real food or "Does palm oil belong in biscuits?"

Coffee walnut cake
It's still freezing here! To warm us up we have been having steaming mugs of tea and homemade coffee & walnut cake... any excuse ;-) The walnuts came from one of my mum's friends who has a nut tree in her garden and the recipe from River Cottage. It's the first time I made it and it definitely gets the thumbs up!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Pond update & Leftovers of a different kind...

An update from the pond (given the title of my blog): The pond has been frozen over for the last few days but we have been able to spot the frogs under the ice. I have no idea how they manage to live under there but they seem to be doing nicely :-) Lots of birds in the garden as well - one of my favourites is the little wren that comes down to the path by the pond to check what's on offer.


In my last post I wrote about food waste and using up leftovers. But this is about other types of "leftovers"... Having just moved house I found far too much clutter lurking in the back of wardrobes and in boxes; stuff I hadn't looked at in at least a couple of years and obviously hadn't missed either. And then those things that I had bought and then hardly ever used (luckily, not too many of those but still...) - those things could still be useful to someone else. This is where "Freecycle" comes in. On the attached link you can find information regarding the UK network of Freecycle and also similar ones across the globe. Basically, you advertise what you are trying to give away on your local Freecycle website (and the important bit is give away, so it has to be free and no money should change hands) and people interested contact you to arrange picking the item up. So my "leftovers" can go to a new home rather than landfill. Brilliant!

Now, I guess the idea is not to amass so much stuff in the first place. I am now trying not to buy things I don't absolutely need (and let's face it - how many of us in Western Europe actually need more things?), despite advertising campaigns and society wanting me to continue buying. One exception for me are books - always worth having! One of my favourite books is "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau (free download via the link) - it amazes me that someone in 1845 could write about simple living and the madness of having too many possessions. Very inspiring, still very relevant and definitely worth a read!