What will you be doing on the evening of Thursday 12th December?! If the answer is trying to avoid the election results for 5 minutes, then you’ll love to attend One World Choir’s Christmas Concert at the Baptist Church, in Kings Cross. A compilation of traditional Christmas songs plus a beautiful blend of chants from around the globe eg. African traditional songs celebrating mother Earth, sacred landscapes with a feminine touch.
With over 50 singers of all ages, performing acapella with Choir leader Helen Yeoman whose mixed choirs recently performed at locations across London during the Extinction Rebellion events in October. I learnt about the performance at an X R event in Trafalgar Square one night and went along to the next rehearsal.
Before the leaves truly began to fall I was treating a patient for fibromyalgia. In response, she kindly invited me to visit her allotment and I found myself the proud recipient of a range of fresh organic produce: home grown watercress to garnish, apples – pickled, pulped and whole for breakfast plus a huge butternut squash, which I had a job to carry back home. I collected Amaranth seeds and picked a few apples from the tree. She had also saved me A year old bottle of fresh, sparkling apple juice.
Thus begins the task of creating as many new and interesting meals as possible with these ingredients. Utilising left over vegetables, fruit and foraged herbs and seeds, I have begun to weave magic at my mealtimes.
Here are 3 ways with these ingredients. All washed down with a natural, appletize!
Spinach, Mushroom and squash Tarte. My first gluten free (pre made) puff pastry tarte! Made with a wild pesto dressing. Good served with fresh bean tips and slices of avocado.
2. Squash and watercress risotto
3. Squash & Winter veg soup To pre cooked potatoes and parsnips, I added chunks of squash, nigella seeds, broccoli and coconut oil into a blender with enough hot water and a lemon and ginger tea to form a creamy smooth consistency when blended. Then warmed gently for 10 mins whilst I made an avocado on rye toast. Finally, adding seasoning and pumpkin seeds for garnish. Minimal cooking of squash retains its juicy form.
A couple of years ago, I received a very positive response to my first Kitchen Buddy at VegFest UK Raw Nutrition for Health talk, which I delivered to an audience of over 100 at Olympia Grand Hall, London. One of the highlights of last weekend (infact 26th October) was visiting the show again as a volunteer on behalf of the Vegan Organic Network.
On our Veganic Gardening stall we discuss ‘stock-free’ (non animal fertiliser eg. horse manure) and Permaculture gardening techniques, provide visitors with educational materials for seasonal recipes to read and purchase, welcome new subscribers to the Growing Green membership and an opportunity to attend an enjoyable seminar series with experienced VON presenters including Jon Dale and Tony Martin.
VON supports new first time gardeners and growers and on the day ran a competition for an eco pod – a new design portable raised vegetable bed, which resembles a small moveable polytunnel, on legs (with wheels).
Situated up on the third floor, our space was a calm oasis amongst the hubbub of the other fast food areas. For more details on Veganic Growing and gardening in a sustainable fashion contact VON https://veganorganic.net/
At the XR Demonstration, completely by accident last Wednesday night.
Heading towards Charing Cross to get a train back home and my eyes were drawn down towards the Mall, where bright colourful banners lined Trafalgar Square. I couldn’t go home without an investigation. I immediately realised that it showcased a very developed XR demo with the hearse surrounded by police, a DJ booth, music pumping out of speakers and food tents to nourish the masses. More like a festival than any Criminal activity. I searched for a familiar face in the crowds and was met by Kenny, who showed me around the other occupied sites. It’s unlike the general media reports: music boomed out from speakers with several DJs and I heard that Orbital had played there the previous night. Spontaneous Public dancing, in the street and square itself went on for hours. I placed my bag down for kenny to guard and was invited to join a fish group dance which involved becoming like a school; a collective, of human /fish moving as one, dancing and twirling together.
These sites of protesters were peacefully put together including many pensioners forming a blockade by St James Park, others along Whitehall and a full camp outside Westminster abbey area. There We witnessed several arrests, observers wearing orange hi vis vests (to record the legal rights) and heard reports of police brutality (breaking bones). To my right, a man in his sleeping bag was physically removed; carried along the road by 4 other officers. We had spoken to a WPC (who is on time and a half) who remarked that she really just wanted to get back home to her children. Sadly the entire london wide Met forces has been enlisted to patrol the camps meanwhile the gang lords on Hackney were dealing in knife crime, where the police presence is more needed.
Walking back up towards the square I felt like stretching out so we stopped for a yoga session and to dance on the raised blockades to techno music. Back at the square I learnt that kenny had formed part of a Choir singing earth chants and lines like: “We’ve got all the chocolate; the chocolate we need, to help the world, Hallelujah! We’ve got all the chocolate, all the chocolate we need, blessed be” we chanted.
We shared a meal picnic snack style at the outdoor dining area towards the back steps of oatcakes, mange tout, nibbles and chocolate, snug from the wind, sharing our ideas on Conscious Plant based foods for the future. #PowerToThePeople.
By Nelson’s column, dancing in the crowd; the DJ tells us that the food tent is so full the crew needs more volunteers; could some the crowd go to assist? In that moment I felt a minor dilemma – I asked myself- should I offer my time, to do this, to serve..?! (having come from a 10 hr shift myself…) did they mean me? In that moment, the crowd parted, like waves and approx 20 or so youngsters filled off, in the direction of the food tent, to join the service team. Volunteering support without a question; teamwork. Following that moment of movement, my eyes fell upon another bystander, who turned out to be … a French chef, interested in learning about vegan nutrition and menus… we smiled softly and a few days later, I found out who the lead chef was, our kitchen supervisor from Buddhafield festival retreats; who we’d be catering alongside in the kitchen at Buddhafield in the City (26th Oct). #smallworld scenario.
All of which only leaves me to conclude that ‘these protestors’ have more in common with Buddhist Monks, than ‘anarchist’ punks. #peaceful #positive #protestors
This season, these Colourful wild berries add a pop of vibrancy to any meal.
Arbutus or the Strawberry fruit tree, is a tree with strawberry coloured berries. During the summer They turn from hard, green little berries into rich, red, soft berries by mid to end September through the autumn. Surprisingly, These berries contain a mild flavoured, bright orange flesh, with small insignificant seeds. Pick them directly from the tree and wash to remove any cobwebs (a familiar sight at this time of year!) Eaten fresh and raw, They make a nice addition to breakfasts, fruit desserts and as a garnish on any cake/tart/pie, with a dairy free cream or yogurt. A rich source of vitamin C.
This week it was wonderful opportunity to join the Festival of creative Ageing Creative Walk In Ladywell area, in collaboration with GCDA. Our artists goodie bag contained an A4 sketchbook journal, a graphite stick, sketch pencil, 2 polystyrene printing tiles.
Looking around the area, taking in the local sites and heard about the history. The tour began at St Mary’s Church yard which has stood on the site since Saxon times! This ancient site was central to Lewisham life including trade along the main rd of Rushey Green which contained pubs for the travellers along the way in the age of horse drawn carriages. since then and held community together. Next, past the old fire station (now a training group and hairdressers) which used to house the firefighters in flats above and still has the cobbled courtyard for their horses which pulled the carts, plus a tall tower where the hoses are believed to have been hung, out to dry after use.
Next, around to see the coroners court! Now Overgrown and full of foliage, plus rusty gates. Looking up, we see an Elder (Sambucus nigra), in full fruit with proudly reaching towards the sunlight with rich burgundy berry clusters. This forms my inspiration for a later design. Next door is the old dilapidated Play Tower, a former nursery, which will be turned into a cinema in due course. Previously it was the first public swimming baths, as The red brick wall outside still testifies; apparently children used to grind their entrance pennies into the wall, whilst queuing outside the entrance and the pits are still visible!
Further up the road, towards ladywell on the opposite side of the railway bridge, the words SHELTER FOR 700 are painted in bold capital letters, inferring to an air raid shelter, from WWII built beneath the bridge.
Turning into Ladywell park (the ‘rec’ recreation ground as it was known when we went there in training at school).
history of this local area, a place where each of us had previously visited (in my case daily, as I went to school up the road 1986-1991) gave us each a sense of time and place, much more grounded, feeling centred and part of the ongoing history.
Following the pathway Back to St Mary’s and an exploration of The wellbeing garden. Here we mediated amongst the raised vegetable beds and chose a spot to focus on an artistic piece. Finding an old cherry tree with raised roots, I sat down and made an imprint in granite across the back of the bark. I found a leathery old leaf for a pattern to design later. I looked around the garden; it’s so pretty and peaceful.
Our next stop was at the war memorial where The invictus / Pegasus horse adorns the tall gate posts leading towards the statue. There are wreaths and special stones inlaid into the pathway dedicated to all the young lives which were lost during the wars. My father took me there as a child, more of an escape from home, on Saturdays and we used to play rolling down the raised mound flower bed.
Further on, we walked into Lewisham park, which is bordered by large private houses; previously this park was more of their land. In the centre, a large hollowed our area belied a former lake, now long gone. The ancient London Plane trees had shed their bark so I collected some to add to the collage and piece together as a landscape puzzle. A yew tree held a mass of succulent berries which we enjoyed (whilst delicately removing the poisonous black seeds). Walk over, we drew our ideas at st Mauritius house and artist Ellie demonstrated a print making demo; instantly it brought back my Memories of making roller paint prints as a girl. Those were the days! Back then, during the 1980s, our art drawer contained ink rollers (sadly, long since discarded as they were no longer regularly used.) perhaps a visit to hobby craft is now in order!
On Thursday 12th September Was a mild day to lead a wellbeing group Herbal walk around a local park. We set off to find more edible plant species that Mountsfield park has to offer, with cloth bags and scissors. @FOMP http://www.mountsfieldpark.wordpress.com (find out more of the history of Mountsfield park here). Francis kindly donated organically grown fresh produce from the QVT garden: a crown prince pumpkin, potatoes and a courgette.
In season, Locally sourced Wild ‘weeds’ provide an abundance of minerals, much like a mini supplement/vitamin pill instead of which, these offer small medicinal properties including calming iron, calcium and magnesium.
Walking up the south circular road was very noisy and polluted so we turned off earlier than planned into looking up, I noticed tiny black grapes hung in clusters above our heads. Paul (tallest member in the group) collected several bunches and before long we’d all savoured the sweet/sour juice and crunchy pips.
we met another participant at the park and stood or sat beneath the arbour in the community garden. There We studied the flame coloured nasturtium flowers (strong/hot flavour leaves and flowers) and milder calendulas. The rich vibrant colours are abundant in an array of plants and vegetables including cardoons, beans and purple sprouting broccoli. Everyone experiences the positive effects of nature on our wellbeing. (Note: The garden is open to visitors but all produce belongs to the park volunteers!)
Preserving these wild foods, can be easily achieved; by making sauces from hawthorn berries, drying nettles, mint and lemon balm for tea and sprinkle nettle seeds to garnish salads and soups. Plantain leaves stem blood flow and are antiseptic; these have a robust flavour for use in salad and juice. Similarly yarrow’s feathery leaves and dandelion (lion’s tooth plant) and burdock leaves for opening and flushing/cleansing the urinary tract. Nettle leaves offer an energy boost of iron; now the seeds are developed these can be harvested (carefully!) and dried out on a tray in a cloth bag and store in a jar and use as an alternative to pepper.
Back at the QVT site kitchen we chose our tasks and prepared a great lunch together: a pumpkin, horseradish (donated by award winning gardener Mary from her allotment), potato, green lentil and ginger soup served with rye bread and organic sunflower spread plus salads: courgette ribbons creamy herb pesto style dressing with cashew nuts, olive oil, avocado, tomatoes (from our garden) and washed herbs from the park garnish of sliced red (pink!) cabbage, yellow rocket flowers, and living lentil sprouts for extra crunch and protein. Plus stuffed little gem lettuce leaves with avocado and tomato dressing.
For our Dessert we handmade individual chocolate, date and walnut truffles with an apple and blackberry compote (premade with cinnamon) and topped with a Catford grape! We made a refreshing fresh mint tea and tried mallow (lavatera) flowers for soothing digestion. Norman has nicknamed me as a Plant Professor!
A natural no-added sugar dessert has been shown to improve our mood and mental balance.
Wheat-free recipes for optimising well-being and reducing bloating and fatigue.
Homemade Natural remedies with local Wild Elderberries.
To take home Benefits to our winter health introduction to elderberries.
Now We’re in September, autumn draws nearer has a chill in the early morning air and the nights are drawing in.
Back In May, We prepared a refreshing elderflower tonic in Tessa’s Tiny Tots, from the Tree outside in the back garden. An Elderberry cluster looks like bronchioles in our lungs; a system of branches. Following the ‘Doctrine of signatures’, Therefore these tiny, dark burgundy berries, support our respiratory tract against common disorders like colds and flu. Elderberry is a rich source of vitamin C. For treatment of coughs & colds, have them to hand, ready for the winter months ahead. Preparation: a cluster snaps off easily and cleanly from the tree (or bush) Prize off the tiny berries using a fork. Uses: as a garnish, on top of desserts. As a tea! A sugar free Syrup – replace white sugar and use an alternative sweetener.
Join us at Forster Memorial Park foraging on Saturday 14th September at the funday from 11-12noon by the cafe and playground Whitefoot lane entrance.
Apple and blackberry sauce (no added sugar). For adding into yogurt, cereal or as a low sugar spread.
My neighbour kindly shares her apples which I collected and went on a blackberry harvest from the back. Fortunately together they’re sweet enough and not too sharp to turn them into a compote (spread/jam) with added spices.
Prepare the apples and remove any bruised parts or caterpillar eggs infestation. These look like small brown dots amongst the core. Take care when consuming wild apples, In case a caterpillar has hatched inside!
Ensure that the Blackberries are clean and insect free by soaking well in water and leave immersed for 15 mins. Rinse and remove any floating larvae, or insects which crawl to the surface!
Place both fruit together into a saucepan with a cup of water to cover the bottom and cook gently until the apples soften, approx 10 mins. Stir in the spices; generous pinches of cinnamon, nutmeg, freshly grated or ground ginger and a mini pinch of cloves.
When cool, add white chia seeds (preferably ground) and melted coconut oil to enable the setting process (although the latter may solidify into white particles).
The result is a delicious seasonal fruit spread (no added sugar).
One of the *new* seasonal kitchen Buddy offers to supply for our clients is a half day herbal wellness workshop in learning about edible weed identification and benefits in your local area. This exciting new service is specifically aimed at educating and inspiring clients to learn how to recognise seasonal edible herbs in the wild at home in the garden and transform into a refreshing menu, using a simple step by step, natural recipe formula.
I showed our Local beekeeper Steven Turner a Tour around the garden and area, with a tray, explaining how each plant grows in a unique way. We observed lots of bees attracted to the fuchsia bush and gathered a selection of fresh leaves, flowers, petals, fruit and berries. We took them into the kitchen and after rinsing them well in water, puréed them into a delicious paste with added put lentil sprouts.
Steven spiralised half a courgette or was it a marrow, mixed them together and decorated it with colourful flower petals and buds. For drinks we made a Fresh mint tea (and shared a cool Kombucha). The menu was completed by Turkish olives, artichoke hearts and an organic calzone.
Today our collection of over 10 seasonal plants for our menu includes: forget-me-not leaf, nasturtium, rose, self heal, Melissa, mint, chickweed, basil, thyme, tomatoes, blackberries, victoria plums and a fuchsia berry!
Enjoy the taste and flavours of Summer with a herbal wild food foraging masterclass by Theresa and Efat: book your 3 hr session now.
Leading the way in positive support for metal health awareness is the Third Thursday Time experience coordinated by a local team of wonderfully skilled and empathetic volunteer staff. The social group takes place monthly (on the third Thursday) at Hartley Hall, part of the Holy Cross church and school and is Funded in part by the Catholic Church to provide a fun place for locals to attend and socialise on a monthly basis.
Activities include local gardening opportunities, health and nutrition support, games, nearly-new clothes and gifts section, art & design, sewing & crafts, dancing, Zumba, yoga, positive mood cafe with wholefood snacks and treats, massage, meditation, singing and information of other local events. It provides a much needed break from the normal social scene and offers a chance to wind down, relax and meet new faces in a fun environment yet offers a peaceful place for reflection. I enjoy the socialising element, with an opportunity to take part in inter-generational activities and to share skills. Members of all ages from all walks of life and especially caring for pensioners and those with special mental or physical needs. It’s a nice space to enjoy.
Offers a positive approach to wellbeing. Minus alcohol, vaping/smoking, excessive sugary snacks – it aims to improve our connection and to create a dialogue to promote inclusion and thus prevent loneliness.
The group is Organised by Lesley Allen, Dementia Champion of the local Diamond Club (seniors multi generational events) and is open to anyone. 5.30-8.30p.m. Hartley Hall, Culverley road, Catford London SE6 2LD.
Also taking part in the Festival of Creative Ageing for seniors.