An Ordinary Bloke writes about Vegans keeping Cats.

As a vegan of over twenty years and a vegetarian of more than twenty years before that, one of the  questions that has always perplexed me is why do vegans like to share their lives with and look after cats, particularly rescue cats.

Purr-purr

Cats are obligate carnivores – they must eat meat, their physiology is based on eating meat. If they don’t eat meat, they will die. I know there are supplements available made from non-animal sources; for example the amino acid taurine that comes from meat can be synthesised and added to vegan foods like lentils. This then in theory gives cats the necessary nutrients. But this is unnatural, and cats, if they are left to roam outdoors at all, will in any case kill and eat small animals like mice, birds and frogs.

Most vegans accept that cats are carnivores and will buy standard cat food to feed their feline overlords. To me this is blatant cognitive dissonance, A domestic cat lives for fifteen years on average. How many chickens or rabbits or fish or bits of cows and pigs does a cat consume during its lifetime? Even if it’s only the equivalent of one chicken a month that’s twelve a year; so one hundred and eighty chickens have to die to keep that pet cat alive. And some vegans have more than one cat – many more.

How does that square with living a vegan lifestyle?

Then there are all the other animals in zoos or in rescue centres or in the wild that vegans in particular get very emotional about – like the lynx that recently escaped from such a zoo in Wales and was eventually tracked down and shot. There was a huge outcry from people in the vegan groups on Facebook – how could anyone kill a beautiful innocent animal like that lynx? Yet in the few days it was on the loose it had killed many sheep at least, and most of the bodies of those sheep had been abandoned and left to rot in the green green grass.

I admit that I love cats myself and if my wife wasn’t allergic to them I’m sure we would have at least one in our lives. I’m also sure that cats and other companion animals contribute hugely to the mental and emotional health of the human population but I can’t pretend they’re benign and benevolent creatures.

We had a cat once that found a family of shrews and played with them until they all fell dead in a circle on our lawn. At that point our feline psychopath lost interest and wandered off to bother some birds who were innocently flitting about in the bushes at the bottom of the garden.

So that’s why I won’t support cat rescue centres and cat charities. Cats are killers, gratuitous killers at that – just because they’re cute and fluffy doesn’t excuse them. In fact they have evolved to be cute and fluffy to facilitate their murderous lifestyles. Their prey animals and their human enablers are mesmerised by their big eyes and their soft purrs and I can guarantee that if they were bigger or we were smaller – well you can guess what our fate would be . . .

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An Ordinary Bloke writes about Aliens, Drugs and the Nature of Reality

Yesterday, after a breakfast of tea and toast with tahini and yeast extract we went to the Farmers’ Market to buy organic vegetables. We’ve been going to the market for years and once ran a stall there selling our own handmade soap and body products, so we know a lot of the regulars and stallholders.

I know that last paragraph makes me sound like an over-privileged hippie but I’m not, we actually spend a lot less on food and suchlike than most people do and cook everything from scratch in our pokey little kitchen. We just like to eat healthily.

I got chatting to a friend next to the fair-trade beverage and snacks stall, and, as it does when you engage in a bit of small talk at the Farmers’ Market on a Sunday, the subject got around to the nature of reality, involving life, death, and the hallucinogenic drug DMT.

The theme of the conversation was that we, i.e. human beings, or possibly all beings, project our own realities. We are all from the same source and each of us is an expression of that source but essentially we are one.

While we were pondering the imponderables, my wife carried on walking alongside the stalls. When I caught up with her she was talking to one of the other stallholders. He was nattering about aliens and about how there is incontrovertible evidence that they walk amongst us. He described a species of very short (compared to humans) hairless aliens. He also said that there are many proven examples of UFOs visiting our planet but that it’s all been covered up.

When I got home I did a bit of googling about DMT and discovered that those who take the drug sometimes ‘see’ small alien-like creatures, similar to the ones described by the UFO man. On my Twitter feed was a quote from the work of the Irish poet Medbh McGuckian: “There is only One universe at a time”

So, that’s the point – yes, life is so random there’s no way of working out what it’s all about. Maybe aliens do zip around our skies; maybe the universe is a personal projection, and this is only one of an infinite number of possible universes. Certainly, in the context of all time and all space then whatever our world is it’s less than microscopic.

But, you can only deal with what’s in front of you now – one universe at a time, no matter how insignificant it seems. If you need to have a purpose then your job is to contribute to the coherence of it all, because without your contribution then none of it would matter, or even happen.

Because you are it.

Love yourself. Go on.

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Make the connection

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An ordinary bloke writes about ‘Lessons you learn’

An ordinary bloke writes about ‘Lessons you learn’

I was standing in the queue at Iceland, the frozen food store, yesterday. I was clutching a modestly-sized bag (700g) of McCain’s skin-on fries. We were having a dirty burger night and it was the last item on the shopping list. I’d already bought the Linda McCartney chunky vegan ‘meaty’ quarter pounders (from the big Tesco), 4 crusty white rolls from Brutons the bakers, a small tray of mushrooms from the Co-op, a bag of ‘washed and ready to use’, salad leaves from the small local Tesco, and a block of Violife vegan mozzarella ‘cheese’ from Beanfreaks, the health food shop.

At home already were the seasonings and additives, like a litre of rapeseed oil (from the Co-op), a large squeezy bottle of Tesco mid-range own-brand tomato ketchup, a bottle of Biona cider vinegar (with the mother – Beanfreaks), a tub of Saxa finely-ground sea-salt (small Tesco) and a jar of gorgeous home-made mayo, whizzed up from a block of silken tofu, a cup and a half of own-brand rapeseed oil, half a teaspoon of said salt, the freshly-squeezed juice of a lemon, and a couple of tablespoons of co-op brand Dijon mustard.

Anyway the point is that there was a woman behind me in the queue. She was quite young, probably late twenties, though it is difficult to be precise because she wasn’t in good shape, I mean, for example, she was quite short, just over five feet I’d say, and she was very obese, huge in fact, by any method of measuring. The trunk of her body was a large ball, like one of those orange bouncy things from the seventies that had evolved to an adult size.

She was wheezing and moaning out loud about how long she’d been waiting in the queue. I thought, at first that she was trying to garner my sympathy so that I would let her go first, but she had a large trolley full of the sort of cheap frozen stuff they sell in Iceland, like hot and spicy chicken in breadcrumbs or bags of 22 skinless pork sausages, and I had just one moderately-sized packet of skin-on fries and I had the correct money ready (£1.50), so I decided not to be chivalrous and duly ignored her.

She turned her attention to the person behind her in the queue and said: “They are a real bargain and only 50p each. I turned involuntarily to look at the conveyor belt to see what it was that was such a bargain. There were six 250 gram packets of full-fat butter making their way along the belt, at the beginning of their journey to her already engorged tummy.

I shook my head inwardly, judging her to be a sloppy, lazy, dullard, who if only she stopped eating dirty rubbish like butter, would lose weight, become much fitter and happier, and would not be metaphorically bouncing with joy just because she’d managed to contribute to her undoubtedly early death for such a bargain price.

It took a while, in fact it was tonight, more than 24 hours later, for me to realise how utterly crass and judgemental I’d been, if only in my own head, especially since I am going on for 4 stone overweight myself, and at least half the food I eat is not at all essential to my survival or good health.

So now I’m thinking :-

Nothing is worthless
Everything has a value
No one deserves disrespect
Everyone deserves respect
Everyone is unique and beautiful
Everyone hurts – it’s far better to behave in a way that ameliorates that hurt than in a way that exacerbates it
blah
blah

So, today’s lesson is that what you learn from teachers who don’t even know they’re teaching can sometimes be the best lessons of all.

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potpotmush

An accidental recipe

cut potatoes and sweet potatoes into chip shapes and deep fry in plenty of oil until soft but not crisp – add some half chopped chestnut mushrooms

wait until it’s obvious that the ‘chips’ are not going to get crusty but are in imminent danger of collapsing into mush

scoop the potpotmush into a frying pan and shallow fry to attempt to make at least some of it crispy

Bloody gorgeous it is and goes well with vegan burgers and green salad

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Add New Post

‘Add New Post’

This blog / website / whatever it is called now, wants me to add a new post every time I come here. If I do make the effort to add a new post  it normally means I’ve got something specific to write about. Whether it’s one of my feeble attempts to market my books and/or art or whether it’s one of those rare occasions when I get wound up enough about some topic, usually political, or vegan-related, to feel a need to make some comment about it.

Gratuitous early spring image

There is a third reason I add new posts, and that is the most important reason – it’s when I share some of my creative work, like a short story, or a poem, or some rant about parallel universes and/or the nature of reality.

But sometimes there are gaps when I have nothing specific to say, and I don’t feel particularly inclined to share some creative work, yet I still feel the urge to add a new post.

This post is a result of one of those gaps, there  is no reason for this post other than to fill it (the gap).

Yet . . .

I do have something to say, I’m sure I do . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

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How much fruit and veg is ‘ten a day’

New research has indicated that people should eat 10 portions of fruit and/or vegetables every day if they want to achieve a longer and healthier life.

I wondered what 10 portions would look like so I raided the fridge and fruit bowl and added fruit and veg until it weighed 800 grams, which, according the the NHS, is what 10 portions weigh at 80 grams each.

Prices are based on the costs of the fruit and veg from local supermarkets and greengrocers’ shops, not the cheapest places to buy, not the most expensive either.

Bon Appétit!

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You are what you eat?

(An old poem: from around 1999)

Do you want to be a vegetable,
or a pineapple chunk?
Would you like to be a rotten grape,
continually drunk?
Or if you wander in the woods
and eat the fungus balls
Does that mean that you’re a spore
infinitesimally small?

My mother likes a bit of fish
all soft in crispy batter
now when it’s raining cats and dogs
she says it doesn’t matter.
Sometimes on a Saturday
my brother eats lamb curry
I think his face has started
to go all white and furry.

If it’s true and we’re our food
don’t you think it’s time
to serve up David Beckham
Posh Spiced, with sage and Thyme
Or maybe we will tuck into
Catherine Zeta-Jones
On a bed of Holly Wood
Be careful of the bones

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A visit from The Magic Elf

This is an extract from one of my books.

And now it’s the morning of March 15th 2016. One of the things that’s prompted this bit of live writing is my desire to reach 100,000 words. As I type I can see the word-count at the bottom of the screen and it says, hang on, I’ve got to catch it unaware because of course it will increase as soon as I type in the number: The number of words that are in this book so far is 98,951 (including the number 98,951), but of course it’s more already – it’s relentless, nothing really stops, everything changes.

It’s a bit like that with life – as soon as you think you’ve got a handle on it, the second you think you’ve got it sussed – it changes, it becomes something else, that’s one of the consequences of getting older, you lose the certainty of youth, and when I say youth I don’t mean childhood, I mean adulthood, from your early twenties or whenever it is you feel as if you’ve grown up at last, all the way through to old age in your sixties or whenever it is you feel as if you’re old.

Continue reading

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Blodyn – Legalise Poo

Here’s a painting from nearly 15 years ago – one of the first I did. It was painted on the back of a placard/protest sign that I had previously used in a satirical community play I wrote called ‘The History of Llangennech – Part 2’

Blodyn has become a bit of an icon for me since I painted her. She was used on the cover of my poetry collection “The Words in Me” and will be used again on the cover of my new collection “More Words in Me” due to be published in a couple of months.

Here she is:

blodyn-rsBlodyn – 2002: Acrylic on board: 520x670mm

And here’s the back of Blodyn

blodyn backLegalise Poo

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Stacked Vegan Pizza

I fancied making a pizza the other day but was fed up of those pale lacklustre crusts available from supermarkets so decided to make my own dough.

I chose wholemeal bread flour and quick yeast since that’s what was in the cupboard, made the dough and used half of it to make a pizza base, rolling it out into a large rectangle to fit the oven tray. I made a round loaf with the other half of the dough.

Unfortunately the pizza base didn’t rise and then I burnt it in the oven – probably because I’d flattened it too much with the rolling pin and cooked it too quickly.

The bread turned out lovely – and a tasty, if dense, loaf emerged. So I cut that into rounds and used them as pizza bases.

I made far too much topping, stacked it on the rounds of bread and baked it slowly until the cheezly made an attempt at melting.

pizzagIngredients

  • Tamari-marinated taifun tofu fried in olive oil
  • red, green and yellow peppers
  • pimento stuffed green olives
  • artichoke hearts
  • tomato puree
  • onions
  • garlic
  • sliced aubergine
  • birds eye chillis
  • white cheddar cheezly
  • spicy salad leaves from blaencamel farm on Riverside market
  • sliced chestnut mushrooms
  • salt and pepper
  • homemade wholemeal pizza bases bread

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Cute Rescued Animal or Food?

The hypocrisy of the animal rescue industry

Whenever I see appeals for money or support for animal rescue charities the first thought that comes to my mind is ‘What do they feed the animals they rescue?’ I suppose in the case of naturally vegetarian animals the answer is vegetable material of some sort, but what about carnivores like cats, or omnivores like dogs?

For example, just today, on a vegan Facebook group someone issued a plea for donations to save a charity in Cwmbran, apparently if they do not get funding they may have to kill the hundred or so animals in their care since it costs £5000 a week to run the place. According to their website the list of animals they look after includes: Horses, Shetland Ponies, Sheep, Goats, Pigs, Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Ferrets, Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, Rat, Cats, Birds and Dogs.

chickens

Now, excuse me if I’m being daft but don’t cats eat birds and ferrets eat rabbits?

They also say on their website that one of their staff has an interest in ‘goat husbandry’, which is the keeping of goats in order to harvest their milk and meat. They are also planning a horse tack sale, which I presume is equipment used to control and abuse horses?

On the same Facebook group I recently asked the organiser of the so-called Welsh Vegan Festival, why is it that the Farplace animal rescue charity they are raising funds for keeps rescued chickens yet has included dog food containing chicken meat on their Amazon wishlist. He ignored me.

So how about this animal rescue centres – feed the rescued carnivores with the rescued birds and rabbits, and a bit of sheep, or pig, or horse-meat if you like – that way you would have a lot less animals to look after and you wouldn’t have to raise so much money to buy them food.

Win win!

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St David’s Day in Wales

This is a piece I wrote this morning, on St David’s Day. If you would prefer to listen there is an audio recording at the end.

lambIf you believe the hype, the Welsh are rugby-obsessed lamb-eating choristers. As with most lazy stereotyping this is completely wrong of course. I’m as Welsh as they come and I don’t like rugby, lamb or male voice choirs. It’s not just me though, but most Welshies are too afraid to admit it. For example, a friend persuaded me to go to a rugby international in the Millennium Stadium a few years ago, to see a match involving our Celtic cousins Ireland. Because of a ticketing mix-up I ended up sitting up next to strangers in the upper hinterlands of the stadium. Continue reading

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Half-Baked Potatoes

These are golden crisp outside and creamily soft inside.

Cut baking potatoes in half along the length so that you have two flattish halves

anoint with veg oil and sprinkle with seasalt.

Place the potato halves flat side down onto a baking tray, cut a little cross in the top bulgy bit and bung into a fairly hot oven for about an hour. Turn now and again to ensure they don’t stick and cook evenly.

half-baked-rs

half-baked-rs1

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The pomegranate seed

I cut open a pomegranate and popped its seeds into a white bowl. They were vibrant and red, they glistened and said: look at us, look at us; we’re beautiful. Look at how we sit together,  blush together,  live together,  give together. I had to agree; they were what they said they were.

pomegranate-white-seed

What about me? a little one said. Look at me, am I not beautiful too? Am I not vibrant? Do I not glisten? The red seeds smiled, and embraced. I laughed, and ate the bloody lot of them.

pomegranate-white-seed-closeup

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Sweet Potato and Aubergine curry

Last night’s meal.

ø;

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large sweet potato – diced into medium cubes
  • 1 aubergine – diced into medium cubes
  • 1 onion – sliced thinly
  • 5 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 1 strong chili – chopped finely *
  • 1″ ginger root – chopped/crushed *
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander *
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin *
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric *
  • cup of frozen peas
  • 2 cups tomatoes – passata, or tomato puree + water, or tin of tomatoes, or fresh
  • vegetable oil
  • salt

(substitute everything marked with * with your favourite curry powder if you prefer)

METHOD

  • Saute the onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, aubergine, and sweet potato until the aubergine and sweet potato are almost cooked
  • Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, (or the curry powder) – and salt
  • stir over the heat for a few seconds
  • Add the tomato in whatever form you are using, the frozen peas, and water if necessary
  • bring to boil and then simmer for 10 minutes or so until everything is cooked and the oil begins to separate

Serve with roti/chapati or rice

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Making Money out of Muck

cow

Are you really going to eat me?

When I was thirteen I worked on a farm for the whole of the summer holidays. I milked the cows, cleaned their shit up, baled the hay, and dodged the advances of a sexually abusive co-worker. I worked from early dawn to late dusk for seven days a week. The people in charge of the farm were known as Boss and Missus. Missus spent all her time in the farmhouse, cleaning, washing and cooking, Boss spent all his time in the fields or in the milking parlour. We ate three meals a day, as much as we could eat of wholesome home-cooked food . . . hold on – what’s wholesome about tinned peaches in syrup, buckets of chips and white bread spread thick with heavily salted, full-fat butter? And the rest of this farm crap is bullshit too.

What actually happened was that a 13 year old boy was exploited and abused by a well-to-do family and expected to work at a job that involved doing evil to animals for 12 hours a day in exchange for mounds of fried potatoes and buckets of sugar-based treats.

To be fair, once a week the Missus would sidle up to me and slip me four shillings, ‘Don’t tell the Boss,’ she’d whisper, dropping the pair of two-shilling pieces into my pocket. Four shillings! That’s just twenty pence in today’s money, and it was a complete pisstake even then. Although because I worked every waking hour I didn’t spend a penny that summer and put every coin into a post office savings account. I think that must have been the first and last time my liquid assets were in the black.

But it would still have been better if I’d spent the summer helping my uncle in the scrap-yard; I might have learned something then about making money out of muck, instead of being a virtual slave to a greedy exploitative bastard.

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Vegan burgers and the Con club

When I was growing up in Llanelli we always referred to the Conservative club as ‘The Con Club’. There was no malicious intent in this, after all, in those days, the Conservatives, in Llanelli at least, were not even significant enough to be regarded as a sideshow. I have noticed that in Cardiff the Conservative clubs are referred to as ‘Cons Clubs’ and even labelled as such on their signage. I suspect this is because when you add the ‘s’ it sort of dilutes the meaning of ‘con’ which, when you strip away all the bollocks, is what all political parties, and in particular the Conservatives, are – a great big fat con.

cons-clubRiverside ‘Cons’ club – open for business – hmm!

But never mind about all that – I’ve typed the word ‘Conservative’ far too many times for my mental health so I want to turn to the issue of making a decent vegan burger.

This one is pretty good:

Vegan Black Bean and Mushroom Burgers – Gluten Free

We made these last night, I forgot to write down the ingredients so I hope I haven’t forgotten anything

Makes about 6 burgers

  • 2 or 3 cups of cooked black beans – mashed roughly
  • bunch of spring onions (scallions) – sliced thinly
  • 1 chilli – chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic – crushed
  • 2 tablespoons gram flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax / linseed
  • 1 dessert spoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 huge mushroom – chopped finely
  • salt
  • pepper
  • tamari
  • some liquid from the beans
  • rapeseed (canola) oil for frying
  • a bit more gram flour for coating

Mix all the ingredients adding salt, pepper and tamari according to your taste – the mixture should be firm but moist

  • Form into burger shapes
  • coat with a little gram flour each side
  • chill before cooking if you like
  • fry on a moderate heat until browned and warmed through

voila!

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He wouldn’t harm a fly

The link between Animal Abuse and violence against people.

(First published in Animal Prints Magazine)

I still feel a vague sense of guilt when I remember how I used to swat flies and watch their squashed bodies slide almost imperceptibly down a wall or a window pane, like fat black currants. Recently, I had to deal with an infestation of ants in my kitchen but that’s another story. We all have to come into contact with animals in one way or another and sometimes (unless you’re a devout Jain perhaps) animals suffer because we exist, but when that suffering is deliberately inflicted by a human being it can be a sign of a disturbed and violent personality.

As obvious as it is to most enlightened people that treating animals badly is wrong, there is now startling evidence in the public domain that makes a strong case for the link between animal abuse and the most heinous violent crimes against people.

For example, in Oregon in 1998, Kit Kinkel killed his parents and two of his classmates as well as injuring many more. Kit Kinkel had a history of animal abuse and killed and maimed cats, squirrels and other animals by putting fireworks in their mouths. He also bragged about blowing up a cow.

Sadly this is only one example of this disturbing link. Continue reading

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Autumn food

My first serious attempt at Rajma – a.k.a. Red Kidney Bean Curry

The basic recipe is drawn from here: – thanks to Ceri for the variations and the live tips 🙂

First the ingredients:

  • 2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed under running water
    2 tbsps vegetable/canola/sunflower cooking oil
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    2 medium-sized onions chopped fine
    2″piece of ginger jullinned
    6 cloves of garlic minced
    2 large tomatoes chopped into 1″ cubes
    2 fresh green chillies chopped fine
    2 tsps coriander powder
    1 tsp cumin powder
    1 tsp garam masala
    1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    Salt to taste
    A pinch of asafetida
    Chopped coriander to garnish

 

rajma-ingredients-res

Due to the aforementioned tips I added another small onion and two more tomatoes

Now the method:

Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the cumin seeds. When they stop sizzling, add the onion and fry till soft.

Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 2 minutes.
Add the green chillies, tomatoes, coriander, cumin, turmeric and garam masala powders and fry till the oil separates from the masala.

rajma-cooking-resAdd the red kidney beans, 3 cups of warm water, asafetida, salt to taste and cook till beans are very soft (approximately 10 minutes). (This took 30 minutes)

rajma-ready-to-rest-resMash some of the beans roughly (this thickens the gravy).
Garnish with coriander and serve with chapatis/roti/wraps

et-voila-rajma-res

Ceri’s variations:

the asafoetida / hing really does make a difference when you do it right. It’s not essential but to perfect it, it’s good. You can use wraps or gluten-free wraps but proper roti is best.

the fresh coriander is pretty key too, but don’t overdo it this can ruin the balance

also don’t skip the three cups of warm water part – it takes ages to reduce but worth it, cooking it early and turning it off for about an hour before reheating slowly makes it a lot better too, it goes into a lush thick sauce,

and even though it says to rinse the beans, save the tin water and use it as part of the three cups of warm water (heated in a separate pan) – also put the hing in the water as it’s heating, also put a very very small amount of finely chopped fresh coriander in the dish as it’s coming towards the end of reducing, and the rest is used as a sort of garnish on the top, put any left over coriander in a bowl to be used by people as they see fit, and freeze any leftovers

put salt in in stages, so a bit about 5 mins into the onions cooking, a bit with the spices and a bit while it’s cooking (you can taste test while cooking to see if it needs more)

all of that, plus turning it off for a bit really helps

Dessert

I also made stewed apples and Victoria plums with turmeric and vanilla soya milk custard

Custard is made with 500ml soya milk, 2 tbs cornflour, a pinch of turmeric, a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a splash of vanilla extract

stewed-apples-and-plums-with-turmeric-vanilla-custard-res

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