Recipe for a hug (for National Hug Day)

A pinch of love from our hearts,

A sprinkling of our soul’s wisdom,

A dash of warmth from our eyes,

A hint of our smile as infectious,

A smidgen of our fingers’ touch,

A dollop of arms fully stretched.

 

Slowly mix the above together,

Blending gently without malice,

Carefully bake but do not burn.

When finished no need to wait,

Share at once with good friends,

And they will give back one to us.

 

© Fi S. J. Brown

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Roasted aubergine, sweet potato and spinach curry

This is a recipe for a simple, light, and healthy vegan curry, which comes from Chloe Coker and Jane Montgomery’s book The Vegetarian Pantry. I cooked it for a potluck supper and was noted as everyone’s favourite dish of the night.

Ingredients

  • 2 aubergines/eggplants, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • Large handful of fresh spinach, washed and dried
  • A pinch or 2 of sugar, to taste.
  • A squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A handful of fresh coriander/cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Gas mark 4.

2. Put the aubergine/eggplant and sweet potato on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.

3. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. Roast in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, until cooked and golden.

4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and cover with a lid. Cook for 2 minutes or until they pop.

5. Turn down the heat, uncover, and add the shallot, ginger, garlic, and chilli. Fry for 3 minutes until they start to soften.

6. Add to the pan the garam masala and sugar and fry for 5 minutes.

7. Finally, to the pan add the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.

8. Stir the roasted vegetables through the sauce and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, and stir in the spinach until wilted.

9. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more sugar, lime or salt and pepper, to taste.

Spoon onto serving plates and serve hot with rice and a spoonful of plain yoghurt, if liked.

The Bumble Bee’s Tale

The humble bumble bee must rank as one of the most vilified creatures on Earth by humans. As children we are told to be careful not to be stung by one, yet they only do so because it is frightened or protecting the colony – most of us would lash out if someone tried to attack or those we love too! They then suffer the tragedy of dying for protecting those they love, because a mammal’s skin is so thick it can remove the stinger back out and it’s organs are torn out in stinging. It would be like the police shooting us for defending our homes as we attacked an intruder to our homes.

Then their role in pollinating plants is often underestimated what they bring to us. Many of us love to see flowers blooming around us and almost around in the spring air but do we ever thank the bee’s role in this sight of colourful beauty? Probably not. In the UK it has been estimated that we have lost 97% of our flower-rich grassland since the 1930s. Furthermore, bees account for 80% of all insect pollination of plants at least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of our wild plants to thrive due to pollination from them. That is like us humans taking over 80% of the world, using at least 30% of the available animals a food source and killing 90% of the wild animals as do not bring us any “benefits” (i.e. food or companionship).

You may think that last comparison is silly or crazy, but is it so far out? When we have human greed by materialistic goods increasing, a new iPhone or designer handbag having more importance than hills and rivers. We want to put a price on everything we can see or hear. In the UK alone two species have become extinct in the last 80 years and others have declined dramatically. Maybe it’s about time we thanked them for their help in giving us peas to strawberries, rather than reaching for pesticides or growing genetically modified crops so do not appeal to insects before they are no more and once we saw dancing with the spring flowers.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

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