Luxury

I wrote this poem for my granny’s birthday. My inspiration was the royal pavilion in Brighton. My uncle and auntie took me there and it was amazing. In this piece of poetry I describe this spectacular palace.

LUXURY

As you walk into the hall,
with beautiful tapestries on the wall
and with ceilings ever so tall
and chandeliers far from small.

Great ornaments standing on varnished wood,
places where ancestors stood.

Lovely paintings in gold frames,
little plaques that say the names,
a beautiful lady in an elegant pose,
rich, wealthy and luxurious, I suppose.

A dining room with the longest table,
silver dishes from a plate to a ladle,
with seats of red velvet
and goblets full of wine,
“people come and dine”.

Bedrooms with four-poster beds,
and curtains of the finest silk,
carpets, fireplaces, all that posh ilk.
Maids a-waiting, bringing breakfast to you,
toast and jam, not one egg, but two.

Sweeping around the ballroom,
dresses in full bloom,
all colours, lovely women,
charming men.

The palace is a place for royalty,
and people,
who to the king and queen,
have shown loyalty.
Not for just you or me,
but now it’s historical we can see,
the luxurious life of a king or queen.

Melissa’s Rainbow Of Nutrition

My auntie Melissa is a expert on nutrition and she’s written a guest blog about it, I find it very interesting and I hope you do too. Eating the right things with the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals is really important for a balanced diet. Enjoy…………

 

Rainbows of Nutrition

Rainbows are nature’s amazing and beautiful way of saying there is sunshine to come. They are bright, cheerful, make us feel good and can be found in lots of ways in nature. One of the best ways of seeing a Rainbow everyday and helping you maintain good health is to include a wide variety of vegetables and fruits in your diet every day.

Eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables helps us to feel good as they give us lots of essential nutrients in the form of vitamins, minerals, plant chemical (phytonutrients) and fibre that can assist our wellbeing and good health.

We need a wide range of nutrients to support our body to carry out our day to day activities, make all the repairs it needs and help promote good health. By eating plenty of vegetables and fruit we also provide food for the ‘friendly’ bacteria that live in our guts in the form of fibre. This helps to support a healthy immune system, protect us from harmful organisms and also make some other substances such as vitamin K, which are also essential for good health.

Here are some examples of different coloured fruits and the vitamins and minerals they contain and how they may help us maintain good health.

Rainbow of Nutrition

Rainbow of Nutrition

 

We shouldn’t forget herbs and spices as they also contain lots of vitamins, phytochemicals and minerals. As well as being really good for us, they add extra zing and colour to our food. Spices such as Turmeric and Chilli are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, mint and ginger are good digestion aids, Rosemary is also anti-inflammatory and can aid concentration, Parsley is a good source of Vitamin C and A.

We are encouraged to eat 5 a day, why not see if you can include 7 a day?

My favourite rainbow is Tomatoes & Raspberries, Squash & Peaches, Bananas, Watercress, Kale and Avocados, Prunes, Blackcurrants, Blackberries and any purple vegetable, Onions and Garlic. What’s yours?

 

Spices of India

Saffron pickers, image taken from google images.

Saffron pickers (image taken from Google Images)

This is very exciting, at the ripe old age of 33 years I am writing my first blog. A big thankyou to my dear friend Gracie for inspiring me and letting me write a guest blog here.

Gracie and I share a love of plants and we have spent many days together foraging, learning about plant identification and their many medicinal properties. This is really where my heart lies. I am just about to qualify as a herbalist too, which only really means I know a small amount about the plant kingdom as all it’s secrets are never ending! Today I would like to share with you a little of what we learnt on our visit to Sahakari spice farm in Goa, India.

Some of the most expensive spices to buy are Saffron, Vanilla, Cardamom, Clove, Cinnamon, Pepper and Turmeric. Have you ever wondered why?

Saffron is THE most expensive spice in the world. It comes from the stigma of the blue flowering crocus (Crocus Sativus). The stigma must be hand-picked and it takes a lot of stigmas (200-500) to make 1 gram of saffron.

Our guide pointing to the little cardamon flower at the base of the plant

Our guide pointing to the little cardamom flower at the base of the cardamom plant

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world and comes from the beans of vanilla orchids. The flowers may only be naturally pollinated by a specifically equipped bee found in Mexico. Growers have tried to bring this bee into other growing locales without success, so the flowers are now artificially pollinated by hand and the fruits are picked by hand once ripe. The vanilla flower only lasts about one day, sometimes less! Therefore, farmers have to inspect their plantations every day for open flowers on the vanilla plants, a labour-intensive task. It takes up to three years after the vines are planted before the first flowers appear. The fruits, which resemble big green beans, must remain on the vine for nine months in order to completely develop their signature aroma. However, when the beans are harvested, they have neither flavour nor fragrance. They develop these distinctive properties during the curing process.

Cardamom (Elettaria Cardamomum), the Queen of Spices,  is a perennial herb and member of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. Like ginger, cardamom has a fleshy rhizome and long, lance-shaped leaves. In Goa, cardamom plants flower continuously from the last week of April or first week of May until the second week of October. Each cardamom flower lasts a single day. Insect pollinators are required for fruit production. A single flower receives as many as 130 visits from pollinators on a sunny day to just over 20 visits on a rainy day. If pollinated, each cardamom flower produces a single capsule containing about 10 seeds and about 10 pods produce 1 teaspoon of powdered cardamom. Cardamom has long been used for calming digestive complaints and has strong anti-oxidant properties.  It is also high in iron, manganese, potassium, calcium and magnesium.  I like to add it to my occasional cup of coffee as it takes away the unwanted side effects and keeps me grounded in the caffeine buzz.

My wonderful husband Ollie smelling the cinnamon bark

My wonderful husband Ollie smelling the cinnamon bark

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum is the true cinnamon, you will often see ‘Cassia cinnamon’ for sale so read the labels) is obtained by stripping the outer bark of the tree and removing the inner bark in rolls. The bark is then dried and sealed in airtight containers. Cinnamon trees are small evergreen plants that can reach 32 to 49 feet in height. Cultivated cinnamon trees are grown in the form of a bush. A cinnamon tree can live from 30 to 40 years in the wild but when cultivated they are killed during the harvesting process.  Did you know cinnamon helps balance blood sugar levels? It can also be used to help digestion and reduce muscle spasms, colds, diarrhoea and vomiting,  and has anti-fungal properties.

Pepper (Piper Nigrum) is known as the King of Spices. It is the most traded and most used spice in the world. Black pepper is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae. Peppercorns are harvested while half-matured and just about to turn red. They are then left to dry under the sun light until they become shrivel and turn black (black peppercorns). Alternatively, green peppercorns are picked while the berries are still unripe and green. The white peppercorn got its name when a completely ripe berry is soaked in brine in order to remove its dark outer skin, exposing the inner white-colour pepper seed. Adding pepper to your food helps you absorb other nutrients from your meal, has anti-inflammatory properties, helps digestion and is full of vitamins and minerals. So move aside the salt shaker and bring on the pepper!

A pepper vine growing high up a tree. Can you see the strings of pepper corns dangling down?

A pepper vine growing high up a tree. Can you see the strings of pepper berries dangling down?

Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is a perennial herb which grows to 1m tall with underground rhizomes. It produces tall, very beautiful, white flower spikes. Turmeric is now being successfully grown in the UK in polytunnels and greenhouses. Why not try and grow it yourself? Buy some fresh root from your local Asian store, leave in a paper bag in the dark until it sprouts and then plant in a large pot in your greenhouse. Rhizomes are harvested 9 to 10 months after planting, when the lower leaves are turning yellow or when stems dry and fall over. It is possible for the home gardener to just dig carefully at the side of a clump and remove rhizomes as needed rather than harvesting the whole clump. It is important to buy organic turmeric as often the active constituent (called Curcumin) is extracted, sold in tablets, and then the left over powder sold for culinary purposes.  Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a strong anti-oxidant too. Curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream though and needs a little helping hand from pepper which will improve it’s absorption rate by 2000%.  Turmeric would be very useful in prevention and treatment of arthritis, Alzheimer’s, depression and age related diseases.

Herbalists use spices a lot in daily life with the principle that “food is medicine, and medicine is food”. I think it is really important to understand where the herbs and spices come from and to appreciate every process that took place to bring it to you and for you to use them wisely and in a sustainable way. For example, you can re-use your vanilla pods time and time again and this recipe for an immune boosting winter tonic tea can be re-used up to 3 times by just adding more water.

  • 4 large slices of fresh ginger root
  • 8 slices of fresh turmeric root
  • 2 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 clove
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 4 pints of water

Boil all the spices together for 10 mins, letting them all infuse in a strong decoction. Drink throughout the day, hot or cold.

Project Patrignano

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The Logo

 

As part of my schoolwork, I’m doing a project about a drug rehabilitation community in Italy.   Everytime I do some of my project I learn about a different aspect of the community, from their daily life and how they are helped to the addicts stories and other peoples experiences when they visited.  This time I covered how San Pa (it’s nickname) started, a little of it’s history and a few significant events that have made it what it is today.

Hopefully this will be the first of many blogs on San Patrignano.

I’m interested in them because I’d really like to go there one day, I would love the experience and I really want to help people and through San Pa I think I could.  I think I could learn a lot from them about how to be a light in the darkness and while I’m there I might pick up a few Italian cooking tips, too.

PROJECT PATRIGNANO

In 1978 a man, named Vincenzo Muccioli, was concerned about the use of drugs in our world and wanted to help people who were addicted and needed some guidance and love.  He invited a small group of young adults into a house his family owned, where they lived with Vincenzo and his friends, who were helping him with the project.  Gradually more people wanted to come and Vincenzo and his friends found it hard to ignore their needs.  The first workshops, livestock areas and gardens started to appear and slowly the little community was growing into the big, successful one it is today.

By 1982 San Patrignano was home to about 200 people housed in trailers and outbuildings, by 1992 it had multiplied its population by 10,  giving it a total of 2000 residents.

On the 19th September 1995, in the midst of difficult times, Vincenzo died.

Anyhow, San Pa didn’t die, Vincenzo’s son Andrea took up his fathers role and still runs San Patrignano today.  He knew it was important to keep his dads good work going.

In 1996 the first ‘Vincenzo Muccioli Challenge’ international show jumping competition was held in his honour, at the community’s equestrian centre.  The next year they received certification as a non-government organization.

In 2002 and 2004 San Patrignano organized and managed a drug abuse prevention campaign for the prime minister, at last they were getting the recognition the deserved.

Every year thousands of students and professionals from Italy and all over the world go to learn more about San Pa and that gives them more contact on the internet, which helps more people to find out about them.

In 2006 Andrea Muccioli was awarded the title ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’.

Also in that year, San Pa launched the 2You project, implemented in 20 different Italian cities, teaching  school age children about drug abuse.

Since ’78 the community has welcomed over 20,000 people, 70% of whom have turned drug free and gone back to live with their families really happy.

GO SAN PATRIGNANO!!!!!!!

 

 

 

STOMP

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On Saturday I went into London to see STOMP, a musical production with music made from junk only.  I was with my Uncle Sean, it was my birthday treat.

It’s all rythmic,  clapping, drumming, bashing, stamping, stomping, ect.  At times it was really funny, there was great dancing and the performers were extremely talented.  They played with a great selection of junk, from barrels to hose pipes,  from trolleys to match boxes and lighters.  It was amazing to think that these everyday objects were all they had to make music with.  It’s kind of music, acting, dancing and comedy rolled into one, which made it very entertaining.

 

the stage with scaffolding and junk

the stage with scaffolding and junk

 

 

I’ve picked my two favourite tunes or acts or whatever you might call them, to tell you all about.  The first one is called ‘newspapers’, it’s funny, and a great racket. They rip up the the papers and rustle them. One man even has a tuneful coughing fit!!! With rattling of pens and flapping of papers it has to be my first fave.  My second is called ‘walkers’, it’s where three men put on ski boots and strap them to huge oil drums. They walk around, using the stage as a drum and their own legs and feet as drumsticks. The funny bit comes at the end when, after these big, muscular men come stomping in, another man goes walking in on paint pots. It’s hilarious. Another awesome one is were they harness themseves onto ropes and swing from scafolding. Then they sway to and fro, hitting pots and pans that have been strung up.

Watching the performers was fascinating, they are so good at what they do. When they dance they are perfectly in time, their music is amazing and they are so enthusiastic.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Thanks for taking me, Uncle Sean!!!

 

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CRY

Here’s my most recent poem that I’ve written. You’ll have to use your imagination, who is the girl? Who is the mysterious messenger? Is it really a bird or is it just a metaphor? To be honest I don’t even know what the answer to any of these questions are, but I do know that they can be anything you want them to be.

Here it is:

CRY

Young girl, you know not I,
but I will hear your cry.

I have come to give you word,
of an evil, cunning bird,
who swoops down from the sky,
that’s when I’ll hear you cry.

If you listen to the knowledge and the wisdom in my eye,
then I will guarantee I will completely satisfy.

So run away, away I say,
safe from harm and danger, I pray.

So keep your nerves of steel
and you’ll be safe, I know you will.

Shakes & Cakes

 

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Today I popped into Infinity foods, Brighton to get a few supplies.  When I got there I noticed a stall with a banquet of vegan cakes and shakes laid out on it. It turned out that Infinity Foods Kitchen were promoting their brand new vegan shakes.

 

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I got to try the delicious shakes including my favourite, raw chocolate and avocado, made with dates, almond milk, avocado and raw chocolate. Not only was this shake amazingly delicious, it was also really healthy, because avocado is a super food and raw choc is too.

The cakes were lovely , especially the victoria sponge.

 

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I had the chance to chat with Duncan (who works at Infinity Foods Kitchen).  He let us try everything 🙂

 

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Here’s Duncan pouring me a nice shake.

 

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Drop into Infinity Foods Kitchen anytime, it’s a great place to meet up with friends and I definately reccomend their vegan cakes and shakes.

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Quinoa – No Prob

I’ve just made an exciting new discovery, you can now buy quinoa that has been home grown here in the UK.

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You might think “Why is that so amazing?”  Well, I’m here to tell you.

Of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it’s perfect for, and popular among, vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain,  and is almost always organic.

You will be interested to know that quinoa was a staple food for thousands of years in the Andes region of South America as one of just a few crops the ancient Incas cultivated at such high altitude. As such, quinoa is generally agreed to be an ancient grain that is, it is cultivated the same way now that is was millennia ago.

When the Spanish conquered South America, they considered the grain to be food for peasants and animals. They forced them to grow wheat and other grasses.  Recently people realised how good quinoa is for you, they bought loads of it off of the South Americans. It has gone from being food for peasants to being a really expensive super food. Now the people of South America can’t even afford their own staple food. The sad thing is half of them don’t even want to, now they get the opportunity they want to eat western food.

It’s wrong, me and my family decided to stop eating it, but now we’ve discovered British quinoa, well, they’ll be no stopping us.

Now you have an important dicision to make, pay slightly more for British quinoa or keep on buying South American quinoa for less? Let me know what you think.

If your choice is British then you can buy it at Infinity Foods Brighton or online at: http://hodmedods.co.uk/product-category/dried-pulses/quinoa

I’m going to have some for dinner tonight, I’ll let you know what it’s like. If you try it let me know what you make and if it was good.

 

Jools on the drums

A couple of weeks ago I went to my first proper gig, our friend Jools (a really really talented drummer)  was playing the drums and singing with a lady called Kristin McClement and her band. They were all really great musicians. Kristin is also a part of a band called Willkommen Collective.

They were playing in an old church building with a really high ceiling and by candlelight, it was beautiful.  The music was different to any I’d heard before, it’s kind of folky.  The atmosphere was really nice and the music was amazing.   All of her music is very emotive and expressive.  Go and listen to her music at: http://kristinmcclement.bandcamp.com

The point of the gig was to launch Kristin’s new album ‘Wild Grips’. It will be released on the 23 Febuary, 2015.  She’s got different shows coming up too, I really recommend seeing her, she’s really good.

This is how Kristin explains her album:

The Wild Grips refers to our wild nature. Hidden behind the glance of every stranger lies the struggle to make sense of these troubling times. What can we pull from the rubble of our modern world?

The album invokes a sense that there must be something more meaningful beyond the windows of our offices, shopping centres and rented houses.

Produced and engineered by Christian Hardy of The Leisure Society, The Wild Grips is a wide-eyed rendering of modern folk song where the acoustic and the electronic rub alongside.

Here’s a link to her website:  http://www.kristinmcclement.com

ONE CHURCH BRIGHTON

ONE CHURCH BRIGHTON

 

Full Band Show

Full Band Show

 

Kristin

Kristin

 

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