Tuesday, June 17

Samhain (and the Woolton pie recipe)

As some of you may know, and others may have picked up, I am Pagan. For me, this means observing the movement of our amazing planet as it travels through space, the seasons which result from this, and the feelings we inherently associate with these seasons. I've always celebrated the Pagan festivals by having a special dinner that reflects the moment in time we are celebrating.

Shortly before we split up, Jeff and I observed Samhain, which is the festival from which Halloween was created. Samhain marks the halfway point between the Autumn Equinox (Mabon) and the Winter Solstice (Yule. Ah, I see you making the historical connections to another popular festival celebrated around the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere...). Samhain is the final festival of the Pagan calendar and represents death and dying in the circle of life, before the spark of life is reignited at Yule when the days begin to lengthen once more and the sun begins to return. It seems fitting then that this would be the last festival that Jeff and I would spend together. This is also a very fitting time for me to be grieving for this loss and spending my time healing, consolidating, and refocusing for a new beginning in the coming months, because that's what this time of year symbolizes.

However, Samhain, with its background of death, is not a time of sorrow. It is a time of acceptance, of love, and of appreciation for what you have, and what you will have. I like to make something for dinner on that night that reflects that feeling you get around this time of year, that you just want to curl up in the warmth with a hearty meal and those you love, and hibernate through the Winter. This year I made something I've been wanting to make for years, Woolton Pie.

Woolton Pie has its roots in WWII England when rations meant that there wasn't a whole lot to eat besides a few vegetables and a bit of flour. I found my recipe many years ago and cut it out of a magazine, the name of which I have long since forgotten, and have been saving it for a festival such as Samhain. It was a bit more effort than I like to take when making dinner, so I think it'll stay as a 'special occassions' meal only, though I must say the pasty was very yummy!

Woolton Pie

Serves 4

For the filling

450g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

900g carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Pinch of nutmeg
Chopped parsley
Vegetable stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste

For the pastry

50g Nuttelex
22g plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Fry the potatoes and carrot separately in Nuttelex until soft. Set aside.

3. Fry the spring onions, celery, and leek in Nuttelex until soft.

4. Mix all the cooked vegetables together with the dried thyme, and salt, pepper, nutmeg, and chopped parsley to taste. Fill a pie dish with this mixture, bury the bay leaf in the middle, and moisten with a little vegetable stock or water. Set aside to cool.

5. To make the pastry crust, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Rub in the Nuttelex, then add enough water to make a rolling consistency, although one that is slightly softer than when making pastry with white flour. Roll out and use to cover the pie.

6. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Happy eating! :)


I had intended to write longer individual posts on all of these, but in light of recent events I think a list will have to do.

Carrot, potato and peas curry from Allotment 2 Kitchen.

From the NEW Oxfam Vegetarian Cookbook (yes there's a new one!), spiced cauliflower masala.

African sweet potato and peanut stew.

Bean and vegetable chili from Fat Free Vegan with quinoa.

Pancakes with sliced banana and amber agave syrup for breakfast.

Roasted pumpkin seeds which came out this time with the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth texture!

Alpine Coconut Yoghurt with banana for a snack.

Porridge with amber agave syrup on cold mornings.

A delicious pie I got during my Everything Vegan shopping spree, McCain's Beer Batter Chips, and tomato sauce.

Homemade carbonara (you can find the sauce recipe here) with Kinda Bacon.

Happy eating! :)

How to heal a broken heart

Bob Graham wrote an excellent picture book called How to Heal a Broken Wing, the book follows a pigeon with a broken wing and the boy who helps it. There's a very vegan message of empathy, respect, and kindness towards all creatures and I highly recommend you check it out.

As you would have noticed, I have been absent from blogging for quite some time. The reason for this is that after 6 years together, Jeff and I split up. As I'm sure you can appreciate, this has been devastating and heart-wrenching for me, so I hit the pause button on my life and went to curl up by myself for a bit. I'm just starting to emerge back out into the world now, but the sadness and the grief is still there, and I'm still completely heartbroken.

Bob Graham writes that a broken wing can sometimes heal with rest, and time, and a little hope. But how does one heal a broken heart? Not with Breakup Pudding from PETA's Vegan College Cookbook, that's for sure! In my happily coupled-up days, I'd always wanted to make this recipe but never got around to it. Then when I found myself alone and facing suffocation under an ever-increasing mountain of snotty tissues, I thought yes, now's the time.

This pudding is not for the faint hearted. It contains 10 tablespoons of sugar and though it professes to feed 4, I dispute that claim. This is 10 tablespoons of sugar for 1 person. Along with the entire sugar stocks of Australia, the pudding also requires a whopping 8 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 pack of silken tofu, 2.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Then you simply blend it all until smooth and chill. The end result comes out like this (please excuse the poor quality of the photo, I was not in a good state of mind):

Is it possible to feel worse after your life partner has just abandoned you, you know you're going to be alone forever, and you find yourself curled up on the lounge watching 500 Days of Summer while wearing a jumper that says 'I Like Cats' and crying into your breakup pudding? Well, no, but it is possible to feel very very sick on top of that. Was it eating my own weight in sugar? No, I don't believe so, though that did cause my heart to race at an extraordinary speed. Was it eating a pudding made for 4 people in one sitting? No, that's not really out of the ordinary for me. No, it was the absurd amount of cocoa, I'm talking so much cocoa that it burns the back of your throat as you're eating it. The problem is, the ratio of cocoa to water was, well, non-existent. This meant that the cocoa created a sort of thick gel in my stomach and couldn't continue down into my small intestine which resulted in terrible nausea and a great amount of vomiting. On the plus side, the relief that one experiences post-vomit was probably the emotional highlight of my day.

So if you're ever heartbroken, I suggest that you ignore PETA's advice and do not eat their breakup pudding, even though sugary, chocolaty gloop is exactly what you feel you need. I think Bob Graham is probably on the right track, the only things that really heal a broken heart are rest, time, and a little hope.

Happy (not) eating...and here's to hope.