Archive | April, 2013

Thyme Lemonade

28 Apr

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Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 bunch fresh thyme (plus sprigs for garnish), juice of 6 lemons, juice of 2 limes, 6 cups cold water, slices of lime to garnish.

In a saucepan, bring the sugar, thyme, and 1 cup water to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Take off the heat and leave the thyme to infuse for a couple of minutes . Stir in the juices and 6 cups of cold water; strain into a large pitcher. Refrigerate until cold.

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The solution to your problems cannot be found in a bottle of moisturiser

25 Apr

*unless the only problem you have is skincare related. obvs.

Some of you might have seen the latest video from Dove doing the rounds. It features women who describe how they look to a professional forensic artist from behind a screen, who then draws them. The women then describe their fellow participants to the artist as he draws. Each woman then looks at the two sketches – one drawn from their own description of themselves, and one drawn from the perspective of a stranger. Each woman agrees that they look more beautiful when described by strangers than by themselves. Cue some general discussion about how beauty is important for happiness, how they are their own worst critics, and how everyone is more beautiful than they think they are.

I’d like to draw your attention to this  post by little drops, who provides an excellent critique of the video. Little drops first acknowledges the positives of the video, that it is useful in showing that sometimes we are our harshest critics. However, they go on to talk about how the video reinforces a narrow cultural perception of beauty by implying that descriptors such as “thin” are positive, and  freckles, fat, dark-skin, wrinkles are negative. The video specifically highlights white beauty standards, and people of colour are given minimal air-time. The video goes on to remind us how important it is to fit into standards of beauty, how it is essential for our happiness. Little drops talks about how they are angry at the ad for selling itself as challenging the idea that women’s self worth should be exclusively tied up with how they fit into a narrow beauty standard, but actually going on to reinforce those standards.

One of the things I find quite chilling about Dove’s latest video is that one participant says something along the lines of “I still have a long way to go in seeing myself as beautiful”. Whilst this is probably an accurate representation of how she feels, the position of that statement within an advert for Dove products sits with me really uneasily. It feeds into this whole “Love your body” rhetoric used by various advertising campaigns (see Dove’s real beauty campaign, Anne Summer’s “Love My Body”, The Body Shop, various other groups) which positions the blame for any self esteem problems on the individual for “not loving themselves enough” rather than the unrealistic representations and standards of beauty set by the media in service of selling more crap.

Sure, the message from companies like Dove and The Body Shop are marginally “better” in terms of body image issues, positioning themselves as radical alternatives to other cosmetic companies. However, its worth noting that these companies are part of a larger network of corporations who are guilty of the more problematic approach to advertising (The Body Shop is owned by Loreal, Dove by Unilever – hawkers of diet pills and Slimfast) and the “alternative” they offer is ultimately individualising; reinforcing of fucked up notions that a persons self-worth can be summed up by their attractiveness against a narrow sense of what is beautiful. This “love your body” rhetoric from big corporations isn’t the empowering message they position themselves as, just a niche in the market being filled. Empowerment cannot be found in a bottle of moisturizer.

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Cucumber Maki

22 Apr

We’ve been having a busy few weeks what with the Vegan Festival, lots of work at uni, as well as getting out and about. It was Rohan’s 20th birthday the other week, and we spent almost the whole week celebrating – birthday cakes, trips to see The Lion King musical (it was awesome), and meals out. I wanted to share some pictures of our celebrations alongside a recipe for cucumber maki. (Scroll down for recipe)

Rohan celebrated his birthday in style, by inviting a few of us along with his family to Yo Sushi! for a meal. The lovely folks at Yo Sushi! realised it was his birthday and invited Rohan, Jess, and Ruben (Rohan’s little brother) into the kitchens for a lesson on making cucumber maki from the head chef.

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Above: Rohan, Ruben and Jess are being told the secrets of cucumber maki from the head chef. They gave us special chef hats!

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Above: Ruben places a sheet of nori on a sushi rolling mat

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Above: Jess placing the sushi rice onto the nori

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Above: Rohan places a long strip of cucumber onto the rice

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Above: Ruben rolling up the sushi

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Above: our sushi, amongst some remnants of delicious Yo Sushi! food.

Cucumber maki recipe (makes 48 pieces) 

Ingredients: 4 sheets of nori (cut in half), 6 cups prepared sushi rice from this recipe, two cucumbers (cut into long sticks), sesame seeds

Equipment: sharp knife, bamboo sushi mat, gloves (preferable), cling film

Method:

Wrap your sushi mat in cling film, put on your gloves and oil them slightly so the rice doesn’t stick to your hands. If you don’t have any plastic gloves, keep a bowl of water near to rinse your hands in.

Put a half-size nori sheet on top of a bamboo mat. Spread about 3/4 cup of sushi rice on top of the nori evenly, leaving about 1 cm from the far edge. Sprinkle the rice surface with sesame seeds. Place cucumber sticks horizontally on the rice. Roll up the bamboo mat, pressing forward to shape the sushi into a cylinder, making sure you don’t wrap the bamboo mat into the sushi itself! Press the bamboo mat firmly with hands. Unwrap the bamboo mat and make more rolls.

Once all the rolls are done, cut each long roll into 6 pieces.  Enjoy with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

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Asparagus Ribbon Salad with Cucumber, Radish, and Sun-blush Tomatoes

21 Apr

We had some smoked sun-blush tomatoes left over from the Northern Vegan festival and created this amazing salad! We used the delicious Tuscan Kiss herb blend from the Avanti Natural Store (which is absolutely divine) but if you don’t have some at hand you can add some extra dried basil and orange zest.

Ingredients: I pack of asparagus (about 12 spears), half a cucumber, a handful of radishes, 1 tsp orange zest, handful chopped parsley, handful of smoked sun-blush tomatoes (use normal sunblushed or sundried if you don’t want to smoke them), 1 clove garlic (fine chopped), salt and pepper, 2-3 tsp tuscan kiss herb blend, 3 tbsp orange juice, 2 tbsp olive oil

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Make ribbons out of the asparagus by shaving strips off down the entire length with a vegetable peeler and add to your mixing bowl. Thinly slice the cucumber and radish and add to the bowl alongside the garlic, herbs, and tomatoes. Combine the orange juice and olive oil, salt and pepper and toss through the salad. Delicious!

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Photos from the Northern Vegan Festival 2013

13 Apr

Today the Naked Vegan Cooks popped down to the Northern Vegan Festival in Manchester. A busy day was had by all – the queues went round the entire building and the venue was absolutely packed! Many thanks to the organisers for putting together an awesome event. Here are a few of our choice pictures from the day, we didnt get chance to take too many cause there were so many people!

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Above: Jess, Hannah and Rohan looking after the Naked Vegan Cooking stall

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Above: the Naked Vegan Cooking stall looking all neat before the masses arrive!

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Above: Hannah and Jess rocking Naked Vegan Cooking aprons which Hannah made. Hannah is taking orders for these lovely aprons, contact nakedvegancooking [at] gmail [dot] com for more details if you want to buy one.

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Above: Hannah gives us a thumbs up….

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Above: The queue to get in the venue was snaking round the entire building all day. Didnt know there were so many vegans!

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Above: we were flogging some of Raw Nibbles amazing gourmet raw chocolate bars. They are delicious!

We were also selling fantastic vegan baklava (below), smoked sun-dried tomatoes, chocolate cake, shortbread, spinach fatayers, zines… all the things!

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Below: Heres a pick of Jess and Hannah with the fabulous Ms Cupcake of Britain’s Best Bakery fame!

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Below: another pic from the Ms Cupcake stall. They were awesome.

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Below: This is the lovely Zim from the Coffee Cranks Co-operative, a Manchester based bicycle-powered coffee shop who are currently raising money via crowdfunding to start up their amazing project. Big love to them!

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Below: this fabulous looking shark was raising awareness for the Sea Shephard campaign which aims to use direct action to preserve biodiversity in global waters.

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Other people that we want to big up who we didnt manage to get a photo of was Bleat (the upcoming vegan social networking site), Veggies (the awesome vegan catering company and radical workers coop), and the Manchester Hunt Sabs collective.

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