A Couple More Vegan Recipes

Both from Anjum Anand’s Indian Vegetarian Feast. Both reproduced here without any permission at all, but will happily remove if Ms Anand or her publisher requests it (emails to southside socialist at hotmail dot co dot uk).

Lemony Spinach & Vegetable Hotpot

Serves 5-6
20g root ginger, (peeled weight)
3 fat garlic cloves, peeled
4 large tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons     vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 rounded teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon   turmeric
1 rounded teaspoon garam masala
salt, to taste
1 large-ish carrot, peeled and chopped into 2 cm pieces
1/2 large aubergine, cut into 2 cm pieces
1 potato, peeled and cut into 2 cm pieces
4 tablespoons     bengal gram, soaked for two hours, or as long as possible
500g baby spinach, washed
15g     dill fronds, roughly chopped or 25g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves, crumbled between your fingers
1-1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Using a stick blender, blend together the ginger and garlic with a little water until smooth. Set aside. Again using the stick blender, blend the tomatoes until smooth. Set these aside as well.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan. Add the onion and cook until just soft. Add the blended ginger and garlic and cook until the liquid has dried up and the garlic turns lightly golden. Add the tomatoes, spices and salt and bring to the boil; simmer for five minutes.

Add the carrot, aubergine and potato and give the pan a good stir. Sprinkle over the drained lentils, but do not stir them in. Place the spinach, herbs and fenugreek on top and pour in 200 ml of water. Without stirring the pan, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer on a gentle flame until yieldingly soft, around 1–1¼ hours.

Uncover and, if you like, mash the vegetables and spinach together until homogeneous (this is how the authentic recipe is made; some prefer to leave the vegetables whole). Add the lemon juice to taste and adjust the seasoning. Simmer off any excess water as the stew cooks for another 15 minutes and becomes creamy, then serve.

Keralan Coconut Curry

Serves 4

400g sweet potatoes, peeled, in 3 cm chunks (or other starchy veg – I sometimes use butternut squash and/or carrot)
100g greens or spinach, washed and shredded
400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 tablespoons    vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
3-5 green chillies, whole but pierced with the tip of a knife
25g    root ginger, finely chopped, (peeled weight)
5 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
salt, to taste
1/2-2/3 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3/4-1 teaspoon ground cumin
400ml creamy coconut milk
1/2-3/4 teaspoon tamarind paste, dissolved in a little hot water, to taste
3/4 teaspoon garam masala, or to taste
knob coconut cream
lots    freshly ground pepper

Put the sweet potatoes on to boil and cook until just done; it should take around 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan and add the mustard seeds. Once the popping diminishes, add the onion and green chillies and sauté for two to three minutes or until just softening, then add the ginger and garlic; sauté these gently for one minute. Add the tomatoes, salt, turmeric and ground coriander and cumin and keep sautéing for four to five minutes. Now taste; it should seem harmonious and the tomatoes should be soft but still retain their form.

Add the coconut milk and a splash of water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for five to seven minutes. Add the greens and cook for a few minutes, then add the drained sweet potatoes, the chickpeas, most of the tamarind, the garam masala and coconut cream. Taste, adjust the seasoning, adding more tamarind to taste, and serve.

#WEcan Fuck Up The DWP’s Online Campaign To Promote Mass Workfare


If a job needs to be done, employ someone and pay them a proper wage!

Originally posted on the void:

workfare-stick-upA whole host of corporate vultures have teamed up with the DWP to launch an online campaign celebrating young people being coerced into working for no pay for some of the richest companies in the UK.

Marks & Spencer, Whitbread, Halfords and shamefully the BBC have all signed up to the #WEcan campaign which aims to encourage even more businesses to provide unpaid work experience positions instead of employing young people properly.  The new initiative comes as the Government draws up plans to force all unemployed young people into permanent unpaid work if they are unable to find a job within six months of becoming unemployed.  This means they have to find enough grubby companies and so-called charities who are prepared to take part in this shocking exploitation.  The #WEcan campaign is part of an attempt to achieve this, so let’s fuck it up.

Already parasites from the welfare-to-work industry…

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Family Matters

My head is reeling.

My dad’s been in Scotland this week with his girlfriend, and yesterday I met them in my mum’s home town, which is a small town on the east coast – small now and even smaller 60 years ago, one of those towns where everybody knew everybody and everybody’s business. We went to see one of my aunts and her husband. She’s my mum’s little sister, but they’ve stayed friendly with my dad since my parents split up. A couple who they are friends with were also there – my parents know them well and I’ve met them loads of times before.

My aunt & uncle and their friends had been on the wine before we got there, and once we arrived the talk turned to family matters, reminiscences and the gossip/criticism that happens in all big families (my mum is the 4th of 6 children). Anyway, what came out today is that a few years ago a man my aunt knows informed her that they were half-brother and sister. My grandparents had separated, my grandmother had had an affair with a married neighbour, and got pregnant with my aunt. My grandmother had always said to the adult relatives she wanted my aunt to be told the truth when she was old enough to understand, but died when my aunt was about 7 and my mum was 11 or 12, so wasn’t able to tell her herself. My aunt’s biological dad died and when his wife, who knew, was dying, she explained to her sons that they had to tell my aunt the truth. So, my aunt was told and well, as she said, she thought she had five siblings, but it turns out she has eight half-siblings!

But the thing that really has me reeling is the other thing she told me. After my grandmother died, my grandad returned to the family home and brought up the kids. All of them except my aunt had eventually left home, and when she was 15, she discovered that my grandad was drilling holes through the bedroom and bathroom walls to spy on her. She told her friend, and the friend’s parents came straight round to the house, packed up all her belongings in an army blanket, and took her to live with them, and she stayed with them until she got married.

I didn’t know my maternal grandad very well, and he died when I was about 11, but I loved him very much. As an adult, from what my family have told me it’s clear that he was terribly racist, and his parenting disciplinary techniques would today be described as abusive, but I can accept that he was a product of his time and many people held the same abhorrent views and thought beating their kids was ok. I don’t like that he was like that, but I was a kid, he was my grandad, and I loved him. But this, this is really hard to get my head round, and the fact my aunt wasn’t his natural daughter doesn’t make it any better. I’m so shocked, I was shaking for most of last night. I am hoping that maybe his experiences in the war (India, Italy, Burma) affected him in ways nobody realised and that his spying was from a need to know what my aunt was doing rather than a sexual thing, but there’s no way to find out without asking intrusive questions. I knew he wasn’t perfect, and I knew there were reasons that his children had so little contact with him, but I assumed it was because of the beatings and the children idolising their dead mum so much they resented their dad. But now, things make more sense and it’s awful.

“No one feels judged on their opinion.” Conversation and cake with Morningside Library’s Book Group

Originally posted on Tales of One City:

IMG_4950The reading experience is something we take very seriously in Edinburgh Libraries, and one of the most successful methods of promoting the joy of reading  is through book groups.

There are dozens of book groups meeting in libraries across Edinburgh. These include specialist groups for teens, dyslexic readers, sci-fi fans and a group concentrating specifically on contemporary European Literature.

With  National Reading Group Day (20th June) fast approaching we visited one of our groups to join in the discussion on The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver


The group have been meeting at Morningside Library for a couple of years now and everyone was quick to point out the benefits. Martha, a first time book-grouper tells us:

“I’ve been really impressed by the level of conversation and all the different ideas which are brought to the group. Even if you have read a book you didn’t like so much, usually, following a discussion…

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Lost in a good book


What a lovely thing to do. Goodness knows how many of my possessions-used-as-bookmarks are in there.

Originally posted on Tales of One City:

exhibitionWhen Mavis started work as a library assistant in central library a few years back one of the tasks she was given was to check returned books for pencil marks and other damage.

While doing this though she came across all sorts of items readers had used as bookmarks and forgot to remove: photographs, business cards, flyers, children’s drawings, train timetables, postcards, wedding invitations….

Mavis asked what to do with these objects. She was told they should be binned. Which she did. For about a week.

“As the rule made no sense to me I ignored it and started to collect them”, Mavis says .

“I didn’t have any sort of plan but something told me that maybe one day even one person could be reunited with a treasured photograph or perhaps a keepsake they thought was lost forever”.

Today is that day.

Many of the items Mavis held onto…

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The Smell of Bullshit, part 67: 10 Items or Less*

*I know it should be fewer, not less, but the signs always say less.

The Bournemouth Echo reports that Lush refused to allow a woman to buy products to take back to her family in China. She wanted to take approximately 30 soaps and shampoos back to China as gifts, but Lush said she couldn’t have any more than ten. The Echo says ‘Hilary Jones, ethics director at Lush, said: “Like so many other brands, we have a no resale policy so if we think someone’s buying multiples of something our staff are empowered to say no.” ‘

No resale policy? Really? Then why haven’t they clamped down on ebay sales and sales on the Lush forum? And let’s not even get started on “we don’t trust the Chinese not to test our products on animals and this woman’s Chinese so she can’t have them.”

Check out the comments below the article, especially the one from the woman who says her sister stopped working at the Lush factory when she started coughing up blood. Eek.

Personal Reading Recommendations – Terra

As already mentioned, Edinburgh Libraries offer a personal reading recommendations service. This week I finished one of their recommendations for me, Terra by Mitch Benn.

An alien makes an unauthorised visit to Earth to study native species, accidentally frightens a couple into running away from their car leaving their newborn baby behind. He takes the baby back to his home planet and brings her up, as much like his own as possible given that on his planet, she’s the alien.

The first two thirds of the book are pretty good, but when the inevitable peril arrives, the resolution is trite and predicable. It feels a bit like the author knew he had to finish it and had run out of original ideas. There are loose ends left unfinished which suggest an opening for at least one sequel. The tone is uneven, there are some inconsistencies in the plotting (the Fnrrians don’t know about fiction? really?), and it’s definitely more of a young adult book, but it’s enjoyable with some very funny bits, and I would read a sequel if one were forthcoming.

Next – Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun

Reading for a healthy mind

Originally posted on Tales of One City:

Whether it’s anger, anxiety, diet or stress, mental health issues affect us all.

Experts at NHS Lothian’s Mental Health Service have come up with this essential list of books for children, young people and families which deal with topics such as depression, Schizophrenia, OCD and bereavement.

You can also download the book list as a pdf.

You can also search Your Edinburgh to find more sources of advice such as useful web sites, charities and other organisations.

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