from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

of sea & earth (+ recipe)

One of the things about being self-employed, theoretically, is an ability to take time out when you want; you can always make it up at, for instance, a weekend.

In practice, it’s generally hard to actually do it.

All the better, then, that self, Daughter and TM, all of us self-employed, managed to coincide and head off to the beach to collect seaweed for the garden; a now-annual event for self and TM. It's a wonderful respite to be doing something kind of earthy instead of being on the computer.

We bribe ourselves magnificently with brunch first at The Beach House.

Then, in wild weather, we head off down past the little lagoon with its cargo of waterbirds, dogs in tow.

Yelp. No kelp. Generally, there is a mass washed up in the eastern corner of the beach; it stretches for many metres, and is a thick belt knee-deep. Our puny 30 bags make not a jot of difference.

This time, though, despite the recent and frequent storms, very little of the kelp that is torn up from deep water has washed in; or more likely it did, but the high spring tides associated with the weekend's full moon washed it all back out again.

That shot should show wall-to-wall kelp. Thick, deep, luscious, fertile. Sigh. But we set to, well-garbed against the strong southwesterly.

And despite the apparent paucity, we gathered 60 sacks – as much again as we normally manage. TM is very happy.

It must be down to the daughterly hard graft. My arm is healing well, but I probably only managed 15, and none of the carrying. Poor me. Was able to wander off, dog at side: hello clouds, hello sky. Anyone for skiving?

And noted where the snails hang out to hibernate in their winter quarters; all but one foolhardy gastropod tucked safely in the lee of the wind.|

And saw the kestrel. And watched the seriously-brave – or so they looked to me – kiteboarders riding the wild wind and squally surf far too close to the reefs for my stomach; ripped across the bay (if you look very closely at the top photo, that dark dot against the green of the headland is a kiteboarder).

So that's the sea, and the soil of our five – seven if you count the little ones – raised beds will benefit from her gifts.

I've finally planted my garlic, due to be planted, preferably, on the winter solstice. 

In last year's garlic bed where, with all the rain and cold, the garlic came to 0, there's a little thicket of green garlic leaves. I see too in the lanes that the wild garlic is thinking about spearing its way towards the sky (daffodils, snowdrops and violets all have).

Since last year's little garlic bulbs have to be removed and the garlic will grow elsewhere, as we practise crop rotation, I need to find a use for all the shooting leaves. So I looked in the fridge and larder for ex-Christmas goodies to combine with the chopped-up leaves, and made the proteinous dip below (now that I'm back to being vegan protein is something I try and eat each meal. I'm always on the lookout for tasty protein-filled dips, and in fact have come up with two or three, posted here I think, when we get to wild garlic time).

If you're like me, you may not have such luxuries in store (especially if like me you mind food miles), so this is a special-treat dip.


~ a small handful of fresh green garlic tips; OR a spring onion and a clove of garlic; OR 2 leaves of wild garlic
~ a good handful of watercress
~  a tablespoon of pine nuts
~ one third of a block of smoked tofu* (SEE BELOW)
~ 3 tablespoons CoYo** (see below)
~ I found a grilled artichoke in oil in a jar in the fridge. This was a wonderful addition!

 * Tofu: if, like me, you think tofu is a disgusting wobbly slimy tasteless thing, you obviously haven't tried the Taifun range: smoked, and solid. Not a hint of wobbly viscousness. Extremely good (I used the almond and sesame seed in the above recipe). If you're a menopausal or post-menopausal woman, though, it might be best to go easy on tofu and soy generally; the jury's out but too much might mess with your thyroid. Medical opinions differ.

** And if you haven't yet found CoYo, you really ain't lived. Dairy yogurt doesn't touch this wonderful stuff, live coconut yogurt. Not easy to get, but if you can, do try it. Food miles, yes, in the UK, and not cheap.


  1. Taifun tofu – yes! Have been using it for ages and love it as a protein/cheese replacement, addition to salads, etc. Lots of different flavours too from our Worcester Revital shop, a tiny version of that huge Totnes place near the market, I think.
    Shall definitely try your dip and pine nuts make a less bitter, alternative to walnuts, though I love those too. Thing about nuts, though, is food-miles, I suppose, but then I don't want to spoil the fun and at least it doesn't torture/kill animals.

    I'd go on but should be spending a little time on TWR (see recent email) as it's a hopelessly bitty week and I'm beginning to resent the loss of continuity, the luxury (we hope!) of hours spent writing (if it takes off).
    A lovely homely blog. Thanks.
    Love, Miriam

  2. Hi Miriam - always lovely to have your comments!

    Nuts: it's possible to source most of them from Europe, at least. (In Brittany last winter my daughter and I steadfastly collected and cooked literally hundreds of HUGE sweet chestnuts - as big as any from further south - and [after I'd broken my arm] night after night she came over to the fireside and peeled them, and we froze them. That was our winter protein up until Christmas.)

    Glad you're enthused over TWR, as your email suggested. I Have Bea ariving today and the weekend workshop to prep (food too), so I might not get the chance to respond. Just to say end Feb would be ideal for me for TWR; after early March everything might be too busy for me to comment properly.

    With love to both



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