A Day at the Festival

  • 3 000 New Testaments burned, by order of a Bishop
  • Fight, not facts, are more important to today’s press.
  • The Malawian government seems to be preventing poor people from being educated
  • We are killing our planet
  • Racial prejudice is still blindingly rife in this country

In the random events I chose to attend that day at the Literary Festival at Hay-on-Wye (see www.hayfestival.org) my naïve soul was certainly introduced to a lot about control of facts and suppression of the truth, whether it was Melvyn Bragg’s brilliant commentary on William Tyndale, the greatest Englishman (even influencing Shakespeare), and his insistence that the Bible should be translated into simple English. (Was burned at the stake for such audacity)  or James O’Brian from LBC commenting on the absence of accuracy and the proliferation of  false stories in today’s newspapers, or a tiny organisation trying to get books into Malawi’s poorest village, or Afua Hirsch, a mixed-race Brit who is still asked “Where are you from, really?” as if she has to defend her Britishness.

People love the Hay Festival. Their stuttered spurts of praise and delight are almost incoherent in deep emotion. I think its joy is in the intense energy released from all that new learning –a quarter of a million brains engaged in learning are bound to give a  POW to the atmosphere!

What a privilege, then to meet some of these “normal” people who are making a difference in the world!  And in so many areas!

  • Newly published and beautifully illustrated:  Cinterella of the Nile, a 2000 year old Cinderella story.
  • Seaweed, fed to cattle helps to reduce the greenhouse gases they cause
  • people are experimenting in developing cells from fish to make fish fillets, from chicken to make chicken fillets – no heads, no tails, no bones, just the meat we eat. And no damage to the environment, minus the occasional fish and chicken.
  • There’s a Vegan hamburger that actually oozes “blood”.
  • A very small organisation is providing the poorest of the villages in Malawi with books, producing education, even up to University level. They had never seen a book before the organisation arrived in 2002.
  • Craftivism, started by a burnt-out activist, shows how to respond to injustice not with apathy or aggression, but with gentle effective creative protest.  Craft is the social lubricant!

There was lots more.   Quite a day, quite an eye-opener. Will it change my life?  Hopefully.

Ultimate Chilli

Paul McCartney’s plea for us to go partially Vegan (see his Youtube One Day A Week) encouraged me to find out more about plant-based food.  I attended a lively interview with Henry Firth and Ian Theasby and their new Vegan cookbook BOSH!   Most of their huge following comes from their Facebook entries, so I’m glad they also published a book.  Aside from exhausting the English language’s superlatives, their instructions are simple and detailed. Trying out this recipe elicited an occasional “WHAAAA?” but I admit that this is by far the best vegetarian chilli I have ever made, or eaten.  And since it’s Vegan, too, it is open to an even wider circle of our friends.

1 Grind 400 grams (16 ozs)  mushrooms in a liquidiser until finely minced, then fry in oil 5 minutes.  Set aside.

  1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. When hot add: 2 red onions peeled and chopped, 4 garlic cloves peeled and chopped, 2 red chillis stemmed and de-seeded and chopped and the chopped stems of 30 grams coriander (save the leaves to garnish at the end) Cook 5 – 10 minutes stirring constantly.
  2. Then add 4 celery stalks finely chopped, and 1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped.  While that’s cooking, make up the spice mix.
  3. Spice mix: in a small bowl mix 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, and a bay leaf.
  4. Add the spice mix to the cooking vegetables, ensuring that all vegs and all spices meet each other companionably. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in 1 tablespoon tomato puree (paste) 8 ozs (1 cup) red wine, 2 tsps soy sauce, and 1 tsp balsamic vinegar. Turn heat to high. Cook until the liquid is reduced by two thirds.
  6. Pour in 2 tins (cans) of chopped tomatoes. Cook until thickened.
  7. Add 1 tin (can) drained black beans, 1 tin (can) drained kidney beans, 1 ½ tsps. maple syrup (I used honey), 10 g (1 square) dark chocolate and the cooked mushrooms.
  8.  Let the mixture bubble and chuckle for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Before serving remove the bay leaf and sprinkle on the chopped coriander.

The chilli is in there somewhere! A layer of brown rice, a layer of chilli, a layer of chopped lettuce, then  grated cheese, then thick yogurt, and then corn chips.  What’s there not to like?   Sliced tomatoes are good, too, if you have them.

Note to my viewer: if you know where to find Vegan yogurt, mayonnaise, and cheese, please write in REPLY so that all can access it.  Thanks.


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