just wait till he’s roaming the land…

Couldn’t resist uploading this video – captured this afternoon – of one of my cats and his squirrel “friend”.

And here’s a review just in:

"Please pass on our congratulations to Sean on his 'youtube'
debut: an Oscar-winning performance in true Hugh Grant style.
He certainly could not be accused of overacting!

Of course, his many fans will be disappointed that he wasn't
given a more substantial script: an opportunity for him to show
off his natural energy and aggression in such a gripping
stand-off. However, young actors have to start somewhere and
appearing with an acrobatic squirrel must represent as good a
start as any.

Let's hope that this was just the start and that agents will
come a-calling if not the interior decorators who may have
spotted the flaking paint on your window sill!"

Thanks, Dad.
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locavore challenge

Where I work they’ve been trying to get everyone to think more sustainably, and we now have a scheme that challenges us to pledge that we’ll make changes (a new change every month) to green up our home and work environments. My New Year’s resolution, pledged to whomever was listening at work, is to buy nothing unnecessary, and – for food purchases – only to buy stuff that is locally grown or produced whenever possible. In a few months time I hope to be harvesting my own vegetables and herbs, but today I thought I’d do my best in Wholefoods. I know, I know, Farmers’ Markets. But the thing is, I can WALK to Wholefoods, whereas a trip to the Farmers’ Market (if I’m not going to go in the car) will require buying and fitting panniers/a basket to my mountain bike, which is not going to happen.

Anyway, the shopping list was short and sweet, although I did suddenly get the urge to make muffins (as part of a different, doctor-ordered, eat flaxseed challenge), which threatened to mess up the locavore attempt. So, OK, exceptions were made for the molasses and dates that the recipe required, but how easy was the rest of it? Milk, and buttermilk (for the muffins), no problem – we have a great local dairy with a bottle return scheme and everything, but no one round here makes yoghurt. Hmm. Our Wholefoods usually has eggs loose in a basket from a local producer, but I was told the hens (at this particular farm) weren’t laying! Fortunately some other pre-packaged eggs were local (which is good, because hens are not something I’m planning to include on the old farmstead… at least not at first). But how to cater to my craving for fruit? If only I lived in California, or Washington State! After much searching I settled for a bag of tangerines from Florida, which is almost a neighbour, and a big bottle of fresh, locally produced apple cider (for those Brit-side of the Pond, no, this is not alcoholic! It’s just apple juice… no really). Quite pleased with myself about the (non-alcoholic) cider – this is not something I would have thought to buy, but it’s actually quite delicious!

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delicious soup for a winter day

Just back from London where I had the chance to catch up with friends and family, and – on a bitterly cold day – try this amazing celeriac and parsley mash soup. It was from PRET A MANGER, and a perfect, soothing, warming thing. Here’s the recipe (pasted from their PDF, with only minor changes – they haven’t yet uploaded it to its own webpage)… It’s certainly worth trying to make if you aren’t near a Pret store! Now the challenge is to see if I can source all its ingredients locally…

Pret’s Celeriac and Parsley Mash Soup
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
A large knob of butter
1 largish celeriac, peeled and roughly chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock (‘Marigold’ vegetable bouillon works well)
2 bay leaves
A pinch of dried rosemary
A smidgen of dried sage
Sea salt and coarse- ground black pepper
100ml double cream
A generous handful of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

MAKING THE SOUP
1. Gently fry the carrots and onion with the butter in a large pan until soft (around 10 minutes).
2. Add the vegetable stock, celeriac, bay leaves, rosemary and sage.
3. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 25 minutes until all the vegetables are soft
and mushy.
4. Remove the bay leaves, roughly blend, then add the cream and the parsley.
5. Serve with the freshest, crunchiest bread you can find.

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