Monday, 24 October 2011

So, What Have You Been Up To? - LinkStorm

I'm so sorry I didn't call.

So, recently, I've been busy.  Still unemployed, but sending out CVs to everywhere that seems good.  Still broke, but making it work for me.  I've been making my own clothes, which is awesome.

Sewing/knitting are really great skills to have when you're broke.  If you have more time than money, it is absolutely worth it (on the other hand, if you have more money than time, it is completely the right decision to pay someone else to make your stuff).

The dress came out quite short, because I underestimated the amount of fabric needed.  BUT, it can also be worn as a top and a skirt, and I am exceptionally proud of it.  You can see more pictures (plus, links to the tutorials I used) here.  I also made a tie for Anthony, using this tutorial.

I embroidered a little cross because he works for the NHS!
This week, I've been more into knitting, and I'm currently halfway through an autumn-themed sock for myself.  I'm using this program, which will churn out a sock pattern for you, once you put in a few basic measurements.

It's surprisingly easy to find vegan yarn out there.  Simply have a look at the label.  You'll want to avoid wool (sheep), mohair (goats), cashmere (goats again), alpaca (alpacas), angora (bunnies), and silk (silkworms).    Cotton, linen, acrylic, nylon, and polyester yarns are vegan, as far as I know, though you may wish to do your own research and consider the dyes used.

There's a livejournal community for vegan knitters here, and I also found a Birmingham based Stitch 'n' Bitch group, which I plan to get to as soon as I have a Saturday free.

Speaking of Stitch 'n' Bitch, reading that book has reawakened my interest, since I found it in the library last week.  Both my grandmother and my dadima (paternal grandmother) tried to teach me to knit when I was about seven, but since one learned by feel rather than in words, and the other doesn't speak English (and I don't speak Gujerati), neither really worked for me.  I eventually learned to knit about five years ago, by following the directions in Penny Hill's Learn to Knit, though a quick google search will bring up hundreds of tutorials.  I particularly like this one, which I use to cast on all ribbing, including for my pumpkin sock.

Pumpkin/Autumn sock!  The wool itself is patterned, and knits up into this beautiful design.  I'm buying more tomorrow, so I'll let you know the exact make.  This ball has lost its label.

I have several balls of yarn under my bed, which I've collected during previous periods of interest in knitting (I tend to drift between hobbies).  The pumpkin wool is one of them, but, luckily, since the yarn itself changes colour, matching the dye lot won't matter.  The yarn is still sold (in that wonderful little haberdashery stall in the indoor market), and I fully intend to make lots of pumpkinny things.  These socks, specifically, I have earmarked for keeping my toesies warm while I'm volunteering in the Women's Shelter for Crisis at Christmas.

I'm a little concerned about being vegan, over Christmas, while broke, in a strange city.  I don't want to buy food in London, as, firstly, shopping will be a nightmare, and, secondly, it'll be more expensive than in Birmingham.  Instead, I plan to carry tinned soup, a loaf of bread, PB&J, and a giant bag of apples.  I'll buy or carry a bottle of soya milk, then either pinch some of those little cereal packets from my cousin's kitchen (some of those are vegan, right?), or carry a tub of cornflakes with me.  I don't want to carry too many things to cook, as they'll be bulkier to carry than the finished product.  It'll be a boring diet, but it's only for four days.  Any ideas/tips, please let me know in the comments.

Speaking of free events (like the afore-mentioned knitting group - find one close to you here), the Shout Festival is currently on-going in Birmingham.  Shout is Birmingham's festival of Queer Culture - like Gay Pride meets Arts Fest - and several events are free.  I've also been attending the Journey Film Club, which is run by someone I volunteer with at VEGed Out.

Speaking of VEGed Out; I started out as a kitchen assistant, but after being handed more responsibility regarding meals, I can now call myself a chef.  Go me!  I invented a recipe which I have christened 'Goblin Pie'.  It involves roasted chickpeas (so you can see the Happy Herbivore influence right there), onions, carrots, and celery, all in a parsley crust.  SO yummers.  Goes well with rosemary and thyme mash.  Recipe soon!

I'm also volunteering with Victim Support, and I hope to specialise in domestic abuse and sexual violence.  Finally, I've also been reading about/experimenting with Luminosity, the idea of being aware of how your specific mind works.  So far, I've figured out that I am a words person, as described in this first short story.  It's been very useful to go through this with Anthony (who remains delicious, and has been attempting to knit while I have been attempting to teach him).  Turns out, he's more of a "you spent hours making me something?  You must really love me!" person, which is good to know, and has helped to curb my bad habit of abandoning projects halfway through.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Happy Herbivore's Chickpea Tacos

I won't be posting this recipe here since, obviously, it isn't mine. What I am going to do is figure out the cost, since I seriously want to recommend it to you guys. It's easy to make, requires very few ingredients and is OMG SO DELICIOUS. I am not kidding. This recipe is incredible.

Te quiero taco.

I had almost every ingredient in the cupboard already. I had all the spices, but no taco shells, for the simple reason that I've never had tacos before. This recipe was perfect for my first time (insert joke here).

  • 400g Tin of Chickpeas (43p, Tesco) - 43p
  • 6 Taco Shells (Old El Paso, £1.54 for a box of 12, Tescos) - 77p
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce (I used this instead of tamari - Gold Plum Superior Light Soy Sauce, £1.19 for 620ml) - 3p
  • 2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice (Jif, 79p for 55ml, Tesco) - 3p
  • 1 Tablespoon Chilli Powder (Mild Chilli Powder, 81p for 50g, Tesco) - 7p
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin (85p for 43g, Tesco) - 4p

I'm not calculating the costs of the other spices, as only a quarter of a teaspoon is used. I'll estimate 20p for all of them.

Total - £1.54 for two people, or 77p per person.


  • 6 Taco Shells
  • Most of every single spice.
  • Most of a bottle of soy sauce.
  • Most of a bottle of lemon juice. other words, pick up another tin of chickpeas, and have them again later in the week.  The only time-sensitive item is the taco shells.

Roasted, seasoned chickpeas.

We ate ours with vegan mayo (Mayola, £1.59 for 310g, approx 20p per tablespoon), fresh tomatoes (pack of 6 salad tomatoes, 95p, Tesco, approx 16p each), tomato purée (approx 4p per tablespoon) and salad leaves (mixed leaves, £1 per bag, Tesco, so approx 25p each).  Of course, these ingredients do up the cost, which is why I've not tagged this as under £2, but they are so worth it.  I particularly like the vegan mayo - it nicely counteracts the spiciness of the chickpeas.  Anthony prefers the tomato.

This is definitely going to be something I'll make again and again.  It takes, at most, half an hour.  You could even do more chickpeas at once, and just microwave them when you next want them.

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