Friday, 29 March 2013

vegan cheesecake!

Two of my close friends are getting married next week, and asked me to make a vegan cheesecake for their wedding. Admittedly cheesecake isn't the most obvious choice of cake to make vegan, but silken tofu can do wonders. It can be found in asian shops (at the back of Yum Yum; upstairs at New Loon Moon) health food stores like Infinity Foods or if like me you're baking late at night, in Sainsbury's, hidden near the Beanfeast. The stuff I've used is UHT, and comes in a tetrapak.

I made a nice Lime one before, with a base made from digestive biscuits, but my friend who's getting married asked for chocolate, so chocolate it is.

I've largely used the recipe found in Another Dinner Is Possible, an excellent vegan cookbook written by a cooking collective on the southcoast, experienced at serving up tasty grub to large groups of activists.

So.. the recipe.

50g cashew nuts
5 tbsp oil
2 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
100g flour
200-400g chocolate
~600g (2 packs) of silken tofu,
100g + 3tbsp sugar

Glaze (cream+sugar+vanilla)

Preheat oven to Gas 6

To make the base, grind & blend:
50g cashew nuts
3 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1tbsp sugar

add 100g flour

Press this breadcrumby mixture into a tin (I used a round 'springform cake tin') and bake in the oven for 15mins.

Melt the chocolate (200-400g) in a 'bain-marie'

Blend (~600g - 2 packs) of silken tofu, add 2tsp vanilla essence and 100g sugar.

Then mix in with the chocolate like so:

Add rum (2 - 6 shots to taste!)

Put this mix on top of the breadcrumby base, and bake for 30mins.

You can add an extra 'glaze' area if you like. I used half a carton of soya cream, with 2tbsp sugar & 2tsp vanilla essence. Adding more sugar will make a nice shiny gelatinous caramely top.
You can also use yoghurt as the 'base' of this & mix in various flavours.

Bake this for 5-10 mins on top heat.

Leave in a fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, before eating.
Should serve 12.

et voila... 

Here's a lime version I made for the London Vegan Pot-luck last month.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

On why I'm not voting for a PCC

The PCC's elected tomorrow, across the country, will replace county-level Police Authorities, which, in Sussex, was made up of over 20 appointed people, some of them elected councillors, and some appointed for specific expertise. Whilst far from perfect, the authority ensured a broader spectrum of backgrounds, both political and geographical. 

As with all elections, only those with the backing of a political party have the capacity, financially and labour-wise to be successful. It cost £5,000 to enter the race as a candidate, excluding the vast majority of people I know who rarely have any spare money. Certainly excludes people like me on low income relying on expensive rented accommodation.  It's as if the corn laws (or the suffragettes) never happened.

Policing is political. I want there to be an open debate about the merits of punishment vs restorative justice. About how we prioritise a packed and diverse agenda including hate crime, domestic violence, property law. I want to see a wider debate that highlights the acute issues of people trafficking, fraud, tax avoidance, and more distant crimes, that few of us experience, and how they should be balanced with more widespread low level issues of anti-social behaviour. We need to decide whether young people on the street corner are a problem or fully valid members of our society with the same human rights the rest of us expect.

However, political parties do very little to improve the dialogue surrounding such issues. They go for what their analysts have advised them are vote-winners, a rather reductionist approach of categorising citizens into demographic cells, and prioritising the supposed demands of the group deemed most likely to vote. (Read home-owning, older people).
The choice of candidate by a political party is far from fair. At best, local party executives (Committed party reps, often elected unopposed, with time to give up freely in the evenings. Read as male, educated & outspoken) will screen potential candidates and put it to a vote of the local party members. At worst, the candidates from major parties will have been decided by a central committee based purely on presumed, guestimated public appeal. The level of campaigning required (and expected) from a candidate from a political party is far beyond the abilities of anyone in a full time job or with caring responsibilities. Has anyone seen any job-share candidates? 

The crime and safety issues of a town like Brighton with a thriving night-time economy, will differ from those of seaside towns other like Hastings, let alone the Wealden district and rural agricultural areas. How can one person hope to justly represent all of those areas? What happens when a seaside town demands more staffing and budget than a rural population of the same size? Or when a rural area needs to purchase specific equipment not understood by us city-folk?
How will women (because, although the most likely candidate in Sussex is a woman, she is the only woman out of 5 candidates) be represented? Or ethnic minorities? Or care leavers? Or young people? Or Travellers, those in temporary accommodation, and casual employment? How will the election do anything for those already so marginalised by the structural inequalities of our economy and so called democracy?

And finally, on a less important, but still uneasy matter, why will this one figurehead, elected for popularity not expertise, be paid in the region of £100,000? Is that really what we want our tax spent on when cuts are falling all around us in social care, education, health, youth service, refuge places, homelessness services, and welfare benefits?

So, tomorrow, I will got to the little hall, where in previous years I have stood, from 7am sporting a party rosette, this time to write a summary of the above on my ballot paper, rendering it void. I hope I can write small enough!

Here are a couple of sites with some more information:

Monday, 1 October 2012

Pearl Barley Risotto

So I actually made a creamy vegan risotto!
AND I put tahini in something that proved to be edible!

Pearl Barley is super super cheap, and can be grown in the UK. In fact most of this can be UK grown (except perhaps, the oil, tahini and nuts!).

  • Prepare Pearl Barley (Soak overnight or boil for 30-50 minutes) [75g per person] 
  • Chop & fry onion [half per person?] and some garlic to taste. Tastes best in butter or olive oil. I used vitalite. 
  • Stir for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add chopped curly kale and runner beans (or whatever veg you have)
  • Make 1 litre of stock in a seperate jug. 
  • Add the PEARL BARLEY to the onions and veg. 
  • Stir until it sticks. 
  • Slowly add the stock waiting til it soaks up before adding more. 
  • Add more water if it needs it. 
  • Add a tablespoon of tahini and/or a tablespoon of ground nuts (I used cashewnut butter, but it's pretty expensive). 
  • Stir thoroughly, maybe with some more water. 
  • Cook for a further 5 minutes 
  • Enjoy !! (You may want to add greated cheese / extra butter/oil)

Friday, 29 April 2011

Hedegaard: Future EU budget must target energy efficiency

The EU's commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard, has told regional leaders that energy efficiency must be given "bigger priority" in the coming years and the EU budget should be used to leverage investments in energy-saving measures.

more from

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Sustainable Communites Act

following an email from Steve Shaw of Unlock Democracy and Local Works, here's a copy of an email I sent to Secretary of State John Denaham.

Dear John Denham,

Residents of Brighton and Hove got fully behind the Sustainable Communities Act, with 23 proposals being received by the local panel, of which Brighton & Hove's City Council's Cabinet submitted 9 to the LGA and we are all delighted that 8 have been short-listed for negotiation with yourself as Secretary of State.

Our proposals covered a broad range of topics including allotment regulations, discretionary business rates, encouraging renewable energy, amending planning policies and setting speed limits. Brighton and Hove City Council have also taken consideration of how to use the SCA in our scrutiny process, and suggestions for future SCA proposals have come out of scrutiny panel recommendations.

Whilst this was a very worthwhile and encouraging process, achieving good community engagement, it was at times hindered by the uncertainty of when information, such as Local Spending Reports, and guidance would be published. A lot of lessons were learned by members, council officers, and local residents through using this Act, and we feel we could only improve on this in future years, reaching wider sections of our community and empowering them to make real local change.

The Sustainable Communities Act Amendment Bill is vital as it will ensure that the democratic involvement seen in the Sustainable Communities Act continues. I ask that you please do all you can to ensure the Bill receives the Parliamentary time it needs in order to become law before the General Election.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely

Cllr Vicky Wakefield-Jarrett

* More info from Brighton & Hove City Council on the Sustainable Communities Act A chance for change – a new opportunity to improve your community

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Brighton Green Drinks
August 20th, 6pm, The Battle of Trafalgar
Come and enjoy a drink with some like minded people & network with local environmentalists.
All welcome, especially those involved or interested in, working on or studying the environment and sustainability.

Green Drinks is a monthly occurance on the third Thursday of each month.

Please pass the info on to other people!

If you are on facebook, then sign up to the Brighton Green Drinks group for regular updates.

Facebook event page for August
Thursday, 20 August 2009
Time: 18:00 - 20:00
Location: The Battle of Trafalgar
Street: 34 Guildford Road
Town/City: Brighton, United Kingdom
2009 Green Drinks future dates (all to be confirmed)
September 17th
October 22nd
November 19th
December 17th