Monthly Archives: June 2011

Sugar-free Jam Tarts

Tuesday’s tend to be my big baking day as I prepare the week’s lunchbox treats and try to make something yummy to take to my evening study class.  Today, I chose to make apricot bars and jam tarts. 

Sugar-free Jam Tarts

I make these tarts with half wholemeal flour and sugar-free fruit spread, so they’re much healthier and nutritious than a classic jam tart.  They’ve also got a lower GI, so they’re better at sustaining energy levels.  My favourite fruit spreads are the one made by St Dalfour, which are sweetened with grape juice.  Lil’ L loves these tarts as a lunchbox or after school treat!  Here’s the recipe.



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This weekend I went to Glastonbury Festival for the first time in my life.  It was an amazing experience and I’m glad that I got to see the craziness that is Glasto. 

 The place is so vast it’s mind blowing! 

Thousands upon thousands of tents... pitched in the mud!

It was very, very muddy.  I tried to not be too much of a princess about it.  I didn’t complain (much) and just concentrated on plodding on and not falling over.  Lil’ L managed to fall over 3 times in the first half hour!  It’s hard work wading through mud for hours, but at least it gives your legs a good workout. 😉

Glad I bought some boots!

My favourite area of the festival was ‘The Unfairground’.  This zone invites you to the dark side of the world where plane wrecks, mutants and freaks all groove to Bez’s Acid House.  I fitted in well there 😉

The plane wreck below was actually a tequila bar!  You had to pick your way through the debris, then prop up the bar in the company of a blood drenched aviator.  Lovely!

Lil’ L was a bit in awe and a bit freaked out by The Unfairground!

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Shangri-La – the “futuristic and dystopian wonderland”… as it didn’t open until 11pm 😦

Block9 was another late-night wonderland that we missed, but we did manage to see the incredible ‘London Underground’ – a 50ft tower block with a life-size, Tube train-cum-night club.  I would have loved to have seen it at night time when it was all ablaze.

The London Underground in Block9

I also loved the Greenpeace field.  Greenpeace is celebrating its 40th anniversary and it was great to join in the birthday celebrations with them.  There was cake, party games.. the whole sherbang!

The fish-cum-cafe below was actually made of old CDs!

There were some great installations by Greenpeace.

There were tons of vegetarian and vegan cafes and eateries at the festival.  We sampled the veggie burgers, falafel pittas and paella.  It was all delish.  My favourite refreshment had to be the fruit smoothie which was blended using pedal power to generate the electricity for the blender!  Very cool and fun to watch!

Blending smoothies through pedal power!

All in all, it was a great experience… and I didn’t get THAT muddy!!!

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Nut Kofta Kebabs… and fitting rocks into a box!

Fresh veg supplies are low in our house, but last night I spotted a couple of carrots and some frozen peas and decided to make some vegetable couscous for our dinner.  For a protein and calcium boost, I made some nut kofta kebabs.  The two went really well together.  Lil’ L loved the dinner and described it as “yummy” and “scrummy”. 🙂  The recipe can be found here.

For his lunch today, Lil’ L took the leftover couscous along with a seeded pitta bread. 

Nut Kofta Kebabs with Vegetable Couscous

 Today, I woke up thinking “I must revise!!!”  I’ve got an important Buddhist exam coming up on July 12th and I need to memorise around 140 pages of text.  If I don’t seriously start revising now, there’ll be no chance of me learning it all! 

A teaching came to mind that I heard last year which gave helpful suggestions on how to prioritise activities in our busy daily lives.  I can’t remember the exact analogy used, but it was along the lines of “what’s the best way of fitting a pile of rocks into a box?” (rocks = tasks we need to accomplish / box = today)  Basically, we need to put the big rocks in first otherwise they won’t fit!  I totally get this now as all week I’ve been trying to fit revision in with the million other things I need to get done.  Revision seems to get squeezed into the hour before school pick up, which is no way near enough time. 

So, today, I decided to put the big rock into the box first… and did 2 hours revision first thing before I started to tackle the smaller rocks.  I needed to go into Bath and buy Lil’ L some bigger daps (in Essex we call them ‘plimsols’) because he mentioned a few weeks ago that his daps were too small and I don’t want to stunt his toes by leaving this rock any longer.  I realised I wouldn’t have time to do any proper exercise today, so decided to “kill 2 birds with one stone” and run into Bath.  (Is there another saying I can use instead of the killing birds one?  I really don’t like it!)

I decided to try out the Adidas ‘running’ rucksack that M had bought me for Christmas.  It’s got lots of straps on it and is meant to fit snugly on your back while you run.  I don’t think I did it up correctly though, as the rucksack kept bouncing up and down and chafing my neck.  In the end, I ran along holding the rucksack down with one hand.  It wasn’t the greatest running style, but I managed to get to Walcot Street in 18 minutes, which is quicker than the bus 🙂

Still got a million things to do today, but at least I got the big rock in (and a few smaller ones as well) 😉

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Filed under Buddhism & Meditation, Dinners, Running

Crispy Kale… and Angulimala!

For today’s Wednesday Workshop, I chose the famous Buddhist story of Angulimala.  Knowing the boys in my group this term, I thought they’d find a story about a fierce bandit brandishing weapons very appealing 😉  As the story is so violent, I thought I’d better create a milder version, suitable for the primary school age group.  I didn’t want to be responsible for nightmares about murderers and necklaces made of severed fingers!!!  

Last night, M drew fantastic pictures of Angulimala (pre and post meeting Buddha) for the children to colour.  I loved the “embellishments” that the children made to the pictures.  A couple of boys drew lots of swirling black smoke around the head of the ‘robber’ Angulimala and then golden light around the head of Angulimala the monk.  Apparently, this was to demonstrate the state of Angulimala’s mind (black smoke = troubled/suffering; golden light = calm/positive).  I was very impressed.  These kids are only 7! 

Lil’ L is still busy colouring his Angulimala picture.  It’s coming along very nicely 😉  If he ever finishes it, I’ll post it up on the blog.

As usual on a Wednesday, Lil’ L wanted spinach pancakes for dinner.  As I didn’t have any spinach left, I made regular pancakes and filled them with pieces of roasted sweet potato, roasted garlic, pine nuts and a little grated cheese.  To make sure he had some greens, I roasted half a bag of kale to make ‘crispy kale’.  This was meant to be shared by the whole family, but by the time I sat down for my dinner… the whole lot had been munched!

Crispy Kale

We’re all loving “crispy kale” at the moment.  When we stopped having dairy at home, I needed to make sure we increased our intake of other sources of calcium.  Kale is a true “super food”, packed with calcium and other good stuff.  I looked on the web for inspiration of tasty ways to serve kale, and kept coming across American recipes for ‘kale chips’ (ie. kale crisps).  I decided to have a go at roasting kale and was amazed to find how deliciously crispy it turns out!  It tastes very similar to the ‘crispy seaweed’ that we get in our Chinese takeaways.  Our kale intake has gone from one extreme to another this year… a bag of kale used to languish at the bottom of the refrigerator, used occasionally to make ‘5 veg mash’, but now we’re going through 1-2 bags a week!  Lil’ L absolutely loves it.  It’s a great way to get kids eating their greens!  The recipe can be found here.

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Filed under Buddhism & Meditation, Dinners

Samosas and St Catherine’s

Lil’ L loves samosas so I thought I’d have a go at making a healthier, more nutrition-packed, lower fat version of the ones you tend to find in the supermarkets.  I managed to cram six different veggies in the samosas, as well as sesame seeds and pine nuts for extra protein and minerals.  They were really yummy and I’ll definitely be making them again.  I served them nice and hot, with side dishes of roasted chickpeas and crispy kale.  The recipe can be found here.

Sweet Potato Samosas with Roasted Chickpeas and Crispy Kale

While Lil’ L was at cubs tonight I decided to go for a run up North End to St Catherine’s, just for a change.  There were some killer hills but fortunately I didn’t have the Garmin watch with me to know how slow I was going. 😉 

In total, I ran for 47 minutes and thoroughly enjoyed it, even when it started to pour with rain.  By that point I was sweltering, so it was quite refreshing to be rained on 🙂 

The views going up to St Catherine’s were incredible.  I stopped at St Catherine’s Court, then ran back down home.  I didn’t have my camera with me, but below are a couple of photos I found on the web.  The house used to be owned by the actress Jane Seymour, but I’m not sure who owns it now.  Rumour has it that Robbie Williams stayed there for a while and played pool in our local pub.  Not sure whether it’s true or not!

St Catherine's Court (c) Roger Cornfoot and licenced for reuse

Aerial view of St Catherine's Court (from

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Dharma 4 Kids Festival

This weekend we went to the Dharma 4 Kids Festival at the Nagarjuna Buddhist Centre in Kelmarsh, Northamptonshire.  We had a fantastic time there and met some wonderful people! 

The event was really well organised, with lots of fun activities including art, drama, football, table tennis, table football, snooker, bouncy castles, as well as fun sessions on Buddhism.   

Lil' L playing gladiators with his new friend

There were quite a few teenagers at the festival and it was great to see activities specifically targeted at their age group.  They even had their own teenage marquee!  In the evening, there was a karaoke disco party in the teenage marquee which was invaded by a number of parents… including us.  I’m still not feeling 39!!

Larking about on the bouncy castle

I loved the relaxed atmosphere at this festival.  The place felt very safe so I was happy to let Lil’ L come and go as he pleased.  I think he really enjoyed having some freedom!  At one point I went looking for him to remind him that the kids’ Buddhism session was about to start, only to find that him and his friends had already taken themselves off to the meditation room.  That impressed me!  

Kids session with Kadam Bridget

The weekend felt like a real break for us.  The cafe and shop were open throughout the festival, which was a plus point.  I loved the soya lattes served in the cafe. (M and I had lots of them!)  Luckily, there were enough breaks in the rain for the lunches and dinners to be served on the front lawn. 

Lunchtime and the sun's come out!

Lil’ L made some great new friends this weekend, which he’ll hopefully see again next year.  I spoke to some of the teenagers who said that they’d been coming to the festival for the past 5-6 years and looked forward each year to catching up with their festival buddies.  I also made some great new friends and hope to see them again next year!


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The Garden

Our garden looks its best in June.  The garden is filled with the smell of roses at the moment; you can even smell them as you walk up the garden path 🙂  As the flowers are not going to last much longer, I thought I’d take a few photos before they disappear.

The white rose bush has literally got hundreds of flowers on it!  It looks and smells incredible!

I’m not very good with the names of flowers, but I think this is a pink geranium.

Mum gave me the Sweet William.  I  believe it’s from our old house in Essex. 

These are the flowers growing in the shady spot under the magnolia tree.  I think the plant in the foreground is called ‘crown vetch ‘ (I’ll take more pictures when it comes out in flower).  Not sure what the yellow or lilac flowers are called!

I’m not sure what the plant below is, but the bees absolutely love it! 

The dinner we had last night was one of our all time favourites – Veggie Paella.  Here’s the photo I took:

Veggie Paella

It’s super easy to make and only uses one pan, so very little washing up.  We like those sort of dinners best!  The recipe can be found here.

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Filed under Dinners, The Garden