Counting On … day 17

30th November 2021

Today is the feast of St Andrew, patron saint of Scotland. Here is a recipe for vegan haggis, not entirely my own, but  having no note of the original recipe, I cannot credit its creator.

Haggis. Serves 2-3

50g  Puy lentils

50g pearl barley

oil 

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

75g portobello mushrooms, finely chopped

½ tsp ground allspice

 ½ tsp ground black or white pepper

90g pinhead oatmeal

½ tbsp marmite

1½ tbsp brown sauce or treacle

Sauté the onion and carrot in a little oil till soft. Add the mushrooms and the spices. If need be add a little more oil.

Add the barley and lentils. Add about 400ml hot water and yeast extract. Feel free to add a sprig of thyme. 

Simmer until the mixture is very thick, adding more water if necessary. 

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Stir in the oatmeal and brown sauce and tip into a greased loaf tin and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 30. 

Leave for five minutes, then turn out and serve.

Counting On … day 16 

29th November 2021

Things we find around us can be used to create alternative and wonderful Christmas decorations. Rather than buying a Christmas tree, a more sustainable option might be to find a decorative branch or twiggy stick  that you can take from your garden. This you can decorate with baubles and the like (often people have collections of decorations going back over many years and embed with happy memories). Or you can make new decorations and I’ll be suggesting some of the next few days.

Counting On … day 16

29th November 2021

Things we find around us can be used to create alternative and wonderful Christmas decorations. Rather than buying a Christmas tree, a more sustainable option might be to find a decorative branch or twiggy stick  that you can take from your garden. This you can decorate with baubles and the like (often people have collections of decorations going back over many years and embed with happy memories). Or you can make new decorations and I’ll be suggesting some of the next few days.

Counting On …. Day 15

28th November 2021

Even though it is late November there are still plenty of autumn leaves around – on the ground if not so many on the trees. And what amazing shapes and colours there are!

Why not collect some?  And then press them between the  pages of a heavy book to stop them curling up.  Leaves and dried seed pods can be threaded onto embroidery silks to make beautiful and ecological decorations. 

Counting On … day 14

27th November 2021

“Snowman Weather”: it is not that I think it os going to snow in London anytime soon, but when the weather is cold, think of it as “snowman weather”. By this I mean weather when we dress in lots of layers such that we might eventually resemble in shape a snowman. 

Today’s outfit includes tights, socks and trousers topped with long sleeve vest, polo neck jumper, and  woolly jumper. Further layers for going outside include duffle coat, hat, scarf, gloves and an extra pair of socks.

At the same time you might also consider supporting someone else in need of warm clothes: https://www.unicef.ie/shop/product/winter-clothing-kit/

 Counting On …. Day 13

26th November 2021

Today is the feast day of St. Egelwine, a 7th century prince who became a hermit and lived in Athelney. He was noted for his prayerfulness. 

Today apparently is also Cake Day. Combine the two: bake a cake and then take some time out to sit quietly and appreciate the calm of not being drawn into the commercial whirl wind of Black Friday.

Counting On …. day 12

25th November 2021

Black Friday is a curious name. 

Is it black as in the opposite of ‘being in the red’, ie financially overdrawn? Certainly not if you are tempted to spend more than you can afford.

Is it black as in doom and terror? Definitely if you see it as a seductive snare designed to encourage us to buy more than we need and more than the earth’s finite resources can sustain.

And who gains? 

The customer because they can buy things at a discount? Yes but only if they buy now. Customers who buy later  will have to pay more if the producers are to recover their costs over the balance of the year. 

The producers because they will sell more? But will they sell more or will the majority of their sales just be concentrated in this one weekend? (Black Friday has become Black Weekend). Does this frenzy of sales cause a hiccup in the supply chain? Goods will have to be stockpiled ready for this one weekend; delivery operations will be overwhelmed by short term demand for extra delivery vehicles and drivers; and presumably a peak in pressure in recycling services the following week.

At the end of the day, Black Friday is a marketing strategy and we are not obliged to drawn in by it. We can maintain our independence and shop when we want to shop and only buy what we want to buy.

Counting On …. Day 9

22nd November 2021

Eco Church recommends creating a communal Christmas card scheme. Rather than each person sending a card to everyone else, individuals write one Christmas card to everyone! This is then posted on a communal notice board in church.

From the Wallingford Benefice notices: “ Christmas Card Scheme – A big thank you for your positive response to our communal Christmas card scheme this year. There were over 40 cards sent in total and displayed in the nave of St Mary’s, the ringing chamber and choir vestry. Assuming each person who took part would have sent 15 cards this means we have saved in the region of 600 cards! A great result for our environment. Would anybody like to reuse the Christmas cards and create gift tags for next year? Or perhaps you can think of a more creative ‘reuse’ option for our communal Christmas cards!”