4 May 2015
Lunch for Tuesday 5th May 2015, this gorgeous tasting, Chickpea, Tomato and Quinoa Dahl! Presented in a bowl for £2.70, at the time of writing and presented with a poppadom on the side. I have been told many times that I should charge more but I want to make healthy food accessible for all, I want to inspire people to eat like this at home too! People love my cooking but I am not a naturally great cook, the way I cook is to make it as easy as possible for myself, whatever I make is easy to emulate, I promise. Lots of the ingredients we use in our dishes, I stock on our shelves for you to take home and make it for yourself. These prices too are kept as low as I possibly can.
Since around the beginning of March, we have introduced a Daily Dish of the Day in our Shepton Mallet shop, I kept turning people away for lunch and didn't want to do sandwiches. Then one day a beautiful Vegan couple turned up in my shop, they love playing Bananagram, so I got one in for them and maybe that was when they realised I might be open to gentle persuasion. That lovely couple are now a family of three and have completely convinced me to keep cooking Vegan lunches for Shepton Mallet.
I am NOT a vegan myself but what inspires me to keep cooking these vegan dishes? Well, there are several things, I do enjoy challenges and cooking something Vegan and making it look and smell so tasty that even meat eaters will buy it, try it and come back for me, is pretty exciting for me! Our business is based on sustainability, the vegetarian and vegan way of eating is much better for the earth and we are already committed to our business being 100% suitable for vegetarians, there is just less harm done to our world when animal products are avoided and I have to say that all the Vegans I've met so far seem to look fit, healthy and slender. I don't know if that's because they have to keep saying, 'No, I can't eat that, no, sorry, can't eat that', or whether it could be the discipline they show in saying no to certain products, extends over into their own health and self-control. I can't imagine a Vegan person sitting down and just deciding to stuff their face with raw cane sugar, even if it is entirely suitable for vegans. Vegan eating in general fits in with Paleo style diets, apart from the slabs of protein made out of cows or pigs that Paleo eating encourages us to have on our plate. I also like the idea of conscious, mindful eating, of having standards and sticking to them, it appeals to me. If you are going to eat animals, then at least call them by their proper names and don't suddenly change a pig to bacon and a cow to beef, it's silly and a cover up of the truth.
I like the way that these dishes I am creating are nearly always gluten-free, they are always made from scratch, no pre-made sauces, or additives, certainly not bought in from a manufacturer and passed off as my own! My dishes are always great for Slimming World members because they are usually SYN FREE! I am proud of that. That's why I wrote it in big letters. They are not so synfree though, if I have cooked something with tinned coconut milk in, so always check with me first! They are always dairy free too and packed with protein. I don't eat dairy or gluten myself, I feel so much better for it, healthier, fitter and slimmer, so it's easy for me to make those kinds of lunches for everyone else. The other thing is my partner Gunter is diabetic, so I am very aware that foods of a low to medium GI are better for all of us, not just for diabetic people.
The great thing about these Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Slimming World friendly lunches, is that they embrace people from all cultures, people who have to follow all kinds of restrictions in their diets, people that want to eat healthily, well, tastily and sensibly! I like it when people connect together and these vegan lunches are doing exactly that! Imagine going somewhere to eat where there is NO menu, there is only one dish on offer and that is Dish of the Day! I love seeing people that don't know each other, sitting down to enjoy the same food and people that do know each other and are coming out as a family or as friends sit down and share the same food, it's very, very special. The whole way of doing this means I don't ever have to throw food away. Why ever did we think it was such a good idea to have so many choices in what we eat in restaurants? This way that I am discovering for myself is leaner, greener, healthier and proving to be very popular!
Here are the ingredients that I used in the Chickpea, Tomato and Quinoa Lunch, so you can check through them. Allergens are in bold.
Onion from the Friday Market
Garlic from the Friday Market
Ginger from My Coffee Stop
Tomatoes from the Friday Market
Tinned Tomatoes from My Coffee Stop
Cumin from Peppers
Coriander from Peppers
Turmeric from Peppers
Chilli flakes from Peppers
Yeast Extract from My Coffee Stop
Spinach Leaves from Aldi
Fresh Coriander Leaves from Aldi
Cashew Nut Butter from My Coffee Stop
Quinoa from My Coffee Stop
Kallo Yeast Free Stock Cube from My Coffee Stop, (Contains Celery)
Chick Peas from My Coffee Stop
Leek from the Friday Market
Celery from the Friday Market.
So come along and taste it for yourself, or make it for yourself!
8 March 2015
2 February 2015
|Pathway towards Gentleman's Row, Enfield Chase.|
Karen Mercer. xxxx
16 November 2014
|A gorgeous cappuccino, created with love, Fairtrade and Organic by My Coffee Stop!|
PS. If you want to save some pennies at My Coffee Stop in Enfield, please bring in your own mug, for a 50p discount off any hot drink! Or you could even bring in a reused cup from another shop. Putting it bluntly, go to Waitrose, get your cup, with or without the free drink, reuse it in our shop and claim your 50p discount from us!
7 November 2014
There is a definite problem with some landlords, in Shepton Mallet keeping rents artificially high. I am lucky enough to have a landlord who understands the difficult economic times and who has been flexible enough to negotiate the rent with us. They told me that they would rather have someone in the shop than having it empty.
Today, I took the liberty of phoning a different local landlord, who was not being at all flexible on price, to have a discussion about this problem, that is not helping to regenerate the High Street whatsoever!
The landlord said, 'I would rather the property stayed empty, than rent it out for less than I want to'!
I replied that surely it would be better to let a business be in there for nothing, or at least a reduced rent, with a signed agreement stating they would get out as soon as someone was available to rent the unit at the required price. The landlord said that there was no way that they would entertain that idea.
Although the person I was talking to seemed to me to be on the defensive at first, I think they understood that I was looking for common ground. We had an interesting conversation where we agreed that the public, the shopkeepers and they, as landlords, would all want to see the regeneration of the High Street, however, whereas shopkeepers like to blame the lack of business sustainability on the landlord for charging too high a rent, this particular landlord likes to point a finger at the public and blame them for choosing not to shop at the local shops and choosing not to support them. The landlord said that the public need to support the shops and use them, if they want them. Then the public have made noises about Shepton Mallet High Street saying that the shopping choice isn't strong enough, that there needs to be a Marks and Spencers, or Waitrose, to draw people in to the centre. The shrinking Friday Market is another issue that needs addressing. Some people have said that the market is held at the wrong time of day, on the wrong day of the week, saying that if you work, you can't use it. Others have complained that the quality of the fruit and veg is hit and miss. Some people say that the market needs to start at the top of town, so that it can be seen from Tesco and draw people into town and some say it needs to go back around the market cross, off the road and that the road should be kept open, instead of being closed on market day.
Would we be worrying about these things if the economy was strong? I don't think so, things would just be ticking along nicely.
Perhaps the reason that it's so difficult to run any business at the moment is because the economy is so poor and generally, people do not have the money to spend, so the landlord waiting for the public to support the local shops with the limited amounts of money they have is futile, they are looking to the people who are struggling the most, the people whose wages have decreased, or stayed the same despite inflation and VAT increases, to spend at the same level they always did but they cannot, they are expecting people who have been made redundant, or had their hours at work cut, to maintain the same level of spending as they did in more affluent times. In asking the public to support their customers, do the landlords of the buildings in the High Street actually come into the high street and support the high street, do their shopping there, do business meetings there, do they think about where they shop and where they spend their money? Hang on a minute, this is ringing a familiar bell in my head, once again an image is conjured up in my mind of someone at the top getting people to spend money with them and then those people deciding not to spend their money in the local community and it all gets drained away to goodness knows where, just like a messed up water cycle, where if it's not sustainable, it will dry up and there is nothing left for anyone.
I don't know what the answer is but I do know that shopkeepers, landlords and shoppers are all stakeholders in the High Street and we all have to work together, not to keep things the same but to move into the future, to embrace change.
If we all point the finger of blame at each other, we will get nothing done, we have to innovate and create a new way and we have to learn how to understand what motivates a landlord. Maybe they are correct not to budge on the price, or is there a way of calculating a shop's worth with a formula, could it be that a fair rent for the unit could be, affluence grading of the area (where the higher the disposable income, the higher the grading, from 1 being an economically challenged area to 10 being an area with a large disposable income) x shop size (where the biggest is 10 on a scale and the smallest is 1) x average footfall per day, as measured over 1 year = ? Then divided by 3 = your monthly rent in pounds.
It tickled me when in The Journal rents in Glastonbury, with much higher footfall and more disposable income and in Wells where again, there's more cash and feet about, were compared to the rents for similar properties in Shepton Mallet and judged to be in line but unfortunately, the footfall and affluence of the area wasn't taken into consideration.
The properties in Shepton are in general, priced too highly for the footfall and the area. A campaign, not against the landlords but to work with the landlords to consider what could motivate them to make changes, would be an amazing step forward, I believe.
Maybe the law needs changing, maybe there could be a law saying that no unit can be empty for more than two months and in that time, the local council have responsibility for using the shop front as a way to advertise other local shops, businesses and services, like a big colourful billboard.
I'd love to hear your ideas about this.
What can be done to regenerate our high street, to move forward with the times?