29 August 2016

To Burkini or Not to Burkini

Wow! As a woman, I cannot stand the idea that if I want to spend time at the beach wearing modest clothes to go swimming and to deflect unwanted attention and leering eyes, it is now a subject of controvosy and newspaper articles.

The burkini is a fabulous invention and gives some protection from the sun's rays too. Is it really true, in this world I am living in, that women can be told by the law what to wear? Especially something so modest!

I've seen newspaper headlines screaming 'Burkini Banned in France' but how is that enforced? Where is the line between a burkini and a very modest leotard? This is just such mixed up thinking, to my mind. Now I read a headline mentioning a police officer in Britain challenging a burkini wearer! How does that work? 'Excuse me love, could you please wear less clothes as we find burkini wearing offensive, come on now, I'll just help you take this off, that's right step out of it immediately, with your hands above your head.'

What is wrong with us? What is wrong with our attitude? Have we decided to target burkini wearing women because they are easy to victimise? Easier than say, someone wearing a suicide vest? Talk about misdirected focus.

Leave burkini wearers alone and concentrate on the real threat to lives and peace. A burkini ban solves nothing and messes about with our freedom.

19 August 2016

Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Frosting

I had such a lot of fun on Facebook this week asking for cake flavour suggestions and then I promised that the one I picked as the winning flavour to bake, would have a free slice sent to them through the post! The overall flavour winner was a Lavender and Vanilla cake suggestion, which sounded wonderfully summery and unusual too, so the lucky lady that suggested it, actually did receive a slice of her bespoke, specially created flavour cake through the post, just a few days later and she was delighted. That recipe however, is for another day!

There were so many excellent suggestions that I have decided that I will indeed bake every single one that I feel could be attractive and appealing and made my way. Cakes made my way are wholesome, vegan and glutenfree.

I would make myself bankrupt sending off a free slice of cake to everyone who had made a suggestion, so I have decided to give back in another way, by baking the cake and tweaking it and then sharing my recipe so that anyone can make it!

An important point for me to make is that I don't like faffing around in the kitchen, making things complicated and fussy, I want quick and tasty results. When I work with a recipe, I want it to be easy to read and not have to weight out lots of ingredients first, into lots of bowls and create lots of washing up! No way. I do not like washing up and cleaning up, so space used is minimal and ingredients are measured out with cups, rather than weighed out on scales, a lot easier. This is why my recipes don't have an ingredient list at the beginning. The way to use my recipes is to read through them once to check you have everything you need, or suitable substitutions. Then follow the step by step instructions.

Chocolate Beetroot Cake with frosting.

The Cake

1/ Preheat the oven to 180°
2/ Line a 9" x 9" brownie tin with greaseproof paper and then grease it with vegetable oil.
3/ Put the following ingredients into a large jug and stir well:
1 cup of Essential Buckwheat Flour
1/2 a cup of Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
1/2 a cup of sugar
1/2 a cup of Divine Cocoa Powder
1/2 a teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
1/2 a smashed up bar, 100g of Divine Dark Baking Chocolate
4/ Put the following ingredients into a blender and blend well:
1/2 a cup of cooked beetroot
1 cup of water
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons of Biona Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother
5/ Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well.
6/ Pour the batter out into the greased and lined baking tray and pop into the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
7/ Take the cake out of the oven and cover with foil, then bake for another 10 minutes, or until a knife stuck into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
8/ Leave the cake to cool, with the foil taken off.

The Frosting

1/ Combine the following ingredients finely in your blender:
Just ripe peeled and stoned avocados x 2
10 x tablespoons of Agave Nectar 
1/2 a cup of Divine Cocoa Powder.
2/ When the cake is cool smooth the frosting over the top. If you are lucky, there might be some mixture left in the blender which you will have to eat, to make cleaning easier!
3/ Slice this cake into 8 equal slices, or even 16 little cubes and store in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

This cake didn't last for one day, as everybody loved it!
If you have any questions about this recipe, please let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading and I'd love to know how you get on when you make yours.

13 August 2016

Could Online Shopping Help to Regenerate Our High Streets?

Karen Mercer, My Coffee Stop. Photo by Anne-Marie Sanderson.

Save time by not reading this article and just buy something straight away from my website, to see if my theory is correct!  

Ok, if you must, here is the article, enjoy! 

Where does my money go to, who do I buy from?

I specifically ensure that my money is mostly spent on independent local businesses! So, when you buy from us, no matter whether it's from our shop in Shepton Mallet, or online, you know that we filter that money back into the local, independent and small business, circular economy. Buy from us and we make a concerted and conscientious effort to spend it in our local high street. We go to Peppers, The Hive, Denela's, Dredge and Male, Steve's Fish Restaurant, The Swan, The Bell, The Club Lounge, Hidden Treasures, The Dusthole, Anna's Attic, I-do Vintage, The Furniture Workshop, Minsky's Barbers, C.H. Penn the Jewellers and Starlight Studios and support numerous home businesses and charities in the local area, doing what we can. I've probably missed a very big one out there! We even support Haskins by choosing to shop at Aldi and other shops in their building! So, when you buy from us, you are absolutely supporting your whole high street because we make damn sure you do!

I'd really like to do more and for that, I need your help, please!

What I am asking for you to do is to please help my family and myself to contribute even more to our town. 

Since closing our shop in Enfield, we are totally reliant on you making a conscious effort to buy from us. I know it's hard to come into town when you've been working all the hours that you can, that's why I have created a website, so that you can still support our family and our business ethos, by ordering online from us. We deliver FREE to you if you live in the BA4 postcode area, we also have click and collect as an option. If there is one thing that you can buy from us instead of a supermarket, then please do just that.

What if you can't find the healthy, or vegan, or gluten-free thing that you want on our website? Then please just comment on this blog post and tell us the product name and size that you are looking for and we will update our website, to sell you the things that you are looking for.

We don't lead an extravagant lifestyle, we don't have massive needs but we would like to provide you with a business that you want to use and sells the things that you want and need at a fair, reasonable price. We want to create a business that is successful here in Shepton Mallet. 

When we closed our shop in Enfield, I thought that our customers/friends would love to buy from our online shop, I imagined people buying our Yogi Tea Bags, or Protein Powders, or our Coffee but this hasn't really happened but I still feel sure that it could, maybe I just need to say, please buy from us, we need you to help us and we would like to be give the opportunity to sell you the things that you need.

Since closing our Enfield shop, we have had to claim Housing Benefit, to help us be able to pay our rent. I don't want to have to claim housing benefit, I want us to be able to sell our friends and our family the things they want, at the price they feel able to pay.

In writing this blog, I might earn a few pennies from advertising revenue and I really mean, a few pennies! In creating my website that takes many hours, I have sold a few things but it could do a lot better. I need my friends and my family and my children's friends, to make a concerted effort to use it and if there is something that you want to buy that is health food or whole food orientated, then please let me know. 

I understand that you can't always get to visit my shop in person, or even get to it EVER, BUT please support my family and I in our venture to continue our Coffee and Health Food shop on the high street of Shepton Mallet.

Anna Perra's shop on the high street is closing this month, I haven't been able to visit for ages to buy at least a little something because I just haven't had the money. I've seen Penny's Sweets go, I've seen No 21 go, I've seen Nostalgia go, Tina's Pet Pantry, Fred's Shop, Twice as Nice, Mendip Fireplaces and Just Jo all these shops added character, personality and enjoyment to our high street and now Anna Perra is going, there'll be another empty unit. Anna is keeping her business going as an online shop and doing events too, so she's cutting one massive overhead from her business and concentrating on creating an income from decreasing her overheads. Seeing another shop close is always a shock to residents and especially, I feel, to other shopkeepers. It is a reminder of our own vulnerabilities and how needy we are for your continued support. Yes, I look at Anna Perra's shop closing and feel scared, very scared for the future of my shop too.

I want to support the high street, I want people to know about the shabby chic charm of Shepton Mallet but I cannot do it on my own, I need you to help. This is a two way process, I will help you get the things you want and you can help me to stay where I am on the high street, adding a big dollop of personality and charisma to our wonderful town!

People used to say that online shopping caused the demise of the high street, I see online shopping as a tool to help regenerate the high street and keep supporting those little independent shops that you love, even if you're working so hard that you don't even get a chance to visit them!

I look forward to receiving your order today!