It’s been I while. I can’t believe it’s Ash Wednesday already. Pancakes were had last night for Shrove Tuesday including some really quite fabulous savoury pancakes from our trusty vegan cook book ‘Peace and Parsnips’ by Lee Watson. Although I’m afraid the pancake part was just the usual half a pint of cow juice, 1 egg and 4 oz. of plain flour (thanks, Mum, look I’ve written it down now). In any case I think vegan pancakes on Shrove Tuesday would be rather missing the point of the feast before the fast as we are supposed to be clearing the cupboards of fat and sugar to get ready for some serious asceticism.
Milk aside, The Boy and I have been making serious strides in the learning how to live without animal fats. And as a person with a serious January (actually make that November to March) allergy the vegan leaning menu has really put a spring in my step. I’m not exactly a health fanatic but I do pine for fresh veg and super salads if fed meat and potatoes or cheesy stodge for any length of time (The Boy doesn’t half love his cheesy stodge!).
Peace and Parsnips is a brilliant book for teaching you the nuts (boom boom) and bolts of vegan cooking and I appreciate the tone and clear ‘cheffie’ professional experience of Lee Watson that lets you know you are in safe hands. Be warned though that when I say nuts and bolts I don’t mean easy! These people are proper foodie vegans who make their own shit. That means you will need a blender for most of the recipes and a health food shop/asian supermarket for most of the ingredients (if you hadn’t realised you needed a blender yet – like me – this is annoying: omg! it’s Tuesday and we’re not going to get out to buy a blender till the weekend but that recipe looks SOOOOO tasty!). A lot of the recipes are fairly heavy on the prep – but it’s a recipe book, they’re not teaching you how to make cheese on toast. They also do raw in a big way – this is no bad thing for the most part – however, we did decide to leave the recipe including raw grated sweet potato. After a bit of digging online, I am totally reassured that this is not actually poisonous (like raw potato would be) but I am not convinced that you get nutritional benefit from raw sweet potato – something about it still containing something preventing the absorption of the good stuff.
But what do I know? I’m not a biochemist or a doctor but I am critical about what people are telling me – especially where money is involved (which is pretty much every aspect of life these days). There is a lot of fake science about food (and so much else!) around. We are still talking about the danger of free radicals, anti-oxidants, ‘superfoods’, left brain right brain divisions, and bloody ruddy DETOX – and, despite the crap, things that claim to be wonder cures are often doing important things for your body. It’s just a shame about the mad ‘justifications’.
I love my ‘Detox’ tea made by Pukka. I take so many pills these days that my stomach is a bit of a law unto itself at times and a fennel tea is sometimes essential after eating. Pukka make really tasty blends so your mug of tea tastes a little less like a bunch of boiled leaves but those leaves are still doing the thing they’ve been doing for centuries whatever zeitgeisty word you slap on the box. I guess the point I’m aiming at is that when it comes to food you should be very careful who you listen to and where your knee-jerk assumptions come from (most people are still assuming you need meat or eggs to get protein and have no idea how to balance a vegetarian meal without help – put down the macaroni cheese!). Ultimately your body is going to tell you if your diet is a mess and whether particular changes are working. Keep trying new things, don’t eat the berries that taste like burning, and get a vegan cook book! It will totally re-mix your ‘go-to’ menus and make you feel bloody awesome.
And so: pancakes have been flipped and March is upon us. I’m really running out of time to post this project which was started around this time last year following the sad loss of a wonderful wonderful hat. Capucine the first, I miss you.
I often wondered about the name but having a poke about today can confirm that it is used as the girl’s name ‘Capucine’ but also refers to a flower which in English gets called a nasturtium – I think nasturtium was the first edible flower I encountered when being fed the peppery leaves in someone’s garden felt vaguely rebellious like a hot tingling freedom. Then I’m sure there is an implied link to either the Capuchin monks who wear hooded robes or perhaps the capuchon hats which I had little knowledge of but are very fittingly linked to Mardi Gras festivities.
Mardi Gras or ‘Fat Tuesday’ is the culmination of festivities before the solemn deprivations of lent. So it is quite fitting that I should opt to finally blog my mad hat lady hoodie just after pancake day. The capuchon is a type of conical hat that is worn in comical fancy dress originally to poke fun at the medieval conical hats of the wealthy lady most recognisable as the stereotypical damsel in distress. I am told that the traditional costumes of Mardi Gras would poke fun at a range of public figures and with this hat more closely resembling a monk’s hood it is more of a capuchin than a capuchon. With its lady’s name and flamboyant decoration, Capucine is a colourful counterpoint to the masculine monk’s habit in a way that echos the man in his capuchon larking about to poke fun at the dignified femininity of courtly ladies.
This pattern is totally free and is really made by your capacity to applique wonderful artistic felt designs at an appropriate height and angle on the side of the hood. I have chickened out both times – possibly out of my fear of having insufficient ‘edge’ to pull off animal shapes without looking ‘ditsy’. I have also chickened out of the tassels – possible waste of good yarn if they don’t work out/possible fear of homemade bobble hat style.
However, manufactured faux fur bobbles… now you’re talking.
I basically loved my random mix and match Capucine but it was so unbalanced that it would fall off my head at the slightest breeze or when being thrown about on the bus (it was retrieved from lost property on more than one occasion). And the beaded i-cords were too short so that they both wouldn’t tuck in to secure the hat AND had a tendency to bounce about and wack me in the face ‘ouch’! And trying to sleep on a freezing Megabus or train was slightly impeded by the way the big solid bobble would settle in the back of my neck so I couldn’t lean my head back on the head rest.
Version 2 (three if you count the one I made for a sister) has been ravelled here. It’s made up in Noro Kureyon which is not so lovely and soft as the beautiful lambswool of the discontinued Rowan Colourscape Chunky (but the gauge I got was closer to the pattern requirements). I have again picked up stitches at the sides of the hood to make i-cords and sewn on mini bobbles in the same shade as my enormous original wobble bobbled hat. These are much longer and now with the bobbles and end stops this prevents them from being pulled out from under my coat buttons or bag. This hat is going nowhere!
I have also sewn on a tiny purple bell like a cat’s bell to the top i-cord which is slightly ridiculous and jangles along reassuring me that the hat is still there. These things are all in the spirit of mardi gras as are the additions of – Cat Badges!
Crazy cat/hat lady. You can hear her coming.
I had almost forgotten. Something about this hat channels the spirit of Ronald Weasley. There are some cracking pre-blocking shots of The Boy giving Epic Grint face:
Definitely minus 5 stealth…
It would only be fair to include my attempt too.