It’s nearly been a week already since lent started and so far, it’s been pretty easy not eating meat. I’m still eating fish since it serves as an excellent source of protein, and with going to the gym and starting my running again soon, it’s important to keep my protein levels up.
Last Friday I thought about what to have for dinner while I was at work as my father decided to have turkey for his evening meal. In the end I decided to go for a stuffed green pepper. I’ve made vegetarian stuffed peppers countless times in the past few years during lent, but I never make the filling in the same way and like experimenting with different ingredients.
While I softened the green pepper in boiling water, I prepared the filling. I finely chopped a medium sized onion and some mushrooms. After frying the chopped onion in oil until it softened, I added the mushrooms and a can of black eyed beans, which I partially cooked first in a pan of boiling water. I then added a squirt of tomato purée, a sprinkling of mixed herbs and a splash of Worcestershire sauce to enhance the flavour. I then left the filling on a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms had softened.
I ended up making quite a lot of filling, which I thought would be the case since I used a whole tin of chopped tomatoes and black eyed beans. I only needed a small proportion of the filling for the green pepper, so I cooked up some pasta and used the remainder of the filling as a sauce to coat the pasta.
The stuffed green pepper took about 20 minutes to cook in the oven at gas mark 4. After the first 10 minutes I took the lid off the pepper and sprinkled some grated cheese on top. I then put the lid back on top of the pepper and cooked for a further 10 minutes in the oven.
Effectively I killed two birds with one stone; I made myself a nice dinner and some future lunches/dinners. I think a fishcake or some fish fingers would go nicely with the pasta as a tasty weekday meal.
Today’s an interesting day. It’s Valentine’s Day, and it’s also Ash Wednesday. So today people are celebrating love for their partners, friends, family etc, and some people will also be giving up something for lent. For the third year running I have given up meat for the duration of lent, which is due to finish on Sunday 1st April (which of course is Easter Sunday).
I usually enjoy abstaining from meat for just over six weeks as I become more experimental in my cooking and try out new foods. I particularly like my father during lent as he always stocks up on different varieties of beans, lentils and many other vegetarian options. In fact he bought some quinoa yesterday, which I’m looking forward to trying out. I’ve had quinoa once before in a salad made up of broccoli and green beans. The quinoa reminded me of couscous in a way, but it has a more nutty taste. There are also lots of health benefits from eating quinoa, as it’s high in protein, is gluten free and also easy to digest, making it a good dietary fibre.
I enjoy vegetarian options anyway and will sometimes pick a meat free option when going out for a meal. On Sunday I had a vegetarian chipotle bean burger with halloumi, sliced mushroom, burger sauce and roasted red pepper sauce. It was delicious and made a change from a beef burger with pulled pork, which is a firm favourite of mine when eating out.
Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, aka Pancake Day! This day always precedes Ash Wednesday, so it marks the final day I can eat meat. I didn’t have time to make pancakes for breakfast, as I would’ve had bacon and maple syrup, but instead I had banana and salted caramel sauce on my pancakes for dessert.
I always make my own pancakes rather than buying a mix you can add milk and/or eggs to. The mixture is simple to make and homemade pancakes always taste so much better. A standard pancake batter mix for me is 3oz plain flour, one egg and half milk/half water. I just pour in as much milk/water as I need to make the right consistency. If you’ve got a decent pan it’s easier to flip/toss pancakes. My father bought a really good crepe pan from France last year; the pancakes didn’t stick to the pan and I managed to flip them effortlessly.
“You must use your vote, we suffered for it.” (Alice Hawkins)
A statue was unveiled yesterday (Sunday 4th February) in Leicester to commemorate 100 years since women were first given the right to vote (women aged 30 and above). The seven foot bronze statue is of Alice Hawkins, an exceptional woman who led the suffragette movement in Leicester back in the early twentieth century.
A parade took place around the city centre which was led by Elaine Pantling, a city councillor who played the part of Alice Hawkins. Many other women dressed as suffragettes helped to lead the parade which lots of people joined.
The statue has been placed in the New Market Square in Leicester, an area of significance for the suffragette movement. The market was a busy area so suffragettes took the opportunity to demonstrate and campaign for votes for women, including Hawkins as well as Sylvia Pankhurst.
Hawkins was originally born in Stafford in 1863 but moved to Leicester in her twenties to work as a machinist at the Equity Shoe factory. She joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) when she realised the inequalities between men and women in the workplace. A Leicester branch of the WSPU was formed in 1907 shortly Hawkins had experienced her first imprisonment. Hawkins invited Pankhurst to Leicester to speak at a WSPU meeting, as well as the crowds in the New Market Square.
I couldn’t make it to the unveiling of this magnificent statue, but the coverage reflects how important it is for people to recognise the suffragettes fight for emancipation and that the move towards gender equality is still continuing today. You can check out the coverage of the parade and the unveiling of the statue on the Leicester Mercury website.
I’m thrilled that a statue has been made to commemorate the centenary since the major breakthrough was made, and in honour of an inspiring woman of ‘true grit’. I thank you Alice Hawkins for your bravery and determination to make the world a better place,. Thank you, ‘sister of freedom‘.
January is usually considered as a ‘downish’ sort of month, since people are back into a routine after celebrating Christmas and the New Year, there’s Blue Monday which is half way through January, and of course people are trying to keep up their New Year’s Resolutions.
January for me has been quite the opposite and has flown by. I haven’t really set myself resolutions as I mentioned in my blog looking back at 2017, but this year I just want to be happy. 2018 has been a good start, which is mostly due to my sister giving birth to her first son, so I became an auntie recently! I’ve been enjoying and making the most of cuddles with my newly born nephew and I’m looking forward to the upcoming years of spoiling him with love.
This year has also been a good start as I’ve been going to the gym on a regular basis. I’ve managed to go twice a week recently and walking to work and back also helps to keep up my fitness. I’ve been contemplating going out for a long distance run which I’d like to do this month, in the hope that the weather is starting to improve. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to how hard it can be to go to the gym sometimes, but there’s the amazing feel good factor when you’ve had an intense workout, which I aim for when working out at the gym.
I recently went to a national poetry competition called UniSlam which was a fantastic experience. You can read about it on my poetry blog.
My next update should include a lot more content as there are a few things coming up. Firstly lent starts on 14th February, which feels really early this year! So from Valentine’s Day I will be on a meat free diet as I have done for the past two years. Secondly there’s a parade happening in Leicester this Sunday, which I can’t make but will definitely write a blog about. The parade is in honour of Alice Hawkins who was part of the suffragette movement in the early 20th century. A statue is being placed in Leicester so I will have a look at it some point next week and take a photo. And finally, I’ll hopefully embark on a long distance run, which I’ve not done since the half marathon.
I’ve been pretty good at getting myself down to the gym recently. My current shifts at work enable me to have a workout in the late morning or early afternoon, and the gym is conveniently only a 15 minute walk away from work.
I wrote a blog nearly two years ago about adapting to different circumstances, which was when I had recently started a new full-time job. I fitted in the gym around my 9-5 shifts by going early in the morning, but now I’m lucky to be in situation where I can easily access the gym from work without having to get up really early in the morning.
I had a really intense session last Wednesday on the cross trainer and I’ve managed to go to the gym twice so far this week! Even though the intense cardio session on the cross trainer is a favourite of mine (as it burns a lot of calories!), I try to vary my workouts. I sometimes do a little bit of cardio on different machines. For example on Monday, I started out by doing an intense 1km on the cross trainer, and then varied the gradient during a 2.5km session on the treadmill.
For the first time in a while, I had a go on the machine weights today. I focused on my arms and leg, trying out a few machines which I wasn’t familiar with. I spent about 20 minutes on different machine weights, after warming up on the cross trainer for 10 minutes. I then decided to cool down after the weights by taking a gentle stroll at different gradients on the treadmill for 10 minutes.
In an ideal world, I should be going to the gym at least three times a week, but that doesn’t happen for various reasons. I’m very happy if I go to the gym twice a week. When the weather starts to improve I would like to start long distance running again, as I’ll be running my second half marathon in October.
A huge congratulations to my sister and brother in law on the birth of their child! I am now officially an auntie! 🙂
My nephew was born in the early hours of yesterday morning. I was eager on Friday night and my brother in law kept me updated. I woke up yesterday morning to be greeted as auntie Clare, and then I referred to my parents as grannie and grandpa! We were all thrilled when we heard the news and saw the first pictures of the new addition to the family.
There is no doubt that I’ll spoil my nephew with all of the love he deserves. I’ve yet to meet him, but hopefully I will either later today or tomorrow.
It feels strange when people call me auntie Clare, but it has a certain ring to it and I’m looking forward to spending time with my nephew and see him grow up. What a great way to start off the New Year!