Bonita Applebum, you got it going on #sourdough #realbread

21 Sep

Bonita on her first day

I’ve been playing with sourdough since making my starter at the beginning of June. She’s called Bonita Applebum inspired by the hip-hop classic from A Tribe Called Quest’s debut album – People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. It’s all part of the nurturing and feeding process, giving her a name, you respect her and she respects you, well that’s the plan.

Bonita was started by mixing half strong white flour and half strong whole wheat flour with an equal amount of lukewarm water. She was then hand mixed to get the consistency of thick double cream with no lumps! She was then left in a cool, shaded part of my kitchen with a clean tea towel covering her for three days. Bonita was now bubbling away happily, in other words she was fermenting and ripe like a strong cheese, ready for her first feeding.

To feed her, around 80% of the wild culture is discarded (You can make sourdough pancakes with this) and replaced with equal amounts of lukewarm water and the flour blend mentioned above. I then fed Bonita every day at roughly the same time, the morning is a good time for me. I could see the balance of the yeast and bacteria establishing themselves with the rise and fall of Bonita. She also had a very distinctive aroma, sharply acidic and then sweet just after the feeding.

Bonita Leaven!

Bonita Leaven!

My first sourdough bake was three weeks later when Bonita was rising and falling in a predictable pattern. I now keep her in the fridge with a loose lid and feed her every fourth day and get her out two days before I’m planning to bake!

My first ever county sourdough loaf!

My first ever country sourdough loaf!

Just an important note about the type of flour I have been using – it’s organic, stoneground, unbleached, strong bread flour from Doves and Marriage’s in Essex. This is to ensure my bread is full of nutrients, often lost during roller milling and the spraying of pesticides, environmentally friendly and unadulterated unlike most of the bread consumed in Britain today.

My current sourdough bible which was recommended by a friend of mine is the distinguished  Tartine by Chad Robertson. The sourdough country bread illustrated recipe is about twenty six pages long, but don’t let that put you off, there are lots of other recipes which I’ve yet to try!  Although, real bread does take time, so don’t rush it. If you’d like to experiment I’m very happy to share Bonita.

My second attempt

My second attempt

As you can see my loaves have come out rather flat, although with a decent crumb, I’m working on getting a better structure and final rise. The below loaf is a country rye, with twenty percent of the flour being a light rye flour. It was delicious but also a bit flat and not the best shape. Today I’m trying out Chad’s baguette recipe which uses part sourdough leaven and some dried active yeast with a mix of plain white flour and strong white flour.

A light rye sourdough

A light rye sourdough

Find out more about the rise of Real Bread here and find your nearest source with the postcode finder.

**A starter is a mix of flour and water in which natural yeasts and bacteria grow to produce a bubbly mixture that is regularly fed with more flour and water**


From Protest to Progress, what’s next for capitalism?

22 Mar

Last night we, Itchy and Bacon went to a debate organised by nef, the new economics foundation which discussed the Occupy movement and the ways in which we as individuals and collectively as part of various social movements can move away from the current economic system which is not working for the 99%.

It would have made sense to Storify the event, although the network coverage wasn’t great and it wasn’t really a tweeting crowd, so I’ve done a little blog.

The headline speaker was Ross Jackson, the author of Occupy World Street, a global roadmap for radical economic and political reform who spoke of how current global financial practices are driving economies to the brink of collapse and his plan of action to allow countries to regain control of their own economies through what he calls ecological economics, through a new WTO and a new World Bank, sovereign trade and the reduction of capital flow.

All of which will be led by a handful of small countries that are ready to break away from the current system with the support of global social movements. This is of course a very simplistic way of describing his strategy, but outlines the barebones of a real alternative. Here are a couple of quotes from Ross which really stuck out:

‘Economics is politics in disguise’

‘Capitalism has many different meanings to different people’

‘The World Bank, the WTO and the IMF are currently the biggest barrier to sustainability’

‘A massive gap between ideas and what’s happening on the ground’

‘Current system doesn’t recognise limits to growth’ (See the Impossible Hamster)

Fanny Malinen from Occupy London was very positive and upbeat about the future of the Occupy movement and did stress the important of institutional reform. Here are some quotes, Occupy isn’t going anywhere:

‘The Occupy movement shows that global and local movements are part of the same picture’

‘Main strength is the diversity of the movements (and the people involved)’

‘Not just a protest, it is a process’

‘Not just about the physical place (St Paul’s etc)’

‘There has been a significance change in discourse’

‘It’s about where next’

Danni Paffard from Move Your Money UK and UK Uncut explained why it’s so important to have ‘Protest and progress at the same time’ and why a large part of the campaigns she’s been involved with are about ‘educating’ people about the current system and how you can make tangible steps such as ‘Moving your Money’ as part of ‘creating dialogue for what we actually want’. Dannie was almost animated when she described how she’s often asked ‘what’s wrong with the banks?’


‘Lots of us believe we live an ethical life, but who has your money!?’

‘It’s such a massive problem, it’s almost intangible’

March is move your money month, you can pledge to move your money now. We’re moving our money this month.

Tony Greenham, Head of Finance and Business at nef was the final speaker. Here are some quotes which made my brain throb (in a good way):

Capitalism is a relic’

‘The idea of trickle-down is a mirror’

‘The idea that you grow your way out of poverty is a complete joke’ 

‘Set up your own currency system, set up your own local energy system’ 

The whole debate and vibrant questions from the audience (mostly much older than us) were filled with hope, doubt and inspiration to be part of a movement which is working towards an economy for the people and the planet. It seems a reassessment of our current value system is a crucial place to start.

A Moorish Aroused Feast of Waste

12 Mar

Since reading about the scale of the food waste scandal in Europe a good few years ago I’ve had the pleasure of working with Tristram Stuart on the mighty Feeding the 5k campaign which seeks to illustrate and change the current broken food system focusing on the major issues around food production within the industry and our homes.

In the UK alone we waste a staggering twenty million tonnes of food each year which ends up in landfills and being ploughed back into the land.

On Friday evening chef come food waste activist Tom Hunt with the help of his great team, Tom’s Feast put together a feast of Moorish inspired nosh at The Russet in Hackney Downs Studios, a creative space and café for the local community. The owner Steve Wilson is behind the People’s Kitchen, a food waste and community cooking project at Passing Clouds in Dalston which runs most Sundays.

(Rebecca Clarke)

We arrived to a very welcoming space with five wooden dinner tables lit with candle light and freshly cut daffodils. Pieces of fruit were handed out to us vegetarians and pescatarians.

The canapés stared to roll thick and fast, beetroot hummus with an elegant sprig of dill, potted hare with chili & cacao, smoked salmon & ricotta and cod’s cheek croquettes served with a dill aioli (I think). The highlights being the potted hare and the sweet cod’s cheek croquettes.

(Rebecca Clarke)

We were then seated with an eclectic range of others all happy to feast together on seasonal, organic produce that had been either rejected due to cosmetic reasons, basically not being ‘pretty’ enough or too ‘rude’ and surplus food donated through a range of supplies such as Abel & Cole, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.

Next came the warming Harira soup with E5 sourdough. We were then asked to take a deep breath and make as much space as possible for the main course of salt boiled lamb’s head and tongue which I was expecting to be an almost biblical affair. This was served not as an actual ‘head’ on large wooden chopping boards with roasted fennel, baba ganoush, cumin spiked hummus, lentils with salsa verde, mouth cleansing waver thin kolrabi and enough celeriac boulangere to capsize a small fishing boat. Falafels with tangey harissa were served for the non meat eaters.

After more chatter and booze the dessert arrived, orange jelly with thick rhubarb ice cream on ginger biscotti. Sadly my pictures don’t do this immense feast justice due to the subtle lighting!

Sharing and celebrating food brings us all together which is a great start, but what’s next?

If you are not familiar with FoodCycle and FareShare you should have a read of all the work they have been doing. These two fantastic charities are actively redistributing surplus food within disadvantaged parts of the community with a crew of determined volunteers.

You can also discover more about the work Tom’s Feast does in the UK and sign the pledge to reduce your household food waste and encourage businesses to do the same. It’s a great opportunity to reduce your environmental impact and ease the pressure on global food supplies.

My Sweet London Highlights of #SMWLDN 2012

23 Feb

  1. Share

    Thu, Feb 16 2012 06:11:52
  2. This year’s London Hub, The Design Council sponsored by Google

  3. Share
    Chinwag’s first @smwldn event kicks off at 1pm! ‘Mind the Gap: Avoid a Social Media Skills Crisis’ #SMWmindthegap
    Mon, Feb 13 2012 05:07:13
  4. Share
    A lot of truth in finding corporates don’t fully understand these online media positions they are hiring for #SMWmindthegap #smwldn
    Mon, Feb 13 2012 09:31:28
  5. Share
    Interesting stuff at the #SMWmindthegap event re Social Media skills gap. Collaboration to create practical learning is the key. #smwldn
    Mon, Feb 13 2012 10:48:58
  6. Twitter, the Butterfly effect and the future of Journalism in a warehouse in Farringdon
  7. Share
    Only 7% of people are on Twitter. #smwldn #mashupevent #socialmedia
    Mon, Feb 13 2012 15:15:16
  8. Share

    Tue, Feb 14 2012 11:43:57
  9. Share
    Try and read the signal, not the noise @killdozer #smwldn #mashupevent
    Mon, Feb 13 2012 15:08:43
  10. Share
    Over 50% of top 150 news items shared are from traditional news media sources #smwldn #mashupevent
    Mon, Feb 13 2012 14:26:55
  11. Share
    Danger = we think we can tell stories well from our desks – but we can’t @paullewis #smwldn #mashupevent
    Mon, Feb 13 2012 15:01:44
  12. Share
    News orgs create 100k URLs a month but only 10k shared by political influencers @killdozer at #mashupevent #smwldn
    Mon, Feb 13 2012 14:14:40
  13. Share
    Great night at #mashupevent #smwldn future of news event with @annadoble @stevewillbe @titia_k @paullewis @emmajell @simongrice
    Mon, Feb 13 2012 18:47:03
  14. Party time in the Big Smoke!

  15. Share
    Anyone else heading down to #smwldn launch party tonight? We’re ready to get our tweet on! #nokiaconnects
    Mon, Feb 13 2012 15:17:32
  16. Share
    Social Media Week 2012 – BBC, Rory Cellan-Jones
    Fri, Feb 17 2012 21:22:12
  17. Share

    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:35:20
  18. Day 2, Happy Valentine’s Day
  19. Share
    We are holding a special valentines session today at @smwldn – Sex, Love and Social Media #SMWsexlove
    Tue, Feb 14 2012 06:26:38
  20. Share
    #smwsexlove – SEO your social profile to enhance your date-ability! Classic! #smwldn
    Tue, Feb 14 2012 08:53:29
  21. Share

    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:35:00
  22. Share
    33% of people have broken up with their partner via text message, email or facebook #smwldn #smwsexlove #fishburnhedges /via @edwards_jen
    Tue, Feb 14 2012 08:50:26
  23. Share
    Apparent 65% of young ppl use FB to look at profiles of ppl they don’t know… This is why I set my privacy settings to max! #smwsexlove
    Tue, Feb 14 2012 08:32:22
  24. Share
    If you can’t be at #SMWsexlove watch the live stream, it’s hilarious!!!!
    Tue, Feb 14 2012 08:27:37
  25. Global Keynote with Mark Stephens CBE & Kathryn Corrick
  26. Share
    Q’s for @markslarks on Freedom of Speech, Censorship, Twitter, Privacy tweet us or use #smwfreetweet, we’re all ears, well eyes.
    Tue, Feb 14 2012 10:17:53
  27. Share
    Don’t spend £70-120k on a super-injunction. Spend £50k on a good PR person #SMWfreetweet
    Tue, Feb 14 2012 10:29:44
  28. Share
    Freedom Of Tweet Censorship: Governments Marketing & The Law
    Wed, Feb 15 2012 11:27:06
  29. Share
    Lovely tip “if you want a super injunction, get it at Xmas, no-one’s checking’ /via @markslarks #smwfreetweet #smwldn
    Tue, Feb 14 2012 10:26:57
  30. Share
    You no longer require expensive equipment – anyone can become a publisher. Your success is dependent on what you write #smwfreetweet #smwldn
    Tue, Feb 14 2012 10:38:54
  31. Day 3, The First Ever Unruly Social Video Film Festival
  32. Share

    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:34:45
  33. Share
    30% of all online searches are video searches! #svff #smwldn @unrulymedia
    Wed, Feb 15 2012 15:12:48
  34. Share
    Future Hipsters
    Wed, Feb 08 2012 00:04:43
  35. Time for some food & photography from Great British Chefs
  36. Share
    Another fab blog post from @gbchefs #SMWFoodPhotography #smwldn by @tikichris @tomaikens @davidgriffen @tomskitchens
    Fri, Feb 17 2012 02:06:16
  37. Share

    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:35:36
  38. Share

    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:35:00
  39. Day, 4! The biggest day of the week with The Future of Sharing, Google , The BEEB & The Olympics, The Psychology of Online Influence and more, ohh and the closing party.
  40. Share
    61% of social media users are annoyed with ‘frictionless sharing’ #smwsharing
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 04:49:38
  41. Share
    Mobile users share 2.5 more times than desktop users. #smwsharing
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 05:15:01
  42. Share

    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:35:20
  43. Share
    Mark Jones, Reuters: “Frictionless sharing has to have an ’embarrassment button'” – it needs to be undoable if required #smwsharing
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 04:57:48
  44. Share
    Social/digital literacy to understand transparency and privacy is responsibility of State? No, transparency is an ethical issue. #SMWsharing
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 05:40:42
  45. Share
    Trevor Johnson of FB on privacy concerns when printing press, telephone invented. Says people will understand and accept #smwsharing
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 05:38:22
  46. Share
    @claire_coady Indeed, very male panel. Would have appreciated a woman’s perspective #smwsharing
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 05:47:29
  47. Google kick off with Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, Oxford University and a shop full of sweets.
  48. Share
    Robin Dunbar = total legend. #smwldn #SMWgoogle
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 10:03:27
  49. Share

    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:34:18
  50. Share
    Male Facebook users with 500 friends have mutual communication with just about 10 of them according to Fbook data! #SMWGoogle
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 09:52:19
  51. Share
    Social is a core human behaviour, not a destination #smwldn #smwgoogle
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 10:27:05
  52. Share
    24% of shoppers will get on their smartphone and check customer reviews before buying #SMWLDN #smwGoogle /via @kerryjeanlister
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 10:31:10
  53. Share
    #smwldn #smwgoogle The woman from Google who demonstrated Google Hangouts deservces a promotion – she’s just convinced the whole room
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 11:04:28
  54. Share

    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:35:54
  55. Share
    Woo! #smwgoogle is trending! Thanks for coming and joining the conversation on Twitter, all.
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 12:53:09
  56. The Psychology of Online Influence
  57. Share
    Im at the psychology of online influence session for Social Media Week #smwpsychology
    Sun, Feb 19 2012 06:04:33
  58. Share
    RT @publiczone: People trust information received on fb at 16%, on twitter 23%, on linkedin 66% #smwpsychology @TheWebPsych
    Fri, Feb 17 2012 19:30:19
  59. Share
    70% trust the reviews of strangers, 90% from those you know #wom #smwldn #smwpsychology
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 09:16:57
  60. Share
    Your personality predicts how happy you are at about 30% – David Stillwell #smwpsychology
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 08:56:29
  61. Share
    Interesting point about curiosity. We’re 10x more likely to share something on fb from someone on the periphery of our group #smwpsychology
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 09:19:38
  62. Share

    Thu, Feb 16 2012 05:40:23
  63. Share
    Psychology, aesthetics and the power of the mind online #SMWpsychology #smwldn live stream < lots to learn
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 08:29:34
  64. Share
    #smwldn #smwpsychology is now trending in London!
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 09:04:38
  65. Share

    Fri, Feb 17 2012 11:26:09
  66. Taxi, it’s party time again!
  67. Share
    So, who’s going to the #smwldn closing party this evening?
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 12:14:02
  68. Share
    Social Media Week London #smwldn closing party starts … With bubbles.
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 14:06:47
  69. Share
    I’m having a great time! Packed out party, such a pleasure to be here #smwldnclosing #smwldn
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 15:46:37
  70. Share

    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:35:20
  71. Share

    RT @ThatGirl_Chloe: So proud of my @NewspepperHQ crew! #smwldn closing party
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 18:57:11
  72. Share
    Enjoyed catching up with @BexLondonTown @LaurenAlyceMac @paulj85 @JoshSolana & It was great meeting @cloundninerec #SMWLDN Closing Party
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 20:16:49
  73. Day 5, Friday! I was out of action, so here are some pieces of coverage which really made me smile.
  74. Share
    AMAZING that #SMWDNA has raised over £5000 this morning for Mind & Cry charities. Great skills #smwldn
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 09:06:31
  75. Share
    Which city made the most noise during Social Media Week 2012? London! Collaboration is key via @Brandwatch #smwldn
    Mon, Feb 20 2012 06:47:38
  76. Share

    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:34:18
  77. Share
    RT @Toodlepip Man on a mission: Sam Michel of @Chinwag /by @LondonlovesBiz < thx @gabbygriffith, made me blush #SMWLDN
    Thu, Feb 16 2012 05:43:47
  78. Share

    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:34:46
  79. Share
    RT @smwldn: Already over 210 votes! Still have til Friday to take part in the Social Media Week Awards 2012 #smwldn #smwawards
    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:23:44
  80. Share

    Thu, Feb 16 2012 06:44:35
  81. Share
    Storming end to #smwldn with a cracking #smwsocialbiz session. #smwhugs to all involved for making my Friday. #geekgasm @SMWLDN
    Fri, Feb 17 2012 07:55:54
  82. Share

    Wed, Feb 22 2012 14:35:36

Jars of Winter Sunshine

19 Dec

This year I really wanted to make something, rather than buy something. Thoughtful little edible Christmas presents for my family were it. I was having a think last week while lying in bed with my girlfriend about what I could make that would be a bit of a treat and at the same time affordable and practical.

Lemon Curd, of course, an old classic most loved and documented in the Victorian era served with scones or thickly spread on slabs of dense white bread. It definitely has a tinge of nostalgia around it, almost Famous Five like. It’s also something that’s never the same when shop bought.

All you need is some juicy organic unwaxed lemons, caster sugar, eggs, butter and some spare jars which need to be washed with soap and warm water, then placed upside down in a medium oven for about half an hour.


Makes 4 small jars

Zest and juice of 8 unwaxed lemons

400g of caster sugar

200g of butter, cut into small chunks

6 eggs and 2 egg yolks

4 sterilised jars, 4 waxed discs, 4 covers and 4 small elastic bands

1. Add the lemon zest, juice, the sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Ensure that the bowl is not touching the water.

2. Stir carefully with a whisk until the butter has melted.

3. Mix the eggs and yolks with a folk and add to the glowing lemon mixture.

4. Let it cook, stirring regularly for around 10 minutes, until it is thick and curd-like. The mixture should feel heavy on the whisk like a custard.

5. Remove from the heat and pour into your warm sterilised jars and seal while warm.

6. Once cold, label and make them pretty with ribbon or loved old cloth!

(Recipe adapted from Nigel Slater, 2010)

They will last for about three weeks if stored in a cool place.

Serve generously with meringues, amaretti biscuits, scones and slabs of crusty bread.

There are still five days before Christmas day so get cooking and flood your kitchen and friends with some winter sunshine.

(Rebecca Clarke)

(Rebecca Clarke)

(Rebecca Clarke)

(Rebecca Clarke)

(Rebecca Clarke)

My very first Supper Club

9 Dec

After salivating over the array of supper clubs in East London for the last two years on my best friend Twitter, I finally chose one ten minutes walk from our flat, Leluu & Blyde.

It really excited me the mix of Vietnamese and classic British flavours from the partnership of Uyen Luu, who has been hosting her very own Vietnamese inspired supper clubs for two years and food journalist, sommelier and now chef, Douglas Blyde. Douglas and I shared a few amusing emails as we’d requested no red meat and he came back with a bone marrow salad as a alternative to steak tartare which made me giggle. We ended up with some succulent veggie gyozas which did the trick!

Last night we turned up to a very welcoming flat with three tables all set delicately with vintage china and a large ice bucket for our booze. It was BYO, as all supper clubs should be. We mingled with the other first timers and all shared our love of food, many working full time in the food industry. We were then seated ready for our eleven whole courses to begin.

First up was a very homemade strained vine tomato Bloody Mary with basil which was refreshing and subtle, not like a Bloody Mary. Next up was an oyster filled with seaweed, sesame and stinging nettle jelly.

Plates of immaculate morsels just kept coming and were beautifully described when served. My highlights were the delicate not so Bloody Mary, the pea soup with white truffle croutons and the quail bathed in rose water on a festive nest of roasted parsnips and pink pomegranate seeds.

Enjoy the pictures below, although they were taken on my rather crappy blackberry. The full menu is here for you to admire. Most of the ingredients are sourced locally and from sustainable supply chains. The donation to the cooks and hosts is £35+ per person. Don’t hold back, it’s time to book that supper club.

(Rebecca Clarke)

(Rebecca Clarke)

(Rebecca Clarke)

(Rebecca Clarke)

(Rebecca Clarke)

My four local loves on Hackney Shore

2 Dec

A quick post on my four favourite local shops which all have healthy, local living and access to sustainable food at their core.

Fin & Flounder

First up is Fin & Flounder the friendly fishmonger at the London Field’s end of Broadway Market which has a great selection of sparkling wet fish and seafood which all comes from sustainable sources. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying some tasty Squid, stewed Portuguese style with onions, garlic, chili, tomatoes, parsley and white white and a thick slab of Ling and some sweet Monkfish cheeks, cooked with a fresh Thai green curry paste and lashings of coconut milk. The head of the fish is always the most delicious part of the animal, the cheeks being the gold. They even Tweet! 

(Rebecca Clarke)

Healthy Stuff

On Dalston Lane, this newish health food shop with a small cafe has great juices, smoothies, coffees, cakes and sandwiches served on E5 Hackney Wild Sourdough is a quiet place to hang out with your laptop. Set up by a local couple who now have a young baby, one a trained nutritionist and the other a passionate foodie, they stock a range of Organic fruit and veg and various other staples and you can also refill your Ecover bottles.

FARM: Shop

This urban farm come cafe, workspace and unique event space has been around for a year, opposite Dalston Curve Garden. It was originally devised by Something & Son – ‘How much food can we grow in a shop?’ and is now a fully functioning sustainable business with fish, chickens on the roof and loadsa salad which is used in the cafe. They also have a polytunnel at the back which is great for events or to enjoy a fresh urban snack in the heart of Dalston. If you are interested in creating your own FARM: Shop email these guys here. I have just started working with these guys, the whole shop is run by a range of volunteers! Pop in and get involved. They have just joined Tumblr, enjoy.

(pony cube, Tumblr)

Happy Kitchen

They started off as a vegan bakery, and now sell their products throughout the UK. Their cafe is just by London Fields overground station under the arches which gives it a holiday feel. Happy Kitchen specialise in sweet vegan goodies which use no sugar, just wonderful fruit and a range of savory lunchtime salads and one pot wonders. They also sell loose pulses and have a range of food centered events/classes under the arches. They also have a stall on Broadway Market on Saturday if your feeling like a festive brownie. See what they’re up too. Hopefully the full website will go live soon.

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