Breton Buckwheat Galettes Recipe

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Galettes are naturally gluten free Crepes, traditionally eaten in Brittany, France. They make for a delicious savoury meal or sweet treat and can be made at home as well as enjoyed out and about in Brittany. Made using just water and buckwheat flour (with a little salt), they are suitable for vegans, gluten free and sugar free diets.

You’ll need 2 cups of buckwheat flour and roughly 4 cups of water plus a sprinkling of salt, say about half a teaspoon.

Mix it all together in a big bowl, take some time to mix it up properly, 5 or so minutes. Add water until the mix is a creamy consistency, quite heavy. Leave in fridge for an hour or more.

Next heat a crepe pan and add some olive oil or butter or whatever you like to cook with. The oil should be thinly spread across the pan, I used a potato cut in half on the end of a fork to spread the oil oil but I’m sure there’s other ways to do it like using a napkin or something! Ladel in a thin coating of crepe mix and cook on both sides.

If cooking for a number of people, you can pile up the galettes on a seperate plate, kept warm in the oven and serve up with different toppings using the crepe pan again to heat the galettes.

Today I had caramilsed onion, leek, tomatoes and egg in my galette as shown in the photo.

Bon apetite!

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Food For Thought

The collective I’m staying with provided the organic vegan catering for an arts festival last weekend. So, it was days worth of harvesting veg, washing, peeling, chopping etc. It’s such a good feeling to be connecting to the process of food going from plant to plate and all that’s involved to feed and nurture the body. We potted some seeds earlier this week too in amongst all the prep for the festival, and when I saw the first green shoots I was buzzing with excitement.

Down the road there’s an industrial factory farm of pigs who live their lives cooped up in a barn with no room to move, their chemically treated food is dropped down into their troughs at the same time every day from a machine. You can hear them screaming.

Food is where it begins, without it we die. It’s becoming more and more clear to me how what we choose to eat and where we source it from could not be of more importance. Everyone has heard of the phrase you are what you eat and it’s true that what we put into our body is what we get out of it. Coeliacs know that fact well, given that eating gluten, something poisonous to us, sends our body into severe sickness.

For me, as a human being and as someone who has been reminded of the importance of food via an autoimmune condition, it is essential to only put into my body that which is nourishing. That means no GMO’s, less or no processed foods, organic where possible, locally sourced, cruelty free (because a factory farmed animal is not going to make a healthy meal, stressed animal equals sickness which equals bad meat/dairy) and as close to its original natural form as possible.

Most places in the UK have some fantastic local organic veg box schemes and those of us lucky enough to have our own garden or allotment can get involved in the process of growing ourselves to make our own produce. If not, there are also some really good community gardens projects so have a dig about to see what’s available in your area.

When we were serving up our tasty, wholesome vegan grub at the festival, it struck me that the way to make changes on both a personal and global level is to lead by example not by force. No amount of me ranting about the importance of food is going to make much of an impact. However sharing recipes for nutritious meals and inviting people to try vegan, locally produced and organic food is a positive way to inspire each other to bring awareness to our consumer choices when it comes to feeding ourselves. What’s more, there was a conscious effort made when catering with this collective to cut down on waste. We had a compost bin for food waste and provided normal plates and cutlery for diners with a washing up station for people to wash up their plate when they were done so that we could reuse it for the next customer.

Working in a big team of people all committed to living in a more sustainable way has been a truly enjoyable experience. Many hands really do make light work and I am absolutely inspired to be here. WOOFing is such a fantastic way to travel and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Every day there is more food for thought.

Harvesting the tomatoes
Harvesting the tomatoes
Catering at the festival
Catering at the festival
Washing up station to cut down on waste
Washing up station to cut down on waste

Buckwheat in Brittany

I’m sure all coeliacs will understand why I was jumping with excitement when I discovered that here in Brittany, the traditional crepe galettes are in fact GLUTEN FREE and made of buckwheat flour! Brittany is the region of buckwheat, it was introduced in the 12th Century from the Middle East and grows well on the Breton moors.

Buckwheat (or sarrasin in French) is naturally gluten free and as it’s actually a fruit seed rather than a grain, it is a fantastic plant source of protein, which is also easily digested. It contains essential amino acids and is high in fiber, low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Magnesium, Copper and Manganese. Now there’s a good reason to both enjoy the taste of a crepe AND be happy about it’s nutritional benefits!

I couldn’t believe my luck when my wonderful WOOF hosts in Brittany cooked a Buckwheat apple cake, and a buckwheat vegetable tart for dinner. Also dotted around Brittany at markets and festivals or in creperies there are buckwheat galettes available. Gluten-free travellers can enjoy crepes in France too 🙂

Organic Galettes at the Qestembert Market
Organic Galettes at the Qestembert Market
Buckwheat vegetable tart
Buckwheat vegetable tart
A gluten free cookery book in the window of a bookstore in Brittany
A gluten free cookery book in the window of a bookstore in Brittany

Permaculture Community Living

The flower of Permaculture Ethical & Design Principles
The flower of Permaculture Ethical & Design Principles

‘Permaculture is revolution disguised as organic gardening.’ (Mike Feingold, community activist and designer quoted in ‘DO IT YOURSELF: A Handbook For Changing Our World’ Ed. By the Trapese Collective)

I packed my rucksack and left behind the tranquil farm in West France to head to a sustainable community of artists/activists/organic farmers and all round lovely people in Brittany. Chapter 1 of my journey WWOOFing seemed to focus on inner peace and self-awareness. Now I’ve moved onto chapter 2 which is all about how to bring that peace into the wider world and create autonomy in a small community, as well as how this can be used to inspire and impact wider society. There is no hierarchy in the group and no one is in charge, everyone works together and lives as equals, keeping communication flowing when decisions need to be made.

So, for the next month or so my room is a caravan in a big field which is shared with donkeys, big polytunnels full of organic vegetables as well as veg plots, eco showers and a compost toilet. And by eco showers I mean a bucket of cold water thrown over the head. My coeliac information sheet in French is stuck onto the notice board in the communal space next to the self-organising chart for cooking and washing up and voila I have landed!

I’ve heard the word permaculture a lot and been involved in various permaculture projects without even knowing it but I’ve never really looked into exactly what the phrase means. Today I learnt that it is a holistic approach to tackling the many problems we face in a capitalist world struggling with an enormous ecological crisis. It is the creation of a more sustainable future. The term was coined by Bill Mollison and David Holgren to describe a growing movement in ecological design for sustainability. ‘Permaculture’ doesn’t just cover the design process of permanent organic agriculture but also describes a set of shared values needed to sustain community and the environment.

Three integral aspects of permaculture’s ethos are People Care (taking care of oneself and each other. It’s about making sure your own actions don’t cause harm to yourself or others. This includes making conscious consumer choices e.g. boycotting food suppliers whose produce relies upon underpaid workers using chemicals which damage their health and the support of campaigns for fairer working conditions), Earth Care (opposing that which further destroys ecosystems, working to restore damaged land and using only as much land as is necessary to live) and Fair Shares (This focuses on the fair use and exchange of skills, resources and money to maximise people care and earth care as well as sustainability. WWOOFing is a great example of a fair share!)

The fantastic thing about the collective I am staying with at the moment is they are putting all these ideas into action. It is truly inspiring to see and hear about all the on-going projects here from forms of activism using consensus decision making to organic farming to natural health to permaculture design and so much more! They eat mostly vegan and plenty of food fresh from the land. The name of the collective sums it up perfectly, La « r.O.n.c.e. », (aka Resist. Organise. Nourish. Create. Exist) and I feel overjoyed to be able to share in this way of life and learn more about how to put the ideas of permaculture into action.

It’s only my 3rd day here and I already have a hundred and one ideas about future projects that I can begin/get involved in. It is fantastic to know that there are people out there living the dream and that it does work. We simply do not have to accept a way of life that is damaging to people and planet, another world is possible and it’s up to us to make it work. I’m left with a similar feeling of inspiration and enthusiasm as when I visited embercombe, a sustainable community in Devon.

People can and are doing it and there is so much that we can get involved in from community garden projects to supporting local farmers to riding the bike to work to setting up a skills based share in our communities (e.g. babysitting in exchange for French lessons). You don’t have to live off the beaten track in an eco-community to make a difference, there is something that we can all do. I can’t wait to find out more about all the different ways of living and working towards a truly sustainable future.

Watch this space!

The first days in pictures:

Home for the month
Home for the month
My room mates
My room mates
The book in my caravan and stickers on the wall
The book in my caravan and stickers on the wall
Yummy organic veg
Yummy organic veg
Compost toilet in a telephone box - amazing!
Compost toilet in a telephone box – amazing!
Fetching wood
Fetching fallen wood from the forest

A Note to My 14 Year Old Self

Belle Jar

Breathe.

You don’t have to be anyone other than who you are and YOU get to decide who that is.

In essence, stripped bare, you are an expression of love and divinity, as is the ant that tickles your toes, earth that kisses your feet and thunder that rumbles through the sky. All is one and one is all. Everything you read in Cosmo magazine is there to distract you from this simple truth. The glossy photos are tampered with to make you feel insecure so they can make a financial profit from you, which is just plain mean. It would be more useful thrown in the fire so you can sit around the glow and toast your bones with a friend or five, or alone if that’s the mood you’re in. These are the moments that will be remembered.

Please don’t spend so much time resenting your flat chest…

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I survived tout seul!

WOW, who knew spending so much time alone could be this amazing?!

Wahey!
Wahey!

I am thoroughly appreciative for this window of opportunity to spend over a week alone farm sitting. I’ve been allowed the time and space to simply be, to harvest and cook good organic grub and dedicate my energy to tuning into my mind, body and soul.

The sense of freedom having an entire farm to oneself is just incredible. I could sing at the top of my voice, dance through the fields semi-naked as I gathered strawberries and sit and stare at the sky for hours on end without a care in the world.

So what else have I been getting up to? Well besides chatting to the cats, spiders, bees and just about anyone else who’ll listen, I’ve been doing some delving within, figuring some things out and enjoying my own company. Turns out me and myself can have a good laugh together. And I really realised that if I can be good friends with myself then, well, I can do just about anything!

I’ve discovered I’m truly grateful for coeliac because, as Edward Bach put it “Disease is the result in the physical body of the resistance of the personality to the guidance of the soul. It is when we turn a deaf ear to the ‘still small voice’ and forget the Divinity within us…Health depends on being in harmony with our souls.

I didn’t used to be good friends with myself. I didn’t used to look after myself properly and I didn’t used to see the beauty of my own being. Receiving the diagnosis of coeliac disease was the wake-up call I needed to truly learn to take responsibility for myself. Every single day I am reminded of the need to look after myself, the need to be assertive and the importance of making choices which value my body. I now seek out that which nourishes my soul which naturally leads to a healthier body and mind. This has already led me to some pretty amazing places and I can’t wait to see where else it takes me.

When I first decided to farm sit alone, I was cautious. I worried that I’d send myself into a negative downward spiral, that I’d have too much time to think, that I’d get scared at night and lonely. But in reality, I sent myself in an upward positive spiral, spent time with my imagination and creativity rather than getting too stuck in my thoughts and wasn’t especially lonely! The first night I was terrified of the dark and had a bit of a panic but I just remembered to breathe and ground myself on day 2 and soon got used to being alone in the dark at night. Had some of the best night’s sleep in the end, helped by daily meditation, yoga and dance.

We so often do anything to avoid our own company, but this week I have learnt to really value it. I heard once that there is no boredom, just being boring…so it’s up to us to make what we will of the time and space before us.

Note to future self: Remember the importance of alone time!

The week in pictures:

This butterfly came and sat on my core for an entire yoga session, crawling round ot my back when I did cobra faced down to the floor!
This butterfly came and sat on my core for an entire yoga session, crawling round ot my back when I did cobra faced down to the floor!
Took a raincheck on the relaxing bath I had planned...
Took a raincheck on the relaxing bath I had planned…
Beautiful sunsets over the corn fields every evening
Beautiful sunsets over the corn fields every evening
dancing about the place in a fancy dress...coz I can
dancing about the place in a fancy dress…coz I can

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