Friday, February 22, 2013

Week 3: Day 18-22

This week was stupidly busy and involved a lot of free stuff, some of it gained creatively and some of it gained through my friends being drunk and/or generous again.

Since I had cooked a lot of food over the weekend I again didn't really have to worry about cooking during the week or making any lunch. So on Monday after my shift in the college library I just had soup and went to bed early with the wonderful Angela Carter.

On Tuesday I had planned to pool my resources with a friend and make curried lentils and sweet potatoes but it turned out that my friend was nearly dying of some cold (I blame getting up before the sun when the temperature has barely risen above zero to go rowing on the world's most pathetic but bendiest river thus making rowing in Cambridge the most miserable experience ever thus reducing your immune system thus increasing the likelihood that you will get some horrendous cold) so I ended up taking my spices and sweet potato to the hipster's house and sending him to the store to contribute to the meal. I had one request: red lentils. Turns out, I should have been far more specific. I should have realised that the hipster, being a man who likes his meals containing a range of dead animals from a range of geographical locations (imagine his delight at the horsemeat saga), doesn't have much experience of lentils. I should also have learned my lesson from a recent experience when I sent him to the store for salad and he came back with a Chinese cabbage and radishes. But alas, none of this came to mind at the time, so off he went and came back with pre-cooked Puy lentils in a can. This makes making a lentil-based curry a little... runny.

I had the genius idea of making bulgar wheat to go with the curry (that is, I found bulgar wheat in my box of dried food) and was hoping that I could just reduce the amount of stock in the recipe (I didn't have much of a choice, I only had 3 cubes of vegetable stock left) and any excess liquid still remaining would be soaked up by the bulgar wheat. Except I then put the hipster in charge of making the bulgar wheat. I'm not exactly sure what bulgar wheat should look like but if the answer is the semolina pudding-like substance that I received then I never want to have it again.

Except I am going to have bulgar wheat again because it's one of the last remaining things in my box of dried goods that needs to get used up before the end of my experiment. But I think putting it in a lentil loaf might be a better use of it.

On Wednesday night my college held an event for graduate students with a free all-you-can-eat buffet and all-you-can-drink wine and juice. Unfortunately, since I am vegan, I was given my own small plate so I couldn't actually try to eat all I could (the hipster, mind you, did not have this problem and consumed enough mini quiches to feed a bourgeois army). I also left my magic drops at home so had to stick to juice. I am pretty sure, however, that I drank about 20 gallons of orange and apple juice by the end of the evening. I was afraid some of those rowing-induced flu germs might be floating around college so I was stocking up on free vitamins.

Thursday was a bit of a rule bender. Firstly, I woke up very early in the morning to buy formal tickets for everyone in my lab on my college card. I actually did the same thing the previous week. I did this because tickets were needed and someone at our college needed to buy them. I was going to get the money back from the ticket holders so this wasn't really me buying anything. Except that on this Thursday, one of the tickets was actually mine.

Next Thursday, on the very last day of my experiment, we are throwing a farewell party for the lovely Austrian who has been visiting our lab for the past month. And we are doing this in formal hall. Which means we had to buy the tickets on Thursday. There's not really much I can do to justify the spending: I have basically cheated. Although, I'm still thinking of a creative way to somehow get out of actually having to purchase the ticket.

This Thursday evening I also ended up at formal hall by a bit of last minute ticket grabbing and bartering. A friend of mine had some guests from London and he had wanted to show them a college formal. I had said that I couldn't go because of my no buying experiment but that I would meet them afterwards in the bar to watch them drink. My original plan involved me making dinner at home for myself and perhaps having a martini or two (I've been quite cautious with rationing my gin and vermouth over the length of the experiment). But just before six I get a message saying that I had a ticket and that I had to meet them there at seven. I put up a little bit of an argument saying that I would need a vegan ticket which seemed a bit impossible to get at such short notice. It turns out it wasn't. But then I still couldn't pay for the ticket. I offered instead to make bread and make my friend some food and do some ironing for him. I felt the bread and food worked nicely within my 'use the resources you have' philosophy and he thought getting me to do his ironing worked well within his 'get Elise to do my ironing' philosophy. So I went to formal hall. And I went to the bar afterwards and had two G&Ts bought for me by very drunk friends. So, when they said they were catching a taxi into town and would pay for my entry into some horrid nightclub I found the easiest way to not get people to pay for stuff was to just go home. So I did.

A lot of the food I have been cooking recently has been based around the pulses and beans that I had lying around and the seasonal vegetables that I get at the farm shop which means I am cooking a lot of curries. This is great but I really miss Chinese and Japanese cooking. Tonight I was lucky enough to go to my new neighbour's house who cooked me soba noodle soup in kombu dashi with eringi mushrooms, fried tofu, spring onions and mochi. And it was delicious. He's been learning to cook simple Japanese cuisine from the Japanese postdoc in my lab and she is doing an absolutely awesome job!

So I received a lot of free food and drink this week. I also managed to get myself a free helmet from FreeCycle. If you don't know what FreeCycle is then you are definitely missing out! It's basically a network of communities where stuff is advertised as offered or wanted... for free! I picked up a really nice coffee table about a year ago and yesterday I picked up a perfectly good helmet. There are groups all around the world so take a look and see if there is one near you. You might find something free you've wanted for a while or you could use it to get rid of anything you have lying around that you think someone else could make use of.

So although I still seem to be stuck in the vicious routine of eating three course meals in formal attire after Latin grace I've at least broken the habit of following my friends in aforementioned formal attire to skanky clubs when I'm not in the mood for them. And I think being in the habit of sharing cooking and meals is much better for the environment, your relationships and your mental health so I'm glad that's something I've become accustomed to.

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