Mountain Fit: Buckwheat + Flaxseed Roti

After many years of not really treating it as such, I have finally decided that my body is perhaps a temple after all. For too long I have relied on exercise to counteract the less glorious calories I've put into the system, and now I think it's time for a permanent change of thinking.

Buckwheat Roti

I've got many mountains planned for the year ahead starting with the Moroccan High Atlas in June, and I want to go in fitter and lighter than ever before. I plan to trek ultralight with my pack, and I don't want to lose that advantage by carrying more of my own weight than I need. 

So it's out with the two sugars in my tea. Out with chocolate Monday to Friday. Out with processed foods. Out with most of the bread I have enjoyed for so long. 

Instead, I'm experimenting with alternate forms of bread such as these Buckwheat and Flaxseed roti; each coming in at approximately 110 calories and very little else. I made mine to accompany homemade fish curry (in a korma/coconut soya sauce) and sauteed Pak Choi. All you need is as follows:

1 cup of Buckwheat flour

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

1/2 cup coconut soya milk

1 tbsp butter

Grind of Maldon Sea Salt + Pepper to season. 

After mixing the flour and flax together add the butter and mix to a crumb, and then slowly add the soya milk to bring the dough together. The dough should make a smooth ball, but don't worry, it is crumblier than Roti with flour. Let it rest for 30 minutes before cutting into 4 pieces, and roll each to a few mill thick. Then simply heat a heavy frying pan (dry) over a medium-high heat and add each Roti one at a time. Keep flipping until it's the level of 'done' that you prefer. The dough will aerate as you go and can be transferred to the oven to keep warm. 

These are so quick to make that I think I will turn to them a lot as bread-substitutes for other favourite dishes, such as sunday scrambled eggs or lunch salads.

I often raise my eyebrows at those websites that advise you to substitute chocolate with a nice crisp apple - the two really aren't the same - but I must say these flatbreads are genuinely a great substitute for bread-flour based things. They do the job really well!

Notes from the Farm

Today unexpectedly marked my first day of sunburn. May 6th. Today also marked the first day that I've been on the farm when it hasn't been wet and boggy in at least one field or paddock. No mean feat given that I started here in October 2015 - nearly 8 months ago. Some day I will tell you a little more about how and why I ended up working here, but that can wait for a rainy day. 

I've been sharing my farm life adventures on Instagram for a while now under the hashtag #alpacamonday (and now #alpacafriday) but because I'm reluctant to alpaca-spam I generally restrict my posts to one or two per week, despite the many gems that I capture on my Rounds. So given the sunshine and the arrival of my new blog I thought I'd share a few more photos to see us into the weekend. 

The photos below more or less document my day today. We started by moving parts of the herd around ready for weekend walks, meet and greets and general stock rotation. I then spent the remainder of the day feeding and watering the whole herd as well as clearing old hay from the fields (which ruins the grass underneath if left to get too wet and mired). Oh, and I also got knocked to the floor by the new stud, and fully expect two footprints to appear on my sunburnt back any hour now!

Transferring alpacas to adjacent acreage is exciting and exhausting in equal measures. For the English amongst you, it's akin to dancing round a maypole. Whilst some of the herd are well halter trained, others are just getting used to walking with people and like to entangle you ever decreasing circles. There's a lot of kissing, snuzzling, mounting and munching that happens as you pass other alpacas in situ and you quickly need to master the art of deflty unharnessing with one hand, whilst maintaining control of the remainders with the other.

I can honestly say that I thought I had seen All The Cute that alpacas had to offer, but missing out on the weanling shearing last weekend due to a last minute call away, I realised today that there is in fact another level of Adorable left to go: freshly shorn one year olds. But don't trust me on this, have a look for yourself. 

Next week, I'll tell you a little more about the work I'm doing behind the scenes to research and develop an educational programme that explores the learning and therapeutic benefits of, what I affectionately call, Alpaca-time


Nature Statements

Some of you may remember that a year or so back I made a series of in the round paintings, which all sold out and were never repeated. Well, a few weeks ago I found myself missing those lil ol' paintings and decided to pick up where I left off. 

In the intervening period my work has moved progressively towards being fully mixed media, so this time I decided to paint with the intention of combining them with my own travel photos. As I started to gather my ideas together, it seemed to me that I was painting with very specific thoughts on my mind; musing on the ecological state of Scotland and the low-lying islands of the British Isles (I had just returned from a tour of Scotland in the van). I started thinking (again) about what the Highlands would look like fully forested. I often ponder issues like rewilding, and the possibility of reintroducing lynx back in to the landscape. I keep meaning to visit the pan-european rewilding project area in Romania, but never seem to have the right amount of time to give it justice. 

Anyhow, I digress. The resultant pieces of new work inadvertently started to carry ecological and ontological messages - two of my philosophical bedtime preoccupations ;) - and as I've posted these on Instagram (with titles and partial descriptions), I've been interested to hear input from the community: how they possess a mesmerizing quality, something compelling and absorbing. Restful. Almost 'hiraeth' in quality.  This sort of feedback makes my heart sing. 

I've also realised over the last few weeks that the sales I make have started to fall second in priority to the chance for connection that's possible when I publish new work.  This shift has been creeping up on me for a while; manifest in the fact that I am producing less work for sale at the moment. Because I draw my income from a variety of sources it gives my creative output space to breathe for itself without the pressure of needing to bear any particular fruit, and this (i'm sure) will be good for my creative development in the long run, and allows me to continue producing art that always has been a direct channel of all those strange, esoteric or existential thoughts I mull over at night before nodding off.