Friday, May 6, 2022

Cheap Easy Vegan/Mcdougall Soup

Pot of vegetable soup
Wherever you live, winter is coming...

This soup is made mostly of very cheap and available ingredients, with lots of room to add your own variety. 

Make lots and feed a crowd or eat for days or freeze for weeks...

Prep and cooking time: 1 hour+

Equipment and Ingredients

Large pot - 5L pictured
Food processor very helpful

Note: I use an electric kettle to preboil water for the pot but adding regular temperature water will eventually result in soup too.
  • 1 to 3 brown onions
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cabbage plus optional 1 cup of any chopped greens eg kale or dandelion leaves
  • 3-5 large carrots
  • 2c brown rice or barley (may substitute 1 c of rice/barley with 1c lentils)
  • Optional - any other vegetables eg mushrooms, corn, peas, canned beans or vegetables
  • Seasoning suggestions: stock powder, salt, turmeric powder, chili powder, garlic, bay leaves


  1. Peel the onions, grate in food processor, and add to pot to brown on med to high heat. Stir occasionally until soft and slightly browning - meanwhile grate the cabbage and carrots.
  2. Add the cabbage and carrots to the browned onions. Stir and keep heating until the vegetables all soften. Any further browning is fine too.
  3. Add water to fill pot at least halfway, stir well and heat back to bubbling. Add 1 tsp of salt or stock.
  4. Add the brown rice, stir and simmer until rice has cooked. Add enough water if needed to keep soup very liquid and easy to stir.
  5. When rice is cooked, add any optional vegetables like mushrooms, frozen peas or corn. Canned beans and canned chopped tomatoes are great quick additions.
  6. Add more water to make a full pot and keep simmering.
  7. Season to taste. This can be made Italian or curry style, or just lots of chili, garlic and stock.
Optional I usually add 2x servings of rice vermicelli at the end to make the goodness of the soup more appealing to the family. As seen in the pot pic. Omit and/or sub with grated potato or quinoa for McDougall MWL compliance.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Gifted, not psychic!

Credit: Vectorshy
To our gifted children, growing so fast....

You are quick and delightful. You are intuitive and insightful. You are without a doubt gifted, and we are proud of you every day.


You are not psychic. 

7 ways you are not psychic
  1. You cannot guess what people are saying before they finish their sentences.
  2. You cannot guess what people said while you were listening to something else.
  3. You cannot do your work by skipping the explanation.
  4. You cannot answer everything in one step.
  5. You cannot remember everything important without taking notes and checking them.
  6. You do not already know what will be important later.
  7. You do not already know what the person in front of you knows.  
Why it matters
In the beginning, because you are quick, insightful, intuitive, you think you can do all these things, all the time. You see how often you are quicker and more right than many around you.

This is the most dangerous lesson for a gifted child.

It won't last.

You'll soon notice that the goals you shot for got aced by someone who didn't just finish first.

...someone with the gift to recognise the world has more to show them than vice versa.

...someone who admitted they didn't understand, and asked until they did, and thought hard and long how to turn that new knowledge into something never seen before.

Listen and learn

Admitting you don't understand can feel really bad, when you already know everything. But how can the world share its secrets with you when you already know everything?

The world is full of people, and all of them know something you don't.

If you have two settings: "what I can answer quickly" and "don't know, boring", it's time to expand your horizons.

Forget about predicting the future - go make it happen!


Jessica Parsons has been the President of Explorers Auckland, of the NZ Association for Gifted Children, for 5 years. She and her husband have two gifted children who very much enjoyed the Small Poppies and Mindplus programmes offered by NZCGE. She was an accelerated student and a grateful graduate of a fledgling gifted program in her primary school in the USA, many years ago.

This post was written for the NZCGE Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Brexit: It’s not us, it’s EU

 The people have spoken, and what do they say?
A simple majority from the UK
Declared independence from that wobbly EU
“Our pound remains free, and soon we will be too.”
No thanks, we’re British! United we stand!
(just don’t ask those stirrers, the Scots and Ireland).

Our life’s getting worse; our economy’s tanking
For this, all in all, it’s the EU we’re thanking
When decisions are made without our consultation
The tyrants should be from our very own nation
It’s all of these immigrants causing the mess
Bordering doom for our nation’s success.

So, so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, pet
The lawyers will sort it somehow – no clue yet
The markets may tumble, but what can we do?
It just isn’t working – it’s not us, it’s EU
Democracy’s triumph, in bright royal blue
Take care what you vote for, it might just come true.

(c) 2016 Jessica Parsons

Friday, December 18, 2015

The SAFEty of New Zealand

Can you believe it? SAFE are threatening us all with further ads and actions like that one in the picture if the MPI and/or the government don't do what they want about this "animal abuse".

Who do they think they are? Our government does fine if everyone would trust them and leave them alone. Anyway, here's a roundup of what the country has to say about this so-called animal activism!
  • These naive treasonous economic terrorists haven't thought for a second about what happens if everyone goes vegan but are deviously planning to ruin NZ and then move to their second Hawaii homes.
  • All the farm animals will die off because they can't raise their young without our help, while overrunning the entire planet due to uncontrolled breeding. And the farmers will never work again, because they have no other skills and nobody has ever retrained for a second career.
  • The filming was illegal and staged, and they should have immediately gone onto the farms, stopped the workers, and rescued the animals while they were being abused on hidden unmanned cameras. That would have been legal, right?
  • We already know for a fact there are only a few who abuse animals (real farmers hug their cows!) so why didn't they immediately hand over their first footage instead of looking for more widespread evidence to selfishly grab headlines? This is all about their ego. And bringing down NZ farming by making us all go vegan. But mostly their ego.
  • They only saw 0.000001% of NZ farms and let's face it, to us townies all farms look alike anyway. It was probably just one farm. And it was staged. With animals that "sanctuary owners" pretend to "rescue"! Because that's just how much sanctuary owners hate farmers...and animals.
  • Why didn't they send their evidence to the SPCA who everyone knows is the agency for, duh, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or even our police who are animal experts and would have done something right away, instead of the MPI? Who's the MPI??
  • Why did they go to the media instead of waiting for our government to do its job properly? The media is only supposed to be for sports and the movie star news. They just wanted more media attention and donations to waste on paying salaries. Everyone knows that only a few abuse animals, so why did the media even air it? Nobody wants to know if a few people abuse animals - just keep quiet and report it to the SPCA!
  • We'd be a third-world country without dairy exports. Why did they take an ad in the UK? What's the UK got to do with the NZ dairy industry? Hello, they're different countries, stupid SAFE. Our PM is even helping us take the Union Jack off our flag.
  • The filming of abuse by transport workers and a slaughterhouse worker was clearly an attack by SAFE on all dairy farmers! So those great dairy farmers struck like a cornered snake against SAFE in self-defense, pointing out it wasn't them on the video that wasn't said to be them. We haven't heard from the transport workers or slaughterhouse workers against SAFE yet - they're probably still on shift trying to feed their families on those casual rates instead of browsing the web or making a FB page.
  • Do they only care about cows? What about the pigs and chickens? If they really cared, they'd have campaigns for them too! Then that would really be attacking the NZ economy! Good thing SAFE won't be a charity for much longer - we have a petition.
  • Mmmmm bacon.
So what's this rubbish about no-cholesterol milk and meat that doesn't even come from animals?

Is that from SAFE too? Someone had better warn the farmers.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mother's best old-fashioned vegan oatmeal porridge recipe

The best thing about porridge is that you can add anything!

The best thing about becoming a mother is that you learn to go with the flow...

Morning Oatmeal 
(or whenever my day allows time for eating with utensils)

  1. Boil the kettle.
  2. Take kids' leftover bowl with some extra soymilk and cold cereal sloshing in the bottom.
  3. Add random crumbs from yesterday's bags of kids' car snacks
  4. Add organic wholegrain oats
  5. OK, ran out of wholegrain oats. Add some instant oatmeal and some of that cornmeal I bought months ago when I was going to start making fresh cornbread.
  6. Add some raisins, or shred some dates with bare hands, or just decide the soymilk will be sweet enough.
  7. Cinnamon? Ginger? Nice if you have a few extra seconds.
  8. Pour boiled water over the ingredients in the bowl.
  • Cooking time - 1 shower, 5 answered emails and 1 shopping list (don't forget organic wholegrain oats!) 
  • If in a super hurry, just add more soymilk to cool and eat right away as limp muesli
Bon appetit! Remember while eating that these are the best years of your life...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

5 upsides of the Farmwatch expose

It's very easy to get caught up the immediate anger, denial, and polarisation when whistleblowers expose what we'd prefer not to see. Social criticism can be violently unpopular, and "killing the messenger" is a cliche for a very good reason.

But undeniably, whistleblowers get us talking about the important stuff instead of sitcoms and sports. No other way works like it. And beneath the painful arguing, this is our common ground...
1. Compassion

New Zealanders love animals, and we don't want to see what we all had to see. Nobody. The farmers, the businesses, the animal activists, the consumers. Not even the perpetrator of the worst videoed violence would enjoy that footage. Animal industry workers have a stressful, traumatic job that is generally insecure and badly paid, and as such are another victim of the system, as well as being the convenient scapegoat for the offenses.

2. Public pressure

The government and MPI now know without a doubt that New Zealanders want action for better treatment for farm animals. This is the only sort of pressure that really works. Simply reporting the abuses was not working.

3. Awareness

Many more people, including townies, now know the open secret of what happens during industrial farming to produce milk for the shops. Don't they say education is key? Of course it doesn't have to be this bad. Let's look for short and long-term solutions together to acknowledge that animals as economic objects are at risk.

4. Memories

So many people from rural New Zealand backgrounds have shared their memories of how farming was back on their family farms and how unbelievable it is that these traumatic scenes could be widespread. For better or for worse, caring for their animals is the common theme.

5. Vision of the future

New Zealand's economy doesn't need to depend on industrial dairy so desperately that we accept  welfare compromises for financial success. Even if New Zealanders didn't care about animals (we do!), we'd be wiser to diversify our rich land into more sustainable operations.

The future could be cruelty-free, if we decide we want it.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Shocking abuse of New Zealand dairy calves

Shocking footage, as published on TV. And further unaired footage, from Farmwatch.

Of course, it's only shocking if you haven't been paying attention. For decades, investigative psychic geniuses, I mean, animal activists like those at Farmwatch always manage to find the only tiny .0001% of farms where terrible, horrible, no-good very bad things are happening.

When the government organisations like MPI in New Zealand somehow can't find them. Or do anything about them.

The news has gone worldwide. And the reactions come flying. All versions of:
"Please please don't make me feel guilty about this."
Everyone wants to blame somebody else for those adorable horrible dead-eyed baby animals.

Sick twisted individuals

Those 99.99999999% of dairy farmers who naturally love their animals flap their hands accusingly at the transport operators who have let them down. Who knew that animal transport workers leave the calves for hours at the side of the road? Or fail to cuddle the baby calves gently into padded baskets in the backs of trucks?

Something must be done to those bad people! (And now it will, thanks to the media attention.)

And the farmers post kissy pictures of themselves with animals...who are still alive and conscious enough to enjoy their photo op.

Biased troublemakers

Actually, it's the activists' fault, for publicising the covert pictures. That's illegal! Fonterra is "very disappointed". No, it's the TV station's fault, for not presenting "the other side". After all, it's not fair to just show the tiny tiny minority of bad stuff found by the investigative psychic geniuses.

Blinkered consumers 

Fact: the dead baby calves have always been a part of your glass of milk. The money from the sale of the baby calves is just as much a part of dairy farmers' shaky profit margin as the highly-publicised milk powder price. And where there's profit margin, there's a margin to cut - i.e., the time spent getting those pesky calves into those trucks, and into the slaughterhouse machines, as quickly as possible. Having the calves reduced to weak and unresisting objects is good for the economy.

You know what they say in show biz. Never work with animals or children. Baby animals must be the worst.
This is the price of your cheap milk and cheese.

Now we see the violence inherent in the system. And it's ugly. Luckily, there are so many options instead of cows' milk.