January 6, 2011


Energy Cafe has been off the virtual radar since June 2010. Find out what’s been going on in the following news updates and stories: Testing Testing – the Hawkwood cookups

The story of The making of Energy Cafe Kitchen

More Solar cooking and the arrival of the sister swirl stove.

Coming soon: Energy Cafe on the move.

The next Open day at Hawkwood Plant Nursery is Sunday 30th January at 12 noon. Check the Organiclea website for further details.


January 6, 2011

TESTING TESTING…The Hawkwood cookups

Time to start testing the ranger hot plate and oven

and to re ignite our old faithful swirl stove.

and we have a very useful new oven thermometer. Apparently wood such as Ash and blackthorn are the best to cook with, burning slowly at a high temperature. A mix of wood seems to work well. Its quite a job to keep the temp high. On site at Hawkwood Plant Nursery we’ve been cooking up –  for the crew, volunteers and visitors. Henry Ranger is being fully tested..baking and roasting in the oven  and frying, boiling , simmering and steaming on top.

Tuesday 21st December 2010

The Hawkwood crew say thankyou and

to all their volunteers. This winter solstice coincided with a Lunar Eclipse and full moon.

Energy Cafe joined in the celebration and lit the fire during this shortest day to make hot toddy, roast potatoes and

spicy mulled wine for the occasion.

lit the fire at 10.30am –  serving drinks and roast potatoes at 1pm. Max temp 175 degrees

Sunday 28th November

Tea and cakes for Hawkwood Plant Nursery Open Day visitors.

On arrival the trailer was an ice box, it thawed throughout the day, helped by the sun and the ranger fire that took around half an hour to heat up. Physical and practical activity is part of the enjoyment and thrill of Energy Cafe. Simple tasks such as Chopping wood, building fires, filling water butts are a few of the energetic activities that accompanies preparation and cooking food.

The menu:  a milky chai, black ceylon or choice of various herbal teas.

With a melt in your mouth bite size Hot Rock Cake.

Baking time: approximately one hour. Oven temp rose to 150 degrees.

Thursday 18th November

just as the chillis ripen in the glass house..

we make a Lunch time cook up for the Hawkwood Crew.

to say thank you and introduce the workings of the kitchen

The Vegetables were supplied by the farm shop stall open every Wednesday and Thursday at Hawkwood Plant Nursery.

The menu: Baked potatoes

and Vegetarian Roots Goulash (seasonal veg including squash, carrots, parsnip  and celery).

cooking time: approx two and a half hours.

We made just enough!

If you live locally to Hawkwood Plant Nursery we recommend you check out the farm shop for delicious seasonal vegetables  – or even join the weekly box scheme. Its great value and you can really taste the difference!

Sunday 26th September

Students on the Permaculture course at Hawkwood Plant Nursery wanted to cook the Sunday lunch time meal.

So they used Energy Cafe and loved it!

and called the occasion the impromptu ‘inauguration’ of Energy Cafe

It was the first Energy Cafe cook up on the Hawkwood Site – the trailer came to life. As the soup cooked, the salad mixed and plenty of parsley chopped,  chatting and laughter filled the hungry atmosphere.

Bon appetite!

January 6, 2011

The story of…

The making of Energy Cafe Kitchen.

BEFORE (pictured above May 2010)

AFTER ‘As if it grew there’ (pictured above – with Vince –  September 2010)

Handcrafted out of recycled materials by local carpenter Vince, Hawkwood Nursery, Chingford, summer 2010.

with creative tips, advice, inspiration and practical help  from the Hawkwood Crew, volunteers; Amanda and Polly and kim

materials donated by FRP (Forest recycling Project )

Energy Cafe kitchen has been collectively designed. The final layout based on designs and ideas gathered from many people during the pilot phase, Gunpowder Park, Waltham Abbey, 2008 – 09.

A gradual transformation

took place over the summer and into the autumn of 2010.  Undercover in the Hawkwood Nursery garage, we sketched the design layout and

gathered scrap wood from the street and from skips and anywhere we spied a piece that would fit the job. We stripped the trailer bare, first removing the black rubber side panels and flooring – to let it breathe.

Meanwhile Vince (and his tools) got to work.

First step to remake the the original self supporting ceiling storage unit (designed by Barry at Gunpowder Park).

Then he added storage units for the cups and glasses.

‘as if it grew there’ was his motto. meaning that whatever he made and fitted into the trailer would have to feel naturally part of the kitchen, yes, ‘as if it grew there‘ became our mantra too.

Underneath the rubber flooring we discovered  a mature mahogany (we think) hardwood floor  – this we sanded and oiled to bring out the natural sheen.

Henry Ranger

This beautiful and extremely efficient ranger is made by Windy Smithy – the workshop of Jon Snow and Amalia Pes in Devon.

Vince installed the ranger and flue plus designed the quirky flame fire board backing.

Under the paving slab he constructed a very useful bottom drawer  for baking tins, tongs and skewers made out of  bits of 2 by 2 and oak floorboard. The handle is made out of a part from a fire extinguisher.

plate rack

Perfectly designed and crafted by Vince.

Made of dowel

and two types of plywood found dumped near Waltham Abbey.

double sink unit –  for washing hands and dishes

Handbasin unit (left) orginally made at Gunpowder park by Dave. Sink found in Hackney. Right sink found on a street in Whitechapel, customised and fitted by Vince. Top Unit made of Plywood, Cupboard doors made of scrap palette wood.

Highly polished flexi copper tap

made by Vince out of scrap copper piping  that was donated during the pilot phase at Gunpowder park.

foot pumping system

The water system comprises of a foot pump

that draws cold water

from the water hog and pumps it up to the tap.  The waste water drains out of the sink through external pipe into bucket.

Storage unit

with wine box drawers and secret compartment by maki. The main unit was made by Man Somerlink during the Pilot phase.

Folding table top addition

made out of oak floorboards found on the streets Hackney

cut to size

and fitted by Vince.

rotating global herb and spice rack

jar storage originally installed by kajsa and Maki, Abake,  Thanks to Polly for adding the spinning idea.

This special rotating global herb and spice rack will contain samples of herbs, spices and other delicacies from all around the world  – delicacies that have been sourced and carried personally, in hand luggage.

To date Energy cafe stocks nutmeg from Kim, Crayfish Bay, The Carribean and Bay leaves from the tree in Anya’s Garden, Bath.

Made out of scrap plywood from Waltham Abbey Marina. The centre nut and bolt  – perfect for hanging a lamp was salvaged from Hawkwood. The Jam Jars were donated.

mobile stationary unit

Prototype designed by Vince.

Made out scrap plywood and lengths of 4 by 4 found in a nearby skip. This unique Mobile Stationary Unit contains Energy Cafe reference books and other material . Can also be used as a seat.

Autumn  – the time of year when the rosehips are budding…

The trailer is relocated outside, as a mobile kitchen ready for use.

now at last we can make an Energy Cafe ‘Thank-you’ cuppa

for Vince! whom we discovered also carves the finest spoons.

This one he made for Energy Cafe. It’s made from willow.

Do you need a carpenter? ‘no job is too small’ contact Vince : 07786342783

January 6, 2011

Hawkwood Plant Nursery Open Days

Sunday 28th July

Solar stewed blackberries at 75 degrees Celsius

A few sunny spells amidst a mainly cloudy grey sky day. Optimistically we opened up the flat pack solar cooker – newly modelled  out of thin ply, black tape and aluminium tape.

For the Hawkwood Plant Nursery Open Day visitors we made refreshing seasonal drinks –  whilst Lucy demonstrated how to use the new solar cooker. Vince had been foraging and brought his findings – a punnet of blackberries  – picked that morning from around Waltham Abbey.

So with blackberries, lime, a little icing sugar and water

we made a solar stewed blackberry and lime juice

in a blackened pot covered in a plastic bag. This solar cooker is lightweight and adaptable – its best angle depends on the sunlight and for further improvements Lucy suggests we place a grate under the pan – reducing shadow impact. Despite little sun when the clouds passed and the sun peeped out- even for a few minutes –  the water temperature rose quite fast!

Maximum temperature reached: 75 degrees Celsius – fine for blackberry juice. Warming and refreshing. Getting to boiling point is a challenge – virtually impossible here? but solar cooking is perfect for slow cooking, stews etc – barbeques too.

We’re in the testing phase –  everyone came up with some great solar cooking ideas – and so now we wait to catch the next heatwave.  The flat pack Solar cooker was made by Lucy Sheldon. Thanks to Amanda for helping out and Lucas too!

Sunday 27th June

Sister Swirl Stove arrives

It was another scorching summers Open Day at the Hawkwood Plant Nursery

Elderflower cordial on tap to quench the thirsts. Great to see a few familiar faces arriving….including a surprise visitor – Andrew Heggy with his new invention Sister Swirl Stove, this one slightly more compact than his first model ( that we use constantly for boiling water) is designed for portability.

Energy Cafe is slowly building a resource of portable handmade stoves. We’d asked Andrew if he could design one  – that would be easy to carry and move around.

We’re very happy to meet Sister Swirl, looking forward to testing during future cook ups. Now we have the brother and sister swirl stoves and the flat pack solar cooker…many more possibilities …from storm kettles, rocket stoves to tin can micro cookers and hay boxes. If you would like to add to the energy cafe portable cooker and stove resource  do get in touch.

Sister Swirl Stove is made of bits from a luggage rack, a microphone stand and  a fire extingusher. The fan is from a computer. 

Andrew gave an insightful introduction how it works and explained the concept “it is that it gives you the three things that you need in a fire – you need a high temperature, you need turbulence – for gas mixing and you need time for the flame to burn out and that’s what these things combine.”

June 23, 2010

Solstice Solar Cooking

Being summer solstice weekend, it felt timely to start some solar-cooking experimentation, thanks to Lucy who has been making simple cookers out of tin foil and cardboard.

Although the weather wasn’t quite up to temperature to cook the noodle dish she managed last week, she set up in the glass house encouraging people to make their own cookers.

We’ll be trying out more DIY solar cooking inventions with Lucy in the sunny future and finding solar solutions for the off-grid kitchen.

Want to try it? Click here to download the solar cooker DIY handout

June 23, 2010

Thanks to Windy Smithy, Henry has arrived!

We are looking forward to holding the first Energy Cafe soup kitchen with the help of this beautiful hand-made wood-burning stove. More than just a small-scale oven and hob, it will keep the mobile kitchen cosy in winter and potentially heat up water too.

We’d like to shout “thanks!” to Jon Snow of Windy Smithy, down in Devon for giving Energy Cafe a generous discount on the Henry Ranger model.

May 16, 2009

Energy Cafe Spring Banquet
Filmed and edited by Francisca Bancalari


click the link below to read all about it! a great ‘Spring Banquet’ Review by Kate Towerzey


A big thanks to everyone who brought food to share and set the field alive with community spirit!

Rubber Tyre Stage (and sprung dance floor!)
designed and constructed by Dave Richter.

bike power

Bike Power sound system with  ‘Magnificient Revolution’
Check their inspiring blog for news and updates this summer! Thanks guys!

solar band

Dr Realgood – local rhythm and blues band
Great set! first live ( solar powered) band to play at Energy Cafe !

Solar Panels loaned by Ken Boak
Worked perfectly – only a couple of blips when a cloud passed over the sun!

Cooking areas and other off grid demos


Burger Bar hosted by Florian -a  specialist in outdoor kitchen and cooking choreography!  who made a special trip from Berlin to construct the bar and cook! Top! The Oil drum Barbeques were made and welded beautifully by Chen.


Energy Cafe sprouts – amanda’s speciality added an extra nutritious crunch!
making braii

Fire circle  – South African Braai
Anna and Alan demonstrated how to make one  in just over an hour!- sourcing bricks, earth and pebbles on site

roasting veg

Fuel: Locally felled birch and ash – thanks for chopping Ray! – then a communal feast of roasted pumpkins, squash, corn and sweet potatoes .
copper fire pit
Copper fire pit – loaned by Kerrie
intimate set up for food sharing,  frying, grilling, roasting.


Wild food area /around the millstones – Nettle and mint tea was the most popular!

swirl stove

Swirl Stove made by Andrew Heggie

Brilliant fuel-efficient invention (runs off wood chips, sawdust pellets) that kept the water boiling into the night


Bio Diverse power station – designed and constrcuted by Shaun, Termite low impact construction. Fitted with water harvester ‘pitted olive’….

washing up close

provided 24 hours of washing up water!

strawberry tower

Vertical Strawberry Tower – designed and constructed by Tak Hoshino
With bike wheel wind turbine and umbrella water harvester

Energy Cafe Shelters


Love Shack Tipi area

Lynn Saunders from the Magic Music Box and team  – check out : funky puppets

funky puppets

organised loads of arts and crafts activities – in true spring festival style…


Giant bubble making, face painting to a sunset dragon procession .

Marquee loaned by Sherilee- A tranquil space for watching the sun set.
spring sunset

Willow bender – made by Shaun, Sherilee, Amanda and Polly
Great for the night time crashers! Six fit comfortably.

Landrover Tent – Ideal for two


birch boards

birch bread boards made by Peter !

fried eggs

Sun stove –loaned by Ken Boak

Runs off waste wood –  ideal for heating up homemade dishes. and making fried eggs breakfasts

solar air ballon

Solar air balloon demo with Eileen at 12 noon

morning view

To be continued!!