Sunday, 21 July 2019

Japizza!


Sometimes food inspiration strikes seemingly out of nowhere, and you just have to go with it.  This was the case recently when my love of Japanese and Italian food combined to form the idea of creating a Japanese inspired pizza.  After all, if noodles can travel from China to Italy as the legend goes, then why can't pizza travel from Italy to Japan?  And if a pizza can be made 'Hawaiian' for example, simply by adding a slice of pineapple or two, then why not?  The ideas started to form.  It had to have a sourdough base, because pretty much everything dough based in our house is made the sourdough way now.  Then it had to include a few Japanese inspired toppings like tofu, miso, seaweed, aubergines, mushrooms, and spring onions.  So far so good, whatever happened it should be edible at least.

As I was making the sourdough bases I couldn't decide on toppings, and had more than enough ideas for one pizza, so decided to make two instead.  One seaweed based, and one with the tomato sauce replaced with miso tahini spread, a macrobiotic favourite.  They turned out to be quite different from each other, and yet both were tasty enough to want to make again soon.  The miso tahini spread one in particular was very 'cheesy', and Scooby said, "it tastes more cheesy than cheese".  The seaweed based one tasted very much 'of the sea'.  Both were very clean tasting, and went well with a couple of simple salads, one simply of lettuce and mayo, and a carrot one included below.  These experiments yielded some good results, and these won't be the last Japizzas we make!


At the time I had no idea if there was such a thing as a Japanese pizza, but had heard of Okonomiyaki which is sometimes called Japanese pizza, even though the main resemblance is the shape. It's more like an omelette though, and is based around eggs, cabbage, cheese, and mayonnaise.  Maybe that could be veganised and revisited another time?  I have since learnt that the Japanese do in fact have a few fusion versions of pizzas, but they are hard to source outside the big cities, and usually consist of seafood based ingredients, as well as having the usual Italian staples on offer.  Could this possibly be the first vegan Japanese fusion pizza ever?  We will now keep our eyes peeled for mentions of Japanese pizza on social media, but remember... you saw it here first!

Seaweed Tofu Aubergine Pizza

Pizza base (we made our own sourdough ones)
Seaweed tartare/paste (we used Marinoe brought back from Brittany but a U.K. alternative might be Parsons Laverbread
1 finely chopped spring onion
Thin (5mm) slices of tofu (we used half a block of Taifun smoked almond and sesame)
Thin (5mm) aubergine slices (approx. half an aubergine)
A drizzle of oil

Spread the seaweed tartare/laverbread on your base, and sprinkle the chopped spring onion over this.  Add the slices of tofu and aubergine, and add a drizzle of oil on top.  Cook in a hot oven for 15-20 mins.

Miso Tahini Pizza with Mushrooms, Peppers, and Aubergines

Pizza base
Miso tahini spread (mix 2 tbsp miso, 1 tbsp tahini, 2 tbsp water, and half a spring onion finely chopped).
4 thin aubergine slices
2 medium mushrooms sliced
1/2 a red romano pepper sliced
A drizzle of oil

Spread the miso tahini sauce on the base, add an aubergine slice in each quarter, and add the sliced mushrooms and peppers on top.  Add a drizzle of oil, and cook in a hot oven for 15-20 mins.

Carrot Salad

8 carrots grated
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 tbsp Tamari soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp Nori seaweed flakes

Mix everything together and let sit to marinate for 30 mins before serving.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

A Rush of Raspberries and a Resulting Random Dessert



We are having the best crop of raspberries we've ever had. Even sharing them with our local mama blackbird isn't a problem as there is more than enough for all of us (okay we admit it would have been hard for us to have disputed that anyway given that we have the option of dropping to the local shops for our food and she hasn't!).  It's nice to share though (I might have to have a word about our smaller supply of strawberries with her though).

Every day we have more to pick.  Some are making it into morning smoothies, some popped straight into the mouth and some squirrelled away in the freezer for out of season fruity treats.  This evening though I decided to busk it and use some with an impromptu dessert.  I only had what we had in our cupboards to work with but given that our cupboards always seem to have an ample supply of random ingredients, it wasn't too hard.  I had also enjoyed a glass or two of chilled vino blanco in the sunny garden beforehand so ease of dessert recipe was quite important too.

Here is what happened........

Get In There Before Mama Blackbird Raspberry Dessert

Take a small handful of raspberries and drop into the bottom of a glass.  Drizzle with some Vegan Honea.  Let's see, what happened next?...... Ah yes, I chopped up some hazelnuts and chucked them on top.  I then spooned about 4 teaspoons of The Almond Collaborative 'Yoghurt' on top.  Then I decided to add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar (we had some rather lovely hazelnut balsamic at hand for this).  Then I sprinkled on top some porridge oats and followed it with a pouring of Creamy Oatly Single Cream.  Somehow I thought that a drizzle of maple syrup would round it off.  I was naughty but not wrong.  Pop into the fridge and then eat as desired.  Enjoy!


Saturday, 29 June 2019

Plan Your Summer with Vegan Event Hub

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Summer started, then stopped and then in the last week seems to have got going again, and with Glastonbury kicking off in an unusually sunny haze, it seems like it's time to get serious about summer fun.  Not that veganism dominates our lives or anything but if there is an event or happening of a vegan nature we like to know about it and will plan weekends or holidays around any that tweak our vegan interest.  Therefore having a one stop shop for such events is a great help.  Enter Vegan Event Hub.

Vegan Event Hub has been around for a time flying four years and has grown at an equally flying pace.  Given the round up of international vegan events it offers, that is no surprise.  UK based events sit on the events page alongside those in Berlin, USA, Brazil, Australia and India.  However, it could be even bigger, and the generous free offers available to event organisers, via the members dashboard, give ample opportunity to advertise your vegan ventures and happenings to a worldwide audience.  Alongside the free inclusion in the Event Hub, they will also sort out the web page, SEO (that's Search Engine Optimisation for those like me who struggle with the tech terms!) and promote it for you.  Again to reiterate, this is all free.  

For vegan event vendors, and also available free of charge via the membership area, there is the ability to promote your presence at all the events you are attending, as well as join the international event vendor directory.  There are also sections for vendors wanted, event jobs and volunteers wanted.  Basically Vegan Event Hub is the glue that can stick together the vegan audience/customer with the vegan event world and vice versa.  

Karen White, the designer and founder of Vegan Event Hub, is one of our very own Cornish Vegans and an all round lovely person. Vegan Event Hub is her grassroots contribution to the vegan movement, and one that she is passionately committed to.  Yes, we are therefore biased.  However, this lovely grassroots lady has created a really highly polished, great looking, unique online community space to not only benefit the advertisement of worldwide vegan events but to support the vegan community as a whole.  We would love to see more content and that content needs to come from the vegan community itself.  Please do take a look, support and spread news of Vegan Event Hub far and wide and ensure it continues to grow.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Petition to Cornwall Council



Cornwall councillors recently shared their initial plans for a 2030 target for Cornwall to become carbon neutral. Although many of us have been way ahead of the game in terms of identifying the environmental crisis that faces the world, even belated action by the council should be encouraged and supported.  That there was also a recommendation to engage with the public to ask what they think of these initial plans is also to be applauded.  What was less of a good idea was to initially test out these plans with the public at the recent Royal Cornwall Show, Cornwall's 'premier' agricultural event and a hotbed for all those very much reliant on livestock farming.  Perhaps there is a nervousness with Cornwall councillors in mentioning anything that relates to animal agriculture in a predominantly rural county, but the omission of any mention relating to such within their initial plans to combat climate change is a little amiss to say the least.....or am I being cynical?

Within their plans are ideas around transport, housing, energy, environment and waste. Whilst many of the suggestions, if not all, are reasonable, pledge number 3 suggested by Cornwall-based climate change consultants Climate Vision rings the truest with me.  It states "Educate yourself about the science and impacts of climate change".  Do that one thing and you might then hit on addressing the environmental impact of animal agriculture.  

Being that this is a vegan blog, predominately read by vegans, I am not about to start stating the facts about the impact that can be made by changing to a plant based diet (read down further for useful links).  All I am saying is that anyone living in Cornwall will understand that suggestions of using more public transport, the push towards electric car use, and building more (energy efficient) homes (don't get me started with that one) are a little laughable at the present moment and even looking a few years ahead.  To sit these suggestions in a list that omits anything to do with animal agriculture very much skews the responsibility onto very few residents of Cornwall that I know of.  Farmers may disagree but I doubt they would agree either with using more (mostly inefficient) public transport, have enough money to buy an electric car, or building more housing full stop (unless they make a ton of money by selling off development land).  Reality needs a little checking here.

Sorry once more I am being cynical.  The thing is I am fed up of piecemeal suggestions that are either designed to make other people richer, out of the reach of many, or just plain guilt infested unrealistic suggestions.  On a very personal level, you can make a change that will have a huge impact, and that is changing to a plant based diet, or at least making even small moves in that direction.  It doesn't have to cost that much either if you avoid the vegan 'junk food' items out there.  An open mind and a commitment to make a difference is all you need.  You vegans out there know that already though so on that note, and the reason for this blog post in the beginning, is that a petition has been started to Cornwall Council calling for them to recognise the environmental impact of animal agriculture.  Please sign it.  I don't think it necessarily matters if you are not a resident of Cornwall as by signing it will send a message to all councils planning the same initiatives around climate change.  

The link to the petition is below Beautiful People and for those not familiar with the science behind the impact of animal agriculture there are plenty of useful links to read within the petition - 

Monday, 10 June 2019

Vegan Retro Nutty Barbecue


In this new age of seitan, jack fruit and other funky vegan meat alternatives it is easy to forget those ones that have been out there forever.  Whilst some of them are best forgotten (anyone remember the 'tough as old boots' Jumbo Grills of the 80's?), some deserve to still be considered and respected for standing beside the vegan principle all these years later.

One in particular we still enjoy is Granovita's Nut Luncheon (years back it was called Nuttolene by Granose).  It is one of those things that we buy and stick in the store cupboard and then find when we do a 'ready steady cook' style rummage.  However it really does deserve much more credit beyond the desperate 'what have we got in the cupboard' rummage by a long way on the basis of its pure ingredients alone; with just water, peanuts and sea salt, these days you'd be hard pressed to find such an honest and simple product.  It's also palm oil and gluten free.  That is before you even get to taste it.  By default, yes it is peanutty but in a sweet umami way and that can definitely blend very well with a multitude of flavours.  

This evening we definitely went into 'let's make it up as we go along' cooking mode and along the way I was absolutely delighted to find that snorkeled away can of Nut Luncheon in the cupboard.  With a bottle of half used barbecue sauce in the fridge it was crying out for a simple skewered solution, alongside several other 'use up' small dishes.  It would be equally as good in a stir fry, sandwiches, curry or whatever other wonders you can dream up. Basically, you can't go far wrong if you have a can of Nut Luncheon in your vegan store cupboard.  At this time of year, particularly with camping trips planned, it can really come into its own for its no fuss and non demanding storage requirements - no fridge required here!

Keep a look out for it in health food stores and failing that you can buy it online.  If you buy from Holland and Barrett at the moment it is not only buy one, get one half price but by activating easyfundraising.org.uk and choosing Viva! any purchase you make will raise 4% for them.  




Saturday, 1 June 2019

Inclusively Vegan


Recently I wrote a blogpost about a local vegetarian cafe.  It is completely vegetarian but with a large selection of vegan dishes.  Somebody commented in response to my post indicating that it was a shame it wasn’t fully vegan.  I of course agree but my response back was that if such establishments get supported by more and more vegans perhaps this would eventually lead to a full vegan establishment.  It really made me think more about the progression of veganism in terms of its infiltration into the mainstream and whether our impatience to move towards veganism at breakneck speed might actually be slowing down the progress.   I haven’t totally made my mind up about this but writing this post is a way of exploring this thought.

I’m going to start on a basic level.  Over 30 years ago when I first became vegan I was full of it and full on.  Nobody really wanted to know and, like all vegans of the time, I was seen as a weirdo.  Admittedly that was also the sign of the times and a lot has changed since then, including the mellowing of age.  I don’t shout about being vegan now, well apart from writing a vegan blog that is!  Interestingly though, now when people in my everyday life find out I’m vegan I get mostly interested questions.  In addition people now seek my advice.  Again, this could be the sign of the times but it does seem as if the less I’ve shouted about it and led by example, the more interest it creates.  Phil has had the same experience.  Don’t get me wrong though, it is hard to be ‘gentle’ in my approach in the face of sentient abuse and if anyone ‘attacks’ they get the full vegan barrel from me.  Generally however, gently does it.

Moving on, put a vegan cafe or restaurant in my path and I’ll be there, and there are more and more appearing in my pathway these days.  I will not dispute the fact that they are always the first I support.  However, life as a vegan can still be slightly restrictive in high street eateries, and I would suggest it is short sighted to purely support vegan establishments. If a cafe or restaurant is making efforts to provide vegan options and particularly so a whole vegan menu, to not explore and create a market for their efforts would be a step backwards surely?  The more the market is recognised, the more it will be catered for and form a bigger portion of what they provide.  You could argue it is driven by finance; everybody wants their share of the vegan dollar these days.  It’s better to make their money in a vegan way though surely?

Another way at looking at it is that by providing these options it gives more chance for people to explore vegan food, paving the way perhaps towards a gentle transition.  A study by the London School of Economics a while back found that eating establishments that listed non-meat dishes in a separate section reduced the chances of those dishes being chosen by 65%, and this was with survey participants who often ate vegetarian meals.  Basically it seems that, listed beside meat dishes, vegan dishes may stand more chance of being ordered by non-vegans.  I obviously prefer to choose from a separate vegan menu but have personally heard on several occasions people discussing and considering vegan dishes on menus that listed all the choices together.  On all occasions it was clear they were not vegan.  Very rarely I imagine would non-vegans ask for the separate vegan menu.

A similar dilemma for vegans occurs in supermarkets.  Fairly recently some supermarkets have provided separate vegan sections within their aisles.  It’s been a welcome change, especially as it means you don’t have to deal with searching through the meat sections.  It’s actually lovely to see a crowd around the vegan section, especially when you overhear discussions clearly from new vegans and can potentially offer advice.  So separating vegan options in supermarkets is a success and definitely makes it easier for new and old vegans alike, but what again of the potential for non-vegans to choose vegan options on impulse from within the meat and dairy aisles?  Every vegan option chosen over cruelty is a definite success after all.  I have noted there has been some integration again in some supermarkets in addition to the separate section which is the best of both worlds really.

I think I’ve come to a conclusion that the pathway to veganism is a multi-directional approach.  The pathway is definitely being solidly laid down by vegan activists, vegan cafes and restaurants, producers and retailers; and very much giving us existing vegans an easy and much appreciated stroll along it.  Signposts are being put up along the path by those who provide separate vegan menus and sections in shops.  Some people however don’t know where the pathway begins or even that it exists unless they stumble across it in their everyday lives.  That’s when being equally inclusive with menus, supermarket shelves and your own gentle guidance can make some difference.  We all know where we want the pathway to lead but helping people on to and along it is the most important thing we can do in order for us all to reach that destination.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Vegan Night Market in Newquay


If you are heading to the North Shore of Kernowfornia this bank holiday weekend and are looking for a vegan evening adventure then the Vegan Night Market in Newquay has been especially put on for you. 

Organised by Vegan Events Cornwall, the event is hosted and based at Sprout Health Foods in the heart of Newquay.  It's also supported by Dynamite Valley Brewing Co and Whiskers, the bar and live music venue (voted TripAdvisor's No 1 night out in Cornwall) just a cat's whiskers away from Sprout, and where the party will move on to after the market (with a drinks promo thrown in for good measure). 

There will be plenty of food at the market to ensure you are fuelled up and have your dancing shoes on for the after party.  Sprout Health Foods are planning their delicious SproutPots of loveliness whilst Sloth and Sparrow are in town to heat us up with their colourful range of Mexican street food.  For the sweet toothed amongst you Renaissance Cakery  and Lemon Thyme Patisserie will be there with a double dose of vegan naughty treats.  You can wash it all down with some fine craft beers from the very local Atlantic Brewery or sponsors Dynamite Valley Brewing Co.(free tasters apparently when you arrive too!).

Once you have stuffed yourself full of vegan goodies, there is still plenty to take in with Newquay based vegan company Generation V selling their sustainable, organic and hand-drawn street wear, local artist, illustrator and author Maia Walczak promoting her new book WylderReWilding Books providing their amazing stall of books that appeal to the more open minded readers among us, and floating nicely into the scene ARBO Surfboards with their hollow wooden surfboards and schedule of surfboard building workshops.

Phew, all that remains to tell you is to be there!  It's on Saturday (25th May) evening from 7pm - 9.30pm at Sprout Health Foods with the party moving on to Whiskers after.  For more information check out the Facebook Vegan Events Cornwall page.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Make It Up As You Go Along and Do It Right Now Nectarine Pudding


I made a delicious 'make it up as I go along and do it right now' pudding the other day.  I had bought some cheap nectarines at a supermarket, you know the ones that have been priced down because they have gone past their so called 'sell by' date even though they are still too firm to actually eat yet.  Well they suddenly all got ripe at once and after a few morning smoothies there were some left and I then did need to use them up.  I was also in one of those moods when savoury meets sweet and there are certain ingredients that you really fancy.  On this day it was pumpkin seeds and balsamic. 

Phil will tell you that despite the mountain of vegan cook books I have, often I will just go into some weird trance and start making something without really thinking too hard about it.  I don't believe it has ever ended in anything inedible, which is lucky, but when I really hit a 'gold star' moment with something I have cooked it is annoying when I can't remember how I actually got to that point.  This recipe could have been one of those moments had it not involved very few ingredients and I had not rushed to scribble down what I remembered of this simple concoction after I had tasted it.  I told Phil it was terrible (sshhhh..) as I wanted it all to myself.  Here's what happened.....

Make It Up As You Go Along and Do It Right Now Nectarine Pudding

Nectarines (or peaches would be good too, maybe figs, or hang on, apricots too and hmmm, what else.......?)
Bit of vegan margarine
Vegan Honea (love this stuff)
Breadcrumbs
Pumpkin seeds
Balsamic glaze (make sure vegan)
Yoghurt of your choice to serve

1. Slice your nectarines in two, removing the stone.
2. Place in a greased baking dish cut side up.
3. Put a small knob of margarine in the stone indent of each half.
4. Drizzle with Vegan Honea.
5. Scatter over some breadcrumbs and pumpkin seeds.
6. Drizzle over some balsamic glaze.
7. Bake in the oven at about 200 degrees C until soft (reckon it was about 25 minutes)
8. Let cool a little (or totally) and serve with yoghurt and drizzled with more honey.

Scoff, enjoy, don't tell Phil.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

The Eco Collective Opens The Doors


EC logo no background.pngMay is my favourite month of the year.  Not only do you get two bank holiday weekends to enjoy but the Cornish countryside really kicks into full green mode in preparation for the summer ahead.  Everybody and everything suddenly springs into increased activity and there seems to be a plethora of interesting vegan events, places to eat and visit and cooking inspiration to explore.  It is difficult trying to fit it all in and particularly so writing about it all!

Kicking May off for us was a visit to the newly opened Eco Collective shop on the north coast.  Just down the road from the already well established eco, music and veggie/vegan food venue of Mount Pleasant Eco Park, the Eco Collective sits nestled in the steep sided coastal village of Porthtowan, making this area now a double destination adventure for any curious and hungry vegan.


The Eco Collective is easy to find.  Just take the one road into the village and towards the beach and you will see it just behind the post box on the left, and opposite ample parking.  

There are handy benches just outside on which to devour the vegan goodies you have just purchased before heading back in for more.  There are plenty of filling, virtuous and naughty options to choose from including pasties from The Cornish Vegan Pasty Company (tasty fillings and no palm oil here), irresistible savoury and sweet treats from Nature’s Treats (again palm oil free and refined sugar free) and for a totally needed naughty blast, grab a Velicious Vegan Doughnut  to devour or a cooling Booja Booja or Coconuts ice cream from the driftwood decorated freezer.  

The display cases may be full of ready to eat wonders but there is also a selection of food and household staples, including a refill section for washing up, laundry, cleaning and bathroom supplies. 


If it’s a special gift for someone eco or vegan minded you are after then The Eco Collective has plenty on offer here too.  A row of eye catching t-shirts from Newquay based Generation-V line one wall whilst the display of stone craft, pottery, illustration and photographic work in the window and further inside the shop offer colourful, original and creative ideas from local like minded individuals and businesses.

The Eco Collective strives to bring small sustainable focused businesses together under one roof.  It only opened its doors on Wednesday and already the stock reflects what talent, both from a creative and a culinary point of view, there is within Cornwall.  Its stock is set to grow even further as more and more vegan and sustainable businesses open and come forward to be part of this exciting  new venture in the heart of Cornwall.

For more information on the Eco Collective and the talented individuals involved please visit the Eco Collective Facebook group or website.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Wild Nettle Wonders


The hedgerows are full of wonder at the moment.  How the hell people choose to go to the likes of Morrisons when there is so much out there for free is beyond me.  I choose Morrisons to pick on merely because the Newquay branch nearest to us is said to be the busiest one in the whole of the UK in the holiday season and is 'hell on earth' to even venture anywhere near (even though they do stock Frys Burgers!).  I'd rather flog myself with nettles.  Speaking of which, nettles are magic and JUST EVERYWHERE at the moment.  What stops people, beyond a good pair of gloves and laziness, from exploring this really tasty and nutritious resource?  

Something that does such a good job of keeping you away from it by virtue of its itch inducing sting would not be something that naturally enamours itself as being culinarily delicious and nutritionally beneficial.  I guess if nettles didn't have such a 'sting in the tail' they would have long been devoured by humans to oblivion, much to the detriment of the likes of butterflies who vitally depend on nettles for the growth of their larvae.  Luckily for us humans who do brave the initial and sustainable cut of the nettle, the sting is long gone once cooked or dried.  

The tender tops of the nettles are the best, from a culinary and nutritious point of view.  I personally love the taste of a good nettle soup so the nutritional benefits are a very happy side effect.  Centuries of use are seemingly backed up by the more modern scientific based health claims of the nettle.  The iron and vitamin C content of nettles are fairly obvious benefits but, with the fairly recently revealed benefit of plant sources of calcium, this is indeed another wonder of this populous 'weed'.  A not so known trace mineral called boron is evident in nettles and it is this that helps maintain calcium content in bones.  Chuck in anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties, digestive and circulatory benefits and that is a good start for a plant so hated during those childhood summers.  

Our favourite thing to do with nettles is a simple soup and I include the recipe for Phil's Super Simple Nettle Soup below.  We also make tea occasionally and once I even made nettle beer but that is an explosive story for another time!  We have however also happened across a fascinating article called 'Taking the Sting out of Nettles' which was in a copy of Edible Alaska, a magazine brought across by my sister a couple of years ago for us to read.  The article itself was a great read but it also includes some lovely simple and more unusual recipes for nettles including Nettle Pesto, Roasted Nettle Chips and Alaskan Gomashio.  I only just refound the article again recently so we are yet to try them but as Spring progresses and the nettles grow higher, I will definitely have a go at all of these.  In addition I recently found a recipe for Nettle Flapjacks and that too is going on the list to make (replace the honey in the recipe for a vegan alternative).  I implore anyone that hasn't tried nettles to give them a go.  Just make sure you leave plenty for the wildlife too.

Phil's Super Simple Nettle Soup
Quantities not included as, well it is that simple you can work that out I'm sure!  Just go with the flow but bear in mind that the nettles cook down much like spinach so be generous with the quantity.

Onions chopped
Olive oil
Potatoes diced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Nettle leaves

Fry the onions in the oil until slightly browned and then add the potatoes.  Add enough water to cover by an inch.  Add seasoning.  Cook on a boil for 10 minutes.  Add the nettles and cook for another 10 minutes.  Blend.  Done!

Enjoy!