Sunday, 30 December 2012

Rainbows and Pasties

Yesterday I had a little reminder of a couple of the many good things about living in Cornwall.  I took my parents down for a little trip to St Ives.  The weather was typically Cornish; windy and rainy, and the shops were full of the usual tat to lure in the festive season holiday makers, but when we turned out of the high street and around the corner to the suddenly sun drenched harbour we were greeted by the most beautiful double rainbow bold against the practically black sky.  Everybody just stopped and amid the oohs and ahhs and the sound of cameras clicking, I knew that this moment would be remembered and taken home as a souvenir more than any trinket the holiday makers had bought today.  It just goes to show that the blackest of situations can still produce the most beautiful moments.  Shame I had forgotten my camera but then again sometimes these things are better captured in the mind anyway.
 
As we hastily retreated back to the car to dodge the next downpour another little rainbow caught my eye; Pengenna Pasties.  It is a legal requirement in Cornwall to carry a pasty with you at all times in case of emergencies and as we were potentially facing another flood threatening downpour I felt it necessary to stock up.  To the uninitiated, Pengenna make 'propur' pasties. None of this plastic wrapped, tiny, limp filled, soggy rubbish that pretend to be pasties.  These are the real deal and built like they were in days long gone, to sustain a fall down a mine shaft and to sustain you through a day of wave hunting or emmet dodging. 
 
You can't get a proper Cornish pasty outside of Cornwall.  Fact.  Don't be lured in by those fake pasty shops in London or the shining plastic wrapped varieties available in motorway service stations.  Even in Cornwall you have to hunt down the real deal and we can vouch for Pengenna Pasties.  To top it all, they mark up their pasties as suitable for vegans.  So if you find yourself in St Ives, Tintagel or Bude check them out. 
 
Fear not though as if you really feel the urge to try a 'propur' pasty and can't make the voyage down to these parts, Pengenna even offer pasties by post (although judging by the size and weight of them, I'm not sure the postage will be cheap!).
 
 
A 'propur' pasty the size of a dinner plate

Filled to the rafters
 
 
 
 

Monday, 10 December 2012

Batemans Mocha Beer - OMG!


Thank you, thank you, thank you Batemans.  Not only do you make vegan beer, you clearly mark your bottles up with the vegan logo and now you come out with this amazing creation.  We love you!  This is now officially our favourite beer.  Shame they only had one left at the supermarket.  I guess the secret may already be out there then!  If we can find it again we will definitely be stocking up and getting into the Christmas spirit!     Check out the rest of their range (bottled range only  is certified vegan). www.bateman.co.uk

It's Going to be a Chili Christmas

What do you do when you don't want to dig up a lovely Christmas tree, don't want to buy into the whole plastic tree thing and don't have any room for anything big anyway?  Well I could be 'bah humbug' about it and not do anything but I got caught by a whiff of Christmas feeling over the weekend and decided to get into the spirit of things and be creative. 

Here is my solution.  Take one pine cone,  some rosemary from the garden, a bit of wire and some drying chilies and there you have it - one miniature Christmas tree/chili drying rack with a slight hint of 'bah humbug'.  Need to find some star anise for the top.


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A Letter to Cook Vegetarian Magazine

A great magazine but I had noticed recently that many of the recipes contained cheese and eggs and felt, given the comments they made in their last issue in regards to dairy free and veganism in general, it wouldn't do any harm to request they redress the balance!

Hey Cook Veg!

In The Veggie Awards in your January issue you stated that dairy-free is currently the fastest growing sector of the food market.  You also mentioned that food producers are beginning to understand that by making their products free of animal products they're not actually losing anything but rather gaining a whole host of new customers. 

So come on Cook Veg, how about keeping up with the times yourselves and moving away from the seemingly over reliance on cheese and eggs in your recipes?  If anything, since I first subscribed, the proportion of recipes containing eggs and cheese seems to have increased (along by the way with inaccuracies in the labelling of some vegan recipes!).  Prove to your vegan readers that veganism finally is 'very much part of the mainstream' by upping the ante on vegan recipes at the same time as further broadening the repertoire of our fellow vegetarians.

Watch this space! - PLEASE SEE COMMENT BELOW FOR RESPONSE ON 10TH DEC 2012.

PLEASE ALSO SEE WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE 'VEGAN' GUIDE THEY PRODUCED AT
http://driftwoodvegans.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/another-letter-to-cook-vegetarian.html

http://www.cookveg.co.uk/

Monday, 3 December 2012

Ironing Out the Irony

Veggies and vegans are commonly labelled as pale, pasty and scrawny.  As in all walks of life, there are those that fit that label but Phil and I certainly don't (I wouldn't mind the scrawny bit though).  In fact I know more 'voluptous' vegans than scrawny ones.

There is also the misconception that vegans have to pay particular attention to their nutritional needs.  Whilst it is certainly true that most vegans seem to be more naturally aware of the importance of a healthy diet, it is not because a vegan diet lacks nutritional content.  In fact, it is quite the opposite and those that follow a non-vegan diet (and the ones that ask this more frequently) should often be the ones asking the same question of themselves.

Take iron as an example; the classic meat eaters excuse to keep eating meat.  Vegan sources of iron include tofu, beans, pulses, spinach, whole grains, dried apricots, prunes, dates, millet, molasses and pumpkin seeds.  Luckily I like all these foods.  It is also fortunate for vegans that vitamin C helps the absorption of iron too as by nature vegans get a lot of that too!

I've been vegan for over 25 years and donate blood regularly.  I was even recently asked to donate again before my normal call up due to low stocks in my blood group.  Only once have my iron levels been low.  The rest of the time they have been more than enough; hardly the result vegan naysayers would report of someone who has lived as a three headed, grass eating vegan for so many years!

So if you are veggie or vegan, don't be afraid to give blood if you want to.  If you have a good rounded diet, there is no reason that your blood is less viable than anyone else. 

Incidently, I have heard of some vegans (on-line) who for ethical reasons don't want to give blood.  If anyone has an opinion on this I would be interested to hear it as, until recently that is a new one on me so I would like to learn more about that.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Creative Ways of Cooking the Books

Gone are the days of Eva Batt's 'Vegan Cookery' being the only vegan cookbook on the market and, whilst I still treasure the encouragement that her simplistic photo less recipes gave me in the early years, my over indulgence in collecting the 'new kids on the chopping block' is now bordering on the obsessive.  These days you can go to pretty much any book shop and find the cookery section bulging with vegan cookbooks oozing sumptuously lit photographs, delectably worded recipe descriptions and exotically combined foods that have your tummy rumbling and your taste buds tingling.  I get sucked in.  Flicking through I attempt remembering recipes and ingredients without parting with my hard earned cash but, after oohing and aahing over the third successive recipe I'd tried to memorise, I give in.  I've recently had to expand my collection onto another book shelf much in the same way that Phil has with his shoe collection on the shoe rack in the hallway or his surfboards around other rooms in the house (but that is a completely different blog post and story). 

But here's the thing.....I'm not very good at following recipes.  Sure, cakes and bread to avoid technical disaster but with lunches or dinners it's mostly a free for all.  I draw inspiration from cookbooks or magazines but very rarely do I follow a recipe 'to the T'.  That is what happens with creative sorts perhaps. Photographers, painters, musicians, actors; they're all influenced by others but they add and apply their own interpretations.  So this got me thinking; do creative people have the edge when it comes to cooking? Maybe I'm just thinking too deeply.  Either way, next time you reach for a cookbook and start writing that list of ingredients that you will have to go out and buy and then possibly never use again, how about riffling through your cupboards and your fridge and trying your very own version of 'Ready, Steady, Cook'.  Be abstract, be experimental, be adventurous because, unless you completely burn it, it's still going to be edible.  Save the recipe books for when you are feeling really lazy or completely uninspired.

.......and if you are feeling lazy tonight and have the following things hanging around in your kitchen you could always try this one that I made up a while back.  Every time I make it is different according to what we have around so fill in the gaps/delete as appropriate.  Be creative with this creation!

Aubergine Roll Up Thingies

Some aubergines (surprisingly)
Garlic (don't tell Phil)
Chili (tell him you put in twice as much as you really did but they must have been mild chilis)
Some mushrooms
Fresh rosemary (we have this in the garden all year round)
Olive tapenade (have used miso instead on previous occasions which we always have)
Balsamic vinegar (always have some of this) 
Tomato puree (and this)
Water
One or two of those squeezy Mediterranean soup sachets or more tomato puree

Slice the aubergines length ways into no more than 1/4" slices and bake until soft.
Meanwhile, fry up the finely chopped garlic, chili and rosemary for a bit and chuck in the sliced mushrooms until soft.  Add in the tapenade, vinegar, puree and stir together.  Add in enough water to make it into a nice consistency for spooning onto the aubergine slices and roll them up whilst skillfully avoiding burning your fingers.  Don't worry as stuff will fall out of the rolls a bit.  I then put the roll ups into a shallow baking dish into which I have put the slightly watered down soup or tomato puree mixture and then bake for a further 15 minutes or so until the roll ups look fully cooked and just a touch crispy.  We've had this as a side dish or used as a main to top a big bowl of pasta.

Now, I've just heard there is a great new vegan cookbook on the market........so I'm off to look at it and then no doubt add it to my collection!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Eco Vegan Shoes


Yesterday we went to Animal Aids South West Cruelty Free Christmas Fayre in Exeter.  The stormy weather warnings had kept a few people away but as usual it was a great event full of committed groups of campaigners, interesting products, tasty food and all round good vegan vibe.  If you weren't there you missed out!

One stall in particular caught our eye.  We weren't the only ones as Eco Vegan Shoes seemed to have a constant gathering of curious people around them.  They are a relatively new company but already creating a buzz around their products.  I was particularly taken by their walking boots; a no messing around but stylish design, lightweight, waterproof and breathable to boot! 

 


Unfortunately I couldn't try any on as they didn't have my size left but I shall definitely be checking them out in the not too distant future, particularly so as they offer free delivery and free returns.  Phil and I have done a far amount of long distance walking both here and abroad and I've always struggled finding good vegan walking boots that stand up to the rigours of various terrains so if I buy a pair, they will definitely be tested to the extreme! 

In the meantime, check out all the great styles and offers from Eco Vegan Shoes at

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Chai Soaked Oats

I'm not much of a morning person really and despite knowing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I'm not that good at breakfast either.  There are not many foods that I take pleasure in preparing and eating first thing in the morning during the usual and predictable last minute rush to leave for work.  So how about a 'here's something I prepared earlier' tasty and healthy breakfast solution plucked out of the fridge ready to leave with you to work in a handy reusable jar.  After all, homemade lunches made in jars are 'trending' at the moment (whatever 'trending' means exactly) so why not breakfast?  Chai soaked oats don't even require cooking, just 5 spare minutes the evening before.  You could even make a couple or more for subsequent mornings at the same time.

Chai Soaked Oats
1 cup of oats
1 cup of milk of choice (soya, rice, hemp or nut)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Bit of grated nutmeg (to taste)
Bit less black pepper
1/2 tsp of nice vanilla paste or extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or any other kind of syrupy stuff you like)
Anything else you fancy like for instance I like to put in a handful of sultanas and sometimes fresh fruit for the top.

Mix it all together in the jar and leave in the fridge overnight or until use (will keep for a few days).




These cool oats might not be warming in the heat sense but their chai spicy sweetness is more than enough to kick start your day and provide the fuel your body needs.  It also packs a punch nutritionally.  Oats are a great source of dietary fibre but they have also been proven to lower cholesterol, boost the immune system and stabilise blood sugar levels. 

You may not have heard of chia seeds (seen in photo in the top right).  They are a relatively new superfood on the market.  Chia (Salvia Hispanica) is a species of flowering plant in one of the mint families and is a native to Central America.  The seeds are one of nature's highest plant-based sources of protein.  Chia has eight times more omega 3 than salmon, five times more calcium than milk, seven times more vitamin C than oranges and 3 times more iron than spinach.  Endurance runners have been known to make a home brewed 'red bull' style drink by dissolving chia seeds in water with a little sugar and a squirt of lime (see Born to Run by Christopher McDougall; page 44). 

The spices in these oats do more than just pump up the taste.  Cardamom offers up potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese whilst cinnamon joins the oats with lowering cholesterol and managing blood sugar levels.  Ginger is well known for it's anti inflammatory properties and it also aids digestion.  Nutmeg too aids digestion and has been reported as having anti-bacterial properties and aiding memory. 

All good stuff basically and certainly something easy and a little bit different than the usual breakfast fare to tantalise your taste buds.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Cat and Badger Hang Out Again!

Last night saw cat and badger meet once more and, as before, they pretty much ignored each other.  Cat was more interested in mousing and badger with peanuts.

video

It's a Nut Roast Kind of Day

Today was the first day I have unearthed my hat and gloves from the depths of the wardrobe.  Not bad I guess for nearing the end of November and certainly the sunshine made the acceptance that winter was on its way a little easier.  We took off along the coast in search of sunshine glinted  waves, earthy edible mushrooms and our north coast choughs.  We found none of the latter two but plenty of the former.  We sat for a while in silence watching the lines of surge advance, climb and collaspe against the off shore breeze in sparkling arrays of white water and spray.   The Cornish tinged songs of Martha Tilston ran through my head as I searched the sky for the whirling playful dance of the choughs.  Seagulls instead swept across the lyrics and gentle melodies that brought the scene infront of me into filmic storylines until the shadows stretched and weakened with the fading light.  We reluctantly headed back along the coast.

We had discussed before we left what we were going to have for dinner this evening.  Curry had been the result, an unusual choice for a sunday as, despite being far from traditionalists, we often succumbed to a warming roast on autumn and winter sundays.  It was proving hard to resist especially when Phil suggested that it was 'a nut roast kind of day'.  That sealed the deal and with that our pace quickened.  I was only briefly distracted from the pace when I spotted the scene below me from the edge of the cliff.  An azure blue rockpool was outlined by sandy footprints of the equally curious, like animals to a watering hole.  The fascination of rockpools to people is undeniable but not always explainable and it brought back into mind one particular song by Martha about rockpools in Cornwall.

On returning home, the oven was set to heat up and on went Martha to bring those filmic Cornish scenes flooding into our kitchen whilst potatoes and carrots got peeled and todays incarnation of nut roast devised.  No two nut roasts are the same in our house.  I never write the recipe down, it just somehow happens.  A crust of bread slung in the blender, a few handfuls of whatever nuts are in the store, some herbs, a bit of mustard (don't tell Phil!), a bit of tomato puree, a bit of balsamic vinegar, bit of olive oil, water and anything else that I suddenly think deserve to be part of the mix on that particular day.  Then it is scooped into oiled baking implements (sometimes a loaf tin or sometimes just individual small ramekins) and slung in the oven for 20 minutes or so.  It certainly fills those gaps carved out of my appetite by windy wintery lungfuls of sea air during sunday afternoon walks.


Martha Tilston - Rockpools by moondingo

Saturday, 17 November 2012

South West Christmas Without Cruelty Festival 2012

I like dogs a lot so when I say that this event is 'the dogs' I really mean it.  I don't like Christmas that much but when I say that this event does actually make me like it a bit, I really mean it.  I really like Animal Aid a lot and many many years ago, when I lived in the south east, I used to be part of their youth group so I know what great work they did and still do.  I don't know what else I can say about this event that would make you go but if you want further convincing here are some words from the one and only Benjamin Zephaniah who was there last year -

"Animal Aid's South West Christmas Without Cruelty Festival is very special.  The food is great, the goodies are great, and the place is full of loving, compassionate people.  It's the best event of its kind.  I should know, I've been there and I never wanted to leave!"

So, basically you need to go don't you?  It's this coming Saturday 24th November from 10am - 4.30pm at Exeter Corn Exchange, Market Street, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1BW.

No excuses as it's free entry. 


Vegusto!

So I feel really bad about not mentioning Vegusto in my previous post about vegan cheese and the shop bought varieties available.  The thing is we hadn't had the opportunity to taste it until today when there were samples available at the Truro Vegan Fayre.  Let's just say that we will be ordering in some for Christmas.  Yes, they are quite costly (that is the Swiss for you) but hey, contrary to popular non-vegan belief, vegans can be totally decadent too you know!  Watch out for Vegusto cheese recipes around the festive season (unless we snorkel the whole lot before Christmas and before we've had a chance to put them into recipes!).

Apparently there are deals on line at the moment if you want to indulge yourself.

Oh and by the way if you are reading this Vegusto Cheese makers, feel free to send us some samples and we will willingly investigate and experiment fully!

www.vegusto.co.uk

Plymouth Vegans

It was so good to see old friends today at the Truro Vegan Fayre from Plymouth Vegans.  We don't see each other nearly enough which is my fault really for moving to the deepest depths of the Cornish countryside.  I really must make more of an effort to catch up more regularly.  For those of you Devon side wanting support and guidance, these guys are amazing.

www.plymouthvegans.weebly.com

What Do You Call a Gathering of Vegans?

The answer is 'an inspiration'.  Today we went to the Truro Vegan Fayre (see previous post) and were delighted to see that this year it was even busier than previous years.  There was a great buzz about the place and it was wonderful to meet friends old and new from near and far.  The tables were heaving with wonderful samples and plenty of resources and campaign materials both for the curious and the well informed.  If even one person chooses to follow a vegan diet as a result (hopefully there will be more), the efforts of Cornwall Animal Action in organising this fabulous event will have been worth it and I'm sure there are many vegans that attended (ourselves included) that appreciated the opportunity of being reminded that there are plenty of us out there already!  Thank you Cornwall Animal Action.

www.cornwallanimalaction.org.uk

This is a postcard that we picked up at the fayre that says it all really!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Night Time Activity in our Garden

We had been wondering why the bird feeders were regularly vandalised over night and why we had big holes full of poo in our onion patch every now and then.  Well after setting up one of the cameras from work, we had our answer.  Every night Mr Badger comes to visit and every morning viewing what has been happening whilst we had been happily sleeping is like opening a little present.  Here are just two of the many exploits I have recorded.  The second one was only from a couple of nights ago and I had been wondering what would happen if one of the regular cat visitors happened to be there at the same time as Brock.  Clearly neither are particularly worried by the other one and the cat is more interested in continuing its nightly prowl for mice.
 

 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Last of the Tomatoes in November


A good, although delayed, year for tomatoes.  Just proves you don't need a greenhouse just perseverance and a sunny windowsill.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Wild World in a Teacup






A nice cup of dandelion 'coffee' anyone?


How many times a day do you mindlessly reach for a PG tips style bog standard teabag?  Pretty regularly I reckon.  Don't get me wrong, I do like a 'normal' cuppa every now and then (Fairtrade of course!) but there are so many more different kinds of hot beverages out there to explore and enjoy.  Particular favourites of mine are Redbush (Rooibos) for a non caffeine alternative, Chai for a spicy black tea kick and there is nothing like a Lapsang Souchong (or bonfire tea as Phil sometimes calls it) on a stormy winters day.  I do also enjoy a green tea or a herbal tea here and there as the mood takes me.  I even believe that my particular desire for any given tea at any given time could be led by my body's need for a particular nutritional or emotional support.  A bit hippy you might think but why else would I fancy a valerian tea every now and then?  It smells bloody awful (although the taste is much better) so this powerful herb (also known commonly as 'All Heal') must have something going for it if I fancy it every now and then.  But I digress.....

A vast array of teas and coffees are out there
All I am saying is that I think it is a shame that many people don't explore what fabulous alternatives there are out there to drink.  Many different varieties are available in  supermarkets but to really get experimental there are specialists shops out there.  A particular favourite of ours is Dishotay in Penzance (www.dishotay.co.uk).  Here they have a large array of teas and coffees beautifully and seductively displayed like sweets in a jar.  What is good about buying from places like this is that you can buy as much or as little as you fancy so it is cheaper to experiment with things you've never tried before.  Dishotay is also a sit down tea shop so you can even work your way through the options whilst someone else makes the brews.

Dandelion Root
Thinking even more experimental, here is another alternative which is free; go pick your own tea or coffee ingredients.  When up in the wilds of Scotland we like travelling with a thermos of hot water in which to drop in a small bunch of pine needles.  It's absolutely delicious.  Or whilst up on the moors, how about picking gorse flowers for some herbal tea?  However, you really don't have to go that far to get ingredients. Whilst digging over our onion patch the other day I pulled up a beauty of a dandelion root.  Sometimes you have to look at weeds in a different way and here, instead of thinking of it as an annoying weed I thought 'hey how about some dandelion coffee?'.  We were cooking a roast that night anyway so after stripping off the leaves and cleaning the root up I finely chopped this 9" root and simply dry roasted it on a tray in the oven at the same time.  It took about 20 minutes before it was dark brown and quite hard roasted.  Then I roughly ground it up in a pestle and mortar and put it in a small jar to store.  Simply put about a teaspoon of the grinds per cup in a cafetiere (or use a sieve or teaball) and pour on boiling water and infuse for about 4 minutes (or to taste), add milk and sweeten if desired.  It is kind of like an earthy roasted coffee taste.  We only made about 4 cups out of this root but it was worth the small effort for the different unique taste of a free cup of dandelion 'coffee'.  Enjoy!

Just one final thing - please do make sure if you do get experimental that you only pick ingredients that you know are edible and if you are any doubt about what effect anything that you have foraged for will have on you, just don't do it!  Sorry just had to say that, although it is all pretty much common sense to be honest!



Thursday, 25 October 2012

Say 'Cheese'!

So the blog is just over a week or so old and we have requests already!  This recipe goes out to David and Rita who are long term veggies recently turned vegan.  They are missing cheese at the moment so asked whether I knew a recipe.  There are some good vegan cheese substitutes out there in the market (Redwood and Bute Island) but I really like making this very quick and easy recipe to get away from the whole overdosing on soya stuff. We always have the ingredients for this in our store cupboard so if we fancy a 'cheesy' fix, it is good to go!

Please excuse the cup measurements but this recipe is adapted from an american vegan cookbook!

Don't forget you can really get experimental with this and adjust the flavourings.  Chilli Cheese anyone?

Cashew 'Cheese'

3 cups water
3/4 cup of agar flakes
2 cups cashews
1/2 cup lemon juice (or less lemon and a little bit of balsamic vinegar)
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp garlic and onion powders (optional as Phil doesn't like garlic too much!)
Any other flavourings you fancy (go on be adventurous!)

Stir agar into water and heat in a saucepan.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until it thickens (stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick).

Meanwhile, grind the cashews to a powder in a blender. 

Add the lemon juice (and balsamic if using), tahini, yeast flakes, salt and garlic/onion powders and anything else you fancy and give it all a bit more of a buzz in the blender.

Add the agar mixture and blend until smooth and creamy.

Quickly lightly oil whatever container you are moulding it into and pour in (as it will start setting quite quickly).  Pop in fridge to finish setting.

Slice, grate, whatever and enjoy!  Keep in the fridge.  Not sure how long you can keep it there but should be fine for at least a week and probably won't last that long once you start eating it anyway!


Hope you like the photo - it is my first proper attempt at food photography and the first time I have used studio/artificial lighting for about 22 years!


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Truro Free Vegan Fayre



Veganism is alive and well in Cornwall!  This is a great little vegan gathering which is in it's third year now I think.  It is mostly for new vegans or the vegan curious but we always like to show up to bump up the numbers and support it with a donation.  There are sometimes new vegan food producers to explore there too and the home made cakes are amazing.  So if you are around, pop along.  It is organised by Cornwall Animal Action.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Time for Tomato Soup


 We don't have a greenhouse so have to entrust our tomato crop to the elements.  Some of our plants were from a friend, some from Scooby's dad and some were grown from seed on our windowsill.  During the early summer we covered the grow bags and plants with plastic until the wind got the better of the plastic.  The weather continued to be very un-summer like for, well most of the summer, so the tomatoes were very slow to form.  It wasn't really until the end of August that we started to see even the beginnings of a bumper crop and only now that they are really showing their true colours.  All we needed was sunshine but with the wind threatening to strip the fruits off on a daily basis and the sun proving shy, Phil has been regularly bringing in platefuls to ripen in the kitchen.  We've been using some here and there as they ripen, mostly grilled or roasted but suddenly we had platefuls ready at the same time so it was time for soup!  The secret of a good tomato soup is carrots and luckily we'd had a good year with those too.  We had our soup with homemade bread. 

We don't use exact measurements so be brave and use your judgements and taste buds to create your own.

Cover tomatoes with boiling water and leave to skin them.
Fry chopped onion, garlic and diced carrots and drop in a couple of bay leaves and a handful of chopped oregano (both from our garden too!).
Drop in the chopped skinned tomatoes, bit of bouillion, splash of balsamic (not too much though), a squeeze of tomato puree and a splash of chilli sauce if you like that sort of thing. 
Add water and boil for 10 minutes or so, take out the bay leaves then blend.
If you like a smoother soup, push it through a sieve to remove seeds.

Enjoy!...and don't forget the carrots.



Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Back Gate Gifts

What better way to start our blog than to tell of a simple act of friendship.  Our lovely friend Kim had been round whilst we were out.  Hanging from the gate was a bag containing apples and figs from her garden.  This was the second bag in two weeks.  She has had a great harvest of figs this year.  I decided to make some fig chutney so that I could return some love and a gift back to her for sharing her produce.  Here is the recipe for this simple fig chutney -

13 -15 fresh figs
150ml balsamic vinegar
100ml red wine vinegar
300g soft brown sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon (unwaxed)
2 red onions (sliced thinly)
2 teaspoons mixed spice
10g fresh grated root ginger or 1 teaspoon of dried ground ginger
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Remove the stalk from the figs and cut into quarters.
Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes until soft and slightly caramelised.
Add all the other ingredients except the figs, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil, simmering for 30 minutes.
Add the figs and cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mixture has reduced to a syrupy consistency and the figs are nice and soft.
Pour into sterilised jars, label and spread some figgy love.  It will keep for months!

Figs are not only delicious but a great source of minerals, potassium, manganese and iron as well as vitamins A, B and C and tons of good fibre to keep all things working as they should.  Fresh figs are a world away from the dried up offerings you normally get in the baking section of supermarkets.

As demonstrated by our friend Kim, figs can grow very well in the UK.  We do have a fig tree in our garden which was loaded at the beginning of the year but the storms back at the beginning of the summer stripped it clean.  Strong winds are one of the disadvantages of living and trying to grow stuff close to the Cornish coast.  If you too suffer with bad wind (cue childish giggle) but don't have a friend with a more sheltered garden who leaves figgy treasures on your gate, fear not as you can often find them in your local supermarket in the 'cheapy' section as most people don't know what they are or what you can do with them! 

How It All Vegan

Phil and I both became vegan over 25 years ago.  We met each other over 13 years ago through The Vegan magazine.  Being vegan is our way of life and very much part of who we are.  We love spending time in the kitchen together creating food whilst listening to music.  There is no TV channel to match it for entertainment and there is no better way of spending the wild Cornish winter evenings.  With this blog we hope to share some of our culinary creations and discoveries, along with giving you a taste of what a couple of middle age vegans get up to in rural Cornwall and beyond.