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.