Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Hidden Treasures of Cornwall

So on Sunday we decided to go looking for treasure.  Cornwall is full of treasure; for some of it you know where to look and for some of it you have to go searching, and I mean really searching; in bushes, in holes, up trees, under rocks.  You see we like the odd bit of Geocaching.  For fear of being called a nerd, all I would say in our defence is don't knock it till you've tried it.

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.  Sometimes you find it, sometimes you don't but what is clear is that geocaching has led us to some amazing little spots around the world that we would never have discovered otherwise.  That's the hidden treasure, not the trinkets for swapping you sometimes find in the caches (that's for the kids really).

So go to  if you want to learn more about it.  It's free and I bet if you pop in your postcode you will find a plethora of nearby caches on your doorstep.

With a few geocaches under our belts, we went searching for a different kind of treasure.  It is hidden in an old quarry but there are plenty of signs pointing you in the right direction to find the Eden Project.  Residents of Cornwall get a really cheap 'locals for a fiver' annual membership (actually it has just increased to £7.50 we noticed!) so we visit quite frequently.  In the midst of a cold, wet Cornish winter there is nothing better than heading for the tropics or the Mediterranean in the biomes. 

As we arrived quite late, we were delighted to discover that all the savoury snacks in the cafe were being sold off for £1 each so we had an impromptu, early and cheap Sunday dinner.  What a bonus as they actually had vegan choices today.  Despite a few emails sent in Eden's direction, I feel that Eden seems to still fall short of the importance of the vegan diet to the environment.  Maybe one day they will catch up but in the meantime, every time we visit we like to leave a message on their huge wall made out of recycled refrigerator doors.
After bellies were filled we walked around the practically deserted biomes whilst rain battered on the huge plastic walls outside.  It is always a delight to be at Eden but even more so when the crowds have disappeared and you can lose yourself in the likes of a Filipino homestead; steamy, warm and surrounded by the musty smells of moist foliage.

So the hidden treasure of Eden is that of visiting at the right time and having the place practically to yourself.  If you've not been to Eden, it is well worth a visit and for those vegans amongst you who do, please make sure you feedback the vegan message to them.  If enough people do, you never know they might get the idea!


Thursday, 24 January 2013

Veggie World Cooking Instructions

These were the instructions on a packet of Vegan Duck Breast from Veggie World that we recently had.  Needless to say we didn't follow either instruction but it still tasted good (I have never had real duck so can't guarantee the authenticity to the taste of the real thing). 

For entertainment purposes alone, we recommend always reading the instructions carefully!

The Creme de la Non-Cream of Vegan Creamy Soups

Think that you need cream (vegan or not) for a 'cream of' style soup?  Think again as here is a little creamy creation from the kitchen and imagination of Phil which uses cashews instead of any form of cream.

Cream of Vegan Soups (Celery, Leek, Onion, Potato and Cashew) - Serves 2 greedy vegans

1 x onion chopped
1 x leek chopped
1 x bunch celery (chopped)
Half teaspoon of celery salt
4 x small potatoes (2 cups chopped)
2 x cups cashews
1 x tablespoon vegan stock powder
2 x tablespoons oil
Some water

Fry onion and leek in the oil until slightly soft then add the celery to sweat down.

Add the celery salt and chopped spuds.

Add water (adjust to how thick you want the soup - you'll know how much!) and bring to the simmer.

Add the stock powder and cashews and simmer for 20 minutes until everything is nice and soft.

Let cool slightly and blend until creamy and smooth.  If it seems too thick add a little more water.

I would have taken a photo beforehand but it wasn't around long enough!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Really Alternative

When I first became veggie then vegan, the availability of alternatives to meat and dairy were minimal but those that were around I relied on heavily to help with the transition.  Then I hit a revolutionary wall.  I didn't want those alternatives and what they represented anymore.  As far as I was concerned real vegans didn't want substitutes for the very things they abhorred.  I seemed to be vegan only for moral reasons and had forgotten about everything else.

It didn't last long and now, although I don't rely on alternatives quite as much as the initial years, I really do enjoy them.  My reasons for being vegan have also evolved; now it's a catch all 'religious' belief.  It's a belief in what I feel is right and any vegan food, regardless of what it is trying to be, feels fine.  I think I have lost, after not having tasted the real thing for such a long time, any association that it is anything but great tasting vegan food.  That is until recently when I had a 'salmon' steak from Veggie World and Vegusto's Melty Cheese.  They tasted so good that for a fleeting moment I was confused.  It took me back to my revolutionary days but this time it was in recognition of how far the vegan world has evolved.

Veggie World Scallop Balls (on top left of plate)
As far as I am concerned if these alternatives to meat and dairy encourage and support people through the transition to a vegan diet, it is all good and with the likes of Veggie World or Vegusto, that support is very tasty indeed.

Veggie World Salmon Steak

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Horse Shit!

This week the UK, 'nation of animal lovers' were shocked and revolted by the revelation that horse meat was found in burgers and other beef products sold in various national supermarkets.

I've overheard quite a few people now discussing this story and they all seem genuinely shocked and disgusted.  I am too but not necessarily because it is horse meat.  I'm shocked at the naive, narrow minded, speciesist opinions of both those people and the media in general.

I do understand that some animal species have more of an influence on our lives.  Cats and dogs live in our houses, people ride horses.  Cows and sheep neither live in our houses or get ridden so in most people's minds it's okay to eat them.

How can intelligent people not see and understand the irony?  I simply don't get it.  Flesh is flesh, whatever animal it came from.  So people can keep their horror to themselves about horse meat, just like I'll keep my everyday horror to myself as people continue to eat flesh in front of me.

Rant over.....for now.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Squelching in the Footsteps of St Michael

The weather has not been totally conducive to walking in these parts over the last few weeks but when there have been small windows we have been eager to get out there and brave the mud and dodge the showers. One particular walk we have been enjoying is that of Saint Michael's Way, down in west Cornwall.
Starting in Lelant, near St Ives on the north coast and finishing on the south coast in Marazion, near Penzance, this 12.5 mile pilgrim route dates back to prehistoric times. It is part of a network of pilgrim routes all over Europe that lead to one of the three most important places of christian pilgrimage in the world; the Cathedral of St James in Santiago de Compostela, north west Spain. Pilgrims and travellers from Ireland and Wales would jump ship on the north coast of Cornwall and walk across this relatively short coast to coast route rather than chance continuing the journey the ships took around the treacherous waters of Lands End. Once on the south coast they would rejoin a ship and continue their journey and pilgrimage across to Spain.
St Michael's Way is not as glamorous as its Spanish long distance counterpart, the Camino de Santiago. Neither are we religious pilgrim material. However, there is a lot to be said for travelling in the footsteps of so many ancient and dedicated travellers. So if you too decide to follow in St Michael's footsteps, follow the shell signs (but take a good map too as the signs sometimes disappear in true Cornish style), enjoy the views (but watch out for the puddles), prepare yourself for some ups and downs (I'm sure the 12.5 miles doesn't take that into account) and take your time crossing any land near shooting parties (as we managed to delay their killing antics for a time whilst doing so)!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Thali Time

We were suffering from Krishna's Inn withdrawal symptoms so decided to make our own thali.  A thali is an Indian meal made up of a selection of dishes. In Hindi thali means 'plate' and also refers to the actual plate it is served on.

It just so happens that the latest edition of Cook Vegetarian magazine had several recipes that were either vegan or we could veganise to make up the various dishes of our thali.  These included quick and easy sag aloo, Karachi mushrooms with peppers and peas, lime and coconut dhal and Indian coconut bread paratha with rice and chutney on the side.  Phil took on the dhal and the rice and I took on the other two curries and the bread.  I was a little nervous as I am not the natural curry chef that Phil is but I am glad to report, it all turned out really nice.  It was also really good to dust off our thali trays, which we had brought back from India some years ago, to serve our meal. 

Friday, 11 January 2013

Animation About Man by Steve Cutts

Found via the Glen E. Friedman blog that Phil frequently visits -
Great animation by Steve Cutts which kind of says it all really.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Milking the Truth!

News does sometimes take a while to reach us in Cornwall but this really shocked me and made me, even after 25 years of being vegan, feel extremely naive.

A friend received an email today and passed it on.  It originates from the Manchester Vegetarian and Vegan Group so I thank them for sharing this

Here it is -

Asda's Smart Price soya milk contains vitamin D3, which is nearly always
derived from animal sources (there is a single source of vegan D3 but it's
expensive and specialised, and it's unlikely it's being used here).

Here's the link:

I was a bit horrified to find this but it's a reminder that it always pays
to check the ingredient lists. I assume they're aiming the product solely
at the lactose intolerant.

Manchester Vegetarian and Vegan Group

After doing a bit of searching, this could have been the case for some time.  Now I don't buy this milk admittedly but it did make me realise the importance of not assuming that certain products like soya milk are vegan.  Upon searching I also found a few references in forums to Alpro being taken over by a big American dairy conglomerate.  Kind of cancels out the non support of the dairy industry thing.  Boo hiss!

I will be paying more attention in future.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Bristol - A Vegan Mecca

A sad family event had necessitated a trip over the Cornish border and all the way up to Lancashire.  We used to make quite frequent long trips around the country  but what with the nature of this particular visit and with the hustle and bustle of Christmas only just over, this journey felt like a very long one.  On the homeward bound trip and with only 3 of the 6 hours journey time under our belts we gave in and decided to haul into one of our favourite distractions; Bristol.  We both felt in need of some TLC (Tasty Vegan Comestibles), somewhere cosy to lie our heads and a great deal of cheering up.  Luckily we knew where to find all three.
We checked in to a cosy, quiet room in a lodge within the wooded outskirts west of Bristol and before we managed to get too comfortable, we took the 10 minute drive over the Clifton Suspension Bridge into town.  We knew exactly where we were heading; Krishna's Inn.

Krishnas Masala Dosa

There are many great eating places in Bristol for vegans but this is definitely one of our favourites.  Although Krishna's is not exclusively a vegetarian establishment, they understand fully the needs and requirements of veggies and vegans.  There seemed to be a lack of front of house staff this evening but despite this, the atmosphere was relaxed and the food arrived swiftly once our order was taken.  It was a no-brainer what I was going to order.  It had to be a Masala Dosa.  This warming, mildly spicy 'pancake' was exactly what I needed and, as it isn't a commonly available dish in Indian restaurants, I simply couldn't miss the opportunity.  Phil hedged his bets knowing that there may be the chance of a portion of my huge dosa  available to him and opted for some of his favourites including the Vegetable Malabar (fresh vegetables cooked with spices, tomatoes, fresh coconut milk & curry leaves) and the Erussery (yellow pumpkin cooked with black eye beans & garnished with fresh coconut slices). I was happy to trade for a portion of both of these.  So with bellies full we headed back to the car with the added delight of seeing one of Bristol's many urban foxes trot up the pavement, stop and check us out and then unhurriedly continue its nightly rounds. 
The next morning was lazy.  We were still wiped out so cups of tea in bed were in order until our bellies and the check out time of 11am forced us into the chilly outside world.  It was brunch time and again, we knew exactly where to head; Cafe Kino.
Cafe Kino is a not-for-profit co-operative owned and operated by its workers, and run in part by volunteers.  All of their food is vegan but they don't shout about it.  They just get on with providing good quality, healthy, filling, great value for money food in a relaxed, no nonsense atmosphere.  Again, it was just what we needed.  We like Bristol for its vegan food opportunities but we also like it because it is so full of like-minded, positive communities who care.  Cafe Kino epitomises and concentrates such people all in one big vegan hug.  It's the kind of place that I will happily put money in the tip pot before we have even ordered.  The fact that they moved from their original tiny premises just across the road to this bigger one on Stokes Crofts must mean that many people agree that Cafe Kino is the place to go.
We wanted cake too but after the ample-portioned burgers we enjoyed, we simply couldn't fit it in.  It was time to walk it off so we explored the unique area that is Cheltenham/Gloucester Road.  This area prides itself on 'keeping it local' which much of the surrounding urban art work carrying this message.  Since our last visit we were sad to see a few of the 'big names' had crept in but on the whole, the individual local shops, charity shops and restaurants were still holding their own. 
Soon however it was time to move on.  We explored a few of the independent health food stores and a few more charity shops around the Cotham area before leaving the 'big smoke' and heading back to the 'little smoke' of our open fire back home.  Bristol is a buzz that we love to dip in to but there is no such place as home when it comes to our own backyard.  We would never trade the long expanses of beach and sand dunes but the down side is that we do miss out on the alternative vibe down here in Cornwall.  I guess it is just a case of ' you can't have your Cafe Kino cake and eat it'!
Thank you Bristol for being there when we needed you.