Monday, 28 December 2015

Christmas Dinner Leftover Salad

Nothing gets wasted in our house.  The roast potatoes and brussel sprouts left over from Christmas dinner were no exception.  

The next day I was making up some salads to have with the left over Tofurky and decided to try something different.  I chopped up the cold roast potatoes and brussel sprouts and added a few cooked chestnuts I had and then finished with some mayo and mixed well. Admittedly it is a bit of a weird combination but I love all those ingredients so what could go wrong with them combined as a salad?  Well it turns out nothing as it was the most popular salad on the table!  It was so popular, I don't even had a photo to post here!!

I think I'll make too many roast spuds and sprouts next time then.....

Saturday, 26 December 2015

National Trust Vegan Treat

Despite the lack of rain, a Boxing Day family walk from home to the beach and coast path wasn't really a great idea today.  The strong winds that have plagued us for days were still very much present and it would have made for a bit of a challenging walk.  So we sought out the quieter sheltered inland reaches of Cornwall and headed for the National Trust property of Lanhydrock. With its wooded valleys and formal garden pathways we were assured of dodging wind and mud as well as taking my parents to an area they had not been to before.    

After a very pleasant walk, where we could hear the wind gusts above our head but thankfully were sheltered from their full force, we headed to the cafe. We knew they could provide a good cup of Earl Grey with soya milk and, in the past, a tasty vegan flapjack but we really did not expect to find the fully labelled vegan treat we did.  For there for all to see on the counter was a Vegan Banoffee Cake.  That'll be two slices then please with our tea!

Well done National Trust for providing such a wonderful treat in full view on the counter.  

For details on Lanhydrock (photo below courtesy of the Lanhydrock National Trust site - it wasn't snowing today I might add but it looks pretty huh?) - click on the photo or the link above.  Be sure to check out the cafe, and should you find a great vegan treat then express your appreciation to them for ensuring us vegans don't miss out. We certainly did!

Snow at Lanhydrock house

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Proper Cornish Brew

There is nothing like a lovely cup of tea in front of the roaring fire at this time of year.  For me it could be a nice spicy chai, a zesty earl grey or an oh so smokey lapsang (very rarely do I go for a normal cup of 'British Rail' tea these days).  I also enjoy a beer here and there so imagine my delight and curiosity when I discovered that Atlantic Brewery had recently created a range of tea inspired brews which include the aforementioned favourites.  It makes the decision a little easier when it comes to tea or ale in front of the fire!

We first met Stuart from Atlantic Brewery some years ago during the early days of his flourishing business.  We were fortunate enough to visit him at his amazing 18th century farmhouse near Newquay, where the brewery is based, to sample his ales and have a proper tour.  Since then we have watched Atlantic go from strength to strength with his ales populating the shelves of not only farm shops and independent local retailers but also major national supermarkets and even our local shop!  We hadn't seen Stuart for years though so it was lovely to catch up with him at the Cornwall Vegan Festival recently.

I first discovered the tea inspired range from Atlantic after my boss had very kindly brought in a real ale advent calendar for our whole team.  I noticed the list of bottles it contained included the Earl Grey one from Atlantic and hoped that I would pull that one out when it was my turn on the calendar.  Sadly I didn't but the colleague that did was happy to swap. Upon visiting Stuart's stall at the festival and discovering the others in the tea range, I immediately purchased some of those too. 

I must admit I am yet to sample any of the bottles as I am saving them for the festive period but I know they will be good.  All the Atlantic ales are lovingly crafted, bottle conditioned, organic and vegan.  Right from the beginning Stuart made a point of proudly displaying the vegan label on all his bottles.  I could be wrong but I believe he is the only Cornish brewery to do this.  As an additional bonus, Cornish spring water is used from a spring on site and as many of the ingredients as possible are grown there too including hops, ginger, chilli, blackcurrants and elderflowers.  So what is not to love about these ales, and that is before you have even tried them?! 

The tea inspired ales are yet to be included on the website but do check out all the other delicious brews at Atlantic Brewery.  It might be one of the originals but the Atlantic Blue still remains one of my firm favourites especially as it's darkness perfectly suits an evening in front of the fire with the wind and rain lashing against the window.  Perhaps however I am about to find a new favourite amongst the Earl Grey, Masala Chai or Smokey Green Tea ones currently awaiting the start of the Festive Silly Season?

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Hair Today in Falmouth

Seeing Hair Today at the Cornwall Vegan Festival had reminded me that it was about time I tamed my wild silvering locks.  It had after all been at least three years since I had set foot in the hairdressers.  On Friday, I also found myself in Falmouth for a couple of hours before our staff Christmas party.  All indications were pointing towards a trip to Hair Today; the only place I consider for such treats.

Apart from the fact that hairdressing salons are not my natural environment, the other reason I leave it so long between having haircuts is the fact that it is pretty difficult to find a hairdressers that don't use chemical, animal based/tested products.  In fact as far as I know, Hair Today is the only place that doesn't 'round these parts'.  It is a shame it is all the way down in Falmouth as I would certainly visit more often and my hair would be far less in the state of 'wild woman of the mountains' as a result.

Hair Today is an organic hair salon in Falmouth that use 100% vegan and cruelty-free hair colour and products.  That is the backbone on which their ethos is based and, with the marketplace seemingly saturated with hairdressing salons, it is one that definitely attracts a niche but increasing customer base.  When I started out on my vegan journey almost 30 years ago, it never occurred to me to extend my ethos during visits to the hairdressers.  I think it is one of those things that came along at a later date when all the rest of the vegan changes had settled down.   There were really no alternatives back then either so probably one of the reasons I was so lazy in taking trips to the hairdressers!  I think new vegans these days are so much better informed and so no doubt catch on a little quicker to the changes they need to make.  Thank goodness therefore that places like Hair Today exist to cater for these changes and needs.

With more than a decade each of experience, Emma and Hayley have no shortage of creative knowledge when it comes to your locks.  I literally have no idea of style when it comes to hair but I felt more than relaxed and confident to leave my thick mop in their capable hands (especially after Hayley massaged my head whilst washing my hair!).  They will even make you a cup of tea with soya milk whilst you get pampered!  Needless to say the atmosphere at Hair Today is very laid back.  I am no expert when it comes to hairdressing salon visits but I know that some I have visited in the past have left me squirming from false atmospheres and pungent chemical smells.  Hair Today is a natural environment in more ways than one.  So if you are a vegan, ethical, organic, natural, chemical dodging, wild haired, hairdressing phobic like me (or any of the above), there is only one simple choice in my view - to put yourself in the capable, gentle and kind hands of Emma and Hayley at Hair Today in Falmouth.

To find out more, get in touch or make an appointment ring 01326 210432 or visit the website Hair Today Falmouth.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Vegan Yarn Store

It was about this time of year back in the early 80's when I would be looking forward to getting a new Christmas jumper.  I'm not talking about the ridiculous red and green Christmas themed atrocities that in some inexplicable way unbeknown to me seem to have become so trendy and cool to wear these days (or am I just bah humbug?).  No, I'm talking about the hand knitted wonders that my grandmother used to lovingly make for me.  Every year I would be measured to keep up with my youthful growing spurts.  Then I would discuss the style and colour I would like.  It usually involved different shades of green and brown (I was an earthy kid even back then), and often long and baggy as that is the way I liked them.  The finished article would be presented to me on Christmas day and worn straight away.  Some of those jumpers lasted for years and saw me into my early vegan years too as, given the personal connection I had with them, I couldn't bear to part with them until they had completely worn out.

My grandmother tried to teach me how to knit but my youthful impatience never led me to listen or practice enough to be able to make anything useful.  Then once I became vegan wool was obviously not something I took an interest in anymore.  My grandmother's knitting needles fell silent.  If only the Vegan Yarn Store had been around then or if only my grandmother was still around to knit her wonders.  I'm sure I would be putting in several orders per year and her knitting needles would be working so fast they'd catch fire!

The Vegan Yarn Store is not far off its first anniversary and was created by Oxford based vegan crafter Kelly Ryan.  She quite rightly identified a huge gap in the market when she was unable to find materials for knitting or crocheting that didn't involved animal products.  I met Kelly from the Vegan Yarn Store at the Cornwall Vegan Festival recently.  She had her stall next to mine and the colourful array and diverse range of yarns and products on display that day got me thinking about my grandmother and her jumpers again.  Imagine being able to have a handmade jumper of your choosing from either bamboo, hemp or banana (a few of the many vegan choices out there now)? The banana yarn incidentally (with images of mashed banana I was intrigued to know this) is actually made by scraping the bark from banana trees.

I must admit that my interest in knitting was piqued a little after seeing Kelly's stall.  Realistically I know I won't start knitting masterpieces as, after all, I have a million other tasks and interests lined up that I barely have enough time for (cue dusting off that guitar again!).  However, the idea of being able to make your own clothes is such a sustainable dream and one that has been lost in the ether of modern day living.  Everybody used to do it but very few people do now and with concerns for sustainability, fair trade and sweatshop labour playing on people's minds, isn't it about time that this skill returned as a normal way of life rather than just a hobby?  It's a lovely thought and, with vegans being at the forefront of such concerns, Kelly may well have hit upon the right market in more ways than one.  Vegans are forerunners on many different levels and, who knows, it might not be too long before we see my granny's jumper designs being paraded on the catwalk as the new trend of vegan sustainable jumpers sweeps the fashionista public.  

Failing that, does anyone have a granny I can borrow please?  Some of those colours are just amazing and I'd love a big sloppy striped jumper right now.

Check out Kelly's range of products on the Vegan Yarn Store website, interesting insights on her blog, or keep up to date with the latest on the Facebook page.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Tofurky Ready For Christmas

I had the yearly quandary of what to feed my family for Christmas ahead. It obviously had to be vegan and I am fortunate in the fact that both my parents are very accepting and supportive of that.  They always have been.  There aren't many parents that are totally unfazed by a vegan teenager, let alone one that would regularly ring up to say they had been arrested again or even join them 'out in the field' during the local Boxing Day fox hunting carnage and beyond. During my 28 years of vegan action they have been and always will be special in their support of what I believe in, so when they visit I always want to spoil them with lots of vegan love in return.  

My mum has been veggie for years but my dad still remains a meat eater.  Obviously I wish they were both vegan and my mum has been for a short time here and there but I'm not the aggressive type when it comes to trying to convince my parents.  My dad is after all in his 80th year and my mum not far behind. All I can do is feed them gently during their time with us and my mum, bless her, always feeds us without complaint when we visit.

So back to this year's Christmas quandary.  Dad is not keen on soya and mum has said in the past that she is not keen on nuts cooked in savoury dishes (although I decided to investigate this further and found that she is not too unhappy about nut loafs). They are both not very adventurous with food choices.  I thought the fact that Quorn had finally made something vegan may have been a different approach this year but, despite searching, I could find none of the vegan Quorn choices available down here.  I wasn't too unhappy about that as the mass production of Quorn kind of puts me off a little.  My prayers were answered in a couple of ways during a visit to Country Store Health Foods in Redruth last weekend.  We had heard on the Cornish vegan grapevine that they had Tofurky Roasts in stock.  Phil and I have never had a Tofurky Roast before and better still they are not pure soya but a mixture of wheat gluten so would possibly satisfy the needs of my dad.  Luckily, they still had plenty in stock and excitement about this led me to buy two of them.  

So if you are still a little undecided about what to cook for the Christmas Crazy season, then why not use it as an excuse to treat yourself to an easy option of a Tofurky roast.  I'm really looking forward to trying this roast for the first time.  

Monday, 14 December 2015

A Rambling Sunny Sunday Brunch

We're both keen weather watchers, and Phil keeps a beady eye glued to the surf forecast at all times. So when we woke up on Sunday and saw that it was indeed as nice a day as forecast, we wasted no time in getting up and out there to make the most of it (well, after a bit of a lay in).  When we did get up we went straight into production mode, and soon had a flask of Barleycup (with hemp milk) made, and some tasty cinnamon and raisin bagels filled with almond butter, maple syrup, and sliced bananas.  

A small rucksack was found, and hastily packed with the above items, plus a selection of trail snacks sent over from Scooby's sister in Alaska. We then put on our jackets and headed out the door, only to find that we didn't really need them.  Some people were walking around in T-shirts, and shorts.  In December.  Some of them were even locals.

After walking a few hundred yards and undoing our jackets, we were still not quite willing to accept the fact that it was unseasonably warm, and so carried on walking, getting hotter and hotter, headed for the coast path.  To be fair, once we had the full force of the wind in our faces it wasn't exactly sweltering, but it was still a very pleasant walk headed south to a high point from which we planned to eat our Sunday brunch.  The walk there certainly created a good appetite.  

We started our brunch with the bagels, which went down just a little too easily.  The combination of almond butter, banana, maple syrup and fresh sea air really hit the spot. After pausing for a minute to take in the view and slurp our Barleycup, we had the difficult decision of what to sample out of our Alaskan vegan trail snack package.  The chocolate chip cookie, with its sheer chunky delight, spoke to us first.  It had a creamy vanilla hit and like a lot of the cookies we've had from America, it was a lot softer than our small, 'snap in two' biscuity British versions.  Not the kind of cookie you would want to wave at your cup of tea and expect it to not disintegrate into a mush at the bottom of the cup but regardless this was a real bold, well built, generous character of a cookie; much like the Alaskans themselves.  We had a little more space for another treat and the Super Dark Coconut Ash and Banana chocolate came on to the radar.  Now sticking a load of ash into chocolate wouldn't be the first thing you would think to do.  Don't knock it until you've tried it!  This stuff rocks, with an intense coconut flavour, and a hint of banana, all wrapped up in a smooth well balanced dark chocolate intensity.  Just the way we like it.  The rest of the snacks survived to live another day; perhaps for next weekend's rambling Sunday brunch?

One of the reasons we chose this breakfast spot is that just a short walk further south, we've previously seen choughs. After filling our bellies we went looking for them.  Maybe they were hiding, or maybe we didn't watch for long enough, but today we didn't see any.  I'm sure if we'd gone there with no hopes of seeing them, then they would have appeared.  All the while we were out, Phil was keeping an eye on the surf conditions.  By the time we'd returned home, the tide had pushed in enough to tempt him in for a couple of hours before it got too dark.  The waves were a couple of feet overhead, and had that winter 'oomph'; like a cold wet slap in the face, that gets your attention and sharpens the mind.  As the smell of wood smoke filled the air, and the sun sank below the horizon, a now very tired Phil stumbled home feeling drained but satisfied, and in need of some high energy vegan fuel to refill his tank.  With all the wind and rain we've endured of late, we'd very much like a few more sunny days like Sunday, with light winds and good clean waves.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Cornish Vegan Love

It really has been a busy time (apologies for the lack of posts). The run up to the Cornwall Vegan Festival was busy and this weekend has only just seen the first signs of slowing down just over a week after.  The truth is I meant to do a post straight after the festival but was exhausted so goodness knows what the organisers of this amazing event felt like! Great job Cornwall Animal Action.  I think the queue outside just before opening was very much a reflection of your effort.

It might have been a 'long, busy and on your feet all day' day, but wow was it a great experience.  I heard some inspiring and educational talks (my stall was in the same room as the talks/demos), met many lovely people, had loads of chats with friends old and new, answered loads of interesting questions, swapped recipe ideas (thanks to the lovely couple who encouraged me to make the quiche from Greens 24/7, it was lush!) and generally grinned from ear to ear whilst surrounded by vegan love and the vibe of people genuinely interested in the vegan way.  It was magic.  Over the coming weeks I intend to follow up, share, explore and write about some of the various wonderful people I met during the day so watch this space.

Meanwhile, I am pleased to share that the vegan recipe/cookbook stall (with various other books and mags) I held at the festival raised £100 for Cornwall Animal Action.  The stall started off with the idea of just displaying my collection of cookbooks (in the row at the back of the photo) and other resources to show the huge amount of vegan recipe ideas out there, but then along with very kind donations (Emma you are the best!) and some cheap on-line deals I grabbed, it expanded to selling a load of vegan cookbooks.  I then added a Vegan Love Pot to the mix (a free lucky dip of vegan recipes from our blog).  A highlight of my day was encouraging bemused looking people to have a dip in my Vegan Love Pot!  My lists of vegan blogs and vegan recipe sites also disappeared very quickly too.  Right at the end of the day I saw a young girl scrolling through the Viva! Vegan Recipe Club website I had displayed on a tablet.  She seemed engrossed.  All very encouraging.

I can't say enough thanks to the lovely people at Cornwall Animal Action for organising such a great and popular event. Thanks also to Neil (Veganhead and creator of Vegan Laptop Lunchbox) for the photo of my stall. I would never have got around to taking a photo, so much appreciated.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Cornwall Vegan Festival 5th December

The time is almost upon us for the much anticipated Cornish vegan event of the year; The Cornwall Vegan Festival 2015. The Hall for Cornwall will be bustling on Saturday 5th December with oodles of  vegan vibes, food, talks, film screenings, crafts, fun, demos, live music, vegan goodies to buy and so much more.  If you are a vegan in Cornwall, it surely will be too hard to resist and if you are a vegan outside of Cornwall, how can you resist coming to Cornwall and being able to visit a vegan festival at the same time?  It's all too exciting right?

The Festival will be sure to draw on those already enjoying a vegan lifestyle (for a big Cornish vegan hug), but it is hoped it will also tweak the interest of those veggie or vegan curious among us, so please spread the vegan word and love far and wide.  Take a non vegan friend out for a day in Cornwall's capital and then feign surprise at how fortunate it is that there happens to be a vegan festival taking place on that very day!  It could change their world and so much more.

The Festival kicks off at 10am and runs till 5pm.  It is free entry and due to vegan karma all Cornwall County Council car parks are also free on the day.

Driftwood Vegans are having a stall at the festival too (up in the room where the talks are taking place).  I will be there showing off how many vegan cook books there are available on the market now, with a wide selection of new and second hand books for sale at bargain prices.  I also have a special free recipe lucky dip called 'The Vegan Love Pot' representing the sharing of vegan recipes by word of mouth and blogs. Be sure to come say hello, bag yourself a bargain cookery book (we are donating all profit to CAA who organised the event) and have a free dip in my Vegan Love Pot!  

For full details of the festival check out the website at Cornwall Vegan Festival.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Cowspiracy Continues to Rock The World

There can't be many vegans that haven't seen Cowspiracy but there are still plenty of non vegans yet to see this hugely influential, game changer of a documentary.  
Some people won't want to sit down and watch a feature length documentary about a subject that they would rather blissfully be unaware of.  However, this little short may well be the answer to getting the message through and maybe, just maybe, will lead to them watching the whole feature.  At 1.5 minutes it is 'easier to swallow' and perhaps it will make what they actually eat a little less 'easy to swallow'.
So let's keep the Cowspiracy message going and at least sneak this little 'taster' into all social media we can to reach more and more of the masses.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Mayo Madness

We are sooooo naughty!  We have no self constraint; not when it comes to Vegenaise (and okay quite a few other things too but let's just stay on subject here).  

On Saturday, whilst up in Exeter for the Animal Aid Christmas Without Cruelty Festival, we took the opportunity of also visiting Seasons, a health food store that is now 100% vegan.  There was a plentiful supply of vegan goodies inside this wonderful little shop but I gasped just a little too loudly when I saw jars of Follow Your Heart Vegenaise in the fridge.  We haven't seen this stuff since travelling in America a few years ago and put it this way, it wasn't an option to leave without any.

Problem is, I got carried away and somehow two jars of it found their way in to my basket. Big deal you might say.  Look carefully at the photo above however.  It's only Thursday and one of those jars is already empty and the other has been opened.  The side of the jar states that it contains 24 portions.  Clearly we have a bit to learn about portion control if we want that second jar to last more than 5 days.

The moral of this story is; always buy two jars and enjoy vegan goodies when you find them. Oh and to hell with being good.  I'll do that when it's all gone.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Mozzarisella Pizza Chain Deal?

I recently received an email about Mozzarisella, a relatively new vegan cheese on the market from Italy made from germinated rice.  I had heard a little of this new brand but hadn't really investigated it as we haven't seen it anywhere locally or on our travels. However, upon reading the email, there were several things that tweaked my interest a whole lot more.  

Firstly, it is 100% organic which we are becoming more and more fussy about.  Secondly, there is no soya contained in it; another thing we are moving towards reducing in our diets a little more.  There are four products in this range; MozzaRisella, CreamyRisella, SmokeyRisella and BlueRisella.  The latter is the newest one in the range and it contains seaweed, another factor that we found interesting.  However, contained at the bottom of the email was something which sounded really quite exciting, and that was they may be signing a contract with a well known pizza chain!  Imagine that; not having to take your own vegan cheese along for a pizza treat?  Who this pizza chain is remains a mystery at this stage but hopefully it would be one that offers vegan dough.

Guess what too?  This cheese is also said to melt pretty well!

So now my investigations will turn to actually hunting down some of these cheeses to try out.  Via their website I have discovered three health food stores within a reasonable range that stock it - St Ives, Wadebridge and Falmouth. Hmmmm, pizza night Saturday night me thinks!

If you want to hunt some down for yourself and there is nowhere nearby that stocks it, looks like you can also order it on-line from either VeggieStuff or VeganCheese.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Vegan Christmas Festivals Abound!

We are getting really spoilt down here at the moment as over the next couple of weeks we have two amazing Christmas Festivals to enjoy and ethically spend our pocket money at.
First up is a yearly favourite of ours; The Animal Aid Christmas Without Cruelty Festival.  It takes place tomorrow at the Exeter Corn Exchange slap bang in the city centre.  This year there are more than 40 stalls, featuring ethical traders and organisations that promote human, animal and environmental causes.  Products on sale will include fair trade clothes, vegan chocolate, local arts and crafts, cruelty free cosmetics, quality bric-a-brac, delicious cakes and vegan beers. 
In addition, a visit would not be the same if you don't indulge in the delicious food on offer throughout the day from local caterers Fairfoods.  It is normally our first port of call and be prepared to be dazzled and confused by the amazing choices on offer.  No belly is big enough to help ease the decision making process of what to have.
To check out full details of the Exeter festival go to Animal Aid's website or tune into the Festival's Facebook event page.
If the excitement wasn't enough, in a couple of weeks time and closer to home we have the anticipation of the Cornwall Vegan Festival.  Truro on Saturday 5th December is definitely the place to be!  More details on this will follow soon but if you really cannot wait any longer, check out the Facebook link above and remember to pop it in your diary now.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A Perfect Match For a Veggie Perrins

We love wine. Fact. Our favourites normally involve either French or Portuguese offerings (less food miles and all that).  Neither country may be known for its understanding of vegan but by god (whatever god that fits your spiritual needs) they make good wine, and both countries do indeed indulge the vegan if you do your research enough.  

However, we are always open to new frontiers.  One such frontier opened up to us recently in the form of an Indian wine.  Yes, you did indeed hear that right; an Indian wine!  We bumped into this particular offering in an infrequent visit to Marks and Spencer's (not a regular haunt of ours I might add but they do appear to be particularly thoughtful at labelling up the vegan stuff they do offer).  

Well, what a peculiar, interesting and intriguing offering this Indian wine turned out to be. Any vegan/veggie- centric 'locals' will be familiar with a certain amazing Indian vegetarian establishment called Veggie Perrins across the border in Plymouth (Devon). If you are not; shut up!  Seriously, why haven't you been there? Regardless they do a certain dish called Bengan Bhartha; a wonderful aubergine dish with a certain unmistakable smokiness about it.  So amazing and different is this dish that they give you due warning of this upon ordering. It is exquisite and one that we always order.  Well let's just say that this wine somehow captures that taste, and indeed the taste of India itself. The first sip leaves you wondering what exactly you have bought, as it's not exactly easy on the palate to start with.  After a few sips though, and especially if you're about to eat curry, it all starts to make sense. There's a definite 'spiciness', maybe a hint of garam masala, but somehow, if you've ever been to India you'll recognise there's a certain 'Je ne sais quoi' that is evocative of India, and nowhere else. 

So our message is simple;  don't dismiss Indian wine and clearly you need a visit to Veggie Perrins to understand what wonders you are missing out on.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Simple Quick Tasty Italian

Zest Mushroom & Smoked Garlic Sauce  355gViolife Prosociano With Parmesan Flavour Dairy Free Cheese Gluten Free, Vegan

We were driving home from work and as usual our conversation turned to 'what shall we have for dinner?'.  It's mid week, we are both tired after work and although the idea of a tasty plateful of food was very high in our minds, neither of us were in much of a mood for doing a massive amount of cooking.  I was quite adamant though; I wanted pasta.

It was time for a rummage among our food supplies.  We had pasta.  That was a good start. I screeched with delight when I found a forgotten jar of Zest Tomato, Mushroom and Smoked Garlic Pasta Sauce.  Quite how it had been forgotten is beyond me as this stuff is amazing but I blame Phil's ample supply of chili sauces that appear to have been building up in front of it in the cupboard.  Now, it is a rare thing that we will buy a jar of pasta sauce but we make the exception with this one.

So pasta and lush pasta sauce; obvious huh?  A second screech of delight emanated from me when I realised that perhaps this whole sudden desire to have pasta had been a subconscious desire or excuse to dip into the Violife Prosociano (Parmesan) we had recently bought on a visit to the Country Store Health Foods in Redruth.  Surely this was a perfect moment to grate a whole heap of that on top of a steaming plate of saucy pasta.  Oh yes it certainly was.

However, it would be pretty lazy if we didn't add in some additional veg to the equation and we had some mushrooms and a pepper in need of use, along with an aubergine.  The pepper, mushrooms, and an onion were sauteed up to bulk out the sauce but I had special plans for the aubergine; simple Sicilian baked aubergine slices.  I'd made these as part of a bigger recipe some months back and had loved them.  They were the perfect easy top off to this plate of simple pasta. These slices sound too simple to be true but seriously the combination of just aubergine, flour and olive oil adds up to so much more than you think it would.

So grab yourself a jar of Zest sauce, treat yourself to a hunk of Prosociano (but leave some for us in the Country Store!), stock up on the pasta and give this aubergine recipe a try to top it off.  You'll have yourself a simple, quick and tasty solution to those 'I really can't be arsed to cook much but I really want something damn good' evenings.

Sicilian Baked Aubergine Slices
Enough to top off a plate for two

1 large aubergine
Touch of salt
Bit of plain flour
Bit of good quality tasty olive oil

Pop the oven on to around 200 degrees C.

Slice the aubergine into thin slices (about 1cm/third of an inch), sprinkle them with salt and leave for about 10 minutes before washing off with clean water.  This supposedly draws the excess water out of the slices and is also meant to make them less bitter.  You don't have to do this but I generally do with this recipe and they turn out real good.  

Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil on a baking tray.  Coat each side of the slices with the flour and pop on to the tray and then drizzle more olive oil on top.

Bake for 10 minutes and flip the slices over and bake for another 10 minutes.  They should be nicely browned and slightly crisp.

Pop them on top of that steamy saucy pasta and grate some of that lush cheese on top.


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Free Neighbourhood Harvest

We have an unheated utility annex in our house where we tend to keep produce; a kind of nature's larder if you will. Yesterday our neighbour Ged passed a big pumpkin over the wall to us as a gift; a great Allantide/Halloween offering which no doubt will end up in a pot over the course of the next week or more (they keep so well).  I added this to the developing pile of produce in the utility and suddenly realised how much we had and, even better, that most of it had been free!

The apples were a present from our other neighbour Pete.  He has an apple tree in his front garden but doesn't tend to pick them.  Not wanting to see them go to waste I asked whether he would mind if we picked some over the coming days and he agreed wholeheartedly.  The next day, and before we had managed to pick any, we found a basket full of apples outside our back gate.  A few days later we found a bag with the cauliflower in hanging on the door handle of our back door.  This again was Pete, who had been out doing a bit of work in the local cauli fields and brought back some of the fruits of his labours.

The nuts are from Phil's recent foraging activities locally and the long squash and herbs from our garden.  The only thing that was purchased was the Crown Prince squash (the greyish one) that Phil got in a local farm shop recently for £1.50.

So the nights may be darkening and the air becoming slightly crisper (although what an amazing autumn so far), but nobody can deny that this time of year is wonderful for filling natures larder whether that be from the garden, local countryside or a friendly neighbourhood gesture.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Fill My Vegan Love Pot

You can have as many vegan cookbooks as you want but nothing is better than having another vegan pass on that recipe that they have just made up or tried and really enjoyed.  It feels good to receive it and it feels good to pass on the vegan foodie love.  The world of blogging and the Internet in general has made the sharing of recipes even easier these days.

To celebrate the sharing of vegan recipes and to enhance the Vegan Cook Book stall I am having at the Cornwall Vegan Festival on 5th December, I am having a free recipe lucky dip.  It will be in a big cooking pot named 'The Vegan Love Pot'. 

I'm looking for contributions far and wide for my Vegan Love Pot so if you would like to 'add to the mix' and share your favorite recipe I would love to hear from you. You can email us at or paste a link in the comments.  Please only send your original recipes or share links to recipes that are already out there and available to print from the public domain (e.g. no scans or prints from published books).  I will only print out the recipe for the pot (no personal details) but if you would like to include your name, where in the world you are from and how long you have been vegan (if you are) then that might add to the interest for the lucky dipper who is fortunate to pick out your contribution.

I really look forward to hearing from people all over the world so please, fill my Vegan Love Pot and share your vegan love with the lovely people of Cornwall on Saturday 5th December!

The Cornwall Vegan Festival takes place at the Hall for Cornwall in Truro on Saturday 5th December.  Visit the official Cornwall Vegan Festival Facebook page for more details

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Hugs For the Nutribullet

I bought a Nutribullet back in the spring for my mum.  She has cancer and was having a pretty rough time with chemo.  We'd had a pretty good discussion about nutrition and how that might help not only support her immune system against the chemo but with fighting the cancer generally.  

However my mum, despite being vegetarian, doesn't really enjoy cooking and doesn't have the same connection with food that Phil and I have. Credit to her she did go vegan for a while but somehow the medical profession persuaded her she needed to go 'full fat' to build herself up again after a particularly bad chemo session (go figure).  

So apart from feeding up my mum and dad on healthy plant based meals when they visit (they live over 300 miles away), I decided buying them a Nutribullet was a great and easy way for both of them (my dad has also recovered from cancer) to increase their nutritional intake.  There is very little to clean up after using the Nutribullet so immediately that was a hit with them too. My dads yearly glut of homegrown strawberries also gave them a constant supply of fruity goodness over the summer.

There is B17 in strawberries and reports have shown that B17 can help in the fight against cancer.  This is another reason I encourage mum (and she does) to take bitter apricot kernels which contain high levels of B17. She had a good time over the summer when she was able to take a break from her treatment and enjoy a family visit from overseas.  In fact she was positively brimming with energy; not bad for a lady in her mid 70's!

I held off buying Phil and I our own Nutribullet for fear that mum and dad would not use theirs and we would end up with it ourselves. However, with that not being the case and with autumnal fruit being at its peak, I took the plunge and am loving it.  The good timing was equally confirmed by two other recent things.

Firstly I found a couple of good books in charity shops which have some great recipes for the Nutribullet.  'Roots and Bulbs - Pure Juicing for Living', which I got for £1, is chock full of juices, shots, smoothies, milks and butters all of which, apart from the odd mention of bee products, are vegan.  All the recipes are beautifully illustrated with creative photographs. The All Day Breakfast smoothie recipe, a combination of almond milk, banana, oats, almond butter, sesame seeds and cacao nibs, has been a real hit with me in particular.

The other book I purchased for a mere £2 was 'Everyday Raw Express'.  What made this book different from the other raw books I have dabbled with is that the recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less; so no dehydrator required here! However a high speed blender seems pretty essential and with my 20 year old blender struggling a touch these days, step up the 'new kid on the block'; Nutribullet.  Cream Chowder or Maple Creme Brulee anyone?

The second additional thing that confirmed the timely purchase of the Nutribullet was a bout of illness on my behalf (which as I write I am still recovering from).  It is the kind of illness where the intake of food is essential but not particularly welcome (if you get my drift). Nutritional liquid forms however are a little easier to partake of and indeed the All Day Breakfast mentioned above was very welcome this morning.

So hurrah to the Nutribullet I say and I may even affectionately name it Steve after Steve McQueen from the film Bullitt because it really is that funky in my opinion.

Meanwhile, here is my suggestion of a B17 smoothie combo which I will name 'Super Trouper' for my mum (for reasons that will make her laugh I'm sure).

Super Trouper Smoothie

Handful of strawberries
1 kiwi (skinned and roughly chopped)
Handful of blackberries
Handful of Spinach
1 teaspoon of flax seeds
1 cup of coconut water (or more for thinner version)

Blend, blend, your own Steve.

By the way, I haven't tried this yet as it only just occurred to me!  However, it's next on my list.  What can go wrong with such healthy ingredients though?!


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

For All You Chickadees

You know sometimes you have the kind of day that gets you down for important reasons or sometimes for no apparent reason.  Either way, you need to keep yourself afloat.  Music always really helps me.  In fact on occasions it has been my saviour, even if that means I am unintentionally brought to tears as part of the listening process.  That is what makes music so amazing and also so important and influential in my life.  It is also very much part of my creative process. Without it I cannot write, photograph or in fact feel alive.  It feels like that sometimes.  

This evening I was listening to one of our favourite radio shows which we play constantly over and over; Lou Reed's New York Shuffle when Feist's track 'Caught A Long Wind' came up. I love this track anyway but this evening it really got to me. So apt to the way I was feeling and yes, I admit, I had a little tear here and there.  

So my little chickadees, if you are feeling a little jaded, have a little listen and consider it a little hug from me to you as well.  

And in the meantime, have a listen to Lou's show from the link above.  The Feist track is about 45 minutes 45 seconds in and the comments after always put a smile on my face.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Saving My Gentle Bacun

Some vegans like fake meat and some don't.  I've been through both stages in my vegan life.  At the moment though seitan is most definitely 'in' with me; particularly so since discovering the 'Bacun' recipe in my recently purchased copy of The Gentle Chef Cookbook by Skye Michael Conroy.  Let's just say it's been hard trying to 'save my bacun' and not just scoff it all in one go.  Phil said he much preferred it to the shop bought stuff.  The recipe makes a great big chunk too which really should last you quite a few bacun sandwiches here and there as long as you can contain yourself.

With its four separate lists of ingredients and its 90 minute baking time you would be forgiven for glazing over a little.  However, the lists are short, the technique quite simple and just think of all those things you could get done whilst it's cooking (I cleaned the house!).  Did I also mention it is very very scrummy too?!

Now obviously, as it is in this wonderful cookbook, I would be wrong to just give you the recipe (copyright and all that).  You really should get the book if you haven't got it already as it is packed full of great 'make it from scratch' offerings and actually I consider just the Bacun recipe alone worth buying the book for.  That said, I think I have probably teased you enough and I did actually find the recipe already published online on the  Free From Harm website so check it out along with other free recipes on The Gentle Chef website itself. 

Now, time for another bacun sandwich I reckon............

Monday, 12 October 2015

We Need Your Vegan Books!

Do you have a vegan cookbook kicking around that you don't use?  Did somebody buy you one that you already have and you've never had a chance to pass it on to someone else who is vegan or interested in vegan cooking?  Well now is your chance!

Driftwood Vegans are having a stall at the Cornwall Vegan Festival on Saturday 5th December.  We are hoping to represent what written information is 'out there' for vegans.  I will be displaying my personal collection of over 60 vegan cookery books (sorry not selling them!) to demonstrate that there are now masses of cook books available these days. Alongside that we plan on selling vegan books on the day at as cheap a price as we can.  We've already been buying them in cheap where we find them but we would like as many as possible.  Any profit we make we will be forwarding to Cornwall Animal Action (who have organised the festival) as a donation.

So please, if you can spare any books or indeed, see any going cheap anywhere, please do give us a shout at .  If you happen to be in Truro on the following Saturdays (17th October, 31st October, 14th November and 28th November) between 10am - 4pm you could also drop any contributions into Poppy at the Oxfam book shop who is more than happy to pass them on to us.

More about the stall in future posts including a call out for your favourite recipes!!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Eden Project Petition for Vegan Food

Many a time I have written to the Eden Project to ask why they do not provide more vegan options. Nothing seems to change and to be honest, I've seen more choice at places that don't profess to be environmental educators.  The thing is, we all know as vegans, that the first thing they should be doing is pushing the environmental benefits of a plant based diet and here we are begging for just a better choice of vegan food in their restaurants!  

If you live in Cornwall you can get a cheaper 'locals' pass for year round access to Eden. We normally renew this every year as there is something really lovely about walking around the tropical biome in the midst of a Cornish winter when it's lashing it down outside.  At the moment however, I'm really not feeling inclined to renew it this year.  I'm getting a little tired that Eden, after all these years, still hasn't developed their thinking and shed the shackles of profit over the true message it was originally created for; the protection of the environment.  

This petition, started by a Cornish vegan, has been around for a couple of months now and I am surprised it hasn't had more interest.  As I write it is only 19 signatures away from a 500 target, which is great, but I believe it should be able to easily surpass that to send a really strong message to Eden.  So come on vegans of the world, give this world renowned 'tourist' attraction the proverbial kick it needs to ask them to have a little think about their environmental priorities.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Karma Kitchen Supper Club

The Karma Kitchen Project are three friends who are working their way through cookbooks. They create vegetarian and vegan recipes from three different perspectives and lifestyles. They also present supper clubs in Wadebridge in Cornwall every now and then.  The next one is a vegan Middle Eastern Feast on Sunday 1st November.  Check out the full details on their blog - Karma Kitchen Project and be sure to book early to avoid disappointment.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Staycation, Sunshine and Mushrooms Galore

Everyone knows the Brits like talking about the weather but it has to be said that for once, it really is worth talking about.  We are taking full advantage of it at the moment and spending our weekends away in Miles our camper van. You don't have to go far in Cornwall to feel like you are on holiday.  In fact we headed 30 minutes from north to south coast and pretty much had a tucked away space overlooking the sea to ourselves all weekend.

On the Saturday morning we awoke and headed out for a walk along the coast path to look for mushrooms for breakfast.  Not only did we succeed in our hunt but we did so in shorts and vest tops in gloriously hot sunshine.  It was indeed a summer's day at the beginning of October!  

Other amazing things about the weekend were seeing a shoal of at least 20 large Barrel Jellyfish and as usual bumping in to our friends the Choughs (although in an area we didn't even know they were established in!)...and in case you were wondering it was an amazing breakfast of sauteed parasol mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera) with some lovely cranberry and pumpkin seed bread.  These are pictured above before harvest and at the bottom on the plate.

Later that day we chanced upon some more mushrooms just off the coast path, a short walk north from our 'campsite'. This time we found some field mushrooms (Agaricus campestris), and some Agaricus macrosporus (no common name in the UK).  The former are in the photo below left. A few of the field mushrooms made it into that nights dinner, of Mediterranean veg. and mushrooms in a sun dried tomato sauce, with pasta.  The rest were packed into the cool box to come home with us along with handfuls of plump sloes, to get the sloe gin going in time to add some natural cheer to the dark days of winter ahead.

As well as 'making hay while the sun shines' we will continue to explore the many varieties of edible mushrooms this time of year can provide, as well as any other seasonal wild edible treasures.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Big Vegan Count

THE BIG COUNT vegan survey
Check out The Big Vegan Count.

According to most statistics only 1% of the population is vegan. These guys want to see if that is right with The Big Vegan Count. More that 25,000 people from 150 countries have already taken part.  It doesn't take more than a minute to complete so why not add your voice?

How the statistics are going to be accurately worked out from this is a little bit of a mystery to me but hey, I'm not a statistician! 

What I liked about this is it is a way of holding your hand up with all the other vegans and saying "we are vegan and we are proud"!

Monday, 5 October 2015

The Dark Night of Soul Fundraiser

Fancy a night out with a bunch of groovy Cornish vegans?  Well get your dancing shoes on and head over to Whiskers in Newquay on Saturday 17th October for a night of funk, soul and jazz.  

This fund raising DJ night has been organised by and for Cornwall Animal Action (CAA). Not only could you enjoy a rare groovy night of dancing and laughter in good company but you could be supporting  the great campaign work that CAA do because, as if things couldn't get any better, there will also be an amazing raffle and auction on the night. The prizes and auction lots are increasing day by day so you'd be a fool if you didn't take a whole load of wonga to 'be in it to win it' and to make sure you get those winning bids in too.

For more details on the event, including those amazing prizes, please visit the Facebook events page The Dark Night of Soul CAA Fundraiser.

.......and in the meantime, start practicing throwing those shapes and searching for that big box, little box and cardboard box to take with you.