Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Stop Eating Animals

For a nation with a long history of heavy meat and fish eating that continues to this day, Portugal does still have plenty of evidence that there are exceptions to the rule.  

This particular example, at a traffic light, made us chuckle a fair amount.  It also brought out the sudden, and until this moment not really thought about, realisation that the Portuguese stop signs are written in English too!

We of course do not know whether this sticker was put there by a native or a visitor but either way Portugal, like the rest of the world, is moving more in the direction of a plant based diet.  It does have many traditional bean and vegetable dishes (mainly for reasons of poverty in the past) that are still very much part of their culinary tradition today.  These simple but nutritious and delicious dishes are the strong foundations that the move toward a more plant based diet are based on.  

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Views From Our Window

Things have been a little quiet on our blog for a while.  The reason is we have been wild camping in Portugal and have had very little chance to get wi-fi.  That in itself is a good thing in these days of wi-fi saturation; apart from when you want to write a blog post!

So our days have been fairly languid and sunny and every morning as we awake, our view is different through the window.  With previous knowledge of where to collect fresh water and plenty of lovely fruits and vegetables to peruse at the local shops, our days are pretty self sufficient.  We go to sleep just after dusk and wake up at dawn and spend the time between searching for waves, shady spots for yoga, interesting running routes or just places to sit staring or reading.  After all learning to relax and take time for ourselves takes practice!!

This is our first year here with Miles Davis, our camper van.  We usually camp and have been restricted to the much more limited places we can erect and safely leave our tent. Miles has certainly opened up a whole new world of freedom as within him we take with us our bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living room.  He is, as Phil quite regularly says, 'some boy' (that's Cornish for he is rather special).

Today however we have encountered our first dilemma as we have made our first pilgrimage to our favourite Portuguese restaurant Eurasia (which is where we sit now writing this courtesy of the wi-fi also provided).  With no tent to have to travel back to 40 miles or so away, it may be hard to resist not just parking up here the rest of the holiday!  

Eurasia is now open Monday to Saturday midday to 3pm.  It offers a wonderful buffet style spread of food at least half of which is vegan (just ask and they will guide you) and all you can eat for just €7.50!  Read our full review here.  Let's just say even if we don't camp outside, we will be back for another visit very soon.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

On the Rocks

It's suddenly turned cold again after the weather teased us with a little warm spell. In Cornwall however, whatever the weather, people still head for the beaches.  At this time of year you just need to leave your shorts and flip flops behind (although bizarrely in our village there is a character that wears them all year round!).  You might not want to paddle in them until it's warmer but the rock pools still look as tantalizing as ever (photos taken on phone on a recent walk). It won't be long though!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Unlikely Friendships

I know this is an essentially an advert but the video was so wonderful I couldn't resist!  I have a book called Unlikely Friendships (and in fact there is a whole series of books) and I find myself thinking that actually it is only humans that think it is 'unlikely'.  

Realistically though I guess some humans get on with each other just fine and so do a variety of different animals. Maybe these animals are the 'forward thinkers of the world' just like us vegans.

Maybe I'm over thinking it.........ah whatever; it made me smile a hell of a lot!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Three Amazing Things to Do with Almond Butter

Oh, how we love almond butter, especially Meridian's no palm oil one.  

Apart from slathering it all over toast and bagels, sticking your finger in the pot like a naughty child and eating it and adding it to the odd smoothie every now and then, there are so many other things you can do with the stuff.

So here are some offerings; two from other sources but firstly one of our own making.  

Driftwood Vegans Almond Butter and Sundried Tomato Pasta Sauce
Makes a good kilner jar full (photo above)

3oz sundried tomatoes
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 teaspoon mixed oregano
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the sundried tomatoes in just enough water to cover for about 30 minutes.  Then once soft, tip the tomatoes with the soaking water into a blender with all the rest of the ingredients.  Blend, blend, blend to a lovely saucy thickness then enjoy as you wish whether that be just spooning it in your gob right there and then or being more civilised and waiting until you have cooked up some pasta!

Next up is another sauce and this one is definitely one you will have to keep your spoon away from to stop you eating it before it gets to be part of a meal!  

This is from the book 'Eat and Run' by Scott Jurek, the ultra marathon runner.  This book is a great read if you are a vegan or a runner and even better if you are both.  If you are neither then it is a damn good read anyway! Amongst the story are scattered various vegan recipes; no fancy photos but just good, honest, quick, healthy recipes. I've had this book a while and I can't believe we only recently got around to making this sauce. It's so good it made us go out and buy a big tub of almond butter.

Scott Jurek's Red Curry Almond Sauce
Makes 1.5 cups (photo of ingredients above)

1/2 cup of almond butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lime juice or rice vinegar
2 tablespoons miso
1 tablespoon minced fresh coriander
2 tablespoons of agave nectar or maple syrup
2 teaspoons of Thai red curry paste, or to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl or blender.  Mix well until smooth. Keeps refrigerated for two weeks or frozen for several months.  It will be eaten well before that though!!!

So now you're ready for some sweet stuff huh?  Well Wake Up World! That is where this next recipe winged it's way to us from.  It's a great website for information and to inform and challenge your thinking and put right some of the misinformation the world seems to offer up these days.  Trinity Bourne is one of the contributing writers to WUW and she also writes Trinity's Conscious Kitchen yet another great site to explore.  The following is one of Trinity's recipes which was passed on to me by a friend.  Once I made it I was hooked.

Trinity's Two Minute Chocolate Almond Pudding (with Coconut and Maple Syrup)
This made two small ramekins - no photo as we ate it too quick!

1 heaped tablespoon of almond butter
2 tablespoons coconut milk (I actually doubled this though when I made it)
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup (again I doubled this)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
Dessicated coconut to garnish

Mix the almond butter, coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract to a creamy consistency.  Stir in the cocoa powder until well incorporated.  Sprinkle on the coconut and serve.

Go get some almond butter and enjoy!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

I'm In! A Pledge to Coco Caravan Chocolate

We met Jacques from Coco Caravan a year or so back in Bristol.  We loved Jacques (such a lovely guy) and we loved his chocolate (does that make it cupboard love?).  We can't get it locally so have ordered it a couple of times for treats so anything that gets more of his chocolate circulating in the vegan world and nearer to us has got to be worth it right?  

Then into our inbox comes the email below informing us of a Kickstarter project he has under way.  Well count us in. After our pledge he needs just another £28 in the next 5 days to get it off the ground.  
So come on folks, it's chocolate and it's vegan; what is there not to like about that!  
Dear Chocolate lovers,
Cococaravan has the chocolate that ticks all the boxes, it's vegan, it's raw, it's free of refined sugars, it's low in fructose, it's organic, it's fair-trade, it's hand made, it's gluten free, it's free of additives and it's independent. 

Now we are small independent brand and would like to put all those ticks on our packaging via accreditation. To fund the accreditation we have setup a crowd funding project via Kickstarter. You can find the project via the link below.

Of course we're not just asking for a donation. You will be able to get some new flavours, great deals, packages and freebies through this project or you can encourage your friends to get some.

Also, via this project we can send to the rest of Europe, USA and to Australia. Before in Australia we were know as Chocolates by Jacques and it is a great way to get some more of that delicious raw chocolate and vegan caramel again.

Depending on how well we do in this crowd funding project we will be looking a few other projects that we hope to achieve via Kickstarter. The most exciting one of those is opening up a space for chocolate events, workshops and parties. We have our sights on a great location and hope to get there soon.



Llandaff North, Cardiff, Wales 


Monday, 9 March 2015

Apertures - A Photographic Study of Windows

Most people cannot resist a peek through a window.  Whether you are outside looking in or inside looking out, a window has a way of framing a story, an emotion or a curiosity that draws people in and through.  I love looking from within and I also enjoy taking the outside perspective but mostly I study the thing that sits between; the window itself.  It is the aperture between both.

A few years ago I started taking photographs of windows.  I didn't realise it at the time. Then one day, whilst photographing the bright green surround of a window on a houseboat in Sri Lanka, it occurred to me that this wasn't my first window and I had a series of window shots. Then I started looking for windows wherever I went. Whether it was a conventional solid Cornish window, an elaborate but decaying window in Portugal, a prehistoric cave 'window', a slug trail decorated greenhouse window or the mere shadow of a window; I endeavoured to capture it.  So I thought I'd share some of my windows and, at the same time try my hand at making my first little book; Apertures.

An aperture is an opening, such as a window.  It also, in photographic terms, partly defines the amount of light and focus on an image.  It seemed an appropriate title for my opening photographic study of windows.


Sunday, 8 March 2015

Speciesism: The Movie

Racism and sexism; both problems that everyone is all too aware of and most people openly condemn.  But speciesism?  How much do people really think about that?  By default, of course most vegans do. The fact that humans set themselves so far apart and above other animals is a complete mystery and a huge frustration to me.  It is this very belief that leads to such devastating and abhorrent treatment of other sentient beings.  It is indeed the root of the problem as far as I am concerned.

This is the subject matter tackled in the latest thought provoking documentary working it's way through the animal rights world at the moment;  Speciesism: The Movie.  Most films that tackle the subject of animal abuse often employ the shock factor of the cold hard visual facts to convey the intended message.  By all accounts Speciesism has a different approach. Although not avoiding the visual abhorrence entirely, the film takes a more light hearted and questioning stance; more of an exploration of the thought pattern behind the discrimination of humans which ultimately (and hopefully) will lead the viewer naturally into a rethink of their own beliefs and reality.  Vegans are already there on that one but if it can reach a wider audience, it could literally lead to a life changing understanding for both humans and animals.

We are fortunate enough to have the opportunity of seeing this film here in Cornwall at a special screening at Falmouth University on the evening of Friday 20th March.  Book your place at Eventbrite here or visit the Facebook page for this event for more details.

Perhaps you could take a non-vegan friend and open up a whole new way of thinking to them!  Either way, please spread the word.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Pepe Nero Pizza and Perfect Vino Tinto

I really wish I had better photos of this fabulous food and wine evening we had on a recent short trip to Bristol. However eating was on my mind a lot more than photographing was! Let's just say the photos don't do justice to the delights that were on offer.

It was Phil's birthday and what better way of celebrating it for two vegan foodies than to, well eat and search out food!  We started by zooming up the M5 to the Wholefoods Market at Cheltenham.  If you love health food stores then the sheer size of this one will 'scramble your tofu'! Admittedly the UK Wholefoods Markets are not as amazing as the ones where we have spent many an hour in California, but on a wet UK afternoon in February it is still good enough to absorb an interesting couple of hours.

It was then back down to Bristol to find our cosy B and B. Now the original idea for Phil's birthday night meal was to go to his favourite South Indian delight called Krishna's Inn.  However, when I mentioned I had heard of a pizza place called Pepe Nero that offered an array of vegan and organic pizza and other Italian offerings and they delivered, our B and B suddenly became even cosier!

The first task was what to choose from their menu.  Obviously pizza was 'going to happen' but hey where do you begin when there are 9 different vegan choices with toppings ranging from marjoram sausage, mozzarella, Edam, chorizo, spicy oil, tofu grilled sausage, bacon rashers, ham, olives, and even smoked salmon, along with the usual array of pizza style vegetables?  In the end we settled on the Vegan Fest one that pretty much crammed in as much as we could without making us feel even greedier by choosing additional toppings.  

So the pizza was sorted but what else?  In the end we settled on a vegan lasagne and a side of chips.  We rang up and placed our order before tackling the next task; opening a bottle of wine.  This however was no ordinary vino tinto; this was Mongolian wine (yes I actually did say Mongolian!).  We'd picked it up at Wholefoods Market and must admit that we would normally have gone for a French variety but were intrigued, so we took a punt and it paid off. This Hansen Cabernet-Gernischt was a fruity, tasty surprise that shows to be adventurous once in a while certainly pays off.  We have since found out it is available from Vintage Roots so pay them a visit to find out more about this unusual wine. 

We were sat there savouring this wine enhanced moment of discovery and just when we thought it couldn't get any better, the food arrived.  It looked so amazing we had tucked in good and proper before I had even thought of taking a quick shot.  The pizza was amazing, the lasagne difficult to stop eating and the chips were a rosemary enhanced delight.  Very soon there was nothing left.

In fact it was all so good, we ordered the same thing the very next evening.  How naughtily delicious!

If you want the same lovely experience, take a look at the vegan pizza menu here - 
http://www.pepenerorganic.com/menu/pepenerorganic_pizza/vegan/ and explore the rest of their site from there but we take no responsibility for the salivating or tummy rumbling it will induce.

22 Bond Street 
Telephone: 0117 926 8057