Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Ra Ra Raspberries!

Well, okay these aren't strictly raspberries but they are of the raspberry family.  We planted a Tayberry and a Loganberry a few years ago; one of which died and one of which thrived and we no longer know which is which.  All that matters is the harvest and this year is a bumper crop.  We were going to cut this back earlier this year but we didn't get around to it, which is good really, as it is giving us more than we can eat at the moment.  Maybe Mother Nature knows best and following the guidance in gardening books isn't all that it's made out to be.  Seeing as raspberries are so expensive to buy, why wouldn't you try and find space for these in the garden or even plant some in the wild 'guerrilla styley'?  It's good value for vegan fruity money!

We've been making smoothies with these berries, bananas and coconut milk for breakfast. A tasty and lush start to the day!  The excess that we cannot use?  Well, into the freezer they go for those dull, damp moments of winter when we need reminding of the bountiful days of summer sunshine.  Vegan squirrels that we are.......

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Quick Flatbread Pizzas with Cashew Cheese

With sunshine finally making an appearance and plenty to do in the garden, spending time in the kitchen has become less of a priority these days (hence the lack of posted recipes recently).  As a result meal times have become more of a last minute rummage in the cupboard affair.  This was the case last night when we finally hauled ourselves in from the garden with pink shoulders, muddy fingers and a sudden need to eat.  

We both fancied pizza but really didn't want to have to make the pizza dough and wait for it to rise.  The solution was in a packet of flat breads we've had in the cupboard for some time; and in fact they would need using up soon.  They would make a perfectly suitable thin crust base for our pizzas.  We had spring onions freshly plucked from the garden and peppers and mushrooms in the fridge for the topping.  What about the cheese though?  We had no shop brought or homemade cheese on hand in the fridge but what we did have was cashews.  As long as you never run out of cashews and have the vegan stock cupboard essentials of lemon juice, nutritional yeast and miso you will never be without a basic vegan cheesy mixture.  You can add in other flavours according to your mood or other stock cupboard supplies; in this case I added dried oregano and a splash of vegan Worcestershire sauce. 

So in a matter of minutes the quick pizzas were in the oven with just enough time for a well earned glass of wine in the evening sunshine before they were ready to devour.

Last Night's Cashew Cheese Sauce
Enough for three large flatbread pizzas

1 cup cashews
Juice half lemon
1 tablespoon miso (I used brown)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Splash of vegan Worcestershire sauce
Splash of water

Grind the cashews in a spice blender or, if you don't have one, soak the cashews in water for at least 30 minutes before blending.

Add all the ingredients except the water into a blender and give it a good whizz.  Add water bit by bit until you get a smooth but thick creamy consistency.  

Then it's ready to blob and pour over your pizza.  It sets on the surface of the pizza when cooked.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

An Evening Walk on the Headland

After  dinner and a quick plant and potter in the garden there was still time to take a little walk along the headland and enjoy the late evening sunshine.

Late June brings out the poppies and with it the crowd of visitors who specifically come here to admire this now well known annual wild flower display. 

The skylarks hovered and sung and the swifts chattered and swooped.

What a stunning evening and how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Vegan Life Magazine

I've been picking up copies of Vegan Life magazine every time I see it and I'm getting addicted now.  In fact, a subscription is now on my birthday list (hint, hint Phil!).  

Obviously the fact that it is a totally vegan magazine means I am slightly biased in choosing to buy it.  Even the adverts are interesting to read because they are all vegan! However, that aside, it is a really well put together magazine.  It has a great look and feel and it even smells nice!  

The articles are well thought out and I get the feeling that they are aimed at people who have been vegan for a while, without by any means excluding those new or just vegan curious.  A vegan of 30 years could pick up a copy and learn something new.  Likewise somebody just starting on the road to veganism couldn't fail to be impressed by the information on the new and increasing range of products available, and the exciting contemporary recipes within, as well as the non preachy general guidance and advice. 

I am a vegan cook book addict so I am very appreciative of the great recipes featured in Vegan Life.  The June edition was a particularly good example of this. I've actually only just had my copy for over a week and we have already tried the BBQ tempeh recipe (featured above on the front cover and then our offering cooking away in the right photo - not as beautiful admittedly as Vegan Life's version but extremely tasty regardless!).  We have cooked the Seitan BBQ ribs twice and I'm in the process just this evening of making the delightfully summery Lavender-Chia Lemonade.  That is just for starters as there are quite a few more of  the recipes still on my hit list to make!

So if you haven't come across Vegan Life magazine yet, look out for it in your local health food store, or I have heard it said some supermarkets.  Better still subscribe as you won't be disappointed I promise you.  For the less old fashioned among you, or those who aren't as bothered with being able to touch, feel, smell and read the responsibly sourced paper versions, there is also an app available!    

Visit Vegan Life Magazine for more details.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Vegan Hampers

A friend and work colleague has her 50th birthday and so we wanted to buy her something special from the whole team. Jane has been vegetarian for most of her life but has become vegan in the past year so I thought it would be a nice idea to make her a special vegan hamper so I started shopping around.

I really struggled to find a ready made vegan hamper that I was happy with.  They were mostly made up of well known, everyday vegan items that were pretty much available down the local health food store or even supermarket.  Coupled with this they seemed more expensive just for the privilege of these items being available as a hamper, which most of the time turned out to be just a cardboard box. 

The obvious answer was to make one up myself so I started shopping around for unusual vegan items on-line.  That didn't really sort the issue out either as I couldn't source all the items I had in mind from one store so the price was ramping up with postage costs along with complexity.  Then I had another obvious thought - a trip to Ethica in Plymouth would sort it out!  So that is exactly what we did on the spur of the moment one Saturday afternoon; after all it was a good excuse for us to take a trip there for ourselves too!

The shelves at Ethica are so stocked full of the less available vegan supplies and treats that it took very little time to get a basketful.  It was actually hard choosing between some things. In the end I chose Teese Creamy Cheddar Cheese Sauce, a packet each of ravioli and gnocchi, a packet of vital wheat gluten (so she can experiment with making seitan) and a jar of ready made seitan (so she knows what it can taste like!), a couple of cartons of Rebel Mylk, 3 Primal Strips and a vegan snack sausage, a bottle of Really Chilli Mayo, a Thumbs Up bar and a Buccaneer bar, a Round Up Waggon Wheel and a lovely bar of Matcha Green Tea White Chocolate.  The latter I had to prevent Phil on several occasions from nicking from the basket as he loves it so much!  

I had a basket already I could use as well as cellophane and a ribbon - all up-cycled basically and I knew that Jane would appreciate that too.  All in the whole hamper cost just over £35 and every single item was new to Jane.  Ethica certainly came to the rescue and all was assembled in one single afternoon in the end.

Vegan hamper makers take note - sometimes it is easier, cheaper and a whole lot more exciting to make up your own vegan hamper offering.  If you aren't fortunate enough to live within a reasonable distance of an exciting vegan retailer then you could even take things a step further by actually making the food within the hamper (although that might be a bit of a mission but would be full of even more vegan love and inspiration!).

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Denali - A Very Beautiful Sharing of Love

There isn't anything more we could say about this film beyond it is beautiful and sad and you'd better have a hankie ready. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Dirty Hippies and Homemade Vegan Deodorant

I'll hold up my hands (but perhaps whilst trying to keep my armpits contained) and admit, I went through a spell of not being able to control my sweaty pits. 

Whether it was my age, something in my diet or something else I wasn't sure but I know I was feeling quite self conscious for a while.  I tried various vegan, ethical deodorants, all the time trying to avoid any nasties like aluminium, but none of them seemed to work very well.

Then I made two discoveries.  When we were in Portugal for a month wild camping I wasn't washing quite as frequently as I normally would.  'Yuck' you might say but I kid you not, I actually smelt less.  Not only that but my skin felt great and my hair seemed to appreciate it too.  I've read and heard about the whole not washing or not using 'products' on your skin before so it's not just me that is a dirty hippy!  Your body can naturally cleanse itself left to it's own devices.  

However, for most not washing just wouldn't be an option and indeed I do enjoy a good shower or bath, but it does seem that more and more people are striving to avoid exposing themselves to toxic chemicals in their daily lives.  In fact Phil just told me that he read an article recently that stated that the average American woman can absorb up to 5lbs of chemicals per year from her daily make up routine alone.  That is obviously the extreme and thankfully I'm neither into chemicals or the whole make up thing but my experience of not washing as much really proved to me that even applying 'natural things'  isn't always necessary either.  

So back to my armpit issue; what did I do to combat it whilst in the non wild-camping environment?  After talking to my close colleague Jane about my armpit issue she suggested making my own deodorant and she even gave me a recipe she had found on line.  After all, I make my own toothpaste so why wouldn't I give deodorant a go?  Well I did but I have to say it wasn't that successful.  It was made with equal measures of melted coconut oil (an anti-oxidant and moisturiser), bicarbonate of soda (to absorb odour) and corn powder (absorbs wetness) with a few drops of essential oil; all mixed together and then poured into a glass jar to solidify.  It wasn't the effectiveness of the result that was bad (actually it was pretty good) it was the fact that I chose to use peppermint oil (as that is what I had hanging around) and the combination of the coconut and peppermint just lent it a bit of an unusual odour. In fairness, if I had used tea tree or lavender it may well have been a success.  So the second discovery was that it was indeed possible to make your own effective deodorant but just make sure you choose the right fragrance!

My first experience of making my own deodorant did kind of put me off trying to make anymore though. Jane however came to the rescue again and presented me with a jar of a natural deodorant she had discovered herself.  CoCho is made with coconut oil, bicarbonate of soda and tea tree essence and I have to say it has been wonderful as well as smelling a whole lot better than my own creation.  I've been hooked ever since!  

So if you feel daunted by making your own natural armpit offering never fear as CoCho can come to the rescue.  Check out their lovely deodorants, amongst many other of their natural products, on their website - 
CoCho by Coconut Choices

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Big Plant-Based Lunch in Cornwall

If you are around in Cornwall this Sunday and fancy meeting a bunch of lovely vegans and sampling sumptuous vegan food, then get yourself to Chacewater between 12-2pm.  Better still, if you are already vegan, grab the nearest non-vegan and take them with you.

For more details check out below or visit the events Facebook page at The Big Plant-Based Lunch