Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Vegans Eat Hedgehogs

It really has felt more like summer recently than heading into autumn, which has helped in the transition to the colder, darker times ahead. The other thing that has helped is the wealth of wild food available; particularly mushrooms.  Phil has always had an interest in foraging but this was buoyed recently with the discovery of the book 'Fungi Forays' in a charity shop.  The clear and precise details of edible mushrooms within has led to even my wavering confidence being boosted that we weren't going to kill ourselves or wander off into some wild trip of the unplanned kind.  We were just after culinary delights rather than hallucinogenic flights.  

Previously we have stuck to field mushrooms, shaggy ink caps and the odd giant puffball when we could find them.  Our recent finds however have opened up a whole new world of weird and wonderful mushrooms. Yes, we admit we've been eating hedgehogs!  Before the vegan police issue a warrant we'd like to point out that the hedgehogs concerned are the big white mushrooms in the top photo; so called because they have 'spines' instead of gills underneath.  In fact in the photo these soft 'spines' have broken off a little and scattered themselves over the others; bay bolete top left and the rather appropriately named amethyst deceiver on the top right.  From this particular mushroom stash Phil cooked a rather lovely mushroom risotto which definitely went a huge distance in demonstrating the fact that wild mushrooms are more flavoursome than shop bought ones by a long way.

This last weekend saw us out foraging again.  This time our findings were less varied but more numerous in the form of yellow russulas (photo at the bottom).  We enjoyed a very tasty and continental Sunday brunch of these gently fried atop a baguette whilst in Miles the camper.  Whilst we ate we surveyed with amusement a surprising amount of characters searching for their own edible but more magical mystical fungi varietal!  'Never judge a mushroom or a mushroom hunter by its cover' is what we say!  

The mushroom (we think it is some sort of earth ball) in the photo to the right isn't an edible one but then that was pretty obvious anyway especially after cutting it in two and seeing the horrible oozing jelly and spores! We've never seen a mushroom like this before so if anyone has any ideas then we'd be interested to know what it is.  We are still very much in the learning process.

In the meantime, when it comes to mushrooms; be adventurous but be careful and sure about what you are picking and eating.  Happy mushroom hunting (whichever sort you are after!).

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Badger Cam Busted!

The badger antics continue in the front garden with both the male and the female continuing to visit regularly.  I actually watched from the front window at the moment my stealth camera was totally busted by the female and to my great joy saw the camera start recording during the height of the sniffing.  I couldn't wait to see the resulting footage the next day.  Turn the volume up for full sniff effect!  It's really strange that she took so much interest in the camera this time around as it has been totally ignored over the last few years.  I'm wondering whether my hands were peanut infused when I set it out on this particular night!

The second video only 30 minutes later is another cat encounter.  This time the cat in question wasn't as chilled out about being in the company of badgers as other cats had been (see this video for a really close encounter!).  The cat is called Cub and he only moved in a few houses down this year so perhaps he just needs to get a bit more used to his night time neighbours.  In the shot that followed Cub walked along the top of the fence to spend some more time observing the badger from above.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Fliip-ing Good

On a recent outing up country a little, we were as usual foraging for food in the nearest available vegan friendly environment (aka a health food store), when we discovered a Fliip Tart.  

Fliip, a Somerset based company, make handmade gluten free tarts, some of which are vegan, using nothing but fresh natural ingredients (no additives, gums or E numbers). The tart in question we discovered, drawn in by the clear vegan marking, was a Mediterranean Roasted Red Pepper and Courgette Vegan Tart.  It was an individual tart at the cost of roughly £3 so we did only buy one at the time but wished we had splashed out and got one each after we'd tried it.  It was Fliip-ing good.

My attempt looked more like a pizza than a tart but tasted good!

We have never seen Fliip tarts in Cornwall so upon return I attempted to replicate one for ourselves.  My attempt was neither gluten free or by any means as beautiful as the original but it tasted pretty good.  Do look out for a Fliip vegan tart, but in the meantime, to give you an idea of the lovely taste they created here is my own attempt.

Fliipping Good Attempt Tart
I made a single large flan instead of an individual one

Ready made shortcrust pastry (yes I know that is lazy!)
4 carrots
1/2 leek
3 large roasted red peppers (from a jar or roasted first yourself)
1 tablespoon vegan balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of chilli and garlic flakes
Salt and pepper
1/2 grated courgette
A few pitted olives
A handful of chopped walnuts

Chop up the carrots and leeks and boil until soft, then drain.
Meanwhile line a greased flan dish with pastry.
Add the cooked vegetables to a blender bowl with the red peppers, vinegar, herbs, spices and tomato puree.  Blend until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the pastry case and smooth evenly.
Scatter the top with the grated courgette, olives and walnuts.
Bake in the oven at 200 degrees C until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through.  The filling is a little sloppy but still tastes super good!

Enjoy and keep foraging for a Fliip!

Monday, 21 September 2015

September Swell Delivery

After a summer of mostly small weak waves, September is usually guaranteed to deliver some good powerful waves, and the swell of the 9th will be well remembered by those that were able to get to the coast to take advantage.  Being a work day for me it was a bit of a mad dash to get in the sea after, but the exhaustion at the end of the day was worth it. Luckily for me and a few of the locals, Scooby had a long lens with which to document some of the action.  My nephew and his family were down for a visit also, and he was able to get some great waves too, which was pretty good going for someone who hadn't surfed for 18 months!  With 4 days of good waves, great company all week, and the infamous Crantock Bale Push on the Friday night, it was certainly a week to remember.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Human Idiocracy

Vegans are often quoted as being 'anti-human'.  One of the reasons for most people being vegan is to be part of the solution to end world hunger.  Another is to aid the halt of environmental destruction to the planet that we all share.  Both reasons center around humans so hardly human hating qualities.  However, sometimes, just sometimes, I really dislike humans. That's because it is all too easy for some humans to piss you off.  When a dog does something wrong, there is normally a really good reason and it makes it much easier to understand but humans, well they are really very very stupid and unthinking sometimes.  That I really don't understand.

Dislike of people that cause harm in any shape or form aside (that is a given really), I find some day to day activities of some people beyond comprehension.  Take the example in the photo above.  This is in the car park of the beach we are fortunate enough to live next to. One evening recently I watched whilst more and more people piled their rubbish on or next to this dog waste bin.  It is clearly marked as dog waste only and the National Trust have also added a sign above it asking people to not leave their rubbish here but to place it in the skip a few metres away instead.  I even mentioned to people who were adding to the pile this fact but predominately to no avail.  Because one unthinking person put their rubbish here, others haven't got the brain capacity to believe for themselves that this is wrong. Meanwhile, those criminals of the popular news press, the seagulls are circling waiting to take advantage of the juicy remnants within and who can blame them?  Well, probably the same people who left the rubbish there in the first place because there is no connection, no consequence in their minds, no thought.  

Some people refer to this kind of thing as the 'sheep effect'.  You know the kind of thing; you find a nice empty spot on the beach or a campsite and others are soon along to nestle in alongside you.  Only this weekend we found a spot a mile off a moorland road to park up for a quiet night in the camper.  The car park was big enough for about 20 cars but just before dark a big white camper van arrived and parked just 5ft away from us with no sensitivity to personal space or privacy. Why do people do this?  Sheep follow each other for safety but applied to humans it makes no sense in everyday living.

The more people are inclined to follow others, the less likely positive change will happen.  It isn't humans I hate sometimes, it is their lack of questioning, sensitivity and common sense. Now you could argue that surely some people follow the vegan way of life and the more of us that do this the better.  That is a positive thing yes, but to get to that point in the first place the person has actually questioned, been open and sensitive.  They have broken away from following the path that most people are trudging down.  They have actually bothered to read the map and the signposts.  That's the difference.  Those kinds of humans I love and can understand.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Badger Pair Return

It's been a fair while since I've seen these two in the garden together.  The female is there pretty much regular as clockwork;  removing rocks from our wall, spreading pebbles onto the pathway, breaking in to our veg patch, digging stuff up and generally all the wonders that come with welcoming wildlife into your garden. I really don't mind.  It is after all her night time world and not mine.  I do like to spy on her too.

Over the last few months I hadn't seen the other badger and I guess I was a little concerned that something had come of him.  My mum asks for regular updates on the badger activity and recently this has involved the same question; still just one badger?  She's been worried too.  Yesterday I received a parcel from my mum.  She was being soppy and had seen a fluffy badger in a shop and decided on a whim to buy it and send it to me.  The note enclosed said that I should put it on the windowsill overlooking the badger garden so it could look out for its mate.  Being as equally soppy as my mum, I did as she requested.

This morning I looked at the footage from the trail camera I set up regularly and discovered that indeed he had returned.  I was delighted and instantly rang my mum to tell her.  She was over the moon.  Perhaps that badger sat on the windowsill had special powers after all?!

For some previous badger activity over the years check out my Climbing Badgers post and also the one where the bird table gets pulled over!  There are many other examples in our blog too as I can't help but share the wonders of my badger bandits.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Garden and Paradigm Inspired Buffet

My favorite kind of meal is one with lots of different dishes; in other words a buffet.  I particularly like lots of salad dishes.  It can take a little while to put together multiple dishes so I often reserve this kind of kitchen session for the weekend.  The advantage however is that come weekdays the leftovers will have stocked up the fridge for lunches or even that Monday evening when, let's face it, you can't be bothered to cook after a day at work.  If you could be bothered to cook though you could even keep the momentum going by making one additional small dish each evening as the original buffet depletes. I know, I know, it doesn't always work out like that!  For instance the meal I made didn't stretch that far in to the week but it still gave us several servings for dinner and lunch on Monday.  It didn't take that long either nor was it over complicated and hardly any shopping was involved as we had an adequate supply of cupboard and fridge supplies and some tasty inspiration from the garden. 

The whole meal idea started with the discovery of a huge courgette growing in our makeshift greenhouse coupled with a peruse of one of my favorite cookery books 'Incredibly Delicious; The Vegan Paradigm'.  Not only is the book choc full of great culinary offerings but these share the pages with words of wisdom and quotes from a multitude of sources spanning history.  After a fair amount of distraction reading the quotes such as "The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men" (Leonardo Da Vinci), my eyes settled on a recipe to utilize the huge courgette.

Simple Delicious Baked Zucchini (that's courgette to us Brits!)
The courgette is cut in half and the insides scored with a fork quite deeply. A blended (or whisked) mixture of oil, water, tamari, nutritional yeast and garlic powder (I used a crushed clove instead) is poured onto the scored surface before being baked until soft and browned.  I can tell you this recipe is most definitely , as it says in the recipe title, 'simple and delicious'.

Two of the salads I made were also from 'Incredibly Delicious'.  The Tomato Sesame Salad utilised not only some of our sparse crop of tomatoes (the harvest this years has been terrible for some reason) but also some of our lettuce leaves.  It contains, in addition to the tomatoes and lettuce leaves, yellow pepper, mushrooms and sesame seeds (which I prefer toasted) in a dressing of balsamic vinegar, a spot of sweetener (I used agave), sesame oil, tamari, mustard, basil and black pepper.

The Eggless Salad also yields from the book, although I have seen a few variations on this theme recently.  It involves mashing tofu up (as the egg constituent) and mixing it with diced celery, onion (I used spring onions from our garden), tamari, vegan mayo, turmeric, nutritional yeast, mustard and tahini.  I didn't add in the oil it suggested in the recipe as I felt it unnecessary.  The recipe also called for sea salt and here I used Kala Namak instead; a salt with a distinctive eggy edge to it.  The resulting dish added an interesting texture to the meal as well as a different tasting dimension.

The polenta slices were my own 'make it up as you go along' offering.  They are a simple mix of polenta, sundried tomato (soaked beforehand), some Teese Cheddar Style Sauce, dried mixed herbs, a touch of oil and water.  This mixture was cooked up in a pan, constantly stirring for about 5 minutes before pouring into a greased baking dish to set.  You can either just eat as is or for extra crispness, bake it for about 20-25 minutes at 200 degrees C.  

The final salad is now a firm favorite of mine; You Can't Beet It Beetroot Salad.  I never tire of it and our crop of beetroots in the garden, along with a few of the spring onions, should hopefully continue to provide for this dish for a while yet.  I did add in one of our carrots this time too just because we discovered a solitary sizable one.

The meal was completed with a side offering of olives and gherkins; for a 'zingy zangy' edge!  It was really satisfying to utilize produce from the garden for this multiple dish meal.  It was also a reminder to me of what an amazing inspiration 'Incredibly Delicious' is.  I would urge you to try and grab a copy from somewhere for the full details on some of the dishes I mention here and so many more inspiring recipes and words of wisdom. It contains no photos but the recipes and words more than make up for that!


Thursday, 10 September 2015

Love For the Fig

Our fig tree in the front garden continues to grow skywards and outwards at an alarming speed.  At least twice a year I have to cut it back to allow access for the postman and to stop it rattling against the front of the house.  It's a process I don't enjoy as the large branches always look so full of life and not only do the birds enjoy twittering away in it but many other creatures seem to benefit from it too.  I only wish that, beyond the aesthetic and wildlife benefit, it would yield us a ripe fig here and there. Each year, despite our best efforts, the fruits either fail to ripen or get knocked off in the wind.  I still love it though, especially when I look up at its lush green leaves against a lovely blue sky.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Plymouth Vegan Picnic and Fayre

Elaine Avery's photo.

If autumnal blues are just edging in head over the border this weekend to Devon to join Plymouth Vegans and Plymouth Friends for Animals for a very summery sounding picnic and fayre.
This sunny event (hopefully) takes place on Sunday 13th September from 1.30pm - 4.30pm in the Silver Jubilee Hall in Down Thomas (so even if it isn't so sunny it is all good as you can hide indoors too!).  It includes vegan, animal rights and wildlife stalls as well as local artist stalls, vegan shops, a vegan cake stall, plant stall and bric-a-brac.  There is also live music and of course the vegan picnic gathering so take your culinary vegan food and drink offerings to share along with your blanket. 
It is free entry but there is a suggested donation of £1 to help cover costs if you can afford it.  For more information take a look at the Plymouth Earth CafĂ© Facebook page or check out the Plymouth Vegans or Plymouth Friends for Animals website pages in the photo above.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Nature's Treats Handmade in Cornwall

Phil loves chocolate and treats.  I am of course quite normal too and do love such things as well, but perhaps not on the same obsessive scale to which Phil seems to display.  

On our recent trip to Good2Go we left with a rather teasingly tasty looking Raw Hazelnut Chocolate Cheesecake made by the lovely Kerensa from Nature's Treats.  Good2Go stock these wonders, along with the Mustard Seed, the little health food store just along the road in Perranporth.  

All of Nature's Treats cakes and desserts are handcrafted in Cornwall and are dairy, egg and wheat free with some of them being sugar free too.  As well as being available in Perranporth, Kerensa takes orders direct so next time you need a cake for that special event, give her a shout either via the website link above or on her Facebook page. She is also going to be at the Vibrant Living Show in November and the Cornwall Vegan Festival in December (details of both below). 

So, back to the Raw Hazelnut Chocolate Cheesecake.  Well I was hoping to get it home the five miles to take a better photograph of it before it was devoured.  We almost made it but a quick stop off at the beach to check the surf and it was all too much for Phil.  I managed to get a quick snap before it started to rapidly disappear.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Good2Go in Perranporth

It is well overdue that we should include a post about Good2Go in Perranporth; after all it is only 5 miles west of us. We have visited several times since it opened just after Easter this year but circumstances and weather had prevented us from 'getting it together' and completing the task at hand.  With the sun shining on Tuesday evening, our bellies ready for some Good2Go culinary love and a camera on board, we were finally on a mission.

Good2Go sits up a little side street just off of St Pirans Road, slap bang in the middle of where it all happens in Perranporth. A very smiley Jake and an equally smiley but slightly camera shy Kerensa were there to greet us and patiently wait whilst we had our usual "oh I really can't choose" dilemma of what to order.  

With everything on the menu vegan, it really is a lovely novelty to be spoiled for choice.  In the end Phil went for a Chilli Cheese Dog (a hot dog with homemade mountain chilli and grated cheese) and I went for a Chihuahua (hot dog with homemade guacamole).  Both come beautifully parcelled up in a wrap with optional chilli sauce and chillis.  We were feeling extra naughty and so in addition we both ordered a Chunky Monkey Smoothie, a creamy combo of flavours involving chocolate almond milk, banana and peanut butter.

Eating take away food from a food truck makes you feel like you are being naughty and yet, when you look at the homemade combos on offer at Good2Go you realise that junk food vegan cuisine this ain't. In fact you need to go a hell of a lot further to get to the stage of ripping off those vegan angelic wings completely. Even the cakes, if you have room, taste wicked but remain pretty damn heavenly.  It is indeed a cunning disguise; naughty but really not very naughty at all and very nice.  I guess the clue is in the name too. 

Disguising healthy food is just one of the great tricks up Good2Go's sleeve. As a vegan it is pretty obvious that they offer vegan food. There aren't many vegans after all that are not instantly drawn to the word 'vegan' at 50 paces and indeed you will see it mentioned on the extensive list of suitable food options available. The list, creatively displayed on the side and front of the van, is positively inclusive without saying "actually it is all vegan" as we all know that there are plenty of people who are bizarrely turned off by that. This approach is truthful, clever and will hopefully draw people in to be educated to the tasty, healthy vegan way.

There have been some moments of confusion though; some successful and others not so much.  Apparently several approaches have been from people believing it to be a seafood van.  They couldn't be persuaded to sample the non fishy delights. Phil and I also overheard a family discussing whether the food would be suitable for their lactose intolerant child so clearly the word vegan will hopefully now figure in their understanding a little more. There have also been many questions about the meaning of the word flexitarians.  

Whether these people become customers or not, at the very least there has been an observation; a conversation, and we all know that is where it can all begin.

So go grab a few non vegan friends and check out what Good2Go have to offer. They are open every day until 7pm until the end of September, then just weekends.  For more details check out their website or their Facebook page.

In the meantime, there will be more about the cake we managed to fit in after our 'dogs' and Chunky Monkeys in the next post...... so watch this space

44 St Pirans Road, Perranporth, Cornwall.  TR6 0BJ