Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Seitanistic Year

I'm not a fan of new year to be honest; although I don't think there will be many of us that don't look back at 2016 and think, 'hell what an amazing year that was and what a shame it's over'.  Some weird shit happened, both on a global and a personal level.  For that reason 2016 can bog off.  However, as hellish as it has been, seitan has been most welcome in the Driftwood Vegans household over the past year.  

I'm always experimenting with seitan and 2016 has been a particularly good year for such experiments.  About a couple of months ago I accidentally created a seitan recipe that I've found hard not to make quite a few times since; each time becoming slightly different.  It was about time I shared it....well the one I have currently settled on that is!

It all started with a lack of gram (chick pea) flour.  I found a recipe that called for a mix of gram flour and vital wheat gluten. I've used this combination before and it has turned out pretty good but on this occasion we didn't have any gram flour in the stock cupboard.  I did however have a whole load of coconut flour that had been kicking around for a while, along with a half bag of soya flour that I think I had used once for a long lost recipe and never since. With this adaptation came quite a few more, and very soon, and over a few different occasions, the recipe had pretty much changed completely with what we had in the cupboard.  I also added a crumb coating.  So here I offer you my crispy crumb coated seitan burgers which I positively encourage you to try, fiddle with, adapt and have fun with yourself! 

Crispy Crumb Coated Seitan Burgers
Makes about 12 small burgers or any shape/size you like!

80g coconut flour
50g soya flour
Sprinkle of dried parsley, chives and oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

250ml boiling water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 litre boiling water
30ml tamari

2 tablespoons masa harina or polenta
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon oregano
Few grinds of black pepper

Don't let the slightly big list of ingredients put you off.  It's pretty quick to put together and most of the time is spent with it cooking itself!

Mix all the dry ingredients in the first section of the ingredients list in a bowl.

Mix all the wet ingredients in the next section in a jug until well incorporated.

Mix the above wet with the above dry.  Get your hands in there and give it a knead.  It should be well incorporated and all in a big lovely doughy lump now. 

Let the above rest for a bit whilst you heat the water, bouillon and tamari in a pan. Make sure this pan is big enough to fit all the gluten with a bit of expansion too.

Roll out and mold the seitan dough into whatever shape you desire.  I cut out 12 small burger shapes with a cookie cutter.

Drop the burgers/whatever shape you chose into the now simmering pan of stock and let gently simmer away for 1 hour.  Be gentle and don't boil the hell out of it otherwise it will all break up.

Remove the seitan from the pan and allow to drain.  Keep the stock for another use (we have used it tonight to make a sausage casserole).

The seitan is now ready to cook in whatever form you would like.  

From here I mixed the last section of dry ingredients together and coated the burgers in it before then baking in the oven at 200 degrees C for 1 hour (turning once half way through).

You could freeze the seitan either after the boiling or the oven baking.

So here's to the New Year and may it be more gentle, less traumatic but just as seitanic!


Saturday, 24 December 2016

We Wish You a Gentle Christmas

I recently found this little note on my desk at work, along with a packet of Ombar Coco Mylk Buttons.  I was so touched, and it really is the loveliest Christmas present.

Veganism means so much to me, and likewise to Phil.  Most people who know us don't actually realise quite how much. We don't tend to shout about it.  That's not to say that I haven't shouted about a lot of other things in the past. I'm not renowned for being the gentlest person.  For example, in my 'former life' if you put me between the fox and hunter well, my ferocious determination would do its level best to make sure that the ginger dog came out on top; even under the threat of attack or arrest.  So I was surprised in some ways to have the word 'gentle' applied to anything about me by my friend and work colleague Antonia.  I'm just not used to it.

Recently though, through a series of events that I will not delve into here, I have been exploring my gentler side and, along with Antonia's note, I realised that it has indeed been hidden in my veganism all these years!  For almost 30 years, both Phil and I have just 'been' when it comes to veganism and 'gentle' definitely goes a long way.  In that time, both of us have seen people we know turn to veganism; whether under our influence is neither clear or important but many have asked questions, sought advice, and been curious.  Some have remained vegan, others not.  To judge those who don't is 'throwing up fences' across their possible continuing journey.

Everybody has their own pathways to follow, and the journey into veganism should be one of self discovery rather than a guided package tour.  Some people respond to seeing horrific videos of animal abuse, some to reports of health benefits, or have their interest peaked by news of yet another celebrity or athlete turning to a plant based diet; whilst others may have watched Cowspiracy and made the environmental connection.   Some just sit on the sidelines and quietly watch. All these influences are valid and important as they reach people in all the myriad ways that people work.  A good counselor will gently lead the person to make their own conclusions. 

For me to have received this note from Antonia is a gift and a gentle reminder......literally.  It has reminded me that the gentle vegan approach is very relevant, as well as reinforcing that my own recent journey of gentle rediscovery has already been the start of another 'trip of a lifetime'.  

Antonia, I've always got my backpack on, and both Phil and I are here for you if you want to meet up at any point along the road.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Vegan Quality Street

Back in the 70's when I was a nipper, and at least a decade before I entered the world of vegan, Christmas wasn't Christmas without a big tin of Quality Street to gorge on whilst watching the annual repeat of Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, or other such obligatory festive film wonders.  My grandmother would, without fail, arrive with the very obvious but still wrapped up tin and place it under the tree.  It was as predictable as knowing that the golden wrapped hard toffees would be swimming away all on their lonesome at the bottom of the tin once all other options had been devoured.  I must admit I really loved the childish wonder of these tins and the excited anticipation and thought that went into choosing your next treat, whilst Dorothy clicked her ruby red slippers together.

Over the past 40 years, and every Christmas, long since my grandmother departed this world, I have had little flashbacks and longings to repeat this wonderful memory.  I have yearned for a vegan version of Quality Street.  This is rubbed in further by the fact that at this time of year at work a well meaning soul has often dropped in a tin of Quality Street or Roses for our team.  My reward, unable to enjoy the contents, is the tin or box which, rather than add to the landfill, I normally reserve for some use or another.

Well in a moment of magical wonder, and whilst clicking my vegan boots together and saying 'there is no such place as home', I thought why don't I make my own memories come alive and create my own Vequality Street?  With a discarded Roses 'tin'  (sorry not your favoured Quality Street Grannie) I set about embellishing it with garish 70's style blues and oranges (in your honour Grannie!). Next came the contents.  Well, it might not be as varied in the amount of choices but the quality and vegan kindness far outweighs this in my version.  There are four types of Pernigotti chocolates in there, along with Jameson's Raspberry Ruffles, and Choices Dairy Free Caramels.

I am genuinely excited about finally having my own vegan version of Quality Street. After all these years Vequality Street adds some equality and quality back into my childhood memories without compromising my ethics. The chocolate devouring Phil has been suitably warned off touching this 'family heirloom' until Christmas.  Once Christmas starts however and the echoes of Mary Poppins and  'a spoonful of sugar' start reverberating around the Driftwood household, no doubt we will revert to the old family tradition of squabbling over the contents.

Choices Dairy Free Caramel Choices x12 125gPernigotti Mini Nocciolato Hazelnut Pralines

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Green Woman Fit Pit Deodorant

Anyone who is concerned about their health should consider the products they put on their skin as seriously as what they take in through their diet.  On this note, back in 2015 I wrote about my search for a natural deodorant that actually worked for me. I had tried various natural ones but found they either didn't work that well or, despite their supposed naturalness, left stains on my clothing.

My friend Jane came up trumps when she found and bought me a pot of CoCho deodorant, after my attempts to make my own didn't exactly go to plan!  It's great stuff but I'm afraid I have discovered a new favourite; Fit Pit from The Green Woman.  I bought a jar of this quite a few months back and meant to blog about it then, but never quite got around to it. When I recently got to the bottom of this jar, I not only went into a slight panic that I needed to find some more soon, but also wanted to spread the word about what a fantastic product it is.  

I had discovered and bought the first jar from the Viva! catalogue but Fit Pit was sold out on their website so I went to direct.  The 100ml jars may seem expensive at £8.00 each but I can tell you that it is a bargain for this beautiful and kind product as it actually lasts for months.  The smell of the 100% organic Fit Pit woman is a gorgeous woody, earthy combination of rosemary and bergamot.  The deodorant is in cream form and you only need a pea sized amount to rub in with your fingertips.  Not only does it smell nice but it actually works without compromising my health. The re-usable/recyclable packaging also ensures that the planet's health has been considered too.  For the more sensitive or the male of the species among us (or both!), never fear there are also versions available just for you, as well as mini jars should you wish to try before you 'go large'.

For more information about why you should be concerned about what cosmetics and personal care products you use, and specifically when it comes to deodorants, take a look at the Breast Cancer UK website.  There is a really useful little guide to cosmetics and personal care products available for download on their website. This charity, set up in 1999, campaigns for a preventative approach to breast cancer, raises awareness about the links between the exposure to harmful chemicals and breast cancer, as well as supporting scientific research into this area. Breast Cancer UK does not conduct or fund animal research.  

So, if you are aren't already using a kinder (to the animals, the planet and yourself) alternative to the mass marketed deodorants out there, I urge you to take a look at the products that you are using and have a think about choosing healthier alternatives.  In my opinion, you can't get much better than giving Fit Pit a go.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Superfood Chocolates

I hadn't made chocolate for a while and, with Christmas poking its gluttonous head around the next corner, the thought of seasonal treats seeped into my head very easily.  We'd also met our friend Paul for dinner recently and, as is so often the case, all three of us soon started talking food and specifically chocolate.  I'd been promising to make both Phil and Paul some chocolate so I wanted their ideas on interesting flavours and tastes.  Whether influenced by the amazing Indian food we were enjoying at Veggie Perrins or the preceding talk of superfoods, the idea of turmeric in chocolate came up.  There had been a recent trend in turmeric hot chocolates so why not actually in chocolate bars? The seed was sown and the experiment on.

Whilst the cocoa butter and coconut oil melted, Phil and I circled the bowl deliberating what ingredients came next and in what amounts. Phil settled on 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric for now.  It can be a powerful taste so we didn't want it to dominate.  Black pepper was added as it helps the body absorb the benefits of the turmeric more.

I dug out some yacon syrup we had in the cupboard to sweeten the chocolate.  This has a toffee caramel taste and is favoured by some raw foodists but it can be expensive.  If we hadn't had any I would have used either agave or maple syrup instead. In fact I might try maple syrup next time as its smoky sweetness may add a different flavour dimension.

Phil was adamant maca should be in the mix, along with spirulina.  Whilst Phil also added a pinch of Himalayan pink salt, I was digging around for some hulled hemp seeds.  Sadly we didn't have any, but I did discover we had some milled chia seeds.  These would add some protein but also some texture.  Finally and obviously, some raw cocoa powder went in.

These firm but slightly melty and gooey wonders were the chocolatey superfood result.  Phil and I both told each other they were horrible..............that's our code for 'wow this is amazing'.  Our 'make it up as we go along' experiment was indeed a success, and we were loath to share it with each other!  In fact, unless Paul hurries down he won't get to try this batch.  We do promise there will be a special box of them from Superfood Santa for his next visit though.

Superfood Chocolates

3 tablespoons yacon syrup (you could use agave or maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
A grind of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon maca powder
1/2 teaspoon spirulina powder
1 tablespoon milled chia seeds
3 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder

Melt the cocoa butter and coconut oil in a glass bowl over a saucepan of hot water. When fully melted, stir in all the other ingredients and whisk until thoroughly mixed in and all the powders are dissolved.  Pour into moulds of your choice (we use silicon moulds for ease of unmoulding) and place in the freezer until firm.  Unmould and store in the fridge.  Enjoy!

For the health benefits of the ingredients we chose, click on the links in the ingredients list above.  There is so much information out there though, that we urge you to research superfoods for yourselves.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Waitrose Russell and His Amazing Barnivore Effort

I was in Waitrose in Truro earlier. Among a few other things I was after a bottle of wine.  Now unfortunately Waitrose let us down a little with their shelf labelling of vegan wines, but they do redeem themselves slightly by producing a free 370 page Wine, Beer and Spirits List.  We picked up a copy back in the summer at another Waitrose store. 

Inside, the guide labels not only vegan but also organic and bio dynamic choices, along with great information about each product. It is a handy little guide to have with you whilst perusing your choices, and also seems to match what is indeed available on the shelves; so no long moments trying to find the one you've just identified in the book.  For this reason I keep a copy in the car.  

I decided to talk to the member of the staff in the wine area to say how much I appreciated having such a handy guide which clearly marked vegan options.  Well it turns out that Russell is a bit of a star.  He said although the guide was really good, he thought it was a shame that Waitrose didn't label the shelves as such.  He had been so disappointed at not being able to help a lady find some vegan wine that he had taken it upon himself to ensure he was able to check Barnivore if asked again.  Members of staff are apparently not allowed to have their mobile phones on them whilst working, but he had been given special permission to do so purely so that he was able to help again if anyone asked him about vegan products in his section.  His mother-in-law is vegetarian for ethical reasons and so he said he knew how important it was to people.  I was so impressed that he had gone to such effort and told him he had inspired me to write a blog post.

Now unfortunately all the guides got snapped up a while back in the store (even Russell doesn't have one he can refer to!). However, he said he would look into getting some more in.  I'm going to contact customer service too. I would like Russell to be recognised for the effort he has made, as well as back up his request for more helpful guides, and give Waitrose a gentle nudge towards better shelf labelling too.  I might even mention that it is nice to see them including a vegan recipe in their December 2016 magazine (mentioned on the cover and found on page 72).

So if you are in Waitrose in Truro, say hello to Russell.  He is the man in the know when it comes to pointing you in the right direction of suitable wines and it's always good to recognise those individuals trying to make a difference to our shopping experiences.

Monday, 21 November 2016

The True Power of Plants

We are big fans of Ecotricity and it's not often people get to say that they actually like their power company.  Ecotricity are a bit different though aren't they?  Yes, they still send those bills that you have to pay but somehow it doesn't feel quite so bad parting with your well earned money when you know they are doing their best to level the environmental playing field in Mother Nature's favour.  

We get email updates quite a lot from them explaining what they are working towards.  The one below came today and we thought we would share it.  Please do share it far and wide too and, if you are not already with Ecotricity, consider getting behind them too (with a vegan at the helm of the company you know they are going to be heading in the right direction).

Today we launched a new report, which shows that Britain can get almost all of its gas from a very simple source – grass. 

The benefits to our country of making our gas this way are pretty astounding, so we’re calling on the government to rethink where Britain gets its gas.

Quite incredibly, we’ve found there is enough suitable land to produce enough green gas each year to power almost all of the homes in Britain (97%).

And we can do that without affecting food production – in fact, we would be boosting it (via crop breaking), and at the same time we would create new wildlife habitats on an unprecedented scale.

Not to mention the £7.5billion boost to the economy and 150k new jobs in a new and sustainable industry - and making fracking a redundant concept. Our report shows that we now have a more than viable alternative to fracking, which people have been fighting tooth and nail up and down the country to prevent.

It’s not too late, because fracking hasn’t started yet. But we need a proper review of where Britain gets its gas from – we can either frack the countryside or we can grow the grass. It’s that simple.

We’ve recently got consent for our first Green Gas Mill. All we need now is the government to get behind this simple, abundant and benign energy source.

You can keep up to date with our plans on Facebook and Twitter – check it out and join in by all means. There’s lots more info on our website about what we’re doing, including the full report and detail on how our Green Gas Mills will work.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

South West Christmas Without Cruelty Festival 2016

Barely has the dust settled from the crowds attending the Plymouth Vegan Fair last Saturday before we have another vegan event to look forward to this coming Saturday.  Although a little further to travel from the Cornish border, the Animal Aid South West Christmas Without Cruelty Festival at the Exeter Corn Exchange, is always worth a pre-Christmas day trip.

I know I have just mentioned the 'C' word and it is only November, but this Festival does tend to tweak the festive spirit.  Perhaps it is the plethora of 40 or more vegan stalls (many presented with a seasonal flair), the wonderful Christmassy food on offer, or perhaps it is just the joy of being surrounded by a fluffy warm cloud of veganism.

The entry is free but do make sure you do take plenty of wonga. You will be sure to want to treat yourself, get ahead of your Christmas shopping, and be lured by the lunch options, as well as be kind enough to drop more than a few pennies into the Animal Aid collection buckets by the doors.

Doors open at 10am and as it is a special 10th Anniversary festival this year, the first 250 visitors will be given free gifts donated by Lush Cosmetics and Natural Balance Foods. Fairfoods make their second appearance in a week (Plymouth last Saturday) to treat us to their tasty vegan snacks and delicious lunches, all at really good prices.  Food is from 12.30pm and queues get long so do get there early to avoid disappointment.

This year the comedian Sara Pascoe will be speaking so make for the main stage at midday if you would like to catch what she has to say.  In fact, the weekend starts early for vegan comedy fans as Sara is performing a stand-up show at the Exeter Corn Exchange on Friday evening with all profits going to Animal Aid.  Vegan food is available before the show and during the interval from Rabbit, Exeter's first vegan cafe which opened its doors recently. For tickets for the evening visit the Corn Exchange website.

For more details on the festival, please visit the Animal Aid website.
South West Christmas Without Cruelty Festival 2016
Exeter Corn Exchange, Market Street, Exeter, Devon.  EX1 1BU
Saturday 19 November - 10am till 4.30pm

Friday, 11 November 2016

Plymouth Vegan Fair and Party

Get yourself just over the border to Devon tomorrow for not only a vegan fair but a vegan party afterwards.  The Plymouth Vegan Fair, hosted by Plymouth Friends for Animals, has been organised to celebrate the Vegan Month of November. Both take place at the Discovery Cafe on Eastlake Street in the city centre.

It's free admission to the fair, which kicks off at 3pm and runs until 6.30pm, with food available from the delicious vegan Devon based caterers Fairfoods.  There are talks during the afternoon including an Alkaline Diet Talk by Laura Wilson, James Stewart talking about the badgers role in Bovine TB, Berty Justice on the power of food and the power of you and a talk about Cornwall Badger Rescue from Kathryn Driscoll.  For vegan shoppers and information gatherers, there are plenty of stalls to peruse including; 

Alkaline Diet
Andy Pollock - Wood Turner
Dr Hadwen Trust
Tropics Cosmetics
Devon Wildlife Trust
Devon Badger Group
(St Agnes) Marine Conservation
Plymouth Friends for Animals - info and sales
Oh My Goodness Cakes
Ethica - all vegan shop
Devon County Hunt Sabs
The Naturally Vegan Plot
EFFA with Animal Headsets
James Stewart - wildlife photographer
Hyfryd vegan skincare - hand made in Wales
Ethical Investors
Wild Futures
Cruelty Free International
Arts, crafts and jewelry stalls raising funds for CALF Sanctuary and Rabbit Rescue

If that wasn't enough entertainment for the day, half an hour after the fair closes the Vegan Party opens its doors, again at the Discovery Cafe.  

There is a charge to attend the party which does include a vegan meal from Fairfoods

Fortunately for Plymouth Friends for Animals all the full price meal tickets have sold out now (unfortunate though if you are only reading this now and kind of wanted to go and eat too!) but there are still some standing non meal tickets left for the evening if you would like to indulge in some great vegan company, music, and poetry.  

For full details on the fair and the party please visit the Plymouth Vegan Fair Facebook page

For more information on the work of Plymouth Friends for Animals, give their website a peek via the link above.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Bale Ale - Haytor Rebel

Around these parts the mention of "Bale Ale" immediately conjures up fond memories of the Crantock Bale Push, and the resulting aching arms and legs the following day if taking part. Around this time a beer appears in the local shop, and in the Cornishman pub, that bears the name 'Bale Ale'.  It has no other identifying features.  We have tried to find out who brews this each year, so far without success, and therefore we have yet to determine if it is suitable for vegans and so haven't tried it.  

On a recent trip up to Tavistock we found another beer bearing the legend 'Bale Ale', but this time it is the name of the brewery.  With so many micro-breweries and craft beers popping up all over the country, you can forgive any confusion resulting from a few similar sounding names.  In the U.K. we haven't quite got to the point of having specialist lawyers who focus only on craft beer names and descriptions among the thousands of competing brewers (as they do in America), and hope that time never comes.  Even though this most recent bale ale comes from across the border in Devon, we might have to admit that it trumps our local brew by announcing in no uncertain terms that it is "suitable for vegans" on the bottle. Check the 'why cloudy' section of their website for further confirmation of vegan status.  We also must admit that it would probably come out tops in a taste test also, as it's one of those beers where you take one sip and go, "aah... now THAT is a good beer".  

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 17.24.55

So far Bale Ale only seems to be marketing their 'Haytor Rebel' ale, which, being keen cycling fans, is a "tip of the hat to anyone who has ridden one of Devon's greatest climbs". They state on their bottles that they are "obsessed with cycling and ale", and we've got to admit there are far worse ways to spend your days than in the pursuit of the best of both.   We'd also like to 'tip our hats' both to the quality and taste of their ale, and the fact that they've made it clearly suitable for vegans.  

Check the 'where to buy' section on their website to taste for yourself.  We found some in Roots and Vines, and will be looking out for more of them in future.  It is a perfect ale for relaxing with after a hard day in the saddle, or indeed pushing the bale.

Friday, 28 October 2016

The Hectic Vegan Magazine

Circumstances at the moment have got us more than a little behind in blogging activities recently.  The beginning of October saw the launch of a new vegan magazine called The Hectic Vegan and I am ashamed to say that it is only just now that we've had a chance to take a look.

The magazine is the brain child of Rich Underwood, a Herts based vegan.  It all started a couple of years ago as an Instagram account which then led to The Hectic Vegan Blog, both with a view to demonstrate that even if your life is super hectic, you can still eat well and lead a healthy vegan life.  To spread this message far and wide, the next natural step was the magazine.

The 45 pages of the first issue include everything from exciting recipes and travel guides, to articles covering ethics, spirituality and community, as well as competitions, a vegan diary, and reviews (including a cheese review!).  Whether you are a long term vegan or just starting out on your amazing vegan journey, the magazine is inclusive and interesting.  I particularly enjoyed the 'Day in the Life' Plant Powered article and I always love a recipe or two to salivate over.

So take a peek at the newest 'vegan mag on the block'.  You can download a free copy of the first issue here.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

South Coast Wild Mushroom Harvest

Around this time last year we were camped out in Miles the Camper Van on the South Cornish coast.  The weather was unseasonably warm last year, but was a little chillier today on our day trip. However we were still lucky to discover the same amount of amazing wild mushrooms in the exact areas we had found them before.  The gorse and bracken were a little higher so it was a little harder to search them out but find them we did.  

We also had a visit from our old friends the choughs.  We had hoped to see them when we first arrived, but they only appeared at the end of our walk when we had nearly given up hope.  At first it was hard to definitely identify them from a distance, and we doubted our initial sighting of their acrobatic flight. However, a ray of sunshine revealed the banded orange legs, and orange beaks in all their wonderful glory.  The sightings were topped off by the distinctive 'cheow' call of this charismatic Cornish bird.

We weren't camping out on this occasion, so we retreated home with our mushroom haul and Phil cooked up a Spanish inspired seitan, mushroom, and tomato dish to enjoy for dinner, whilst we mused over the delight of yet another Cornish chough experience and successful mushroom forage.

This time of year will definitely be marked in the diary for returning to this special spot to stock up on wild mushrooms and hopefully see the choughs.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Cheeky Vugga

Image may contain: drink, outdoor and waterWe reported back in March that our favourite local pub had introduced organic vegan ale on cask.  Well since then the wonderful ales from Atlantic Brewery have proved to be a real hit at The Bowgie, with each cask selling out so quickly that you can be guaranteed to experience a different ale flavour experience each visit. 

With ales ranging from red, pale, blonde, and porter, to ginger, elderflower, earl grey, masala chai and smoked green tea (to name a few); there are plenty to try.  We were also extremely pleased to see Atlantic Brewery included in the Bowgie's very successful annual August bank holiday Ale and Cider Festival this year too.

To add to the excitement, The Bowgie are now having their own signature Pale Ale brewed and have chosen Atlantic Brewery to produce it for them.  There can't be that many pubs in the country that have a vegan organic ale as their signature ale on cask!  How amazing!

The call was put out on Facebook to name this ale, which had to be inspired by The Bowgie, Crantock or the surrounding area.  Cheeky Vugga was the chosen catchy name.  Vugga is a narrow sandy cove tucked away on Crantock beach and it is a short stroll after a nice pint!  Kind of catchy too huh?

So if you want to experience the wonders of another amazing vegan organic brew from Atlantic Brewery, from a pub with an amazing view, get yourself to The Bowgie Inn pronto. Neither the view or the ale will disappoint.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Cornwall Vegans Fundraising T-shirt

The Cornwall Vegans Poster fundraising campaign continues with a chance to get your hands on a fabulous 'We Are All Earthlings' T-shirt designed by Hepzibah Pink's Lulu Baker complete with the proud 'Cornwall Vegans' branding.

These unique hand printed T-shirts come in black on white or white on black with organic (£14.99) or non-organic (£9.99) on offer. The Cornwall Vegan word mark can be put on the sleeve or across the top on the back. For more details, sizing and to place an order, please visit the 'We Are All Earthlings' T-shirt Shop Facebook page. 

What better way to spruce up your vegan wardrobe and spread the vegan message; both via this lovely T-shirt and also by contributing towards the poster campaign?

A bulk order is being put together now so get in there whilst you can!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Phil's a Fun-guy!

We've recently been out foraging for wild mushrooms. At the start of every autumn we head off into the woods and onto the commons in search of free fungi.  It's one way we console ourselves with the end of summer and the onset of the colder seasons.  As well as our spirits, it keeps our vitamin D levels up; not just from the fact that we might be out in sunshine and getting our vitamin D directly, but also due to the fact that mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D.  Last year we were fortunate enough to find a wide range of interesting wild edible offerings.  This year has so far been less prolific but we have still managed to prepare a few mushroomy meals as well as drying some for future meals.

Phil is the 'fun-guy' identifier in the Driftwood household. Scooby is the mushroom 'hound' that sniffs them out and points, awaiting the verdict on whether the results would be edible, hallucinogenic, or deadly.  Fortunately our relationship is based on trust!  So far, so good!

The results have been really tasty.  There is nothing that compares to wild mushrooms. The shop bought varieties are a world away. However, here is the standard disclaimer; you have to be sure what you are looking for.  There have been times when Phil has been 99% sure of what he has identified but that's not good enough.  You have to be 100% sure unless you want to risk a trip to the hospital, or of another kind!  There are quite a few experts out there so do seek out their guidance. For instance, one such local expert on wild foraging is Jon Dale and this Saturday there is a chance to join him for a local foraging session courtesy of Sprout Health Foods in Newquay. Check out the Sprout Health Foods Facebook page for details.

On our own recent forage for mushrooms we found some Deceivers, Amethyst Deceivers, Agaricus Macrosporus, Wood Hedgehogs, Oysters, Bay Boletes, Pine Boletes, and some King Boletes.  Some of these we dried both to preserve our haul, and to improve the flavour, and some of them we cooked up for the next meal.  Risotto is one of our favourite uses of wild mushrooms as it really concentrates and enhances their earthy flavours.  Below is Fungi Phil's recipe.  If you don't find wild mushrooms then you could just use shop bought ones.

Fungi Phil's Risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
1 clove of garlic
Pinch black pepper
200g mushrooms (we had a mix of Amethyst Deceivers, Hedgehogs and Boletes)
1 cup Arborio rice
1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder 
Sprinkle of nutritional yeast to taste

In a frying pan saute the onion in the olive oil until translucent and then add the thinly sliced garlic clove and the pinch of black pepper.  Continue to cook for 1 minute more.  Add the chopped mushrooms and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes before adding the rice and stirring in well.  Add enough water to just cover the rice, and then the vegetable stock powder, stirring well to ensure the rice doesn't stick. From there it's a process of just adding water 1/2 cup or so at a time, until the rice is cooked but still has a little 'bite'.  Then stir in the nutritional yeast powder.

If you are wondering what the other dish in the photo is then let's call it 'Phil's Saucy Risotto Accompaniment' and here is that recipe.

 Phil's Saucy Risotto Accompaniment

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
1 clove garlic crushed
1 red pepper
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Pinch of chilli flakes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
Portuguese butter beans from our garden (or broad beans as our beans are ours!)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Fry the onion in the olive oil until it starts to brown and then add the garlic.  Add the chopped pepper and continue to fry until soft.  Add the salt, paprika and chilli and fry for 31.5 seconds :)  before adding tomato puree and stirring well.  Add beans and enough water to just cover and cook for 15 minutes, adding the balsamic vinegar just at the end.  


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Cornish Vegan Piskies Hit the Shops

It seems that it is indeed true; Cornish piskies do exist. What is also amazing to learn is that they all seem to be vegan and whilst we imagine they very rarely roam from their mist clad moorland stone circles, barrows and cliff tops, it has recently come to light that they actually do enjoy a good shopping trip here and there.  From supermarket shelves to hobby stores (or should that be hobbit stores?), the vegan piskies are up to harmless vegan inspired mischief spreading the gentle message as they go.  

Roll over Banksy too as, it also appears, the vegan mischief has taken to the streets 'Pisky' style.  Mysterious chalk messages are appearing on pavements and structures all over the place as piskies and pixies of the world unite in spreading the magical vegan message. The pixies just across the border in Devon indeed invite you to partake in such mischief and magic this coming Saturday.  Check out the Plymouth Vegan Chalk Bomb Challenge for details.  

If you can't make it this Saturday then create your own magic in a shop or on a pavement near you soon. According to the official advertising agency 'Especially Subliminal Piskies' (ESP for short), advertising really does work.  So go forth and be pisky!  

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Coconut Collaborative Rice Pudding

Photo from The Coconut Collaborative's Facebook page
Rice pudding is one of those things that we really should make more often.  In the heat of the summer a chilled, creamy, ricey wonder is delicious and equally, a warm spicy rice pudding in the depths of winter is more than enough to chase away the darkness.  Indeed at Christmas, when my parents come to stay, my coconut rice pudding is a regular request from my not so vegan dad.

For years making your own vegan rice pudding has been the only option if you fancied such a treat.  Back in the 80's there was a tinned rice pudding available from Plamil.  It was delicious and very popular within the vegan circles both Phil and I moved in back then, but despite this it then sadly disappeared off the face of the vegan earth, leaving a lazy, convenient vegan rice pudding 'dessert desert'.  No more though.  For those moments when rice pudding desire strikes there is now a delicious vegan solution.

The Coconut Collaborative have deliciously charged into the vegan market with their frozen Snowconut Yogurt and chilled coconut milk yogurts.  However, the recent discovery of a two pack of coconut rice pudding from them had me snatching it off the shelf with unnerving zeal.  An equally enthusiastic reaction ensued from Phil when I showed him.  It really was such a childish reaction to such a simple food but yep, we openly admit it; we were kids about it.  The consumption of said rice pudding stood up to the anticipation too.  It was delicious.

Now if the whole idea of a 'convenient treat' doesn't sit comfortably with you, there are a few facts that might ease the guilt. First off, come on, The Coconut Collaborative have made the vegan effort and even made sure they proudly display The Vegan Society mark. Secondly, the ingredients are pretty good too.  A rice pudding containing coconut is full of fatty acids with beneficial properties especially in terms of an energy boost.  Coconuts also contain zero cholesterol.  The rice pudding is also free of gluten and soya.

If that wasn't enough The Coconut Collaborative also have a tree planting project with their friends at Pur Project.  The resulting little piece of jungle in South East Asia will regenerate soil and provide wildlife habitat and income for local communities.  For news of the project and all the other goodies The Coconut Collaborative make, check out their website or Facebook page.  

Did we mention that the rice pudding tasted extremely good too?..........yum.

Friday, 23 September 2016

It's a Wrap

We were out of bread and I really couldn't be bothered to either go and get any or bake some.  We did however need something for lunch the following day and the fridge and cupboards seemed fairly devoid of useful options. Unusually we didn't even have enough leftovers to dispense with the whole sandwich idea altogether. With garden supplies, there were things we could put in a sandwich but where was the bread?

This whole lazy issue led to an experiment I should have tried a long time ago; I would make some flat breads/wraps/tortillas or whatever you want to call them.  It can't be that hard or long winded surely and I had plenty of flour in the stock cupboard? As it turns out it was really easy. So why haven't I made them before and more to the point, why would you want to buy them if you can get purer, cheaper ones by making them yourselves?  I offer no real answer to that because for a first attempt it was pretty tasty and further refinement can only lead to tastier attempts I'm sure.  

So here I offer you my first attempt which made four 8" breads; more than sufficient for both of us for lunch.  I used sun dried tomatoes because, well we had some and to be honest the idea of just a flour and water mix seemed almost too simple. That's a daft concept from me really as that is exactly what flat breads are made from, but I also wanted them to pack a punch with flavour too, which sun dried tomatoes certainly do.  Oh, I also sneaked in some dried oregano for an additional Mediterranean vibe.

I used a food processor to mix it; nothing fancy, just my 25 year old trusty friend of a food processor.  I'm sure hand mixing would be fine too but I was in no mood for this to take a load of time or effort!

Quick 4 Ingredient Wraps

200g flour (I used half buckwheat and half strong white bread flour)
100g sun dried tomatoes (I used jarred ones so they did have a little oil on them)
1 tablespoon of dried oregano

Whizz up the tomatoes until broken up, then add the flour and oregano until incorporated.  With the processor running add water through the top until the mixture comes together into a ball.  Turn this mixture out on to a floured surface and give it a bit of a knead until it feels pliable and smooth (I did this in less than 5 minutes). Divide the mixture into 4 equal balls and then roll each ball into a thin round that will fit into a frying pan. Cook each bread in a heated dry frying pan until browned on each side.

Now I will mention again that these were my first attempt and improvements can definitely be made.  For a start they were a little stiff once cooked but they still did the job in wrapping, all be it with the help of a cocktail stick to keep them wrapped!  It certainly has led me to want to experiment more with different combinations of flours and flavourings and I even have in mind, for a wet winters weekend, that I will have a flat bread making session and freeze a load for future use.

If you are wondering what we used inside our wrap in the photo; there was homemade cashew cheese (I'm always experimenting with that but here is at least one version I make), coconut bacon, a slightly tweaked version of our creamy leek, mushroom and broad bean pasta (without the pasta) and tomatoes and rocket from the garden.

Anyway, it's a wrap.  Enjoy!