Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Pro Fusion Kombucha

We've given up drinking alcohol.  Yes, you read that right.  Given our numerous posts of a vegan alcoholic nature, we've even surprised ourselves with this decision.  However, like many people facing the pressure of the whole 'New Year, New You' thing, we had been questioning the amount of alcohol we had got used to drinking.  It was time to make a change.  Whether this is just a temporary well needed break, or a permanent situation remains to be seen but for now we are fairly resolute in our indeterminate personal prohibition.

It has been hard though, I admit.  Treats and distractions have definitely played their part in our success so far.  A recent visit to our local health food store, Sprout in Newquay, provided one such delicious healthy treat.  

Pro Fusion Organic Kombucha is a lightly sparkling fermented green tea drink, complete with beneficial live cultures.  It's raw, live and unpasteurized!  Kombucha is an ancient drink said to have originated in China at least 2000 years ago.  It contains, among other things, probiotics, antioxidants and B vitamins. In other words, it's good stuff in our view.  We have previously made our own kombucha, but not for a few years now, and we no longer have the starter culture known as a scoby (you read that right we do mean scoby and not scooby!).

There are quite a few kombucha brands on the market these days but this one, made by Pro Fusion Organic Living, is the first we have come across which is enhanced with superfoods.  There are three delicious slightly tart fruity flavours on offer; Baobab Mint and Pomegranate, Maca Coconut and Pineapple, and Turmeric Ginger and Lemon. The last two were the ones we sampled on this occasion and both were equally delicious and beautifully angelic; even served in our devilish wine glasses!

Before any smart vegan out there draws our attention to it, yes okay kombucha does still contain alcohol, naturally produced during the fermentation process.  At a maximum of 1% alcohol content though I don't think we could be accused of cheating too much!

We will be following up this post with more wine distracting treats we have recently bought from Sprout Health Foods.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

First Crack of The Vegg

Whilst I found the introduction of The Vegg and Follow Your Heart VeganEgg in the last year or so interesting, I wasn't intrigued enough to splash out on either of these egg substitute powders, particularly so as I thought the latter was over packaged.  After all, I found it difficult to see how a good old fashioned tofu scrambles could be improved upon. 

Then just before Christmas, and whilst shopping on Veganstore for seasonal goodies, I noticed they sold small sample bags of The Vegg and one of them ended up in my basket.  I thought I'd give it a go after all.

At the weekend, with the wind and rain lashing the window with force, an afternoon indoors experimenting in the kitchen seemed like the more desirable option.  I reached for The Vegg sample with a quiche in mind to go with a colourful palette of winter salads to counter the less than colourful weather outside.  The wonders of the quiche are that you can add whatever vegetables you fancy or have available into the filling.  I wanted however to keep it simple so that I could get a real feel for the results of The Vegg mixture.  Just onions, mushrooms and tomatoes, with a hint of garlic went in the mix, with a good sprinkle of vegan cheese on top.

For the pastry I had to freestyle a bit!  I discovered I didn't have much plain flour left. However, with buckwheat and spelt flour stocks high, a healthier style pastry was the obvious choice anyway to compliment the salad accompaniment. Luckily, despite my random free styling and guesswork, it turned out tasty.  With hindsight I would have rolled it out a little thinner but there wasn't a soggy patch in sight regardless!

And my impression of The Vegg?  I was really pleased with the resulting quiche and it got the definite thumbs up from Phil.  Would it be enough to make me buy a big packet? Hmmm, not totally sure at the moment.  The leftover quiche we had for lunch the next day nearly swayed me, but really the results weren't significantly different to some results I'd had without it.  I do however have quite a lot of the small sample packet left, so there may be many more experiments ahead and perhaps by the end of the packet (or even when I next use it), I would have been totally convinced.

First Crack Vegg Quiche
This recipe made two small quiches and the large one pictured above.

The Free Styling Pastry
40g plain flour
40g buckwheat flour
220g spelt flour
1 teaspoon vegan bouillon powder
80ml oil (I used part rapeseed and part olive)
80ml plant milk (I used soya milk on this occasion)

Put the flours in a bowl with the bouillon and mix together.  Add the oil and rub in so it resembles bread crumbs. Then add the milk bit by bit until you have a dough that holds together and can be rolled out (you may not need all the milk - don't make it too sticky). 

Roll out to about a half cm thickness (as mentioned above I rolled mine a bit too thick so would go for this thickness next time).  Line your chosen greased pie cases with the pastry.  Part bake for about 10 minutes at 200 degrees C.

The Filling
Touch of oil for frying
1 medium onion diced
1 clove garlic crushed
6 medium mushrooms sliced
4 teaspoons of The Vegg powder
1 cup water
180g silken tofu
Salt and pepper
8 cherry tomatoes halved
Grated cheese for the top to your cheesy taste!

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for 5 minutes or until translucent.  Add the mushrooms and cook until softened and slightly browned.  Add the mixture to the bottom of the part baked pastry cases.

Blend The Vegg and water until completely incorporated.  Add the tofu and blend again until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the mixture over the onion and mushroom mixture and smooth over. Top with cherry tomato halves (cut side up) and grated cheese.  Bake for 45 minutes at 200 degrees C until firm and slightly browned on top (do keep a check though as our oven is really old!).


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Mobile Phone Service from Ecotricity

We are big fans of Ecotricity, as you will gather from previous posts.  So whenever we hear anything new and exciting from this ever growing ethical company, we like to shout about it on their behalf.  

We received an exciting email today from Ecotricity announcing the launch of their brand new mobile phone service called Ecotalk.  Their network use is powered by green energy from the wind and sun.  In addition, the money Ecotricity make from Ecotalk will be used to buy land to create vital new habitats for pollinators and other wildlife in Britain. According to Ecotricity there is not that much information out there at the moment about the environmental impact of the mobile phone industry, but it is something that they want to follow up on and explore.  Ecotalk is the first step in this.

Superfast 4G is on offer along with competitive ethical pricing, short contracts and no exit fees.  In other words equaling, if not surpassing, some services on offer from other mobile service providers. Oh, but hang on.....what other providers also offer that special Ecotricity customer service and responsible environmental practice, all cooked together like a comforting, vegan, winter greens warming soup?  Sounds very tasty indeed.

So if you would like to be one of the first in Britain to benefit from this new green mobile service from Ecotricity, check out the Ecotalk website where there is also more information about mobile phone use and the environment.  You could also give them a shout on 0333 800 4400.

And no, we don't get commission!  We just like to 'big up' those companies out there who are trying to make a difference in the world.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Lettices Deli Delights

A while back we bumped in to the lovely people from a new artisan vegan company called Lettices. They have been doing the vegan festival rounds to market their small batch meat and cheese alternatives, which they produce from their base on the Isle of Wight. We met them at Animal Aid's South West Christmas Without Cruelty Festival in Exeter in November.

Poppy-Lettice-about-usThe founder of Lettices, Poppy Lettice, has been a vegetarian all her life and has more recently turned to veganism.  It was this transition, along with travels to countries that embrace plant based diets, that led Poppy to turn her existing culinary interests and talents into experimenting with producing her own range of exciting vegan alternatives.

The Lettices stand and display of products at the festival was colourful and plentiful and, coupled with a 'buy any three products for £12' festival deal, it was hard to resist taking some home with us.  We bought the Blue Beauty, Sticky Ribs, and Popperoni pictured above.  

We tried the Popperoni first, in bagels with hummus and roasted red peppers, and it was an instant hit with Phil.  It wasn't quite such a hit with Scooby, being less inclined to like the chilli hit of pepperoni style products.  To be fair Phil had chosen our selection of products and so something with chilli was bound to have crept in there somewhere!

Next up was the Blue Beauty cheese.  One evening Scooby had a sudden urge for cheese and crackers and so grabbed it from the fridge.  Being brought up in a house where the only real experience of cheese was cheddar, and having left home already a vegan, she had never experienced any other 'exotic' cheeses before.  This Blue Beauty was therefore a little bit of a shock.  Phil was less shocked by its intense and unusual flavour.  His dad was a regular stilton eating cheese monkey, so he had grown up eating regular stilton before he was vegan.  This unusual cheese might not have been such a hit with Scooby just on crackers, but melted on top of baked potatoes; well that is a completely different story.  The mild 'creaminess' of the baked potatoes mellowed but enhanced the bold flavour of the cheese. Needless to say, once we had discovered the wonders of this cheese served like this, it disappeared pretty quickly and we were left wanting more!

Last but by no means least, we devoured the Sticky Ribs.  These were our top pick of the three, being generous in flavour, texture, and 'tardis' like quantity that emerged from the packet.  They were a pleasure to get your teeth into, bursting with umami spicy goodness!  Despite the fact that they were tasty enough to want to consume in one hit, we managed to make them last over two meals.  Given their ability to fill you up, if we had eaten them all in one go that would have been just plain greedy.  So all in all, great value too.

Watch out for Lettices over the coming months at a festival near you.  If you can't wait to catch up with them doing the rounds, you can check out their full range and buy online from the Lettices website.  Alternatively, you can catch up with their latest news on their Facebook page, and they even have their own YouTube channel which includes Poppy's best recipes and vegan lifestyle tips.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Snacks, Seals, and Sunsets

We love where we live, especially as we can walk out of our door and be on wild coastline within a few minutes.  These past two days or so we have enjoyed such walks, even covering some of the same route without a hint of boredom.  All we need is the ever changing landscape of the sea on one side, a bit of decent weather and a bag full of snacks and we would happily wander around 'the hood' all day until sunset.

Our snack bag recently has been filled by treats that my sister sent over from Alaska. Every year we send each other these packages, with food being a particular theme.  I always send her favourite Cornish Tregothnan Tea along with, among other things this year, Tartex Green Olive Pate and Sainsburys (Vegan) Bacon Crispies, which she is mad for. Meanwhile from my sister we got a big old parcel of vegan cookies, lovely Kashmir chai tea, Mayan drinking chocolate and coconut water hydration for my running exploits.  So with a flask of lovely tea and some vegan cookies we headed off towards the sound of the waves.

We were hoping to catch a glimpse of the Cornish choughs that we are fortunate enough to have residing on our section of coastline.  

Earlier in the week we had seen two flying over the west end of the beach, the furthest east we had ever seen them, so we were hopeful. 

However, whilst jackdaws whirled and chuckled all around us, teasing us with their similar black shapes, there was not a distinctive red beak or leg in sight during our most recent wanderings.  

We were however treated to the sight of the local seal colony frolicking in the surf and lazing in a cove with equal measure. 

There were plenty of people around to enjoy this spectacle too, and it is always a delight to hear such excitement from those that are experiencing seeing seals for the first time in their natural environment.  

With the sun setting and with about 3 miles between us and home, we reluctantly headed back; our snack bags depleted, hair windswept, but minds refreshed by a simple walk on the wild side.