Friday, 6 September 2019

Autumn Dinner and Dance

The sun is still shining and shorts, t-shirts and flip flops are still de rigueur for now.  In fact September in Cornwall is normally a lovely time as the weather is still good, the tourist masses have predominantly gone home and there is a calm air about the place.  However, a little nip in the air is definitely sneaking in and, meteorologically speaking, apparently autumn is officially here.  That means that some of us do start turning our thoughts to darker, wilder evenings and ways to distract us from even colder thoughts of winter.  

One such opportunity of distraction features at the end of this month in the form of an Autumn Dinner and Dance organised by the lovely folks from The Naturally Vegan Plot and Cornwall Vegan Festival.  It's not only an autumnal distraction for you but a very fine fundraiser for Animal Aid, The Naturally Vegan Plot and Cornwall Vegan Festival.

As with most vegans I know, good food tends to be the main event every day let alone during a night out, and this special evening of entertainment promises three courses of delicious food.  Starters and mains are provided in the form of a dining buffet from local vegan caterers Sloth and Sparrow.  Hopefully there would still be some space left under your sparkly dress or suit clad tummies for deserts from The Little Green Vegan Bakery and Mint and Marjoram, both also Cornish based vegan caterers with reputations of providing wickedly delicious creations.  With a licensed bar, and teas and coffees available too, I think any vegan out there could be more than satisfied that the food part of this evening looks to have been well and truly covered.

The only worry would be that, with such a dinner on offer, how much dancing is going to be possible after?  Fear not it seems as the range of music on offer from these vegan musical talents seems to allow for gentle digestion whilst you sit and be mesmerised, as well as have a chance to strut your vegan stuff.  Details of the musicians playing are on the Autumn Dinner and Dance Facebook Event Page.

If you don't already feel lucky enough sat with a full tummy of delicious food whilst being serenaded by talented vegan musicians, there is also the chance of being a total winner in The Grand Prize Draw taking place on the night.  Each ticket holder for the Dinner and Dance receives a free prize draw ticket, with the option to buy more raffle tickets during the evening.  The lucky winner gets a hamper, worth over £100, full to the brim with wondrous vegan foodie gifts and vouchers from The Eco Collective.

So vegan food, vegan musicians and vegan prizes........where, when and how do you sign up if this is your thing?  Treverbyn Community Hall, over St Austell way, is where it's at.  Saturday 28th September is the date to put in your diary.  And tickets are available to purchase from Eventbrite, along with full up to date details on the evening on offer.

Grab a ticket whilst they are still available...

Monday, 2 September 2019

Puff Ball to Puff Pie

We really haven't had a huge amount of success so far this year with our mushroom foraging.  Some of that has been a lack of time due to more pressing issues, but on the occasions we have gone out on the 'mushy' hunt, apart from a few chanterelles and the odd bolete, we've come back predominantly empty handed.  Imagine my delight therefore when an ex-student turned up at work with a prize giant puffball that was going spare.  He was going away and, not having had the chance to use it before, hadn't wanted it to go to waste.  Being a fellow mushroom hound, it seemed my name was written all over it.

I hugged it like a baby and immediately had to ring Phil to tell him the good news.  I really was that excited!  My excitement may have seemed disproportionate but it had been years since we'd found a giant puffball, our very local source having been non-productive for a few years now despite us being very reserved with our harvesting.  A giant puffball represented a very tasty few meals ahead of us.  

First up was pie; creamy mushroom pies to be exact. Having a pack of puff pastry to hand, it was a quick and easy way to inhale and ingest some of the earthy white flesh of this giant wonder.  To counter the naughty pastry element I served the pies with a selection of salads. Only a third of the puffball had been used to produce four individual pies.  'Two Pies Chapman' ensured that only one of these remained to photograph, so he thought they were very tasty indeed.  It's pretty simple to make up a filling for a pie but my recipe is below in case anyone is interested in this quick (and lazy) recipe!  You can use any mushrooms you have to hand.  It involved another element of laziness in using the new Sacla Vegan Ch**se Sauce that has recently come on the market.  We'd never tried it before so this gave us the perfect opportunity and the bonus was, I only needed to use about half the jar so the rest was used on a lasagna the next day.

What's in store for the rest of the puffball? Well that is undecided as yet apart from the fact we will no doubt have mushroom 'steaks' at some point.  This is even more lazy and quick than the pie in that you just cut thick slices off the puffball, pop them on a baking tray, add a topping of your choice (sun dried tomato paste and slices of favourite vegan cheese are good) and just bake until soft and browned.

Puff Pie
Packet of vegan puff pastry, or shortcrust, or make some pastry if you like!
A slurp of olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
Mushrooms of your choice, chopped or sliced (just judge the amount!)
Salt and pepper
1/2 jar of Sacla Vegan Ch**se Sauce

Gently fry the onion in the olive oil until softening and starting to brown.  Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook until softening.  Add the salt and pepper.  Add the sauce ensuring a lovely good coating of the mushrooms.  

Lightly grease either one big pie dish or several small ones and line with pastry.  Pop in the filling, top with pastry, ensuring you seal well around the edges but put a little slit in the top to let the steam out.  Bake at about 200 degrees C until the pastry looks brown and crispy.


Saturday, 3 August 2019

Marching Towards A Vegan Future

I admit I've never been one much for marches.  I was more of a 'field operative' and preferred the toils of a day spent covered in mud; sometimes my own blood, and the satisfaction of having saved yet another ginger dog or other such persecuted animal at the hands of the red coated gang.  Better still if I had avoided arrest in the process.  Nope, holding placards and chanting wasn't for me, but that doesn't mean to say I didn't support it.  In fact I have always admired and applauded any and every form of action when it comes to the common cause.  Even those quietly sitting at home just following a plant based diet get my admiration.  We are all part of the gentle machine.

That said, there is something about the upcoming Truro Animal Rights March that tweaks my feeling about marches.  Perhaps it is because it represents a unification of everything that I have mentioned above?  In my day to day life I am often surrounded by people who really don't understand what it feels like to live in a vegan mind and body; where you know that whatever you say about how you feel falls inexplicably on deaf ears and emotions.  Any vegans reading this will know exactly what I mean but anyone else, well you won't unless you make that connection.  I make it sound like a religion I'm sure but it really just comes down to a realisation rather than some cosmic entity.  So the idea of being surrounded by a mass of people who do understand on those multitude of levels is appealing.  It's not all about my need to surround myself in a comforting vegan duvet of love though.   As anyone that tries to get up on a Monday morning to go to work knows, that duvet can also feel very powerful.  

When you try to explain to people around you how you feel it seems like a mountain to climb.  When a whole load of people come together to explain how they feel; well that is a little harder to ignore.  Suddenly it normalises what we all know to be true; "all these people feel the same so surely there must be something in it beyond the hippy that I work with?".

What it comes down to it, whether you like marches or not, if you live in Cornwall or even if you happen to be one of the multitude of people currently on holiday in Cornwall, there is an opportunity this coming Saturday to be part of the 'gentle machine' that is working towards a brighter and more vegan future, for the benefit of all.  The powerful vegan duvet of love is ready and waiting for all.  Join the Cornwall Vegans at midday on Saturday 10th August to march through Cornwall's capital of Truro.  More details are on Animal Rights Group page - Cornwall

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

The Game Changers - Get Tickets Now!

Long awaited is an understatement for the release of the film The Game Changers.  We first heard of the film back in February 2018, and with its European premiere announced to be not long after that, we were expecting to have seen it many months ago.  Seventeen months on we hear the news that we can finally all get a chance to see it at its 'Global' premiere on 16th September.  Better still for us, the premiere is making it to our Cornish shores, along with dozens of other venues across the country.  Tickets are now on sale.

Why are we so hyped about this film?  Well it is a film that is pushing in a completely different direction to most other films so far that have extolled the virtues of a plant based diet.  Cowspiracy, What The Health, Earthlings; they have all had a massive affect in promoting and demonstrating why a plant based vegan diet is holistically advantageous. The Game Changers takes this to a different level; literally, with a roll call of top sporting names who have reached the peak of their performance through a plant based diet and without the animal protein myth being held up as a necessity in order to do so.  Top of their game winners included in the film are Lewis Hamilton and recent repeat Wimbledon winner Novak Djokovic.  Sadly Fiona Oakes, British distance runner and four times world marathon record holder, didn't make the final edit whilst Tim Shieff, once Ninja Warrior winner and freerunner star, has presumably been edited out due to his decision since the shooting of the film to abandon his vegan lifestyle amid personal claims it hindered his performance.  I guess we will all be watching the result of that one closely.

As fairly active people ourselves, and long term vegans, we have a particular interest in The Game Changers.  Although far from elite in our sporting endeavours, we'd like to think that our diet choice has at least contributed to what activities we do attempt, especially in our slightly more advanced years.  I'm prone to deciding to go for a reasonably lengthy run at times without a huge amount of training beforehand (like the day I decided to run the whole 17 miles of the Camel Trail just because).  There is no doubt that mental attitude has a lot to do with it but how much is diet a factor too?  It seems that The Game Changers may offer a whole lot of scientifically researched answers to that question and more.  

The Game Changers also offers another platform for well known and respected vegans to promote the benefits of a plant based diet and, in this case, in a very dramatic and powerful way.  It would be extremely hard for long term doubters to argue that you couldn't survive and thrive on a plant based diet when you have world champion sportsmen and women facing you down!  

For details on how to get your hands on tickets, check out The Game Changers website but be quick as it seems it is going to be a one night wonder on 16th September.  Venues are listed for the whole of the UK with the only offering in Cornwall at the time of writing being at the Lighthouse Cinema in Newquay (luckily for us only 5 miles away but we would have travelled for this one!).  There is mention of Wadebridge and St Austell viewings (confusingly listed as St Austell, Newquay on the site!) but as of yet the only tickets that you can seem to purchase are for the Newquay viewing.  Of course we have already got ours for the best seats in the house!  See you there!

Sunday, 21 July 2019


Sometimes food inspiration strikes seemingly out of nowhere, and you just have to go with it.  This was the case recently when my love of Japanese and Italian food combined to form the idea of creating a Japanese inspired pizza.  After all, if noodles can travel from China to Italy as the legend goes, then why can't pizza travel from Italy to Japan?  And if a pizza can be made 'Hawaiian' for example, simply by adding a slice of pineapple or two, then why not?  The ideas started to form.  It had to have a sourdough base, because pretty much everything dough based in our house is made the sourdough way now.  Then it had to include a few Japanese inspired toppings like tofu, miso, seaweed, aubergines, mushrooms, and spring onions.  So far so good, whatever happened it should be edible at least.

As I was making the sourdough bases I couldn't decide on toppings, and had more than enough ideas for one pizza, so decided to make two instead.  One seaweed based, and one with the tomato sauce replaced with miso tahini spread, a macrobiotic favourite.  They turned out to be quite different from each other, and yet both were tasty enough to want to make again soon.  The miso tahini spread one in particular was very 'cheesy', and Scooby said, "it tastes more cheesy than cheese".  The seaweed based one tasted very much 'of the sea'.  Both were very clean tasting, and went well with a couple of simple salads, one simply of lettuce and mayo, and a carrot one included below.  These experiments yielded some good results, and these won't be the last Japizzas we make!

At the time I had no idea if there was such a thing as a Japanese pizza, but had heard of Okonomiyaki which is sometimes called Japanese pizza, even though the main resemblance is the shape. It's more like an omelette though, and is based around eggs, cabbage, cheese, and mayonnaise.  Maybe that could be veganised and revisited another time?  I have since learnt that the Japanese do in fact have a few fusion versions of pizzas, but they are hard to source outside the big cities, and usually consist of seafood based ingredients, as well as having the usual Italian staples on offer.  Could this possibly be the first vegan Japanese fusion pizza ever?  We will now keep our eyes peeled for mentions of Japanese pizza on social media, but remember... you saw it here first!

Seaweed Tofu Aubergine Pizza

Pizza base (we made our own sourdough ones)
Seaweed tartare/paste (we used Marinoe brought back from Brittany but a U.K. alternative might be Parsons Laverbread
1 finely chopped spring onion
Thin (5mm) slices of tofu (we used half a block of Taifun smoked almond and sesame)
Thin (5mm) aubergine slices (approx. half an aubergine)
A drizzle of oil

Spread the seaweed tartare/laverbread on your base, and sprinkle the chopped spring onion over this.  Add the slices of tofu and aubergine, and add a drizzle of oil on top.  Cook in a hot oven for 15-20 mins.

Miso Tahini Pizza with Mushrooms, Peppers, and Aubergines

Pizza base
Miso tahini spread (mix 2 tbsp miso, 1 tbsp tahini, 2 tbsp water, and half a spring onion finely chopped).
4 thin aubergine slices
2 medium mushrooms sliced
1/2 a red romano pepper sliced
A drizzle of oil

Spread the miso tahini sauce on the base, add an aubergine slice in each quarter, and add the sliced mushrooms and peppers on top.  Add a drizzle of oil, and cook in a hot oven for 15-20 mins.

Carrot Salad

8 carrots grated
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 tbsp Tamari soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp Nori seaweed flakes

Mix everything together and let sit to marinate for 30 mins before serving.


Wednesday, 17 July 2019

A Rush of Raspberries and a Resulting Random Dessert

We are having the best crop of raspberries we've ever had. Even sharing them with our local mama blackbird isn't a problem as there is more than enough for all of us (okay we admit it would have been hard for us to have disputed that anyway given that we have the option of dropping to the local shops for our food and she hasn't!).  It's nice to share though (I might have to have a word about our smaller supply of strawberries with her though).

Every day we have more to pick.  Some are making it into morning smoothies, some popped straight into the mouth and some squirrelled away in the freezer for out of season fruity treats.  This evening though I decided to busk it and use some with an impromptu dessert.  I only had what we had in our cupboards to work with but given that our cupboards always seem to have an ample supply of random ingredients, it wasn't too hard.  I had also enjoyed a glass or two of chilled vino blanco in the sunny garden beforehand so ease of dessert recipe was quite important too.

Here is what happened........

Get In There Before Mama Blackbird Raspberry Dessert

Take a small handful of raspberries and drop into the bottom of a glass.  Drizzle with some Vegan Honea.  Let's see, what happened next?...... Ah yes, I chopped up some hazelnuts and chucked them on top.  I then spooned about 4 teaspoons of The Almond Collaborative 'Yoghurt' on top.  Then I decided to add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar (we had some rather lovely hazelnut balsamic at hand for this).  Then I sprinkled on top some porridge oats and followed it with a pouring of Creamy Oatly Single Cream.  Somehow I thought that a drizzle of maple syrup would round it off.  I was naughty but not wrong.  Pop into the fridge and then eat as desired.  Enjoy!

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Plan Your Summer with Vegan Event Hub


Summer started, then stopped and then in the last week seems to have got going again, and with Glastonbury kicking off in an unusually sunny haze, it seems like it's time to get serious about summer fun.  Not that veganism dominates our lives or anything but if there is an event or happening of a vegan nature we like to know about it and will plan weekends or holidays around any that tweak our vegan interest.  Therefore having a one stop shop for such events is a great help.  Enter Vegan Event Hub.

Vegan Event Hub has been around for a time flying four years and has grown at an equally flying pace.  Given the round up of international vegan events it offers, that is no surprise.  UK based events sit on the events page alongside those in Berlin, USA, Brazil, Australia and India.  However, it could be even bigger, and the generous free offers available to event organisers, via the members dashboard, give ample opportunity to advertise your vegan ventures and happenings to a worldwide audience.  Alongside the free inclusion in the Event Hub, they will also sort out the web page, SEO (that's Search Engine Optimisation for those like me who struggle with the tech terms!) and promote it for you.  Again to reiterate, this is all free.  

For vegan event vendors, and also available free of charge via the membership area, there is the ability to promote your presence at all the events you are attending, as well as join the international event vendor directory.  There are also sections for vendors wanted, event jobs and volunteers wanted.  Basically Vegan Event Hub is the glue that can stick together the vegan audience/customer with the vegan event world and vice versa.  

Karen White, the designer and founder of Vegan Event Hub, is one of our very own Cornish Vegans and an all round lovely person. Vegan Event Hub is her grassroots contribution to the vegan movement, and one that she is passionately committed to.  Yes, we are therefore biased.  However, this lovely grassroots lady has created a really highly polished, great looking, unique online community space to not only benefit the advertisement of worldwide vegan events but to support the vegan community as a whole.  We would love to see more content and that content needs to come from the vegan community itself.  Please do take a look, support and spread news of Vegan Event Hub far and wide and ensure it continues to grow.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Petition to Cornwall Council

Cornwall councillors recently shared their initial plans for a 2030 target for Cornwall to become carbon neutral. Although many of us have been way ahead of the game in terms of identifying the environmental crisis that faces the world, even belated action by the council should be encouraged and supported.  That there was also a recommendation to engage with the public to ask what they think of these initial plans is also to be applauded.  What was less of a good idea was to initially test out these plans with the public at the recent Royal Cornwall Show, Cornwall's 'premier' agricultural event and a hotbed for all those very much reliant on livestock farming.  Perhaps there is a nervousness with Cornwall councillors in mentioning anything that relates to animal agriculture in a predominantly rural county, but the omission of any mention relating to such within their initial plans to combat climate change is a little amiss to say the least.....or am I being cynical?

Within their plans are ideas around transport, housing, energy, environment and waste. Whilst many of the suggestions, if not all, are reasonable, pledge number 3 suggested by Cornwall-based climate change consultants Climate Vision rings the truest with me.  It states "Educate yourself about the science and impacts of climate change".  Do that one thing and you might then hit on addressing the environmental impact of animal agriculture.  

Being that this is a vegan blog, predominately read by vegans, I am not about to start stating the facts about the impact that can be made by changing to a plant based diet (read down further for useful links).  All I am saying is that anyone living in Cornwall will understand that suggestions of using more public transport, the push towards electric car use, and building more (energy efficient) homes (don't get me started with that one) are a little laughable at the present moment and even looking a few years ahead.  To sit these suggestions in a list that omits anything to do with animal agriculture very much skews the responsibility onto very few residents of Cornwall that I know of.  Farmers may disagree but I doubt they would agree either with using more (mostly inefficient) public transport, have enough money to buy an electric car, or building more housing full stop (unless they make a ton of money by selling off development land).  Reality needs a little checking here.

Sorry once more I am being cynical.  The thing is I am fed up of piecemeal suggestions that are either designed to make other people richer, out of the reach of many, or just plain guilt infested unrealistic suggestions.  On a very personal level, you can make a change that will have a huge impact, and that is changing to a plant based diet, or at least making even small moves in that direction.  It doesn't have to cost that much either if you avoid the vegan 'junk food' items out there.  An open mind and a commitment to make a difference is all you need.  You vegans out there know that already though so on that note, and the reason for this blog post in the beginning, is that a petition has been started to Cornwall Council calling for them to recognise the environmental impact of animal agriculture.  Please sign it.  I don't think it necessarily matters if you are not a resident of Cornwall as by signing it will send a message to all councils planning the same initiatives around climate change.  

The link to the petition is below Beautiful People and for those not familiar with the science behind the impact of animal agriculture there are plenty of useful links to read within the petition - 

Monday, 10 June 2019

Vegan Retro Nutty Barbecue

In this new age of seitan, jack fruit and other funky vegan meat alternatives it is easy to forget those ones that have been out there forever.  Whilst some of them are best forgotten (anyone remember the 'tough as old boots' Jumbo Grills of the 80's?), some deserve to still be considered and respected for standing beside the vegan principle all these years later.

One in particular we still enjoy is Granovita's Nut Luncheon (years back it was called Nuttolene by Granose).  It is one of those things that we buy and stick in the store cupboard and then find when we do a 'ready steady cook' style rummage.  However it really does deserve much more credit beyond the desperate 'what have we got in the cupboard' rummage by a long way on the basis of its pure ingredients alone; with just water, peanuts and sea salt, these days you'd be hard pressed to find such an honest and simple product.  It's also palm oil and gluten free.  That is before you even get to taste it.  By default, yes it is peanutty but in a sweet umami way and that can definitely blend very well with a multitude of flavours.  

This evening we definitely went into 'let's make it up as we go along' cooking mode and along the way I was absolutely delighted to find that snorkeled away can of Nut Luncheon in the cupboard.  With a bottle of half used barbecue sauce in the fridge it was crying out for a simple skewered solution, alongside several other 'use up' small dishes.  It would be equally as good in a stir fry, sandwiches, curry or whatever other wonders you can dream up. Basically, you can't go far wrong if you have a can of Nut Luncheon in your vegan store cupboard.  At this time of year, particularly with camping trips planned, it can really come into its own for its no fuss and non demanding storage requirements - no fridge required here!

Keep a look out for it in health food stores and failing that you can buy it online.  If you buy from Holland and Barrett at the moment it is not only buy one, get one half price but by activating and choosing Viva! any purchase you make will raise 4% for them.  

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Inclusively Vegan

Recently I wrote a blogpost about a local vegetarian cafe.  It is completely vegetarian but with a large selection of vegan dishes.  Somebody commented in response to my post indicating that it was a shame it wasn’t fully vegan.  I of course agree but my response back was that if such establishments get supported by more and more vegans perhaps this would eventually lead to a full vegan establishment.  It really made me think more about the progression of veganism in terms of its infiltration into the mainstream and whether our impatience to move towards veganism at breakneck speed might actually be slowing down the progress.   I haven’t totally made my mind up about this but writing this post is a way of exploring this thought.

I’m going to start on a basic level.  Over 30 years ago when I first became vegan I was full of it and full on.  Nobody really wanted to know and, like all vegans of the time, I was seen as a weirdo.  Admittedly that was also the sign of the times and a lot has changed since then, including the mellowing of age.  I don’t shout about being vegan now, well apart from writing a vegan blog that is!  Interestingly though, now when people in my everyday life find out I’m vegan I get mostly interested questions.  In addition people now seek my advice.  Again, this could be the sign of the times but it does seem as if the less I’ve shouted about it and led by example, the more interest it creates.  Phil has had the same experience.  Don’t get me wrong though, it is hard to be ‘gentle’ in my approach in the face of sentient abuse and if anyone ‘attacks’ they get the full vegan barrel from me.  Generally however, gently does it.

Moving on, put a vegan cafe or restaurant in my path and I’ll be there, and there are more and more appearing in my pathway these days.  I will not dispute the fact that they are always the first I support.  However, life as a vegan can still be slightly restrictive in high street eateries, and I would suggest it is short sighted to purely support vegan establishments. If a cafe or restaurant is making efforts to provide vegan options and particularly so a whole vegan menu, to not explore and create a market for their efforts would be a step backwards surely?  The more the market is recognised, the more it will be catered for and form a bigger portion of what they provide.  You could argue it is driven by finance; everybody wants their share of the vegan dollar these days.  It’s better to make their money in a vegan way though surely?

Another way at looking at it is that by providing these options it gives more chance for people to explore vegan food, paving the way perhaps towards a gentle transition.  A study by the London School of Economics a while back found that eating establishments that listed non-meat dishes in a separate section reduced the chances of those dishes being chosen by 65%, and this was with survey participants who often ate vegetarian meals.  Basically it seems that, listed beside meat dishes, vegan dishes may stand more chance of being ordered by non-vegans.  I obviously prefer to choose from a separate vegan menu but have personally heard on several occasions people discussing and considering vegan dishes on menus that listed all the choices together.  On all occasions it was clear they were not vegan.  Very rarely I imagine would non-vegans ask for the separate vegan menu.

A similar dilemma for vegans occurs in supermarkets.  Fairly recently some supermarkets have provided separate vegan sections within their aisles.  It’s been a welcome change, especially as it means you don’t have to deal with searching through the meat sections.  It’s actually lovely to see a crowd around the vegan section, especially when you overhear discussions clearly from new vegans and can potentially offer advice.  So separating vegan options in supermarkets is a success and definitely makes it easier for new and old vegans alike, but what again of the potential for non-vegans to choose vegan options on impulse from within the meat and dairy aisles?  Every vegan option chosen over cruelty is a definite success after all.  I have noted there has been some integration again in some supermarkets in addition to the separate section which is the best of both worlds really.

I think I’ve come to a conclusion that the pathway to veganism is a multi-directional approach.  The pathway is definitely being solidly laid down by vegan activists, vegan cafes and restaurants, producers and retailers; and very much giving us existing vegans an easy and much appreciated stroll along it.  Signposts are being put up along the path by those who provide separate vegan menus and sections in shops.  Some people however don’t know where the pathway begins or even that it exists unless they stumble across it in their everyday lives.  That’s when being equally inclusive with menus, supermarket shelves and your own gentle guidance can make some difference.  We all know where we want the pathway to lead but helping people on to and along it is the most important thing we can do in order for us all to reach that destination.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Vegan Night Market in Newquay

If you are heading to the North Shore of Kernowfornia this bank holiday weekend and are looking for a vegan evening adventure then the Vegan Night Market in Newquay has been especially put on for you. 

Organised by Vegan Events Cornwall, the event is hosted and based at Sprout Health Foods in the heart of Newquay.  It's also supported by Dynamite Valley Brewing Co and Whiskers, the bar and live music venue (voted TripAdvisor's No 1 night out in Cornwall) just a cat's whiskers away from Sprout, and where the party will move on to after the market (with a drinks promo thrown in for good measure). 

There will be plenty of food at the market to ensure you are fuelled up and have your dancing shoes on for the after party.  Sprout Health Foods are planning their delicious SproutPots of loveliness whilst Sloth and Sparrow are in town to heat us up with their colourful range of Mexican street food.  For the sweet toothed amongst you Renaissance Cakery  and Lemon Thyme Patisserie will be there with a double dose of vegan naughty treats.  You can wash it all down with some fine craft beers from the very local Atlantic Brewery or sponsors Dynamite Valley Brewing Co.(free tasters apparently when you arrive too!).

Once you have stuffed yourself full of vegan goodies, there is still plenty to take in with Newquay based vegan company Generation V selling their sustainable, organic and hand-drawn street wear, local artist, illustrator and author Maia Walczak promoting her new book WylderReWilding Books providing their amazing stall of books that appeal to the more open minded readers among us, and floating nicely into the scene ARBO Surfboards with their hollow wooden surfboards and schedule of surfboard building workshops.

Phew, all that remains to tell you is to be there!  It's on Saturday (25th May) evening from 7pm - 9.30pm at Sprout Health Foods with the party moving on to Whiskers after.  For more information check out the Facebook Vegan Events Cornwall page.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Make It Up As You Go Along and Do It Right Now Nectarine Pudding

I made a delicious 'make it up as I go along and do it right now' pudding the other day.  I had bought some cheap nectarines at a supermarket, you know the ones that have been priced down because they have gone past their so called 'sell by' date even though they are still too firm to actually eat yet.  Well they suddenly all got ripe at once and after a few morning smoothies there were some left and I then did need to use them up.  I was also in one of those moods when savoury meets sweet and there are certain ingredients that you really fancy.  On this day it was pumpkin seeds and balsamic. 

Phil will tell you that despite the mountain of vegan cook books I have, often I will just go into some weird trance and start making something without really thinking too hard about it.  I don't believe it has ever ended in anything inedible, which is lucky, but when I really hit a 'gold star' moment with something I have cooked it is annoying when I can't remember how I actually got to that point.  This recipe could have been one of those moments had it not involved very few ingredients and I had not rushed to scribble down what I remembered of this simple concoction after I had tasted it.  I told Phil it was terrible (sshhhh..) as I wanted it all to myself.  Here's what happened.....

Make It Up As You Go Along and Do It Right Now Nectarine Pudding

Nectarines (or peaches would be good too, maybe figs, or hang on, apricots too and hmmm, what else.......?)
Bit of vegan margarine
Vegan Honea (love this stuff)
Pumpkin seeds
Balsamic glaze (make sure vegan)
Yoghurt of your choice to serve

1. Slice your nectarines in two, removing the stone.
2. Place in a greased baking dish cut side up.
3. Put a small knob of margarine in the stone indent of each half.
4. Drizzle with Vegan Honea.
5. Scatter over some breadcrumbs and pumpkin seeds.
6. Drizzle over some balsamic glaze.
7. Bake in the oven at about 200 degrees C until soft (reckon it was about 25 minutes)
8. Let cool a little (or totally) and serve with yoghurt and drizzled with more honey.

Scoff, enjoy, don't tell Phil.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

The Eco Collective Opens The Doors

EC logo no background.pngMay is my favourite month of the year.  Not only do you get two bank holiday weekends to enjoy but the Cornish countryside really kicks into full green mode in preparation for the summer ahead.  Everybody and everything suddenly springs into increased activity and there seems to be a plethora of interesting vegan events, places to eat and visit and cooking inspiration to explore.  It is difficult trying to fit it all in and particularly so writing about it all!

Kicking May off for us was a visit to the newly opened Eco Collective shop on the north coast.  Just down the road from the already well established eco, music and veggie/vegan food venue of Mount Pleasant Eco Park, the Eco Collective sits nestled in the steep sided coastal village of Porthtowan, making this area now a double destination adventure for any curious and hungry vegan.

The Eco Collective is easy to find.  Just take the one road into the village and towards the beach and you will see it just behind the post box on the left, and opposite ample parking.  

There are handy benches just outside on which to devour the vegan goodies you have just purchased before heading back in for more.  There are plenty of filling, virtuous and naughty options to choose from including pasties from The Cornish Vegan Pasty Company (tasty fillings and no palm oil here), irresistible savoury and sweet treats from Nature’s Treats (again palm oil free and refined sugar free) and for a totally needed naughty blast, grab a Velicious Vegan Doughnut  to devour or a cooling Booja Booja or Coconuts ice cream from the driftwood decorated freezer.  

The display cases may be full of ready to eat wonders but there is also a selection of food and household staples, including a refill section for washing up, laundry, cleaning and bathroom supplies. 

If it’s a special gift for someone eco or vegan minded you are after then The Eco Collective has plenty on offer here too.  A row of eye catching t-shirts from Newquay based Generation-V line one wall whilst the display of stone craft, pottery, illustration and photographic work in the window and further inside the shop offer colourful, original and creative ideas from local like minded individuals and businesses.

The Eco Collective strives to bring small sustainable focused businesses together under one roof.  It only opened its doors on Wednesday and already the stock reflects what talent, both from a creative and a culinary point of view, there is within Cornwall.  Its stock is set to grow even further as more and more vegan and sustainable businesses open and come forward to be part of this exciting  new venture in the heart of Cornwall.

For more information on the Eco Collective and the talented individuals involved please visit the Eco Collective Facebook group or website.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Wild Nettle Wonders

The hedgerows are full of wonder at the moment.  How the hell people choose to go to the likes of Morrisons when there is so much out there for free is beyond me.  I choose Morrisons to pick on merely because the Newquay branch nearest to us is said to be the busiest one in the whole of the UK in the holiday season and is 'hell on earth' to even venture anywhere near (even though they do stock Frys Burgers!).  I'd rather flog myself with nettles.  Speaking of which, nettles are magic and JUST EVERYWHERE at the moment.  What stops people, beyond a good pair of gloves and laziness, from exploring this really tasty and nutritious resource?  

Something that does such a good job of keeping you away from it by virtue of its itch inducing sting would not be something that naturally enamours itself as being culinarily delicious and nutritionally beneficial.  I guess if nettles didn't have such a 'sting in the tail' they would have long been devoured by humans to oblivion, much to the detriment of the likes of butterflies who vitally depend on nettles for the growth of their larvae.  Luckily for us humans who do brave the initial and sustainable cut of the nettle, the sting is long gone once cooked or dried.  

The tender tops of the nettles are the best, from a culinary and nutritious point of view.  I personally love the taste of a good nettle soup so the nutritional benefits are a very happy side effect.  Centuries of use are seemingly backed up by the more modern scientific based health claims of the nettle.  The iron and vitamin C content of nettles are fairly obvious benefits but, with the fairly recently revealed benefit of plant sources of calcium, this is indeed another wonder of this populous 'weed'.  A not so known trace mineral called boron is evident in nettles and it is this that helps maintain calcium content in bones.  Chuck in anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties, digestive and circulatory benefits and that is a good start for a plant so hated during those childhood summers.  

Our favourite thing to do with nettles is a simple soup and I include the recipe for Phil's Super Simple Nettle Soup below.  We also make tea occasionally and once I even made nettle beer but that is an explosive story for another time!  We have however also happened across a fascinating article called 'Taking the Sting out of Nettles' which was in a copy of Edible Alaska, a magazine brought across by my sister a couple of years ago for us to read.  The article itself was a great read but it also includes some lovely simple and more unusual recipes for nettles including Nettle Pesto, Roasted Nettle Chips and Alaskan Gomashio.  I only just refound the article again recently so we are yet to try them but as Spring progresses and the nettles grow higher, I will definitely have a go at all of these.  In addition I recently found a recipe for Nettle Flapjacks and that too is going on the list to make (replace the honey in the recipe for a vegan alternative).  I implore anyone that hasn't tried nettles to give them a go.  Just make sure you leave plenty for the wildlife too.

Phil's Super Simple Nettle Soup
Quantities not included as, well it is that simple you can work that out I'm sure!  Just go with the flow but bear in mind that the nettles cook down much like spinach so be generous with the quantity.

Onions chopped
Olive oil
Potatoes diced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Nettle leaves

Fry the onions in the oil until slightly browned and then add the potatoes.  Add enough water to cover by an inch.  Add seasoning.  Cook on a boil for 10 minutes.  Add the nettles and cook for another 10 minutes.  Blend.  Done!


Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Beats and Roots Cafe

Any older vegans out there who remember how vegan food was intricately mixed up with alternative life and musical vibes will appreciated a new food venture opened this last week in Cornwall.  Beats and Roots opened its doors fully on Wednesday in the heart of Cornwall; Redruth.  There are so many interesting aspects of Beats and Roots to explore; and all involve heart and soul, great musical vibes and lots of lovely food.  

For a start, as already mentioned, veggie and vegan food has always been the mainstay of the alternative movement/music scene, but in my era, the 80's and 90's, no hunt sab benefit gig was complete without the obligatory veggie burger offering.  It was served up with punk rock flair and rib sticking finesse.  It was grassroots royalty.  As much as it is wonderful that veganism is becoming a mainstay, I sometime miss that down to earth vibe.  What I don't miss however is slipping around on a greasy floor serving up dry veggie burgers to drunken punks and wannabe rastas (anyone remember Roots on Union Street in Plymouth?) .  

In terms of vegan food however, things have thankfully moved on and, although Beats and Roots still maintain an air of desirable grassroots about their venture, their food really does go way beyond the old skool definition of that.  Whilst many establishments try and replicate that need for junk food alternatives, Beats and Roots break that mould and take a fresher approach with their veggie and vegan offerings.  There is no deep fryer involved in the food that Beats and Roots provide.  It's fresh, vibrant, and full of seasonal flavour.  

We took the time on Saturday to drop in on Paul and Ben, the heart and soul behind Beats and Roots, and sample some of their foodie wonders.  The menu is all veggie, with a large section of the menu vegan.  We chose from the specials board, which had a Mediterranean flair to it, and enjoyed a generous portion of the paella; an unctuous hearty dish which involved fresh broad beans, artichoke hearts, fennel and sweet pepper.  It was topped off with a good supply of house slaw with a basil dressing which at first I thought was an odd addition only to realise what a crunchy and wonderful contrasting texture and flavour it was to the main event underneath. Genius. We also savoured the pistou soup which was jam packed with vegetables, chickpeas, and flavour.  The obligatory topping of vegan pesto on top spiked it further with zesty appeal, whilst the big hunk of granary bread with vegan spread did wonders in soaking up any juices.  After a round of teas (several different plant milks supplied), we topped off our scoffing session with some toasted coconut chocolate slices.  

Image may contain: dog and outdoor
The food was a delight, and the ambiance, helped along by the  ensuing Spring Market, was also vibrant in an unfussy, down to earth vibe.  Beats and Roots is based in The Buttermarket in Redruth, just off the main high street.  It is in a cosy suntrap of a courtyard where people congregate to enjoy a chat, a look at any additional stalls or activities spilling out from the main market, and now Beats and Roots with its range of hot and cold beverages and veggie food ranging from breakfasts, lunch and snacks. Should the weather not afford the suntrap affect, fear not as there is a large undercover area to watch any uncosy propur Cornish rain from, and you would never be cold with the warming food offerings available.  Another wonderful advantage to the location of Beats and Roots is that your doggy companions are more than welcome in this open environment and the two dogs there when we were seemed particularly content with that arrangement.

Beats and Roots regular hours are Wednesday to Saturday 8am - 4pm.   The early opening is to offer the chance for any early birds to grab the opportunity of a wholesome breakfast (I'm told their various forms of vegan porridge rock) on the way to work, particularly via the nearby train station.  

No photo description available.However, aside from the regular hours, there are some interesting plans from Beats and Roots.  Music is as equally important to the lives of Paul and Ben, hence the name of this new cafe. Just to demonstrate this fact, the accompanying tunes emanating from Beats and Roots kitchen were as groovy as the food;  (was that Ebo Taylor I heard on Saturday? - love it!).  As the name suggests there are some plans to further infuse the two best things in life; music and food.  If you too live for such things, it may be that Beats and Roots may become the go to destination for your evening entertainment.  They have already done a few evening events (we are gutted we missed the Indian Street Food event) but many more are planned with live musical entertainment involved.

Redruth is much maligned by some, and totally missed by many visiting Cornwall.  It could therefore be seen as a strange destination for such a venture involving veggie/vegan food and an alternative music scene. However, if you want the real Cornwall, away from the entrapment of gentrified tourist destinations, then you need to look to places like Redruth.  It is the heart and soul (and by the way it has a great 'stacked to the rafters with amazing bargains' K9 Crusaders Charity Shop and who cannot love the dog sculptures made of welly boots in the High Street) of Cornwall.  The 'Roots' part of Beats and Roots could find no better home that Redruth for this very reason.  

We totally recommend Beats and Roots for a down to earth, fresh, vibrant and totally groovy vegan vibe.  Somehow it manages to blend old time roots nostalgia with an up to date freshness that is thoroughly enjoyable.  Go check them out during their regular opening hours and further watch out for any awesome evening events they have planned in the future by following them on Facebook.