Friday, 29 March 2019

Boulangerie de Phil Meets Bacon Seitan

Phil's bread making goes from strength to strength.  I can even put requests in now for various forms of bread I fancy as long as it's sourdough based.  During the week we have to get up at 6am, so we don't really have time to sit down and have breakfast before we leave for work.  At the weekend we make up for that by enjoying various forms of naughty vegan brunching options (after a good reading and tea session in bed).  

Recently I had an urge for a good old simple vegan bacon roll so a request was lodged with the 'Boulangerie de Phil' for some sourdough rolls to make my Saturday morning brunch dream come true.  He delivered in such a way that made me truly appreciate why, after almost 20 years together, he is definitely a keeper (there are plenty of other reasons too I might add!).

Upton's Naturals Bacon SeitanI do normally make my own seitan, including a bacon version.  However, I just simply hadn't had time recently so with a new shop bought bacon alternative easily plucked from the shelves we did succumb. Upton's Naturals Bacon Seitan happens to be available in Sainsbury's and somehow found its way into our shopping basket just prior to my bacon roll weekend request.  I'm not unhappy about that as the ingredients are really refreshingly simple and good.  It might have even been responsible for my bacon roll brunch request.

The combination of des petits pains de Phil and Upton's Bacon Seitan really hit the spot.  In fact Phil, Phil, Phil, oi, where are you... you know you asked me whether I had any plans for Sunday?... get some of your hot buns on the go please!

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Vegan Rising - Cornwall Vegans Poster Appeal

There can be absolutely no doubt that veganism is on the rise; and at an astonishing pace.  Now more than ever is the time for outreach work, something that Cornwall Vegans do very well.  Over the past couple of years or so they have launched poster campaigns across Cornwall, and this Spring sees the release of the Vegan Rising 2019 poster campaign.

Most vegans seem tuned in to spotting the word 'vegan', and I am no exception to that, but I am not so tuned in to advertising and often times will not even notice billboards.  

Cornwall Vegans posters though I do notice, and that is without looking for them.  I saw one last night at a bus stop on my drive home through Truro.  As I was driving, it was only a fleeting glimpse of the starling one at the top of the page but it caught my attention.  It was only when I caught up on the Cornwall Vegans Facebook page last night that I saw it and put two and two together.  Anyone standing at that bus stop or walking past couldn't fail to see it.

The wonderful Starling design poster, which is gearing up towards the March for Animals on 10th August, can be seen in Truro at the moment.  The Robin design is currently in St Ives and Looe, and the Sheep design in Newquay and Falmouth.  The more posters the better to get the message out there, so Cornwall Vegans are looking for donations to buy more advertising space and spread them further afield throughout Cornwall.

Please donate if you can.  Every pound counts and will help further this great campaign.  If you can afford it please Paypal your donation (under the friends and family setting) to 

One glance, one read, one thought; that could be one more vegan in the offing.  


Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Valhalla at Falhalla

Word has come to the North Shore (of Cornwall that is, not Oahu) that down in Falifornia (that's Falmouth to the uninitiated) there is a new vegan venture in the offing.  If everyday seems like a Nordic-scale battle at the moment and you dream of your own personal Valhalla, then you should treat yourself and head over to Falhalla this Sunday for the opening day of their new pop up vegan fast food joint.

Falhalla is based at Stones Bakery, slap bang in the heart of the vibrant High Street in Falmouth and it is Pete Wright, one of the bakers at Stones, that is at the forefront of this new vegan eatery.  Back in 2016, whilst in Toronto, Pete visited a place called Cosmic Treats where he was introduced to a world of veganism he didn't know existed.  Pete likes his fast food and fell head over heels in love with the Kentucky style fried 'chicken' and 'beef' burgers offered at Cosmic Treats.  On arriving back in Falmouth last year, he was left wanting for the same kind of vegan options and finding little on offer, he took it upon himself to create his own.  

Pete has spent time refining his recipes, a task helped considerably with his experience and use of the equipment at the bakery.  He is particularly proud of his vegan brioche style buns and his seitan 'meat', along with the fact that he makes it all fresh each day.  The only exception to this is his homemade cashew ice cream, which does take a little more preparation, but after being blown away by the version he experienced in Toronto he couldn't live without producing his own supply and sharing it with the vegan community over here.

On the opening day on Sunday there will be Seitan Cheek'n Burgers, Seitan Beefy Quarter Pounders, Seitan Ribwich Burgers, and Mac n' Cheez on offer, all of which come with fries.  For dessert there is that much loved Cashew Ice Cream served on Hot Belgian Waffles.  Soft drinks are on offer, alongside a vegan pale ale from The Wild Beer Co (another establishment Pete has had some experience at).  Opening is from 12-8pm so plenty of opportunity for lunch, dinner or both!

For further details give Pete a shout on the email or phone number above.  Better still, drop in to support this new vegan venture, enjoy his homemade treats, and find out more about Falhalla.  Hopefully Falhalla will become the vegan heaven in Falmouth that its name aspires to.

Monday, 18 March 2019

An Analogue Musical Adventure

Here in the Driftwood Vegan household not everything revolves around veganism and, although it is so important in our lives, we like to discuss other important things too; like music for instance.  Music is a major influence in our lives and, as much as I couldn't have had a soul mate who isn't vegan, he also had to love music.  Luckily Phil does and over the years we have introduced each other to so much music, as well as discovered even more together.  A life without music is not worth living.

My musical entertainment has been even more of a journey recently.  I took it upon myself to sort through and listen to every single cassette tape I have.  Our beloved, ageing and 261,000 mile Peugeot 306 with its onboard cassette deck has provided the perfect listening vessel on my way to and from work.  It's been amazing; a blast from the past with moments of rediscovery, moments of blushing over forgotten memories and eras, moments of sheer joy and moments of 'what the hell'!  It just goes to show how much music is along for the ride in your journey through life.

The deal with my cassettes has been that if I think it holds enough of a musical wonder and I don't already have it on CD, it gets an entry into my 'little blue book'.  Every month on payday I treat myself to a few of the entries available on the second hand market as CDs.  I have scored a few in charity shops recently too but the more obscure have to be sought out.  The defunct cassettes then wend their way to my colleague and fellow music lover Charlie, who has a penchant for collecting such analogue wonders en masse.  I'm so fortunate that not only are my cassettes not ending up in landfill but that I have Charlie, almost 20 years my junior, to pass on my music and perhaps discover some gems from a different era (as well as have a laugh over the more random ones!).

This brings me neatly on to a recent conversation I had with Phil about musical inheritance.  In this current digital download era, what is going to become of some of the old music?  I was fortunate that my parents passed on their vinyl to me; Beatles, Elvis and an amazing Lee Perry oldster included.  I cherish them and do play them, stylus fuzz and all.  What of these and my vinyls in the future?  I know that vinyl is making a bit of a comeback but realistically are my nieces going to have a record deck to enjoy these on when my time comes?  Phil has even more of a collection of vinyls and between us our CD collection is fairly extensive.  Then there are the digital music files; an increasingly popular format for storing music but one that is not going to be easy or even possible to physically pass on.  What happens therefore to our musical wonders from the past?  Sod the cash inheritance; what about the musical inheritance?

I might be getting old but most (not all) music these days is shit; a diluted media-popularised mix of dull tripe.  Most of our 'new' musical discoveries consist of reaching backwards through time to discover music we had yet to find.  Less and less are our new discoveries actually new and that saddens me.  Unless the new generation take on the same 'backwards' stance, and with less and less music being enjoyed in an analogue format and passed on to future generations, what hope is there for any magical musical inheritance?  I can't even comprehend how sad that could be.  

Perhaps I am being too dramatic or as old fashioned as the generations before me.  I'm a bit of an old folkie and am fully aware of the importance that folk music had in passing down the old stories, especially in the days of illiteracy.  Perhaps back then there was the same kind of panic.  Once the recording of music was possible we had the magic of passing on our musical stories and journeys; vinyl, cassette, CD's; treasured musical history.   Are we going backwards now in this world of en masse information where everything is available in a fleeting instance?  How do we know, treasure and share those creative musical moments that journey along with us and our loved ones?

About four years ago or so I made my parents a musical CD compilation for Christmas.  I included tracks from way before my time; ones that were important to my parents and also ones from growing up.  Summertime Blues, Johnny B Goode, Memphis Tennessee, Hey Jude, Maggie May, Imagine and various Abba songs were all included; the latter being embarrassing to admit but important no less in our family's history and all allowing memories to flood back in.  It ended with Meet on the Ledge by Fairport Convention; a particular evening with my parents spent at Cropredy Festival the reason I included it.  They got me drunk on cider and I loved it.   The delight from my parents that Christmas when we played it was evident; a sharing of the importance of music in our lives from before I was born to my life as an adult recognised by all.  My mum and dad found it touching that I cried as it played.  Its importance was emphasised further when my dad was in hospital during his final few days.  I played the CD to him again.  He was pretty much past talking but we noticed his feet were moving in time; from somewhere a past memory was creating joy.  He then muttered to play it again.  Through tears I pressed pay once more and sat back holding his hand whilst he danced.  Music is indeed magic.

Between us let us not forget the importance of communication and how music is very much an unspoken form of love, history and shared journeys.  Enthuse your children's lives with music in the same way that you do with love and light.  I honestly feel that people who really feel music have a heightened sense of compassion too.  It's about beyond just hearing music.  It's about absorbing, seeing it, feeling it.  It's also about passing that on to whoever you can and not letting it be lost into the digital ether.

Here is an old 'new' discovery to pass on.  I heard it playing in a book shop in Glastonbury and asked who it was.  I now own the full album on CD.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Returning To The Kitchen With An Epic Lasagne Session

I've always loved cooking but over the last couple of years have suffered from a severe lack of time and motivation to do so.  I've had the odd session here and there but for the most part, if it hadn't been for Phil stepping in and feeding us, there might not have been much left of me.  As I slowly climb out of a long period of grief and stress my interest is returning and my groaning shelves of recipe books and folders of collected recipes are looking a little less dusty and neglected.  Basically Phil will be relieved to know I am working on it!

The weekend saw me undertaking a recipe picked up from watching an episode of Jamie and Jimmy's Friday Night Feast quite a while back now.  It was a fully vegan episode and featured the vegan comedian Romesh Ranganathan being cooked his ultimate choice of dish - a vegan lasagne.  I love lasagne too and normally just freestyle it without the need for a recipe but this one did look potentially epic.  It was even called Romesh Ranganathan's Epic Veg Lasagne.  As it also used homemade pasta, it would encourage me to 'dust off' our pasta rolling machine too.  

We dutifully shopped for the few specific ingredients required outside of our pretty epic store cupboard supplies (everybody round to ours if Brexit causes more havoc than it already has!) and started early on the multiple step recipe.  Despite the traditional accompanying tunes to dance to and glass of wine to sup, I in no way slacked off in my concentrated approach to this recipe.  I got on with it, even preparing parts of the recipe earlier on in the process than indicated to try and save time.  The pasta making part was actually very quick, but even so the whole process was extremely long.  I think it goes to show how effective editing can be on the television!  It was gone 9pm before we sat down to eat.

That said, and in fairness, the recipe intro does mention it is a labour of love.  It was really tasty and filling too and a recipe that no doubt would get quicker each time you make it.  I halved the recipe but I must say I wish, given the time it did take, I'd made the full amount and then frozen the other half for a tasty homemade, no fuss mid week dinner.  The only deviation I made was by adding more cheese.  I just couldn't help myself.  The amount in the recipe just seemed too little amongst the other bold flavours and I have to say I am glad I did as it turned out a nice balance.  We used Koko Cheddar Cheese by the way.  It doesn't say in the recipe itself but both further investigation on social media, and indeed the comments at the bottom of the recipe, indicated that was the one he used so we wanted to stick to that.  It isn't our favourite cheese but it worked well in this recipe and our favourite, Vegusto, is now difficult to get hold of and really expensive.

So was it worth it?  Yes, is the answer.  It was worth it on a few levels.  Firstly, yes, it was pretty tasty.  Even if I didn't commit to the time for the full recipe I would definitely take elements of it when I next freestyle my own, such as blending mushrooms with the white sauce and adding a cheese, sage and breadcrumb topping.  In addition it got me making fresh pasta again, and I had forgotten how simple, quick and far more tasty it is.  Most of all though, it got me back in the kitchen, slowing down to appreciate the creativity that is the kitchen, and cooking for my wonderful and much appreciated fella that is Phil.