Sunday, 21 December 2014

Driftwood Christmas Tree


We don't normally have a Christmas tree being the bah humbug vegans we are (and because we hate the idea of digging up/cutting down a beautiful tree just for Jesus). My friend Jane from work however gifted me this wonderful tree the other day with a little note on it saying 'a driftwood Christmas tree for the Driftwood Vegans'.  A friend of hers had made it after collecting the driftwood off of the surrounding beaches.  We love it.

So finally today, sparked along by the little driftwood tree, I got a little more in the festive spirit, wrapped up all my presents (with all the wrapping left over from last year - some of which has been in our family for years!) and broke out our, again gifted, sample of decorations to dress the tree in a typical Driftwood Vegans way.

Happy Winter Solstice everyone!

For others who also hate sacrificing Christmas trees, here is another alternative; a rosemary chili tree I made in a previous year.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Building Development We Approve Of!

Now this is what we call cave art!  What this guy creates is absolutely amazing.  We'd start work on the caves down on the beach in this style if they weren't granite and flooded twice a day with the tide!


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Teese Cheese and More




After a few heavy and busy days we were both in the mood for an easy dinner at home but also one that was a real treat.  Enter a packet of Bionita Gluten Free Spinach Gnocchi, Vegusto Mushroom and No Moo Cheese Burgers and a packet of Teese Creamy Cheddar Sauce. 
 
Phil whipped up a leek and mushroom cheesy sauce with the Teese which he served on top of some homemade ravioli we already had tucked away in the freezer.  With the addition of some lovely grilled tomatoes, steamed sprouting broccoli and a few olives we had a meal that got the 'comfort food' ummms and ahhhs going. 
 
Even better; I hadn't (apart from originally making the ravioli) got involved preparing this comfort food treat.  I was busy not only printing and packaging up homemade Christmas cards to sell in the village shop but was also still nursing the effects of  my second only ever hangover.  I was struggling a little.
 
This plate of food therefore, when it was put in front of me, was 'everything' at that moment.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Weather Bomb Hits Britain

Well it was pretty wild last night here in Cornwall but not quite so bad as further up north.  The cause apparently is a 'weather bomb'  or a deep low pressure hitting Britain. 
 
17,000 houses are without power due to 80mph winds which are also doing a good job of whipping up predicted 40ft waves.  It also brings plunging temperatures as snow starts to hit too.
 
This looks like the beginning of winter proper then.  On a positive side we hope everybody stays safe and it whips up some surf-able waves for Phil!

Read the BBC News report here.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Stuffed Seitan Roast


The usual challenge of Christmas/Winter Solstice dinner approaches.  My parents are visiting.  My mum is practically vegan but isn't that keen on nuts.  My dad eats meat (not in our house though) but doesn't like soya. Phil will eat anything vegan but would like something a bit different.  I would rather make something than buy it ready made and most of all, I want to keep everyone happy.  

Seitan to the rescue!  We've been continuing to experiment with wheat gluten recipes recently and happened upon the rather excellent Chick Pea Cutlets from the large delicious pages of the Veganomicon recipe book.  Using this as a base, I wanted to create a stuffed roast. I adapted the seasonings, ingredients and measurements slightly and then threw in the idea of a stuffing rolled up inside the seitan mix.  At the last minute I remembered a jar of rosemary jelly I had 'loitering with intent' at the back of our store cupboard.  That might add some 'zig-a-zig-ah' so in it went on top of the stuffing snuggly rolled up within the seitan.

The result was pretty tasty, textural and tempting and got a few mmm's from Phil's corner during our experimental Sunday roast.  I think it will make it on this years festive table but much is the way with me, I will continue to tweak the recipe here and there in the meantime. Just sat here typing this now I'm thinking 'why didn't I use a bit of yeast extract in the water/stock' and 'hey, how about using cranberry sauce instead of rosemary jelly?'.  As Phil always says, I never use the same recipe twice so here (for the moment) I give you my current offering.  Try, change, experiment and if you come up with a winner, feel free to pitch in with an improvement.  I'd love to hear from you. Just make sure it's before the Winter Solstice!

Stuffed Seitan Roast

1 (400g) tin chickpeas
1 cup breadcrumbs (I blended 1 big slice of bread for this)
3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
2 teaspoons mixed herbs
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons soya sauce
1 teaspoon mustard
2 tablespoons rapeseed (or other nice) oil
1/2 cup water or stock

1 packet (85g) stuffing mix (I used a basic sage and onion that didn't have palm oil)
Few spoonfuls to taste of Rosemary Jelly (I used one from Bay Tree)



Make up the stuffing mix according to the packet instructions and set aside.

Blend the chickpeas in a food processor until blitzed.  Add the breadcrumbs, wheat gluten, herbs and garlic and give it all another blitz to mix.

Add in the soya sauce, mustard (psst.......don't tell Phil I used mustard as he says he doesn't like it but actually I use it a lot and he never knows) and oil and give it another blitz to mix. 

Finally add the water or broth for a final good old blitz and mix.  After a little while you should notice that the mixture starts to 'ball' up like a proper dough.  At this point turn the mixture out into a bowl and give it some human loving in the way of a little kneading.  You should notice the 'strings and strands' of the gluten at this point. That means life is all good in the world of seitan.

Grease up a baking tray and then roll the seitan dough to about an A4 size of paper (I did this directly onto the baking tray).  Add a 'sausage' of the stuffing mix down the middle of the seitan and then dollop on spoonfuls of the rosemary jelly here and there; as much or as little as your instinct deals you will taste good.

Roll the seitan edges together into a roll to tuck in the stuffing well, sealing the edges by pressing together.  Turn the roll carefully over so that the seam is on the bottom (makes it look more purdy!) and then cut some slits in the top of the roll.  Coat the top with a little oil if you wish.

Bake it at around 200 degrees C for about 30 minutes.  Our oven is ancient so best just keep an eye on the roll to make sure it browns but doesn't go too crispy.

Enjoy and experiment!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Strawberry Goji Muffins


I'm not normally that prone to winter blues but I must admit that recently I've been feeling it a bit more.  With the race towards Christmas and all its materialistic trappings, I've been feeling far from festive and more in the mood to hide away and await the return of lighter warmer days.  

Cake helps and what better way of summoning up the summer gods than making them out of this summers stock of strawberries squirrelled away in the freezer.  With goji berries for making the cakes into a super food naughty treat and the rest of the ingredients already in the supplies cupboard, the sun suddenly seeped back into the kitchen.  

The recipe for these lovely muffins comes from Dreena Burton's Let Them Eat Vegan; a book that I had blogged about wanting a while back and shortly after bought.  It has been a delight to work my way through these recipes and this one is bound to be a regular; especially with another couple of bags of home grown strawberries in the freezer.

Strawberry Goji Muffins (by Dreena Burton) 

The following is my own shortened version of making these (so not word for word). I urge you to buy Dreena's Let Them Eat Vegan for more tasty and healthy vegan loveliness!

1 cup oat flour (I just blended up oat flakes for this)
1 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup of sugar (I used rapadura sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (or cinnamon)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup soya (or other non-dairy) milk
1/4 cup dried goji berries
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons rape seed oil

Bit of rapadura sugar for the tops.

Bung all the dry ingredients (apart from the arrowroot powder and goji berries) into a large bowl and mix well.

In a food processor place all the remaining ingredients (apart from the sugar topping) and allow to sit for a few minutes for the gojis to soak and the frozen strawberries to just defrost a little.  

Whilst this is happening prepare a muffin tin.  This mixture made 10 quite large muffins.

Blend all the wet ingredients until smooth and then add all this to the dry mixture. Mix until all incorporated and then fill the muffin inserts/liners.  Sprinkle a little bit of sugar on top of each muffin before popping into a pre-heated oven at about 200 degrees C.  My muffins took about 25 minutes at this temperature but to make sure they are cooked stick the usual toothpick or knife into one and if it comes out clean, all is good.

Allow to cool then enjoy your little bit of summer!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

From Scrap Wood to Surfboard Art

For sheer enjoyment value alone, can there be a better way to re-purpose scrap wood than this?  It's something that I have often wanted to try myself as I have chopped up old pallets for kindling.  The results would be nowhere near the artistic or functional level of this craftsman though.  This little film is a superb 'how to' for turning scrap wood into a beautiful surfboard.  If you think that it looks a little misshapen then you are partly right.  This chap specialises in asymmetric surfboard designs that might look a little odd, but make sense in terms of human anatomy and function.  A lot of work goes into making a surfboard in this way, but the results speak for themselves.



Sunday, 30 November 2014

Long Walks by the Sea


There are many advantages to living where we do but one of the best is that we have a large amount of open space around us.  Straight from our door we can walk and be in view of the sea within minutes and we can walk beside it for hours.  Neither of us can bear to be away from the sea very long so we feel very privileged and happy to live where we do.
Today we took off for a three hour walk over common land, two headlands and three beaches; all under a mixture of sunshine and dark clouds.  We saw mating seals, birds of prey, swooping gulls and many a mushroom whilst enjoying the sound of the surging sea, feeling the nip of the slight wind and exchanging greetings with fellow walkers.
My only regret was not having taken a camera with me (beyond the one on my phone) with a good lens to capture the drama of the mating seals rolling around in the sand at the edge of the surf.  I did however discover a panoramic setting on the camera of my new phone which was a bit of a novelty!



Thursday, 27 November 2014

A Letter to Jamie Oliver

Dear Jamie,

You’re busy so we will make this a quick(ish) read!

We’ve been vegan over 27 years but only in the last 5 years have we seen veganism become truly recognised and certainly a lot more understood.  It’s a hugely expanding market there is no doubt about that; with many a celebrity now ‘coming out’ as a vegan!  If you want to know how popular and amazing people think vegan food is just pop into Wildebeest in little old Falmouth in the depths of Cornwall (you might want to book first though!). 

Out of all the respected chefs we think that you are the most respected among the vegan community; due to your no nonsense, direct, no bullshit approach with your cuisine and your community projects.  It has been noted that you have embraced vegan cuisine among your recipes (hell, your Chilli Con Veggie recipe is a blinder – best one we’ve ever tasted).

So here’s the thing; there is only one man for the job.  We think you should make a vegan cookery TV show.  We are not talking about necessarily from the animal cruelty perspective (the public would find that hard to swallow and watch no doubt), or even the environmental/feed the world perspective (watch the film ‘Cowspiracy’ if you want to blow your mind with that one - http://www.cowspiracy.com/).  No, we are talking from the healthy, damn good tasting food perspective.  Let’s face it, you are bloody good at that and you are also pretty good at doing projects that are different, ‘out there’ and that challenge and interest people.  The fact is people love you and nobody has made a mainstream vegan TV show as far as we know (not in this country anyway).  That is a winning combination surely?

Despite our suggestion of a vegan TV show being on the top spot on Food Network suggestions for over a year nothing has happened there (https://foodnetwork.uservoice.com/forums/150258-food-network-uk/suggestions/4234929-have-an-all-vegan-cook-show) so perhaps a kick from you would do the trick?  In fact we’d rather you did it than Food Network anyway.

So what do you think Jamie? 

If you would like to discuss this further pop in for a cuppa (soya milk only) when you are next at Fifteen at Watergate (we are only about 5 miles west).  Despite our ‘up front’ letter above we are actually very quiet, unassuming people so I’m sure you can cope with us.  Or better still, we’ll treat you to a meal at Wildebeest.  If only you knew how hard that was to resist?

Scooby Gill and Phil Chapman

Cornwall 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Truffles



My friend and colleague Jane told me about this sweet and simple treat.  She had read it somewhere but couldn't remember where but the idea is so simple I am surprised I've not stumbled into making it on one of my random creation cooking days.  It is just three ingredients; all of which we pretty much always have in stock.

Take a banana and slice it into half inch rounds.  Sandwich two rounds together with a bit of peanut butter then place these carefully on a plate and pop it in the freezer.  Once they are nicely frozen, melt some chocolate and give the sandwiches a good dipping.  The chocolate actually starts freezing onto the truffles whilst you are doing this.  They don't look like works of art but who cares; your going to eat them not look at them!

Eat them there and then (that's what Jane said she normally did!) or be good and place them back in the freezer to take out and eat when the moment takes your fancy.  I really like them straight from the freezer but Phil prefers them just from the fridge; but then he's a bit weird like that as he also likes his bananas really ripe and turning brown whilst I like mine fresh and almost green!!

Either way, enjoy!