Category Archives: books

red dragon pie

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This recipe originated in Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Kitchen (BBC cookery series). Topped with mash, the base is a rich mix of aduki beans – said to give you the strength of the dragon, this is where the dish gets its name – and brown rice in gravy.

Here’s how we do it:

Soak beans overnight if using dried ones. For the mammoth pie above which did dinner and lunch next day for four, we used 250g of dried beans. Place in a  large pan, cover well with water, bring to the boil and let simmer for a long time… (should be instructions on the bag). Throw in the rice (200g) about half way through cooking. Add more water if needed. Once it’s all nearly cooked add the vegetables. In this pie there were four carrots and one head of celery, all chopped. Onion is good too.

As that cooks up a bit, add a teaspoon of mixed herbs, a good  squidge of tomato puree and a teaspoon of yeast extract. Taste and add salt if needed. Stir well. Top with mashed potatoes – especially easy if using cookware that does hob and oven like our favourite Le Creuset Cast Iron Round Casserole – and bake in a hot oven until nicely browned.

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a green book giveaway

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We have a beautiful paperback copy of Lynne Rickard’s new book , I Do Not Eat the Colour Green to give away. A lovely title which encourages healthy eating for kids. See our review of it up here

To enter just comment on this post and tell us what your favourite green thing is. Interpret the word green in any way you like 🙂 We only have one copy so Charlotte will pick the entry that appeals most to her this time – the names will be removed before she judges so feel free to enter if we know you personally or if you’ve never set eyes on this blog before – it won’t affect your chances 😀

Competition now closed: Congratulations to Wendy 😀

Vegetarian Christmas

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An older book, now out of print, but I don’t think anything has come along to best it as a veggie festive title (do comment if you know otherwise!). I got the hardback out of the library something like 18/19 years ago and it impacted me. The gorgeousness of Christmas food, the hints on preparing and freezing taking the hard work away from the day itself, the photos all through it. In fact looking through the pristine copy I now own (thank you Amazon marketplace, used condition, 1 pence!) I see obvious influences there for some of the recipes on our Yule page from puff pastry mushroom trees:

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to little Santa pizzas:

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and parsley potato stars: vc6

There are five complete Christmas dinner menus, sections on preparation, party food, puddings and cakes, lighter festive lunches and so many cute sides. There’s also a craft bit about making your own gifts. As with all Rose Elliot books there are vegan adjustments added in where appropriate.

Amazon links: Buy UK or Buy US

Whooper swans flew over as I was taking the photographs:

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Millennium

I love it when I have a book that I’m enjoying so much I resent all other activities that take me away from it .  Things like housework, cooking, sleeping… ugh… website work, long walks and lovely trips out with friends are still good 🙂 I did/do/will manipulate any conversation to a discussion about the books in question and the author though 😀

Halfway through the second title in the Millennium trilogy with the aspergian character Lisbeth Salander. Long term readers of the blog will know that I do like writers who are saying stuff that needs to be said. Exposing the rot in the hope of helping clear it away. Here we have institutional abuse, sadistic bullying, violence against women and children and the compliance and ignorance of those around the situations against a very thrilling murder plot with corruption and political comment aplenty. Wonderfully recognised individuals. So exciting, I have to go…

Wiki on author Stieg Larsson

cheap

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a frugal recipe again, basic pasties 🙂

and always bargains to be had from the book people

a casserole and a cookbook

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We will have been married 20 years this year… which causes me to reflect how far we’ve come, how much the world has changed in that time and to note the two items above. They were given to us as a wedding present by friends who I used to babysit for and here they are still with us, I don’t think any other dish we own has survived that long! The Cranks Recipe Book sparked my interest at once, as I had eaten in their restaurant in London while a student, and it called to mind lovely brick walls and earthenware plates of hearty soup (they now have one restaurant in Devon).

It really taught me to cook, being the only cookery title I had at the time (bit of a change there then) in our first flat that we loved so much. I was fairly clueless when it came to the culinary arts. I remember phoning my mum at times with questions such as ‘how do you cook a neep? I can’t even seem to cut it up’. With the book I learned to bake bread, make cakes and the wonderfully frugal crecy plate pie, prepare soups and casseroles got put in the dish 🙂 It influenced me in more subtle ways too. Being the one and only it got thoroughly read and I absorbed the health oriented nature of the pages, reading for example, how much adding fresh herbs enhanced the nutritional value of the food. I remember the excitement of planting up a small herb garden and reading more deeply into these subjects. Looking at it now I notice all the cheesy recipes but you could just use any one of the many vegan cheeses available now or leave it out altogether.

Bit different when we first went vegan – a vegan cookbook obtained from the library that shall remain nameless (mainly as I can’t remember it’s name, I think it was somewhat generic, but also I do not want to slander it as it may have had other redeeming recipes) was responsible for me making a vegan cheese out of marg and yeast extract 13 years ago – absolutely disgusting, totally foul!!

So, my cranks book, heavily marked with food, water and childrens crayons. It is now available in a swanky new asparagus covered edition but you can still pick up the original for a penny 😀

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As for the dish, it still gets used though not as much anymore. The odd apple/rhubarb crumble is popped in it. I now favour my big Le Creuset that you can cook on the hob and in the oven with – very handy for making a sheperdess/red dragon pie base in and just putting mashed tatties on top and then into the oven it goes. I am very lucky to also have two similar cast iron AGA pans/casseroles given to us by another friend who had them sitting unwanted and unused in his garage, and these are my 3 usual dinner cooking pans now.

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We’ve always been blessed with friendship 🙂 I am currently reading Walking to Greenham sent to me by a wonderful woman and friend… a fascinating book and I find myself contemplating the larger worldwide changing of the times. What will the next 20 years bring?

Look Me in the Eye

Just finished reading ‘Look Me in the Eye – my life with aspergers’ by John Elder Robison. It is a totally fascinating read on several levels. He has had an interesting life, developing amplifiers and special effects for Kiss and Pink Floyd in the past, moving on to the toy industry then eventually starting his own business restoring fine European automobliles. His childhood was harrowing, growing up with a mother with severe mental health issues and a father who became an alcoholic. His younger brother has also written his memoirs of these times in the rather better known Running With Scissors, which I am keen to read now.

Obviously I find John’s views and ideas about aspergers absorbing. I agree so much with what he says about why some kids with asd become very badly behaved or even violent – the way other people treat them leads to a lot of frustration building up. As a child he played some really bizarre tricks on people – incredibly well thought out and clever but quite disturbing too. He hated school, never fitted in and left at 15. It’s at this part of the book that we begin to see him shine. He channels his own talents and expertise into finding work and a life for himself. Never boastful, it seems as if he doesn’t realise just quite how well he has done. It’s rare and special when someone achieves work that they love and makes a good living that way. Thinking of various aspies I’ve known/know, I wonder if they are actually better at managing this than the rest? The ability to think your own way and not take on peer group ideas is strong… hmm… just my own thoughts there.

I loved the latter section of the book where John talks about his relationships in a beautifully logical, slightly bemused way. His love for his son is wonderful and I found it most humerous how he talks about this and everyone he loves. So a fab book all round, much aspergian wisdom dispensed within 😀 The author’s site is also very good.