It’s bright. It’s snowy. It’s cold.
So… soup. And maybe Easter eggs.
And definitely books! Recent reads here include:
Room by Emma Donoghue. You’re best going into this knowing only that a five year old boy and his mother live in a tiny room and that the child, the voice of the novel, has never left it. So intriguing. Scary and thought provoking too.
Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
The Bones of You by Debbie Howells is a chilling and gripping murder mystery and a good exploration of narcissism.
Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
And if you need to laugh after those, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion should have you doing that from the opening pages as obviously autistic Don Tillman sets out to solve ‘the wife problem’.
Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Yushoi sent us some of their healthy Snapea Rice Sticks to try. The four flavours: Lightly Salted; Soy and Balsamic Vinegar; Sweet Chilli and Lemon, and Smoked Salt and Szechaun Pepper are all delicious. Our favourite was the Szechaun Pepper with its rich and smoky barbecue taste.
All the Snapea Rice Sticks we were sent are suitable for vegans (edit: new Coconut and Chilli flavour contains milk) and also made in a nut free factory. While reminiscent of puffed corn or potato snacks, Yushoi actually make their products with green peas which are a better source of protein. The flavourings are all natural too. Baked, not fried, they come in a single serving size of 21g and a large re-sealable pack of 105g. So this Valentine’s Day: crisps not chocolate. Okay, maybe crisps and chocolate! And hummus… and tomatoes…
Snapea Rice Sticks are available at various shops: Tesco, Morrisons, The Co-op, Ocado, Wholefoods, WH Smith and even Amazon.
New Year: a time for brisk and breezy beach walks and fresh clean laundry! We used Planet Pure Organic Laundry Liquid throughout December and it proved a most effective product, I’ll be telling my Maids in a Minute about it since they are the ones who often do the cleaning at home. We had the lavender variety, which smelled lovely and was nostalgically reminiscent of another eco laundry liquid from the distant past (the nineties), Down to Earth, that was also scented with lavender. Planet Pure scores higher on the purity front though: it’s not dyed some chemical colour, instead being a natural brown and it settles a bit, needing a shake before use.
It washed everything really well, the ingredients including saponin rich soap nuts. The fresh scent of the finished laundry was certainly put to good test, given the deluge there’s been in the last two weeks. There were times when washing had to be brought in from the line and spun again, but it still smelled air dried and nice.
The accompanying stain remover worked well on some festive food stains and we also used it to remove a rusty water stain from a carpet, left by the Christmas tree holder!
This review has been organised by the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION. It has not been paid for and the products were sent free of charge. This is our genuine and unbiased review of the product.
Pictured above is a very delicious Mheat fillet, stuffed with mushroom risotto and wrapped in puff pastry. Everybody loved it. Everybody wanted more. Served with baby broad beans, asparagus and a garlic and rosemary roast tomato, it made a very good meal and would be a good festive choice.
The fillet itself is really meaty, being made with wheat gluten, though less dense and solid than some seitan products we’ve tried, making it simple to stuff and wrap. Unlike tofu, mheat is flavoursome to begin with, savoury and salty. It’s also a good size, easily feeding four people. If you need a mushroom risotto recipe there’s one on the Yule page in the midst of Cat’s ‘Now that’s what I call a Christmas dinner’ mushroom parcel.
You can read more about the artisan made, small batch Mheat products on Sgaia’s website here
This review has been organised by the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION It has not been paid for and the products were sent free of charge. This is our genuine and unbiased review of the product. Sgaia Foods are listed with the VLA and you can see their listing here.
This is a beautiful new product from Living Naturally, the makers of soapnuts, that wonderfully pure and natural laundry alternative. Bergamot, Ylang and Rose Soapnut Salve is gentle, does not sting even slightly sore skin and smells glorious, the dominant scent being ylang ylang.
We’ve used it on chapped hands, mild eczema and sore noses with perfect skin-softening effect. It contains a wide variety of herbs including soapnuts themselves, and also: plantain, marshmallow, chickweed, burdock, calendula and dandelion.
This review has been organised by the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION It has not been paid for and the products were sent free of charge. This is genuine and unbiased review of the product. Living Naturally is listed with the VLA and offers Associates a 20% discount and you can take advantage of this here
Update: café is closed for winter but it has made Trip Advisor’s Top Ten Restaurants in Aberdeenshire!
Actually there were no fried green tomatoes. But there was a plethora of other wonderful food at this 100% vegan weekend café in Aberdeenshire.
The Last Bus Works Canteen is just out of New Pitsligo and open 10-6 every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
It’s quirky and friendly and has a great selection of cake. Below is a chocolate orange muffin with ice cream.
There’s pink Himalayan salt on the tables, olive oil in an oil can and recycled shelves all around.
It was a relaxing and fortifying place to visit after an eight mile walk in the rain! Well worth seeking out.
Porridge on a cold day with Sweet Freedom‘s Choc Shot and natural sweetness syrup.
These products are a great alternative to refined sugar, the sweetness being sourced from fruit and carob. And they’re delicious! The chocolate porridge is creamy and rich, perfect for a day that ended up like this:
The chocolate orange syrup makes a wonderfully warming hot chocolate; it’s slightly spicy, reminiscent of Maya Gold chocolate, and maybe needless to say, but they’re all good on ice cream…
We adjusted our Banana Muffin recipe and it worked out very well.
200g./7 oz/1 and a half cups of self raising flour
1 large tablespoon of Sweet Freedom syrup
3 fl oz/100ml of orange juice
3 fl.oz/100ml of sunflower oil
2 mashed bananas (over ripe is best)
some soya milk as required
dash of vinegar
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients – but not the vinegar – in a jug or bowl. Mix the two together and then stir in enough soya milk to make a smooth mixture and add the bananas, Finally add the dash of vinegar to get that lovely chemical reaction and mix well. This should make enough to fill 12 cake cases. It’s a good idea to put them in a muffin or patty tin to help them keep their shape but not totally essential. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes at 190 degrees and then cool.
Sweet Freedom and Choc Shots are available from many supermarkets such as Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Co-op and Ocado. Also from Amazon here.
Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes
4 tablespoons of self-raising gluten free flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 quarter teaspoon of hot chilli powder
4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 box of rice cream or something similar (we got this at Approved Food, always worth checking for vegan goodies), a vegan yoghurt or soya cream would do, even a chocolate pudding
Mix the dry. Add the wet. Stir thoroughly and divide between 12 cake cases. Bake at 200C/400F for up to 20 minutes or until risen and firm. Once they have cooled: ice them!
For the spicy icing:
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of caster sugar (or icing sugar)
2 tablespoons of marg.
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a pinch of salt
Melt it all up in pan over a very low heat. Once well mixed, allow to cool and thicken a little before spreading on the cakes.
Perfect for Valentines Day, as is our little friend Egbert:
And books, they always make perfect gifts… Here’s two involving love that we’ve read and enjoyed in recent months:
Matt Haig’s ‘The Humans’ is compassionate and funny and deeply moving. When Professor Andrew Martin solves an important mathematical problem, he is replaced by an alien who is charged with eliminating all evidence of the discovery and Professor Martin’s wife and son. It’s one of those books that is so good you nag other people to read it…
Buy UK or Buy US
Set in 17th century Amsterdam, Jessie Burton’s novel follows the lives of newly married Nella Oortman and her family. Intrigue surrounds the dolls house that Nella is given as a wedding gift and the mysterious miniaturist whose wares echo the lives of the people in the real house. Gripping and unputdownable.
Buy UK or Buy US
It’s an exceptionally frosty morning. But it’s okay. Because we have hot chocolate and Nudie snacks.
Nudie snacks are toasted coconut chips, rich in healthy fats and fibre and decidedly moreish. You can make vegan bacon with them. You can top curries with them. You can eat them for breakfast with your cereal. They are available from Amazon and Whole Foods at present.
A beautiful birthday cake for a beautiful person:
In other food news: Graze are offering a free, no obligation to continue, first box again and we have a new lasagne recipe over on frugal.
A Beautiful Green Smoothie made with wonderfully rehydrating coconut water (as ever these quantities make a large jug that serves four):
half a bag (about 3 cups) of baby leaf spinach
2 X 320 ml. tins of JT’s Coconut Water
1 tablespoon of nut butter such as almond or brazil (we used Cacao Brazilnut Bliss)
Top the jug off with juice of your choice: apple for a sweeter smoothie, orange for tartness.
Blitz and enjoy!
We’ve also tried their coconut oil which is rich and smooth and nourishing. We made this with it:
Coconut Chick Pea Rice:
1 heaped tablespoon (or 2 runny ones if you’re in hot climes) of JT’s Coconut Oil
1 large spring onion
4 or 5 cups of cooked rice; we boiled ours with a little turmeric, hence the nice yellow colour
1 can of cooked chick peas
seasalt to taste
Fry the onion in the oil until softened. Add the rice and chickpeas and stir until everything is well heated through. Season. Serve with salad. Simple and utterly delicious. You can really taste the coconut.