Category Archives: woods

blue skies, purple smoothie

clouds

Wonderful skies just now. Especially on the coldest of days. Wonderful smoothies too, made possible by the wonder of frozen fruit. The combination of pecan nuts and tart purple berries such as brambles (blackberries) or blackcurrants creates a delicious and rich sweetness reminiscent of the best brown sugar.

bright skies

Recipe:
(For four people, big servings, adjust as needed)
1 bag of frozen blackberries or blackcurrants
4 bananas
1 cup of pecan nuts
orange juice to cover in blender (probably about 1 litre)
If you like a thicker smoothie add an avocado or some linseeds.
Blend! Enjoy the brown sugary wonder! Go for a walk among the trees!

trees

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Snow, Soup and Books

snow

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

snowdrops

Literary gifts for book lovers, gorgeous gift ideas for readers, writers and literature fans

Oh, Sweet Freedom!

chocolate syrups

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:

snow in spring

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…

vegan ice cream

We adjusted our Banana Muffin recipe and it worked out very well.
Ingredients:
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
vanilla essence
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.

choc shotsSweet Freedom and Choc Shots are available from many supermarkets such as Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Co-op and Ocado. Also from Amazon here.

Spring is almost Sprung…

scram

We’ve spotted some lovely vegan goodies around for Easter this year, see our page for listings.

Something else new and lovely: The Vegan Lifestyle Association. A not-for-profit organisation,  it is 100% committed to saving lives and saving our planet. Achieved through proactive education on the multiple benefits of a Vegan lifestyle and supporting all those who wish to try it. It’s also free to join with many member benefits, discounts etc. Go see!

Weather-blasted oak trees in Argyll last week:

trees

vegan gammon and pineapple

sunset

As the sun set on 2014 we went all retro with a VBites Gammon Style Roast and some pineapple fritters. The fritters were juicy and delicious!

Ingredients: one tin of pineapple rings in pineapple juice and half a cup (approx.) of Doves Farm Gluten free flour. Method: beat the flour and juice together to form a batter; dip/spread the rings with the mixture and shallow fry for a few minutes each side. Enjoy…

gam

Space Age Cooking

gluten free mini chocolate logs

Doesn’t look a very space age treat, but it is because it was cooked in this:

Halogen oven

…and that looks like a robot, little eyes and everything, though it’s actually a VonShef Halogen Oven Cooker. It’s an amazing and energy saving device, great for when you want to just bake a cake or cook one dish without heating the whole oven. It also gets hot at once, no need to preheat. It comes with a bunch of kitchen stuff too: heat resistant basket, recipe book, extender ring, lid holder, baking tray, steamer tray, skewers, low Rack, high Rack (these work well as cooling racks) and a nice oven glove. It would make a great gift!

Halogen oven and accessories

So on with the recipes…

Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Yule Logs:
125g of vegetable maragarine
125g caster sugar
250g Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
2 heaped tablespoons of cocoa
a good squirt of golden syrup (makes it ‘fudgey’)
a teaspoon of vanilla extract
soya milk to mix
decoration: marzipan, 200g melted chocolate and a sprinkle of icing sugar

Cream the marg. and sugar together and then gradually mix in the other ingredients like so: a little flour, a little soya milk, stir; add cocoa and some soya milk, stir. Once it’s all well mixed, pour into a greased cake tin and set the oven temperature to 175C and the timer to 45 minutes. Place the cake in there, close the lid and go for a walk to watch the sunrise (optional/replace with activity of choice):

sunrise

Check for readiness with a skewer, cook for a few more minutes if still wet in the middle. Once the cake is totally cool, remove from the tin and cut into bite-size pieces. Top with thinly sliced marzipan and melted chocolate. It’s ideal to let the chocolate cool a little before spreading on the cakes (go and pick holly) as you can then pull a fork through it for a nice wood-like effect. Let the chocolate set and then sprinkle with icing sugar.

We also made Creamy Sage and Onion Potatoes in the Halogen oven:
8 medium potatoes, sliced very thin and par-boiled for a few minutes, we left the skins on
2 red onions, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
a small handful of fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon of marg.
1 tablespoon of flour
250ml of soya milk
salt to taste

Grease an oven proof dish. Melt the marg. and cook the onions and garlic in it until softened. Add the sage. Add the flour. Mix well. Gradually stir in the soya milk and continue stirring over a low heat until the sauce thickens. Season with salt. Layer this up with the potatoes in your greased dish, leaving plenty for the top as it just looks nice. Set the timer to 50 minutes and the temperature to 250C and light up the kitchen. Ta-da:

potato bake

Coconut!

smoothie

We were sent some coconut milk by Rhythm. It’s a chilled product, comes in sachets as opposed to tins, and contains no added ingredients, no sweeteners, no de-coagulants, no rubbish. Just coconut. It’s also cold pressed, so suitable for raw food recipes, and is the best coconut milk we have ever tasted.

coconut milkWe made the tropical fruit smoothie pictured above (4 pints, adjust quantities as desired).
Into it went:
1 bag of frozen organic tropical fruit
4 bananas
100g of Rhythm’s thick creamy coconut milk
a few brazil nuts
1 litre of orange juice
Whizz it all up in a blender. The Vitamix had no problem with the fruit straight from frozen, you might have to defrost with a lower powered machine. It was gorgeous: sweet but not too sweet, rich but not sickening, perfect.

chiilisThis next recipe we are calling ‘Thai-Style Bubble and Squeak’. If you actually have left over cooked potatoes and cabbage it would be super quick to prepare. This is the method from scratch:
In 1 tsp of coconut oil, fry up a red chilli, 5 cloves of garlic and a thumb of ginger, all finely chopped. Stir in 300g of Rhythm’s coconut milk with a little water to make a creamy bubbling sauce.

Wash and thinly slice a small bag of new potatoes and half a Savoy cabbage. Pop them into the pan, stirring frequently until soft and cooked, increasing the water if needed.  Add sea salt to taste. Nice served with rice and salad after a blustery Autumn walk.

autumn leaves