Smoothie of the moment:
Bramble, quantities are for four people, adjust as required. Ingredients: a quarter blender jug of brambles (blackberries); 100g of walnuts; 5 bananas; 1 large apple; orange juice to cover. Blend and enjoy the tart sweetness of the season.
Book of the moment:
Beauty by Sheri S. Teper. A stunningly well written, time-jumping, retelling of the sleeping beauty story for adults with a strong environmental message.
Buy UK or Buy US
Horse Chestnut is very much the tree of the moment:
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.
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:
Unlike previous chestnut roasting efforts, these were done properly, in an actual long handled chestnut pan, no less.
So they were sweet and succulent and cooked all the way through, unlike the ‘wrapped in foil and put in the fire’ nuts of the past which were burnt on the outside and raw in the middle.
Washed and scored:
The pan comes with full instructions on how to choose the best chestnuts and then how to roast them, making it a really nice festive gift.
It’s almost December! Chocolate Advent Calendars:
To finish off today, turn your sound up and listen to some beautiful whooper swans on the early morning loch.
First to the glossy hair. The organic hair care company Old Wives Tail sent us some lovely smelling Argan & Rosemary Organic Oil Treatment. Now, my hair has always been thin and brittle; good nutrition improved it, but on a windy day in the woods I still looked like a demented will-o’-the-wisp. I also use other products, like a special shampoo for avoid hair loss, learn more here,
Never having used an oil treatment before, I wondered if the thick conditioner would really shampoo off easily: it did, oily to squeaky clean in sixty seconds. And it’s left my hair feeling fuller, with more body and smelling great. It’s actually glossy. Will it defy the wind? Well that would be a miracle, but who knows?
Old Wives Tail are running a competition to win a free hair mask of your choice here. (Closes August 1st).
An older recipe from our main courses page has recently come back into favour, it’s so delicious I don’t know why we stopped making it:
Sweet Potatoes in a Coconut and Peanut Sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
a little sunflower oil
1 teaspoon of curry powder or spices of your choice
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 tin of coconut milk
5 or 6 medium sized sweet potatoes, cut into bite size chunks
seasalt to taste
Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes. Add the curry spices and stir well. Add the peanut butter, stirring over a medium heat until in begins to melt and then pour in your coconut milk and stir until well blended. Put the sweet potatoes and salt in the pan and bring to the boil and then turn down to simmer until they are softened (10 minutes +). Nice with rice and salad.
‘Harlequin’ is one of fifty life-size dolphins displayed across Aberdeen for the summer. They are diverse and beautiful and huggable. See the Wild Dolphins website for more info.
River, trees and snowy mountains from a steam train window (it’ll make sense later).
Creamy Vegetable Pie is an old recipe that wasn’t included in the site update, but we’ve had requests for it so here it is 🙂
1 tablespoon vegan marg (we used Pure sunflower)
1 leek, chopped
5 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
6 carrots, chopped
about a cupful of frozen peas
1 vegan stock cube (we used Kallo Organic Vegetable Stock Cubes )
2 tablespoons white flour
3/4 of litre of soya milk (approx)
seasalt to taste
2 kg potatoes, peeled
a little soya milk, marg and salt and pepper to mash into the tatties
large bunch of chives to mash into the tatties – easiest chopped up with scissors, straight into pan.
Peel and roughly chop the potatoes, place in a pan and cover with water and bring to boil. Once boiling turn down to simmer until soft. While that’s happening, prepare the veg and sauce. Melt the marg in a pan and add the veg and stock cube, cooking until slightly softened (5-10 min), stirring regularly. Add the flour and mix well. Gradually add the soya milk, stirring all the time until a nice thick sauce is formed round the veggies (you can add more soya milk or water if too thick). Season with salt and pepper and place in a large oven proof dish (we used a lasagne one).
Once the tatties are cooked, mash with the marg, s. milk, salt, pepper, and chives and spread this evenly on top of your veg sauce. Place in oven at 200c/400F for about 20 minutes or until browned as much as you like 🙂 Delicious with fresh salad…
Back to the train. The Strathspey Steam Railway does lunches on board and with at least 24 hours notice they can cater for any dietary requirement. The three course Sunday lunch they gave us was lovely, and the first class compartment an added treat.