We’re close to the Solstice now. It is very dark. Above is a strange and dark perspective of our wild and non-conformist tree cut from the garden.
For more gift ideas and lots of festive recipes visit Vegan Christmas or Yule
Isn’t that beautiful? And just perfect for Christmas with the sparkly red berries? It’s the Peruvian Dark Bar with Cranberries from Ethicoco and it’s absolutely delicious; the texture is smooth, the flavour is full, the cranberries are perfectly tart and there’s plenty of them.
Ethicoco is a new vegan chocolate company that uses ethically sourced and organic ingredients. They also make ‘milk’ bars using oat milk and hand craft their chocolate ‘from bean to bar’, read more about that on their website.
In other news, we have resurrected our shop! We have aprons, t-shirts, bags, mugs, caps, bibs, badges and underwear in various designs both vegan and flowery…
We were sent some wonderful British bean products by Hodmedod’s. Before the title causes too much alarm: black badgers are a variety of pea that has been grown in Britain for at least 500 years, also known as carlin or maple peas. They are exceptionally flavoursome for a pulse and made a delicious hummus (substituting the chick peas in our usual recipe) and a wonderfully filling stew:
Black Badger Stew
250g of black badgers, soaked and cooked
2 onions, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
4 sticks of celery, chopped
2 dried bay leaves
1 box passata (500g)
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
water as needed
seasalt to taste
Soak your black badgers overnight, bring to the boil and turn down to simmer for about 30 minutes. Add in the vegetables, passata, water to cover and bay leaves and simmer again for at least fifteen minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaves. Thicken the sauce with tomato puree and season with salt. Nice served with rice or mash.
Mix it all together and dress with the juice of one lemon and a little olive oil.
The big vegan box pictured above would make an ideal Christmas gift for any foodie. Not only does it contain the useful store cupboard staple of dried beans (including split fava beans which do not require soaking) but it boasts a plethora of ready to eat tinned products and roasted snacks. The baked beans are broad beans in a homemade style sauce rather than the orange goo of most brands. The dahl makes ‘chips with curry sauce’ into something gourmet and delightful. And the roasted beans and peas – wow – horseradish peas! Spicy like wasabi… There’s also a UK-grown bag of quinoa, removing any ethical issues with the product.
And speaking of Christmas: don’t miss our Vegan Christmas or Yule page for lots of festive recipes and gift ideas and also Advent calendars (those will sell out soon).
A lovely pumpkin, but it’s not really the orange of the title so we’ll return to it later. Here’s the green:
Viridian’s Soul Food Greens is a nutrient dense mix of several green food powders: spirulina, wheatgrass, barleygrass, alfalfa leaf, seagreens wild wrack seaweed and chlorella, making it a good source of trace elements, vitamins, essential fatty acids, polysaccharides and soluble fibre.
It went well in a green smoothie:
Smoothie recipe (makes 4 large glasses): 4 bananas, 1 large avocado, a few good handfuls of fresh kale (or frozen), 2 heaped tablespoons of Soul Food Greens, 2 heaped tablespoons of linseeds and a litre of orange juice.
The juice is the orange, it makes these green drinks more palatable to those who are not so used to the bitter tang that green powders and kale can have. It stops people saying ‘I can’t drink this’ and instead they comment on the nice orange flavour while downing their vitamins. Viridian’s blend is quite gentle though, far easier on the taste buds than pure spirulina.
And so, back to the seasonal orange of the pumpkin, or in fact any squash in this most basic, but delicious, of soup recipes: peel, deseed and chop squash of choice, cover with water and bring to boil. Add in onion, lots of garlic, a chilli, and salt to taste. Blend up with a handful of cashews…
And for a range of wonderfully varied recipes see Animal Aid’s new Buzzfeed post, 8 Amazing Recipes You Won’t Believe Are Vegan
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.
We made the tropical fruit smoothie pictured above (4 pints, adjust quantities as desired).
Into it went:
1 bag of frozen organic tropical fruit
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.
This 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.
The beautiful new cookbook from Viva! by Jane Easton (see her delicious beanburger recipe over on frugal).
The organisational structure of the book is exceptionally user-friendly. First there’s the main sections: Vegan Basics; Souperb; A bit on the side; Back to the sauce; The main event and Sweet thing. Then there’s a range of indexes based on the codes found on the recipe pages: budget dishes, fast feeds, Gluten & wheat free, cooking for one, kid-friendly, freezable, low fat/diabetic-friendly.
The recipes themselves are diverse and gorgeous and there’s a stunning colour photo beside each one. It’s hard to know where to start with describing them as there as so many, so we’ll give you a favourite: Speedy Chocolate Pudding. You can click the photo to see a bigger version.
The book is a wonderful mix of simple advice for beginner cooks and those new to veganism through to advanced ideas such as Christmas Stuffed Squash with Two-rice, Cranberry and Porcini Mushroom Filling. Rose Elliot’s Chestnut and Red Wine Pate en croute that we’ve loved for years is also included.
There’s Scrambled Tofu; Socca Pizza with Cream Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Artichoke Hearts; Perfect Pancakes; Vegetable Tempura; Smokey Black Bean Cakes & Sausages; cakes, muffins, slices… we could go on and on. Really we could, there’s 145 recipes!
The beautiful photos make it an excellent coffee table title, so much better for inspiration than tucking it away on a shelf…
Also available from Amazon.co.uk
So simple: cook pasta of your choice; fry up some chopped onions and whole chestnut mushrooms in a little olive oil. Once cooked, drain the pasta and stir everything together adding salt as desired. Add chopped parsley and cherry tomatoes, some seeds. Eat.
And a dragonfly, there are so many this year…
Ah, Autumn, you’re upon us again. Season of beautiful leaves, mushrooms in the grass and an abundance of apples. And squashes, let’s not forget them.
Timely then that Oatly sent us some of their products and a recipe for Oatly roasted butternut squash soup with lemon thyme. The apples really add a seasonal fruitiness to this dish, don’t miss them out!
250 ml Oatly Organic Creamy Oat
1 butternut squash
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. minced ginger
1 minced red chilli
2 sprigs of lemon thyme
2 green apples, diced
800 ml vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted pumpkin seeds to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 240C/475F
2. Halve the butternut squash and scoop out the seeds using a large spoon. Place the halves on a large baking sheet with flech side up. Drizzle over the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
3. Heat a large pot over a medium high heat and add the oil. Add the onions, chilli, ginger and apple and cook gently until soft.
4. Using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh from the butternut squash and add it with the thyme to the pot.
5. Pour over the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat and blend using a hand-blender to desired consistency.
7. Add the Oatly Organic Creamy Oat and squeeze over lemon. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
8. Serve with toasted pumpkin seeds. We didn’t have those but we did have homemade potato wedges which made up for it.
Recipe credit: this recipe was made with Oatly Creamy Oat – a great dairy free, healthy alternative to single cream. For more delicious recipes and further information about the Oatly way of life, visit facebook.com/oatlyab
Creamy Oat is also great with puddings such as apple pie, it comes out of the fridge with the consistency of double cream. Pie recipe over on frugal.org uk
This salad is colourful and strongly flavoured. In fact, it is hard-core salad. Lots of chewing involved. No dressing. If the pomegranate is nice and ripe, preparing this salad will leave you looking like a guest at a wedding written by George R. R. Martin (but healthy).
6 oranges, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
the juicy contents of 1 large pomegranate
plentiful kale leaves, chopped or torn
some red lettuce, shredded
Mix and eat those colours, people!
Goodness Direct sent us some things! Sweet things! Ooh!
The Booja Booja Champagne truffles we had tried before, hence our delight on seeing them in the box. They are smooth and rich and decadent, perfect for a special occasion or as a gift or treat.
The Eskal mints and fruit crèmes were new to us, but both very enjoyable, the mints reminiscent of Bendicks and the crèmes delicately and naturally flavoured. The company do quite a large range of vegan and gluten-free foods (we like the pasta and noodles too).
Nutri Snax are a bit like Nakd bars, maybe a little chewier, but very nice and they come in various flavours.
Lest this post be ever so sweetly misleading: Goodness Direct are actually an online health food shop, selling everything you would expect from such a store including fresh vegetables, bread and household items. Despite the fact we live in the North of Scotland, a package from them usually arrives the day after ordering. They offer free delivery on orders over £35. We’ve used them for years and know their customer service to be excellent.
Let’s finish up with an evening loch picture, just because: