preserving: redcurrant jelly with rosemary

redcurrants ready for making redcurrant jelly

This redcurrant jelly is absolutely delicious, the addition of rosemary giving it a savoury tang that makes it the perfect accompaniment for roast dinners. Also great in a sausage sandwich! Ripe in summer, redcurrants are great to preserve for winter, given that they’re so nutrient rich and have immune boosting properties.

Here’s the basic recipe for the Redcurrant and Rosemary Jelly. It makes a cloudy jelly. If you want a sparkling clear one, other, more time consuming, recipes will come up on a Google search.

Ingredients

We picked 1.5 lbs/0.75kg of redcurrants and put them in a pan, stalks and all, with a few sprigs of rosemary. Then we added 1lb/500g of sugar, half a cup of water and the juice of half a lemon.

Redcurrant Jelly Method

Bring to the boil, turn down and simmer for half an hour, stirring quite frequently. Allow the mixture to cool a little, though not until the jelly sets, and squash it through a sieve into a bowl. This is the hard work phase of the recipe! Press and rub it with a spoon until you’re left with mainly stalks and seeds in the sieve. Pour into jars of your choice. Cool completely before sealing/adding lids. Yum. This amount filled two medium jam jars, and should keep in the cupboard for months (if not years).

redcurrant and rosemary jelly

Cooking on the stove this morning is Apple and Ginger Chutney from the Cranks recipe book with the apples gathered on a bike ride, heavily supplemented with ones from our trees and our own onions too 🙂 Adapted recipe on the sauces page.

Ailish Sinclair's novels

Set in a castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

Paperbacks and kindle:

Amazon UK

Amazon worldwide

Be rewarded the Web's Premiere Rewards Site

Summer Solstice Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

vegan chocolate cheesecake

This vegan chocolate cheesecake is from an older post from the happy fun-filled days of home ed 🙂 Happy Solstice!

The Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

We eat blue stars (borage flowers).  Based on recipe here

The Study

Studying sonnets here just now. Apparently in the 1590s May did extend into what is now our June so not too inappropriate:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date…

Set in the 1590s:

The Mermaid and the Bear

Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, features an often overlooked event in history, the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, and a love story.

Amazon UK

Amazon worldwide

Waterstones



5% off when you spend £50 at Vegan Outfitters using code VEGANFAMILY5.

Living in a Forest Garden

summer garden camping
Forest Gardening by Robert Hart

In Forest Gardening by Robert A de J Hart, the vegan author details his garden – a miniature forest filled with an abundance of things to eat. This is low maintenance gardening once established with trees, bushes and perennial plants which provide both shelter and food. Included are recommended plants for different regions of the world – this book is a huge resource of information and inspiration.
Amazon UK

It’s certainly inspired us over the years. We live among the trees and love to eat the garden!

Below are more pictures and recipes from the food forest.

Courgettes and lettuce growing all wild and mixed up together:

Courgettes and lettuce in the forest garden
tattie and broad bean soup
Tattie and broad bean soup, all from the garden

Daisies are edible, pictured on top of a wild garlic pesto.

We transplanted some wild garlic from the woods to a shady spot under trees in the garden and it’s thriving and spreading further every year.

wild garlic

A rabbit relaxes on the grass…

rabbit in the forest garden

We grow quite a few annuals too…

carrots from the forest garden

Apple and bramble (blackberry) juice from trees and bushes:

juice from the forest garden
berries from the forest garden

Fruit bushes there are aplenty. White chocolate mousse above, topped with redcurrants and raspberries. Chocolate cheesecake below with mint and currants.

Mint is a wonderful herb to spread and grow wild. Minted noodle soup is a simple summer favourite:

Homemade ketchup by the barbecue:

Blend up:
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 small onion also roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic
2 teaspoons of sugar
2 heaped tablespoons of tomato puree
3 tablespoons of vinegar (apple cider best)
a little salt to taste
herbs make a very nice addition – to the pictured sauce we added a bunch of fresh dill. This variety grows huge.

Sage, lovage, thyme and oregano are all great perennials too, and nice and hardy for Scotland!

Don’t miss our latest post over on Frugal Living in the UK:

Sourdough Bread for Pennies

sourdough olive bread with rice and tomato soup

A courgette flower in the forest garden:

courgette flower in the forest garden

Ailish Sinclair's novels

Set in a castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

Paperbacks and kindle:

Amazon UK

Amazon worldwide


Be rewarded the Web's Premiere Rewards Site

Potato Milk: the new #plantbased milk

potato milk from a humble potato

We love the humble potato, or tattie, here in Scotland. We eat mince with tatties. Haggis, neeps and tatties. Baked potatoes. Chips. We even put them in our sweet treats such as coconut macaroons. So when Scotty Brand, one of Scotland’s leading food producers, asked if we’d be interested in developing a potato milk recipe for them, we happily said yes.

Some Potato Facts

  • Potato milk is the most sustainable of the plant based milks.
  • Potatoes are a land efficient crop.
  • They use up to 56 times less water than other plant milk crops.
  • One medium potato gives you 30mg of Vitamin C, as much as a glass of tomato juice.
  • Scotland’s weather, climate and rich soil are perfect for growing potatoes.
  • Scotty Brand potatoes are all grown on a selection of farms across Scotland.
Potato Milk and Scotty Brand Potatoes

Potato Milk Recipe, makes 5 cups

You could, essentially, leave out the almonds/oats, dates/sweetener, vanilla and salt but they do improve the texture and taste considerably. However this option would be excellent for those on specific dietary regimes or with food intolerances.

Potato Milk Ingredients

  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 large potato, peeled and boiled. We used 3 Scotty Brand baby potatoes
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of ground almonds (makes it creamy) or a tablespoon of ground up porridge oats (also creamy, slightly less so).
  • dates. For a sweet milk use 3 medjool dates or 6 small dates. For unsweetened milk use 1 medjool or 2 small. Alternatively you could use agave nectar or sugar (a tablespoon for sweet, a teaspoon for unsweetened).
  • half a teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • a pinch of salt

Method

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a nut milk bag, or a sieve lined with cheesecloth or even a new nylon stocking (rinsed out first). Chill in the fridge. Like most plant milks, it’s best to shake or stir before use.

We tried it by itself, in cereal and in tea. All worked well, but, as is typical in this family, it was the next option that was the favourite!

Potato Milk Chocolate Shake

For a chocolate shake use 1 cup of potato milk per person with 1 banana each and 1 teaspoon of cocoa. Blend. Delicious…

Scotty Brand offers the finest seasonal produce including potatoes, Ayrshire new potatoes, seasonal berries, fresh soups, frozen chips and prepared vegetables.

Vegan Chocolate Nests with Mini Eggs

vegan chocolate nests

Vegan chocolate nests. Perfect for Easter. Perfect anytime really.

Vegan Chocolate Nest Ingredients (makes 12)

  • 5 Weetabix style cereal biscuits
  • 150g of dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon of golden syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable margarine
  • mini eggs (we used Doisy & Dam ones, found in Asda). You could also use other sweets or make little eggs with marzipan.
  • paper cake cases

Method

Crumble the biscuits into a bowl and melt the chocolate, syrup and margarine together in a Bain Marie until well combined. Mix it all up. Divide the mixture between the cases and top with the eggs or sweets. Cool until set. Enjoy!

A chocolatey read to go with your vegan chocolate nests:

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, was inspired by the 600 children and young people who were kidnapped from Aberdeen during the 1740s and sold into indentured servitude in the American Colonies. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s proper derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

Paperback and Kindle and on Kindle Unlimited:

Amazon UK
Amazon Worldwide
Waterstones
Author website

From the publisher’s press release: “Fiery and forthright, Elizabeth isn’t someone to be argued with. She knows her own mind, and isn’t afraid to speak it. Through her experiences, the reader sees her grow from a girl, into a woman with a powerful voice… a woman of her time, but very much of ours too.”

Also at the library.

Vegan Ploughman’s and Eating Banana Peels!

vegan ploughman's lunch

Vegan Ploughman’s above. Self-explanatory we think!

Banana Peel Pasta Sauce below. Recipe here. It does not taste of bananas.

More new recipes coming soon… see the kitchen section here.

Low FODMAP Sauces, vegan and gluten free

low fodmap sauces: Bolognese
Vegetable Bolognese

We were sent a wonderful selection of low FODMAP, vegan and gluten free sauces from Slightly Different Foods. None of us follow a low FODMAP diet so our finished creations do not necessarily fit that term, but the sauces, as they come, do. Above is a delicious vegetable pasta we made with the Smooth Bolognese sauce.

Here’s the products we were sent:

MAP sauces from Slightly Different Foods
Slightly Different Foods

These sauces are all fully flavoured and delicious. You do not miss the onion and garlic at all. The sweet and sour was a particular favourite:

sweet and sour low fodmap sauce
Sweet and Sour

And then we had a curry feast! We added chick peas to the Tikka Masala sauce, and cauliflower to the Tropical Curry which is mild and creamy. The Thai Red Curry, we stirred into some straight to wok style noodles. All these combinations were lovely. Sometimes when you try several curry sauces or blends from the same company you notice that they all taste pretty much the same, or at least similar to each other. This was not the case here at all. Each dish was utterly unique in flavour.

curry feast!
Curry, curry, curry….

We’re very impressed with these sauces and highly recommend them regardless of whether you’re following a low FODMAP plan or not. We used the Mexican Fajita sauce on some stir fry vegetables and it made them smokey and spicy. Again, this was really good. We intend doing something similar with the sweet chilli. Unless it gets used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls… decisions, decisions!

Visit Slightly Different Foods main site here and read the story of how they came into being here.

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Improve Your Insta Food Pics with a Bag!

Improve your Insta food pics: here's our noodles...
Noodles. Love this background!

We were sent The Instagram Bag, a bag choc full of amazing items designed to help you improve your Insta food pics, from The Paper Bag Co. They produce this and many other paper bags too.

The Instagram Bag

Included in the large zip-up bag are a 5 in 1 pop up reflector:

Imrove your Insta food pics with these reflectors from the Paper Bag Co.
Reflectors

8 postcards with tips from a professional photographer on aspects like composition and lighting:

Photographic tips

… and 4 wonderful backgrounds. We used the gold reflector to good effect in the top noodle bowl photo. It was a really dull day. One of the frequently occurring storms was ongoing and the reflector really helped light the food.

And here’s a chocolate smoothie on the white marble background:

You’ll see us using the backgrounds over on Instagram from now on. We love them, and highly recommend this bag as a great way to improve your Insta food pics!

Subscribe to our occasional mailing list here for new recipes, product reviews, books, photos and more.

Sassy Vegan Clothes and Snowdrops

Sometimes lighthearted, sometimes provocative, the range of vegan clothes from Vegan Outfitters is designed to help keep you smiling through meat-heavy family dinners, and maybe even start a discussion or two…

The small but perfectly formed company is on a mission to spread compassion, one tee at a time.

Get 5% off when you spend £50 with code VEGANFAMILY5

And down at the bottom of the garden: snowdrops! Spring will be here any day…

snowdrops and sassy vegan clothes

Vegetable Curry: a Simple Vegan Recipe

vegetable curry

A simple but truly delicious vegetable curry with onion bhajis from Lidl and some winter lettuce from the polytunnel.

Vegetable Curry Ingredients (serves four)

  • A little oil
  • one onion, chopped
  • a pepper, chopped
  • an apple, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of curry powder or spices of your choosing (we like a combo of fenugreek, cumin, turmeric and chilli).
  • vegetables of your choice, chopped: we used an aubergine, some green beans, a few small potatoes and a diced carrot.
  • water to cover. We had some broccoli stock from earlier cooking and water saved from a tin of cannelloni beans.
  • a teaspoon or two of cornflour
  • salt to taste

Method

Fry off the onion, pepper and apple in the oil for a few minutes then add the spices. Stir well for a few minutes taking care not to burn the mixture. Add the vegetables and water, bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer until all veg is tender. Combine the cornflour with a little water and mix until smooth then add it to the curry, stirring all the time until it thickens. Add salt. We served it with some golden vegetable rice (add turmeric and a few peas/pepper/celery to rice as it cooks).

Check out these Potato Broccoli Croquettes, a no waste recipe over on Frugal Living in the UK.

vegan potato broccoli croquettes

And see more of our meals on Instagram!

vegan meals on Insta, including vegetable curry
Ailish Sinclair's novels

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

“Ailish Sinclair spins this Scottish tale filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

5% off when you spend £50 at Vegan Outfitters using code VEGANFAMILY5.