Category Archives: food

Vegan Advent 2020: toys, traditional and chocolate

Chrismas nuts

The shops are full of vegan festive products now, including Vegan Advent Calendars. Long gone are the days when we excitedly told other vegans about the one and only dairy free calendar that you got by ordering online and paying twice what the dairy ones cost… and it always arrived with all the chocolate having fallen out 😀

There are still some that are worthy of a wee mention here though…

playmobil dragon

Playmobil do a lovely range of toy calendars with great scenes to build up day by day from traditional Nativity to dragons, unicorns, pirates and Santa’s workshop. We loved these when the kids were, well, kids, and frankly wish we still had an excuse to buy them.

Then there’s this White Chocolate Moo Free Vegan Advent Calendar available from Ethical Superstore (see all the Vegan Festive Food at Ethical Superstore here). This calendar and others are also online at GreenBay Vegan Supermarket here.

White Chocolate Vegan Advent Calendar from Moo Free

Lego also have a nice selection, some sweet and Christmassy, others less so!

Lego Star Wars Advent

You can also go traditional with little pictures or fill your own own reusable calendar with pockets!

Traditional Advent Calendar with pictures

The picture below is of mini gluten free chocolate logs, recipe here

gluten free mini chocolate logs
chocolated
nutroast

Don’t miss our main Christmas section with lots of recipes and gift ideas here

#vegan bread sauce – perfect for Christmas!

Oatly Bread Sauce

This vegan bread sauce is a beautiful accompaniment to Christmas dinner and easy to prepare (in advance too). Below is a wonderful recipe from Oatly, though we do have a dear friend who makes bread sauce by simply putting all the ingredients in an oven dish and cooking it in the oven with everything else, just giving it a stir now and again. Experimentation required!

Oatly Bread sauce (Makes approximately 1 litre)
Ingredients:
600ml Oatly Oat drink
1 onion, halved & studded with approx 12 cloves
1 bay leaf
5 pepper corns
150g fresh white breadcrumbs
50g vegetable margarine, optional

Method
1. Put the onion, bay leaf and peppercorns into a medium saucepan and pour in the Oatly oat drink. Bring the liquid up to just below boiling and take off the heat. Leave for 2 hours to allow the aromatic flavours to infuse the Oatly.
2. Remove the onion, bay & pepper and keep them to one side. Add the breadcrumbs, put the pan back on and cook gently over a low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bread crumbs have swelled.
3. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the marg, if using. You can use this immediately or chill and reheat it. If you are going to keep it for any time, pop the onion and aromatics back in to continue adding flavour.

Recipe credit
This recipe was made using Oatly Oat drink – a great dairy free, healthy alternative to milk. For more delicious recipes and further information about the Oatly way of life, visit www.facebook.com/OatlyUK 

Looking for something easy to go with your vegan bread sauce? See all the options at vegan supermarket GreenBay!

GreenBay also sell a variety of gourmet vegan products that would be great for Christmas treats such as cheeses (including Camembert), steak and bacon etc.

And don’t miss all the other festive recipes on Vegan Christmas or Yule!

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The Mermaid and the BearTHE MERMAID AND THE BEAR (a novel by Lucy, written under her pen name), has six whole chapters of medieval Christmas, making it the perfect festive gift! Also: romance, witches, and a Scottish castle…

Amazon UK

Amazon worldwide

Waterstones

Author website

 

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Ethical Christmas Shopping: relish and straws!

Facon Relish from Janda Food and a burger!

We absolutely loved this gorgeous Facon Relish from Janda Food. It’s smokey. It’s bacon-y. It’s delicious in burgers, sandwiches and even as a condiment to dip crudities or chips in. It was sent to us by the equally wonderful Mettalife, an E-commerce Ethical and Vegan Marketplace and a fantastic place to do your festive shopping this year.

Janda Food make other lovely vegan things such as burger relish, mayo and salt caramel spread. See the range here at Mettalife where you can use code FAMILY10 to get a 10% discount on any purchases.

tomato rice soup, vegan

We paired the relished up burger with one of our favourite soups, rice and tomato (recipe here) and a gluten free bun. Yum.

gluten free bun

But back to the ethical shopping! And onto the straws 🙂

These reusable bamboo straws from Panda Packaging come in a pack of 5 with a coconut fibre straw cleaner & cotton straw bag included and would make a great gift or stocking filler. See all the bamboo products here at Mettalife, some of which can be personalised, from bowls and combs to brushes and lunch boxes, and, again, don’t forget your 10% discount code FAMILY10!

We like how Instagram made the straw look like a painting.

reusable bamboo straw

Don’t miss our Vegan Christmas section for lots of recipes and more gift ideas.

starry starry plate

There’s still a little autumn left in those woods…

autumn woods in Scotland

Nessie in the Noodles

Nessie in the noodles

Noodles are cheapo ramen (3 packets), beloved of students the world over, flavouring sachet discarded and replaced with: teaspoon turmeric, teaspoon cumin, teaspoon Vecon stock. Add chopped kale, a tin of cannelloni beans and a chopped red onion and simmer in plenty water for a few minutes. Serve with dash of soy sauce, a little sesame oil and chopped fresh parsley.

Works well with rice noodles too.

Nessie is part of the Nessie Family of kitchen toys utensils 😀

The Nessie Family kitchen utensil set

See all our recipes here and our Vegan Christmas section here.

Loch Ness
A wee boat on Loch Ness


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Ethical Christmas Shopping: spices and recipes

spices from The Teaspoon Club

These totally gorgeous spices were sent to us by Mettalife, an E-commerce Ethical and Vegan Marketplace, the perfect place to shop this Christmas and to support small business. The spices make up part of a Vegan Spices Recipe Gift Box from The Teaspoon Club. It comes complete with various recipes and all the spices and spice mixes needed to make them.

The Teaspoon Club’s ethically sourced spices are exceptionally high quality, the flavours that come through are rich and strong and far superior to the wee jars obtained in supermarkets. They also arrive in compostable packaging.

Vegan Recipes Spice Gift Box

Mettalife have given us a code for you to use for purchases from their site. Just use FAMILY10 for a 10% discount.

The Butternut Squash Curry with Coconut recipe that came with the kit sounded absolutely delicious, but as we’re not the best recipe followers, we made our own inspired by it and will leave theirs to purchasers or receivers of the gift box 🙂 Here’s our Butternut Squash Curry, using the provided spice mix:

Ingredients:

  • Coconut oil, 1 tablespoon
  • spice mix of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and yellow mustard seeds, 1 tablespoon
  • nigella seeds, 1 teaspoon
  • ground cumin, 1 teaspoon
  • ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon
  • ground fenugreek, 1 teaspoon
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 bag of frozen butternut squash, 500g, or a fresh one, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • water as needed
  • 1 and a half cups of frozen peas
  • salt to taste

Method: pound the seeds up in a pestle and mortar if you have, otherwise skip this step. Fry the seeds, spices, onion, garlic, apple and pepper in the oil for a few minutes before adding the squash and the coconut milk. Bring to the boil and turn down to simmer until almost cooked (about 20 minutes). Add the peas for a further 10 minutes of cooking and salt to taste.

butternust squash curry #vegan

This was so delicious we’re really looking forward to using the Chilli Spice Mix next!

See all our recipes here and our Vegan Christmas section here.

Vegan Lentil Bacon Soup #plantbased

this isn't bacon: great in vegan lentil bacon soup

This isn’t bacon + lentil soup = vegan lentil bacon soup, and it is wonderful! Just chop the vegan bacon finely and cook it in the soup. Other products work too: see the range at GreenBay Vegan Supermarket.

vegan lentil bacon soup

Useful or seasonal recipes: lentil soup; this tip also works well for pea soup, turning it into pea and ham, and then we have to give a mention to a great dish for today, Halloween: Roast Pumpkin and Garlic Pasta.

See all our soup recipes here

The Mermaid and the Bear

The perfect read for Halloween, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, features the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic and a love story.

From Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide or Waterstones

See Author website for more details.


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Gourmet Vegan Cheese!

Vegan cheese: Camembert!

Vegan cheese. There’s a lot of it out there these days, from the cheaper supermarket own brands, to old trusty steadfasts made by vegan companies like VBites and Scheese. But sometimes you need something a little bit different, a little bit special.

From Vegan Supermarket GreenBay (online and in store), vegan Camembert and Herbes de Provence! They have many other gourmet and hard to find vegan products… go see!

These were absolutely fabulous on Christmas Day, the cheeseboard being the star of the show. The Camembert was particularly impressive, being a truly pure product with only four ingredients, and so authentic and real tasting. You have to try it. You really really do 😀 Vegan cheese FTW!

Don’t miss our Vegan Christmas section for LOTS of recipe and gift ideas!

Ailish Sinclair‘s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, and featuring the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, is out Autumn 2019. From Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide or Waterstones

See Author website for more details.

the mermaid and the bear

A Bit of a Pickle! #vegan #plantbased

Vadasz Pickle and Kimchi

Just launched at M&S, with the aim of getting people eating more plants, this range of pickles and kimchi from Vadasz Pickles and Ferments is absolutely delicious.

Our favourite were the fresh pickle with garlic and dill. They were magnificent in a sandwich which went thus: green lettuce from garden, layer of braised tofu, sprinkle of nori flakes, thick layer of pickle (pictured are the red onion, also great here), red lettuce from garden (or shop of course). Yum.

vegan sandwich with  red onion pickle and braised tofu

The kimchi is also lovely; we found it great as a component of a salad. From Vadasz: “Importantly, Vadasz Raw Kimchi is live culture, a result of the magical process of lactic acid fermentation, meaning it contains probiotics which are beneficial to the gut and are not found in many existing products that are preserved using vinegar. Similarly, Vadasz Red Onion Pickles, and Vadasz Garlic and Dill Pickles use a traditional cold brine process, keeping them unpasteurised and retaining their crunchiness and fresh flavour. Together, they offer anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties, at a time when awareness is growing regarding the link between gut health and overall wellness.”

Try them. You won’t regret it 🙂

Meanwhile, Autumn is well and truly underway, in fact it may be almost over. Soup season is definitely upon us though: do explore our many many recipes

Harvest time in the field
The Mermaid and the Bear

A creepy and romantic read for October, Lucy’s novel THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked historical event, the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story. Available in paperback and kindle and free on Kindle Unlimited (Amazon offer a free trial of KU).

See Amazon or Waterstones or Author website

Squeaky Bean: Ready to Eat Goodness

salad with Squeaky Bean Sweet Smokey BBQ chicken-style pieces

Squeaky Bean sent us some delicious, ready-to-eat, vegan products to try. And so we did! Above is a simple salad made of their Sweet Smokey BBQ chicken-style pieces, cucumber and yoghurt.

Sweet Smokey BBQ chicken-style pieces

The Kick of Tikka style pieces were amazing in sandwiches with hummus and some lettuce from the garden. They were also great thrown into a curry. The ready-to-eat element of these products makes them so very easy to use. You can just eat them right out of the box (and some of that went on here; they are really tasty on their own). The chicken-style pieces pack quite a protein punch, coming in at over 20% protein.

sandwiches with Squeaky Bean chicken-style pieces

There’s also a delicious vegan tortilla, which can be eaten hot or cold.

Squeaky Bean vegan tortilla

We had it cold on top of a savoury rice dish.

rice and tortilla

Squeaky Bean products are available widely in UK supermarkets. You can read more about the full product range on their website.

Meanwhile in the garden… there’s just enough summer left to make some more redcurrant and rosemary jelly!

redcurrants in the sun

preserving: redcurrant jelly with rosemary

redcurrants ready for making redcurrant jelly

A post from 2010, updated for 2020, partly because we’ve been making the recipe again. Redcurrants are also great to preserve for winter, given that they’re so nutrient rich and have immune boosting properties.

What a bumper year it’s been for the currants, both red and black. We’re having berried up green smoothies daily; there are lots in freezer which will extend the berry smoothie season and it’s looking to be a very abundant bramble year too. Last year we gathered quite a lot of those for the freezer as well as smoothie-ing them fresh. At least I thought we’d gathered a lot until I met a man in the woods with 3 huge bucket loads of brambles. He must have spent all day picking. Maybe for jam? I really want to try preserving in different ways this year so we can eat the home grown stuff in winter too. So we made strawberry jam as mentioned, and then moved onto redcurrant and rosemary jelly for savoury things.

Here’s the basic method 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. This pairing of flavours is amazing; the rosemary gives the jelly a slightly savoury edge, making it perfectly suited as an accompaniment to roast dinners. Also great in a sausage sandwich!

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.

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.