Category Archives: reviews

Nut Roast, a Book on Abuse, and Some Cake…

Marrow stuffed with Nut Roast

Autumn is well and truly underway. High winds. Flooding. Beautiful trees. Log fires. And lovely roast dinners. Above is a quarter marrow (peeled, deseeded) stuffed with the simplest of nut roasts made by blending/processing walnuts, almonds, sweet potato, celery, parsley, sage and some Vecon stock. Roast for about 45 minutes at 200c/400F. YUM.

Holly Bourne’s new YA novel, The Places I’ve Cried in Public is too important a title for us not to mention. It’s a book about abuse. It could help prevent abuse and even lessen the lasting negative impact on the targets of abusive behaviour.

We follow Amelie as she revisits the places she cried during her relationship with Reese, a relationship that she thought was loving. Through this story the author deftly points out many of the red flags that are hallmarks of abuse and which are often ignored or not noticed by young people (or people of any age). This can be because when you’ve grown up in an atmosphere of abuse and control, these behaviours seem normal, but it can also be because they are new and unknown, or because they are perpetuated as acceptable, as in one conversation we were party to recently where an abusive individual was described as merely having a ‘strong personality’. No. A world of big bad no.

Two of the strongest early indicators of whether you’re dealing with an abusive or narcissistic personality, in any relationship type, are that person’s reactions to both your failures and your successes. A toxic person will revel in your failures, your heartbreaks and, in fact, anything that goes wrong for you at all. They will patronise rather than empathise, and sometimes try to convince you that an event that was simply unfortunate was actually your failure.

And success? Well, you’re not allowed to have any. They will chip away at it, pointing out others who’ve had more success, or are ‘better than you’. You may actually learn never to speak of your own achievements, understanding that it makes this person feel bad. They will attempt, and quite possibly manage, to sabotage you too.

No. Walk away. Read this book!

Amazon UK link

Universal Amazon link

That was all rather more serious than we usually do here now… so do have some cake. Morrison’s chocolate vegan cupcakes and Aldi’s Raspberry Tarts.

Cupcakes and Tarts

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Fabulous Fudge!

From the Fabulous Freedom Factory: Fudge and Chocolate Covered Raisins. Incredibly delicious.

Festive recipe: Carrot, Coriander and Ginger Soup

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Cheesy Cheesy

Eat Real Quinoa Corn Puffs, white Cheddar flavour, and possibly the cheesiest tasting food we’ve ever had!  We had to check the bag again to make sure a terrible mistake hadn’t been made but there was the Vegan Society Logo nestled securely in the corner 🙂 There’s some Violife Cheese cubes in there as well.

Festive recipe: White Hot Chocolate from Cat

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Oh, and our order came from Green Bay. There’s a lot of cheese in there too!

frozen day, frozen pizza

Goodfella's Vegan Pizza

Yes. Frozen vegan pizza from GoodFella’s. It’ll be on supermarket shelves in April, retailing at £2.50, Vegan Society trademarked, and we can verify that it is delicious!

It was perfect on a day like this, when there had been some trudging through snowdrifts.

snowdrifts

Then the courier made it through with our pizzas!

Vegan Pizza!

The crumbled falafel topping makes the pizza dense and satisfying and goes so well with the spinach, always a sturdy inclusion to Italian food. The hummus drizzle is garlic-y and cheese-y and perfect too.

pizza slices

We paired it with leek and potato soup, and with each pizza serving two, that made a big and filling meal.

This will be a great dish to have on standby in the freezer for busy (or lazy!) days.

Okay snow, we’re ready for you again!

snowy path


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Cute Halloween Chocolate for Vegans!

So Free Vegan Hamper

Haribo Halal Bear is SFV

Halloween Frogs

And this delicious Black Forest Gateau Bar

 

And for handing out to Trick or Treaters? Swizzels Lovehearts are vegan! Also vegan are their Parma Violets, Rainbow Drops, Fizzers and their Lovehearts Candy Lipsticks.

Light and Fluffy Chocolate Chip Pancakes

They’re light. They’re fluffy. Gluten free. Soft and gooey too. Welcome to vegan chocolate chip pancakes made with aquafaba and the wonderfully sweet and mild, just like high quality milk chocolate, Moo Free Baking Drops!

This recipe was developed for the #MooFreeBakeOff 2017

Just look at the chocolatey gooey-ness…

And the fluffiness? Can you see the fluffiness?

And the magic ingredient that makes them light and fluffy? Aquafaba, the cooking liquid from beans or chickpeas. Here we used the water drained out of one tin of chickpeas.

Ingredients:
water from one tin of chick peas (or other beans)
1 heaped tablespoon of caster sugar
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
1 bag of Moo Free Baking Drops
10 heaped tablespoons of Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
soya milk to mix to a good pouring batter (about a cup, but add it gradually)
a dash of vinegar

We used a cake mixer but you could whisk by hand! Pour the aquafaba into your mixing bowl and add the sugar. Then, on the highest setting, whisk for about six minutes: until frothy and possibly forming peaks. Turn the mixer down to a slow setting and add the sunflower oil, baking drops, and then gradually, bit by bit, alternate soya milk and flour until you have a good thick batter that can also pour. Pour in those Moo Free Baking Drops and turn up the speed on the mixer to fluff things up!

Our first batch, with only 8 spoons of flour, was too runny and the pancakes were not fluffy, but we quickly ate those up and added flour 🙂

At the very end of mixing add the dash of vinegar.

Spray or wipe a sturdy frying pan or skillet with a tiny amount of oil and heat to quite a high temperature. We made small pancakes using tablespoons of the batter, three at time, in a large frying pan. Once little holes appear in the batter (probably after about a minute, depending on heat) that’s the time to flip them over and do the other side which generally needs less time.

We ate them while still warm, with strawberries.


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Eating and Reading in the Garden

Eating: porridge with Moo Free Baking drops. So like milk chocolate those wee drops! Amazon and Goodness Direct both have them.

Reading: The Cooking Gene. A journey through African American Culinary history in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty.

Was not expecting to find vegan recipes in this extremely informative title, in fact did not know it would contain recipes at all and bought it to learn about slavery, but African Soul Fried Rice sounds good! A great mix of autobiography and history.

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Castle, chocolate, mountain

It’s summer, so what better time to get out and about and see our beautiful country? And eat chocolate. That’s Eilean Donan Castle above. And Kennard’s Artisan Chocolates below!

The peanut butter truffle (above) was our favourite, closely followed by the smooth caramel.

Beautifully packaged, these are a special treat and would make a lovely gift. Available exclusively from the online shop, the range is both vegan and kosher.

Clutching our chocolates, we disappear off into The Cuillin Mountains.

Jujube!

raw bramble cheesecake

It’s a raw bramble (blackberry) cheesecake sweetened with red Chinese dates or Jujubes. It’s rich. It’s delicious. Everyone should try it! Read on for how…

Abakus Foods sent us three of their wonderful jujube products to try: the pitted dates, some powdered jujubes and some jujube crisps. The crisps are just like mini cookies, all crunchy and sweet and moreish.

Jujubes (loving that word) are less sweet and sticky than ordinary dates and are traditionally used in Chinese medicine to treat insomnia and anxiety.

jujube3

Here’s how we made our cheesecakes:

For the base: food process 40g (about a cup) of dried jujube fruit with a cup of pecan nuts until they resemble biscuit crumbs. Line a 12 piece muffin tin with cling film, pressing it carefully into each recess. Press your jujube/pecan mixture into each base.

For the creamy cheesecake topping: blend together a cup of brambles, a cup of macadamia nuts, half a cup of cashews, a tablespoon of coconut oil and 50g (about two tablespoons) of jujube powder. Once smooth, spread this onto the bases. Cover with more clingfilm and press each little cheesecake down to make sure it’s well stuck together.

Freeze for about two hours. Remove from tin and peel away the clingfilm. Decorate with jujube crisps and melted chocolate of your choice (really dark goes well).

Enjoy.

Love.

Say the word jujube a lot.

You can buy this range of jujube products online at Abakus Foods and, from September, at Wholefoods Markets and a number of independent health food and fine food stores. Amazon also have dried jujube fruit.

jujube cheesecake tower



Beautiful Smoke

dragon

Sacred Elephant Incense is vegan and ethically produced and smells of peace and light and all the good stuff. The scent (in our case, Cedar) evokes Glastonbury and Findhorn and Iona, spiritual places, beautiful bookshops and clear skies.

incense sticks

Our dragon burner may not look so peaceful, but that’s just his way… The various scents: agar wood, cedar, cinnamon spice, gaura leela, Himalayan musk, myrrh, prema, rose, sandalwood, sayali jasmine, and vraja leela can be bought online here

To go with this we’ve dug back into the old archives of the Vegan Family House and found one of the first recipes to go online, back in 1998. It’s smokey too!

Smokey Seafood Rice
Don’t worry, the seafood here is Arame, a sea vegetable.

Ingredients:
a little sunflower oil
1 onion
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
1 block of smoked tofu
a good handful of dried arame
500g/18 oz/2 cups basmati rice (this makes a large potful to feed a family – reduce the amount of rice and water accordingly if you want)
a cupful of frozen peas
seasalt to taste
water to cover

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes. Chop the tofu into small cuboids and add to the onion and garlic. Add the rice and mix well then add enough water to well cover the rice. Add the arame (you may need to add more water as seaweeds vary in how absorbent they are) and the seasalt. Bring to the boil then turn down to simmer. A few minutes before the end of cooking time add the peas. Nice served with a green salad. Enjoy!

a little puff of smoke

This review has been organised by the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION and is our genuine and unbiased opinion of the product. Sacred Elephant Incense are listed with the VLA and you can see their listing here with an offer for members