Category Archives: woods

Burns Night: vegan haggis and Scottish recipes

FAIR fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!

So said Robert Burns of the haggis. Good word ‘sonsie’, it really should be used more. You can get a sonsie vegan haggis in many shops now to serve with neeps and tatties.

Vegan Haggis on Burns Night

You could make some sonsie Cranachan for afters, recipe taken from our cakes and puddings page.

Cranachan
This is often served at Burn’s Suppers in Scotland.
Ingredients: half a cup of porridge oats; 1 small box of soya cream; 1 tablespoon of Agave Nectar; 1 tablespoon of whisky (or whisky flavouring if you don’t take alcohol); 1 punnet of fresh raspberries

Lightly toast the oats in a frying pan on the stove. Remove from heat and pour in the cream – it will bubble and thicken a bit with the heat. Stir well and add the agave and whiskey, and mix in. Add most of the rasps, keeping a few back for garnish. Place in dishes and chill in the fridge until pudding time.

The perfect Burns Night pudding: Cranachan

Other Scottish recipes that might be of use or preferable to haggis:

Scotch Broth
Balmoral Pie can be found on the main courses page (scroll down a bit). It’s a lovely dish of beans and sausages topped with mash.
Scottish Macaroons are a feast of sugar and potato.

Whatever you do, have an honest, sonsie time this Burns Night 😀

low sun

Experience a perfect Scottish escape with THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR! Exchange 21st century lockdowns for 16th century witchcraft accusations! Live in a castle, visit the stone circle and taste the Twelfth Night Cake…

Amazon UK

Amazon worldwide

Waterstones

Author website

See more recommendations for vegan books from us here.

Eating Vegan Trifle, Reading and Sunsets

vegan trifle

Eating: a simple trifle made of bananas in vegan jelly, topped with thick custard and this rather nice provamel cream (we were lucky enough to find a few of these cheaply on Approved Food recently). There’s a more detailed trifle recipe on the  Vegan Christmas page.

Reading: Manda Scott’s Boudica series.

Looking at: wintry sunsets.

The Mermaid and the Bear, the perfect read for Christmas!

THE 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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Chestnut Roast for Christmas or Thanksgiving

chestnut roast, vegan and gluten free

A very nice chestnut roast, the sweet spiciness of the nuts making it quite different in flavour to our cashew and walnut ones. Serves four generously.

Fry off 2 large red onions and 4 sticks of celery, both roughly chopped. Add in seven cloves (or less, up to you) of finely chopped garlic and a good bunch of fresh rosemary, scissored in.

Once the above has softened add a jar or tin of chestnut puree and stir until dissolved. Add a little water (about half a cupful) before mixing in a cup of Orgran Rice Crumbs (or other bread crumbs) and a couple of tablespoonfuls of gluten-free flour. Salt to taste.

Place in an oiled loaf tin and bake at 200C for at least half an hour or until firm. Yum. Slices well cold the next day for chestnut roast sandwiches or salads too.

For more roast recipes, see Vegan Christmas or Yule

The tree picture is dark and creepy today, but still brighter than the weather.

dark and creepy trees by a loch
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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

Ethical Christmas Shopping: #Vegan Beauty Products

Butterwhips pure apricot body butter, perfect for ethical christmas shopping

Ethical Christmas Shopping: not handing all over all your money to the likes of Jeff Bezos and Tesco 🙂 And supporting small businesses, many of which have suffered huge losses during this strange time on the planet.

We’re going to be showcasing a few really lovely vegan products from small businesses that would make good stocking fillers or gifts. These were sent to us by Mettalife, an E-commerce Ethical and Vegan Marketplace which is a veritable treasure trove of planet-friendly, animal-kind, healthy goodies.

First up is the utterly wonderful Botanical Whipped Body Butter – Perfectly Pure Apricot from Butterwhips. Formulated for sensitive skin, bump care and for babies from one month up, this arrived in our household at a most opportune time. One of us had just spent some time in hospital with various areas bandaged up. The skin under those bandages was in a sorry state and this stuff worked wonders on it. The fact that apricot kernel oil is anti-inflammatory was fortuitous too. Even the nurses, who happily applied the product when changing the dressings, commented on what a nice cream it was. We’ve ordered another large pot!

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

Look at that purity. Only three ingredients. No perfume.

butterwhips body butter; ethical Christmas shopping

The next product was also great to come home and freshen up with after hospital. A luxurious, frothy, creamy soap from Zuzka Soap, completely cruelty-free and handmade in the UK, and blasting you with the gorgeous scent of honeysuckle.

Zuzka soap - ethical christmas shopping

It’s stunningly packaged too, with ribbons, making it perfect for under the ethical Christmas tree! See all the Bath and Beauty products available at Mettalife. Don’t forget code FAMILY10 for your 10% discount.

Zuzka honeysuckle soap - vegan

Next up on our Ethical Christmas Shopping tour will be some foodie ideas…

Till then, enjoy the last of the autumn sunshine!

autumn sunshine in Scotland

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

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.

hummus, sunrise, and a book in between

homemade hummus

Homemade hummus in the early morning sun. Little bit of parsley in it. Basic recipe here.

The Mermaid and the Bear

The book in between is THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story. Out now.

Universal links:

Kindle

Paperback

Sunrise from our garden…

sunset

Chunky Cauliflower Oumph Vegan Curry

vegan cauliflower oompth curry

Ingredients (serves four)

  • A little sunflower oil
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • a red pepper, diced
  • an apple, peeled and cored, diced
  • 1 heaped teaspoon each of these spices: cumin, fenugreek, turmeric
  • 1 cauliflower, chunked
  • a tin of coconut milk
  • 1 bag of Oumph, the chunk
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish

Fry the leek, pepper and apple in the oil for a few minutes until softened, and then add the spices and mix well. Add the cauliflower and the coconut milk and bring to a simmer for a few minutes before adding the Oumph. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until everything is soft and well done, then salt to taste. Dish up and garnish. Best vegan curry ever 🙂

See more main meal recipes here.

ghost, a novel by Helen Grant

Some summer garden camping, with a good book:

summer garden camping

Enjoying…

the near witch

We are enjoying the gentle magic and mystery of The Near Witch. And hot chocolate. And the spring sunshine.

woodland bowl of pizza

Then there’s beautiful bowls and easy meals. Goodfella’s have a new vegan pizza:

spicy vegan pizza

But, our best place to be? Or one of them 🙂 The wild and wonderful woods…

Truffles and Trees

vegan truffles

These are from a Tesco Finest Free From Salted Caramel Easter Egg, which is a bit of a mouthful, but a delicious one! A bit of a jump too,  from what was available in supermarkets last year, with those white chocolate truffles.

Despite what the blog might suggest, we haven’t just been living on Easter chocolate and trying to claim it as ‘seasonal eating’. Soup is such a staple just now as we come to the end of winter. See our page of soups here.

vegan cream of tomato soup (no soya)

Winter is ending. We are convinced of it. Sunsets are later, and sunrises, like the one through the trees below, are earlier and earlier!

woodland sunrise


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