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.
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!
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.
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.
Onto the cake, which is relatively low sugar, relying mainly on the sweetness of the raisins, and they are very sweet!
300g/12oz/2 cups of Dove’s Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 cup/8 fl.oz/200ml of sunflower oil
1 tablespoon of golden syrup
1 cup of soya milk (or possibly a little more to get a good mixture)
2 teaspoons of natural vanilla extract
2 good handfuls of raisins (or more if you like!)
1 or 2 tablespoons of preserving sugar or sugar crystals (optional)
Oil your cake tin and preheat oven to 180C/360F. Mix together the flour and cinnamon. Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil, golden syrup, soya milk, and vanilla – mix well. Stir in the lovely juicy sweet raisins and then sprinkle the preserving sugar, if using, on top. Pour into cake tin and bake for about half an hour or until cooked in middle (insert a knife or skewer into the centre of cake and if cooked it will come out clean).
The Old Auction Room in Strichen, Aberdeenshire, has recently been all done up and its wonderful café always has gorgeous vegan cake! There seems to be a vegan and gluten-free main or soup each day too. Above is a raw chocolate brownie, below a slice of date and walnut loaf, both gluten-free.
They also have vintage clothes, old books and antiques for sale. Some hats:
There’s a florist and a barber on the premises too.