Room by Emma Donoghue. You’re best going into this knowing only that a five year old boy and his mother live in a tiny room and that the child, the voice of the novel, has never left it. So intriguing. Scary and thought provoking too. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
The Bones of You by Debbie Howells is a chilling and gripping murder mystery and a good exploration of narcissism. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
And if you need to laugh after those, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion should have you doing that from the opening pages as obviously autistic Don Tillman sets out to solve ‘the wife problem’. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Smoothie of the moment:
Bramble, quantities are for four people, adjust as required. Ingredients: a quarter blender jug of brambles (blackberries); 100g of walnuts; 5 bananas; 1 large apple; orange juice to cover. Blend and enjoy the tart sweetness of the season.
Book of the moment:
Beauty by Sheri S. Teper. A stunningly well written, time-jumping, retelling of the sleeping beauty story for adults with a strong environmental message. Buy UK or Buy US
Horse Chestnut is very much the tree of the moment:
Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes
4 tablespoons of self-raising gluten free flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 quarter teaspoon of hot chilli powder
4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 box of rice cream or something similar (we got this at Approved Food, always worth checking for vegan goodies), a vegan yoghurt or soya cream would do, even a chocolate pudding
Mix the dry. Add the wet. Stir thoroughly and divide between 12 cake cases. Bake at 200C/400F for up to 20 minutes or until risen and firm. Once they have cooled: ice them!
For the spicy icing:
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of caster sugar (or icing sugar)
2 tablespoons of marg.
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a pinch of salt
Melt it all up in pan over a very low heat. Once well mixed, allow to cool and thicken a little before spreading on the cakes.
Perfect for Valentines Day, as is our little friend Egbert:
And books, they always make perfect gifts… Here’s two involving love that we’ve read and enjoyed in recent months:
Matt Haig’s ‘The Humans’ is compassionate and funny and deeply moving. When Professor Andrew Martin solves an important mathematical problem, he is replaced by an alien who is charged with eliminating all evidence of the discovery and Professor Martin’s wife and son. It’s one of those books that is so good you nag other people to read it…
Set in 17th century Amsterdam, Jessie Burton’s novel follows the lives of newly married Nella Oortman and her family. Intrigue surrounds the dolls house that Nella is given as a wedding gift and the mysterious miniaturist whose wares echo the lives of the people in the real house. Gripping and unputdownable.
The beautiful new cookbook from Viva! by Jane Easton (see her delicious beanburger recipe over on frugal).
The organisational structure of the book is exceptionally user-friendly. First there’s the main sections: Vegan Basics; Souperb; A bit on the side; Back to the sauce; The main event and Sweet thing. Then there’s a range of indexes based on the codes found on the recipe pages: budget dishes, fast feeds, Gluten & wheat free, cooking for one, kid-friendly, freezable, low fat/diabetic-friendly.
The recipes themselves are diverse and gorgeous and there’s a stunning colour photo beside each one. It’s hard to know where to start with describing them as there as so many, so we’ll give you a favourite: Speedy Chocolate Pudding. You can click the photo to see a bigger version.
The book is a wonderful mix of simple advice for beginner cooks and those new to veganism through to advanced ideas such as Christmas Stuffed Squash with Two-rice, Cranberry and Porcini Mushroom Filling. Rose Elliot’s Chestnut and Red Wine Pate en croute that we’ve loved for years is also included.
There’s Scrambled Tofu; Socca Pizza with Cream Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Artichoke Hearts; Perfect Pancakes; Vegetable Tempura; Smokey Black Bean Cakes & Sausages; cakes, muffins, slices… we could go on and on. Really we could, there’s 145 recipes!
The beautiful photos make it an excellent coffee table title, so much better for inspiration than tucking it away on a shelf…
Autumn is deepening and darkening, it’s conker time, it’s almost November, and November is vegan month. Animal Aid are running The Great Vegan Challenge where anyone can pledge to be vegan for a month with lots of help and support detailed here on their website (some rather nice recipes there too).
The vegetarian restaurant Tibits in London, normally 80% vegan in its offerings, is going to be launching Vegan Days, specifically on the 1st, 7th, 18th and 29th of November. Further vegan days will be mentioned here on their website. Judging by the lovely book they sent us – Tibits at Home – the food is pretty delicious.
Divided into seasons, the plethora of colourful recipes are all accompanied by photos. We liked the fact there are juice recipes and lots of really tasty sounding quinoa dishes, but today we tried the tomato soup with lemongrass and coconut milk, recipe below.
Theirs is rather better presented than ours 🙂 The book is now splattered, always a good sign with a cookbook.
Preparation time 40 minutes:
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1 stalk lemongrass
200g green leeks
600g fully ripened tomatoes
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
350ml vegetable stock
half tsp ginger powder
half tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp chilli oil
1 tsp sea salt
150ml coconut milk
freshly ground seasalt and white pepper
1. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic. Squash the lemongrass on a chopping board and chop finely.
2. Wash the leek, cut into half lengthwise and then chop into fine strips. Wash the tomatoes, remove the stem ends and chop into 3cm dice.
3. Sweat the onion, garlic and lemongrass in the hot olive oil until transparent. Add the diced tomatoes, veg stock, ginger, lemon pepper, chilli oil and sea salt and simmer at low temperature for 20 minutes. Puree the soup in a food processor and pass through a sieve.
4. Add the coconut milk and the leek and lightly cook for another five minutes. Add seasalt and pepper to taste.
It was a very nice and warming recipe despite being from the summer section of the book. There are many sweet photos throughout, this was our favourite:
Next up will be the parsnip soup though the linguini with pumpkin and swiss chard also looks enticing…
A very simple and very good (and rather vague) recipe. Fry off some finely chopped onion and garlic and add a selection of roughly chopped – chunky – vegetables. We used: courgettes; red, green and yellow peppers and celery. Mushrooms would be great too. Add chilli of choice, either finely chopped fresh chillis, dried chilli or a chilli powder mix, or maybe a mixture of these. Stir well.
Bung in a box of passata or chopped tomatoes and add a little water to the mix. Bring to boil and turn down to simmer. Once veg is tender add a tin or two of cooked red kidney beans and salt to taste. Nice served with rice, a baked potato or quinoa or, if you’re feeling a bit trashy, chips. Cucumber is a good cooling accompaniment. Other optional additions: a teaspoon of sugar stirred into the sauce really brings out the flavours in a different, sweet, way; a few squares of dark chocolate melted through it turn the dish into a darker, richer mole.
Don’t eat when you’ve been talked into watching a scary fast moving zombie film that will make you consume the hot chilli far too fast and overheat in a bad way.
And, books again: now is the time to get a copy of Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Christmas for 1 pence or 1 cent. The price will inflate hugely through November and December and it’s a lovely collection of recipes. See our review here or visit Amazon in the UK or Amazon in the USA.
And finally, a mention for the wonderful online health food shop Goodness Direct, such a life saver for rural dwelling vegans.
Autumn. Apples on the trees. Piles of logs for the fire. Hot chocolate. Heavy rain. Soup. Books.
Though it’s actually the books of summer I’m going to blog about, Autumn only just having got underway. The book pages survived the site move in abbreviated form – adult non-fiction and children’s titles – but fiction got left behind in a dusty file… so this post redresses the balance somewhat.
Two exciting debuts: The String Diaries is a perfectly paced thriller, set in modern day Britain and ancient Hungary, a myth made real. It makes you jump at noises in the garden. Kiss Me First is contrastingly contemporary and all too creepily believable as it examines the reality of online identity through the eyes of its timid, possibly autistic, protagonist.
All Passion Spent entranced me with its beautiful prose and well recognised description of what it is to be human. For once a literary title did not have me wishing for aliens to land and kill everybody…
Psychological thriller Gone Girl is intriguing from the off and the characters stay with you, an exciting read.
Roddy’s Doyle’s The Woman Who Walked Into Doors is heart-breaking and poignant and so well written that I am still sad about the death of an unpleasant character. I intend moving on to its follow up, Paula Spencer, soon. I requested The Guts for my birthday but got waylaid and gripped by the unusual Young Adult LGBT title, Pantomime (only 99p on Kindle at present).
Adding in Eleanor & Park because it’s so very, very good. Horribly real. Beautifully sweet. Intensely readable.
I’m off to make banana raisin teabread, not quite sure why that feels so nice and autumnal but it does. I leave you with the wild waves of the local beach and some surfing… (look hard, you’ll see them.)
This is a dish we enjoy so much we’ve had it twice in the last week. Using Orgran’s pastry mix instead of flour, it really is delicious.
I mainly ignored the packet instructions and just made the pastry how I normally do, probably using a bit more fat (Pure marg) and water than recommended. One pack makes enough pastry for two 10 inch quiches. Roll out to fit your greased dishes.
For the tofu topping (again I am listing amounts for two family size pies, adjust as required) blend two packs of silken tofu with a little black salt (Kala Namak), several sprigs of fresh rosemary and a half teaspoon of turmeric and then mix in a tin of drained sweetcorn. Place a par boiled, sliced head of broccoli evenly over the pastry bases and pour the tofu mix over. Top with sliced tomatoes and bake at 200C for half to three quarters of an hour.
On a sidenote, I bought the silken tofu from Approved Food, in date, for 50p a pack, making it much more affordable than usual. It’s probably not in stock now, stuff like that sells out fast, but it’s worth checking for vegan goodies regularly.
Current read, because lets face it, I’m unlikely to write another post devoted to books anytime soon: The Death of Eli Gold, it’s very good.
We have a beautiful paperback copy of Lynne Rickard’s new book , I Do Not Eat the Colour Green to give away. A lovely title which encourages healthy eating for kids. See our review of it up here
To enter just comment on this post and tell us what your favourite green thing is. Interpret the word green in any way you like 🙂 We only have one copy so Charlotte will pick the entry that appeals most to her this time – the names will be removed before she judges so feel free to enter if we know you personally or if you’ve never set eyes on this blog before – it won’t affect your chances 😀
Competition now closed: Congratulations to Wendy 😀