Sunday, 8 December 2013

Ⓥ Organic Dehydrated Kale Crackers with Engevita Yeast Flakes

I found a raw Cheezy Kale Crackers recipe a few weeks back and eventually got around to giving it a go today.

As usual for dehydrated cracker recipes, it's very easy to make. The worst problem I have is my blender is total rubbish. Anyway, I won't dwell on my blender.

So, the ingredients are:

Kale, Almonds, Nutritional Yeast Flakes, Coconut Flour, Flax, Paprika and Chili

First you have to soak the almonds over night, then rinse and then blend them. Stick them in a bowl. Put the flax and water in a bowl and leave it to thicken up.  Then blend the kale up. Add all the other ingredients to the ground almonds, add the kale to the almonds, mix well.

Then finally, add the gloopy flax mixture and mix well again.

Then you spread it out on parchment paper and score it. Unfortunately I don't have a fancy pants cutter so I used a knife. Mine are nowhere near as neat as on Susan's blog on

Then you dehydrate it. It smells really good.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Ⓥ Vegan Christmas Nut Roast Recipe

This recipe is one that Gramondo's dad makes every Christmas for their family meal (it serves 6).  It uses 3 types of nuts, but you could substitute 100% peanuts instead.  You don't have to wait until Christmas as this nut roast recipe is enjoyable anytime of the year.

2 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
75g/3oz shelled brazil nuts
75g/3oz shelled cashew nuts
75g/3oz shelled unsalted peanuts
175g/6oz wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
a few drops of Tabasco sauce
salt and ground black pepper
3 tbsp tomato puree
150ml/¼ pint vegetable stock
450g/1lb puff pastry (or use rough puff pastry - see below)

1. Fry up the onion and leeks in the oil for about 5 minutes.  Chop up the nuts by hand or if you want to be lazy use a food processor.  Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them under a pre heated grill for about 3 minutes.

2. Mix together the onion and leek, toasted nuts, breadcrumbs, sage, Tabasco sauce and seasoning.  Dissolve the tomato puree in the vegetable stock and stir it into the dry ingredients.

3. Preheat your oven to 220C/425F/Mark 7.  Roll out the pastry to 30 x 38cm/12 x 15inch rectangle.  Spoon the filling lengthways down the centre of the pastry, leaving a border of around 11.5cm/4.5inches down the long sides and 6.5cm/2.5inches at the short ends.

4. Cut out 4 squares from each of the corners of the pastry, almost to the edge of the filling. Use some
soy/rice/etc milk to brush around the edges of the pastry.

5. Fold the short sides of the pastry over the filling, and then fold the long edges over the filling, forming a sealed oblong parcel.  Place the nut roasts on a heated baking tray seams underneath. Brush the tops with more milk.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

Individual Nut Roasts

You could also make smaller individual nut roasts, which you can then freeze and cook later.  Gramondo's dad makes about 9 from the same ingredient.  He uses a rough puff pastry recipe...

1lb self raising flour
5oz vegetable shortening/fat
5oz vegetable margarine
½ pint of cold water
tsp salt

1. Add flour into bowl, mix the flour and salt.  Add fat cut in small pieces, stir in with knife (do not rub in).  Mix to a stiff paste with water.

2. Roll out to a narrow strip. fold in three turn one of the open towards you,and repeat three times. Put it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

3. Take out and divide into 2, place 1 back into the fridge.  Divide into 4 and roll out into mini nut roasts.  The bits that you trim off make another one.  Then take the other pastry out of fridge and repeat.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Ⓥ Spinach and Potato Pie

Today we had a Spinach and Potato Pie with Aubergine and Sweet Potato Curry. For the pie ingredients I use potatoes, mushroom and spinach - the quantities vary each time I make it depending on how much of each ingredient I have.  I tend to make up the flavours as I go along from a collection of spices.

Dough ingredients

8oz plain flour
125ml warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
Quarter teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix yeast, salt into flour, mix in oil, gradually mix in water, form a dough, kneed, leave for one hour to rise.

Steam the potato cubes. Fry the curry powder, onion seeds, chili powder, asafoetida, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, cumin seeds and garam masala.

Add chopped mushrooms. Add potato, fry for a bit.  Add chopped spinach, add half tin coconut milk (200ml ish).  Let it cook for a bit more, until it's tender.

Stick the mixture into a cake tin (8inch approx).  Form the dough to fit over the top and plop it on.  Stick in oven for about 30 minutes on 180c.

Aubergine and Sweet Potato Curry

For this I stuck two aubergines in the oven for half an hour then blasted their skin until it was black.  I then removed the skin. I steamed some round beans, carrot and sweet potato.  Then I fried ginger, garlic, onion, asafoetida, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, curry leaves,  bit of salt.  I added the aubergine, sweet potato and beans and then the rest of the coconut milk.  Slapped it on a plate.  Took only 10 minutes to eat it after taking 2 hours to cook it.  Oh well, at least there is some left for tomorrow's dinner.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Ⓥ Chaffinch release day

So, both of the chaffinches have managed to survive. One took a turn for the worst a few days ago and was only making short flights within the cage. The other one was more chirpy, and did escape on a few occasions, out of the cage. They have both been pecking at seeds that we put in the cage, so hopefully they will be able to find food for themselves. I phoned up a local rescue and they advised that the birds should be released. So, we ventured a few miles down the road to our vegan friend, who has lots of land, where there was less chance of cats getting their paws on the birds. When we opened the box, the chirpy one immediately flew off leaving his/her mate behind in the box. We put the box with a little exit hole up in a tree and waited. After a couple of hours he/she also took the plunge and flew off into the trees.

Gramondo managed to take a photo of the first bird to fly off just after it had left.

Then, one photo of the second bird, that waited for a while in its box before leaving. I wonder if they will meet up again, I hope so.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Ⓥ Hand rearing two chaffinches

On Sunday 30th June we took our neighbour's dog, Ratty, for a walk and came across two cyclists.  One of them was holding in her hand, two chaffinch chicks.  They told us that just as they were cycling past, a magpie had thrown the chicks from their nest.  The chicks were feathered, mainly down but with some primary wing feathers.  The couple had been looking for the nest to return the chicks to it.  We helped to look, but failed.  It was a tricky situation, even if we found the nest, the chances were that after being handled by humans the adults would now reject the chicks.  The couple were about to leave the chicks to fend for themselves, when I said that we would take them home and try to rear them ourselves.

We then did a bit of research online as to what to feed them.  The answer seemed to be, kitten food (60%), egg yolk (20%) and mealworms (20%).  I know what some of you will be thinking, and I think it myself.  How vegan is it to feed one animal to another, it's a conflict that I can not reconcile.  Faced with animals totally unable to defend for themselves, bereft of their parents, we chose to feed them.  We expected them to die over night, as, however much we tried, they refused to eat anything.  The next day, I got up at 5am, expecting the worst, but found both of them alive and keen to eat something.  So, it's now four days on and they are still both doing well.  In fact, so well that today, the larger one took his first flight.

So, today we were lucky enough to be lent a small bird cage, to re-home them into from their original cardboard box.  Now they are hopping around we can put a shallow dish of water in with them.  It is important not to syringe feed chicks water as it can pass very easily into their lungs.

I thought I might add to this blog, the fact that the cruel practice of Vinkensport/Vinkenzetting  is still continued today in Belgium.  I mention it as the sick individuals that take part in this "sport" mainly choose to imprison chaffinches.  The idea is to see how many times one poor soul, locked in a wooden box, can call.  Whole rows of small wooden boxes are laid out next to each other, while sad unmentionables sit and count the bird calls within one hour.  This practice has been taking place since the late 16th century.

On a more positive note, we can see that people form early on have shown empathy to animals.  One such person was Thomas Hardy, who wrote the poem "The Blinded Bird" as a protest against it.  At the time, it was practice to blind the birds with hot needles to stop them from visual distractions during the competition.

The Blinded Bird by Thomas Hardy

So zestfully canst thou sing?
And all this indignity,
With God's consent, on thee!
Blinded ere yet a-wing
By the red-hot needle thou,
I stand and wonder how
So zestfully thou canst sing!

Resenting not such wrong,
Thy grievous pain forgot,
Eternal dark thy lot,
Groping thy whole life long;
After that stab of fire;
Enjailed in pitiless wire;
Resenting not such wrong!

Who hath charity? This bird.
Who suffereth long and is kind,
Is not provoked, though blind
And alive ensepulchred?
Who hopeth, endureth all things?
Who thinketh no evil, but sings?
Who is divine? This bird.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Ⓥ My cheese free vegan pizza on Vegan Pizza Day

Yesterday, Gramondo told me that it was Vegan Pizza Day on Saturday 29th June. So, I thought it was as good a reason as any to have another pizza. Recently I have stopped using vegan cheese on my pizza and have found that I don't miss it at all.

Last week we put in an order with Essential Trading Coop and amongst other things ordered Sunita organic olives and Organico organic artichokes. So, I put some of those on, together with only basic ingredients, tomato puree, onion, garlic, red pepper, mushroom, olive oil and seasoning. I keep telling myself that in regards to pizza, less is definitely more. Most of the time, I usually end up putting too much on, but this time I think I nearly cracked it.

For the base, I use my Panasonic bread making machine, which always makes a consistently good dough, without much effort from myself.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Ⓥ Artisan Vegan Cheese - Pub Cheddar with Chives

Since I blogged the Air Dried Cheddar  he  recipe in January, I have been going through the Artisan Vegan Cheese book, albeit very slowly, testing various recipes.  Apart from the Smoked Provolone Cheese, (I have realised I don't like smokey flavours in general), I have really enjoyed every one I have made. Gramondo has enjoyed all of them, so we are both very impressed with the book and would highly recommend that you get yourself a copy.

So, here is another cheese from the book to take a look at.

I set Gramondo the task, to find me an ale to use in the recipe.  He did very well, finding one in the Co-op that was not only a vegan ale, but an organic, Fairtrade and vegan ale.  The ale is brewed for The Co-op by the Freeminer Brewery in the Royal Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.  The malted barley is grown in the Cotswolds and on Salisbury Plain and handcrafted by Warminster Maltings - Britain’s oldest working floor maltings.

First stage is to soak the cashew nuts for 3 to 8 hours.  Then blend them, together with your rejuvelac,
miso, yeast flakes and salt.  You have to leave this to do its thing for 24 to 28 hours at room temperature (about 67f/19c).

Next stage is to thicken the cheese.  You heat the ale, together with the agar powder and then add the cheese.  After you have been stirring it for about five minutes, it becomes smooth and glossy.  You then remove it from the heat and add your chives, I used dried as I could not find fresh.

Pour into a glass mould and allow to cool.

Artisan Vegan Cheese

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Ⓥ PÜR Gum - Vegan Friendly Chewing Gum

PÜR Gum recently sent us a few samples of their gum to try out.  The gum is available in several flavours including peppermint, pomegranate mint, spearmint and wintergreen.  We tested out all the flavours.  Out of the four flavours the pomegranate mint one is our favourite.

PÜR Gum is vegan friendly, aspartame-free and sweetened with xylitol, which is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol found in corn cobs and stalks.  It’s also naturally coloured and flavoured and free of genetically modified organisms.  It contains no gluten and is safe for people with celiac disease and any other wheat and gluten intolerance.  Each piece of gum contains 1 gram of xylitol and 2.4 calories.

is a natural insulin stabilizer, meaning it doesn't cause a spike in blood sugar and helps reduce sugar and carbohydrate cravings.  It also helps to restore proper alkaline/acid balance in the mouth, inhibits plaque formation and helps prevent tooth decay.

I haven’t bought chewing gum for more years than I care to remember, but if I saw the PÜR Gum available then I would buy a packet or two… especially as it’s vegan friendly.

PÜR Gum is distributed in the United Kingdom by Eterno Naturals.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Ⓥ Artisan Vegan Cheese: Following Miyoko Schinner's Air-Dried Cheddar Recipe

I've invested in a new vegan cheese book called "Artisan Vegan Cheese" by Miyoko Schinner and I thought I would blog my voyage into the land of vegan cheese production.

To begin with I am at a disadvantage as I am living in a house with no heating, and vegan cheese needs warmth to ferment.  So I've invested in a brew belt to keep my creation warm.  Not ideal, but it seems to do the trick.

First I have to track my ingredients down.

Quinoa - To make the rejuvelac - easy to find in any wholefood shop.
Yogurt  - I need to start making my own but this time around I've bought some Sojasun.
Cashews - Easy to find, I used organic ones.
Nutritional yeast flakes - I used B12 version that I already had in.
Brown miso - Easy to find in any wholefood shop.
Canola (rapeseed) oil - Bit tricky finding this until I found out that it was rapeseed oil.
Tapioca flour - I eventually found this in an international food store. I bought tapioca starch, I checked on line and it seems they are one and the same.
Agar agar powder - I gave up tracking this down locally and ordered it through Ebay.

The vegan cheese I have selected to make is called "Air-Dried Cheddar"

It has quite a few stages to its production, but I'm getting ahead of myself, first I need to make my rejuvelac.

Rejuvelac is basically the fermented juice from sprouted seeds, in my case I used quinoa.  I need to put a cup of quinoa in a jar with a small amount of water in a warm place, that's were my brew belt came into play.  For three days I need to keep the seeds wet and warm and change the water twice a day rinsing them before I put them back.  They will sprout and then I need to add a measured amount of spring water and wait again for two days.  At the end of this time if the Vegan Gods are smiling down on me, rejuvelac will be born.  This makes about a litre of fluid, it can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 weeks so it can last for several batches of vegan cheese.


So I have my rejuvelac and my ingredients and I'm now ready to start on my vegan cheese.

First stage is to soak the cashews from 3 to 8 hours.

Second stage is the blend - cashews, rejuvelac, yogurt, yeast flakes, miso, oil, salt.  I then have to keep this mixture nice and warm for 48 hours.  The photo below is after about 4 hours, it's already fermenting and smells great.

Two long days later and I'm ready to go to the third stage, adding the agar agar and the tapioca flour (or starch).

After whisking in the agar and the tapioca I use a wooden spoon (don't ask me why this is important, I'm just following instructions) to stir the mixture over a moderate heat for several minutes.  The sauce then becomes elastic and glossy.

I then transfer it to a glass bowl where I press it in and smooth off the top, it very quickly becomes a rubbery solid form.  You really need to act quickly here before it cools and goes rubbery, press it in firmly into your mould.  With retrospect I would possibly recommend that you use maybe three moulds so that you can make three smaller vegan cheeses instead of one big one.  Then you could freeze two and keep one in your fridge.

At this stage I had the opportunity to sample the vegan cheese from the remnants in the pan.
I am rubbish at describing how food tastes, so all I can say is that it tasted very good.

I then allow it to cool completely before covering it and refrigerate it for at least four hours.  Then I am ready for stage four.  I need to take the vegan cheese out of the bowl and then after washing my hands, sprinkle on to my wet hands some salt.  I then pat my salty hands all over the cheese.

Then its a case of waiting another four days.  The vegan cheese is placed on a cooling rack and left in a room with good air flow to do its thing.  If you did decide to make multiple smaller cheeses, you might not need to leave them for four days, maybe just three days, just taste them and see what you think.  Or give Miyoko a ring.

It's the end of the fourth day.  The vegan cheese has completed its voyage and has come to rest on my kitchen work top.  Gramondo said it tasted like a strong soft cheese, not too cheesy.  He liked it.  I liked it.  It was worth the effort.  It was easy to make.  Give it a go.

I've ordered some liquid smoke from America so I will be making "Smoked provolone" next from the same book.

The vegan cheese I've made above can kept for one month wrapped up in the fridge or four months in the freezer.  Not sure if mine will last that long with Gramondo around.  Thanks Miyoko!!

Artisan Vegan Cheese

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