chestnuts roasting on an open fire…

chestnuts and cocoa

Unlike previous chestnut roasting efforts, these were done properly, in an actual long handled chestnut pan, no less.

chestnut pan

So they were sweet and succulent and cooked all the way through, unlike the ‘wrapped in foil and put in the fire’ nuts of the past which were burnt on the outside and raw in the middle.

Washed and scored:
scored chestnuts

Roasting:
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The pan comes with full instructions on how to choose the best chestnuts and then how to roast them, making it a really nice festive gift.

It’s almost December! Chocolate Advent Calendars:
Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar

To finish off today, turn your sound up and listen to some beautiful whooper swans on the early morning loch.

black badger stew and other beans

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We were sent some wonderful British bean products by Hodmedod’s. Before the title causes too much alarm: black badgers are a variety of pea that has been grown in Britain for at least 500 years, also known as carlin or maple peas. They are exceptionally flavoursome for a pulse and made a delicious hummus (substituting the chick peas in our usual recipe) and a wonderfully filling stew:

Black Badger Stewblack badger stew
250g of black badgers, soaked and cooked
2 onions, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
4 sticks of celery, chopped
2 dried bay leaves
1 box passata (500g)
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
water as needed
seasalt to taste

Soak your black badgers overnight, bring to the boil and turn down to simmer for about 30 minutes. Add in the vegetables, passata, water to cover and bay leaves and simmer again for at least fifteen minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaves. Thicken the sauce with tomato puree and season with salt. Nice served with rice or mash.

bean saladWe also made a fava bean (broad bean) salad:
1 can of cooked fava beans
3 tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 small onion, diced
a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Mix it all together and dress with the juice of one lemon and a little olive oil.

The big vegan box pictured above would make an ideal Christmas gift for any foodie. Not only does it contain the useful store cupboard staple of dried beans (including split fava beans which do not require soaking) but it boasts a plethora of ready to eat tinned products and roasted snacks. The baked beans are broad beans in a homemade style sauce rather than the orange goo of most brands. The dahl makes ‘chips with curry sauce’ into something gourmet and delightful. And the roasted beans and peas – wow – horseradish peas! Spicy like wasabi… There’s also a UK-grown bag of quinoa, removing any ethical issues with the product.

And speaking of Christmas: don’t miss our Vegan Christmas or Yule page for lots of festive recipes and gift ideas and also Advent calendars (those will sell out soon).

orange is the new green

pumpkin

A lovely pumpkin, but it’s not really the orange of the title so we’ll return to it later. Here’s the green:

virb

Viridian’s Soul Food Greens is a nutrient dense mix of several green food powders: spirulina, wheatgrass, barleygrass, alfalfa leaf, seagreens wild wrack seaweed and chlorella, making it a good source of trace elements, vitamins, essential fatty acids, polysaccharides and soluble fibre.

It went well in a green smoothie:pumpkin

Smoothie recipe (makes 4 large glasses): 4 bananas, 1 large avocado, a few good handfuls of fresh kale (or frozen), 2 heaped tablespoons of Soul Food Greens, 2 heaped tablespoons of linseeds and a litre of orange juice.

The juice is the orange, it makes these green drinks more palatable to those who are not so used to the bitter tang that green powders and kale can have. It stops people saying ‘I can’t drink this’ and instead they comment on the nice orange flavour while downing their vitamins. Viridian’s blend is quite gentle though, far easier on the taste buds than pure spirulina.

pumpkinAnd so, back to the seasonal orange of the pumpkin, or in fact any squash in this most basic, but delicious, of soup recipes: peel, deseed and chop squash of choice, cover with water and bring to boil. Add in onion, lots of garlic, a chilli, and salt to taste. Blend up with a handful of cashews…

Also see:
Paprika Pumpkin Soup
Roasted Butternut Soup with Lemon Thyme

And for a range of wonderfully varied recipes see Animal Aid’s new Buzzfeed post, 8 Amazing Recipes You Won’t Believe Are Vegan

Coconut!

smoothie

We were sent some coconut milk by Rhythm. It’s a chilled product, comes in sachets as opposed to tins, and contains no added ingredients, no sweeteners, no de-coagulants, no rubbish. Just coconut. It’s also cold pressed, so suitable for raw food recipes, and is the best coconut milk we have ever tasted.

coconut milkWe made the tropical fruit smoothie pictured above (4 pints, adjust quantities as desired).
Into it went:
1 bag of frozen organic tropical fruit
4 bananas
100g of Rhythm’s thick creamy coconut milk
a few brazil nuts
1 litre of orange juice
Whizz it all up in a blender. The Vitamix had no problem with the fruit straight from frozen, you might have to defrost with a lower powered machine. It was gorgeous: sweet but not too sweet, rich but not sickening, perfect.

chiilisThis next recipe we are calling ‘Thai-Style Bubble and Squeak’. If you actually have left over cooked potatoes and cabbage it would be super quick to prepare. This is the method from scratch:
In 1 tsp of coconut oil, fry up a red chilli, 5 cloves of garlic and a thumb of ginger, all finely chopped. Stir in 300g of Rhythm’s coconut milk with a little water to make a creamy bubbling sauce.

Wash and thinly slice a small bag of new potatoes and half a Savoy cabbage. Pop them into the pan, stirring frequently until soft and cooked, increasing the water if needed.  Add sea salt to taste. Nice served with rice and salad after a blustery Autumn walk.

autumn leaves

Viva! Cookbook

viva cover

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.

viva recipe

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…

To buy or read more visit Viva!

a pasta dish, a vegan guide and a dragonfly

pasta

So simple: cook pasta of your choice; fry up some chopped onions and whole chestnut mushrooms in a little olive oil. Once cooked, drain the pasta and stir everything together adding salt as desired. Add chopped parsley and cherry tomatoes, some seeds. Eat.

The HouseTrip Vegan and Vegetarian Food Guide has interactive maps showing good eating places for veg*ns in London, Paris and Berlin. You may see the odd review from us in the London section!

And a dragonfly, there are so many this year…

dragonfly

Autumn and Oatly

mushrooms

Ah, Autumn, you’re upon us again. Season of beautiful leaves, mushrooms in the grass and an abundance of apples. And squashes, let’s not forget them.

Timely then that Oatly sent us some of their products and a recipe for Oatly roasted butternut squash soup with lemon thyme. The apples really add a seasonal fruitiness to this dish, don’t miss them out!

Ingredientsbutternut squash soup
250 ml Oatly Organic Creamy Oat
1 butternut squash
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. minced ginger
1 minced red chilli
2 sprigs of lemon thyme
2 green apples, diced
800 ml vegetable stock
1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted pumpkin seeds to serve

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 240C/475F
2. Halve the butternut squash and scoop out the seeds using a large spoon. Place the halves on a large baking sheet with flech side up. Drizzle over the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
3. Heat a large pot over a medium high heat and add the oil. Add the onions, chilli, ginger and apple and cook gently until soft.
4. Using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh from the butternut squash and add it with the thyme to the pot.
5. Pour over the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat and blend using a hand-blender to desired consistency.
7. Add the Oatly Organic Creamy Oat and squeeze over lemon. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
8. Serve with toasted pumpkin seeds. We didn’t have those but we did have homemade potato wedges which made up for it.

Recipe credit: this recipe was made with Oatly Creamy Oat – a great dairy free, healthy alternative to single cream. For more delicious recipes and further information about the Oatly way of life, visit facebook.com/oatlyab

Creamy Oat is also great with puddings such as apple pie, it comes out of the fridge with the consistency of double cream. Pie recipe over on frugal.org uk

apple pie

vegan recipes, books and festivities… Among the trees in Scotland.

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