Posts Tagged With: food

‘Peace and Parsnips’ on Youtube – Vegan Myth Buster

Peace and Parsnips was a full-on shoot, Sophie and I worked our socks off getting the food looking scrumptious for the camera and Al, the photographer, did the rest….

Mythbustin’…..

HERE is our little article about the book.

Categories: Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stacked Portobello Mushrooms, Hazelnut Tofu and Caramelised Garlic with a Red Lentil Sauce (No fuss extravagance)

Stacked Portobello Mushrooms, Hazelnut Tofu and Leeks with Caramelised Garlic and Red Lentil Sauce (Quite a mouthful in so many ways!)

Stacked Portobello Mushrooms, Hazelnut Tofu and Leeks with Caramelised Garlic and Red Lentil Sauce (Quite a mouthful in so many ways!)

We are really giving it to you here!  A restaurant-ified dish made at home with very little mess and fuss.  Our kind of food!  It also happens to be outrageously good for you.  This is utter, guilt-free indulgence.

These stacks sound quite complex, but are actually anything but. In fact, it would be a good restaurant dish for the same reasons. It’s simplicity. A few ingredients speaking nicely together all wrapped up in a creamy lentil sauce.

If you meet a vegan/ vegetarian who says they don’t like Portobello mushrooms, look them right in the eye and repeat the question very slowly and slightly suspiciously. “Are you sure????” They may be an undercover carnivore. All veggies like Portobello mushroom, they are so flavoursome and have a magnificent texture. They can be used in all sorts of ways to sate even the most ferocious of carnivores. Some whack them in a burger, other use them as a base for stacking fun and games (that’s me).

Hazelnut tofu is not that easily sourced, but you can always use firm tofu instead. I’d recommend marinating it in a fridge for a while.  Press the tofu to get rid of most of the excess moisture and then glug a little tamari (or good soya sauce) over the top. Toss the tofu in the tamari and leave for a couple of hours before use. Hazelnut tofu can be bought in health food shops and the like, it can also be ordered online and is one of Jane and I’s favourite treat bites.

You would like the lentils quite thin, it is a sauce by name after all. Add a little more water to make it the consistency of a thick gravy.  Leeks, how we have missed them. Most of our recent dishes have revolved around the mighty leek.  Wales does many things well; sunsets, leeks and hail stones and you can only eat one of them.

Cookin' up a stack!

Cookin’ up a stack! (Fleece essential)

The Bits – For 2 (as a big plate) or 4 (as a little plate)

Red Lentil Sauce

1 tbs olive oil

3 garlic cloves (peeled and finely sliced)

2 tomatoes (roughly chopped)

200g red lentils (well washed and rinsed)

1/2 teas dried thyme

750ml water

Leek Greens (finely sliced, see below)

Leeks, how we adore thee.

Leeks, how we adore thee.

Stacks

1 pack hazelnut tofu (roughly 250g, cut into 8, 1 cm thick slices)

4 large Portobello Mushrooms

2 leeks (washed well, green part cut off and finely sliced, white part cut length ways into quarters and then sliced into 4, 3 inch pieces/ chunks)

1 whole head garlic (seperated into individual cloves, skins still on.  Use three of the cloves for the lentil sauce)

A good drizzle of olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

Garnish

Something green (preferably a little fresh thyme, parsley or even finely sliced spinach – as I used here)

Tray of goodness, ready for the oven

Tray of goodness, ready for the oven

Do It

Wash your lentils well, cover them with fresh water and drain.  Keep doing this until the water is clear.  Grab a medium sized saucepan and add 1 tbs oil, warm on a medium heat and then add the sliced garlic, stir and fry for a minute, then add the chopped tomatoes, stir well.  Pop a lid on and allow to bubble on a fast simmer for 5 minutes.

Now add the lentils and water, turn up the heat and bring to a boil.  Drop a lid on and lower the heat to a steady simmer.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Stir in the leek greens and the thyme, place the lid back in and cook for a further 20 minutes.  Adding more water to make thick, gravy like consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Keep warm.

Preheat and oven to 180oC.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment, drizzle over a little oil and rub over the tray with your hand.  Then lay out all of your veggies onto the tray, including the tofu.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, remove the mushrooms and tofu, turn over the leeks and garlic, place them back into the oven for 10 minutes (if they need them, they should be nice and soft with the occasional caramelised hue).

Assembly job – in a warm serving dish (or you can serve each stack individually on warm plates).  Cut your tofu in half lengthways, pop the garlic out of their skins (they should not need much encouragement).  Now place two pieces of leek and two cloves of garlic onto a mushroom and top those with four nice slices of tofu (criss-crossed looks cool).  You can put these back in the oven on a low heat to keep warm until serving.

Serve

Pour a thick layer of lentil sauce over your serving dish/ plate and gently place one of your towering stacks on top.  Sprinkle with something green, a little more seasoning with salt and pepper and a slight drizzle of good olive oil.

Stacked P........YUM!

Stacked……..YUM!

Foodie Fact – Leeks

Leeks can be a little overlooked from a nutritional point of view, their more popular cousins the onion and garlic get all the attention.  This means there isn’t as much nutritional info out there about them.  However, we know that leeks are champions of Vitamin K (see our last article, No-Knead Everyday Loaf, for more on ‘K’).  We also know that they are high in Manganese (good for bones and skin) and Folates (Vitamin B’s that keep our cardiovascular system in order).

Probably the most interesting thing  about Leeks are their history.  They originate from Central Asia (not Wales) and were highly revered by the Romans, in fact Emperor Nero used to eat alot of leeks to help give him a strong voice.  Leeks were in fact introduced to the UK by the Romans and are probably most famous for being worn in the helmets the Welsh army, who defeated the Saxons in 1620.

Read more excellent nutritional info here.

Jane on a walk in the hills, the gorse is right out in bloom (lovely honey smells)

Jane and I on a walk in the hills, the gorse is right out in bloom (lovely honey smells)

Follow all the Beach House Kitchen shenanigans and updates on whats going on with the new book Peace and Parsnips on Twitter.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Healthy Eating, Photography, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Peace and Parsnips’ is really taking off!!!!

'Peace and Parsnips'  our new cookbook, taking off!

‘Peace and Parsnips’ our new cookbook, taking off!

 

We went up to the top of Tiger Hill and it turned into a full power ‘Peace and Parsnips’ fest, with various pictures of me goofing around with our brand new cookbook (out on May 7th!).  Forgive Jane and I, we are little excited about it all.

Our friend Shira was amazing at catching me in mid air, looking like I’d just been dropped out of a passing plane.

I also went back to cooking at Trigonos Retreat last week, which is always a real pleasure.  You could call this my day job, cooking vegan fare for meditators and yoga folk.  I am a very lucky chap indeed.  It is the place where many of the cookbook recipes were tried and tested.

Playing with food, back cooking at Trigonos Retreat Centre, Nantlle, Wales

Playing with food, back cooking at Trigonos Retreat Centre, Nantlle, Wales

Once more, just for kicks.....

Once more, just for kicks…..

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‘Peace and Parsnips’ is coming to get yaaaaaah! (Its all in the hips)

We’re also sticking loads of new Beach House Kitchen stuff on Twitter and Facebook.  Check.  It.  Out.  Xxxx.

If you haven’t bought the book yet (tuttututututututututtttttuuuut), HERE is a great place to pre-order your very own copy for a superbly reasonable price.  Over 200 vegan/ gluten free recipes straight from the Beach House Kitchen.  How cool is that!  Priceless…..  The books contains chapters like: Nuts About Nuts!, The Vegan Larder, Eating from soil, shoot or branch, Seasonality, A Very Meaty Problem, Homemade Milks, The ‘Whats Up’ With Dairy and of course the recipes:

Breakfast, Smoothies, Juices, Steamers and Hot Drinks, Soups, Salads, Sides, Nibbles, Dips and Little Plates, Big Plates, Curries, Burgers, Bakes and Get Stuffed, Sweet Treats and finally Sauces, Dressings, Toppers and Other Stories.   

That’s quite a plateful of vegan fare.   It’s a tasty vegan tome.

Friends, family and loved ones (everyone) I will even sign your copy for no extra charge!!!!  Expect many more gratuitous ‘Peace and Parsnips’ plugs coming in the next couple of weeks.

Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.”  HH Dalai Lama

Viva Vegan (peaceful, bright and bountiful food)xxxx 

 

 

Categories: Books, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Photography, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

No-Knead Everyday Loaf

No-Knead Everyday Loaf

No-Knead Everyday Loaf

Risk free, no brainer baking.  Perfect!  If you have never made bread before, start here…….if you’re a pro kneader, give this one a whirl, you’ll be surprised by the results.

This is bread making without all the fuss and mess.  In fact, its as simple as; combining, baking, eating.  This is a light loaf, with a slightly crumbly finish, like an Irish soda bread (without the faint twang of soda).  You can really taste the yoghurt which is a nice addition, giving richness to the loaf.

This is a bread that we make regularly and is perfect for a quick loaf in a hurry.  There is no proving or hanging around with this one.  Mix it up, whack it in the oven and before you know it, your whole house is fragrant with the joys of imminent warm bread.  Homemade bread is the only way to go and with recipes like this, its hassle free.

Adding sparkling water to your baking really adds a lightness to proceedings.  Normal water works fine here also.

Jane nibbling on a Tostada con Tomate - One of the recipes in our new cookbook - Peace and Parsnips

Jane nibbling on a ‘Tostada con Tomate’ – One of the recipes in our new cookbook – Peace and Parsnips

Modified from the awesome vegan baking book ‘The Vegan Baker’ by Dunja Gulin

The Bits – Makes a 1/2kg loaf (around 8-10 slices)

275g unbleached white flour

125g wholewheat flour

2 teas baking powder

50g rolled oats

1 ½ teas salt

250ml soya milk

225ml water (sparkling water is best)

4 tbs soya yoghurt (unsweetened)

2 tbs olive oil

Everything in neat bowls, probably the tidiest bread making recipe (no flour everywhere for a start)

Everything in neat bowls, probably the tidiest bread making recipe (no flour everywhere for a start)

Seed Mix

3 tbs rolled oats

1/2 teas caraway seeds

2 tbs flax/linseeds or sunflower seeds (any seed will do….)

Loaf ready for the oven

Loaf topped and ready for the oven

Do It 

Preheat an oven to 220oC (425oF).

Sift the white flour with the baking powder, then stir in the oats and salt.  Mix well.

Mix in the wet ingredients and combine well with a trusty wooden spoon until a sticky dough is formed.  It should be easy to spoon, add a touch more water if needed.

Line a loaf tin with oiled baking parchment, the neater, the better.  Sprinkle half of the seed mix on the base and then spoon in the bread mix.  Level with a spatula (a wet one works best) and sprinkle over the rest of the seed mix.

Pop in the oven and lower heat to 200oC (400oF) and bake for an hour.  If you’re using a fan oven, check after 30 minutes that the top is not burning (our oven is a beast and tends to burn tops).  Cover with more parchment if this is happening.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin. Turn out and peel off paper.  Leave to cool further on a wire rack, the crust will now crisp up nicely.

Store as you do, this bread lasts well, 5 days.

We let it cool outside, meaning you can start eating it sooner!

We let it cool outside, meaning you can start eating it sooner!

Serve

Warm with Marmite and good olive oil or some of Jane’s lovely Apple and Tomato Chutney (coming soon on the B.H.K).  This loaf is a good toaster.

Foodie Fact

Oats are a concentrated source of fibre and nutrients, a pocket battleship so to speak.  They are very high in minerals like manganese, phosphorous and copper.  It contains beta-glucan, which is a special type of fibre that actually lowers cholesterol.  Isn’t nature kind!  Have loads of fibre also means that oats help to stabilise our blood sugar level, meaning a better metabolism and less freaky weight gain.  Oats are very cool.

Sunset last night from the BHK window

Sunset last night from the BHK window

 

Categories: Baking, Peace and Parsnips, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mindful Eating – The Top 5 Good and Bad Mood Foods

Foods that make you go ZING!

Foods that make you go ZING!

MOODS

Moods. What can we do? Sometimes you’re up and then for no reason whatsoever, your down. Can food help? Most people realise that moods affect what we eat, but does it work the other way. Do foods effect our moods?

There has been much research into the matter which has shown a link between moods and the food we eat. A recent survey has shown that a large proportion (over 80%) of people felt better when they changed their diet. Eating healthier makes us feel better inside and out.

SCIENCE BIT

From what we can tell this is down to serotonin, the happy chemical, produced in our brains. Serotonin cannot be produced without tryptophan (an amino acid), so its a good idea to eat foods high in trypophan to make us happy. Simple enough!? Low serotonin levels are blamed for anxiety, cravings, mood disorders and IBS. The concept of eating foods high in trypophan is similar to that of taking an anti-depressant like prozac. Holistic anti-depressants.

Moods cannot be gotten rid of, but can be brought under control. The extremity of the ups and downs can be lowered, meaning you feel more centered and grounded in a good place. Eating and living well can be essential in maintaining not just our physical, but also our mental health.

TOP 5 GOOD MOOD FOODS

1) mung beans

2) nuts

3) tofu

5) bananas

Taken from the e-book The Serotonin Secret, Dr Caroline Longmore

After too many 'good mood' foods Jane sometimes tries to fly!!!!

After too many ‘good mood’ foods Jane sometimes tries to fly!!!!

WHAT MAKES THEM FULL OF ‘HAPPY’?

Foods high in fibre, wholegrains and protein can also help boost moods. Food with a low glycemic index, like oats for example will help the brain absorb all of these happy amino acids. Tryptophan absorption is boosted by carbohydrates.

These foods should be combined with lots of clean water and fresh fruit and vegetables. Eating regularly and not skipping meals also boosts our mental health. A balanced diet is always the best way forward.

Foods that have the opposite effect are sometimes called ‘Stressors’, the main culprits are listed below:

STRESSED FOODS

– Sugar

–  Caffeine

– Alcohol

– Chocolate

– Wheat-containing foods

– Additives

– Dairy

– Saturated Fats

Provided by the ‘Food and Mood Project’, backed by the mental health charity ‘Mind‘.

A diet heavy in the ‘stressors’ can lead to all sorts of problems including anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, panic attacks, lack of concentration and unfortunately, many more…

Sugar has a powerful effect on our sense of well being, if we eat too much, we can get into a sugar roller coaster, which is never nice. Our blood sugar levels are all over the place and we feel drained and fatigued when the sugar is lessening and high as a kite when its peaking.

OVER INDULGING

If you do over indulge (who doesn’t?!) one of the worst things that you can do is feel guilty about it. Feel great about it! You have just treated yourself and you deserve it. Move on and make efforts to eat better and feel better, step-by-step, slowly slowly. It’s a long road without any fixed destination.

Apparently we all have ‘triggers’, foods that can take us up and down. This depends on you, have a little experiment. If you are feeling a bit sluggish and down, think about what you have eaten that day or the night before. Trends will inevitably form. We found it really helpful to take the plunge and go for a full raw, vegan diet. Just for a month or sometimes just a week or so.  Our bodies became sensitive to what we ate and we learned alot about what makes us feel good and otherwise.  There seem to be definite trends in the foods that take the shine off things, and in our experience, most of them are all noted above as ‘Stressors’.  You don’t have to go this far of course, just cut out certain foods for a period of time and see how you feel.  Many people are doing this with gluten at the moment and feeling the benefits.

The occasional treat can never be a bad thing!!!!

The occasional treat can never be a bad thing!!!!

MINDFUL EATING

Eating well is one thing, but thinking well is another level completely. They both tend to rise inclusively.  Once we are feeling more stable and peaceful in the mind, our eating habits seem to change.  We become more aware of how we are fueling our bodies, the effects that the foods we eat have a profound effect on health, both mental and physical.  We all have a good idea of how to make our bodies fit and lean, but how is our mind shaping up?  Are we happy and content?

Thinking positively is the key, a good place to start.  If we can practice thinking only positive thoughts for a minute at a time and build on that. If this is done whilst meditating, even better.  Meditation doesn’t need to be done on a Tibetan cushion, you can do it anywhere.  On the bus or train or even when walking or simply sat in a waiting room.  The days are filled with moments of potential mediation, windows of unexplored peace and rejuvenation.  In our opinion, meditation is the most important practice in creating/ maintaining a more peaceful mental outlook. Once your thoughts are flowing in the right direction, the body tends to follow.  The cookies you crave one day are the carrot sticks you cannot live without the next.  Habits change very quickly.  It is really surprising.  We have been through all of this ourselves and being ‘mindful’ requires discipline and dedication.  But it does have incredible, trans-formative rewards.  Add that to your new found passion for mung beans and you’ll be shining away for all to see.

Here is a meditation clip for those interested.  Jane and I recently attended a Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat up in Dharamasala, India.  This is there style of doing things, but there are so many styles and methods of meditating.  The most important thing is feeling a sense of peace.  That’s it!  Whatever works for you is the way.

We have a very soft spot for Tibetan Buddhism, so here’s how they focus the mind (this Rinpoche has the most lovely, smile-inducing voice):

If meditation is not your thing, how about some good exercise, get the blood pumping; a long walk in the countryside or a park, turning the computer off and doing some gardening, turning the mobile phone off and cooking your loved one the most beautiful feast, painting, writing, putting up a shelf with care and attention.  Anything that gets you away from the tidal waves of thoughts and ‘thinking’ will no doubt rejuvenate.  Taking care of ourselves, being gentle with ourselves, nourishing mind and body.

For more information on mood foods, check out theMind site. There is information here for Brits on how to contact dietitians and nutritionists to get started on a new diet plan and lifestyle.

Take it easy, have a handful of sunflower seeds, meditate peacefully and shine onX

Bananas always make me smile!

Bananas always make me smile!

This piece is a revised version of something we wrote a few years ago.  We just love the idea that foods can have such a profound effect on our sense of wellbeing, or otherwise…  

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Peace and Parsnips – Our New Cookbook with Penguin (Out May 7th)

WE WROTE A COOKBOOK!  PEACE AND PARSNIPS

Just a quickie to let all our lovely followers of the B.H.K that we did a cookbook and its coming out very soon with the great folk at Penguin. Pure vegan, pure delicious and packed with stunning pictures of the Beach House and beyond.  We couldn’t have done it without all of your inspiration and encouragement along the way.

Peace and Parsnips is simple and decadent, spicy and sultry, moreish and quite an  eye full.  There are recipes here for everyone, we’ve even tested them on all on ravenous carnivores and they smiled and asked for seconds.  YES!

(The veggie prints on the front cover were hand printed by Sarah, our amazing Art Designer, and her daughter on a Sunday afternoon.  How lovely is that!)

“This book will rock your concept of vegan cooking – join the meatless revolution and the trend for cooking healthy, hearty food! Nutritious, cheap, easy, diverse and mouth-wateringly delicious, Lee Watson is set to reinvent the way we think about vegan cookery with an incredible range of styles and flavours. Packed full of fantastic recipes that range from basic bites to gourmet delights. This vegan tome is the answer to all your cookery needs, whether you’re a vegan or just want to give it a go. Burgers, curries, salads, pies and sweet treats, this is a book that will appeal to everyone – including carnivores! Welcome to Peace & Parsnips, the ultimate vegan cookbook.”

We are very, very, very happy with the book.  It looks AMAZING and the recipes really shine and the food photographs are just plain sexy!  Some beautiful shots of the Welsh landscape and plenty of Jane and I cooking up many storms and trays/ bowls of full power vegan goodness.  You’ll even see us surfing, hiking in the hills, attacking sandwiches, sitting under a waterfall and laughing.  Lots of laughing.  IT WAS FUN!

We  have filled ‘Peace and Parsnips’ with the recipes that make us smile and shine; Portobello and Pecan Burgers, Macadamia and Blueberry Cheesecake, Kashmiri Turnip and Spinach Curry, Oven Baked Squash Gnocchi, Asparagus and Cashew Tart…..there are over 200 shimmering purely plant-based recipes to get stuck into! There’s even a section on making your own nut, bean and lentil milks.

You can pre-order the book HERE for a special 5 pounds off.

We will be sharing excepts and bits from the book on The Beach House Kitchen as we move towards the launch date.  As you can imagine, Jane and I are getting quite excited about it all!!!!!

We’ll also be doing alot of stuff on our facebook and twitter pages.  Follow us there for more vegetal fun, games and deliciousness……..

VIVA VEGAN!!!!Xx

Categories: Books, Healthy Eating, Peace and Parsnips, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Toasted Cashew and Green Pepper Pulao plus the healthy magic of Cinnamon

Toasty Cashews.  YUMAH!

Toasty Cashews. YUMAH!

Toasty cashews with sweet peppers and a raft of spices and fluffy rice.  Its all there.  Indians taking a staple dish way up there towards Nirvana and beyond!!!!!!

A simple rice dish (don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients) with some seriously tasty touches.  Toasted cashews are ever delicious.  Pulao is basically a side dish, but can really be a main course, something like a Biryani for example, with a few more veggies and a little more spice.  Pulao is like a toned down cousin of Biryani.  Just like all Indian food, flavours here are turned up to 11 and the possibility of spice combing are fully explored.  This may seem like alot spices to be putting into your rice, but they are worth it and if you are interested in cooking Indian food, you will find that all of these spices are used almost on a daily basis in your average Indian kitchen.

In India this March, above the Himalayan snowline in a family home.  Dinner time was a huge highlight (we could warm out hands over the rice)

In India this March, above the Himalayan snowline in a family home. Dinner time was a huge highlight (we could warm out hands over the rice)

A SPICY CONUNDRUM 

When you see the recipes for many Indian dishes you are immediately confronted with the sheer length and seemingly mind boggling array of spices in even a simple dish.  Do not fret, once you get them all together and start cooking more Indian food, your dhaba (spice rack) will become your best friend.  I always bang on about this, but keep your spices in sealed containers and preferably in the fridge (if you live in a hot place or your central heating is potent).  Don’t mix strong smelling spices with, like Hing (Asafoetida) with other spices, they’ll all be tinged with the funk of hing.  Get your spices ready, in one bowl if possible, before hand.  Then when the pan is hot and the spatula is flying, you can simply pour them in with no real fuss.  Bear  in mind however that some spices are better added earlier or later in the cooking process, depending on the dish/ spice.  Its a little complex really!  Being a bit organised with your spices beforehand saves you clambering around with slippy jars and unruly spice bags.

I’ve used brown rice and thrown some of my favourites, flax seeds in, but both are not exactly traditional.   If you use white rice, you could knock 10 minutes off the overall cooking time.

One of the main men in Nainital market.  Great onions.  India '15

One of the main men in Nainital market. Great onions. India ’15

The Bits

1 tbs cooking oil (vegetable/ sunflower etc)

400g brown rice

600ml light vegetable stock

1 green pepper (as finely diced as you can)

1 handful of cashews (chopped in half lengthways, like half moons)

2 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed up or finely diced)

1 large tomato (finely diced)

 

Spices

1-2 large red chilli (dried and cut lengthways, remove seeds for less heat)

6 green cardamom pods (split)

1 small cinnamon stick (2 inches long)

5 cloves

6 green cardamom pods (split)

1 teas cumin seeds

1 teas fennel seeds

½ teas nigella seeds

1 tbs flax/linseeds

 

Optional Topping

1 handful toasted cashews

1 handful fresh coriander leaves (roughly chopped) – we didn’t have any (soz)

Fried Pulao - Just add a few tomatoes

Fried Pulao – Just add a few tomatoes for a super simple lunch treat

Do It

In a large saucepan, with a good fitting lid, warm the oil on medium high heat and add the green peppers, fry them for a couple of minutes before adding the cumin and nigella seeds, stir for a minute and then add the rest of the spices and garlic, stirring all the time.  Cook these for a minute and then it’s time to pour in the rice and tomatoes.  Combine all the ingredients well and leave to warm through for yet another minute.

Pour over the stock and turn the heat up a little until the rice is vigorously boiling.  Now place a well fitting lid over the rice and turn the heat down to minimum.  Leave to steam away for 40-45 minutes (white rice, know off 10 minutes cooking time).

While the rice is cooking, grab a small frying pan and on medium heat, add the cashews and toast them gently.  Tossing them about, getting them nice and coloured.  Toasty.  Gorgeous.  Dark golden.

Once cooked, have a peak, the rice should be nice and fluffy.  With a fork, being careful not to scratch your nice, non-stick pan (if you are lucky enough to have one), gently tease and fluff the rice.  If you like added richness, you can add a drizzle of oil here and coat the rice.  It gives nice shine and richness and would be condone by most Indian cooks I know, although they would probably add a good knob of ghee.  Pop the lid on and leave to sit for a few minutes before serving.  The final, fragrant mingle……

Side/Main Dish (just add spoons)

Toasted Cashew and Green Pepper Pulao – Side/Main Dish (just add spoons)

Serve

Pulao is an occasion.  Mix in most of the cashews.  Warm a platter and pile it in the middle, this makes for a lovely centre piece for any Indian feast.  Or you can line some tea cups with cling film and spoon the pulao into them, packing it down quite well.  Turn the cups over, onto the plate you’re using for serving and gently lift off the cup.  This will leave you with a very neat and professional looking pile of rice.  Scatter with some freshly toasted cashews and a little fresh coriander.

Foodie Fact

All these spices are so very good for you.  At random let me pick cinnamon, a serious, serious anti-oxidants.  So much so, that it should be offered in all pharmacies across the country to treat and prevent things like colds.  Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help to stabilise insulin and hormones and can even help against heart disease.

Spices are our natural friends and the more spices you can add to your food, namely cook plenty of food from India or the Middle East, the healthier you will no doubt be.  Imagine the cumulative effects of eating decent amounts of cinnamon, fennel seeds, cloves, cumin, coriander…………….you’ll live a healthy life until you’re 200 (with some decent karmic conditions along the way).

JUST ADD SPICEX

Jane in Norbulingka Palace, Dharamasala, India '15

Jane in Norbulingka Palace, Dharamasala, India ’15

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Side Dish | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

BEER! Is it vegan? If so, which ones.

A typically Black Dog greeting

 

The sun is out over Tiger Hill and Dad has just emailed me from our favourite pub in the entire world, the Black Dog in Whistable (Kent). Yes, its named after the Led Zeppelin song and the owner Mike is a thoroughly great publican and keeps a spectacular array of local ales, not to mention vegan samosas on the menu. So my mind has drifted towards the finest of British beverages…..BEER! (aka Real Ale)

Known as the ‘hammer of the gods’ I believe

Jane and I are not drinkers a la Ollie Reed (a British actor who famously claimed to have drank 106 pints in two days) but the occasional, proper glass of bitter, stout or porter is right up our winding country track. Wishy washy lager is a no no in the B.H.K.  We like beer with character and depth.  Ale with substance and meaning.  We don’t want to bloat up on ten pints of fizzy dish water, we are seeking that perfect, 1/2 pint of dark and potent nectar. There are a few breweries around us and a brilliant pub called the Snowdonia Park which brews all of its own beers in the cellar beneath the bar. You have to love that set-up!  An institution built on beery foundations.  It is also, sometimes conveniently, a campsite.   Their best ale is ‘Karmen Sutra’, named after the landlady.  A quirky name for a beer is much appreciated.

So the suns out and I’m wondering about beer……but wait, is it vegan? There seems to be a grey area around this and I’d like to attempt to clarify the question.

IS BEER SUITABLE FOR VEGAN?

Some, is the the best answer. The Camra website has some good info on this. Basically, the main ingredients of the vast majority of beers are very vegan; hops, barley, wheat, plants one and all. However, when it comes to clearing the beer of sediment, making it clear, many brewers use finings derived from the air bladders of the sturgeon fish (how random and disappointing is that!!!) These are called ‘isingas’ and draw the pesky yeast particles down through the beer.  Although these are not consumed in the final product, most vegetarians and vegans will opt out of non-veggie beer.

Beers can be sold unrefined, but they take longer to settle and can be slightly cloudy. Some pubs in the UK are now serving only ‘unfined’ beers. Vegans also need to keep an eye on honey, it can crop up in the production of some ales.  Some brewers may also use egg whites and gelatin in the brewing process.  The good news is that beers can be fined vegan-stylee, using seaweed!  How cool.

There is a directory of vegan UK beers below with some of my favourite names being Concrete Cow, Lizard, Fallen Angel, Wobble Gate and Why Not (?!) Which is a very good question, one I have posed myself many times before entering a pub.  One I may pose myself this evening.

Here’s a comprehensive list (you could even call it a database) of vegan beers from the good folk at Barnivore.  In fact, Barnivore is a one stop shop for checking all your vegan booze queries, including wines and liquor.  I love the fact that their commitment to booze have led them to research the beers of Nicaragua, Philippines and even France!

Local tipple.  Good stuff.

SOME POPULAR BRANDS OF BEER (NOT NECESSARILY GOOD ONES) THAT ARE VEGAN

Black Sheep Ale (Wahee!)

Goose Island (Waheeeee!)

Affligen beers (Hoorahhhh!)

Alhambra and Mahou Spanish Beer (Yeeesssss!  Fiesta!!)

Amstel (Hmmmmmmmmmmmm)

Asahi (Hmmmm, refreshing and points for being exotically Japanese)

Budweiser (Hmmmmmm.  Only in Wyoming.)

Aspall Ciders (Whoopp!)

Badger Ale (Double Whhooopeeee!)

Becks (Nostalgic nod of semi-approval.)

Black Isle, Isle of Skye (THANK YOU!  Thank you!!)

In fact, I’m only on ‘B’, I’ll be here all day.  There are more major brands listed below, but the good news is that most pubs will stock some vegan beers and you can always have a pint of Becks if you arm is being severely twisted.  Being vegan does not mean that you cannot be boozy.  Kale smoothies are wicked.  As is a tankard of tepid local ale!  We are British don’t you know!!!!!

Corona (plenty of lime please)

Pacifico (as above and very cold)

Peroni (if in Napoli, pleasant)

Fosters (Not if I was dying of thirst on a small antipodean island)

XXXX (See above but with much more conviction)

Bernard Beers (the absolute opposite of the past two comments.  Heavenly Czech nectar.)

Budvar (Fizzy yumvar)

Staropramen (Fueled my early 20’s misadventures.  Strong)

Stella Artois (no comment, except it can be decent if in Leeuwen.)

Conwy Ales (if you live in Wales, this is the finest of spring time news)

Birra Morretti (nice bottle and Italian, so brownie points)

Erdinger (!!!!!!!YES!!!!!!)

Kronenberg (who drinks beer in France.  Wine!)

Potentially, not everything these guys brew is vegan, but it seems like most.  Best checking with uncle Barnivore to be sure. 

I would say this, “vegans…..don’t be shy and ask at your local watering hole about vegan options.  The more we ask, the more awareness spreads and the more pubs stock vegan tipples.”  Many vegans I know provide their local pubs with excellent support and are a mainstay of their local public house.

VEGAN BEER!  Why not!!

Enjoy in moderation (or otherwise.)

Rainbow…..Dad, this ones for you big man!  Roberts still got it (never in doubt!)

Categories: Wales, Wine and Booze | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Beach House Radio – Our top choppin’ tunes

Some of our top tunes to chop to………..

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Categories: Music | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Why did the Beach House Kitchen go vegan?

 

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Behold! The Veggie King…..

WHY VEGAN?

What we eat has never been so important.  We are blessed with the choice to eat what we want.  At the B.H.K., we believe that going vegan is the most important decisions you could make in terms of your own health, the planets health and the welfare and prosperity of our animal friends.  Veganism is the ultimate expression of peaceful intent for the future.  We will never judge anyone for doing otherwise, we were both very much into bacon sarnies, but here is how we feel…………..

Veganism is just a name, we all eat loads of vegan food everyday.  If you eat vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruits, you are part vegan already!  Hoorah!!!!  Choosing a vegan diet, even if its just every now and again, is not about sufferance.  You are not giving anything up, you are actually gaining loads!  Vegan food is outrageously flavourful and moreish, naturally leading to weight loss and energy gains.  Thinking vegan leads to new and healthy habits and highlights the importance of a balanced and nutritious diet.  Taking a step towards veganism leads to a giant leap forward in our collective sustainability.  All we need are open minds (and mouths!)

TAKING THE PLANT-BASED PLUNGE

Jane and I have been vegan/ vegetarians for a while now, and more than two years ago, I decided to take the plunge and become full-power vegan (Jane is still eating her homemade Kefir and loves a very occasional Indian Railway style Chai).  If you look back into the Beach House Kitchen library, you will find vegetarian dishes with cheese and egg, but no more.  We are full plant power and loving every plateful!  We have gone through the whole process, from carnivore to herbivore and we know exactly what its like to be curious about a vegan diet, to giving bits and pieces up and finally blooming into full blown vegan-hood.

We were first attracted to vegan food by its creativity and vibrancy.  It really seems like the food for a brighter future.  It all seemed so beautifully fresh and tantalising.  In our experience, eating vegan food has made us feel lighter and brighter, with oodles of well being and energy.  I know we all say that, but its true!  We have never felt so darn healthy and vivacious.

As a cook, vegan food takes you to a new levels of plant-based deliciousness, it is cooking that is laced with constant surprises!  Rich, robust, refined, raw, ravishing…….all that and much, much more.  Organic plant foods are clean and superbly nutritious, there is no need for dairy or meat in our diets anymore.  We can choose a new way to eat.  Munching and cooking a balanced and creative vegan diet is such a joy and is never, ever dull.  It is inexpensive and simple.  Anyone can do it (we did!)  Vegan food worships good produce and is constantly looking for fresh and interesting ways of creating magical meals.  Hopefully we tap into that enthusiasm here on the B.H.K.

A NATURAL PROGRESSION

Avoiding meat and dairy all together seemed a very natural progression, especially when based on environmental and ethical evidence (some of the challenging facts and figures can be found here).  The closer we get to nature and the more we learn about the impact of large scale meat and dairy production, the more we realised that this is the only way for us to express our hopes and dreams for the future.  Becoming a vegan has a massive effect on the environment; our own health and the well being of animals.  It is a no-lose decision and can only lead to a more peaceful existence for all.

Leaving meat and dairy off your plate is a powerful message and a stance against all forms of cruelty.  The suffering that animals endure to provide generally unnecessary nutrients to humans seems utterly wrong.  Meat and dairy not only harm the body by labouring it with saturated fats and cholesterol, which inevitably lead to a long term degradation of health, but also see us collectively condoning the destruction of our beautiful planet.

Gorgeous Raf Tomatoes – Too Sexy

A MINDFUL DIET

We are more conscious now of what we eat, we don’t just wolf it down anymore.  We feel more in tune with our bodies and far more creative with our cooking; having to combine a greater number of ingredients and textures to create delicious dishes.  Veganism has made us focus much more on our diets and how they effect our body and mind.  We have also learnt a lot more about nutrition and have come to realise that we are what we eat!  And most mass-produced food is just not up to scratch.  Food made in factories by machines just seems wrong, for a start, there is not love there.  Our food needs bags of love.

We both found that when you begin to give up foods that are doing you no good (we all instinctively know what these are) fatty nibbles, alcohol, caffeine, sugar etc, it is tough.  But the cravings gradually slip away and you feel uplifted.  Our bodies need good, clean, easy to digest fuel.  Namely, plant based food.  Foods that make you shine!

WHERE’S THE FUN IN IT?!

A friend of mine said to me “Where’s the fun in it?!” refering to a healthy diet.  I can assure you, there is still plenty of fun in the Beach House, just minus the lamb chops.  Healthy eating doesn’t have to be stuffy and rigid, there are endless recipes that are absolutely delicious and an incredible palate of ingredients and flavours to play with.  It does take a little change of the palate and a new approach to the way that you eat and subsequently live, but after a short while it becomes perfectly normal.  Your palate becomes more sensitive, with less exposure to rich and overly seasoned foods and you can enjoy the subtle flavours of ingredients and simpler foods.

Homegrown plums anyone?

Homegrown plums anyone?

NO PURITANS PLEASE

This is not a puritanical vegan/ vegetarian blog, we will never preach from an upturned potato crate.  We ate meat for years ourselves and enjoyed it very much.  We do however feel that there is a collective shift taking place, we are all realising that plants have to take a larger role in our diets, not just for our own sake, but to attempt to reverse the damage that we are doing to the earth.

VEGAN FOR ALL!

We try to make our dishes appeal to all tastes and most of our carnivorous friends love dinners at the Beach House (even my Dad, who suffers from acute pork addiction!).  You’ll our recipes are bursting with flavour and nutrients and we love a good plate of food, so the portions are always hearty and satisfying.  Our food is cooked from the heart, it’s real (good for the) soul food!

If you interested in learning more about a vegan/ vegetarian lifestyle, please see the ‘links’ section which is full of interesting veggie related blogs and sites or leave a comment beneath a post or email us (thebeachhousekitchenwales@gmail.com).  We’d love to hear from you.

We are even on twitter and facebook.

With a little bit of nutritional know-how and bags of glorious veggies, we believe that anybody can leave meat and dairy off their plates and live a very healthy, balanced and energetic life.

Beach House blackberries.  Yum!

Beach House blackberries. Yum!

Here are some recent BHK posts about veganism:

Veganz vs Meaties = A futile fight with only one losers…..

Why on earth are are we eating meat?

Reasons to be Vegan, 1,2,3……………

Why Raw food?

Why cats cannot be vegetarians

Vegan Inspirational Quotes pt 1

Vegan Inspirational Quotes pt 2

Vegan-ity hits the U.K.!

Raw Earth Month

Jump in!

And some interesting and informative vegan websites based in the UK:

The Vegan Society

Veganuary

Viva!

Veganism makes the world a better place for us all, one forkful at a time.

Viva Vegan!!!!!!!!xxxXXxxx

Lee and Jane

Categories: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Nutrition, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

What’s in a vegan’s larder?

The Larder – The Land of Large Jars

Being a vegan does not make mean a massive life change or larder clear out.  Vegans eat the same as anyone else (bar a few major exceptions), you don’t necessarily need to raid your local health food shop.  Most of these items can be bought in markets, high street shops, supermarkets etc.  A regular non-vegan remark may be, “I’ve never tried vegan food”, a possible vegan response could be “Have you ever had an apple?!” We all eat vegan food everyday, its nothing new.

Being vegan does not mean a total revamp of your shelves and cupboards, although you may want to ditch that block of funky Stilton.  We like to keep them well stocked and raring to go…….  If you have the space, buying in bulk is the way forward.  Remember we are mad about food and keep far too much, buying little and often is a good idea.  You don’t need every spice/ condiment under the sun, buy a few and use them, the treat yourself to a bag of Ras El Hanout or Georgian Spice Medley.

This larder list represents a raft of ingredients that have been built up over time, many store very well, but things like spices must be kept in a well sealed jar away from sunlight and used reasonably quickly (when ground especially).  We are quite stringent about our spice cache.  We take better care of them than we do most other things (sorry about that pot plants).  Spices just lose their flavour and pizzazz otherwise.  There is nothing quite as pathetic as a pinch of lacklustre spice.  Whats the point!  We will be posting some ‘Waste Less – Top Tips’ very soon.

So, the vegan larder is almost the same as any other larder, but we have listed a few things that you may like to stock to keep things plant-based:

VEGAN STAPLES – None are necessary, but nice to have around.  Here are some of the stars of a vegan diet, all bursting with magnificent health giving properties.

Note – Some of these must be kept in the fridge.

Nutritional Yeast Flakes (add extra, cheesy flavour to dishes, comes with added B12)

Tahini (light or dark) and nut butters (like almond, brazil, peanut, macadamia or hazelnut)

Tofu, Tempeh (like chunky tofu), Seitan (also called ‘mock duck’)

Non-dairy milks (soya, almond, cashew, coconut, oat)

Flax seeds and oil (delicious, amazingly nutritious and full of omega oils and vitamin B12)

Coconut milk (very handy always)  

Vegan butter (aka non-hydrogenated margarine)

A variety of Olives (a great source of richness)

Some kind of seaweed, like dulse or nori, is always handy and delicious

Plus lots and lots of amazing fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds.   The staples for any amazing vegan diet.  

So nothing too weird and wild eh?!  Here are other bits we regularly keep in our larder/ cupboards/ drawers/ random jars that act as launch-pad for the Beach House dishes.  “Houston!  We have turmeric!”

SPICES – We are mad about them, ground or seed, in a good way.  Stay spicy!!!!:

Cumin, coriander, ras el hanout, sumac, turmeric, chilli, cayenne,  garam masala, cinnamon, fenugreek, fennel seeds, cardamom, mustard seeds (yellow, red and/or black), asafoetida (hing), clove, ajwain seeds, star anise, nora’s (dried spanish peppers), paprika (smoked and sweet), good curry powder, nutmeg, good black pepper.  Normally a few odd spice mixes we’ve picked up along the way.  

PASTES/ PRESERVES/ BOTTLES – This set of beauties pack a real flavour punch:

Tahini, molasses, peanut butter, other nut butters like brazil or hazelnut, barley extract, marmalade, marmite, good red wine, white and sparkling wines, sherry, port, tequila (you get the idea……), orange blossom water, rose water, wasabi, tamari, mirin, teriyaki sauce, sushi vinegar, rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red and white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar.

DRIED FRUITS – Such sweet things and so much tastier and nutritious than simple sugar:

Date, raisins, figs, prunes, apricots (unsulphured), apples, sun dried tomatoes, mulberries (if we’re lucky), cranberries, blueberries.

OILS – Richness, good fats and vital lubrication:

Light olive oil, great Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), vegetable/ sunflower/ rapeseed/ groundnut oil (for frying at high temp), good cold pressed rape seed oil (for dips and drizzles), walnut, toasted sesame, avocado, chili.

PICKLES/ JARS – Gherkins, capers, OLIVES, chutneys and jams, always marmalade, dijon, English and wholegrain mustard

SNACKS – Things that make you go mmmmmm!

Dark, dark chocolate, nachos, wasabi peas, bombay mix, baked chickpeas, japanese rice crackers, the occasional crisp

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POWDERS – Funky coloured things in bags and boxes, which are normally super healthy:

Nutritional Yeast Flakes, wheatgrass, barley grass, spirulina, cacao, live yeast, baking powder, bicarb of soda, organic and low salt vegetable stock, rock or sea salt, whole peppercorns

GRAINS/ OTHER DRIED STUFF – Where would we be without stodge and ballast?!

Pasta (brown, green and/or multi coloured – beetroot is cool), polenta (rough and fine), brown rice, many different beans, millet, barley, oats (rolled and Scottish), quinoa, cous cous, bulgur wheat, wild rice, wheat groats, muesli, buckwheat, rye flour, wholemeal flour, gram flour, spelt flour, coconut flour, corn flour, loads of different lentils, mung beans, alfalfa, soba and udon noodles, rice noodles, porcini/ shiitake mushrooms (dried), powdered seaweed, nori sheets

NUTS/ SEEDS – We are very nutty and seedy here in equal measure:

Sunflower, flax/ linseed, sesame, pumpkin, linseed, hemp, poppy seed, chia

Almond, walnut, cashew, hazelnut, peanut, macadamia (if we’re flush), pine nuts, pecans, pistachio, coconut, Brazil.

‘ERBS – Where would we be without these leaved wonders?!:

Rosemary, thyme, basil, chervil, tarragon, mint, ginger mint, dill, curry leaves, Thai basil leaves, oregano, dried mixed herbs, sage, bay leaves, marjoram, dried nettle, wild garlic, sorrel

As I said, you don’t need all of this, but the Beach House is in the middle of nowhere, so we keep a decent, old fashioned larder.  Jane loves drying herbs and I love grinding spices.  An essential part of cooking is of course the ingredients, not only buying them, but keeping them in tip-top condition.  A good larder is the sign of a happy cook!

We write alot more about spices, grains and vegan larders in general in our new book, Peace and Parsnips.  Its packed full of vegan deliciousness.  Coming soon in May 2015.

Out in May!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Categories: Books, Healthy Eating, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Homemade Spiced Ginger and Lemon Cordial (Sugar free)

Star Anise - one of the 'stars' of the show

Star Anise – one of the ‘stars’ of the show

So Jane and I decided to go for a walk along the beach yesterday and nearly got blown away.  Spring hasn’t quite arrived in North Wales!

I know this may sound like a winter time treat, but having just returned from India, Wales seems pretty damn wintery to me!  Jane and I are warming our cockles around steaming mugs of hot ginger drinks (I have managed to pick up the dreaded sniffles).  Ginger is the best thing for colds et al, more like a potion than just a refreshing tipple.  This cordial also work brilliantly cold, over ice and in a tall glass (glug of gin optional).

The B.H.K is a global thang and we know that many of you are getting ready for winter.  This zingy cordial will help to ease the blow of dark days and timid sun.  We know that our mates Fran and Steve down in Tasmania will dig it for example.  Serendipity Farm will be buzzing!

Jane throwing shapes on Dinas Dinlle beach - Wales is yet to feel the heat wave of the south

Jane throwing shapes on Dinas Dinlle beach – Wales is yet to feel the heat wave of the south

We love making our own stuff, you know what goes into it.  Most cordials, even if they are organic and well made, are packed full of sugar.  Here, you can use as much or as little sweetener as you like.  Sometimes we have it neat, sugarless.  A real wake up zing in the morning!  Try this with hot apple juice for an even more decadent steaming cup of joy.

This is one of those things, once you make one batch or cordial, you cannot stop.  Roll on the elderflower season.  Coming soon hopefully……..

Glorious grated ginger - can you smell that zing!!!!

Glorious grated ginger – can you smell that zing!!!!

The Bits – Makes roughly 500ml
100g grated ginger root

1/2 lemon (peel and juice)

1 lemon (juice)

4 green cardamom pods (split)

1 star anise

1/2 stick cinnamon

5 cloves

650ml water

Sweetener – as you like, we go sugar free is poss.

 

Do It

Place all (except the lemon juice) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, pop a lid on and simmer for 20 minutes.  Set aside, squeeze in the lemon juice and leave to steep for 2 hours. The longer you leave, the more punch the cordial will have.  We find that after a night in the fridge, the flavours are even more full power.  You may like to add your sweetener now, but we prefer to do it when we drink it, depending how our sweet tooth is feeling.

Strain into a jug and pour into a clean glass bottle or a kilner jar.  Something sealable and preferably glass.  Because it is lacking in loads of sugar, this won’t last for as long as other cordials. Keep in the fridge and use between 3-5 days. Trust me, it won’t hang around that long!

Serve

Add to cup of hot water (just off boiling) to make a lovely steeper or serve over ice with a slice of lemon and sparkling water, making an awesome ginger ale.  Either of these can be made boozy with a glug of dark rum (a Dark and Stormy) or gin for example (as if you need guidance!)

Sweeten as you like, with what you like.  We use brown rice syrup or sometimes stevia if we are being supremely healthy.  Liquid sweeteners work best as they dissolve quickly and easily.

Hot off the hob – try it warm or cold with great apple juice.  YUMMMAH!

Hot, cold, sparkling, with apple juice, in a champagne flute....you decided!

Hot, cold, sparkling, with apple juice, in a champagne flute….all good!

Foodie Fact

All the spices in this cordial are AMAZING for the body!  They are natural medicines for all sorts of ailments.  We will focus on star anise.  Boil star anise in some water and sip it gently, it will soothe stomach pain and cold/ coughs.  Add cinnamon, coriander seeds and fennel seeds to the pan and you will be cured in double quick time.

Anise has a delicate liqourice flavour and the seeds of the star are simply anise seeds.  Surprisingly!  The seeds and the husk can be used in cooking, baking etc.  The main source of anti-oxidant glory is the volatile (in a good way) oil named anethole, but anise does boast a potent cocktail of other anti-oxidant oils.

In many traditional medicines anise is used for: anti-flatulence, anti-spasmodic, digestive, anti-septic, expectorant, stimulant and tonic.  They are also a wonderful source of the vitamin B’s, vitamin C and A and contains high levels of iron, copper (good for red blood cells), calcium and potassium.

It sounds strange consuming all these minerals, but potassium, for example, really helps to lower blood pressure and control heart rate.  What magnificent and fascinating bodies we inhabit!

The wonderful deep browns and gres of a Welsh spring (gale force wind not apparent)

The wonderful deep browns and gres of a Welsh spring (gale force wind not apparent)

 

Categories: Healing foods, Infusions, Photography, Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Beach House Kitchen hits social media (sort of)

Tweet?

We are trying. It has just occurred to Jane and I that we have been living under a social media rock for the past ten years. Things have moved on and we are still emailing everyone, sometimes we even write postcards!

What exactly is a # and the general idea behind tweets?! How on earth can we keep up with this sheer weight of sharing? And finally, what is the sum reason for it all?  If someone could lend us a 12 year old for the weekend, that would be appreciated.  They may be able to answer some of these questions and explain exactly what a ‘html code’ is.  We are in the process of upgrading our computer bits as it seems that they are not up to the task of tweeting whilst taking a picture of yourself and sending an email at the same time.

We’re on it though, we’re immersing ourselves in it all, we are coming out of our self-made exile.  We are enrolling in Twitter academy and trying to understand the subtleties of Instagram. If you are on twitter or Instagram etc, look us up, we’ll be there somewhere, scratching our heads and mumbling expletives.  It seems we both have a new hobby and those piles on unread books will just have to wait until another lifetime.

Twitter us here.

Facebook us here.

Instagram us (coming soon).

After all these shenanigans, the good old Beach House blog seems like a trusty pair of slippers and a nice mug of steaming Rooibos chai.  We know how most of the buttons work.

“This is a modern world”……as Paul Weller famously said in a Jam song, circa mid 1980’s.

Peace and Pumpkins you lovely lotXXXXXxxxxXXXXxxx

Lee and Jane

Categories: 'The Good Life' | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

‘Meat vs Veg’ – Lee on T.V.

All images taken from ‘Meat vs Veg’ shoot, Summertime ’13

I made a TV program called ‘Meat vs Veg’, I have no idea why I haven’t popped it on the BHK yet, but here it is.  In all it’s glory!  It was nearly two years ago now and since then has been shown all around the world on a variety of food channels, but as yet, has not been shown in the UK.  Hopefully, it will be on soon.

It was a load of fun to make and the basic format was me against Mike Robinson, a top, and very meaty, chef; owner of the Pot Kiln Pub and an all around gentleman (unless you happen to be a deer that is).  We cooked for a varied group of people, two contestants per show, all with weird and wonderful tastes in food; some gourmet critics, others couldn’t tell a chicken wing from a sweet potato.  You will have to watch the program to see who won, Meat or Veg??!

Mike and I got up to all sorts of mischief around London, each show contained a ‘Street Challenge’ where we had to hit the streets and tempt people with our tasty morsels.  We cooked for women rowing teams, R and B models, animal volunteers, Battersea dogs home, aspiring theatre actors, music studio employees…….it was a wild time.

Mike and I were cooking everything live to camera and trying to be interesting at the same time.  Which is much more difficult than it may sound!  Making a TV program down in London was certainly a change from working up in North Wales.

Jane and I were in India recently and it was showing on a Nat Geo channel.  I even got recognized in a small village in the Himalayas, which was very strange and quite hilarious.  ‘Meat vs Veg’ is out there and it’s a light hearted food program, with stunning food and bags of laughs.  It highlights my ability to make a fool of myself in front of a camera (a talent I have honed since childhood).  Overall it was a great experience.

If you are in Serbia, Brazil, India, Hong Kong, Australia and probably a load more countries around the world, keep your eye out for ‘Meat vs Veg’ on your food channels and let us know if you manage to catch an episode.  I’m the tall hairy one, probably attacking Mike with a carrot or other root vegetable.  He deserves it!!!!!

Mike and I (trying to look tough)

Categories: Healthy Eating, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Parsnip and Millet Soup with Mustard Seed Oil


Parsnip and Millet Soup

Parsnip and Millet Soup

A simple and hearty soup to get this year of the B.H.K kicked off in substantial style. Sweet, nutty, with a good mustard poke in the oil.  Jane is inexplicably, sunning herself on the beaches of Spain (she’s back now actually) and has left me her to hold the windswept fort. Granted, in her last email she did seem apologetic. I realise I live the life of riley, but Jane is at least matching me with her Spanish countryside retreats. My Dad has popped over from Durham to make sure that I am behaving myself and filling me in on all the woes of Sunderland AFC this season (this is a pathetic football team that is constantly flirting with relegation and spends vast sums of money on very pants players) and the combined and glaring failures of England Rugby and Cricket. Sport is so dramatic! At least it is in our family.

Wales has welcomed me back into its arms with plenty of rugged weather, but it’s been lovely to have walks again though in the hills and catch up with some of our wonderful friends. North Wales in an amazing place to be, but it seems that winter is still very much here and making its icy presence felt. Snow is predicted over Easter (!?) It was 5oC this morning in the garden, with a cross wind biting my bones. I am now unable to cope with this kind of glacial behaviour. I have just landed from the downtown 35occ heat of Delhi. It’s quite a shock to the system. Still the fire is blazing away and there’s soup on the hob to thaw me out. Life is grand. Summer is coming…………..(or just a sight of the sun would be more enough!)

Some proper British veg

Some proper British veg.  We’ve missed a bit of parsnip

Anyway, enough of the engrossing weather update, let’s move onto the more weighty issue of thick soups that warm things up from the inside out. Soup that coats the ribs and tickles the taste buds. This is a bowl of hearty sup which only has a few ingredients and an interesting combo of flavours going on. With the millet and parsnips, there is plenty of carbs there to get things motoring. Dad and I had this for dinner with some toasted flat breads and it was nicely filling. We eat like horses, so there will be plenty for leaftovers.

Black Mustard Seeds - small, but packed with flavour

Black Mustard Seeds – they may look small, but packed with flavour

WE (heart) MILLET (muchly)
When are they going to start making keyboards with the heart symbol on them? Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing, a huge, evolutionary leap forward. The ability to spread loving symbols at the push of a button.

They love millet in India, it used to be more popular than rice and has been eaten in many tribal areas for millennia. There are so many types over there; red, blue, white, big, small and slightly green-ish, they seem to change constantly from region to region (I show a keen interest in subtleties of millet variation when on holiday such is my dedication to the BHK cause!!!!!) Millet is superbly nutritious and naturally gluten-free. It also grows well in most places in the world and is cheap as chips to buy. We like to use it as a replacement for things like cous cous or bulghur wheat. More and more people are realising their intolerance to gluten and millet is a great replacement for other gluten-y grains. Millet is now getting wide spread support in India and is being planted instead of rice in many areas, which is good news, as rice is very thirsty and uses loads of water, plus the tastiest rotis (flatbreads) on the subcontinent are made with majority millet flour. I’ve tried black roti’s (see below) and recently had a deeply ochre puri (fried flatbread) that blew my marbles. Very different flavour and texture.  Like a dark and delicious frisbee.

Delhi 30-odd degrees, whizzing around in a Rickshaw with Dad and Jane, April '15 (A long way from he Beach House!)

Delhi 30-odd degrees, whizzing around in a Rickshaw with Dad and Jane, April ’15 (A long way from he Beach House!)

NAVDANYA
There is a fine lady name Vendana Shiva who we became aware of this trip in India, a fabulous environmental activist who travels the world and pioneers many new and visionary approaches to saving our poor Mother Earth. Vendana set up Navdanya an environmental education centre and farm which promotes the movement for biodiversity and organic farming methods. This is only one of the projects that the incredibly industrious Vendana has started, she is a real force of nature! We visited her restaurant in Dilli Hart, a market in South Delhi. The food is all organic and it acts as a huge store for organic seeds, pulses and spices. We brought a load of spices back to play with, many of them seeds so they last alot longer in the cupboard. Vendana is also very active in global seed harvesting which is becoming hugely important in many parts of the world in order to protect the diversity of crops and guard against the spread of GMO’s.  Read more about it here. This will increasingly become a major issue as indigenous species of plants all over the world are wiped out by unnatural GMO varieties, sold by multi national corporations, that are actually barren and wholly alien to nature. These GMO seeds work in tandem with poisonous pesticides and fertiliser tailored to enhance the growth of these specific seeds only and do not enhance the soil or local ecosystem in anyway. This is a hugely narrow minded approach to farming and nature in general. Nature is a vastly complex system of tiny systems working together in harmonious fashion, or it should be without our interference. GMO’s are a huge threat to the future of food and nature in general.  See Vendana Shiva talk more about this topic below and Navdanya’s hopes for 2015:

Back to soup-ville……I don’t feel the need for stock in this soup, cauliflower, millet and especially parsnip are packed with sweet flavours. The stock they make is seriously nutty and flavoursome, a little seasoning goes a long way.  Parsnips can be a little tricky to store, they have a habit of going slimy. I’d recommend sticking them in the fridge in a plastic bag.

Potatoes would be nice in this soup, but cauliflower is much lighter

Potatoes would be nice in this soup, but cauliflower is much lighter

Buster Watch – no sign of the little guy yet, a friend was feeding him in our shed a.k.a ‘The Buster Suite’. He has obviously found a better deal, but when he smells the kitchen kicking out curried aromas and clouds of fresh bread wafts, he’ll know we’re back. (PS – If you are new to the B.H.K, Buster is a semi-wild, punk of a cat that occasionally lives with us and brings us too many joyous cat based shenanigans). We hope he says ‘hello’ very soon. Little grey furball that he is.

I don’t know when we stopped putting music on the B.H.K, but we’d like to start again. Below is a tune that sums up the feeling up in our little windswept village, Carmel, at the moment. ‘Ghost Town’. One of Dad’s favourites by ‘The Specials’.

So we are back (well one of us is anyway) and the Beach House Kitchen in back in the flow and ready to bash some pots and pans together, make up some interesting food shapes with strange, fresh and appetising angles. I hope you all had a magical winter, I’ll be posting some pictures of our trip around Turkey, Spain and India soon. I’m off for a cup of Brickie’s tea with soya milk in it, a supreme luxury that I have deeply missed.

I think this summer is going to be rosy!

The Bits – For 4-6 Bowls

3 tbs cooking oil

100g millet

2 small onions (finely sliced)

2 medium sized parsnips (finely chopped)

½ medium sized cauliflower – roughly 250 grams (finely chopped)

2 teas Dijon mustard

2 teas black mustard seeds

1.5 ltr veg stock/ water

Sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Do It
In a large frying pan, a 1 tbs of your oil and when warm, add the onions. Fry for 5-7 minutes on a medium heat until they begin to caramelise, then add the parsnips and fry for another 5 minutes. Now for the cauliflower, add to the pan, stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the millet, Dijon mustard and stock/ water. Stir, pop a lid on and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the millet is cooked.

In a small frying pan, warm 2 tbs of cooking oil (rapeseed oil is nice) and add the mustard seeds, toss the seeds in the oil and fry gently for a minute, until they are popping. Set the oil aside.

Blend the soup in a food processor or use a trusty stick blender. Blend until smooth.

Parsnip and Millet Soup

Parsnip and Millet Soup with Mustard Oil- sorry about the naff photos, they will hopefully improve 

Serve
Serve piping hot, spoon over the mustard oil and serve with lashings of smiles.

Foodie Fact

Parsnips are actually indigenous to the Mediterranean and are normally harvested after the first frost.  It is a funny time of year in Britain, there is not much available from the land, so I have no idea how these parsnips came to be.  Soon the local organic farms will be back in bloom and fruit and we will be rich in delightful veggies.  For now, we scrape by.

Parnsips are high in sugar, up there with bananas and grapes.  They do however have great levels of dietary fibre, which lowers GI and are packed with anti-oxidants (poly-acetylene).   Parsnips are also rich in vitamin B’s, K and E, as well as minerals like iron, copper and potassium.

Categories: Food Heros, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Soups | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Sweet Potato and Spinach Thoran (Keralan Stir Fry)

Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Thoran

Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Thoran

Do not be put off by the long list of ingredients, this is Indian cooking in a flash! Thoran is like a South Indian stir fry, very quick to get together and whip up.  Its one of those dishes that easily slots into the ‘staples’ category of your recipe repertoire.   Small efforts are rewarded with massive and delightful flavours.  Definitely our way of doing things.

The ingredients for this have been adapted to Wales, a subtle change from steaming, tropical Kerala.  I’ve still gone for some non-native ingredients, pepper and sweet potato, but swede and parsnips just don’t seem to fit the bill (although I did use them for a soup – coming soon……)

Thoran is what the Indians would call a ‘dry’ side dish, normally served with a saucy curry (like Sambar) and rice, some coconut chutney would finish things off like a tropical Keralan dream.  Thoran is cooked especially well in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and this part of the world is a vegans heaven.  There are very few dishes which are reliant on ghee (clarified butter) that dominates the cooking of North India.  In the south its all about the coconut and sometimes, if you’re lucky, the odd cashew.  The food is lighter and seems fresher, without the reliance on uber rich, spicy sauces (which I might add are extremely delicious).

Thoran is an essential part of a Sadya, which is basically a very elaborate South Indian Thali, normally served on a banana leaf (if you’re in the right joint) at festival times.  Sadya showcases the depth and diversity of Indian cuisine, the way for centuries it has been designed and modified to tantalise all of the tastebuds and senses.  Sadya will have dry curries, saucy curries, fluffy rice, crispy papads (poppadoms), sour chutneys, creamy/ herb based chutneys, smokey chutneys, banana chips, spicy pickles and normally a tamarind based soup (Rasam) to aid digestion of all of this.  In fact, a full on Sadhya served at a big festival can consist of around 28 dishes (some even go up to 60!)  I would have to say that to get the most flavour from your Keralan food, it has to be eaten with (well washed) hands.  Roll up your sleeves and dive in.  A Sadya sounds like an elaborate feast but its actually quite a normal meal, inexpensive and versions of it are served in modest restaurants all over Kerala.  I think we normally paid around one pound for an all you can eat Sadya.  Yes ONE POUND for all that deliciousness!  Welcome to India!  The dishes all come out in a specific order and a nice gentleman will come over and just keep spooning things onto your welcoming leaf.  It is quite a complicated process, but when you’re the recipient, you just scoop away and smile.

Trying to help, learning loads.....

Trying to help, learning loads…..

I have just got back from the Mother land and while I was there stayed in some amazing homestays.  I spent the first six weeks travelling from Delhi to Kerala with my Dad (see out blog ‘The Jalebi Express‘) and then we met Jane in Delhi and Jane and I travelled the Himalayas and spent time with the Tibetans up in Mcleod Ganj. Homestays are not normal in India, they vary greatly, some are just like hotels although many hotels in India can soon become something like a homestay.  If you hang around for a while, you are bound to get to know all the people that work there.  More so than in other countries.  Even in the heart of Delhi, I now know all the people who work in my favourite hotels, restaurants, shops and chai stands.

Whilst travelling around the spectacular North of Kerala we stayed at Varnam Homestay, just outside Wayanad National Park.  There, I had the pleasure of cooking with Beena (our host) and her amazing team of lady helpers.  Wayanad is tucked away in the northern tip of Kerala and is a stunning area, the flora and fauna are dense and spectacular; wild elephants and tigers roam the land and the people are gentle and very hospitable.  The way of life hardly wavers above a gentle amble.  Beena and Varghese our gracious hosts were amazing and could not have made Dad and I more welcome.  When I mentioned my passion for food and cooking they immediately roped me in to helping out with the next days lunch and dinner prep.  I learnt so much and was amazed to see their chopping skills.  You pull a plastic sheath over your index finger and use it as a mid-air chopping board.  The knives are sharp and occasionally you end up cutting through the flimsy guard.  Once the blood is stemmed, you carry on with a new colourful finger guard.  This of course never happens to the ladies.

The Varnam ladies get busy

The Varnam ladies get busy

We prepared many dishes, but the Plantain Thoran was one of the highlights, cooked over a wood flame stove with minimal fuss.  We also made a Keralan classic sauce, with highly roasted coconut and ginger as a base.   A very unique flavour and something I will be cooking very soon (I forgot the name, it may be called Inchi Curry – see here for a recipe).  Once i find a good supply of coconuts up here, our kitchen is heading towards Kerala again.

Varnam Homestay was set in some impressive farmland and forests.  The little huts are raised on stilts to ensure the farmers have somewhere to go when a tiger wanders by

Varnam Homestay is set in some impressive farmland and forests. The little huts are raised on stilts to ensure the farmers have somewhere to go when a tiger wanders by

Varnam Homestay is set in acres of its own land and we were served only ingredients that grew on their land, that included the rice, coffee, all the sensational fruits and vegetables and even milk (they had a few cows roaming behind the kitchen).  The family were so friendly and warm, Dad and I stayed an extra two days, mainly exploring the locals hills and testing out the hammocks for comfort and durability.  They all seemed to work well.  We also saw a tigers footprint, which looked fresh, but I am no expert.  It sounds like I’m belittling the whole experience but the food was a highlight and to be served only homegrown, was a rare and highly tasty treat.  Another wonderful aspect was the other guests, not something you can say in every hotel. They were such a good bunch from all around the world, we ate together on a large table and during the delicious meals,  very quickly became friends.  I think eating is the best way to meet new people, we all relax over a good curry!

Varnam's Plantain Thoran

Varnam’s Plantain Thoran

Indian food is mind boggling at times and can be complex, but that’s why I like Thoran, its cheap and quick.  The other wonderful thing about a dish like Thoran is it is there to use up any seasonal produce.  In Kerala for example plantains are a regular ingredient, as well as bitter gourd, yucca, yardlong beans, giant arums, red cheera and several different types of flowers.  Even banana flowers make a mean Thoran.  In Britain, you can opt for potato, green beans, carrots, I’d even go for asparagus.

Thoran is quick to cook and so easy to get together

Thoran is quick to cook and so easy to get together

The Bits – For 4 (as a side dish)
2 tbs coconut oil
400g sweet potato – or 1 big one (peeled)
1 onion (peeled)
1 large red pepper (deseeded)
(all finely diced)
4 large handfuls spinach leaves
1 teas mustard seeds
1 teas cumin seeds
1 handful curry leaves
2 dried chillies (cut down the middle lengthways)
2 tbs grated ginger
1 tbs turmeric
75ml water

Finish with……
1 massive handful grated fresh coconut (or desiccated coconut will do)
1 large chilli (finely sliced)
1 handful fresh coriander (finely chopped)

Do It

Thoran cooks quickly, so best have all your ingredients to hand and prepared.  Stay with the pan for most of the cooking time, stirring gently with a non-metal spoon or spatula.  I love this kind of cooking, its exciting!

In a large, heavy frying pan, preferably with a chunky bottom, warm your coco oil on high heat.  Add the dried chillies, mustard seeds, when the seeds pop a little add the curry leaves.  Fry for a minute and then add your sweet potato, onion and peppers, stir.  After a couple of minutes, add the ginger and turmeric and a little water if things begin to stick to the bottom.  Fry for a couple of minutes and then scatter the spinach on top and cover the pan with a lid.  Lower the heat a touch, leave to cook for five minutes.

Check that the sweet potato is softened, then stir in the grated coconut, fresh coriander and chillies.  Reserving a little of these for a final flourish.

Serve 

Spoon into a preferably warm and striking serving dish and sprinkle on your ‘final flourish’ ingredients.  Munch with relish and dream  of swaying palms and endless rivers of mango juice.  Check out those vibrant flavours!!

Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Thoran

Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Thoran

Foodie Fact

Sweet potato is packed with beta-carotenes.  In fact it is one of natures best sources of Vitamin A.  They also boast plenty of vitamin C.  Although SP’s are a starchy root veg, they actually help to maintain and regulated our blood sugar levels, mainly due to their high levels of dietary fibre.

One of the local residents, who was friendlier than he looked

One of the local residents, who was friendlier than he looked

 

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mushroom and Spinach Hash and a Saucy Debate

Mushroom and Spinach Hash

Mushroom and Spinach Hash

Breakfast of champs!!!!!!!!!!!  Although really anytime of day is a good time for hash.  Spinach is not everyone’s breakfast go-to veg, but it adds a stack of vitamins and nutrients to any dish and the body loves few things more first thing.  Give it a go, it might even start making an appearance on your cooked brekkies (or is that a step too far?!).

I always find it strange that the things we eat in the morning normally make an ace late night snack as well.  Hash is proper Brit grub, which for me means it fills the belly after a long walk around our freezing terrains, either returning from a pub or recovering the morning after.  After all, beer and Britain go together like beans and toast, pies and piccalilli, Wimbledon and Cliff Richard (Dad’s personal favourite).  You catch my drift, historically British culture needed food that filled a whole, fueled our passion for hard graft and soaked up buckets of ale.

HASH

An evocative word for many reasons, culinary and otherwise.   Foodie wise, the name hash comes from the French ‘hacher’ which means to chop.  Hash is normally a wonderful receptacle for leftovers, alot like Bubble and Squeak.  In Denmark they have a dish like hash called ‘biksemad’ which means, ‘tossed together food’.  I think this is sums it up.  In fact, most countries have a version of hash up their sleeves, ‘picadillo’ in Spain, ‘pyttipanna’ in Sweden and ‘tyrol’ in Austria.  We love it!

Most people forget that Britain was once struggling and my grandparent and parents would eat things like hash primarily because they were quick and cheap.  Hash is proper ‘poor mans’ grub but this, as we find all over the world, does not mean that its poor food.  Hash is a brilliant way of turning cheaper bits and pieces into a hearty and satisfying meal.  One chap has even release a cookbook dedicated to the mighty hash and high end restaurants are now doing fancy things with the hash medium.

Hash is something I was partially raised on.  In the North East of England there are many varieties.  To my mind, its loads of stuff fried together in a pan, with a potato stuck in their somewhere along the way if you like. Its proper British grub. I think the main thing with pan frying potatoes is to take it slowly and gently, try not to bash them up too much.  Many people around the world add spice to their hash, in my neck of the woods, this is absurd.  Hash is straight up and pure, not spice.  I know that in the States they use the term hash for many differing dishes, some thick stews, some loads of minced meat fried.  Well not it in the Beach House hombres, this hash is strictly plant but not lacking in substance and certainly not lacking in nutrition and taste.

Dad gets caught in the crossfire (notice awesome dressing gown, essential in the Artic realm of the pre-spring Beach House Kitchen)

Dad gets caught in the crossfire (notice awesome dressing gown, essential in the Artic realm of the pre-spring Beach House Kitchen)

I’m not totally blowing our trumpets here (….I am….) but vegans know their way around a nutritious, low saturated fat, nibble or two. As a kid, we used to have this with fatty bacon and probably a load of corned beef whacked in their.  Maybe topped with a sausage or two.  Corned beef was a constant companion to me, or Pek (like Spam, but I found it to be tastier).  Strangely, last night I had a dream/ nightmare based around that jelly you find around the meat in a pork pie. The same jelly you find on Pek, aspic jelly that is a not-too-distant cousin of the jellyfish and seems quite a strange thing to find stuffed into a pie or coating food in general. It was oozing all over the place, like a B-Movie Monster….”Attack of the Aspic Jelly!”

THE SAUCY DEBATE – ARE YOU RED OR BROWN?

In Britain you’re either red or brown.  There is no middle ground.  The battles lines are drawn!  Like the round heads or the royalists, labour or tory it is unwise to mix your allegiance.  Welcome to our saucy world.

Now if you’re reading from anywhere outside of the U.K. this is going to all sound a little strange, but there is a timeless debate raging on these little islands about sauce. Brown sauce to be exact. Brown sauce is a phenomenon that has gripped Britain since the early 20th century.  Frederick Gibson Garton came up with the recipe, a grocer from Nottingham.  I’ve no idea how, but he thought that combining tomatoes, tamarind, dates, molasses and vinegar would appeal to the masses.  It was a hit and apparently they served it in the houses of parliament, hence the name.  HP is the original Brown Sauce, but there are many contenders (see below).  HP was traditionally made in Aston near Birmingham, the factory is now closed.  HP was originally called ‘snotrag’, a charming name taken from the founders name (Garton’s), late in the 60’s and 70’s it was called ‘Wilson’s Gravy’ due to the fact that Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister at the time, used to cover his meals with the stuff.   HP now comes in a load of different varieties, but its still best out of the old glass bottle.  Why is that?

BROWN SAUCE – CONTENDERS AND TASTING NOTES

Not all Brits are into HP.  There are many options over here.  As a child I was weaned on Daddie’s sauce, slighty more acidic and not quite as concentrated with a less pungent bouquet.  The main attraction was the price I’d imagine.  Chop sauce is another contender that seems popular in the North.  My Uncle Brian swears by Chop.  I like Chop.  Its very thick and has a lighter flavour than HP.  A good chip dipper.  Having said all of this, for me, I opt for HP.  Having been travelling most of my life, the sight of an HP bottle, with its ‘By Appoitment of Her Majesty The Queen’ and Big Ben embossed on the front, stirs a normally absent sense of nostalgia and reminds me of dinner time around my grandparents house.  Its powerful stuff!

Brown sauce is a treat for us in the BHK, in fact Jane is more of a red sauce gal (Tomato Ketchup that is).  I reserve a chilled bottle in the fridge for special breakfast times.  Its highly processed and not what you’d call a healthy option.  Full of salt and sugar.  Its just one of those flavours that is so heavily linked with childhood memories.  Its also vegan and there are precious few ‘childhood memory’ foods that can claim to be purely plant.

The key here is to cook the hash for a while, on a lowish heat and make sure everything is nicely caramelised.  Stirring gently and regularly to ensure the potatoes don’t stick and remain in tact.  Its a hash not a mash!

Brekkie of champs......

Brekkie of champs……

We’ve had a bash at home made HP sauce and homemade baked beans, but this morning Dad and I had a date with a beach walk.  There are some brilliant recipes on the web for both of these things and of course, everything is better homemade right?!

I’ve made hash with firm tofu added before which makes it more substantial and of course brings a load of protein to the party.  More filling for sure.  Crumble some drained firm tofu (roughly 175g or half a block, will be enough) into the pan with the mushrooms.

There are an infinite amount of hashes to experiment with, use whatever veggies you have at hand and put it on toast.  Eeeaaaaaaaaaassssssssssyyyyyyy!

Things are getting golden in the pan

Things are getting golden in the pan

The Bits – For 2

1-2 tbs cooking oil (I used rapeseed oil)

10 mushrooms – chestnut work well (roughly chopped)

2 small potatoes (cut into 1cm cubes, skins scrubbed and kept on)

1 small onion (finely diced)

4 massive handfuls of spinach leaves

1 teas balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and plenty of black pepper (to taste)

You favourite toast and lashings of baked beans

Optional Extra
HP Sauce (the only way to go)

Do It

In a large heavy frying pan on a medium heat, add the oil, potatoes and onions.  Coat well in the oil using a wooden spoon or spatula and continue to gently stir and cook for 10-15 minutes.  The potatoes and mushrooms will now be nicely caramelised.  Add the mushrooms and balsamic vinegar and continue to gently stir regularly and make sure the potatoes are not sticking, lower the heat slightly if you need to.  (Now is a good time to heat your beans if you’re having hash and beans).

Cook for 5-7 minutes and then pile the spinach leaves on top, it will look like alot, but they cook down quickly.  Stir the leaves into the hash and wait for them to wilt, after a couple of minutes, season well with salt and pepper.

Pop your toast in.  As a vegan, you can buy some nice, natural olive oil spreads (like margarine, but without the nasties) or I just like to drizzle olive oil or good rapeseed oil on my toast.

Mushroom and Spinach Hash (with baked beans)

Mushroom and Spinach Hash (with baked beans)

Serve

Spoon the hash over your toast and surround with a steaming moat of beans.  Add sauce in the quantity and location that you prefer and get stuck right in!

Foodie Fact

Spinach is one of the worlds most nutrient dense foods, all wrapped up in a tasty green leaf.  Spinach boasts wild amounts of Vitamin K and A, it is also rammed full of a plethora of minerals like manganese, folate and iron.  Eating spinach will help you against inflammations, cancer, caridiovascular problems and it gives a serious anti-oxidant boost to the body.  Talk about starting the day on a good foot!

Buy vividly green spinach for greater levels of Vitamin C.  If your spinach is wilting anywhere else than your pan, look elsewhere for your daily hit of wonder green leaves.

PS – You may have noticed that Dad is standing in for Jane, who is at this very moment, sunning herself somewhere on a beach in Spain.  Sounds terrible.  She is back next week to really get the BHK rocking.  

Categories: Breakfast, Budget, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Veganz vs Meaties = A futile food fight with only one loser…..

This post is reacting to an article I just read in the Independent newspaper, its a year old, but still very relevant.

Dear Veganz and Meaties,

So it appears that Beyonce was never really a vegan anyway.  Maybe the fur coat gave it away.  This article below is interesting in many ways, but the comment board tells a tale of some seriously opposing views and general unpleasantness. The bare faced vitriol of it all!!!! People…….can we try and calm things down a little.  There may seem a huge chasm between the views of vegans and meat/ dairy eaters, but we can work this out.  With open minds and open hearts, nothing can stop us!  For meat eaters especially, I think this quote from Bertrand Russell puts a decent perspective on things:

“Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.”

What seems normal today, already looks out of date tomorrow.  Just look at our views on smoking in public places for example.

Vegans, be cool……. We claim to be all about compassion to all beings, well this goes for meat eaters too! Even if they toss verbal pork chops in our general direction.  Violent words are still violence and that’s not our gig.  Meat eaters hold all the cards, they are the future, they have the power and the numbers to make a huge difference (after all in Britain we are only 1% Vegan). Vegans have already got the message. Puzzling as it may seem, not everybody is concerned enough about the plight of the human race and the earth to make alterations to their lifestyles. But this leap forward in awareness is surely coming, there is too much information out there to be ignored by an educated and rational populous.

This massive shift in collective behaviour will be a long process, not an easy one, but a vital one. Societies views on animal products and animal rights must change to facilitate a more peaceful and healthy world. Life depends upon it. Lets not mess it up by being drawn into needless arguments and conflict. That’s the opposite of what we are aiming for. This is not a fight, but a mutual dawning. A new and rich seam of wisdom that can change the course of the human race. A bright new direction laced with some amazingly new and creative foods.

‘Veganism is not a sacrifice, its a joy’

Gary L. Francione

Meaties, please forgive us vegans for coming across in the wrong way sometimes. We are impassioned by the subject and to be a vegan is to be an activist and a target, whether you like it/ want it or not. We get it in the neck regularly and are faced with a lot of hostility and stereotypical banter just for choosing not to do what most other people do. We are not judging anyone for eating meat and dairy products, inside the vast majority of vegans is a former omnivore hidden behind a large lump of tofu. Maybe its a case of the ‘former smoker syndrome’, we just get a little carried away sometimes. The vast majority of people I meet in Britain nowadays care about their food choices and make conscious choices to not eat too much meat and source good quality animal products. This is at least a start (but ONLY a start………….what can I say, I’m a former smoker and stilton fiend!!!!!!).

I believe in this vegan ride. Veganism could and will change the world for the better, but only if we vegans start by setting a good example, not just on the plate, but by practicing what we preach. Forgive and move on. Face ignorance with tolerance and change things by changing ourselves fundamentally. Be the change and the folks will surely follow.

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” Mahatma Gandhi

There is no quick fix here. There is no win. There is only constant change and therefore a constant need for evolution and reviewing opinions and behaviour. We are in a mess and only WE; together, united; can dig ourselves out of it. There is so much good that we can do everyday just by changing small details in out lives.  Small changes that can have massive and positive repercussions.

So then really, Veganz vs Meaties = A regrettable and futile food fight, with only one innocent loser, Mother Earth and the animals that dwell upon her.

Peace and Parsnips,

Lee

No meat, no dairy, no problem: is 2014 the year vegans become mainstream?

Independent – Jan 2014

Categories: Healthy Living, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

The Pyramid Cafe Salad and Natural Healing

The Pyramid Salad - Rishikesh Classic

The Pyramid Salad – Rishikesh Classic

A crunchy Rishikesh classic, surely India’s first ever ‘superfood’ salad.  We love salads like this, no strong dressing, the glorious veggies do all the talking……..

This is a little like the Israeli Salad that we wrote about a few posts ago, but The Pyramid Salad has bells, whistles, trimmings and shavings.  This is the ultimate traveler salad in India.  You know that Jane and I love a bowl of crunchy veggie goodness and granted, in many parts of the world, salads may seem quite everyday.  But in India, when you’re on the bumpy, dusty road filled with spiced and deep fried delights, a bowl of salad becomes an sheer delight.  Especially when its sprinkled with gloriously green spirulina!  Indulge us…….

The Pyramid Cafe in Rishikesh is  traveler institution and has been for ages.  It’s one of the only places you used to be able to get a fresh and crisp salad, decent filter coffee and very good vibes (they play the Jungle Book theme tune sometimes at night, “It’s those bear necessities……!”)  It has changed alot recently, Lali and his family have been doing some building work, the pyramids are getting much higher, but the quality of the food remains awesome and fresh, fresh, fresh……  Also Lali and his family are still lovely hosts and their son Rahul, who I met six years ago and has changed from a young lad into a strapping fella, has taken over the running of the restaurant.

We always hike up the steep hill to the Pyramid Cafe, it has wonderful views of the turquoise Ganges and is a quiet little spot in the otherwise hectic Laxman Jhula area.  When this salad greets you, your body and palate become very excited.  You feel healthier just by being in its presence.  The Pyramid Cafe has always been a superbly healthy mecca for wellness, they sell; kombucha, organic spirulina, cacao beans, vanilla pods, silver collioidal and there menu used to double up as an alternative health bible.  Great reading when waiting for dinner.  Sleemy is the man behind the sparkling health approach.  Sleemy was born in Switzerland, but has been living in India for an age and rides around, from North to South, on his customised scooter, known as the ‘Chapatti Express’.  He is a living legend in the Indian travel scene and pops up when you least expect him in Gorkana, Goa or small villages in the high Himalayas.  He is full of wisdom like ‘The best medicine is the one that teaches you how not to need it’.

The bare necessities of life!

 

 

 

NATURAL HEALING

Sleemy has been a student of health for over 30 years and is an advocate of all forms of natural health; yoga, naturopathy, holistic medicines and ayurveda, check out his website here.  Sleemy is a font of information on acheiveing a state of sparkling well being and as he says, “I have built myself an iron cast immune system, and since 1975, I haven’t been ill at all, (not even a cold in winter), and I didn’t consult any doctor since then.”  Sleemy has even wrote an ace travelers health manual named “The Hitchhikers Guide to Medicine“.  It’s well worth a read.  

We also believe that getting ill is the final stages of a problem, not the beginning.  We must work at the roots of good health to prevent future illness, using a varied and radiant diet, healthy habits and regular exercise to prevent the growth and manifestation of illness both physical and mental.  Positive thinking is also a must, laughing alot is very important (as are hugs) along with a basic idea of nutrition.    We also believe that breathing is highly underrated.  Breathing well, deeply and slowly, is a sure fire way decreasing stress and enlivening our body with huge amounts of good energy.  Breathing is our number one way of absorbing pure energy, much more immediate than the food we consume.  Love is also imperative.  Self love and loving relations with relatives, friends, neighbours, work colleagues etcetc.  Wherever possible, love is the answer (and its always possible!x)

Jane and I overlooking the jade green Ganga

Jane and I overlooking the jade green Ganga

Until just a few years ago, salads in India were like playing digestive roulette. Now things are much better, many places wash raw veggies in filtered water, but a few can still lead to upsets. The Pyramid has always known the score and has always been a safe haven for going raw.  They also happen to whip up the finest falafels in the sub continent.

Bright red carrots!!!!!  Please do not be unduly alarmed, carrots in India are dark red, almost crimson in colour.  This is very normal.  Use your preferred/ local shade of carrot in this recipe.  Remember that organic, local carrots, will have loads more nutrition than anything industrially grown.  We have just read some shocking facts about the dearth of nutrition in most non-organic veggies.  Minerals and other nutrients can be as much as 2/3 lower in veggies grown using artificial fertilizer and in depleted soils.

I have guessed what goes into this mythical creation, to be fair, it was not that hard, but worthy.  This salad has enriched many an aspiring yogi and wayward wanderer, finding their way up into the free and liberating spaces of the beautiful Himalayan wilderness.

The Pyramid Cafe also for the best falafels in India

The Pyramid Cafe also for the best falafels in India, brilliantly served in edible bowls (cabbage leaves)

 

The Bits – For 4

2 good sized carrot (grated with a grater, also grate roughly six long slices per person with a potato peeler for presentation – see the photo)

1/2 small white cabbage (grated or very finely sliced)

1/2 small red onion (not a strong one, very finely sliced)

1 little gem lettuce (finely sliced)

3 radishes or 6 inches mooli (grated)

3 tomatoes (finely chopped)

2 big handfuls crunchy sprouts (brown lentils used here)

1 handful alfalfa sprouts

 

Serve

Small bowls of tamari (or good soya sauce), wedges of lime and unrefined oil of your choice

Topped with more sprouts, a hearty sprinkle of spirulina/ wheatgrass/ barley grass.

In India, it would not be unheard of to sprinkle over some dried chilli flakes to perk things up a bit.

Also pleasant with:

Slices of Brown Bread or Wholewheat Chapattis

 

Do It

Beautifully simple.  Combine all in a bowl, toss gently.  Pile up into the centre of  plate, pyramid style.  Lay a few of your carrot shavings over your pyramid of intense delight and sprinkle with sprouts and green powdered joy.

 

Serve

Warm the bread a little and enjoy.

The Pyramid Cafe Superfood Salad

The Pyramid Cafe ‘Superfood’ Salad – pure eye candy for the sabji weary traveller

Foodie Fact

Spirulina is a highly nutritious green/ blue algae that has been eaten by humans for millenia.  It is a great friend of the BHK and is something we eat regularly, especially when we are on the road.  It means that we are getting a concentrated health boost every morning and start the day in the most brilliant way.

Spirulina is made of 60-70% protein and is a great source of amino acids and also has good levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese, folic acid, niacin, vitamin B, caroteniods and iron.  Of course, being so beautifully green, it also contains bags of chlorophyll which has many benefits, including aiding our chemical reactions creating protein, vitamins and sugars.

For more info, check out the post we wrote about Spirulina.

Our favoutire chai spot between Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula (closed unfortunately)

Our favoutire chai spot between Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula (closed unfortunately)

Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Living, Recipes, Salads, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happiness is the highest form of health – The Dalai Lama

No matter how many kale smoothies we drink, no matter how much we demonize sugar or potatoes, “happiness is the highest form of health.”  I found this little quote put much of our current eating habits into focus.  Enjoy your grub, whatever you’re eating!!!!!  A healthy, content and happy mind inevitably leads to a healthy body.

Happy gardener, happy cook, happy food, happy eater.

Jane and I are up in Mcleod Ganj, India, at the moment, spending time with the Tibetan Community in exile.  Read more about our antics here.  If you like this quote, we post regular things like this on our Facebook page.

Chagpo Nang (take care)……

Long life to the Dalai Lama!

FREE TIBET

Categories: Friends of B.H.K, Healthy Living, Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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