Organic

Sending Good Vibes! BHK news and how we’re keeping well

Nourishing, simple, vegan cooking skills and knowledge is so important at times like this, giving our bodies and minds the good fuel and flavours they need to be healthy.

    

All of our plans and work for the year are cancelled, which feels both expansive and daunting, sometimes at the same time.  We’re sitting, chilling and breathing it all in at the minute.  Seeing what arises and getting prepared for a lengthy spell of uncertainty and big changes in the way we live.  Most of all, we’re staying at home!  

 

Spanish Dreams

We were moving to Spain a month ago and were in the final stages of buying a olive/ fruit farm in rural Spain.  A little slice of paradise, tucked away in the mountains of Murcia, where we could grow Mediterranean crops and make our own olive oil and wine.  I would be cooking homegrown in an outside kitchen and it even had it’s own spring.  We were over the moon to have found such a place, but it turned out that this idea was affected by Brexit and then, BOOM, Coronavirus lands and the rest of our year is turned upside down, shaken, then plonked back down looking bewildered, exasperated and a little afraid.  I’m sure you know the feeling. 

We know that what is to come will be tough, for us all in a variety of ways, each of us will experience uncertainty, loss and fear in one way or another.  We realised we are in a very privileged position and feel deeply for those who are suffering globally from health issues, themselves or within families, friends and communities.  The poorest in the world are the first and worst to suffer.  Also, those who have pressing financial worries and are trying to run businesses and have uncertain work futures.  We especially feel and offer fortitude and support to healthcare and charity workers, as well as other essential, frontline workers. Keeping the systems going that support our societies and our most vulnerable.  We hope you are well protected, healthy and rewarded for your bravery and incredible efforts.   

 

Compassion, community and kindness will get us through.  

 

Support local 

Big shout to our local organic farm superheroes, Tyddyn Teg, who will be supplying ourselves and the local community with organic veg throughout the year. Re-focusing on local produce and small businesses, growing our own food, simplifying and living a more sustainable life is more relevant now than ever.  If you have the means, distributing and investing money locally and to small businesses is so important. 

 

We are well!

Jane and I are well.

I am sure many of you are being creative and flexible in the way you’re looking at the future. How can we adapt, stay safe and earn a living in these times?  We shall see, but good energy and positivity will go a long way.  

It would be awesome to communicate and we invite you to be part of our positive on-line communities:

Our Faceboook vegan cooking group is here

Let’s eat well!  Share good vibes and tasty treats!  Develop grounding rituals and healthy habits. We hope the BHK is somewhere you can escape to for a while, topping up on happiness and inspiring recipes.   

Looking out towards Ireland, across the Irish Sea. I love this rock formation, it looks like an ancient settlement (with a view!) and makes me feel connected to the land and my impermanence in this majestic landscape

Take good care

At this time, we feel it’s essential that we focus on self-care.  Understanding how we can find balance, peace and good health in our lives.  We ever wish to take you on that journey in a holistic way, feeling that good health isn’t just good eating, but good movement, good breath, good mentality, good connections with nature and others, good vibes from the heart and lots of love and positive energy.  

Self-care beginning with the heart, opening up to love.  We feel that having clarity and peace of mind will help us make good decisions, for us and those around us.  

The world may seem to be spinning out of control but nature tells us otherwise.  Beautiful weather and the sights and smells of early Spring are in the air.  

Good health does not need to be complicated, and even with extended self-isolation and uncertainty, we can still find peace.  Good health does not need to cost anything, we have our mind and bodies, these are the only tools necessary to unlock vitality and wellness.  With regular practice, discipline and good intentions, the techniques below can transform our lives! 

We can exercise well in a small space.  Check out our friends Complete Unity Yoga and their guide to starting a yoga practice at home:

Find Peace and Calm – Yoga at home

We also love these yoga sequences

Also, here are some relaxing and empowering breathing techniques with that dude, Mr Wim. Boost your immune system and find peace:

Life Changing Breathing techniques

Meditation is an excellent practice to calm the mind and boost the immune system.  Jane’s favourite is Tara Brach:

Meditation practice 

Breathe in, smile.  A beautiful meditation here

Fermentation is a delicious way of preparing and preserving food, as well as boosting our health and immune system in general.  We have fermenting recipes here and our favourite fermentation website is Nourished by Nature:

Fermenting Foods – Immune system support and health

You’ll find most of our recipes, except the most recent, right here.  Plenty to choose from:

Simple, healthy vegan recipes from the BHK

We can also put you in touch with excellent therapists and healers; herbal, homeopathic, nutritionists and much more.

 

Our plan

We don’t have one!  Things are changing too quickly at the minute.  We’re getting prepared and trying to be as proactive as we can.  Staying at home and educating ourselves about the situation at hand.  We’ll be regularly turning our thoughts inwards and reflecting, adapting, finding balance, allowing creativity to flow and embracing what we have and the opportunities presented.  Staying alert and aware, asking questions.  Taking regular breaks from phones, social media, news and the like.  Going outside, spending time in nature.       

We’re focusing, as I’m sure you are, on our local situation, supporting family, friends and the local community.  What we can control, we try our best in, what we cannot, we are aware of, but let go.    

 

So, how are you feeling? 

Can we help and support you at this time? 

What kind of foodie things would you like to see us doing? 

 

So much beauty, even in the smallest parts and details of nature.

 

We light a candle for peace after sunset each evening and you’ll all be in our thoughts and prayers.  This BHK community means a lot to us and you’ve all contributed in making our lives a brighter and more fulfilling place to be.  Thank you.  

Wishing you all good health, safety and fortitude!

 

Another storm is here, but they always pass. 

 

Peace and Love,  

Lee and JaneX          

 

We’ve a decent stash of foraged logs. When we get around to chainsawing, we’re looking forward to a summer filled with fires under the stars.

 

Join our MAILING LIST here for exclusive recipes and BHK news 

 

Email us now – hellobeachhousekitchen@gmail.com

 

 

 

Categories: healthy, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Sustainability, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Quick Pickled Rhubarb and Ginger plus The Joys of Spring!

Rhubarb, fresh of the land, organically grown

Here’s a really quick and easy way to pickle rhubarb.  I’ve added some ginger, which gives even more intense and beautiful flavour to this pickle.  The method could not be much easier, and it’s a great technique for preserving delicious produce, enough to enliven any meal!

Rhubarb makes a great pickle, maybe you haven’t tried it?  I find it goes well with Middle Eastern salads, anything with a bit of spice.  I also like it with Japanese style salads. It has a real sweet and sour twang!

When this lovely bunch of rhubarb landed in the kitchen we wondered what to do with it?  How to make it shine!  No crumbles here.  I shouted “Pickle!”   Jane shouted “Ginger!”  And it was as easy as that really.

Nantlle Lake looking stunning in Spring (you can just about see Snowdon from here)

 

It has been a stunning week, Spring has been in full swing (and then it snowed/ hailed for a couple of days!)  A Snowdonian Spring!  It has been still and sunny, and this extra sunlight and warmth has meant some surprises in the poly tunnels.

We’ve had some beautiful and colourful, organically grown, produce coming off the land this week at Trigonos.  Owain (our resident Horticulturalist and Organic Superhero) has been appearing in the kitchen with arm loads of all kinds of goodies.

 

Not sure what you call this one? Golden Chard?  I’ll have to ask Owain

 

Most of these are seeds from last year, that have decided to make an appearance in the poly tunnels; ruby chard, swiss chard, purple rocket and some radiant rhubarb!!

 

You know I love this one. Curly Kale.

 

Along with a host of herbs and a scattering of salad leaves, and of course outside, the wild garlic is doing it’s thing.

 

Ruby Chard, love the vibrant colour!

 

I always feel like the luckiest cook alive to have access to this kind of produce.  Especially at this time of year.

 

Purple rocket. The flavour here is amazing! Very peppery and fruity even.

 

Produce picked in the morning and by lunchtime is being served (or pickled).  I love it!

 

Recipe Note

Only use the pink rhubarb stalks, never the leaves.

Any excess pickling liquor can be used in dressings or to marinade tofu, for example.

 

Quick Rhubarb and Ginger Pickle

 

Quick Rhubarb and Ginger Pickle

 

The Bits – Makes 2 jars

500g rhubarb (finely sliced)

300ml apple cider vinegar

300ml water

4 tbs sugar

8 slices fresh ginger

2 bay leaves

 

Do It

You’ll need two sterilised glass jars with lids.

Gently pack the sliced rhubarb into your jars.  So it’s snug, with a little room left at the top.

Place the vinegar, water, bay leaves, ginger and sugar into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Pour this mixture over the rhubarb making sure all is well covered.   I add the bay leaves and ginger to the jars also.  Leave to cool.

Enjoy! I’d keep this pickle for a week.

Foodie Fact

Rhubarb is packed full of minerals and vitamins. It’s a source of vitamin C, protein, calcium, fibre and beta-carotene.  Plus a whole lot more.  Much more than just a crumble!

 

Categories: Cooking Holidays, Cooking Workshops, gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Spring, Vegan, Wales | Tags: | 8 Comments

The art of scrumping and the great British apple

Scrumping – a great way to make the most of our autumn abundance

Yes!  It’s that time of year.  Apples are falling from trees and we’re loving them.  But I find something very sad about piles of crushed and fermenting apples scattered around pavements and fields, left in piles to rot around trees.  What a waste.  I’ve been travelling quite a bit around the UK recently and seen many great apple trees, laden with fruits, fit and ready for a good scrumping!

There are over 2500 varities of apples growing in the UK, so I’m not talking about the handful of varieties we can pick up in the supermarkets, I’m talking about the real deal, heritage, local apples.  The ones which flourish in certain areas because of the specific climate, regional apples, that’s what gets me excited.  Most of these are growing wild and many may be falling right now, grab a bucket and get out there!

A neighbour kindly donated this bucket load to the BHK

When I travel, I love nibbling global dishes, exotic fruits and the like.  But there is one thing I miss, sensational UK apples!!  Best in the world.  No question.  (Although, they’re pretty good in France too.)

 

Wild Fruits, Great Names 

Most of the apples you’ll pick up in the supermarkets are pale imitations of a proper apple.  Something local, and in my opinion, the more bumps, the uglier the apple is, the better it tastes!  We have such a rich history of apple cultivation, which is still there, if we shop local and take advantage of the natural abundance at  this time of year.  Many of the best apples I find come from neighbours gardens (please don’t tell them;)

Jane’s Mum sent across a fascinating little article that prompted this post, I find the names of heritage apples so inspiring. They just sound fun! Here’s a selection, just a wee taster (by region).  Do you know some of these?:

 

Scotland – Coul Blush, Bloody Ploughman, Scotch Dumpling, Tower of Glanis, Dog’s Snout 

 

North England – Golden Spice, Cockpit, Carlise Codlin, Rilston Pippin, Lord Hindlip

 

South England – Newton Wonder, D’Arcy Spice, Crawley Beauty, Fearn’s Pippin, Pitmaston Pineapple, Oaken Pin, Tom Pitt, Cornish Gilliflower

 

Wales – Bardsey Island, Pig’s Snout, Cissy, Ten Commandments, Saint Cecilia, Croen Mochya

 

Ireland also has some great varities and names going on:

 

Ireland – Greasy Pippin, Lady’s Finger of Offaly, Kilkenny Pearmain, Irish Peach, Ross Nonpareil, Scarlet Crofton, Ecklinville Seedling   

 

Maybe you have some of these growing in your garden?  Or a local park?  I love these names, many are poetic, rustic, some amusing, but they all speak to me of a different time of food production.  When it wasn’t just about business and high yields.  I think it’s paramount to protect the heritage and diversity of locally grown food, in the UK and around the world.  Most of the varities are just about hanging in there (no pun intended), mainly growing wild or in gardens, but we can always ask for them in our local shops and supermarkets.  If we can get together, in enough numbers, and demand real, local, British apples, maybe we can see apples like the ‘Dog’s Snout’ back on the shop shelves where they belong.  These names really brighten up my day.

 

The Legend of the Bardsey Apple

There is a great story here in North Wales about a local fellow, Ian Sturrock, who discovered a single apple tree on a remote island off the Llyn Peninsula.  Bardsey Island.  When it was tested, it was the last of it’s kind in the world.  This variety has now been saved and it’s grown around the world, from Japan to the USA.  We have one in our garden.  Lovely golden, sweet apples.  There is also a variety of Snowdon Pear which is very rare, tastes like sweet fennel and has a light pink colour inside.  You just don’t get such variety and range of flavours in the most shops.  We are missing out big time!  This is one of our greatest British foodies assets.  Our amazing fruits.

 

The Art of Scrumping 

Scrumping!  It’s a doorway to the best of British apples and fruits.  Go find some nice looking trees, grab a bucket and go and fill your boots/ bucket.  I know people who only scrump at night, but we’re day light scrumpers.  Unabashed.  It’s loads of fun and leads to a bounty of fresh and delicious local apples.   A few basic guidelines for new scrumpers:

 

Just make sure that you’re picking edible apples.

Don’t climb and fall out of trees.

Don’t blatantly nick your neighbours apples, this can lead to bad vibes and unneighbourly jams.

If councils or land owners have put up signs saying ‘DO NOT PICK THESE APPLES’, best to leave them dangling.

 

Local apples, ready for cookies/ crumble

Scrump Away!

Picking fruit gets me in touch with nature again, you plug straight back into the natural world, it’s relaxing and a great excuse to get out in the fresh air.  One friend told me that the art of scrumping is to not get caught.  I think there has to be a slightly more moral approach than that. .

You don’t need to live halfway up a mountain like us to scrump well, urban scrumping is on the rise.  Inner city fruit foraging.  It may take a little research at first, trying to understand what apples are best for eating, which are best for cooking etc.  But once you’ve identified a local tree, that’s it.  Every year you can pick a crop of delicious local apples.

The benefits of scrumping are free food!  Plus, no packaging or plastic and the only food miles are the steps you take.  I just don’t understand why we don’t plant more fruit trees.  Local councils, lets get more orchards going. We can organise groups of fruit pickers and jam makers, free neighborhood jams and chutneys all year!  Some local councils have done this in the past, after complaints from residents about being hit by falling fruit and apples impeding their driving.  They provided fruit pickers and yes, gave the chutney away for free!  This seems like a wonderful idea.  We know people who pick your apples for you if you’re too busy/ can’t be bothered and make them into a cider and sell it.  Their business is based on free or donated apples.

 

Apple Recipes

What to do with your new found apple bounty?  Chutneys, apple sauce, soups, add to stews and casseroles, make into jam….the list is almost endless.  Here are a few of our recipes to get your going :

 

Simple Apple and Oat Crumble

Jane’s Apple and Plum Chutney 

Apple and Beetroot Sauerkraut

Apple Mint Herbal Vinegar

 

One of the best ways of using up LOTS of apples is to make your own cider.  You do need loads.  You will also need a cider press for this, but again, there will no doubt be someone in your local community who has one you can borrow or use.  Especially if you offer them a small cut of your cider.

Of course, we’re not just looking for apples when we’re in scrumping mode; sloe berries, rosehips, blackberries, damsons, mushrooms, bilberries (see our Bilberry and Spelt Scone recipe), pears, there is a bounty of fresh fruit growing on trees and bushes all around the UK.  We just need to get out there and have a look.

If you are really not fancying scrumping, you can still access local fruits.  Check out freecycle, there may well be someone in your area looking to offload some apples or other fruits.

 

If you do scrump, remember that it is illegal to profit from the fruit you harvest from common or council land.  On private land, you’ll need a ‘scrump pass’.   If you are not a comfortable single scrumper, it can make for a great family activity or form a small local group.  Scrumpers unite!  Some people feel scrumping is a bit cheeky, but that’s the fun bit!

If you’re a serial scrumper of have some scrumping tales or advice, please let us know in the comments below. 

National apple day in the UK is 21st October ’18.  Let’s celebrate local apples, fruits and produce!  Autumn is the perfect time of year to cook and shop local.

 

Look out from my next post if you’re an apple lover, we’ve got an Apple Crumble Cookies (Gluten-free) recipe coming your way very soon.

 

 

Categories: Autumn, Foraging, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Local food, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Sustainability, Wales | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Creamy Parsnip & Coconut Soup – A bowl of winter sunshine!

Creamy Parsnips and Coconut Soup – Vegan

Ginger, turmeric, sweet parsnips, creamy coconut….yes please!  This is just the kind of bowl I like to see at the cold end of the year.  Bursting with colour, big flavours and bags of healthy giving goodness.

Thick frost this morning in Snowdonia and grey, as grey can be (with a pinch more grey for luck).  When the frosts are here, I always think of parsnips.  They love this time of year!

To combat the dark skies, I felt like adding some sunshine to lunch time.  This soup is creamy, with the coconut and parsnips, sweet and spicy, and with a little fresh coriander on top, is a real winter time treat.  Just the colour makes me feel warmer inside!

Most of you know that I’m quite partial to a parsnip every now and again.  The ones I used here were huge, gnarled things, they look like they’d had a rough winter.  There’s not much seasonal produce about at the minute, so I cherish these parsnips.  A friend was here and tried the soup, and was surprised that she liked it.  Not a parsnip fan you see.  I think we have a convert!  There are parsnips and then there are parsnips, try and get some good organic if poss ones and the difference is mega!  I eat these ones happily raw, so sweet, in fact parsnips contain more sugar than bananas.

I’m going to keep making soups until I finally defrost this winter, probably sometime in June at this rate.  Still, I’m not complaining, I love these crisp winter mornings and having a warm bowl of soup waiting for lunch is real food for the mind, body and soul.

Recipe Notes

Go wild with the turmeric if you like, its beautifully golden, turn it up to 5 (teas) if you really love it.  It can only lead to lovely flavour and it amazing for our health.

I peeled the parsnips here, because the skins on mine were very funky, all kinds of nobbles and bashes on them.  With veg like parsnips, much of the flavour and nutrients are just below the skin, scrubbing them is really best.

If you are not a parsnips fan, you could try it with other sweet roots like potato or sweet potato.  Let us know how it goes!  This recipes is a platform really for many great variations with veg.

A twist of lime brings it all to life.  Highly recommended.

This soup freezes well, so feel free to double the quantity.  I would check the balance of the spices though, maybe add 75% and then taste.  Sometimes multiplying recipes can throw them out a bit.

If you do freeze it, taste it once it’s reheated, the spices may need jazzing up a bit.  Add more, or a really nice idea would be to fry up a little more ginger in a pan, than stir in the spices, warm through and add to soup.  Freezing can kill flavours.

———

Creamy Parsnip & Coconut Soup

The Bits – For 4 Bowls
1 kg parsnips (peeled and chopped)
2 small onions (peeled and sliced)
3 inch ginger (peeled and finely chopped)

3-5 teas turmeric
3 teas cumin
1 teas cinnamon
½ teas cardamom

800ml light veg stock
1 tin coconut milk

Salt (to taste)

Topping

Tomato (chopped)

Coriander (chopped)

Toasted coconut or cashews (optional and very nice)

Sprinkle more of ground cumin

Lime wedges

Do It

In a large saucepan, warm 1 tbs cooking oil and fry onions and ginger on medium high heart for 5 minutes.

Then add spices and parsnip, stir and cook for a minute, before adding the stock and coconut milk.  Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, until the parsnips are soft.

Blend until smooth with a stick blender.  Season with salt and serve.

P1350355

Foodie Fact

Parsnips are the same family as carrots, celery, dill and cumin.  They are a good source of vitamin C and fibre, plus have good levels of vitamin K and manganese.  Not just a pretty, knobbly root!

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Wales, Winter | Tags: | 2 Comments

Leek, Potato & Kale Soup – Organic, Classic, Seasonal

A simple classic.  I realise I’m doubling up with soup posts here, but let’s face it, no one is complaining with this chilly start to the year.

There’s something in my bones that calls for this kind of soup in January, in the depths of winter.  Many of us in the UK have had loads of snow recently, and at the very least have been facing freezing days and nights.  It always feels a little colder and darker at this time of year, the warm glow of Christmas seems long gone.

What we need is warming, nourishing bowls of yum!  We all know this soup, it’s a classic, but will never get tired.  It makes the very best of British produce at this time of year, when not much else is growing and the land is resting.

We are so lucky to have a group of brilliant people down the road, at Tydnn Teg organic farm, who are soldiering on and still growing sensational produce.  I am blown away by their veggies and this soup uses what has come from the heart of wintertime.

It seems right to be eating dishes like this, seems like I’m tuning in to the season and giving my body exactly what it needs.   I love simple recipes that take a few ingredients and make them shine!

Recipe Notes

Use any winter herbs you like in this soup.  A herb mix or fresh herbs would also be very nice.  Just not too much, I think it’s nice just lightly flavoured with herbs, let the other ingredients come through.

Use any kale, you can see we went for curly.  Spring greens and savoy cabbage are good alternatives.

The single cream is a luxurious extra.

Try to get the very best, organic if you can, produce for this soup.  It will really make the difference.

You don’t need to blend this soup, I sometimes like it chunky.  Try to cut your veggies into smallish pieces.

Winter warmer – Leek, Potato and Kale Soup (Vegan)

Leek, Potato & Kale Soup

The Bits – For 8 Bowls
1.25kg potatoes (peeled and chopped)
750g leeks (cleaned and sliced)
200g kale (sliced)
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 teas dried sage
1 teas dried rosemary
1 teas dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and black pepper (to taste)

250ml vegan single cream (available in shops and supermarkets)

Do It
Add 1 tbs cooking oil to a large saucepan and warm on a medium high heat.  Add the leeks, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Now add the potatoes, stock and herbs to the pan, cook 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Add the kale and simmer for a couple of minutes. Pick out the bay leaves and blend using a stick blender until smooth.

Stir in the single cream and season well with salt and pepper.

I quite like kale! Taken in the Trigonos veg farm

Foodie Fact

I added kale to this classic soup combo because its seasonal and delicious, but also because it is one of the healthiest things we could ever, ever eat. It’s just outrageous how good kale is for us!

It’s off the charts high in Vitamin K, is ridiculously amazing for vitamin A and C, also high in minerals like manganese, copper, is a good source of fibre and even has some Omega 3 fats thrown in there.  The list goes on really, but the more we can incorporate kale into our diets, the better, especially at this time of year when our bodies need a real healthy kick start.

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Local food, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Wales, Welsh produce, Winter | Tags: | 3 Comments

Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry

 

 

We had this for breakfast! Might not be everyones bowl of morning happiness but Jane and I love curry for brekkie, a pleasant habit we picked up at train stations and little bus stops in India. We wanted the all-time classic ‘Chana Masala’, but we didn’t have chickpeas!? What’s going on there?!! I feel like I have failed our household. Still, it lead to this creation which I was so pleased with, I felt the urge to share and write and celebrate the beauty of a simple curry.

SPICY WAKE UP CALL

We were getting tired of the smoothies and bowls of nuts and fruits and things routine, we wanted some SPICE in our early, sleepy eyed life!  When the grey tickles us, as it can at this time of year, we need to put some rainbow flavours and magic into our food.  Spices are magic dust right?!  Does any food have as much pizazz and down right tastiness as a deep and potent curry?  It can enliven the senses.  The sheer complexity of flavours mingling and merging, having a massive party all over your taste buds?  This curry doesn’t have to be eaten for brekkie, but do let us know if you try.  Ditch the fry up this Sunday AM and get spicy!!

I’ve been to India many times, it has become my second home.  I love living a life of contrasts, living on a hill in middle of nowhere, slightly mossy, Wales, straight to the honking depths of down town Delhi, thats my kind of contrast.  Mix things up.  Keep things vibrant and interesting.   For me, India is the country with everything going on within its borders, travel there is rich.  I know I go on about the food all the time, but, it is incredible.  Consistently.  Mind boggling in variety.  Like I’ve died and gone to a Dhaba.

Intensely orange – Pumpkin this time of year they be.

HIDDEN TREASURES (AND PICKLES)

If you’re looking for the best spices and Indian/ Pakistani/ Bangladeshi/ Nepalese etc ingredients, I recommend a regular visit to your local Asian shop/ supermarket.  It’s where all the best ingredients will be hiding and normally for very reasonable prices.  I find them a perfect location for spice worship.  Eastern cooking treasure troves, designed for real food lovers to disappear into for days, reappearing with carfull’s of fantastic ingredients, pickles and inspiration.

I say, take the afternoon off and have a good luck around, ask for help and guidance.  For me they’re like a flavour library for a cook, sifting through the ingredients and always finding something new and interesting to take home and play with in the kitchen.

The curry powder we used here was recommended to us by an Indian man in one of my favourite Asian supermarkets in Newcastle.  He wasn’t wrong, its brilliant, fiery and fragrant.  Curry powder has a bit of a bad name, but its just the same as any spice mix like bharat, ras el hanout etc.  If you buy a decent one, it works well.  Of course, making your own is the holy grail of any spice enthusiast.  But having the time and means to do that can be a challenge.  This is a quick dish, so lets keep it simple.

This is no traditional curry, but its not far off.  I’ve made this curry super easy for you, I’d love you to cook and enjoy it!  With only two spice mixes, garam masala and curry powder, which most of you will have knocking about in your cupboards and a quick cooking time.

If you don’t have the spice mixes, just try making your own up using things like turmeric, cumin and coriander for the curry mix, adding a little cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom for the garam masala.  Could be a very nice experiment!  I add red lentils to thicken the sauce up and make things hearty and substantial.  I used pumpkin, because its their ultra orange time of year, but use any vegetables you like here and a nice idea is stirring some greens in just before serving, a couple of handfuls of spinach leaves is cool.

In Nirvana, this is breakfast!

India, we miss you!x

Recipe Notes

I like the curry quite thin, more a thick daal than a chunky curry. Better for dipping warm chappatis into!  The lentils will just keep sucking up the water, so just keep some warm water handy when cooking, preferably a recently boiled kettle (easier) and top up the water as you fancy.

Mash it up!! Your garlic and ginger and chilli as best you can, blending them or whacking them in a pestle and mortar is best.  Releasing all their vibrant potential.

Leaving the curry to cool slighty, let it sit for 10 minutes with a lid on, will help the flavours to mix and mingle, get deep and meaningful.

I’ve gone easy on the chillies because Jane is anti-chilli, but you go wild if you like!

The lemon and coriander to finish are extras, but the lemon especially, will add a lovely citrus twist to the generally sweet curry, it also seems to re-vitalise the spices a little, bring the flavours to some kind of glorious crescendo!!!!  Swadishtx

The chickpea chapatis in the photos are made by whisking some gram flour, water and salt together, until a double cream texture forms, and frying in a little oil.  Simple, gluten-free, healthy, tasty…….

—————–

Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry  Serving suggestion – eat outside, in a garden.

Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry
The Bits – For 2

1 small onion (sliced)
1/2 tbs cooking oil

3 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
1 inch ginger – roughly 1 heaped tbs (finely grated)
1/2-1 green chilli (finely diced)

250g black beans
75g red lentil – 1 big handful (washed)

200g squash/ pumpkin – 2 handfuls (diced)
300ml hot water
2 tomatoes (chopped and mashed)
1 heaped tbs tomato puree
1 teas salt
1 1/2 tbs curry powder

1 heaped tbs garam masala

Roughly 2 teas lemon juice

Handful chopped coriander (optional one for the coriander lovers out there)

 

Do It

In a large sauce pan, fry the onions until they are texture like sun (golden brown), then stir in your garlic, ginger and chilli, stir and fry for a minute and then add the lentils, beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, curry powder, squash, water and stir together.  Bring to a boil.

Cook on a fast simmer for 10 minutes with a lid on, stirring occasionally to stop the lentils sticking to the bottom. Add your garam masala and cook for 5 minutes more.  Stir in a little more water if its getting too thick.

Once the squash is nice and soft, stir in the lemon juice, check seasoning and serve. If you like coriander, sprinkle some chopped coriander over the dish. I like it with warm chapatis or chickpea chapatis, dip them in and enjoy!  I also served it with some green mango pickle.  One of my favs.

 

Foodie Fact

Pumpkin is full, full of good things.  Especially this time of year when they’re bang on seasonal and hopefully quite local.  Very orange, means goodness.  Lots of vitamin A, one cup contains 200% of your daily need.  You’ll be seeing in the dark in no time.  It’s got loads of fibre and pumpkin is also said to keep our skin shining.  Bananas are famous potassium sources, but pumpkin actually has considerably higher levels of potassium than bananas.  Vitamin C, also in the mix somewhere, they’re just one of the best things we can eat at this time of year and throughout winter.   Superstars!!

PS – Please don’t throw away the seeds, clean them off and roast them for a while in an oven.  You will not regret the slightly time consuming picking orange gloop off them.

 

Categories: Autumn, Curries, Dinner, gluten-free, healthy, Nutrition, Organic, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Roast Potato and Cumin Frittata with a Farro and Cannellini Bean Salad

P1280781 Roast Potato and Cumin Frittata with Farro and Cannellini Bean Salad (Vegan)

I had a great time on BBC Radio Wales recently, a little thing they do called ‘Foodie Friday’.  It was the wonderful Eleri Sion show (although Tom was standing in) and we mainly talked about how accessible and incredible a vegan lifestyle is and coconut scones, but I did mention one of my very favourite dishes at the moment, a simple and really nutritious vegan frittata.  Plant power for all!!  I just had to share the recipe.

Tom mentioned that vegan food can be more time consuming to cook than a piece of meat with vegetables, which may well be true for some dishes, but this frittata is so easy and straightforward and as with all vegan cooking, substitutions can be made, things can be swapped, veggies played with, happiness unearthed, taste buds dance a merry jig.  It’s always easier when you’re done it, so lets do it!

This is a lovely light Italian lunch with a twist.  I just can’t help myself!  Cumin seeds are one of my favourite ingredients (along with gram flour) and they bring a subtle and deep spice to this dish.  I know that cumin is not exactly traditionally Italian, but I’m sure they’ll forgive me!  Especially if they get to try this frittata.  Molto delizioso! (Which means pretty dang nice in Italian)

Spring is taking its gentle hold on North Wales and the nights are lighter and the sun is making reappearance after a long winter.  Its such a beautiful time of year and we are naturally turning to lighter foods.

This frittata is a brilliant way to use up gorgeous roasted vegetables, either freshly roasted or leftovers.  The other night, after some very posh curry and chips (see below), I pondered how to use the leftover potatoes.  It’s been a while since our last Spain time and I know Jane loved Potato Tortillas so this was a no brainer.  I know the art of romance, surprise frittata!

Posh chips and curry sauce - a Beach House classic made with local organic roasted potatoes and a spicy masala sauce (recipe from Peace & Parsnips) Yumah! Posh chips and curry sauce – a Beach House classic made with local organic roasted potatoes and a spicy masala sauce (recipe from Peace & Parsnips) Yumah!
Roasties!!!!!!!! Roasties!!!!!!!!

A tortilla is basically a Spanish name for an unfolded omelette.  Most people will cook this in a pan and then grill it (this is also called a ‘Frittata’ in Italy or even a ‘Kuku’ in Iran – confused yet?!) but I’ve made it easier, pop it in the oven and all is well.  In fact, omellete’s seem to be a staple in most countries I visit, from North Africa to India, the world loves an omellete.  Making it a vegan delight is quick and easy.  I’ve cooked this for many non-vegans and they love it, a few glugs of olive oil for richness and no misses out on flavour.

Looking good with a plenty of fresh coriander (although parsley is probably slightly more Italian) Looking good with a plenty of fresh coriander (although parsley is probably slightly more Italian)

THATS LUNCH!

Frittata is very happy when paired with a grain salad and some green leaves.  That’s lunch!  I’ve made a little Farro and Canellini Bean Salad, packed with crunch and the wholesome feel of the farro, served with some top salad leaves from our local organic farm.  When the leaves are this good, with amazing vitality, fresh flavour and texture, I just give them a quick rinse and tear them up with my hands.  Finely slicing amazing salad leaves just seems like a waste.  I love to see their shapes.  

Recipe Notes

You can also use this gram flour mix for omelette’s cooked in a pan or as a filling for a vegan quiche or tart.  A baked gram flour pancake in Italy is known as a Farinata and its one of the best things ever.

For a lighter frittata, why not add 1/3 teas baking powder to the gram flour and then stir in the water.

Farro is basically Italian Spelt, meaning that some people who are gluten intolerant can handle it.  If you are off gluten, try using buckwheat or even quinoa.

Due to my intense love of veggies, this salad is light on grains.  I like a high veg ratio in any dish.

Farro and Cannellini Salad Farro and Cannellini Salad – packed with crunch and vitality

The Bits – For 4-6

Frittata

250g roasted potatoes (or similar quantity of any roasted vegetables)

2 small onions

2 tbsp olive oil

¾ teas cumin seeds

½ teas turmeric

150g gram flour

225ml water

1/3 teas salt

Large pinch pepper
Garnish 

½ handful Fresh Coriander or Parsley (finely chopped)

½ handful Crushed Walnuts (optional)

 

Farro and Cannellini Bean Salad

100g faro (I use quick cook type)

1 small kohlrabi (finely diced)

3 handfuls leek (finely sliced)

½ yellow pepper (finely diced)

1 handful toasted pumpkin seeds

1 handful pitted green olives (sliced)

½ lemon (juice)

200g cannellini beans

4 radishes (sliced into thin batons)

1 handful parsley chopped

Couple of pinches of salt and pepper

Very simple salad, torn leaves. No need to mess. Delicious! Very simple salad, torn leaves. No need to mess. Delicious!

Do It

Frittata

Preheat an oven to 200oc.

Grab a 10 inch non-stick baking dish, round looks good but you could always use a square one.  If you are not sure about the non-stickiness of the dish, line it with baking parchment.

Drizzle in a little oil, add the cumin seeds, onions and a couple of pinches of salt.  Toss together and place in the oven.  Roast for 15 minutes, stir, roast again for 10 minutes, stir, roast again for 10 minutes, by this time the onions should be nicely caramelised and golden.  Set aside.

While the onions are in the oven, in a large bowl, add the gram flour along with the turmeric, olive oil and a couple pinches of salt.  Stir together and then gradually pour in the water whilst stirring, until a thick and smooth batter forms.

Add your potatoes to the oven dish, mixing them in with the onions.  Pour over the batter and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the frittata.

Pop in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the frittata is firm and getting nice and golden on top.  Cut into slices and drizzle over a little more olive oil and a sprinkle of coriander/ parsley.  A few toasted walnuts are also delicious.

Serve straight away.

Salad

In a saucepan, bring roughly 1 litre water to a rolling boil, add the farro and simmer for 10-12 minutes.  Until the grains are soft.  Drain and refresh with cold water.  Set aside.

Once the grains have cooled, toss everything together in a big bowl.  Serve with your favourite dressing and ideally, a nice big slab of frittata.

Vegan frittata - ideal and super nutritious Spring lunch Vegan frittata – ideal and super nutritious Spring lunch
My dressing for this was using pomegranate molasses, english mustard and sherry vinegar, with a light olive oil and a touch of salt and maple syrup. My dressing for this was using pomegranate molasses, english mustard and sherry vinegar, with a light olive oil and a touch of salt and maple syrup.  Worked nicely!  

Foodie Fact

Did you know that potatoes are a good source of protein, iron, fibre and vitamin C?  I sometimes overlook how nutritious potatoes are.

Gram or Chickpea flour is another ingredient to get excited about (of you’re that way inclined).  I love using the stuff!  It makes for a brilliant egg replacer, when stirred with a little water, in baking and is sooooooooo versatile.  Helpfully, its also gluten-free and packed with nutrition.  High in

When buying gram flour, it may be called Besan (unroasted) or Chana (roasted) flour.  They both have slightly different flavours.  Chickpea flour has twice the amount of protein that wholewheat flour has and six times the amount of protein compared to white flour.  It is also very high in folates and healthy unsaturated fats and is a good source of vitamin B6, iron and magnesium.

Wales is so beautiful in early spring - taken at Trigonos, Nantlle Valley, North Wales Wales is so beautiful in early spring – taken at Trigonos, Nantlle Valley, North Wales
Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Lunch, Nutrition, Organic, photography, Recipes, Salads, Spring, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

Bok Choi, Orange and Sesame Salad

When the Welsh sun is out and proud, salads suddenly become highly relevant, essential and a playground for all things fresh and seasonal.  They become a palate for vibrant colours and fresh textures.  This recipe has a real taste of South Asia about it, with the chillies, sesame, ginger, orange and tamari.  Certainly a wake up call for the taste buds!  I love to take gorgeous British produce and jazz them up with some global flavours.

We are getting the first stages of our glorious organic veg bounty from the hardworking local growers and its truly a beautiful time of the year!  Spring has bowed out to full on early summer (with the occasional patch of dramatic storms) and things are starting to leap from the ground in the most wonderful ways.  Even our garden is waking up and every fertile day sees growth.

ORGANIC VEG FARMERS ARE REAL HEROS

Tyddyn Teg is back up and running with a new gang of lovely folk at the helm, they even have a facebook page this year! The farm is looking incredible which means we are going to be a busy one in the BHK, in the best possible way.  Loads of fresh and lovely local produce (you can probably tell we’re a bit excited about this!!!)  The farm is 10 acres and a huge under taking.  These guys are real hero’s, nothing to do with money and profit and all to do with integrity, promoting organic farming practices and ensuring folk around here have healthy affordable food.

John and Pippa have been growing organic veggies near Bethel for many years and have taken a well earned step back, it has taken six young people to replace them!  We’ll be showcasing their beautiful produce throughout the year.

BOK CHOI LOVES WALES!

Succulent Bok Choi is something that thrives in poly tunnels up here and we use a lot of it at Trigonos and in the BHK.  Trigonos have many different varities growing at the minute.  My favourite is the crunchy, peppery, purple Mizuna Leaf (surely a close relative?!) a real surprise package in salads and stir fries.  Does anyone really, truthfully, know the real difference between bok and pak?  It’s a size thing no?  I feel that flavour and texture wise, there is very little between the two.  They sound so exotic and yet thrive here in North Wales, as does our brassica buddy Mr Kohlrabi with his alien tendrils.  Its basically a turnip/ cabbage crossed with an extra terrestrial space craft.  Sometimes called a German Turnip.  We love them grated in slaws, roasted whole or just chopped simply into a salad.

THE WANDERERS RETURN

Jane and I’s wandering summer got off to a flying start in Durham and Newcastle this weekend.  We both made talks at the brilliant Vegan Festival Newcastle which took  place in the lovely, historical Assembly Rooms.  We met loads of inspiring people, vegans and non-vegans alike, and really enjoyed our first speaking engagements.  Afterwards we enjoyed a cool drink high above the River Tyne, perched in the Baltic Art Gallery Restaurant.  Newcastle looked glorious with the setting sun and glittering river, even the roaring gangs of stag-do’s seemed to mellow out as the light became richer.

Delicious vegan salad with avocado on toast - Flat White, Durham

Delicious vegan salad with avocado on toast – Flat White, Durham

On Sunday we whizzed over to beautiful Durham (where my family are all from) and spent a morning at Flat White Cafe with the ace Patrick and his gang of merry baristas.  Its such a buzzy little place, tucked in a nook, packed with style and surely the coolest place to enjoy a coffee in the North East of England.  You get a proper mug of intense Americano!

So its been a weekend of meeting kindred spirits and plenty of celebrating so returning to the little Beach House on the hill seemed like a very peaceful, healthy proposition indeed.  This salad certainly brightened things up, its insanely nutritious and fresh.  We are looking forward to more food and chat-based adventures this summer mixed in with our usual raw food month (probably in September this year).  This salad gave us a flavour of what is to come……(minus the toasty sesames!)

Jane and I in Durham at the weekend.  We had a book signing at Flat White Cafe.

Jane and I in Durham at Flat White is Durham, signing books and sipping sensational coffee.

The Bits – For 2

1 large head of Bok Choi (leaves trimmed from the heart)
1 handful red cabbage (finely diced)
1 courgette (cut into long thin slices or thin ribbons using with a French peeler)
1 orange (cut into segments, without pith preferable)
1/2 small red chilli (thinly sliced)
1 tbs fine capers
1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
2 tbs fresh coriander (finely chopped)

Ginger and Orange Dressing
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs orange juice
2 teas cider vinegar
1/2 teas tamari
1/4 teas finely grated ginger
1/2 teas agave syrup
1/4 teas orange zest

Do It

Peel the pith off your orange with a sharp knife, following the shape of the fruit, to leave very little pith.  Then, holding the orange in one hand, gently cutting each segment out, using a sawing motion, just inside the pith of each segment.  When you are finished, squeeze out the juice from the left over orange piece to make your dressing.

In a nice shallow bowl or large plate, scatter your bok choi and then courgette ribbons/ slices and orange.  Sprinkle over the red cabbage, chillies, capers and finally the coriander and sesame seeds.

Whisk up the dressing in a small bowl and drizzle over the salad.

Serve

This crunchy number makes for a very colourful side dish and just by adding a little chopped firm tofu or a handful of nuts and serving with some bread, a brilliant summery main course.  Adding the tofu and nuts are an obvious protein addition to most plant-based dishes, but there are so many ways of getting good, healthy, plant protein onto our plates:

We have oodles of fresh basil at the minute and feel that a couple of handfuls of basil leaves would be quite sensational (and probably highly excessive in a good way!)

Foodie Fact

Sesame seeds have a higher calcium content than milk!  In fact, they are a great source of so much!  Read more nutritional info here.

Random little fact, Myanmar is the top producer of sesame seeds in the world.

Categories: Healthy Eating, Organic, photography, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Summer, Vegan, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Soapnuts – Detergent that grows on trees!

Save the planet one wash at a time!!!!!

We’d like to share with you all the wonders of these miraculous little nobly shells, Soap Nuts.  They are completely biodegradable, hypoallergenic, vegan, organic, chemical and cruelty free.  We love them and you can’t even eat them!  I realise that we normally write about the food that gets our bellies singing, but forgive us a slight deviation from filling our faces with happiness and shift focus to what are, for us at least, the future of household cleaning!!!!!  I know, cleaning is normally not that fascinating, but soap nuts at least make it an environmentally friendly pursuit.

Unfortunately most of the household cleaning products on sale are full of bad things; phosphates, chlorine, petro-chemicals, formaldehyde, parabens and loads of other toxins.  These will all end up in the earth; in our rivers and lakes, negatively affecting animals and nature generally.  This may sound simple, but when it goes down the drain, loo or plughole that is not the end of the story.  Mainly due to the media and the control of large corporations we are constantly sold ‘lifestyles’ that would seem bizarre without things like shampoo, deodorant, washing up powder, anti-bacteria spray, washing up detergent, toothpaste, etc etc (basically whatever they want us to buy).  These products are made by the same companies who have built up this ‘utopian’ way of convenience living and its bogus.  Totally bogus.  You don’t need all this stuff, nature meets all of our needs to live in a healthy and balanced way.  What we found was, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way and when we looked into natural, biological and ecological detergents and cleaners there were long lists of easy to gather bits that we could use effectively in and around the house.  There were so many benefits to switching to eco and soapnuts are certainly one of the stars!

ECO/BIO SOLUTION TO REPLACING CLEANING CHEMICALS

Soapnuts are natures answer to all of our household cleaning jobs.  They are cheap to buy, easy to use and totally non-toxic.  Soapnuts are very versatile and when you use them, there is no need to buy lots of different household cleaning products…… admittedly this is starting to sound like a corny advert, but its true!  When we started using soapnuts, we became quite excited, it seem like we had found a natural way of keeping our house clean and tidy and the fact that it was nasty chemical free meant that the waste water from washing dishes or clothes could be used on the garden, cutting down dramatically on waste water (a standard washing machine uses 50 litres of water per wash!!!!!!!)  I am sensitive to most chemicals and when I touch pretty much any household cleaner I get a reaction, of course with soapnuts, no probs.  They are brilliant for folk with allergies.

Soapnuts

Soapnuts in their raw state

WHAT ARE SOAP NUTS?

They’re the dried shells of the Soap Berry tree.  The Saponin (natural soap element) is contained in the shells and these are harvested after they fall naturally from the trees.  Linen cloths are spread under the trees and farmers wait for big gust of wind I’d imagine.  The shells are dried in the sun after being removed from the berry, this berry can be replanted, aiding reforestation.  Most soapnuts are freighted by ship to the UK making it better for the environment (although still not ideal of course).  Soap nuts are processed without the use of chemicals of any kind.

SCIENCE BIT

When soap nuts are agitated (boiled or scrubbed) they release saponin which is the detergent part, breaking down the surface tension between water and oil, making things clean.  This is the same process that most detergents create, but soapnuts does it all without bubbles (which is a shame because we quite like bubbles), synthetic chemicals and weird/ alien fragrances.  The bubbles and fragrances that we associate with detergent products do not make things cleaner, they are just  the frilly bits that we have become accustomed to.

Soap nuts are completely cool with our environment, no phosphates here, so lakes, river, frogs, fish and algae are all unaffected by our washing up and clothes washing.

P1060361

Soap Nuts – pre-boil

NATURAL STAIN REMOVER

If you’re looking for a potent household stain remover look no further than white wine vinegar and bicarb of soda.  Together they form a natural, affordable and generally available answer to tough stain removal, without using poisons like bleach et al.  If you soak clothes in 2 cups of bicarb of soda and 2 cups of white wine vinegar with some tepid water your clothes will be shining after a good wash.  You can also add this concoction to your washing machine to add extra poke to your soapnuts, put 1 tbs of white wine vinegar and 1 tbs of bicarb of soda in the drawer of your washing machine and BHAM!  Spotless results everytime, say goodbye to those pasta sauce splatters.

USING SOAP NUTS

There are a variety of ways that soapnuts can be used in the hoose.  We buy ours from Living Naturally and they send you a small muslin bag with the soapnuts inside.  This bag can be used in the washing machine, you simply pop a few soapnuts in the bag and let the washing machine do its thing.  You can do this in any type of washing machine and they work on any fabric.  Another great advantage is that they work at low temperatures, around 30oC will do nicely.  You may need to use more soapnuts if you live in a hardwater area.  As mentioned above, you can collect the ‘grey’ (waste) water at the end and use it on your garden.  You can also hand-wash clothes using the soapnut liquid (see below) instead of detergent, 1-2 cups is enough for one bucket of washing.

Soap nuts are also great when you’re travelling, pop a few in your bag and use in warm water.  Add your clothes and leaves them to soak for a while.  Then give them a good wash and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the earth-friendly results.

Soap nuts need no additonal softener, they actually act as a natural softener.

P1060397

Soap Nut Liquid – Ready for action!

OTHER AMAZING WAYS OF SOAP NUTTING

Multi-Purpose Spray Cleaner – Fill a standard sized spray bottle with 400ml soap nut liquid, 100ml white wine vinegar, 20 drops lavender essential oil, 20 drops tea tree essential oil, 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, 10 drops of peppermint oil.  Make your house shine and smells ace.  Essential oils are optional and of course, can be a little costly.  We dribble in the oils we have handy.

Pet Wash – Pour 100ml of soap nut liquid into a blend and blend until frothy.  Use on your cheeky pooch or friendly goat or animal of your choice.  Soap nuts act as a natural pest inhibitor; fleas, lice etc don’t like it so stay away!  No scratchy pets, hoorrayyyy!!!!

Organic Pesticide – The same applies to plants, pests don’t like it so fill a spray bottle with soap nut liquid and add 10 drops of neem, eucalytus, peppermint, geranium and lavender oils and you have a perfectly natural pesticide that does the job.

Watering the Garden – Use leftover water from washing up or from your washing machine on the garden.  It will have bits of food (mini compost hit) and bits of soap nut (mini pesticide hit).  Its just all good!!!

Soap Nut Liquid Recipe

Boil 50g of soapnuts in pan with 1 litre of water for 25 minutes.  Leave to cool and strain into a suitable bottle.  This makes roughly 500ml of soapnut liquid.

Add the leftover soapnuts back to the pan with another litre of water and boil again, you can repeat this process 3 times at least making 2 litres of chemical free detergent.  Nice one!!!!  Store the soapnut liquid in a fridge.

If you would like a fragrant detergent, simply add essential oils to the liquid or to the bag before you pop into the washing machine.   The essential oils mentioned above are helpful, especially as they have anti-bacterial properties.

If you’d like to buy some soap nuts, we find these guys helpful and they can deliver all over the UK.  Not sure about the rest of the world guys, but I’m sure you’ll find some locally on the web.  If you are lucky enough to live in India, just go out and pick some!  When we are travelling around India we always have a healthy stash of fresh picked S.N’s in our backpacks, keeping us quite clean and tidy.

At present, we are only using 1% of the total worldwide soapnut crop.  There is huge potential there to utilised this brilliant resource and save vast amounts of potentially harmful household waste affecting the environment.  In one swift shift towards the wonderful soap nut, we are cleaner and greener!

The only downside of Soap Nuts is they do travel a long way to get to rural Wales.  Does anybody know of an natural detergent alternative that can be sourced closer to home?

Jane has a new blog and has just been writing about a similar subject that most of don’t even think about.  It relates to needless household waste which could have a drastic impact on our environment in the near future.  Find out more The Moon and The Womb.

Our friend Yolanda over at the Byzantine Flowers blog writes extensively about ecological replacements for household cleaners etc, here’s a great article about natural, organic pest control remedies, one of many.

All info taken from the great guys at Living Naturally, they have a large range of soap nut variations from shampoos to fancy bath stuff.

PS – We support folk like ‘Living Naturally’ because they supply brilliant products, not because we get sent freebies.  Just thought we’d clear that up.    

 

Categories: Healthy Living, Organic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Trio of Simple Organic Summer Salads

Aloe Vera Plant

Only naked and fresh veggies here!  Food for the sun.  When the produce is this good, you don’t want to mess with it too much.  The flavours of these veggies are amazing, we are so privileged to live in an area with some serious vegetable growing heroes living close by.

We are getting veg from two local farms over the hill and have recently been picking up a veg box from another farm.  We are suddenly inundated with incredible produce and can think of no better way of eating it than raw.  Bring on the salads!

Local food is fresher and contains more nutrients due to this, we also like to support these amazing folk who are dedicated to the land.  These salads are simple and contain only a few ingredients.  Its what you’ll find us eating most days.  Adding less ingredients to food makes the nutrients in food easier for the body to digest and use.

Our garden has taken a beating recently with the ‘summer’ storms, the wind is raging out there as I type these words.  Leaves whizz by at right angles and the rocket is blown flat to the ground.  The slugs have also had a field day out there, I can only hope they enjoyed what they ate.  We have been harvesting some lovely red potatoes and a little rainbow chard, but really, the garden had been a steep learning curve this year.  Next year, we are full of hope and fresh ideas to fortify our garden from these vicious Welsh elements.  Having spoken to local farmers, it has been the worst growing season for 20 years, so a meagre crop is understandable.  So we need some help!

Doing my best for the leeks

I’ve been working like a trooper of late, no time to cook food at the BHK.  I needed plenty of shiny food and nutrition to keep me going and Jane has stepped in and has been making the most fantastic raw food delights.  These salads, that we ate last night for dinner, were for me the pick of the bunch.  Simple and tasty with a wonderful dressing.

I have a habit of throwing things together and letting a little bit of experience and my taste buds sort out the rest, Jane is brilliant at following recipes and measurements.  This is important with some parts of cookery, namely baking and it would appear dressings.  This dressing was perfectly balanced, with the warm edge of mustard and a good amount of honeyed sweetness.

Thinly sliced veggies

Thinly Sliced Veggies

Some may call this a ‘carpaccio’, but really it’s just a stunning way to serve veggies as a salad.  Get your nicest plate out of the cupboard, some amazing veggies and slice thinly and arrange.  Viola!

The Bits

We used our one each of our local organic farms courgette, beetroot, broccoli and a organic yellow pepper.  Any combination of hard vegetables will do, if you are conscious of presentation, maybe mix up the colours a little.

Tomato and Basil Heaven

Tomato and Basil Heaven

For this you must have the finest tomatoes available.  These red/green tomatoes came with our veggie box and completely blew us away.  They grow in poly tunnels and god knows what else!  They are insanely tasty and needed just a few torn basil leaves which are blooming on the windowsill and a splash of olive oil.

The Bits

2 handfuls of amazing tomatoes, meagre handful of torn basil leaves, a splash  of great olive oil and sea salt and pepper if you must.

Carrots and Almonds

Carrots and Almonds

The sweetness of these carrots and almonds goes perfectly with the sweet mustard dressing.

The Bits

3 wonderful large carrots (scrubbed, not peeled), 1/3 head of broccoli (broken into little pieces, use the stalk and leaves), 1 handful of raw almonds, thinly sliced red onion and yellow pepper.

Sweet Mustard Dressing

Shake all ingredients together in an old jam jar, they are also handy to keep your dressing in afterwards.

The Bits

1 teas English Mustard, 2 teaspoons clear honey, 1 tbs lemon juice, 4 tablespoons rapeseed oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper.

There is so little work in getting these together, we hardly need a ‘Do It’ section.  More time to soak up some rays with your loved ones.

Serve

All veggies are best served at just under room temp, we used the dressing on the Carrot and Almonds and Thinly Sliced Veggies, the tomatoes needed no additions nonsense.

We Love It!

Magic veggies deserve to be eaten in all their glory i.e. naked and fresh!

Foodie Fact

Why buy organic/ local?  Food loses nutrition when shipped and kept, so the more local fresh food you consume the better for you and your community in general.  Organic veggies actually contain no more nutrients that conventionally grown, but they are clean and contain no pesticides (or poisons).  Organic practices enrich the earth and by not using chemicals and GM techniques, ensure the fertility of the earth for future generations.  Also, people who grow organically are normally lovely people to visit for tea!

Categories: Organic, Recipes, Salads, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beach House Garden – Summer Update

The Beach House Garden

Well there has been little summer to speak of really. The clouds parted today, so I went outside and took a few pictures, but really this summer has been very strange.  Even the old timers down the farm say they cannot fathom what is going on.  The soil should be warm and it is cold and damp, meaning the plants don’t know what to do.

White Rose

Our lonesome Kori Squash and Rainbow Kale

We have had a few minor successes, mainly down to raiding our neighbours horse field for massive piles of poo.  It’s like magic dust. One sprinkle and the plants shoot up. The potatoes love this environment and sprang up, they are just starting to flower and we may have a look soon to see if we have any tasty little tubers.

The Potato Patch

Rampant Foxglove

 

 

After an epic battle with slugs and snails, we have managed to get one squash plant through the madness. We have been trying all sorts, beer traps, gravel and jagged rocks, I have been on many stealth nighttime missions to snatch them off our precious green friends. Sometimes it felt like a losing battle, but now things are established and semi-blooming, all these efforts seem worthwile. The squash is growing nicely and we hope to have our first Welsh kori squash soon. Beetroots, rainbow kale, runner beans and hannibal leeks are all holding in there.

The Beetroot Jungle

Flowering Succulents

We have also diversified in the herb garden, with some different types of thyme and our new favourite, ginger mint. A wonderful thing that has its own bed to go wild in. We have been loving wandering out to the herb garden and cutting our own fresh herbs. A real cooks treat (even in the howling gales).
We think it will be a late summer (we hope!) and in late September, we will be cooking with our first batch of Beach House Veg. We will keep you posted.

Beauty Beets

Kori Squash and Runner Beans

Tomato plants (hiding in the green cupboard)

 

Categories: Garden, Healthy Living, Organic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Sweet Pepper and Pomegranate Antipasto (Raw)

Raw Sweet Pepper and Pomegranate Antipasto

We felt like a little starter, something to nibble on.  Nibbles seem to be the new thing, judging by the snack section in our local supermarket.  We seem to becoming a nation of rampant nibblers (dipped in hummus of course).

Italians are the kings of the nibble, tied with the Spanish, but they tend to make it more of main meal, a la tapas.  Antipasto (translated as ‘before the meal’) is always the perfect accompaniment to nice glass of chilled something and good conversation as the sun is beginning to settle down.

This raw June (just passed) we have been mainly having large salads for dinner.  We didn’t manage to arrange a dehydrator for the month, which would have meant many dried, crisp goodies.  Instead we have normally opted for large bowls of salad, normally a green leaf based salad, a dip/ hummus/ raw cheese (something with a creamy texture), olives/nuts/pomegranate etc and one salad that is made of primarily harder fruit and veg (like this antipasto).  All this served with a lovely dressing.  The combination of these salads is tantalising!  We cannot get enough of them and have decided to extend raw June in the future……………our rawness may never cease!?

This is a clean and citrus antipasto dish that boasts fresh, fresh flavours.  The ideal pre-dinner plate to get the palate zinging.  The combination of sweet pepper, tomato and pomegranate is a taste explosion that is difficult to match.  If this little plate doesn’t liven up a dinner party, your friends may be comatosed!

The asparagus here was the last of the season from our local farm shop and very much relished.  It is not essential to the dish, but a real treat non-the-less.  The subtle flavour and crunch of raw asparagus will be missed until it re-emerges next year.

You can serve this with other antipasto favourites to make a platter, olives, artichoke hearts, chunks of cheese, marinated mushrooms etcetc.

Organic peppers and tomatoes will make all of the difference to this dish and your salads in general.  The organic veg flavour is infinitely better.

Thanks to Mimi Kirk and the brilliant ‘Live Raw‘ book for inspiration here.  If you live on a drab island like ours (where June resembles November) it is wonderful to leaf through the pages of this book and see the Holywood lifestyle and sunshine!  How I miss the sun.

Sweet, sweet tomatoes

The Bits

Antipasto 1 red pepper (sliced thinly), 1 yellow pepper (sliced thinly), 1 bunch of asparagus (cut into batons), 1 small pomegranate (seeds (or arils as they are called) only, no pith), 1 big handful of the sweetest plum tomatoes (we used red and yellow ones here)

Marinade – 4 tbs good olive oil, handful of fresh basil leaves, 1-2 cloves of garlic (crushed), a pinch of marjoram, oregano, thyme, basil, juice of 1 small lemon, 2 teas capers, pinch of sea salt and cracked pepper.

Do It

Whisk your marinade then combine all ingredients in a tupperware and mix together gently, don’t break up the asparagus and tomatoes.  Make sure all is coated with the marinade.  Leave in a fridge overnight or for at least a couple of hours to infuse.

Sweet Pepper and Asparagus Antipasto – So colourful, its worth a second look

Serve

On a nice big serving platter with whatever accompaniments you prefer.  You may like to add a little torn basil leaf as a topping and of course, some nice toasted ciabatta drizzled with olive oil if it takes your fancy.

We Love It!

It is so full of crunchy flavour and pomegranate in a salad is a revelation.  I’m not sure if my Italian friend would agree with such an addition, not proper antipasto they would say, but they only know what mama taught them!!!!  (Sorry guys)

Foodie fact

Most of us are aware that pomegranate is good for us.  You can buy it in juice form all over Britain, it is most definitely a super fruit of note, packed full of the antioxidant punicalagin which scavenges free radicals from our bodies.  Hooray!  One of my favourite pomegranate products is the pomegranate concentrate, it adds an incredibly intense flavour to anything it touches.

The worlds finest pomegranates are grown in southern Afghanistan, although I heard that Iraq had some tasty arils also!

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Lunch, Organic, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

‘The Dirty Dozen’ – The 12 worst foods to buy non-organic

Organic produce

I find it quite alarming that most fruits and vegetables grown that are not classed organic are covered with all sorts of chemicals which are of detriment to our health.  With long term exposure to such chemicals, namely pesticides, we can develop serious illness.  They cannot be washed off or peeled away, they absorb into the fruits and veg and then into our bodies.  The elderly and young are most effected by this.

I realise we cannot all be super healthy, uber organic munching beings.  We normally lead hard lives in a difficult situations and mostly live in very polluted cultures/societies, this relates to physical pollution (the air we breath, what we choose to eat and drink….) and also the mental pollution that we tolerate and consume via the media and skewed social norms that do not promote health, love and vitality.  Many of these social norms seem to be leading us away from happiness and our connection with nature and each other.

A few people have mentioned to me that man only developed into a sophisticated being (that’s what we are!?!) when he began cooking and eating meat in prehistory.  So why revert to a plant based diet?  I believe we have come a long way since then!!!!  We certainly have more choices than a caveman would, more science at our disposal and a better understanding of nutrition.  What we eat affects our entire being, it is not just fuel for the body to feed of, it can be an inspiration experience, a opportunity to be creative.  Food, and the enjoyment of it, is a life long passion that can brighten every day.  Eating food that is made with love is a huge step towards a healthy existence, this food must also be grown with care and love.

We will all get ill at some stage of life, this is for certain.  The choices that Jane and I are making now are not only based on a more vibrant lifestyle and a greater sense of vitality, but on putting a few extra miles on the clock.  Giving ourselves a better chance of enjoying our later years and experimenting with our bodies whilst we are young and in our prime(ish).

I may sound like a broken record here, but it is VERY important.  We are what we eat…….   Industrialised farming techniques and major pesticide corporations are definitely not your friend.  Moving to a vegetarian diet is a step in the right direction for the environment (plant based foods, on average, us five times less land and generate ten times less CO2 emissions than animal based foods).  It can also be a great choice healthwise.

The next major step that we face is trying to control our own food supply.  If we can take control of the food we buy and educate ourselves about how it is produced, we begin to change the way that we eat and view food in general.  We make a statement to the food producers that we will not tolerate substandard food that harms us and has little or no nutritional value or flavour.

Seasonal, organic produce has a greater concentration of nutrients, meaning less is more!  You only need a smaller portion and your body is satisfied.  Non-organically produce foods can have as much as 50% less vitamins and minerals present as organically grown ones.

If we accept rubbish produce, they will keep feeding us rubbish produce.  If we demand better, we will inevitably get better.  This is the wonderful power that us modern day consumers have.  Demand the best for yourself and the planet.  Most people take better care of their cars than their bodies!  Give yourself the best fuel possible and you will run on and on and……………

The way that we spend and direct out pounds/dollars/yen/rupees makes all the difference.  It is one of our greatest methods of influencing our societies which are increasingly controlled by large, profit hungry corporations/governments (the difference has become negligible).

This post is not designed to put anyone off eating vegetables and fruit!  It is a platform for information, produced by an independent research body, that will assist you in making an informed choice the next time you hit the market or shop.

I found the below information useful when trying to balance the cost of shopping organic with the potential moral and health factors of not buying certain organic produce.  The truth is, in our location, we cannot always buy organic, it is too costly and sometimes unavailable.  We don’t worry about some non-organic produce slipping onto our plate, life’s to short!  But we much prefer the ‘good stuff’, mainly due to the ethics of the people who decide to produce organically.  They are our kind of folk.

Below is a list of produce that you should try to buy organically, due to the high levels of pesticides used to grow them by non-organic means:

Fruits

Apples, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, strawberries

Vegetables

Bell peppers, carrots, celery, lettuce, all root vegetables.

And here are some foods with lower amounts of pesticides:

Fruits

Avocado, kiwi, mango, tomato, papaya, pineapple, watermelon

Vegetables

Asparagus, broccoli, corn, cabbage, aubergine, onion, sweet peas.

(Taken from the raw food book ‘Live Raw’ by Mimi Kirk)

I genuinely believe a good diet is one of the primary steps to making the world a better place to be and buying organic (or demanding organic!) is a choice well worth making.

Wishing long and healthy lives for you allXXXXX

Categories: 'The Good Life', G.M. Food, Healthy Eating, Local food, Nutrition, Organic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Why are we raw this June!

Raw June is here for the Beach House.  Jane and I are going cold veggie (and fruit) for the entire month and we both cannot wait to get going.

It really has come around quickly this 100% raw/vegan June adventure.  We have both been working quite a bit lately and have had less time to plan for the big plunge than we would have liked, hence the lack of any ‘build-up’ posts.  As with most things, we’re going straight in there!

I have a strange excitement in the pit of my stomach and I don’t know why.  I know that I will feel alot better and have bags more energy, focus and vitality, but there is the feeling that this could be something very big in my life.  It could be a huge lifestyle change for the better, no matter how unconventional it is and no matter how many people call me a ‘weirdo’  (there have been quite a few already) I going for this new diet and looking forward to experimenting with my body and mind in a good way.  We are what we eat, well, we shall see.

The main reason for eating raw is that cooking kills nutrients in food.  Vitamin C and B are heat sensitive, enzymes are also destroyed when food is cooked, which are essential to the function of the body.  If enzymes are not replenished in the body, we can age quickly and loss health.  Raw foods have been used for years to treat ailments and illness, most famously by Dr Ann Wigmore,who set up the Hippocrates Health Institute.  The truth is that we are exposed to more pollutants than previous generations and our food has less nutrients, even organic food is grown on soil that is less rich than is was in previous times (normally due to bad farming techniques).

Ecologically, if we all ate more raw foods there would be a relief on the planets resources.  No cooking conserves energy, there is less packaging (hopefully non) with raw foods, there are no emissions created no processing, the waste is compostable and biodegradable, meaning no rubbish.

Below is the Raw Food Pyramid (thanks to the Almost Raw Vegan for this), this replaces the average diet with meat, dairy etc and will give you an idea of what we will be munching on in June.  We are eating no dairy, refined foods, wheat etc and no alcohol or caffeine.   Our diet will consist of many different types of salads, smoothies and juices and another host of interesting raw foods that you will seldom find, especially in the UK where raw food is still a relatively new thing.  In the States and Australia for example, raw food seems to be very popular.  Many people say that raw food will become the new vegetarianism for this generation, I have already seen restaurants with raw options on the menu.

We have always eaten alot of raw food, we just didn’t necessarily call it ‘raw’, just a salad or a smoothie. We will try and be as close to 100% raw as possible, but aren’t really too fussy about things.  We’ll still be drinking herbal teas and if our new lovely looking olive oil is not certified raw, we’ll still use it.  The same goes for nuts, seeds, dried fruits, pastes etc which are all borderline raw foods.  We love these items too much and deem their nutritional values to be too important to eliminate from our diet.

We hope to open a few people’s eyes, minds and palates to the joys of raw food.  Raw food is nutrient rich, meaning you don’t need to eat or digest as much.  When you are eating a bag of crisps, or packet of biscuits, the reason you are not getting full is because they are devoid of nutrients.  Your body needs the right fuel!  A raw diet puts that fuel in and makes it readily available.  We have had a few days almost raw already and the we have been buzzing!  I went for my normal jog and needed to extend it a little, up the mountain.  I couldn’t stop!  With raw food, your body needs less energy for digestion, which can be utilised in other beneficial ways.

The body has clearly define cycles or natural rhythms:

12pm-8pm  Digestion cycle

8pm-4am  Absorption cycle

4am – 12pm  Elimination cycle

The raw diet will help to cleanse our system of toxins and bring us into balance.  After gradually eating healthier for a number of years (we are not just diving in here, we have been eating well for a while now)  my body is quite sensitive to toxins and rich foods.  I sometimes get what is called a food ‘hangover’ after a cheese or chocolate binge, I will be glad to be free of them.  Raw food is devoid of toxins and packed with nutrients.  There is a popular raw slogan, ‘stop counting calories and start counting nutrients’.  It makes perfect sense to me that what we eat has a profound effect on our bodies and minds.  What we consume affects us on ways that we cannot see or know.  Raw food seems like a stepping stone for me to a greater understanding of my body and what makes me tick, what makes me truly happy.

Raw food will also free up so much time, as I mentioned we are both busy this summer with work, so not cooking will allow us to do other things.  The garden is definitely looking like it needs some TLC.

We will be taking alot of inspiration from our fellow bloggers of the cyber world and also have some good books.  ‘Eat Smart, Eat Raw’ by Kate Wood being one of the main ones.  Written by a Brit for British folk, mainly important because we don’t have the plethora of fruits and veggies that many countries enjoy.  We also have the long cold, dark winters, where soup is our best friend and a chilled smoothie seems like a difficult proposition.

We will be supplementing our diets with a few superfood-type bits.   Jane picked up some Barley Grass at the health food shop and that is supposed to be super charged stuff.  We will also be drinking propolis daily, which is a bee resin with amazing properties.  We’ll be writing about it soon.  We will also be sure to drink plenty of water, as this seems to be important no matter what foods you are eating.  Become more fluid!  It is worth noting that many mineral waters are not organic and the best water you can drink is water that has been treated by reverse osmosis, this is pure H2O.  You should also not drink water, or any liquid with meals, as it affects digestion and absorption (diluting stomach acids).

So we are going out in a blaze of intoxication tonight.  We said we wouldn’t, but we are.  It is a relatively decadent evening with some smoked stilton with sparkling wine planned, followed by some of the finest chocolate I have ever tasted (post coming soon..).

Raw June, a time when we in the Beach House gain a greater awareness and respect for the foods we eat and the bodies we inhabit;  a time when we gain a new insight into the world of nutrition and the impact it has on us.

Jane and I are both very positive about all of this, which we feel is crucial, as our mental state has a more profound effect on our health than anything else.

Happy Days!

Categories: Blogs, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Organic, Raw Food, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Pineapple and Blueberry Juice

Pineapple and Blueberries make happy

This mornings juice worked out a treat.  The sun is out again, which is a rarity and always cherished.  All the windows and doors are open as the Beach House breathes in the warm air.  It has been a long cold winter, we need all the sun we can get!

There has been a pineapple ripening on the window ledge for weeks now, getting nice and sweet, waiting for just such a day; when we can close our eyes and outside, drift off with the birdsong.  Maybe imagine that there are palm trees swaying above us and pineapples grow freely in the next field.  Instead its a fuchsia bush and potatoes that grow, but I wouldn’t change it.

I had the good fortune to stumbled across some luscious looking  organic blueberries (unfortunately not from this island) which will complement our lovely tropical friend, adding their vivid dark colour and nutrients to proceedings.

I  started the Magimix up and here the rest is here:

The Bits

Half a pineapple chopped into chunks, two good handfuls of blueberries.

Do It

Stick it in the Magimix, blueberries first, followed by the pineapple.  We always juice like this, always dense and concentrated first, followed by something juicy/ watery.   You will get better extraction of juices.

Pineapple and Blueberry Juice

Serve

Your favourite wine glasses!

Foodie Fact 

To grow pineapples all you need to do is chop off the top and plant it!  It does take years to grow (which heightens my respect for the fruit) and very tropical conditions.  Our pineapple tops add a tropical flavour to our compost bin!

Buster takes in some sun

 

Categories: Breakfast, Garden, Healthy Eating, Juices, Organic, Raw Food, Recipes, Relax, Vegan, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beach House Egg Benedict with Asparagus

Morning bluebell

This is our version of the famous Waldorf Hotel breakfast dish.  It was originally created by a man named Benedict (surprisingly!) who wanted something to cure his hangover.  I have almost completely changed the dish, made it a healthier delight, and served it for supper.

That seems to be the BHK style, take a classic and meddle with it until it is almost unrecognisable!

Asparagus is a very beautiful thing, so fleeting, which makes you appreciate it more. I have recently looked into growing them and it really is a labour of love. They are quite tricky and only give you good spears after a few years. Hootons Homegrown have been selling some delicious packs of asparagus, so we’ve been using it in many recipes. Simply pan-fried is my favourite and topped with a local egg makes it something rather special.

This is a gorgeous light dinner or lunch and quick to prepare. The layered effect and combination of creamy dressing, runny egg and crispy vegetables give it a ‘complete’ restaurant dish feel. We added a little toasted oat bread for some ‘packing’. We’ve been in the garden for most of the day, doing loads of seeding and planting; transplanting and spreading of horse manure. We needed a good feed.

We loved to use the last of our wild garlic here, picked from the roadsides of Anglesey. The extent of our foraging consisted of opening the car door and leaning out. Not exactly Ray Mears, but just as satisfying. Who doesn’t appreciate a little free food?

Broccoli Florets

The Bits
Glug of olive oil, half a handful of pumpkin seeds, 1 big handful chopped wild garlic, 1 big handful chopped mint, half a large head of broccoli, 5 handfuls of spinach leaves, 1 large handful cherry tomatoes, splash of water.
Bunch of whole asparagus spears (take of the tough tails, normally one inch from base)
Mixed salad leaves
2 free range, organic eggs (with vivid yolks)
For the Dressing
(these measurements are slightly larger than a teaspoon)
1 teas honey, 1 teas dijon mustard, 4 teas olive oil, 1 teas white wine vinegar, salt + pepper (s+p), 4 teas creamy natural yoghurt.

Do It
Make dressing, add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix together thoroughly. Taste and adjust to how you like it (sweeter, saltier, not quite mustardy enough, more bite, smoother etc).
In a large saucepan, on a medium heat warm the olive oil then add your pumpkin seeds, roast for a few minutes until slightly golden, then add the cherry tomatoes and scorch a little, then add the wild garlic then broccoli.  Add a splash of water (roughly 2 tbs). Season with s+p. Cook for a couple of minutes then add spinach and mint.  Put to the side with the lid on, keeping warm.  This will steam the broccoli.
In a separate small saucepan, bring some salted water to the boil with a splash of white wine vinegar and poach your eggs (crack them into a tea cup and pour low and gentle into boiling water for a neater shape).
As that is happening, heat a glug of olive oil in a small frying pan and flash fry the asparagus spears for three minutes. Do not overcook, they should be nice and crunchy. You may add a splash of truffle oil here, if you are feeding people you love very dearly. It’s a decadent touch.
Give your salad leaves a quick wash and drain.

Beach House Benedict

Serve
Place a flat pile of green salad on your serving plate, add the broccoli and wild garlic fricassee (posh word for something fried), then spoon over the dressing, top with a neat pile of asparagus spears and place the egg on top and season with a little s+p. We had it with a piece of toasted oat bread.

We Love It!
Jane loved it so much she actually licked the plate clean! It wasn’t pretty!

Foodie Fact

Asparagus has been enjoyed by folk for thousands of years and has also been used for its medicinal properties.

Asaparagus is brilliant for digestion and helps to regulate our blood sugar levels.  It also contains very high levels of Vitamin K.

Categories: Dinner, Dressings, Garden, Healthy Eating, Local food, Lunch, Organic, Recipes, Welsh produce, Wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunbeam Fruit Salad

Blooming great rhododendrons. It’s finally May!

The perfect fruit salad!?

Impossible to tell really, but it certainly hit our spots.

This is not what you would call a seasonal wonder, more a bargain basement bonanza!!!  This is a salad for when you have a glut of fruit that needs eating soon.  Its totally OTT and befitting of my birthday weekend, when excess is embraced.

This fruity number is very delicious and perfect for this morning in wonderful Wales.  It’s a glorious day, full of sunbeams, the birds are singing and Buster (a cat) is lounging in the herb garden.  Everybody is out in their gardens, wondering what on earth to do.  You realise the importance of our sun when it is hidden behind grey clouds for many months.  When it returns, it has an incredible effect on people; they go outside, they begin to re-connect with the light (sun).  We all start shining!

We have this type of salad most mornings, a mixture of fruit and vegetables topped by a thick smoothie.  It keeps us going for most of the day, brimmed full of goodness.   Jane and Mum went shopping this weekend (Mum was visiting for my birthday, which was an amazing time, the best birthday I’ve had since I was 9 years old and organised a mass football match on the local park and had a cake shaped like the FA cup) and chanced upon some amazing bargains in the fruit section.  Organic blueberries, apricots etc for 20p a pack!  Its capitalism gone mad!    We have not seen fruit like this for many, many months and their return has a similar effect to the return of our beautiful sunshine.

Top tip – I have been making these beauty salads for a while now and if there is one tip that I would offer to you lovely people it is this, use a clean board.  Sounds obvious, but the slightest hint of garlic or onion on a board can spell disaster for the subtle flavours of your fruits.  We have a separate board for all things fruit.

If you think that mixing fruit and vegetables in salad is a little weird, perhaps it is, but it is delicious.  Carrots are very sweet and celery has a lovely mild flavour.  They both add real bite to proceedings.

The Pear and Peanut smoothie topping recipe will follow on the next post.  This makes enough for two massive bowls.

Bumble bees get busy with bluebells

The Bits

We used our selection of fruit and veg here, but you can of course have a play and use what is in season or any good stuff that you can get your hands onto.  Mix in seeds/ nuts for added crunch and texture, a citrus fruit to add a little tang, the addition of flax seeds really helps your digestion:

2 apricots (de-pipped and diced), 1 big handful of blueberries, 1 apple (diced), 1 pear (diced), 1 orange (peeled and diced), 2 kiwis (peeled and diced), 3 carrots (chopped), 2 sticks of celery (chopped), 1/2 handful of roasted sunflower seeds, 2 tbs flax seeds, 1/2 handful of roasted hazelnuts, 1 handful of chopped mint (chopped)

Do It

Grab your favourite salad bowl, chop all bits up into your favourite shapes, mix then all in gently and top with your smoothie (see next post).  Serve liberally with smiles.

Serve

In bowls of the size that befit the mouths to feed.  In the Beach House, this means big bowls!

The Sunbeam Fruit Salad

We Love It!

Really, what’s not to like here!  The perfect way to start the day.

Foodie Fact 

Blueberries are a sign from nature that snacking has always been OK.  They are one of the original grab and go foods!!!!  Served straight from the bush.  I am so glad to have these back in my life, they are real burst of incredible nutrition.  I love their dark colour, it adds brilliant contrast to any dish it touches.

They contribute amazingly to our health, that dark purple colour is thanks to some wonder pigments that are full of antioxidants.   They contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants in the plant world.  They limit free radical activity and actually regulate our blood sugar levels.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Breakfast, Garden, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Organic, photography, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Snacks and Inbetweens | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Homemade Ricotta with Wild Garlic and Mint

Wild garlic and mint

I realise that I write regularly about making my own cheese.  It is something that I am quite fascinated by.  I have tried yoghurt and using live cultures etc, but it is difficult, especially due to the fluctuating temperature of our cottage (we only have a wood burning stove for heat) and the temperamental weather (British weather is utterly mental).  Live cultures etc don’t seem to like this, they are sensitive sorts.

Making ricotta requires non of this effort.  It is a fail safe method of making your own gorgeous cheese.  Not complex or pungent, but super smooth and creamy.  Every time.

This is a simple technique.  I would advise you seek out good quality, organic milk for best results.  Once you try it, you will not want to go back to the shop bought variety.  This is a real homemade treat that takes no time at all and actually saves you money.

I have mixed a few fresh herbs in here.  We had just picked some wild garlic, we took a wrong turn on Anglesey and ended up driving through a field of the stuff! The mint is beautiful looking, grown by the good people at Hooton’s Homegrown.  I walked into the kitchen this morning and was greeted by the wonderful aroma of these two and could not resist combining them with the cheese.

Ricotta means ‘recooked’ in Italian and is a so versatile.  It goes well in savoury and sweet dishes.  I love it with some warm oat bread and honey and it makes a delicious base for pasta sauces, we have also used it with dark chocolate for dessert (see here).   This ricotta recipe is excellent as it can be stirred directly into warm pasta.  It is basically a great thing to have in the fridge.

I am sure that this is one of those cooking techniques that you will use again and again. You can even make paneer, just use the same method but use a semi skimmed milk (the ricotta uses whole milk).  See a recipe here on the brilliant Kolpona cuisine blog.

There is no waste here.  After the curds have formed, drink the whey.  This is packed full of good protein.  It’s the same stuff those muscle bound freaks buy for inflated prices (and biceps!).  The whey can also be used in cooking, its great in stews, soups and even breads.

Cheesecloth had always eluded me.  I had heard of this mythical fabric but never owned any.  I have resorted to all sorts of strange methods to compensate for it.  I mentioned this to Jane and in her ever thoughtful fashion, she bought some in a little shop somewhere in Yorkshire.  I am now the proud owner of a metre square.  Thank you honey!

The Bits

1 litre of good whole fat milk (makes enough for a decent sized ball), juice of 1 lemon or 2 tbs cider vinegar (or any distilled vinegar), 1 teas sea salt, 1 handful of wild garlic, 1 handful of fresh mint, 1 piece of muslin/ cheese cloth.

Homemade ricotta with wild garlic and mint

Do It

Heat the milk in a pan gently until it is steaming and small bubbles are forming around the edges, do not boil.  Add the lemon juice of vinegar, then stir a couple of times to mix.  Take off the heat and leave for 5 minutes, allowing the curds to form.  Line a medium sieve with your cheese cloth and place over a bowl.  Gently pour the milk/ cheese through the sieve and allow to drain.

Making the cheese

The longer you leave it to drain, the drier the cheese.  Think about what you would like to us it for.   I recommend leaving it for around 10 minutes.  Cool and cover, place in the fridge, it be good for around a week.

When the cheese is fully dried, chop your herbs finely and mix in with the cheese.  If it is proving to be too dry, mix in a little olive oil to get things lubricated.  Taste the cheese, add more salt if you like.

Using vinegar will give a cleaner flavour, lemon will make it slightly lemony.  Again, it depends on how you would like to use the cheese.

Serve

We had ours mixed into roasted root veggies, with our Sprouting Spring Salad.

Roasted root vegetable

Foodie Fact

You can use goats milk for the ricotta, it will be more tangy.  In Italy they use alot of sheeps milk, which is very smooth and creamy and of course the famous buffalo milk, which is equally as good.  It is fun to experiment with different milks.  I have to say, I like the ricotta we get from local Welsh milk.

Calon Wen Milk

Pickled Part

You can’t beat a crisp dry white wine with a fresh cheese like ricotta, something to cut through that awesome creaminess and get your palate sparkling.  We had a lovely Chilean Sauvignon Blanc which worked a treat.

Categories: Local food, Organic, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Wales, Welsh produce, Wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

Joyce and Keith and some dodgy looking waiter.

This was a staple in my family when I was a young ‘un, the mince and spud variety anyway. I was inspired by many a food blogger to have a play with this classic dish, I have forgotten where exactly, but I hope you know who you are!

I can eat alot of mash, it’s so more-ish, so I have included sweet potato to mix with the normal spuds.  This makes for a slightly healthier mash and has vibrant colours with the rich, smooth texture of the sweet orange ones.

I’ve named this a shepherds pie, but it only resembles it in the technique of cooking.  The colours and flavours are more vibrant in the veggie variety (I think!).

The occasion was a gardening visit by Jane’s Mum and Dad, Joyce and Keith.  We had a full day of house sorting, managing to fix the fire and the strimmer and much more.  We needed some rich and hearty grub and this hit the spot.  I know that Jane’s Mum and Dad have slightly sweeter tooth, which meant the sweet pots and sweetcorn in this recipe were ideal.  I would normally tone down the cheese, it is great without dairy, but I find a good lump of cheese sates those who normally have meat as a rule.

I would always used fresh tomatoes if available, but a good tin of organic toms will suit this dish fine.  They are normally sweeter and give a nice red colour to the sauce.  Just replace the toms here with one tin.

Most of these ingredients came from our local farm shop Hooton’s Homegrown.  Until our garden starts producing some vegetables, we are lucky to have them so close.  There carrots are amazing and really made this dish.

Save all stock here and cooking juice for soup making and the stew, you can mix them together to make a great base stock for later.  Vegans, you know the drill, replace the butter and cheese with something like olive oil etc, maybe some tofu cream would be nice as a topping.

The Bits

2 sweet potatoes, 3 white potatoes (scrubbed and cut into chunks, gauge quantity of pots by the number of mouths to feed), 2 cups of dried butter beans, 3 cloves garlic (chopped), zest of 1 lemon (finely chopped), 1 teas paprika, 1 big onion (chopped), 4 fat carrots (scrubbed and roughly chopped), 150g (several large handfuls) spinach, 1 can sweetcorn (fresh if you can), several good knobs of butter, glug of cooking oil (you choose which), 3 handfuls of cherry tomatoes and 250g tomato passata (one good tin toms is acceptable), 4 teaspoons of fresh thyme (or dried mixed herb), 3 nice knobs of butter,  3 decent handfuls of mature cheddar cheese, 2 cups of good veg stock, 2 bay leaves.

The sauce in motion.

Do It

Soak butter beans overnight, covered with 1 inch of water.  Bring to boil, skim of the white scum and simmer gently with lid on for 45 minutes, or until tender to the bite.  Drain and set aside (keeping cooking water).

Get your chopped potatoes in a pan with some cold, slightly salted water and bring to the boil.  Lower heat to a gentle boil and cook for 20 mins, or until tender.  Drain (saving stock) and put back into warm pan, season and mix in a handful of the cheddar cheese and a knob of butter.  Mash it up in the pan (saves on washing up) until creamy and smooth.  Set aside.

Whilst all that is going on, you probably have time to start the stew base of the pie.  Fry off the onions until soft on medium heat with a knob of butter and a glug of oil, then add the garlic and carrots,  thyme/mixed herbs and bay leaves, stir well and cook for 5 minutes.  Add paprika, lemon zest, corn and beans, stir in for a few minutes, then add the toms and passata, bring to the boil and add the stock.  Stir in and leave on a steady simmer for 30 mins, until cooked down and approaching stickiness.  I like to stir in a tablespoon of the mash to make the sauce nice and thick.  Don’t overcook the carrots, remember they’ll be cooked further in the oven.

Pre-heat an oven to 200oC.

In a large baking dish, pour out your sauce into the base, sprinkle over a good thick covering of spinach leaves to form a thick layer (remember it’s a serious wilter) then scoop the mash into the centre and using a spatula or big spoon, gently smooth out to the corners, making sure that it meets all edges.  Sprinkle on top as much cheddar as you deem necessary and a dusting of mixed herbs/ thyme.

Place on a tray and into the oven on a middle shelf.  Cook until a gentle bubbling appears at the edges and cheese is golden brown, should take around 20-30 minutes.

Our Veggie Shepherd’s Pie (Fortunately, our cooking is better than our photography!)

Serve

Place in the middle of your table and spoon out carefully onto plates (unlike we did!  See photo).  Great served with a crunchy salad, we made a simple salad of sprouting mung beans (we just has a bumper crop, see more of our sprouting antics here) with a lemon vinegar dressing.

Our sprouts

We Love It!

This is a real cheesy filler.  We love the contrast of vibrant colours, the layers of red sauce, green spinach and orange mash.

Foodie Fact

Sprouts are the freshest vegetable available, we eat them as they are sprouting!           Find our more on this great healthy eating website.

Categories: Organic, Recipes, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wonder Pulp – Aloe Vera Juice

I’ve heard loads of people talking about the benefits of Aloe Vera Juice, in fact, I nearly had a job selling the stuff!  The only problem is that I knew very little about it.  This was until we were given a bottle of the wonder pulp.  It is made by Pukka; organic, ethically sourced, comes in a nice glass bottle, we thought we’d give it a go.

Pukka Aloe Vera Juice

The Aloe plant originates from Northern Africa and it has been used in herbal medicine since the 16th century BC.  The flavour is what you’d call an acquired taste (you can flavour it with juices etc) but you’re not drinking this for a Dom Perignon moment.  This is all about getting you feeling good from the inside out.  Having said that, Aloe Vera is also amazing when rubbed on the skin and has incredible healing effects for burns, scars and many skin conditions like eczema.  You get used to the flavour and it does have a very soothing texture and quality.

The Aloe Plant looks alot like the Agave plant, the famous succulent (that’s a type of plant) that is used to make tequila.  So technically you are drinking a distant cousin of raw tequila.  That’s about as ‘rock and roll’ as the health food industry gets really!  You ain’t going to look like Keith Richards drinking this stuff (which is surely a good thing).

Some technical info:

Pure Aloe Vera juice can be extracted by cutting the leaf, collecting the juice and then evaporating it. When used for drinking, the juice provides many benefits.  This is due to the fact that it contains 12 vitamins (including A, B1, B6, B12, C and E), 19 amino acids and over 20 minerals, with most of these being essential to the body.

Aloe Vera Plant

In Ayurveda, the Indian health system, Aloe Vera is known as Kumari (‘The Princess’) because of its positive effect on the menstrual cycle and female reproductive system. It is also known for its ability to cleanse the liver and protect the digestive system by reducing intestinal inflammation.

With ‘Raw June’ coming to the BHK, we are stocking up on all things healthy, revitalising and nutritious, it seems like Aloe Vera juice ticks all of these boxes and then some.    This bottle of Pukka Aloe Vera Juice now graces our fridge door shelf and we will soon be taking a few teaspoons a day to give us a boost, especially in the first week of the Raw diet, which we hear can be tough.

Just to clarify that we are in no way health experts and all of the medical claims above are exactly that, claims.  It is difficult to prove these things conclusively.  

Categories: Ayurveda, B.H.K Reviews, Detox, Healthy Living, Juices, Nutrition, Organic, Raw Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: