‘The Good Life’

What we did this weekend – Beach time!

Dinas Dinlle Beach, one of our favourites

It’s been beautifully freezing and sunny at the minute up here in Snowdonia, North Wales.  We’ve been loving this winter, so much sun and at the minute, loads of snow.  We’re snowed in in Snowdonia!

Jane, well wrapped up

Don’t let the weather put you off!  Get wrapped up and go for it!!

Buddha in the garden……

….Broccoli in the basket (purple sprouting, proper treat;)

Our mate Mr Robin, keeps us company when we have breakfast in the garden.

Remember to leave a little food out for the small birds at this time of year, especially with all this snow.  Naturally, it’s a hard time of year for us all, not much is growing, food is scarce and its been a long winter.

We are making do until Spring kicks in.   There may be potatoes, cabbages, some broccoli, onions, swede, turnip, kale growing locally, so we’re not complaining, plus the occasional Pineapple from the supermarket!

The Llyn Peninsula from Dinas Dinlle

Top Soya Latte – Yum – Providero, Llandudno

Sunset up near the Beach House overlooking Anglesey and the Menai Straits. Booootiful:)

This is one cheeky little chap

Freezing winds but look at that big old sun:) Dinas Dinlle, the local

The beautiful thing about Snowdonia, one of many, is the different environments, from giant craggy mountains, down to wide stretches of beaches and forests, white water rivers, waterfalls, marshlands, it’s paradise for people who love going outside and exploring.

Deep in the heart of Snowdonia;)

Great advice!:)

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

We like to slow things down in the winter, not fight against the weather and the darkness, but try and enjoy it for what it is.  A chance to take it easy, keep warm, play, cook and sing the winter away.  Winter can be a great time to reflect and recharge.

 

Beam me up!

The first signs of spring are here, the snowdrops and there are rumours about bluebells.  I can’t wait for wild garlic, one of my favourite parts of spring, but this world is warming, there is a little spring in the air and we can’t wait for nature to wake up an bloom.

 

Join us in beautiful North Wales this March at our Food For The Soul – Plant-based Cooking and Yoga Day Retreat, 18th March ’18.

We also have two relaxing Beach House Kitchen cooking holidays, A Taste of Bliss in Spain and Vibrant Vegan Cornwall, in stunning locations.   

Categories: 'The Good Life', Healthy Eating, photography, Wales, Winter | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Beach House Kitchen hits social media (sort of)

Tweet?

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

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

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

Twitter us here.

Facebook us here.

Instagram us (coming soon).

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

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

Peace and Pumpkins you lovely lotXXXXXxxxxXXXXxxx

Lee and Jane

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

A Massive Festive Hug!

rsz_p1110540

The depths of winter on Mojon Beach

Just a quickie to say:

MEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRYYYYY CHHHHHHHHRIIIIISSSSTMMAAAAASSSSSS!!!!!!X

and then:

HAAAAPPPPYYY NNEEEEWWWWWWW YYEEEEAAAARRRR!!!XXXX

Hope you have a very magical time with plenty of tofu pie and pumpkin crisps………and the odd sherry to wash it all down.

It seems like an ice age since we last said a little ‘hello’. We have been suffering from a very Spanish dilemma over here in Murcia, cooking loads of gorgeous nibbles and bites, but easing into the manana (tomorrow) lifestyle a little too easily. “Manana, manana, manana…..” its a magnificent way to live, but leads to a lack of posts and far too much time to contemplate dinner whilst lounging on a beach. Its 20oC today, Christmas Eve and we are soaking up the rays on behalf of all Beach Houser’s out in lands not so well endowed with festive sunbeams. We salute you!

We are planning a quiet Christmas on the terrace with my Dad and some stunning local vino and a mammoth veg-fest terrine (not necessarily in that order!).  Jane is plotting a platter of potato served three ways, as you all know, Jane is partial to a patata or three.  Dad is fully on board with the vegan express and we’re going totally  vegetal this festive period.  Bravo big man!

2014 has been a great year at the Beach House, thanks for all of your support and inspiration. Jane and I are in India in the new year, so you can expect plenty of curry based action very soon. Our new year resolution will be to whip up more posts, hopefully this year, we’ll actually get around to it. Life so rich and ‘Manana’ an ever viable option…..

Peace, Love and Light,

Lee and Janexxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The Winterwonderland (a massive calcite wave with turquoise pools) Pammukale, Turkey

The Winterwonderland (a massive calcite wave with turquoise pools) Pammukale, Turkey

rsz_p1110398

CHEERS! (G+T’s all round)

 

Categories: 'The Good Life', photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Autumn’s End at the Beach House Kitchen

A very belated Happy Samhain/ Halloween to you all!  We spent it packing up the house, soup bubbling and preparing the garden for winter.  Here are a few images of the last days of Autumn, a week ago, in the Beach House Garden.

We have flown the nest again like migrating birds.  We’re in Turkey, up to our necks in ancient ruins and scrumptious kebabs and salads.  Looking at these pictures makes us feel privileged to live in such a special little corner of the world.  More news from Turkey, Spain and India soon…..goodbye Beach House until AprilXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The Beach House Garden bracing itself for the Welsh winter

The Beach House Garden bracing itself for the Welsh winter

Our Hawthorn tree all red and sparkly

Our Hawthorn tree all red and sparkly

Last of the blackberries, still fruiting into late October!?

Last of the blackberries, still fruiting into late October!?

Autumn sunset off the Llyn Peninsula

Autumn sunset off the Llyn Peninsula

Late Autumn and the chills are setting in.  Soup tonic, Pumpkin, Fennel and Leek with Soda Bread.

Late Autumn and the chills are setting in. Soup tonic, Pumpkin, Fennel and Leek with Soda Bread

Kindling ready for the fire

Kindling ready for the fire

Potato patches covered with manure and compost, ready for next year

Potato patches covered with manure and compost, ready for next year

The source of great potatoes, our neighbourly horse who lives next door.

The source of great potato manure, our neighbourly horse in the next field.  Not the friendliest, but quite a quite prolific manure provider

Stash of funky rocks from the beach

Stash of funky rocks from the beach

Steamy kitchen action, Welsh cottages not cut out for heavy wok action

Steamy kitchen action, Welsh cottages not cut out for heavy saute action

Wake up, 3oC, warm Banana Bread cookie time (recipe to follow)

Wake up, 3oC, warm Banana Bread cookie time (recipe to follow)

 

Categories: 'The Good Life', Autumn, Garden, photography, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Goodbye Buster (The Worlds Coolest Cat) and Big Hello from Spain!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Buster (aka, Buzzy, Buzz-man, Buzzeroonie, Buzz face, Raja, Buzzer, Buzzoid, Buzzeroo, Busty, Little Tiger………and other pet names) has left the building. He is the most wonderful little guy, but we are now in Puerto Mazzaron, Spain and soon to be in India for an extended period and we couldn’t find a way of keeping him close.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We managed to find a brilliant home for the Buzzman in the next valley, real animal lovers.  The first night he went to his new home, he made his way back over the mountains at night and turned up at the back door, a little peckish.  He must have used the stars as a map to make his way across the streams and hills, its around 5 miles away.  What a little grey star he is!

Just looking at our recent lack of posts makes us very ashamed of our behaviour. We miss the posts but have been busy with other exciting projects, more about these very soon…….  We have been cooking shiny food all the time and have a huge backlog of photographs and recipes to post, we just need a little time and internet access (which always helps!)

Much Love from us and have a magical festive timeXXXXXX

 

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

Autumn Photo Scrapbook – Garden, Flowers and Buster

P1000072

On the funghi hunt, lost and wandering up the Nantlle Valley, we’ve had magic weather even in October.

P1000110

Pleasant views abound – from the Nantlle Ridge (behind our back garden)

P1000173

The man with a sock on his head – harvesting our potato crop. Smaller potatoes this year but more of them.

P1220654

Busters fancies a hike too……lovely little punk!

P1220451

A small tree in our garden suddenly started to sprout apples. It’s an apple tree!!!!! Wahee. Lucky us, this is part of the windfall apple bonanza.

P1220521

We’ve had so much sun this year even the sunflowers had a growth spurt.

P1220517

Part of our winter preparations, HEAT! Scavenged logs meet Mr Chainsaw = cosy nights by the fire. Time consuming, but free.

P1220532

We’ve had some gorgeous beetroots this year, three varities and all of them awesome and sweet.

Our local waterfall where we sit sometimes and watch water fall.

Our local waterfall where we sit sometimes and watch water fall.  Then POW tofu inspiration strikes!

P1220445

A Great Beach House Bake Off!

P1220276

Love CoconutsX

P1000268

Your Gracious HostsXXXXXXXXX  At Jane’s parents gaff

So the clocks have changed and we’re plunged into darkness for another year, still, plenty of swedes and parsnips to look forward to.

HAPPY WINTER EVERYONEXXXXXXXX

Categories: 'The Good Life', photography, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

World’s Best Kitchen Implement – Skrub’a Gloves!

Jane happily skrubbing!

Jane happily skrubbing!

A very lovely friend from Germany sent us the most fantastic present the other day, the like of which we have never seen before on Welsh shores! Introducing Skrub’a The Scrubbingglove  – a clever Danish invention in a pretty orange carrot design!

These wonder-gloves could not have come at more perfect timing (another wonderful synchronicity, thanks Nicole). You probably know that we are now lucky enough to be loving the weekly fresh local and organic veggie box grown by lovely Pippa and John down the road…. Such delicious, fresh and DIRTY veggies! Up until now the lowly washing up brush has been doing all the hard scrubbing work. But we find that still leaves little bits of dirt on the veggies, especially in the nobbles and bumps.

gloves

gloves

It was with delight and happy intrepidation that we donned the gloves for the first time, dunked the root veg and began skrub-ing them with our gloved hands. The gloves (very much like those exfoliating shower-mitts) were utterly perfect at getting into the grooves and pits of the most twisty of carrot.

It was a quick and unusually satisfying job, and at the end of it we had smiley faces and very clean beetroots. Not only that, but 50% of the vitamins in veggies are in the peel! So Skrub’a Gloves thank you very much, you are our new favourite kitchen implement!

Categories: 'The Good Life' | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Primitive Juice Man Conquers Mighty Mountain!

Primitive Juice Man - on the way up

Primitive Juice Man – on the way up

I did.  Two days ago I climbed the second highest mountain in Britain, Snowdown, which is just behind our house.   I climbed it in record time (for me) fueled only by a beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger juice.  Wahee!  Juice power.

Super Juice

The Super Juice

As many of you will know, the Beach House is tucked away in the valleys of Wales, overlooking Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula.  We have the most spectacular views and on days like today, when the skies are clear, I can see some of my favourite landscape anywhere.

Britian is experiencing a  heat wave at the moment and we are getting some of it, with temperatures in the mid 20’s for the past two weeks.  The garden is loving it (post to come soon) and our veg patch is looking amazing.

RAW EARTH MONTH UPDATE

The weather has come at the perfect time for our Raw Earth Month and it is definitely salad and smoothie weather at the moment. The only down side to a proper British summertime is that I get chronic hayfever, which is a huge drag.  We have consulted Jane’s homeopathic/ magician friend and she is sending up some remedies as we speak, hopefully this will stop my sniffles.

We are going to extend our Raw Earth month by two weeks, we are loving it!  The candle light at nights is perfect as it doesn’t get dark until 10ish anyway.  It adds a very peaceful feel to the house and there is something timeless about reading by flickering candlelight.  Handwashing our clothes has been interesting.  It takes a while and a little effort, but with the sun out and a special herbal soap, we are getting great results.

We have been making once a week trips in the car to pick up our amazing veg box from some wonderful people a couple of valleys away, full of the finest organic produce and the courgettes are coming thick and fast at the moment!

 

One thing we are using alot is the dehydrator.  Jane is taking full advantage of the abundant herbs and wildflowers at the moment and we are drying them for use in teas and infusions.  We realise that it uses a bit of electricity, but know that we will have to buy less in the long run.  It seems to at least balance out.

We watched an interesting documentary recently ‘No Impact Man’ about a guy giving up many things in a one year project, in the centre of New York.  We can draw alot of parallels with Colin and his family, but we are lucky to live in the country and have no TV anyway!  We are well from many temptations up here on the hill, no restaurants, bakeries or cafes.  No cinemas, shops, pubs!   It would be alot more difficult to do this kind of thing in a city.  Hats off to Colin and his family for sticking to it and setting an amazing example, his project became huge and was all over the media.  I am sure it made a big impact and they seemed to be having a good time doing it, which is surely the main thing!

I think we’d do this all again, especially the raw food part.  We are consuming alot less, recycling most of our water on the garden and generally life has slowed down.  So far, the experiment is going well and the sun is shining.  What more could you want!

View from the bottom - Snowdon, Nantlle Side.

View from the bottom – Snowdon, Nantlle Side.

View of Nantlle Valley from Snowdon

View of Nantlle Valley from Snowdon

What has this got to do with food you may ask?  Very good question.  I guess it highlights the fact that you don’t need a full English/ Welsh breakfast and 5 mars bars to go walking in the hills and that juices are super cool and full of energy.

I also realise that the weather is chilly in some parts of the world now (Tasmania especially I hear!) and it is surely nice to look at little wet Wales bathing in glorious sunshine for a change!  Long may it continue…..

OK, heres something food related, todays smoothie.  It’s a:

Green Banana, Coconut and Almond Smoothie

Makes one large jugful, enough for three glasses:

The Bits

2 bananas, 2 cups coconut milk (watered down), 1 apple, 1 cup cucumber, 3 cups spinach, 1 cup soaked almonds, 2 teas green powder (barley powder, spirulina), 1 cup grapes, 1 lime (juice and zest)

Do It

In the blender and blend, scrape down the side, blend, scrape down the sides and blend…….repeat until all is smoooooth.

Banana, Coconut, Almond and Spinach Smoothie

Banana, Coconut, Almond and Spinach Smoothie

We Love It!

Very sweet and filling smoothie, packed full of nutrition.  Anything green is great.

Foodie Fact

Spinach is regarded by many as the best thing you can eat.  Ever.  We agree.  Not only does it taste so, so good, it contains more iron than beef, pound for pound.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Healthy Living, Raw Food, Smoothies | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 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

Beach Birthday Photographs

Biker Jane

It was my birthday recently so we thought we’d share some pics:

Before a day out on the Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway (last years present from Jane)

My Dad outside the Beach House

Jane and a bottle of bubbly – Whistling Sands Beach, Llyn Peninsula

My birthday bash, with Jane and my Mum – Whistling Sands, Llyn Peninsula

Lift off! Being launched from the sea (we saw seals here later!)

Jane and I looking concerned about the lack of champagne

Jane has a sunset splodge

 

 

 

Categories: 'The Good Life', photography, Special Occasion, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Homemade Nettle Tea

Nettles

Nettles are here and we are loving them.  They are like a cross between mint and spinach and one of the first green leaves of the summer.  Some call them weeds, we call them feed!

Nettle leaves can be dried and enjoyed later in the year, or just thrown straight in a pan of boiling water.  They can also be stir fried to great effect as a spinach substitute.

Nettle tea can also be made for your garden, it makes great plant feed.  You just need a load of nettles in a large container covered with water.  Every day, stir them.  This will stink after a while, keep going for 4 weeks and you have some seriously good feed that can be used on tomatoes.  Great natural fertiliser.

You can even throw some nettles leaves in a bath of hot water, it apparently helps to relieve aches and pains.  We haven’t tried this one out, please check that the sting is long gone before diving in!

Brewing the nettles

For the drinking variety:

The Bits

Nettle leaves (1 cup of leaves makes 2 cups of tea), Water

Do It

Boil water in a pan, add leaves.

Homemade Nettle Tea

Serve

In your finest mug.

We Love It!

It literally grows on trees (well bushes).

Foodie Fact

Nettle is a natural elixir, invigorating the body in preparation for the busy summer time. It is a strong blood purifier and helps to dissolve kidney stones.  It is ant-inflammatory and can help with arthritis, high blood pressure and helps to clean out the digestive system.

Learn more about nettles and sustainable living on this great site, earth easy.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Budget, Detox, Foraging, Garden, Healthy Living, Infusions, Local food, Recipes, Tea, Vegan, Wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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

The B.H.K Garden Photos – Spring and Seeds

We hit the patch. 4 types of potato in furrows, blue, white, red and knobbly.

April in the B.H.K. garden has seen much activity.  Mainly we have chopped wood for next year, but we managed to squeeze some gardening in also.  

We are following organic practices , with a little biodyamic thrown in (new moon and all).  The veg patch has been turned several times, with piles of local horse manure from the adjacent field and four different types of potato have been planted.  Pete at Trigonos Farm, Nantlle, kindly donated the seeding potatoes (some just sprung to life in our veg basket!).  We have blue, red, white and knobbly.  One day I will learn the names of them.

The front garden is full of herbs and four different types of latin american bean.  We hope for great things from the latin bean patch this year.

We also expect lots of flowers, some wild strawberries and the regular marjoram infestation.  The slugs are happy, but we plan on trapping them in underground cups with beer in.  Slugs like beer!  Get them tipsy and they seem to lose interest in plants.  Probably opting for a kebab instead.  

The newts have returned to the pond and the frog spawn seems to be wriggling even more.  Bring on the frogs!

We have a dodgy looking gang of sheep hanging around our back wall, but we have reinforced the defenses and hope to keep them out this year.  Apparently they like to walk along the walls and eat all things green.  The are also very dim and noisy.  

Breaking news – beetroots, green beans and leeks are rumoured to be on the way.

We are keen amateurs at best in the garden, any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Here’s hoping for zero food miles soon! 

Happy plantingX

Beach House herb garden circa April '12

Our seed trays (formerly traffic cones)

Jane puts her back into the spuds

The local beige tree frog

Happy cook with the sun on my face.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Garden, Healthy Living, Local food, Organic, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ernie’s Easter Eggs

The 'Ostrich' Easter Egg

Happy Easter!

A nice time of year, but it does seem strange to still have snow on the ground.

I woke up this morning to find a psycedelic goose egg on the kitchen table (Jane had been up to some late night craft scribbles) and a nice slab of cherry chocolate.

Which triggered memories of my own egg painting days.  I once won a prize at school for dressing an egg up as superman. Which remains one of my highest accolades in the field of art (and tailoring).

Being Easter, we have eggs on the mind.  Not chocolate though, Ernie’s eggs. Ernie is an old navy captain who lives with his dog Paris and a garden full of ducks, drakes, geese and chickens.  It’s a proper cottage menagerie.

Some of Ernie's Bantam Eggs

Ernie’s fowl seem to like the sun and springtime snow, they are popping eggs out at an incredible rate, meaning an abundance for the Beach House table.
Ernie lives just down the way and has recently recovered from a broken hip that he injured whilst delivering our Christmas card. We do live on quite a steep hill!

Ernie’s cares greatly for his birds, they run around semi-wild, eat fine grains and are housed in a selection of well appointed coops.  You can see it in the eggs, which are really rich with brilliant yolks.  Perfect for soldier dipping (‘soldiers’ are slang for sticks of toasted bread, to avoid any unnecessary military confusion).  The first time I saw one of his goose eggs, I was sure he had a ostrich tucked away somewhere.  They are huge!  We haven’t eaten one yet (it’s the weight of around five hens eggs) but apparently they are good for baking. Goose egg brownie?!  I may crack it tomorrow, I’ll keep you posted.

We may not have a shop in the village, but at least we have an Ernie.

Lots of Easter love from the BHKXXXXXXXXX

P.S. – If you’re in Carmel, it’s 6 Duck Eggs for a pound.  Bargain.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Baking, Breakfast, Local food, Organic, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

El Limonar Stew – A Taste of the Spanish Sun

The 'El Limonar'

The ‘El Limonar’ is not an everyday stew.  It reflects the culture and produce of a special little corner of Spain, the Costa Calida.

This dish that would suit any occasion this summertime, especially a special time when you are eating outside in the sunshine with the people who you love, a time when you are planning to open a few bottles of good wine (it is a Spanish stew after all!) and let the world just pass you by.

‘El Limonar’ is the name of the place my parents have in Spain, its near Cartagena, Murcia, for me it is one of the worlds most beautiful and relaxing places.  The lifestyle in Spain is slow, steeped in history, with much fiesta and siesta.  Relaxing is a way of life and food and drink play a major role in everyday life and traditional celebrations.

When I am in Spain, more than anywhere else in the world, I can happily revert to the wise words below:

‘Sólo un idiota puede ser totalmente feliz.’

‘Only an idiot can be totally happy.’

Mario Vargas Llosa

The Mediterranean sun brings life to the dry red earth.   Murcia is the hottest and driest region in Spain, but the local farmers use a lot of new technology and plenty of old world know-how to make the most of the parched land.  The area is covered with lemon, almond and olive trees, many old and gnarled.  A whole host of incredible local produce blooms with stunning flavours.  This stew combines many of these treats, most notably the sweet and smoky local pimenton (paprika).  We use Coato Paprika, an excellent local co-operative (http://www.coato.com/en/about-coato/).  The figs and almonds reflect the Moorish (North African) influence who were here for hundreds of years.  You can hear the sound of North Africa in every flamenco song.

Being a veggie in Spain is tough, we eat at home most of the time, using the produce from the local markets.  Old men and women gather every Sunday in a car park down at  the port and sell their crops.  We have our favourite olive lady, pepper man, spice mama, knife gypsy, Moroccan mint seller etcetc.  There are an array of characters and smiles.  I love to browse a good market.  It is also very cheap, which makes it that touch more satisfying.

The occasion for the ‘El Limonar’ was a visit from Rob and Linda.  They are super foodies who we met in a local cafe.  These shiny people deserved a treat so I put together this deluxe version of one of my tried and tested simmered chickpea recipes.

The technique is to simmer the chickpeas down until only a little stock remains (chickpea stock is delicious, almost beefy!) then begin to add the ingredients.  I find this retains a lot of flavour and gently cooks everything.  This stew did have some added roast vegetables, but it was most definitely a special occasion.

The best way to recreate this is in a colder country is to buy as much organic produce as possible.  Beautifully ripe tomatoes and a good quality Spanish paprika will give this dish a real taste of the Med!

Local Murcian Pimenton from Coato Cooperative, Totana

This is enough for 4 with plenty for lunch the next day (we are bulk cookers at  the B.H.K).

The Bits

5 cups of fat chickpeas (pre-soaked overnight), 1 bay leaf, good veg stock (enough to cover the chickpeas in the pan by 1 inch, maybe 1 litre), one big red onion (all veg chopped into interesting looking chunks), 1 large sweet red pepper, 1 aubergine, 1 courgette, 5 sweet tomatoes, 1 handful of cherry tomatoes, 6 sundried tomatos, 5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped), 2 tbs Coato paprika, 1 big glass of Spanish red wine (for authenticity), 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 teas of thyme, zest and juice of one large unwaxed lemon, 2 smoked dried peppers (if you can get your hands on them), 1 handful of roasted unsalted almonds (soaked overnight), 1 good handful of chopped dried figs, 1 good handful of pitted green olives (preferably manzanilla), chopped mint, coriander and parsley, s + p, olive oil to start and finish.

Do It

Most of these steps can be done beforehand and kept in the fridge overnight, the flavours will intensify.  Even better, cook everything for a little less time, get the stew together and re-heat it on the day. 

Add your pre-soaked chickpeas and one bay leaf to a pan of good veg stock, it should cover them by 1 inch.  Bring to a gentle boil then simmer until tender, normally 1 hour.   Skim of white froth regularly.  If the stock evaporates too quickly, put a lid on it.  After cooking the chickpeas should be just poking through the stock.

While they are simmering, chargrill in olive oil your large chunks of aubergine (should be well coloured and gooey inside), pepper, onion and courgette in a frying pan or griddle.  Best to do in batches and keep warm in a covered plate.  I chargrill my cherry tomatoes quickly to give them a little colour.

Add the paprika to the chickpeas and stir in well, then the tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and thyme, put the heat up and before it reaches a boil, add the rest of the ingredients except the wine, which you add just before the stew is about to boil.  Season.  Little finesse here, but maximum flavour!

Once the stew has reached a very gentle boil put the heat down to low and leave simmering, covered for one hour letting the flavours infuse nicely.  Check that the sauce has thickened and is not too thin, if so, turn the heat up and cook down.  Do not boil, this kills flavour.

Just before serving, check seasoning, add a glug of olive oil for shine and richness (or a glug of oil from your jar of sun-dried tomatoes as I did), the lemon juice and most of the chopped mint, coriander and parsley, mix gently in.

Serve

I topped it with a splash of olive oil, some of the left over herbs, finely sliced dried fig and a fistful of crushed almonds.

We ate our stew under the stars, over halved roasted butternut squash with brown rice, a spinach salad with a lemon and honey dressing and a cucumber and local spring onion (like wild garlic) yoghurt.  I think Rob and Linda were amazed at how much we eat!  It’s difficult for me to not get carried away with a kitchen full of amazing produce.

Jane having our 'millionare lunch' (which cost 8 euros)

Foodie Fact

Good old Christopher Columbus got his greedy hands on the pepper plant in South America and like everything else he found of value, brought it back to Spain (I’m not a huge fan of the behavior of these old explorer/conquistador types).

Paprika is made by grinding dried peppers, different paprika uses different peppers and can be sweet, smoked or spicy.  Paprika is used extensively in the cooking of Spain and also quite randomly, Hungary.  Good Goulash would be lost without it.  The name ‘Paprika’ actually comes from the Hungarian word for ‘Pepper’.

Paprika has a high sugar content which must be considered when cooking with it.  It burns easily.

By weight, Paprika contains more Vitamin C than lemon juice.

Boozy Bit

I haven’t had the chance to write about wine in a while.  Thank you Spain for giving me the excuse!

This is best with a wine from the south of Spain.  The stew incorporates many of the flavours of this evocative land, therefore the local wines compliment it perfectly.  We went for a young ‘Casa De La Ermita’ Organic Monastrell from Jumilla (a local wine region), with ripe fruits, lovely vanilla scented oak and dark violet colour.  Monastrell is generally a concentrated wine with good structure and this one held its own with this blockbuster stew.

Casa De La Ermita is a wondeful winery and you can buy the wine in the U.K., I think I even saw it in Tescos.  The Crianza is a very stylish example of the quality of wine now produced in Jumilla, formerly a very ‘rustic’ wine growing region.  They also make a great white and an interesting Petit Verdot.

Here’s their site:

http://www.casadelaermita.com/vinos/casadelaermita_tintoecologico.php

'Casa De La Ermita' Crianza, fine wine from Jumilla, Spain.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Organic, photography, Recipes, Relax, Special Occasion, Travel, Vegan, Wine and Booze | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Holiday Photos – The B.H.K hits Spain

Jane walking in the forests of the Espunas. 12oC, sandals and snow.

Viva Naranja!

Under an old olive tree. La Santa Monastery

View from the terrace of Antipodas Restaurant, La Azhoia (with the bar mascot)

Our local goats cheese platter.

Jane in the Monastery Square, La Santa

Sunset over the Port of Mazzarron

Gorgeous local Raf tomatoes. Sweet, sweet, sweet...

Hello Beach House Folk,

So this is where we’ve been,  doing what we do best, going on holiday!  Hopefully this explains the lack of Beach House Kitchen action recently.

We visited Murcia, the Costa Calida, a magical place.  We have done all our ‘foodie’ friends proud by eating and drinking in brilliant ways and of course taking it very easy.  Que Vida Espana!

The produce in Murcia, known as the garden of Spain, is exceptional and some of our favourite times were spent in the markets practising the lingo and meeting the farmers.  Buying fresh dates, figs, almonds, amazing vegetables (peppers, aubergines, artichokes), olives, lemons……….etcetc.  The list goes on and on here.  The earth seems very arid in the whole area, but a little sun goes a long way!

We are going fully Raw in June, we met some amazing so we need some help planing for that.  Whats your favourite salad/ juice/ smoothie?  We met some guys in Spain who really inspired us in this respect, very shiny people, cheers Rob and LindaX

We will be back to full throttle soon-ish.  Watch this space…….

Peace and Happiness,

Lee and JaneX

Categories: 'The Good Life', Healthy Living, photography, Raw Food, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homemade Goats Cheese with Wild Garlic

Goat's Cheese Recipe With Wild Garlic

I love Goats.  They are far superior to sheep.  More character, a little like their cheese.  I became aware of this love affair in Laos…..it’s a long story.

‘Eat Weeds’ (http://www.eatweeds.co.uk/) inspired me here.  It’s a great little website all about living from the land and getting out for the odd forage.  All you need to know about wild eating.  They regularly send me emails and this recipe reminded me of how easy this cheese is to knock-up.

The first time I made Goats Cheese was when I volunteered to help on a farm in Central Laos.  It proved to be very simple and deliciously creamy.  This method is almost as good, without the super fresh, still warm milk of the farm.

The Kids

We would milk, feed and clean the goats out before dawn, with the afternoons free to spend under the blazing sun, hacking down banana trees for feed. After around five hours hard graft, between three of us, we normally produced only four small blocks.  This experience really developed my appreciation of cheese!

The blocks were normally whisked off to the farm restaurant to be served to bus loads of tourists.  Sometimes we did manage to sneak a chunk ourselves and with a fresh baguette (which are amazing in Laos), it made all of the shovelling shit worth while!

With the lads on the farm

For this recipe, if you can get your hands on wild garlic, lucky you.  Otherwise use bulbs.  Goats milk is fairly easy to come by in the shops.

If you like eating weeds, subscribe and get the Classic Wild Food Collection.  It is free and packed with info on what to do with weeds and plants (and how you can eat them).

Bon Fromage!

The Bits

1 pint of raw goat’s milk, ½ lemon (juiced) or 2 caps of cider vinegar, 25g ramsons/wild garlic (finely chopped)***, sea salt

***An alternative to wild garlic would be one clove of minced garlic and a handful of roughly chopped parsley.

Do It

Pour goat’s milk into a pan and slowly bring to the boil. Remove from heat immediately.

Add lemon juice a little at a time until the curds separate from the whey.  Curdling.  It will begin to resemble very off milk.

Pour the pan of curds and whey through a fine muslin cloth, making sure that you collect the whey. Leave to drip for a few hours. You can refrigerate the whey for a couple of weeks, and use it in your sauerkraut recipes, in soups, stocks or as a refreshing drink. Whey is super full of minerals, and an excellent digestive.

Next tip cheese into a bowl and add the finely chopped ramsons and few pinches of sea salt, then stir until the ramsons and salt are thoroughly worked into the cheese. Taste saltiness and adjust accordingly.

Put the cheese back into the muslin and twist into a ball. Put on a slanted board with a big weight on top (always a bit of a balancing act), and leave for a couple of hours. The salt draws more moisture out of the cheese making it firmer.

If you can resist eating it, this cheese will age nicely.

Serve

Baguette! (warm)

Foodie Fact

Whey is a super-dooper food.  It’s packed full of protein, meaning that people who would like to be one big lump of muscle (mass) take it as a high cost supplement.  It’s free with this cheese.  The proteins in whey can be used easily by the body.

Whey is very low in calories and full of anti-oxidants that boost the immune system.

The end product

Categories: 'The Good Life', Foraging, photography, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Travel, Wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sprout! The evolution of the mung

Heres something that could change your life.  Maybe extend it a little also.

Sprouts!

Mung bean sprouts this time.

These little wonders are a gift from nature. They are packed with nutrients, very, very good for us and best of all, easy and cheap to prepare at home.

My sprouting guru is a wandering flautist named Yanny, he is in his late 70’s and fit as a fiddle.  Yanny even sprouts on his travels in hotel rooms and in backpacks.

There are a few companies selling sprouts in the U.K. at inflated prices. They need not be a costly ‘health’ food.  They can add an incredible range of flavours to salads.

Many prices in ‘health’ food shops are appalling, some necessary, but many seem to go against the ethos of the ‘good life’, where money (you would hope) plays a secondary role to living well and helping others.

We are fortunate to have many good people living around us, giving us inspiration and positive examples of methods and practices that are sustainable, meaning that we can move away from the mass food movement (Tesco’s et al) or prohibitive ‘Health Food’  Shops.

You don’t need to spend a small fortune to eat healthy.  All you need are sprouts!  Mung beans are the easiest, but once you get into it, there are so many avenues of sprouting joy.

So head to the hills, of your windowsill and start sprouting.

The Bits

Mung beans (any variety works well, we used the green ones)

Filtered water

Do It

Acquire a receptical (see the evolution of the sprout), a spare plastic tray (recycled normally), a large water bottle with vents cut into it (be creative) or a proper sprouter.  I was so lucky to pick up a sprouter from a charity shop for two quid!  They should not be costly bought new.

The important thing is that the sprouts get air and are not in direct sunlight, they also need to be kept warm.  Optimum conditions will result in a quicker sprout.

The evolution of the sprout (tray, to bottle, to sprouter)

Soak the beans in filtered water for 24 hours, empty water and place in your sprouter.  Keep them damp for the next 48 hours and then leave them dry (rinsing regularly if you can).

After a couple of days, they should start to sprout.  Younger sprouts are sweeter and large sprouts have a fuller flavour.  Experiment on which you prefer.

You won’t get them all to sprout, so try to sort out the hard un-sprouted beans.  They can be a little crunchy and some hard as rocks.  Beware.

It’s as easy as that.  They keep well in the fridge.  Once one batch is finished, get the other one started and you have a rolling harvest on your hands.

Serve

Put them on anything, of course salads are best.  If you are feeling decadent, or need a serious boost, mix up an unadulterated sprout salad.  ZING>

Foodie Fact

Mung beans are one of the most cherished foods in Ayurveda, full of vitamins, minerals and vital veggie protein.  They are said to balance all three doshas (making you more stable and relaxed) and make absorption of nutrients easier.  When sprouted, very high levels of Vitamin C become available (rising by 60%).  Most importantly, Mung Beans contain a low quantity of the sugar molecule that make you fart!

It is simple, if you avoid speeding buses and eat more sprouts, you’ll live longer.

PS – Yanny is a wood sculptor, this video show the life of a true artist and dear soul:

Categories: 'The Good Life', Ayurveda, Healthy Living, Raw Food, Salads, Superfoods | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Morning ‘Steamers’

My mug

Fresh and clean. These steamers are the perfect way to get the body hydrated and feeling vibrant in the morning and are easier than making a cup of tea.

There must be something in the ether because two friends, Julie and Gwen, have sent me their style of ‘steamer’ through today.  I felt prompted to share.

A steamer is basically an infusion of anything with hot water.  I regularly used ginger, mint, lemon, rosemary (a little), add a little honey if you’re a sweet one.  I would not drink them very hot, let them cool a little, be gentle with your poor old body, especially in the morning.

There is not much to this.

The bits

Your favourite mug that brings you the most happiness.

Choose from:

– A couple of teaspoons of sliced ginger (no need to peel, just wash)

– A nice wedge of lemon (squeezed into water and plopped in)

– A small handful of torn mint leaves.

– A classic.  Teaspoon of honey, squeezed wedge of lemon, teaspoon of sliced ginger.

Or

Julie’s  Steamer

Add one stick of bashed lemongrass

Gwen’s Steamer

Add one stick of peel liquorice root and a small handful of mint leaves.

Do It

Drop in bits and leave to steam for a few minutes.  Then aaaaahhhhhhhenjoy.

We Love It

As Gwen rightly put it, a fresh steamer will beat any tea bag, any day, forever.  Viva steamers!

Foodie Fact

There are many health benefits to drinking warm water when you first rise, especially with a slice of lemon in (see the post ‘Magic Morning Lemon Water’).  Warm water will flush out the kidneys and prepare the stomach for food by stimulate the glands on its walls, helping the bowels move regularly (hoorah!).

Warm water can be used easier by the body,  it’s not such a shock to the system, because it doesn’t need to be warmed up.  Drinking water at mealtimes can dilute gastric juices and slow digestion.  It’s a good idea to drink water half an hour before eating.  Drinking water is different from getting water via food or juice, clear water helps to cleanse the body internally.

The ‘Steamer’ variations are many.  Have a play and let me know of your favourites……star anise, sticks of cinnamon, grapefruit juice etcetcetc……….How do you like yours?

I truly believe that after a good stretch, they are the best way to start the day.

If you like this kind of thing, Gwen has a great vegan and freegan blog, have a wee look:  http://peasandloveblog.blogspot.com/

 

Categories: 'The Good Life', Breakfast, gluten-free, Healthy Living, Infusions, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: