Posts Tagged With: organic

Mango and Ginger Lassi – Goodbye to Goa

Mangoes, mangoes, everywhere and I can eat them all! I have tried this though and can’t recommend it! Mangoes are literally falling from the trees across the state which is actually hazardous. Some are quite hefty and unripe. Every time I step outside my little place there’s a new pile greeting me which is the perfect morning pick me up. Many however are split and covered in ants or other bizarre insects. I really want to catch each mango as it falls and give it a good home. How about a lassi? I’m in India, as you may know, and this is one of the best ways to enjoy the local glut of mg’s. Creamy, smooth and packed with fragrant fruitiness and that little twist of slightly sour yoghurt. Let’s lassi!!

Now that is what I’m talking about. Look at the colour. It screams “MANGO!”

I am living under several huge mango trees, in between we have coconut and banana trees. Tropical fruit salads rain on our doorstep. It’s a lovely patch of countryside with wild buffalo roaming around and a great view, the cicadas (those buzzing little insect critters) are on the go all the time, like some exotic, pulsating soundtrack.

I was wandering around the other day and was a bit startled to see a basket being lowered down from a tree, laden with mangoes. I looked up to see one of the mango men (a group of local superheroes) about 30 ft up wearing only a big smile and pair of Liverpool AFC shorts. He was nimble and fearless. I was filled with admiration, he climbed way up, maybe 50 ft, just to bring me and the family I live with our daily mango fix. How many people have you met who risk their life for fruit?!! A rare breed.

Mango Man

Breakfast! Mankurad mangoes

So, mangoes everywhere. What to do with them all. Helen, the Mum of the family I’m staying with, pops them all in a massive cauldron-like pan and simmers until jammy. Jam! Mango jam, thick and naturally sweet. If your mangoes are super sweet, this is a great idea. There are many varieties of mango and in India, people are mango mad! In the cities they sell for big bucks, there are many sought after varieties but ‘Alphonso’ is top of the, ahem, tree.

Goan’s are ever laid back about things. When I ask around excitedly, “what variety of mango is this?”, they look at me curiously, shake there head slowly and shrug, “it’s a mango Lee.” Basically, just chill out and eat it. I think they have pity for the way I complicated things. It’s a mango. Enjoy. Ok. (Actually, I managed to find out that one of the trees is the highly prized Mankurad variety, which explains why the family are so popular with the neighbours.)

Patrick, Helen’s husband, just knocked on the door asking if I liked brinjal (aubergine). We’re having a leaving dinner tonight. The family have a very Portugese surname, most Goan’s I meet have an affinity with their Portuguese past. They only left in the 60’s and the Euro/ Christian feel lingers. Goan’s can even get a passport for Portugal if they like and many do. Goa is like the rest of India in some ways but generally it has the feel of a different country. That’s one of the things I most love about India, the diversity on every level.

Goan mango eating technique. Just tear it apart with your hands.

The brothers who I’m staying with (Andrew’s one of them) actually make their living from selling massive ex-petrol tanks filled with cashew feni (think moonshine but nicer) to local bars, some like little pirate speakeasy’s right on the coast. I love them. Not much bigger than a cupboard and many actually looking like driftwood cupboards.  They’re packed full of rough fishermen and cheery characters and well proportioned police men (off duty I think). I like the Antique Bar (I can’t tell you where it is, it’s like buried treasure) where you expect Long John Silver to walk in at any minute with a parrot on his shoulder. They also play great blues and flamenco.

GOAN CUISINE

I’ve been regularly inspired and occasionally blown off my stool by the intensity of Goan cuisine and tonight will be my last taste of the real deal for a while. I love the coconut and the unique spice mixes, the dish Xacuti stands out, many locals I’ve spoken to make their own spice mixes and even use garam masala style blends more common up north. Vinegar (toddy, made from coconut trees) is used in a lot of cooking, gives a twang, mirroring many Portugese dishes.  That’s what I love about Goa its a mixed up place in a good way, it’s a cocktail of cultures and influences. Of course, the hippies had a big say and many locals who live near the beaches see the inner hippy still in the Westerners they meet. Like we’re all open hearted, free seekers of something else. The reality is of course now a bit different.

It’s hard to imagine, but the Portugese were the first to introduce potatoes, tomatoes, chillies, guavas and cashews to Goa and India.  This trend can be seen all over the world, the early Spanish and Portugese explorers/ conquistadors were responsible for introducing us to many of our staples that may now seem indigenous to our countries.  Vindaloo is also a Portugese dish, a name derived from the Portugese for garlic and wine.  Although Goan food is heavy on the seafood and now meat, I found loads of plant-based options and the delicious masalas and sauces can easily be used in vegan cooking.

Jane taking a closer look

One of my favourite things about riding around Goa is the generally fading Portugese architecture, so many beautiful houses, many like mini-castles.  Even the towns, with their central squares and large ex-government buildings still have a whiff of the wealthy imperial gang.  They were here for nearly 500 years after all and the coast line is dotted with their crumbling hill top forts.  Each village has at least one imposing, brilliantly white Catholic church. Most are locked but I like wandering around the graveyards.

Elsewhere in Goa there are still big dance parties a plenty but things have quitened down quite a bit and become commercialised.  You’ll find the occasional hippy playing didgeridoos and sitars, plenty of packaged tourists (mainly Russian) and people from all over India settled and taking it easy here. At weekend, Goa fills with tourists from the big cities of India looking for a little Kingfisher soaked debauchery. They find it then set fireworks off.

Patrick just said to not worry, ‘we’re all coming and going’, meaning to wait for a few minutes. I feel like that, it’s been a very Goan day. Everything has been coming and going very nicely. The sunset perfectly and the ocean was calm. Patrick also says ‘take it easy, you never know when time comes.’ as a goodbye. I think we know what that means and its true. Wherever coconut trees sway I’ve found this attitude. Take it easy before it’s too late and let things flow. So I am. You see, that’s it for me, I’m off to the Himalayas tomorrow so it’s goodbye to these…..

Goodbye Goa!

But back to the sweet onslaught of mangos that I’ve enjoyed over the past few months. I heard that in India it is said that someone with a mango tree on their land is wealthy indeed. I agree. I had three 60 footers keeping me company. I’ve felt rich beyond imagination. But things move on, I think apples are coming into season in the Himalayas……

This lassi uses a creamy coconut base and a kick of ginger to keep things lively, but also to balance a little of the overpowering sweetness from friend mango. In the UK and other non-mango growing countries, getting a supply of ripe, non-fibrous mangoes can be tough.  Try and wait until they’re nicely soft for best results.  Lassi is full of tang, some lovely sourness normally coming from the yoghurt. Try to use unsweetened yoghurt if you can get your mitts on it, then you’re in charge of the sweetness.

I’ve found you can eat mango three times a day quite happily. Here’s breakfast, proper Goan porridge (with tahini, coconut oil, cashews and pineapple)

Mango & Ginger Lassi

For 2 glasses

The Bits

250ml Coconut Yoghurt or Soya Yoghurt (unsweetened is best)

1 large, ripe mango (peel, cut all the fruit off the pip and chop up roughly)

75ml coconut milk or soya milk

1 big handful ice cubes or a splash of cold water

1/2 lime (juice)

1/2 inch fresh ginger (crushed)

Sweetener – as you like (depending on the sweetness of the mango)

Optional – large pinch ground cardamom

(I know all about the pink straw, but Helen insisted that we must have a straw.)

Mango and Ginger Lassi

Do It

Place all ingredients in a blender and blitz.  Add lime juice, blitz again, taste for sweetness and adjust how you fancy.  Served chilled in your nicest glasses.

Foodie Fact

Mangoes, super sweet and a little tart are really a ‘super fruit!’  They are very high in vitamin A and C and are also a good source of fibre.  They contain minerals like potassium and copper.

Anyoone tried a Chiku? One of the most amazing fruits, like a date meets a custard apple disguised as a small potato.

The jack fruits weren’t quite ready. Look at the size of them!! Next time;)

**We’ve also got a new newsletter you might like, click top left and subrscribe to get news on updates, new recipes and giveaways.**

Categories: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Recipes, Smoothies, Superfoods, Travel, Vegan, veganism | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Jungle Kopi Culture – Sampling Indonesia’s coffee revolution

Traditional village - Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

Traditional village – Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

There are so many striking things about Indonesia; the people are so friendly, warm and welcoming, the incredibly diverse cultures are ancient and fascinating, the landscape varied, and jaw dropping and somewhere steaming away in this heady mix is the coffee, something of a superstar in the waiting.

Of all the coffee giants in the world; Latin America, Africa, India etc, I feel Indonesia is slightly overlooked. Especially Sulawesi. You may see some packs of Java beans out there, but nothing much else. The variety of Indonesia’s coffee cornucopia is poorly represented and we’re missing out big time.

Indonesia has the perfect conditions for coffee (and cacao) growing.  Coffee and chocolate, what a combo!  There is a youthful espresso fuelled movement swinging into existence bringing quality coffee back to it’s roots and cherries, so to speak. Led by the sprawling megalopolis that is Jakarta, there is a growing trendy cafe culture over here, hip and buzzing, Indonesians are getting to enjoy their coffee and not just export it away.  We have been lucky to sample a bewildering array of brews and take in some plantations, each island produces very different styles of beans, within those islands are various regions, each with their own character and the tumbling coffee kaleidescope continues.

Perfect cremas are not always the case though. Many Indonesians don’t drink coffee as we Euro coffee snobs like it. The local brew is something like a long Greek/ Turkish coffee. Needing a few minutes to settle into a dark cuppa with some funky sludge greeting you towards the latter stages. It is normally pretty decent, better than packet instant, but this new roasted and toasted trend is very exciting.  Young guys with hipster quiffs and girls wearing brightly coloured hijabs let loose on Italian-made coffee machines to extract the maximum wow and yum. Jakarta is filling up with bespoke cafes and the big chains are lumbering in; Starclucks are making their insidious presence felt and bizarrely use beans from Guatemala!! Speaks volumes.

Jack fruit burger with sweet potato fries- It's not just the coffee that awesome in Indonesia

Jack fruit burger with sweet potato fries- It’s not just the coffee that awesome in Indonesia

TANA TORAJA – A COFFEE AFICIONADO”S PARADISE

So Toraja is a remote region in Central Sulawesi, one of the largest islands in Indonesia, roughly the same size as France and basically, one big jungle. Toraja is reached by spectacularly rutted and windy roads, a mountainous region famous over here for producing some of the best Arabica in the country and is also home to an incredible tribal culture (see here).

Coffee is not a big deal in Toraja, they may drink it occasionally and most of the traditional houses in villages (see the top photo) had a little ornate wooden pot full of ground coffee. The beans are normally roasted in a steel pan over an open fire, which leads to inconsistent heat and inevitably a mixture of burnt and raw beans. I have tried roasting beans using this method in Luzon, Philippines and is seems that no matter how much care you take, there is little chance of avoiding charred bits with pale interiors. This could be why the Torajan’s didn’t generally cherish their beans.  The same could be said of cacao (chocolate beans) which also grows everywhere, their brilliantly red and yellow pods poking out of the canopy.

A friend told me about a Belgian couple who brought some local people a selection of fine European chocolates. The village Torajan’s were amazed that these bitter little beans had been fashioned into something so delicious. A chocolate revolution is surely the next step for Indonesia’s foodie folk, probably with some cacao smoothies along the way.

Some many Indonesia varieties to choose from, freshly ground to order

Some many Indonesia varieties to choose from, freshly ground to order

One of the largest towns in Toraja is Rantepao and this is were we met two of our coffee superheroes, Mika and Eli. Eli runs a tiny coffee roasting business and cafe with his wife, Kaana Toraya Coffee, using a perfectly eclectic range of machinery that he built himself and techniques he learnt from a Hawaiian tourist in the early 90’s. Eli has made two roasters, the largest one powered by a large water wheel. A stroke of engineering genius. It is very peaceful to sit and watch it in action. The sound of flowing water and the tantalising aromas of coffee beans roasting. The equipment may look a little basic and battered in places, but the outcome is sensational and very high quality. We tried the traditional style of beans, dried leaving the husks on and also the standard washed style bean that we are familiar with, but then the bombshell came calling, Hani! Hani is a technique that I feel would be huge in the coffee shops and nooks of Europe and beyond.

Elli's water wheel powered coffee roaster. Ingenius!

Elli’s water wheel powered coffee roaster. Ingenius!

HANI – A NEW STYLE OF COFFEE

The word sounds like honey and the flavour is like honey, much sweeter and fragrant than a washed bean. It is achieved by leaving the natural juices, released by the coffee berries when being picked and processed, on the coffee bean when drying (over here this is generally done on huge racks under the sun or in small quantities by the side of the road). This means that the berry is darker in colour. Dried pre-roast coffee beans are actually a yellowy green colour. These hani beans smell strongly of honey! It’s magic!! Especially for a vegan!!!

Eli and his wife kindly sold us a small bag of Hani for our backpacks, we are travelling with a little cafetiere contraption that means when we get a bit remote mountain cave or deserted island hammock we can still enjoy a top cup of joe. Eli loves exporting his families organic, hand picked coffee all around the world, if you’re in the business, you’ve got to try some Hani beans! Something truly unique. Also, you will never find a man who smiles more than Eli. Its highly infectious:)

Eli's extra special 'hani' coffee - tastes like honey

Eli’s extra special ‘hani’ coffee – tastes like honey

After being immersed in the full coffee story, from bush to mug, we felt like a little sunset stroll around town. Rantepao is a dusty little place, clustered around a busy main thoroughfare. Tourism has made it’s presence felt and there are a couple of biggish hotels, normally catering for large tour groups. There is an impressive protestant church beside a slightly larger bright green mosque, there is a bustling bazaar selling everything from knocked off Rip Curl t-shirts to locally grown spices and finely carved machetes. On each street corner you’ll find the ubiquitous fried snack vendour, giant pans of oil bubbling away inches from frantic swathes of traffic. Pisang Goreng (Fried Bananas wrapped in a light pastry) are famous here and served in a number of ways, all sweet and tantalising. You’ve also got the usual piles of battered tempeh, tofu, corn fritters and sometimes chicken.

We were enjoying the energy and smiles encountered, many children and teenagers were practicing for their Independence day parades, something like a mass cheerleader-athon mixed with an army cadet march. All mini well pressed uniforms, papier machete tanks and tiara clad back flips. Many proud parents watching on beside Denis’s Massage Parlour, Jane and I causing minor waves of excitement, everyone shouting “Mr, Mr, hey Mr”.  This is a normal reaction to tourists in Indonesia.  Jane is also a Mr it seems! We have now posed for hundreds of selfies which, most of the time, is a real laugh.

From bush to cup, you get the whole coffee experience in Indonesia

From bush to cup, you get the whole coffee experience in Indonesia

JAK KOFFIE – JIMI HENDRIX & AMERICANO

It was by pure chance that we found Jak coffee, not much more than a doorway on a side street. The brilliant graffiti caught our attention. We instantly realised that it was a special little place, the decor was really cool and Mika (the main man) had the biggest, warmest smile on his face. It is not uncommon in Indonesia to find cafes with rows of jars, filled with freshly roasted beans to choose. A rare treat for sure! Mika was playing some great tunes and had painted a large picture of Jimi Hendrix on the wall. Never a bad interior design idea!  The walls are lined with Mika’s work, he’s really a photographer moonlighting as a barista, plus the occasional antique lampshade or red phone.

Mika is very knowledgeable about most things it seems and spoke passionately about local history and culture, bringing life to it all, we learnt more in 1 hour than we did in 1 month of travel. This was the real story of Indonesia, right now, from the people creating the new waves and shapes.  My Americano was mindblowing; rich and deep, made with organic beans from the East of Toraja. Maybe you think a cup of coffee cannot border on or even tickle the mindblowing.  This was a coffee bomb!!  The flavours and aromas were intense.  Having said that, it was my fourth coffee of the afternoon and most things were a little intense.  Mika picks and chooses who he buys from, keeping things fresh, organic and interesting.  I have never seen someone take so much care over making a coffee.  The process elevated to an art form.

Jimi

Jimi

‘NO COFFEE MAFIA PLEASE!’

You have probably not heard about Torajan coffee, primarily because large corporations from Japan and China buy it all up and make it into generic rubbish. This obviously means that prices are low and farmers suffer. There is no fair trade in these parts. Mika is fighting the good fight himself and attempting to showcase what Toraja can really do, saying “NO coffee mafia please!”  We loved his passion which sparked off in all kinds of directions.  He even had signs (see below).

Mika and his friends also bake some amazing cakes; stout brownies, chocolate croissants. The local crowd are loving to experiment with new styles of cooking. Anyone fancy a croissant sandwich?  This is anti-Starclucks world, local people taking control of their produce and making something bespoke and high quality (and a few bucks) with bags of good ethics and integrity.

No mafia coffee please

No mafia coffee please

Jak Koffie is a slightly surreal experience really (in a good way), it’s like steeping through a hip portal, you feel like you’ve been transported to Soho, London or Gothica, Barcelona.   That is until you step outside and are nearly taken out by a twelve year old on a motorbike eating a fried banana. Mika is like Indonesia’s answer to a fully caffeinated, cheery Che Guevara and I wish him my wholehearted best and hope we’ll soon see the amazing coffee’s of Toraja in more Western shops and cafes.

If you’re in Toraja, Jak cafe is a must. An a urban chic oasis in the endless steaming jungles of Sulawesi. You’ve also got to try Hani coffee, a totally new coffee drinking experience.  Rantepao is a great place to sample the old and new faces of Indonesia as they mingle and take flight.  The only negative that we’ve encountered in Indonesia is a short visa and it’s now leave.  Selamat Tinggal!

Jak coffee - one of the best cafes we visited in Indonesia

Jak Koffie – one of the best cafes we visited in Indonesia

 

Jak has no website yet but you can find more info and contact details here.

Categories: photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Krishna’s Christmas Ice Cream (Vegan & Sugar free) – A gift from Solitude Farm & Organic Kitchen, India

Peanut & Chocolate Ice Cream (Vegan & Sugar-free)

Peanut & Chocolate Ice Cream (Vegan & Sugar-free)

100% sugar free ice cream!  Yowzah!

I love Christmas for many reasons, it gets me thinking about all the shining, beautiful people I’ve met all around the world.  I sometimes wonder how they will be spending Christmas or are they celebrating at all.  In many cultures its just another day.  I have spent Christmas in Cambodia and that was blast!  I hung out with some tuk tuk drivers and we sang and played guitar until the sun made us have breakfast.  There is no such thing as a normal Christmas in my eyes and I like ice cream.  So I’m having ice cream this Christmas day.  What about you?

Here’s a purely vegan, super creamy and rich chocolate ice cream recipe all the way from Krishna and the gang at Solitude Farm & Organic Kitchen, Tamil Nadu, India.  I know if Krishna recommends it, it will be a tasty treat!  I have made ice creams in his kitchen; always vegan, always sugar free, always amazing!  Its a magical thing to be re-creating it back in the BHK, Wales.  A real Christmas treat!

I have played with the recipe just a tad, added some festive flava with the cinnamon, generally making it more Western friendly.  We are not so used to grinding our own peanuts or cacao beans and probably don’t have access to the delights of Basil Seeds!

If you like this recipe, there is a similar Chocolate & Maple Ice Cream recipe in Peace & Parsnips.  Its the type of thing you try and get the technique under your belt and then BOOM!  You’re off on a massive ice cream making odyssey and the random, bizarre and truly awe-inspiring thing is…….its healthy!  Good healthy.  Happy healthy.  Vibrant healthy.

Check out more from Krishna here, they have an amazing project going on PEOPLEFOODMUSIC at the minute to raise awareness about local food and sustainable farming practices, in fact its a multi-faceted thing of wonder and positivity, best checking it out below.

CONTRIBUTE, LEARN AND BE HAPPY:)

We’re going to be making gallons of this ice cream over the festive window.  I’ll be adding raisins and maybe dried cherries instead of dates (soaking them in a little brandy no doubt!) and some ground ginger.  Taking in the direction of a Christmas Pudding Ice Cream.  Finished with some ginger biscuits……YUM!  I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Bits – Makes 1 big tubful

90g cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

10 frozen bananas

3 tbs chunky peanut butter (or other nut butter)

1 tin coconut milk

1 tbs ground cinnamon

3 big handfuls dates (soaked in water for 2 hours to soften, add more if you have a sweet tooth)

1 tbs Basil seeds (Sabja) – optional

Brown Rice Syrup (sweetener of choice) – optional

Do It

Soak basil seeds in water (if ya got ’em!)

In a food processor, add the bananas, 1/2 the coco milk, peanut butter…..in fact, pop it all in there.  Press the blitz button, scrape the fp down and start again, repeat until its nice and smooooooooth.  Drizzle in the coco milk whilst blending until you get a good, thick texture.

Taste the ice cream and get the flavour just how you love it.  We are not that sweet of the tooth (well Jane is a little).  Sweeten as desired.

Freeze for around 2-3 hours, until its just frozen and then blend it again.  This may take slightly defrosting it first, and blitzing in the trusty fp or blender.  Put back into the freezer and it’s now ready and waiting to be enjoyed!

Foodie Fact

Cacao is one of the healthiest things that will touch your lips.  It is different from cocoa in the fact that it has not been processed, maintaining its amazing nutritional properties.

Cooking at Solitude Farm, India

Cooking at Solitude Farm, India — Old school style, wood fires in a hut

Lunch is legendary at Solitude - celebrating the produce from the farm

Lunch is legendary at Solitude – celebrating the fresh and organic produce from the farm

 

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Desserts, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Superfoods, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pumpkin, Ginger and Kaffir Lime Soup

Pumpkin, Ginger and Kaffir Lime Soup

Pumpkin, Ginger and Kaffir Lime Soup

At this time of year, I’d quite happily live on soup.

I just have time to squeeze this post in before driving to Durham and the sparkling NEVFest (North East Vegan Fest).  The first time that Jane and I have not been to a food festival this year together.

Durham is where all of my family are from and I’m very much looking forward to cooking and doing a talk in the Stadium of Light, the home of Sunderland AFC.  For my sins, I support the red and whites.  It will be quite surreal.  I never imagined talking and cooking vegan in a football stadium but learnt recently that at least one professional football team in the UK has gone totally vegan, so maybe its not so strange.  Lentil pies at half time with some miso broth.  Yum!  The future…..

You may think that the life of a food blogger is all hanging out by the fire, sipping a cheeky Oolong whilst leafing through a mountain of cookbooks, but it ain’t.  We all have busy lives these days and posts are normally squeezed in somewhere or other.  Janice (over at the sparkling Nourished by Nature blog) and I were just chatting about this the other day.  Blogging is a labour of love for many of us and we are just crazy about food and sharing our foodie inspiration.

This is not helped by the fact that I am a complete luddite.  I still do not have a phone (hence the lack of Instagram action) and only have a bulky laptop.  I’m trying.  But in reality, I am a techno caveman at heart.  I like paper and pens, books and postcards.  The occasional stapler.  I do love sharing things online though and hope you enjoy these little recipes.  I’ve met such a wonderful global community via the BHK.  The internet is an AMAZING place!

I’ve been cooking with loads of squashes and pumpkins (actually pumpkins are members of the squash family) at Trigonos and at home.  Our local organic veg farm Tyddyn Teg has been growing a wonderful variety of squashes; spaghetti, the mighty crown prince and even little acorns.  Some are even larger than my head.

Squashes are perfect winter fuel, high in energy with loads (I mean loads!) of antioxidants and beta carotene.  Just what our bodies crave and thrive on come the wintery months.  In darker times, eat brighter foods!  Squashes also store well, but I doubt they’ll be lasting very long around these parts.

COCO!

When I say coconut cream I mean the cream in a tin of coconut milk.  If  your coconut milk contains emulsifiers and the like, it will not separate and therefore you cannot extract the cream.

To extract coconut cream from a tin of coco milk, simply place it in a fridge for a couple of hours, turn it over, open the tin and pour out the coco water.  You are left with at least half a tin of very creamy coconut cream to play with.  Try whipping it up with some lime zest and juice or just add a little sweetener to make delicious, vegan whipped cream.   Use the leftover coco water in smoothies, on your morning cereal, add it to stews or even cook rice with it (one of our personal favs).

You may also like to use the hard, block variety of coconut cream.  Just follow the pack instructions.  Don’t worry about adding too much coconut cream to this soup, it will only make it even richer and more delicious.

Pumpkin Seeds before roasting in the oven....

Pumpkin Seeds before roasting in the oven….

ROAST YOUR OWN PUMPKIN SEEDS

I never waste my squash/ pumpkin seeds.  I always pick them out and quickly roast them in the oven with a drop of oil and salt.  Delicious!  Just place them on a baking tray and bake them for 8 minutes on 180oC.  Stir them and keep baking them for 5 minute intervals until they are dark golden and crisp.  Its so easy and each type of squash seed will taste slightly different and have their own texture.  Pumpkin seeds are nice and light, very crispy when roasted.  Perfect as a soup-topper.

...and after. YUM!

…and after. YUM!

I love adding ginger to soups and a little kaffir gives a vibrant fragrance to the rich, sweetness of the pumpkin.  You can use any type of squash here and you may like to half the recipe or freeze the leftovers.  I think cooking in big batches makes loads of sense.  We’ve also been experimenting with pumpkin smoothies and they are a real treat.  A pumpkin chai latte smoothie is a thing of beauty and I’ll hopefully get around to sharing it soon.

Enjoy and stay cosy,

LeeX

Recipe Notes

As I mentioned, experiment with different squashes, they are all wonderful and have properties of their own.  Some sweet and firm, some lighter and slightly blander, others intense and wonderful roasted.  There are so many varieties and this is still (just about) the time to enjoy them in season here in the UK.

You’ll need an extra big pan for this one.  As I said, half the recipe for something a little more manageable.

Pumpkins are ace!

Pumpkins are ace!

The Bits – Makes 10 large bowls
1 medium pumpkin – 1.75kg (peeled and cut into rough 1 inch chunks)
1.5 litres water/ light vegetable stock
7 kaffir lime leaves
50-60g fresh ginger (peeled and finely diced)
2 onions (finely diced)
200g coconut cream

2 teas salt

Do It

In a very large pan, add 2 teas cooking oil, warm and then add your onions and salt.  Fry on medium heat for five minutes until softened and then add your pumpkin, ginger and lime leaves.  Stir well and cook for another two minutes, then add the water/ stock.  Bring to a boil and pop a lid on, lowering the heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the coconut cream, stirring well and simmer for another 10 minutes, adding more hot water if needed.  The pumpkin should now be nice and soft.

Pick out as many lime leaves as you can.  Taste the soup, checking for seasoning.  Now give the soup a blend until creamy and smooth with a stick blender or in a food processor.

Serve

In warm bowls, scattered with freshly chopped chillies and some roasted pumpkin seeds.  A little fresh coriander would also be a delight!

The flavours here do lend themselves to sesame and I have been serving this at Trigonos with sesame bread rolls.

Foodie Fact

Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which means they are cousins to melons, watermelons, cucumbers, squashes.

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of anti-oxidants and minerals, they even contain a good amount of iron and of course, plenty of protein.  Surprisingly China is now the worlds largest pumpkin seed producer.  Who knew!

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Soups, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Banana, Buckwheat and Walnut Slices (Yummy, easy and don’t cost the earth!)

Banana, Buckwheat and Walnut Slices

Banana, Buckwheat and Walnut Slices

A nice slice of proper, old fashioned cake here. I love baking these traditional style cakes, you can’t go wrong with them.  Its so quick and easy to get together and it is also very cheap.  I doubt you’ll be able to cobble a cake together for much less.  This recipe is a request from one of our lovely guests at Trigonos, Debbie. It is a Trigonos classic and a variation on Ed’s (long serving chef and all around superhero) recipe that has been served to many thousands of artists, meditators, yoga students etc over the years. One of the best things about it, is its ease in preparation. Never a bad thing when working in a busy kitchen!

I was going to make Jack Monroe’s awesome looking Extra-Wholesome Banana Loaf and will be soon as I am always open to adding coconut oil to cakes.  I think its the closest we vegans can get to butter in baking and certainly adds richness and a fuller texture to your favourite slab of sweet happiness.  The extra-wholesome element in this cake is the buckwheat.  Adding great nutrition and a depth to the flavour of the cake.

PLEASE EAT MORE CAKE:)

Afternoon tea at Trigonos is always a highlight for most of our guests. It seems that this tradition is fast disappearing, maybe Great British Bake Off is reversing the trend a little, but a nice sit down with a cup of tea is a British institution that is dwindling due to our now fast paced lifestyles.  I think eating cake is essential to a balance, healthy, blissed out existence.  A little sweetness brings a smile.  Even if its a piece of fruit or one of the vast array of healthy cakes out there now; no sugar, gluten free etc.  We’re making one today actually, something revolving around polenta, garden blackberries and gram flour.  Watch this space (idea pinched from the brilliant Laura at Whole Ingredient blog!)

THE LUCKIEST CHEF ALIVE!

Trigonos is rocking at the minute with local produce.  I’m the luckiest chef living to be able to cook everyday with glorious organic produce.  Its all thanks to Judy and Owain who work their socks off year round to make the conditions right for these summer gluts.  The team have just podded over 200lb of peas alone, the sun has been out a little recently meaning the tomatoes are finally going red and we’ve a whole poly tunnel of them to munch, roast and/ or jar up.

Lovely to see the Ruby Chard back on the Trigonos Menu

Lovely to see the Ruby Chard back on the Trigonos Menu

As a cook, its a busy time of year, but a wonderfully satisfying one.  Our freezers are beginning to burst at the seams with blanched and fresh veggies, prepared for the more leaner months.  Our guests at the retreat centre really appreciate the fact that a lot of the food they eat was grown on the land, it certainly adds to the dining experience.  You can’t beat the flavour and vibrancy!

The courgettes are just taking off and that’s always interesting, overnight they can turn into something resembling a canoe crossed with a marrow.  They just blow up!  Sometimes these are great stuffed, as a real centre piece.  Basil has also ran wild this year, meaning many pesto/ pistou’s.  An abundance of basil is always a rare gift.  I’ve been loving Toasted Cashew and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, hopefully I’ll get the recipe on the BHK soon.  Jane and I are also doing a few house renovations and working on plenty of Beach House/ Peace & Parsnips based projects.  More news of those to follow soon.

Overall, I’m consistently amazed at how the Trigo guys eek out such abundant harvests from what is quite a damp and overcast part of the world with fairly dodgy volcanic soil. Its taken 17 years to get it to this stage.  I think that is the main lesson with organic farming/ veg growing.  Patience.

Gorgeous summer peas - post pod

Gorgeous summer peas – post pod

This recipe makes roughly 24 slices. It comes directly from my Trigonos recipe book (a cluster of precious, undecipherable scrap paper) where recipes are normally fit to serve 20-30.  Please feel free to scale it down a little.  I’ve also made this with added tahini and sesame seeds (no walnuts) and it becomes even richer with a nice chewy texture.  You may also like to add seasonal berries to the cake.  Raspberries and blackberries, for example, work beautifully.  As ever, use this recipe as a base and go wild!  Feel ever free to experiment…………  Use any oil you like, of course unrefined is much better, preferably with a neutral flavour.  If you don’t have buckwheat flour, you can use all wholemeal.

IDEAS FOR REPLACING EGGS

The bananas here act as a egg replacer.  Other vegan options for helping to bind things together when baking are apple sauce (cooked apples), silken tofu, mashed sweet potato/ squash, ground flax seeds……there are loads of healthy and effective plant based options.

This one’s for you Debbie!!!!!!!x

Trigonos farm - looking a bit misty yesterday.  We're having a pretty good year with produce, but unfortunately, much less sunshine than last year.

Trigonos farm – looking a bit misty yesterday. We’re having a pretty good year with produce, but much less sunshine than last year.

The Bits – 24 Slices

Do It

11 oz (310g) self raising wholemeal flour

5 oz (140g) buckwheat flour

10 oz (285g) unrefined brown sugar

 

1/2 pint (285ml) sunflower oil

1/2 pint (285ml) soya/ rice milk

4 ripe bananas

3 oz (85g) crushed walnuts

 

Do It

Oil and line a 10 inch x 14 inch (roughly) pan with baking parchment.  Preheat an oven to 375oF (190oC).

Sieve the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl.   Mash your bananas in a seperate bowl with a fork, until smooth.  Make a well in the flour and sugar, gradually pour in your oil and milk followed by your bananas.  Stir until all is nicely combined (not too much).

Pour into the baking pan and pop in the oven for 40-45 mins.  Until your trusty skewer comes out clean when pressed into the centre of the cake.

Turn out onto a wire rack (removing the baking parchment) and leave to cool for 20 minutes.  Devour at will.

Banana. Buckwheat and Walnut Slices - This recipe makes a load, but don't worry, it freezes well!

Banana. Buckwheat and Walnut Slices – This recipe makes a load, but don’t worry, it freezes well!

Serve

Big cups of tea with your neighbour or granny.   Cats are also nice to have around when eating good cake.

Foodie Fact

Buckwheat is a great, gluten free alternative when used as a flour or grain.  Buckwheat is classed as a whole grain but is actually a fruit and is related to sorrel and rhubarb.  Buckwheat is a good source of magnesium and has other properties that promote good cardiovascular health.   Fibre is so important in a well balanced diet and buckwheat, being a whole wholegrain, is full of it.

I use buckwheat, both flour and grain, loads in Peace & Parsnips, things like Buckwheat Pancakes, Toasted Almond Buckwheat Crumble, Kasha with Rosemary, Apricots and Walnuts…….  It’s such a nutritious and tasty thang.

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Local food, photography, Recipes, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Parsnip and Millet Soup with Mustard Seed Oil


Parsnip and Millet Soup

Parsnip and Millet Soup

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

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

Some proper British veg

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

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

Black Mustard Seeds - small, but packed with flavour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think this summer is going to be rosy!

The Bits – For 4-6 Bowls

3 tbs cooking oil

100g millet

2 small onions (finely sliced)

2 medium sized parsnips (finely chopped)

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

2 teas Dijon mustard

2 teas black mustard seeds

1.5 ltr veg stock/ water

Sea salt and pepper (to taste)

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

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

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

Parsnip and Millet Soup

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

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

Categories: gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Soups | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils

Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils

Detox Greens Soup with Welsh Miso, Ginger and Green Lentils

There is just the hint of winter in the air as we move through autumn and this slight chill always gets my soup bells ringing.  Here is a soup that ticks all of the autumnal boxes, tasty and utterly loaded with healthy things, even (almost) locally made Welsh Miso.

This recipe takes care of all of our seasonal fare on Tiger Mountain, all of them green and when simmered together for a time, transform into a tasty health elixir.  The flavours are hearty and comforting with a tinge of ginger and miso in the background to keep things interesting and offer a little Japanese style twang.

My Dad, John (aka the big yin, aka ‘heed’, aka Johnnie Boy) has been visiting for a week and he knows how to enjoy himself, Jane and I struggle to keep up!  We’ve had a week of wonderful times but lets just say that many of them were not exactly beneficial to the health.  Our wine rack is bare (a very grim sight) and our ale stores seriously depleted.  After waving Dad off at the station, we both decided that our bodies needed some kind of green wake up call and nothing comforts and revitalizes more than a decent bowl of soup.

The 'Big Yin' at Aber Falls, near bangor

The ‘Big Yin’ at Aber Falls, near bangor

Cabbage is the backbone of this soup, and a good cabbage is essential late autumn behaviour.  Not the most glamorous of ingredients but when handled with care, one of the tastiest and versatile veggies.  I love wrapping things in cabbage leaves and baking them, or even blanching the leaves and using them as an alternative to something like a spring roll.  One things for sure, in north Wales, we’ll never be short of cabbages, they love it up here and at work the other day (I cook in a retreat/ alternative learning centre), I had the privilege of tackling the largest cabbage I have ever seen.  Judy (farming genius and very much more) wandered into the kitchen bearing a green globe at least 2 feet across!!!!  I swear there must be something magical in the soil over there, we can hardly eke a Brussel sprout out up here!!!!  If you can’t get hold of a good organic cabbage, you may need to add a little more stock to the mix, your taste buds will be the guide…….

We have been building up to making our own miso for a while now, but are fortunate to have Welsh miso being produced almost on our own doorstep, give or take a few hundred miles, in the same country at the very least.  They guys at Source Foods seem like a very decent bunch and their products are top. We recently got hold of a pot of their hemp miso (thanks for forgetting it Helen!) and its a wicked addition to their fabulous fermented offerings.  They use all organic ingredients and without sourcing bits from Japan, which has been very unfortunately effected by the Fukushima tragedy.   Welsh Miso, quite randomnly, is our amazing stuff!

Miso adds unmistakable vitality and deliciousness, but comes with bags of sodium.  If you are serious about making this a detox soup, give your kidneys a break and take it easy on the miso, 2 tbs is enough.  There is however new research coming out that highlights the difference between salt and miso, they are handled differently and have different effects on our bodies.  Salt leads to higher blood pressure and for some miraculous reason, miso does not.  This is backed up by the rate of heart problems in Japan, where high levels of miso is consumed regularly.  We used light miso here, but you can use a darker variety, just use less.  See the ‘Foodie Fact’ below for more info on marvelous Mr Miso.

This soup falls into the bracket of ‘a meal in itself’ and we regularly eat it like a stew, without much liquid and plenty of lumps.  In this state, it will be wonderful with brown rice, but we find it filling enough by itself.

The Bits – For 6 good bowls

1 teas olive oil

1 teas toasted sesame seed oil

1 leek (finely sliced)

1 1/2  inch fresh ginger (finely diced or roughly grated)

2 celery sticks (finely sliced)

1/2 medium savoy cabbage

1 cup green/ puy lentils

1 small head broccoli (cut into small florets)

6 handfuls spinach leaves

600ml warm organic vegetable stock (use only water if you trust your veggies to be amazing)

1 teas dried rosemary

2-5 tbs light miso (to taste)

sea salt (if needed)

 

Drizzle of olive oil (optional)

The Bits all prep'd

The Bits – pre-prep

Do It

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat, drizzle in the oils and when warm add the leeks, ginger and celery.  Stir and fry for 4-5 minutes, until soft.  Add the cabbage, lentils, stock/ water and rosemary to the pan.  Bring to a boil and lower heat to a steady simmer, pop a lid on and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

Add the broccoli and spinach, stir into the soup and pop the lid back on, cook for a further 5 minutes on a low simmer.  Stir in the miso to taste.  Pulse a few times with a stick blender, or add a quarter of the soup to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Pop a lid on and leave the soup to stand for a couple of minutes.  Miso is really like salt with benefits, it will enhance and deepens the flavours.

Definitely looks healthy!!!

Definitely looks healthy!!!

Serve

Straight away, add a little splash of olive oil for added richness.  If its a very special occasion (or a Tuesday) you could stir in 2-3 tbs of hazelnut butter to add silky creaminess.   Inevitably, Jane’s Easy Seeded Wholemeal Loaf, lightly toasted would be a belter of an accompaniment.

Foodie Fact

‘Miso’ is Japanese for ‘fermenting beans’ and miso can be made with any grain/ bean.  We used soya based miso here but you can find barley, rice, buckwheat, wheat, hemp seed….the list goes on.  Obvious what the miso is made of will alter the nutritional benefits but soya beans are normally used as a base in the process.

Miso involves fermentation, which of course means funky mould (or fungus if you will).  The fungus in question is the brilliantly named  ‘Aspergillus oryzae’ and its highly magic!  The key discovery made in the production of miso was how to keep these spores alive and transportable.  Miso on the move.  People have been fermenting foods in Japan and China for thousands of years (its also traditionally made in Indonesia and Korea), it was referred to as ‘Koji’ and they were well aware of the health benefits brought about by these amazing moulds.  This is the same process used when making sake, soya sauce tamari etc.

To make miso, you basically add the Aspergillus (or other sometimes other bacteria’s/ micro organisms are used) to soaked and cooked soya beans to get things started, this is in turn added to soaked and cooked grains/ beans and the miso is left to mellow and mature.  Miso comes in all sorts of shades and colours, normally white, red and dark brown, the fermentation process dictates the depth of flavour and colour.  Normally the darker the colour, the more intense the flavour, red and brown miso can be matured for three years and ‘Hatcho’ Miso, which is famous in Japan, is matured in 200 year old vats for three winters.

Buy organic miso when you can and ensure that no MSG has been added, cheaper makes will do this.  Miso is very nourishing and is a good source of fibre and protein, it is a very tasty way of adding legumes to your diet, 2 tbs of miso normally contains the nutrition of 2 cups worth of legumes.  The fermentation process of miso means that some of the beneficial chemicals present are already broken down by the magic fungus, giving our digestion a break and allowing our bodies to easily absorb all the goodness.   Misos main attraction, from a health point of view, is its outrageous list of beneficial anti-oxidants, our free radical scavenging friends.

We also just like the word ‘Miso’ and have decided that if another cat decides to move in with us, there are few appearing round our way, we’ll name it ‘Miso’.  Could we get away with calling a child ‘Miso’?!  Hmmm…..

Somethings we’ve cooked with our friend mighty Miso:

Mug of Miso

Sprouted Buckwheat, Onion and Miso Crackers (Raw)

Sava’s Elephant Garlic Flower Salad

Miso and Tahini Dressing

Black Prince Tomato and Coriander Soup (Raw)

Soup on the hob

Soup on the hob

Categories: Detox, Fermentation, Recipes, Soups, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Blooming Marvelous! Garden Update

The Queen of Salads!

The Queen of Salads!

Well, well, well……I mean really.  We had a summer, a proper stint of sun.  We woke every morning expecting it to be sunny.  How rare, how brilliant!  The garden has appreciated the warmth and light, things are blooming like never before in our little mountain abode, we can’t keep up with the progress, most of the time just letting nature do its thing and appreciate what comes from that.  This generally hides our lack of discipline with gardening and confirms our inherent feeling that nature cannot be contained in a plant pot, or bossed around.  Our potatoes seem to appreciate the approach!

The Potato Patch

The Potato Patch

Courgette Flower

Courgette Flower

The Beach House Garden is quite big and wild, after not strimming for a while it was resembling a Welsh jungle and wild things lurked out towards the horse field.  Fortunately they were just frogs and the occasional mole, although the rabid sheep have been making unwanted appearances in the garden.  Feral lot that they are.

So this year we have some decent looking beetroots, rhubarb chard, cavolo nero and even courgettes coming along.  The herbs have gone wild (which we always enjoy) and as I said, we have three varieties of potatoes leaping from the ground at an alarming rate.  Come early August and freak storms permitting, we should have a reasonable bounty to play with in the BHK and share amongst our nearest and dearest.

'Erbs running wild

‘Erbs running wild

Raw Earth Month marches on bathed in sun and good vibrations.  I have to say, the food has been grand and we are trying our best to post more recipes.  Our month of total raw/ vegan-ness ended yesterday, no booze, coffee, consuming, chemicals, lights, washing machine etc for over a month now and going strong.  Once you start this and feel good about it, it’s always hard to get back off it.  I am sure one day a scone will come along and that will be it!  Until then we are thinking another two weeks are in order.  There are two bottles of cava primed for the closing ceremony, we’ll have a picnic in the back garden on the stone circle and eat sandwiches and a lemon drizzle cake (Jane’s favourite) and get slightly sozzled in the sun (hopefully).

Yellow Lilly's (I think) growing in the pond

Yellow Lilly’s (I think) growing in the pond

Cavolo Nero, Beetroots and Chard

Cavolo Nero, Beetroots and Chard

We are so lucky to have wild strawberries growing this year, if we can grab them before the birds take their share!  They are the sweeetest, fragrant little things.  Just one tiny strawberry can change your day, much better than their big brother variety.

Wild Strawberries

Wild Strawberries

My hayfever has taken a back seat now that Jane’s magical herbalist friend has sent some little sweet pills through.  I can now enjoy the garden without fear of pathetic dribbles and sneezing fits taking over.  Hoorah!  This has made a huge difference to my enjoyment of the dramatic transformations in these green and golden hills.

We are being battered by odd humid, tropical storms at the moment, but somewhere behind those grey clouds, there’s a sun waiting to get busy.

On a walk near the Beach House

On a walk near the Beach House

Some classic George (you saw this one coming surely!):

Hopefully you’ll be seeing some of our garden produce in our recipes very soon, there is nothing quite like cooking with your own veg.  I am lucky enough to be working at a wonderful retreat centre at the moment and cook with alot of veg grown on the land.  There is something intangible and whole heatedly enjoyable about cooking with such produce.  It makes all the difference and the flavours are spectacular!  Eating the stem of a rhubarb chard recently is a food experience I will never forget!

Enjoy the heat wave (while it lasts)!

Categories: Garden, Raw Food, Summer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Sexy Tomatoes – The Tomato Stall

Sexy Tomatoes from The Tomato Stall

Sexy Tomatoes from The Tomato Stall

Every cook craves them, a sexy tomato stash!  Tomatoes can be the most wonderful ingredient on the planet or the most insipid, watery ball of red nonsense (aka most supermarket fodder).  Jane and I know our way around a tomato after spending plenty of time in Spain where we are surrounded by tomato plantations, normally growing toms for the Northern Europe market.

We have struggled in the early part of this year to get our hands on good produce and feel chuffed to have found the brilliant people at The Tomato Stall to supply us with fresh tomatoes; the most incredible oak smoked tomatoes and even a seriously kickin’ ginger chilli chutney.

The Tomato Stall have a wide range of products from ketchup to juice and I’ve chatted with Kelly over there at length about all things TOMS and they are seriously passionate about what  they do and the proof is in produce.  They grow many heirloom varieties, all additive free and mostly organic and all bursting with flavour and oh so juicy.

Beautiful bowl of Toms

Beautiful bowl of TOMS

We ate most of our bounty raw, like a box of chocolates, but way cooler.  There are so many colours; yellow, greens, speckled, vivid reds and even some they call black (more very dark green really).  The flavours of each variety were distinctly different; some sweeter, some more citrus; some meaty, some just exploded with juice.  With tomatoes like this it does seem a shame to cook them or tamper with the flavour, they are best served simply with maybe some extra virgin olive oil and a little sea salt.  That’s sounding like one of the worlds greatest salads!

We will be switching to local tomatoes when the crops come in (hopefully in a few weeks) but have no issues ordering tomatoes from the Isle of Wight when they are this wonderful (did we mention that the oak smoked tomatoes are one of the best things to pass our lips in a long time!)  Great tomatoes are so difficult to come by on this island and these are grown in Britain and not giant plastic plantations in Spain or Italy.

If you are struggling to get your hands on good tomatoes in the UK, let Kelly know and they’ll send some to a farm shop near you.

We love to have the opportunity to spread the good word of passionate food producers who are doing things properly.  If you are crazy about food and would like to send us a sample of your produce, we’ll taste them and let you know what we think.  We may even stick them on the Beach House Kitchen.

PS – Tomato a fruit or vegetable?  It seems obvious, but still a little room for debate.  Tomatoes just don’t quite go in a fruit salad!

Categories: B.H.K Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Raw Earth Month – What’s it all about?

We are running late on Raw Earth Month, the big day is now tomorrow (for a variety of mundane reasons).  I know Jane has already told you a little about what we’re up to, but here’s my take on the whole shebang.  Lee

The Beach House is going full-on this June – July (24th – 24th), its:

!………………RAW EARTH MONTH……………….!

We are rather excited about the whole dreamt up project.  It came like a bolt from the blue, we wanted to do another raw food month (because it makes you feel great and raw food is seriously interesting for the taste buds and from a nutritional point of view) so we took it to the next level, a huge step towards a more natural, peaceful lifestyle.

Raw Earth Month means:

–  A raw/ vegan diet only

–  No caffeine/ alcohol

–  No consuming

(not buying anything other than staple food)

–  No detergents/ unnatural chemicals

(i.e. toothpaste, washing up liquid, clothes washing detergent, shampoo, soap etc)  

–  Minimal use of electricity

(other than recharging computers, dehydrating, juicing, blending)

–   Minimal car use

(other than going to work and shopping on the way back)

–  1 hour internet use per day

–  No electric lights

(candles are allowed!)

–  No washing machine

(we are hand washing clothes in the bath)

–  Waste water to be recycled

(in the garden on our veg patch)

–  Use as much organic produce as possible  

(has been difficult this year with the wet, wet conditions)

–  Forage as much as possible

(nettles, elderflower, hawthorn, wild herbs, red clover, dandelion)

–  Composting all our waste and only buying packed produce when absolutely unavoidable.

Yoga, walking, meditation, gardening, playing music and smiling; definitely allowed.

We have loads of cool books to read about sustainability, organic/ biodynamic gardening, raw food, etc and are taking this month as a huge learning curve.  Jane is really getting into herbal remedies and potion making, with wonderful results (elderflower champagne anyone!!!!!)  We have both been super busy with work recently and are looking forward to this little window of peace.

Jane and I are also going to be making some music and this may appear on the BHK soon.  We may sing about red clovers and rosemary, we may not!

We’d love to hear your experiences of a similar lifestyle/ project and any advice is very, very warmly appreciated.

All in all, we hope to live the life we want to live, free from the troublesome add-ons of the modern world and co-existing within it.

VIVA RAW EARTH!x 

For more info on our Raw Earth Month, see here.

PS – I’ve no idea what we’ll do next year, maybe move into a cave or become wandering mendicants?!

Categories: Healthy Living, Raw Food, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Spring arrives in a blizzard – The Beach House Garden

Spring  hits the Beach House Garden

Spring hits the Beach House Garden – Dark and Gloomy

Well Spring is here and we’re hanging on in the middle of a blizzard. The Beach House is a sturdy little cottage, but the garden is looking anything but spring-like.

The whole of North Wales, and Britain in general, is getting a good covering of springtime snow.  This day last year the temperature was 21oC.  You may be British, or know Brits, we talk about the weather alot over here, mainly because we have such interesting weather!  You never know what to expect, which doesn’t help a novice gardener.

We have planted a few seeds already, granted very prematurely and they are doing well on racks beside the fire!  Rainbow chard is beginning to sprout and I fear for these little things when they are thrown into the garden, open to our mountain elements.  Maybe we will have an indoor garden this year!

Last years gardening adventures, in sunnier times

Last years gardening adventures, in sunnier times

It is so cold at the moment, even our semi-wild cat Buster has come inside, to shelter from the winds (see below).  Buster is our gardening companion and an expert at getting in the way.

Last years attempts at growing had mixed results (to say the least). Slugs had a field day in the very damp conditions and we became more a slug diner than a organic veg patch. We had some success with a variety of potatoes and the occasional leek, but really, most things flopped.  We have new strategies and fresh energy this year to quell those slimy critters and hide our plants from the wind.  Our green beans ended up mainly in the opposite field last time.

This year we are going for alot of beetroot, some leeks, many potatoes, some green beans and greeen and red leaves (rocket, raddichio etc).  We’d also like to grow some squash and plenty of kale and chard.  We’ll let you know how it all goes.

Thankfully, we have little expectations this year and even in this small garden patch, are now fully aware of the difficulties of approaching a ‘self-sufficient’ lifestyle.  There is so much to learn and only so many seasons left…

Hope you are all nice and warm and cosy wherever you are.

Buster checking out the bin

Buster checking out the bin

More from Buster (the worlds coolest creature)

More from Buster (the worlds coolest creature)

 

Categories: Garden, Spring, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Purple Joy Juice

Lovely farm produce

This is the ultimate juice for us at the minute. Beetroots don’t come anymore vivid and radiant than the ones we are getting from the farm. We are buying them by the bunch, with their long tasty leaves still on. It is a real treat to be able to use such amazing produce.

You cannot mess around with juicing. There are no textures to confuse the palate, there is nowhere for poor produce to hide. If you juice something grown in mass barns by machines (possibly) you won’t get any flavour and little colour. There will be no joy in your juice. You can see by the photos, this juice was brimming with purple joy.

Juiced beetroot is quite potent and a powerful elixir for the body.  They have discovered that its boosts athletes performance, according to the Independent newspaper.  So much so, that beetroot juice is being called the new super fuel for athletes.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see some ‘purple joy’ being cracked open at the Olympics this summer.

Beauty beets

There is a new brand in the UK shops called ‘Beet It’, an organic beetroot juice that is really getting this message across.  Its good to see this type of juice alongside the sugary, from concentrate brigade that you normally find.  So much rubbish can be hidden in most fresh fruit juice cartons.

There is no getting around this, to juice, you need a juicer.  Sorry….. (get a red Magimix like ours, they’re ace!)

The purple joy juice is so sweet and is really revitalising, after a few minutes you are buzzing in the nicest possible way.  Full of energy, like a bee.  If you need a pick me up, hit the beets…..

The Bits

3 vibrant beetroots, 4 carrots, 1 big juicy apple, small piece of celery.

Do It

Juice the beetroots first, we don’t peel anything, just scrub it a little and trim off tops and bottoms when necessary.  Then the carrots, celery and apple.  Leave the juicer on for a while to catch all the precious dribbles.

Purple Joy Juice

Serve

We like ours out of jars, but glasses will do just fine.

We Love It!

We are drinking this everyday at the moment and a friend warned that too much beetroot juice actually turns you purple!

Foodie Fact

Beetroots contains lots of Nitrogen Oxide and scientists have only recently discovered how wonderful this stuff is for the body.  It is a regulator of blood pressure, controls blood flow to certain organs, is a stamina enhancer via oxygen usage efficiency and is a weapon against infection.

Categories: Juices, Local food, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 19 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, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Garden, Healthy Eating, Juices, Organic, Raw Food, Recipes, Relax, Vegan, Vegetarian, 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, Vegetarian, 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, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Garden, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Organic, photography, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 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

May’s Coffee Challenge – Union Hand Roasted Coffee

Union Coffee with my best mug

With our raw food diet starting in June, I am taking time to enjoy my favourite non-raw foodie things.  Coffee being top of the list.  I have set myself the indulgent task of sampling many of my favourite coffees before I go caffeine cold turkey in a few weeks.  I thought I would treat myself to start with by going for one my favourite roasters, Union Coffee.

I have my own little coffee ritual on a daily basis; even when I was super busy down in old London town, I always took time over my coffee.  Coffee time for me is around mid-morning and is always a moment of peace with a revitalising brew.  Even if it’s just a five-minute break, it changes the whole day for the better.

For me, it’s not about that ‘caffeine buzz’ that so many talk about, although it is probably a welcomed side effect most mornings.  Good coffee has a fascinating story and people like Union source and roast only the finest beans from around the world.  When I look at the options, Guatemalan, Rwandan, Indian, Indonesian….I can’t help but get excited.

The quality here comes from dedication and passion, and I see this in the coffees that Union produce.  They care about gourmet coffees produced ethically, it’s not just about the flavour and aroma; it is something that represents the people and environment where it was grown.

Indian Coffee Picker

Living up here in the beautiful wilds of North Wales, good cafes and coffee is thin on the ground.  We have to revert to ‘homebrews’, with our trusty orange cafetière.  This is actually my preferred coffee.  I like a black, long coffee.  No froth.  I had bought my own grinder recently only to find out that a blade grinder is not the best.  It can impair the flavour of the bean by producing heat and an irregular grind.  I have found this to be true; it ruined some great beans from Sheffield recently.  So from now on, I will buy all of my good coffee pre-ground for a cafetière.

To make the perfect pot of cafetière coffee see the guidelines here via the good people of Union.  If you use a filter machine or stove top pot, there are helpful hints here also.  There seems no point in getting the good stuff and ruining it with a dodgy method.

There are so many choices out there for a coffee drinker in the U.K., the selection at supermarkets can be bewildering.  I have found most supermarket bought coffee to be average at best and would much rather spend a little more on mail ordering some of the good stuff.  Worth every penny!

Union build strong relationships with their growers, they were initially inspired by micro-roastery cafes in San Francisco and also felt compelled to improve the difficult situation of growers in many coffee producing regions of the world.

‘Union’ refers to the relationship between the coffee roasters and the hardworking farmers who produce the beans.  They say:

We travel to coffee growing communities in remote regions around the world, building relationships and investing in sustainable livelihoods and farming practices. We discover coffees of distinction by engaging directly with coffee farmers and pair their best work with the art and craft of the coffee roaster.” 

Today I am trying the Bibi Estate AAA Microlot from Karnataka State, India.  This coffee intrigued me as I have visited India and know that there is some decent coffee down in Kerala, but have never tried anything from Karnataka.  India has been making increasingly better coffees in recent years and this one is made from the Arabica Catuai bean.  Bibi Estate is at 1000m above sea level on a 250 acre plantation that also produces peppercorns.

It is a pleasant surprise, a soft and gentle brew.  It has a lovely light nutty aroma and is the perfect mid-morning coffee.  Here is what the official tasters at Union think:

“Overall the cup is mild, with gentle acidity but medium to full-bodied; enjoy the aroma of pecan that follows through into the taste which has praline, toffee honey and ripe mango.”

This is a coffee that can be savoured and is not too overpowering like some of the more heavy weight roasts.

So thanks to the good people of Union for their passion and commitment to gourmet coffee and Mr Faiz Musakutty and his farmers and pickers all they way over there in Karnataka for the beans!

Union have set the bar pretty high here with the Bibi Estate  AAA.   I love their ethos of investing in local, remote farmers to maintain sustainable livelihoods.  I think their passion and integrity can be tasted in every cup.

Calling all coffee lovers and barista brethren: 

May is the month that we seek out the perfect home brew.  We will be sampling different roasts regularly.   

Any recommendations?

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Breakfast | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Beach House Kitchen voted for a ‘Kreativ Blogger Award’

This is a beautiful thing, fellow bloggers VegHotPot and Lucy’s Friendly Foods have nominated us for a Kreativ Blogger Award.

We are understandably chuffed to receive such a kind nomination from two top bloggers.  I love their blogs, so it’s extra special that they like what is going on in the Beach House Kitchen.

The Kreativ Blogger Award is designed to get good bloggers together and spreading the word about each other.  I think it’s a top idea.

Here are the rules:

  • Thank the nominating blogger and provide a link to that blog.
  • Spread the love by nominating seven other bloggers, including their links here.
  • Tell your readers seven things they may not already know about you.
Here goes……………

Seven Blogs we like (alot and in no particular order):

We have only chosen food blogs (for obvious reasons) and only ones that are relatively new.  There are some amazing, established food blogs, but they seem to be doing just fine…..

I think some of these blogs may have been nominated before, but you can never get too many nominations for being Kreativ (can you?!)

1)  Byzantine Flowers  –  Brilliant for all-rounder for all things wholesome and organic.  Interesting articles all the way here, one of the sites I visit regularly.

2)  Vegetarian Ventures  –  The photos here are nearly as beautiful as the veggie recipes.  Lovely looking blog and well written articles.

3)  Moel Faban Supper Club – Denise’s blog is always an interesting read, a real foodie’s blog.  Our local Welsh supper club and a champion of local and seasonal produce.

4)  Tofu and Flowers –  Abigail gives us a real flavour of Thailand here.  Great stories and pics.

5)  Peas and Love –  Gwen’s blog ever fails with gorgeous looking veggie and vegan bites.  You will also find things ‘freegan’ bits here.

6)  AlmostRawVegan  – Great inspiration here for our coming Raw food month in June.  A lovely looking site with brilliant smoothie recipes.

7) Emmycooks –  I just love the way Emmy cooks!

Seven interesting things about Jane and I (again in no particular order):

1)  We met on a small island beach in the Philippines, I was accidentally evicting Jane from her room at the time.  Jane was suffering from horrific facial sun burning (known as panda bear eyes).

2)  Our first meal together was a tiny plate of cold veg fried rice, cooked by a disgruntled Belgian fella wearing tight trunks with Kraftwerk blaring from a stereo.

3)  Jane was initially attracted to me because I had several pots of yoghurt stashed  in my rucksack (a very impressive feat in Asia)…..

4)  ….I used these yoghurts to woo Jane at breakfast, atop coconut and mango porridge, cooked in a bamboo hut.  The rest is culinary history………..

5)  I flew all the way from Mumbai to be with Jane in the Beach House and set up the Beach House Kitchen (giving up a lucrative career in dodgy English teaching in Hanoi!!!).

6)  Jane is addicted to potatoes Lee is partial to a bean.  You will always find hummus in our fridge and oatcakes in our pockets.  Jane also likes hunks (of mouldy cheese).

7)  The population of Carmel, our village, is around 90 and has approximately three sheep to one person.  These sheep terrorize us with their munching and are an enemy to all raspberry patches.

Thanks to Becky and Lisa for the nominations and happy blogging to one and all.

Lee and JaneX

Categories: Blogs, Healthy Eating, Organic, Raw Food, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: