Posts Tagged With: photography

Street Eats and Delicious Days – Our Indonesian holiday snaps

I loved this woman and mama! Could she cook;) Tempeh and tofu that melted in the mouth and some excellent peanut relish. Sulawesi

I loved this woman and mama! Could she cook;) Tempeh and tofu that melted in the mouth and some excellent peanut relish. Sulawesi

I’d go as far as to say this.  Indonesia is the best country in Asia for a vegan traveller, probably the world.  There we go, I’ve said it.  In black and white.  Can’t take it back……Thailand is also pretty damn good too…….but Indonesia!!!!  See evidence below (quick before I change me mind!)  Its been a while since we were there, we left in September, but these are highly enjoyable edible memories and I just had to share them around.

We had a fairly stunning 2016, packed it full of things that sparkle and shine.  We’ve been so busy that the Beach House Kitchen has taken a bit of a back seat.  Battling with pants internet is a thankless task, but here we are.  Finally, a sound and reasonable wifi zone.   I have a long, long list of things that’d I’d love to post, so no more waffle……..first up, the wonders of Indonesia!

Typical Indonesian kitchen. Outside cities, everyone is cooking over wood and doing everything brilliantly old school, see pestle and mortar.

Typical Indonesian kitchen. Outside cities, everyone is cooking over wood and doing everything brilliantly old school, see pestle and mortar.

Travelling is a way of life that suits us very nicely.  Indonesia is a land (many peices of land in fact) that we’ve always wanted to visit.  We were highly undisappointed by the month we spent there.  Indonesia is vast archipelago filled with some of the friendliest people and tastiest food on this beautiful planet.  I was blown away by the sheer volume of vegan friendly fare.  I loved the constant stream of tempeh and tofu, the buzzing and diverse street food scenes that varied from town to town.  The scenery was breathtaking, we took up residence in a hut on an deserted island (with the perfect hammock), we swam with dolphins, we wandered up active volcanoes (smelling of off eggs, sulphur clouds), we threw ourselves into the mayhem of Jakarta, nearly got stuck in the jungle, stayed in traditional villages with fascinating ancient traditions, beliefs and rituals.  It was a feast in more ways than one.

So here we are, some Indonesia sunshine and vibrancy that can’t help brighten any January morning.  You’ve all probably heard of staples like Nasi Goreng (basically fried rice) or Mie Goreng (fried noodles) but there is so much more to Indonesian veg based (sayura) cuisine.  Of course, the best food, the food that represents a country, is always found on the streets and in little, potentially shabby looking places.  Fancy restaurants are all well and good, but we believe the food that matters is enjoyed by all, that’s where you’ll find us.

Salamat Maka! (Bon Appetit!)

Traditional village - Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

Traditional village – Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

The kind of sensational meal available from a village house doubling as a restaurant. Eaten on a bench beside the road, coconut tempeh, spicy chutney, all kinds of fascinating veggies that grow near or in rivers. Oh, and jackfruit (everyone loves it now!) Little village, somewhere in Sulawesi

Gudeg.  A kind of sensational meal available from a village house doubling as a restaurant. Eaten on a bench beside the road, coconut tempeh, tofu, mashed casava leaves, spicy chutney (the ever present sambal), all kinds of fascinating veggies that grow near or in rivers. Oh, and jackfruit (everyone loves it now!) Little village, somewhere in Sulawesi

Inspecting a local salad outfit. These guys used interesting irrigation and tables. Clever. Salad leaves are very fashionable in rural Sulawesi. Tomahon, Sulawesi

Inspecting a local salad outfit. These guys used interesting irrigation and tables. Clever. Salad leaves are very fashionable in rural Sulawesi. Tomahon, Sulawesi

View from our trusty hammock. Floating in the ocean on an island in the middle of the Togean Sea. Some of the best snorkelling. Togean Islands, Sulawesi

View from our trusty hammock. Floating in the ocean on an island in the middle of the Togean Sea. Some of the best snorkelling imageable. I swam with some friendly black porpoises. Togean Islands, Sulawesi

Fried tempeh, jack fruit stews and piles of moring glory, plus the most digusting sulphurous bean I've ever encountered. Rank! You even get serenaded here by local guitarists singing Indonesian folk or The Beatles. Street eats in Yogyakarta, Java

Fried tempeh, jack fruit stews and piles of moring glory, plus the most digusting sulphurous bean I’ve ever encountered. Rank! You even get serenaded here by local guitarists singing Indonesian folk or The Beatles. Street eats in Yogyakarta, Java

Gado gado. Just the best. These carts, hundreds of thousands of them, are doing amazing things with peanuts and veggies all over Indonesia. Cost, about 50p for dinner. This guy is one of the best if you bump into him. Sulawesi PS - Another popular dish is Ketropak, which is like Gado Gado without the amazing peanut sauce

Gado gado. Just the best. These carts, hundreds of thousands of them, are doing amazing things with peanuts and veggies all over Indonesia. Cost, about 50p for dinner. This guy is one of the best if you bump into him. Sulawesi PS – Another popular dish is Ketropak, which is like Gado Gado without the amazing peanut sauce

Now this is what I'm talking about! Gado Gado.

Now this is what I’m talking about! Gado Gado served with the classic Kerupuk (cassava crackers)

Visiting tofu village (see our post here) and learning to make tofu Indonesian style. Hot and hard work. Java

Visiting tofu village (see our post here) and learning to make tofu Indonesian style. Hot and hard work. Java

One of the finest things we ate. Sticky coconut rice, made into buns, and marinaded tempeh (in cane sugar and kecap manis) for the burger. A local street food speciality in a village above Yogyakarta, Java. PS - Thats a massive hunk of marinade tofu. Delicious.

One of the finest things we ate. Sticky coconut rice, made into buns, and marinaded tempeh (in cane sugar and kecap manis) for the burger. A local street food speciality in a village above Yogyakarta, Java. PS – Thats a massive hunk of marinaded smoky tofu. Delicious.

A feast at the Loving Hut in Yogyakarta. A purely vegan restaurant chain (see here) with a huge menu of fascinating items. Vegan egg yolk made of mung beans and loads of bizarre and generally a bit rubbery fake meats. Still, we went there everyday and samapled everything. Java

A feast at the Loving Hut in Yogyakarta. A purely vegan restaurant chain (see here) with a huge menu of fascinating items. Vegan egg yolk made of mung beans and loads of bizarre and generally a bit weird and rubbery fake meats like Seitan Satay. Still, they had lots of local delights like Kering Tempeh (dried and crunchy tempeh) and we went there everyday and sampled everything. The Thai style coconut iced tea was a highlight.  Java

Breakfast. Fruit salad with things like cactus fruit and a sauce made from cane sugar and chilli. Yogyakarta, Java

Breakfast. Fruit salad with things like cactus fruit and a sauce made from cane sugar and chilli. Yogyakarta, Java

So much history and culture spread over the vast islands of Indonesia. They spread over distances greater than the width of Europe. 250 million people! This is Prambanan, a massive Hindu temple complex. Indonesia is of course a Muslim country now, but has flirted with Hinduism and Buddhism in history, not to mention a myriad other more tribal belief systems (many still around). Java

So much history and culture shared over the vast islands of Indonesia. They spread over distances greater than the width of Europe. 250 million people! This is Prambanan, a massive Hindu temple complex. Indonesia is of course a Muslim country now, but has flirted with Hinduism and Buddhism in history, not to mention a myriad other more tribal belief systems (many still around). Java

Jane at the 'cat food' stand. Like a cafe on wheels selling hot drinks and piles of delicious deep fried nibbles and bags of sticky rice plus sambal (spicy relish). Street corner, Yogyakarta

Jane at a ‘cat food’ stand. Like a cafe on wheels selling hot drinks and piles of delicious deep fried nibbles and bags of sticky rice plus sambal (spicy relish). Street corner, Yogyakarta PS – No one could fully explain the ‘cat food’ thing.

Indonesians are amazing artists, musicians and pretty handy with a spray can

Indonesians are amazing artists, musicians and pretty handy with a spray can

This was an amazing dish eaten on a Sunday morning. Mounds of greens with jackfruit, pepper, flowers, bean sprouts and delciious sauce and something like tempeh tempura. Known as Naspecel. Java

This was an amazing dish eaten on a Sunday morning. Mounds of greens with jackfruit, pepper, flowers, bean sprouts and delciious sauce and something like tempeh tempura. Known as Naspecel. Java

Another feast at the Loving Hut, Yogyakarta (a very cultural city with a great old town and loads of galleries and musicians. They also still have a Hindu sultan).

Another feast at the Loving Hut, coconut curry and some kind of heavenly ramen concoction.  Yogyakarta (a very cultural city with a great old town and loads of galleries and musicians. They also still have a Hindu sultan).

The coffee in Indonesia will blow you away in more ways than one. Stunning brews. More of that to come...

The coffee in Indonesia will blow you away in more ways than one. Stunning brews. More of that to come…

Downtown Jakarta eatery. Huge range on the buffet and some very friendly taxi drivers.....

Downtown Jakarta eatery (warung). You find places like this all over Indonesia.  Huge range on the buffet and some very friendly taxi drivers…..

....this is whay a Warung does best. Plates of cheap and delciious food. About 50ps worth here. Jakarta

….this is what a Warung does best. Plates of cheap, fresh and delciious food. About 50ps worth here. Served with Nasi Uduk, Jakarta’s favourite coconut rice.

Helping Maria (a Christian town) with her chillies in a porridge joint. No ordinary porridge though.....

Helping the radiant Maria (twas a Christian town) with her chillies in a porridge joint. No ordinary porridge though…..

One of the best things we ate. Called Manado Porridge, made with pumpkin, rice, spices and greens. Bubbled in a massive steel cauldron. Served with teas and fried bananas. Tentena, Sulawesi

One of the best things we ate. Called Manado Porridge, made with pumpkin, rice, spices and greens. Bubbled in a massive steel cauldron. Served with tea (teh manis) and fried bananas. Lezat! (Delicious!) Tentena, Sulawesi

Sometimes you get desperate! Late night, nowhere open, just the random Hello Kitty cafe serving packet noodle soup. Lost in Sulawesi.

Sometimes things go wrong! Late night, nowhere open, just the random hellish Hello Kitty cafe serving packet noodle soup. Lost in Sulawesi.

Markets are always bizzing and filled with vegan delights. We carry a chopping board and bowl so salads are always on the menu.

Markets are always a buzzing hub and filled with vegan delights. We carry a chopping board and bowl so salads are always on the menu.

Jane and I's preferred mode of transport. Back of rickety bus.

Jane and I’s preferred mode of transport. Back of rickety bus.

Thank you IndonesiaX

Thank you IndonesiaX

PS – We nearly forgot the Gorengan stalls at every corner.  Fried sweet potato, banana, tempeh, cassava, breadfruit and loads of chilli sauce.  Vegans will never go hungry in Indonesia!!  Also if you want to get Indonesian at home, you must seek out a bottle of Kecap Manis.  A sweet and sticky sauced used on everything.

Categories: Healthy Eating, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Pablo’s Perfect Pancakes plus my Top 5 Pancake Tips

Jane and our amiga Rach in the backstreets of sunny Granada. Yesterday.

Jane and our amiga Rach in the backstreets of sunny Granada. Yesterday. I think they went to the Alhambra later…..Que vida!

It may have been around a year since you last made pancakes, don’t fret a jot, we are here to ease you into an evening of perfect flippin’ and crispy edged perfection.  Jane has popped over to Spain and was last night giving this pancake recipe a dry run in the back streets of Granada (very nice indeed) whilst I kept my head down in the Beach House avoiding storm Imogen (nicely named).  So, we’d like to share one of the easiest ways to make the perfect pancake and a few key tips to ensure pancake paradise is yours……

Pablo (or Paul to some) is my sisters newly crowned husband.  I’m still getting used to the new title.  Pablo is a passionate cook and regularly comes up with sensational dishes, over Christmas, one that stood out for the whole family was Pablo’s perfect pancakes.  You could really wish for no more in a pancake recipe.  This is as easy as it gets, but the outcome is light, fluffy and hopefully, crispy around the edge.  Perfect for pancake day, or any day for that matter.

Pablo at the wedding party with our mate Nick

Pablo (right) at the wedding party with our mate Nick

I wish we ate more pancakes in Britain and didn’t reserve them for one night of frantic flipping.  I think our nations happiness index would leap with an increase in pancake munching, they are so fun and versatile; sweet or savoury, thick or thin, wholegrain and nutritious or light and white…….we all know how we like them.  I like mine with a fruity sauce or something rich like this wonderful coco and peanut sauce I just came up with.  Jane is a purist and opts for a squeeze of lemon and a scattering of sugar.  Each to their own!

If you'd like pancakes like this, check out these tips...

If you’d like pancakes like this, check out these tips…

TOP 5 TIPS FOR PERFECT PANCAKES

1. Don’t over oil – lightly grease your pan and remove any excess oil with a paper towel.

2. Practice makes perfect – The first couple of pancakes may be a little strange, but you’ll get the hang of it!

3. Regular heat – Consistent pancakes need a consistent temperature. Warm up your pan on medium heat and turn down the heat slightly if needed.

4. Flippin’ Marvellous – Make pancakes small to ensure an easy flip.  Always loosen run a spatula under the pancake before trying to flip, otherwise you may pull a muscle and generally look a bit daft as the pancake clings to the pan.

5. Portion control – use the same amount of mix per pancake.  Sounds obvious, but for best results, keep a measuring cup handy and add the same amount of batter to the pan.  They’ll take the same length of time to cook, look great and there will be no arguments over who got the runt of the litter!

And voilà! Perfect pancakes every time! 

Right………..lets rock a perfect Pablo pancake!

I use cups here because I love America and it cuts out unnecessary scale faff.  These are not supposed to be huge, pan filling pancakes.  They are harder to handle.  These are roughly 6 inches in diameter, light and fluffy.  More like an American style pancake than a French style crepe.  Thats how Pablo likes ’em……

The Bits  

Dry

1 1/4 cup strong white flour/ all purpose flour

2 teas baking powder

1/2 teas salt

2 tbs light brown sugar

Wet

1 cup (250ml) non-dairy milk (we use soya)

1 tbs oil

2 tbs water

(should equal 1 1/4 cups in total, if not, add a splash more water)

Jane flippin' in Spain

Jane flippin’ in Spain

Do It

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until all is combined.

(Check the top 5 tips above to make sure you are fully prepared for pancake paradise……)

Grab a medium sized frying pan (preferably with a nice thick bottom on it) and warm on medium heat.  Add a couple of drops of oil, coat the pan, then add roughly 1/3 cup pancake batter.  Let it naturally form a nice circular shape, leave to cook for 3 minutes, then flip over using a spatula to loosen it from the pan.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  If the colour is too dark or too light, check the heat and/ or cook for longer/ shorter with the next one.

Like I said, the first pancake at least, is a loosener, a warm-up.

Serve straight from the pan with accompaniments of your choice.  There are some ideas on our last post Blender Banana and Pecan Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce for sauces etc.

Rach presenting one of Pablo's finest - Happy Pancake Day!!!!

The delightful Rach presenting one of Pablo’s finest – Happy Pancake Day!!!!

 

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mexican Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa (Vegan)

Mexican Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa

Mexican Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa

 

Vegan omelettes are delicious and simple to prepare. A very tasty day-starter especially when boasting smoky chipotle, mushroom, toasted sweetcorn and a lively salsa.

The flavours of Mexico mirror Mexican culture; diverse and vibrant, fresh and intense.  There are many ways to make a plant-based omelette but I like this combination of gram flour, caramelised veggies and silken tofu.  Loads of flavours and textures going on.

I’m not so keen on creating dishes that exactly mimic meat/ cheese/ eggs etc, just something that everyone will be able to enjoy and appreciate the similarities in texture and flavour.  This is one of those dishes that is carnivore approved!

Eating vegan food doesn’t mean giving things up, it normally means adapting dishes and is always full of creative surprises.  Just like these omelettes.  They are rich and delicious and of course, are packed with wonderful nutrition.

I normally like juices, fruit, porridge, muesli etc for breakfast, I don’t have a sweet tooth, but it seems to be what my body is craving first thing.  There are however those exceptional days when only savoury will do.  This normally follows a few glasses of moonshine down at the local tavern I find!

Pan fried mushrooms are just packed with umami-style flavour, along with the sweetcorn and the toasty, nutty flavour of the gram flour making for a flavour packed breakfast.

VIVA MEXICO!

Mexicans are brilliant at breakfast and many of the classic breakfast dishes are egg-based.  Huevos Rancheros, Huevos a la Mexicana, Breakfast tacos or burritos, Gorditas (think a pasty meets a tortilla, stuffed with beans and griddled, utterly delicious)……. All easily veganized, especially as avocado is such a staple in Mexico.  They are normally served with loads of chilli in some form or another, either chopped raw or a potent sauce.  There is also the beauty of the ubiquitous and always freshly homemade green and red sauces (salsa verde y rojo) that can be spooned over anything to add sensational flavour.  Breakfast is no exception.

Chilli is sure to get the body and mind warmed up for the day!  Once a week, I like to have a spicy brekkie and in Mexico became accustomed to chewing on a whole chilli in the morning.  Beats an espresso I can tell you!

Chipotle Chilli - A real taste of Mexico!

Chipotle Chilli – A real taste of Mexico!

WHAT IS CHIPOTLE?

Chipotle is basically a smoked red jalapeno chilli that is now readily available around the UK and Europe.  If you’re reading in the States, I’m sure you know your way around a chipotle already!  Chipotle chillies can be bought in many forms either dried, in adobo (canned), as a paste (popular in the UK) or ground.  You can sometimes replace chipotle with smoked paprika in recipes.

I spent six months backpacking around Mexico, many years ago now, but I can still perfectly recall many of the meals I ate there.  The diversity and flavours of Mexico blew me away.  Thank goodness there are a few decent Mexican restaurants in the UK nowadays, there is much more to Mexican cuisine than a Texmex Burrito (although they can be awesome too!)

One of the delights of Mexican cooking is the chipotle and other smoky, sweet chillies.  They are unique and a real delicacy.  Many markets have a huge variety of smoky chillies piled up, all used in different dishes, from the salsa rojo to the feast  that is a mole pobaldo.  Chipotles are quite fiery, but I’d say are medium on the blow your head off scale.  Less hot than a raw jalapeno that is for sure.

Chipotles are normally smoked for several days and in that time shrivel up.  The flavours really intensify, so this is worth bearing in mind when cooking.  A little chipotle can flavour a large pot of stew.  Chipotles are quite tough and are therefore best used in slow cook dishes like soups, stews and are especially good as a surprise ingredient in chutney/ marmalades.  I love a cheeky Chipotle Marmalade and will attempt to get a recipe on here one day.

Viva Mexico!

Gram flour is a wonderful ingredient.  So full of flavour and totally gluten free, made from ground chickpeas.  Gram flour can also be made form roasted pulses and comes in raw and roasted varieties.  Roasted gram has a fuller flavour.

It is a healthy alternative to wheat flour and I’m using it to help bind together vegan baking at the moment. A couple of tbs mixed with an equal quantity of water can make a huge difference to the texture of a cake.

Gram flour has been used in Europe for many years, its maybe not so exotic as we think.  Examples of this would be the pancake style dishes Socca (France) or Farinata (Italy).  Both traditional and totally gram.  When gram flour is cooked its strong flavour mellows, I do quite like my vegan omelettes a little soft, but some are not keen on the flavour of raw-ish gram flour.   Gram flour is a top larder item for every cook.

My other favourite chilli at the moment, the mighty British Komodo Dragon Chilli. POW!

FUTURE FOODS

We can’t eat meat and dairy at current levels.  The world will not sustain us.  There are very clever people out there who are creating fake meat and cheese in laboratories and just recently I saw a youtube clip of a scrambled vegan egg.  It certainly looked like the real deal, all soft and shiny when cooked.  What it tastes like remains to be seen so I’ll stick with this omelette for now.

Most of us are waking up to the fact that our eating habits must change, for so many positive reasons; we love animals, for our own health and the health of the planet.  The future of food for me is lots of fruits, legumes, veggies and nuts. However, some folk will still want a bloody hamburger or a runny egg yolk, this is now becoming a very real, plant-based alternative.

Cosmos seems to be loving the chipotle!

Cosmos seems to be interested in chipotle!

This is a lively breakfast/ brunch (in fact lunch too) sure to get your taste buds firing first thing, certainly adding a little spice and big flavours to an autumn morning.  A wake up call! A fiesta in your mouth!!

*****For more regular BHK action we are now posting loads of news, recipes etc over on facebook and twitter.*****

Recipe Notes:

Corn season in the UK is coming to an end, but what better way to use  your gorgeous fresh corn on the cobs.  You can use tinned sweetcorn, but it just ain’t the same.

Some vegan omelettes call for the tofu to be mixed in with the flour, but I like the texture contrast of keeping it separate.

I like these just cooked, over cooking an vegan omelette will only make it dry.  Which is never a good thing.  A couple of minutes in a warm pan is enough and then straight under the grill and then eaten just after.  Just like an egg omelette, the warmer and fresher the omelette the more delicious.

I love chilli so 1 1/2 tbs is a good amount.  Use a little less if you’re not quite ready for a full chilli hit at the breakfast table.

Adding fresh coriander to the salsa and omelette is lovely.   Unfortunately, we didn’t have any.

The Bits – For 2 large omelettes

Omelettes

150g gram flour (besan)
250ml water
½ teas salt
½ teas baking powder

1 teas cumin seeds

250g firm silken tofu (sliced)

200g sweetcorn (2 corn on the cobs)
2 large mushrooms (like field or portobello)

1-1 1/2 tbs chipotle paste

Oil for cooking (I used rapeseed/ canola oil)

Avocado and Tomato Salsa

2 tomatoes
2 spring onions
1 avocado

2 large leaves kale (curly, black kale etc – stems removed and finely sliced)
1 lime juice
½ lime zest
½ teas salt

Unfolded you can see the lovely corn, shrooms and those tasting pieces of soft tofu.

Unfolded you can see the lovely corn, shrooms and those tasty pieces of soft tofu.

Do It

In a bowl, mix together the gran flour, water, salt and baking powder.   Set aside.

Make your salsa, this can be done in advance. Combine all the ingredients, lightly toss together and check seasoning.

Grab a large, heavy bottomed frying pan.  Add 1/2 tbs oil and warm on a high heat.  Once hot add the cumin seeds and corn. Stir and saute for 5 minutes, until the corn has a nice, dark golden colour.  Set corn aside.  Wipe pan clean.

Pop pan back on the stove.  Warm another 1/2 tbs oil and add your mushrooms, saute for 2 minutes, stirring regularly, add the chipotle paste and cook through for another minute.  Set aside and wipe clean pan.

Warm a grill on medium heat.  You can flip the pancake in the pan, but it is quite thick and can break easily.  Better to go for the grilling option.

Warm 1/3 tbs oil in your frying pan, make sure the pan base has a nice thin covering of oil.  Scatter half your corn and mushrooms into the pan and spoon over half your gram flour mix.  Ensure the pan base has an even covering of mix and place half your tofu evenly across the omelette.  Cook for 2-3 minutes and then loosen the edges with a flat spatula.  This is a good sign that the base is cooked (you can even have a quick peek!)

Place the pan under the grill (drizzle a little more oil over the omelette for added richness at this stage) and cook until the omelette is a nice golden colour, a couple of minutes is more than enough.

Mexican Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa

Mexican Chipotle Toasted Corn & Mushroom Omelette with Avocado & Tomato Salsa

Serve

As soon as possible along with the salsa.  You can either fold the omelette or leave it flat and sprinkle over the salsa, like a pizza. Mexican omelette pizza!?  Quite a thing!!

A nice sweet and sour sauce, something like a smoky Mexican Salsa Rojo would be perfect, but not necessary.

The pizza style omelette

The pizza style omelette

 

Down on Dinas Dinlle.  Autumn has been beautiful in North Wales.

Down on Dinas Dinlle. Autumn has been beautiful so far in North Wales.

Foodie Fact

Gram flour is higher in protein than wheat flour and is packed with healthy unsaturated fats, iron and fibre.  More reasons to go gram.

See you soon!

See you soon!

Categories: Breakfast, Dairy/ Lactose Free, gluten-free, Nutrition, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chai! Spiced and Warming Indian Tea (plus some travel snaps of India)

One of my favourite spots for a chai.  Baba Cake, up in Kasar Devi, Himalayas, India

One of my favourite spots for a stonking chai!  Baba Cake, up in Kasar Devi, Himalayas, India

“Chaichaichaichaichaichai!”  A cry you will hear quite often when wandering around India.  In the streets, in the middle of the night on a train, it’s a bit of a theme tune to your day.  Jane has several versions recorded which we like to play and bring a little bit of India into the Beach House (along with some recordings of birds singing in the Himalayas).

This is a steaming beverage that will see you cruise through winter (or if you are heading into summer, makes a great iced tea!) The spices here add magical flavours, highly fragrant and invigorating, along with a whole load of vitamins and minerals that benefit our wintery parts.  Of course, if you are vegan, most street-side chai is off the menu.  We must settle for a black tea, which can be delicious, but all too often turns out to be a Lipton tea bag in some warm-ish water.  This means our homemade chai’s are even more special.

Jane enjoying a chai outside out little cottage up near Nanda Devi, Himalayas, India

Jane enjoying a chai outside out little cottage up near Nanda Devi, Himalayas, India

Chai is something that we dearly love over here in the BHK. We make it when we need a little pick me up and a spicy memory of our beloved sub-continent. Chai fuels India. Along with the occasional chapatti/ idli. Chai is normally drank at chai stalls, where chai wallahs work sometimes 24 hours, supplying tiny cups of very sweet, dark tea (‘chai’ is basically Hindi for ‘tea’). You average chai in India does vary, depending on the quality of the chai wallah. Generally the back bone is cardamom and ginger, but there are many additions like clove, black peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon……the list goes on. It really is more of an elixir of life than a simple beverage. I find this in so much of Indian cuisine, a holistic approach that takes into account many things, not just sensational flavours.

Jane and I at the Taj Mahal earlier in '15

Jane and I at the Taj Mahal earlier in ’15

Here we have a simple chai recipe that we can all make at home. There is also a rich and delicious Almond Rooibos Chai recipe in ‘Peace & Parsnips’. Something we make when we’re taking it easy on caffeine.

Stay warm and cosy this winter.  Drink more chai!

Recipe Note
For a more intense chai, crush the ginger and spices in a pestle and mortar or food processor before hand.

Experiment with the quantity of spices, everyone has their favourite chai and no two chai’s are ever equal!

You don’t need to measure the milk/ water exactly, just use the cups that you will be serving the chai in.

Loose leaf black tea can vary greatly in strength.  The best and most authentic tea to use for chai is from Assam in North East India.  The leaves are normally rolled, meaning they look like tiny black balls and have a rich, malty flavour.  If you are using a lighter tea like Darjeeling or Nilgiri, you may like to add another teaspoon or two for a decent brew.

Chai on the hob.  House filled with those gorgeous aromas.

Chai on the hob. House filled with those gorgeous aromas.

The Bits – For 2 mugs
2 mugs non-dairy milk

1 mug water

8 green cardamom pods (lightly crushed)

4 slices fresh ginger

8 black peppercorns

8 cloves

2 inch cinnamon stick (or 1 teas ground cinnamon)

1 star anise (optional)

1 teas fennel seeds (optional)

3-4 teas black loose-leaf tea (or 3 black tea bags, ripped and contents poured into pan)

 

Do It

In a large saucepan add the water along with the ginger and spices, bring gently to a boil and lower heat, simmer for 5 minutes.

Add your tea, simmer for 2 minutes.   Now for the milk and sweetener of choice, bring back to a gentle boil and serve when the tea has a nice deep colour, pouring through a small sieve.

Chai is a saviour in wintery Wales.

Chai is a one cup saviour in wintery Wales.

Serve

We tend to warm our cups with hot water before pouring in the chai.  Nice to it properly, it is chai after all!

Dad and I in the Imperial Hotel Delhi enjoying very posh chai and those very small sandwiches you tend to get with posh tea.

Dad and I in the Imperial Hotel, Delhi enjoying very posh chai and those very small crust-less sandwiches you tend to get with posh tea.

Foodie Fact

Some of you may have Peace & Parsnips and will be well aware of my love of spices.  A large chunk of the beginning of the book relates to spices and their healing properties.   Some of you may have also been reading this here blog for five years or so and be equally as familiar with my spice box and its contents.  I love ’em!

Cinnamon is anti-microbial (kills bad bacteria), lowers GI, excellent source of calcium and fibre plus even the aroma is said to enliven the brain.  Cinnamon is especially warming and when mixed with ginger in a chai becomes a remedy for the onset of colds and flu.

Seeking refreshment in Paharganj, Delhi with the big man (aka Dad)

When you stop for chai, you'll meet some interesting folk.  Bikaner, Rajhastan, India

When you stop for chai, you’ll meet some interesting folk. Bikaner, Rajhastan, India

Categories: Infusions, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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

Toasty Cashews.  YUMAH!

Toasty Cashews. YUMAH!

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

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

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

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

A SPICY CONUNDRUM 

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

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

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

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

The Bits

1 tbs cooking oil (vegetable/ sunflower etc)

400g brown rice

600ml light vegetable stock

1 green pepper (as finely diced as you can)

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

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

1 large tomato (finely diced)

 

Spices

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

6 green cardamom pods (split)

1 small cinnamon stick (2 inches long)

5 cloves

6 green cardamom pods (split)

1 teas cumin seeds

1 teas fennel seeds

½ teas nigella seeds

1 tbs flax/linseeds

 

Optional Topping

1 handful toasted cashews

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

Fried Pulao - Just add a few tomatoes

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

Do It

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

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

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

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

Side/Main Dish (just add spoons)

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

Serve

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

Foodie Fact

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

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

JUST ADD SPICEX

Jane in Norbulingka Palace, Dharamasala, India '15

Jane in Norbulingka Palace, Dharamasala, India ’15

Categories: Curries, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Side Dish | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

‘Meat vs Veg’ – Lee on T.V.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike and I (trying to look tough)

Categories: Healthy Eating, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Himalayan Monkey Munch Porridge

Monkey Munch Porridge

Monkey Munch Porridge

Here we have our Himalayan retreat breakfast of choice; filling, warming and packed with monkey flavas!!!  There are monkeys galore up here in Kasar Devi (Uttarakand) and they bother our banana stash daily.  We are looking out towards Nanda Devi (India’s highest mountain) and the giant massif’s of the Great Himalayas.  Spring is just about settling in, meaning chilly nights and generally bright and warm days.  Clouds have obscured the mountains most days, but even the most occasional of glimpses, is more than enough.  We have hired small red brick cottage with a simple kitchen from a lovely local family. The cottage has quickly become a home away from home and we have been doing a little cooking and plenty of tea making.

Monkeys flock around our little garden, the mischievous macak variety, desperate to liberate you of any stray snacks that may be lurking around half opened windows and doors. There are also flocks of little and large birds, woodpeckers, small owls, vultures and eagles soar regularly overhead and a three local leopards pay regular visits to the village. They make a sound like sawing wood, an excited pant.  This makes the evening trip to the outdoor toilet a bracing affair.

Dawn raider, banana botherer, meddling Macak, monkey brotherx

Dawn raider, banana botherer, meddling Macak, monkey brotherx

We have found a slice of beauty, a place where many hippies used to flock; folk like Herman Hesse, Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens, to name a few, have graced this thin ridge in the 60’s and bar a few houses, not much has changed really.  There are a couple of restaurants (the Rainbow Restaurant especially is brilliant, Hari makes the best pasta in India!) and a little cafe known as ‘Baba Cake‘ which is set in a corrugated metal shed and serves awesome South Indian coffee, local organic herbal infusions and lip smacking Indian nibbles.

We have met many like minded folk in this secluded corner and the local people are all exceptionally warm and full of smiles.  Five days has just not been enough, but we have had time to do plenty of thinking and dreaming, way up here in the clouds and rare airs there is little else to occupy time.

It has been wonderful to take control over our diets again, and porridge, of course, plays a major role. We are British after all!  We picked up a 2kg bag in Delhi of these precious grains and carted them all the way up here to find that a small local shop sells crates of healthy muesli and porridge oats. Who knew? All the way up here, close to the wild expanses of Nepal there would be such good western breakfast options!

One morning, watching the monkeys reek havoc on the neighbours in their own immutably comical way, I thought I’d dedicate a dish to them and stick as many of their favourite foods in it. The ones they like to pinch anyway (a monkey once stole the banana out of my sandwich one morning in Rishikesh!)

Outside the legendary Baba Cake

Outside the legendary Baba Cake

We would add a handful of flax/linseeds to this at home, but they are hard to come by here. Roasted peanuts are better because the taste is more intense and you can finish is off with coconut flakes or desiccated coconuts if you have some handy. We used green raisins here, but any tasty raisin will do.  For richness and even greater nutritional pizazz, why not try a heaped teaspoon of coconut oil, stirred in just before serving.  This is India, the cardamom is essential!  Like many of the spices used in classic Indian cuisine, cardamom is not just a fragrant delight, but actually acts as medicine for the body; giving it a huge boost, especially needed in the morning.  People over here actually chew cardamom pods, they are an acquired taste to most, but act as a super charged breath freshener and have been known to help smokers quit.  Everytime you fancy a ciggy, pop in a pod instead.  We even like to pop the crushed, black seeds into a pot of tea to jazz things up a little.  So please chew your cardamom pods with gusto, don’t spit them out!

The Bits – For 2

Let’s keep it simple, handfuls only here

5 big handfuls porridge oats

2 big, ripe bananas (mashed with a fork)

1/2 tin coconut milk (or 200 ml non-dairy milk of choice)

4-6 green cardamom cloves (crushed a little, until cracked, in a pestle and mortar)

2 big handfuls roasted peanuts

1 big handful green raisins (or normal ones will do)

Sweetener of your choice (nothing white or processed please!)

 

Topping 

Roughly 1/2 handful of grated coconut, more bananas, raisins and peanuts

(sprinkled over both bowls for an extra special touch)

 

Do It

Check which porridge oats you’re using and cook accordingly, as per the packet.  It doesn’t really matter which ones you use, this monkey madness will be a delight.  Take it easy, rushing porridge leads to a stick pan bottom, a gentle simmer is good.

Add all the ingredients to the pan, cover the oats with around 1 1/2 inches of water and bring to a slow and gentle simmer, stirring regularly.  Add more hot water to get your desired consistency, we like it thick and yet pourable.  Not too gluey sticky.  In less than ten minutes, you’ll have a yummy breakfast.

Himalayan Monkey Munch Porridge

Our cottage it tucked away in there somewhere.  Behind the tree!!!!

Serve

Piping hot, straight from the pan (using a spatula or something like it, to scrape out all that porridge goodness).  Sprinkle over your toppings and munch way like happymonkeys!

rsz_p1150799

Himalayan Monkey Munch Porridge

 

Foodie Fact

Why Cardamom is a must! 

Cardamom (or Elaichi) is native to Southern India and is well regarded for its medicinal properties, especially in the Indian holistic system of Ayurveda.  There are such a huge list, I’ll summarise.  Cardamom has many anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.  They contain a long list of volatile essential oils and help greatly with digestion.  They are a good source of minerals like manganese, iron and potassium, as well as copper.  They are also high in vitamin C and riboflavin.  A true gift from nature.

Jane taking in some rays outside the cottage - Kasar Devi

Jane taking in some rays outside the cottage – Kasar Devi

 

Categories: Ayurveda, Breakfast, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Nutrition, Recipes, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Taste of Goan Cuisine and Papaya Paradise

 

Papaya Paradise - Papaya, cashews and a drop of coconut milk.  A fruity delight.

Papaya Paradise – Papaya, cashews and a drop of coconut milk. A tropical tickle.

Paradise for me involves papaya, cashews and coconut. Maybe a beach and a few palm trees lolling in the background. Put all those in a bowl (minus the salt water, sand and chewy leaves) you are approaching my idea of a fruit-based nirvana.  We are in Goa and all of these things are plentiful, there are stalls that enforce coconuts on you with each passing, men gifting papayas to you on a regular basis and cashews, the size of small curved chipolatas, are sold for peanuts.  Also, it is not mango season in India, so there is no fruity conflict for me, the papaya reigns supreme.

Peter (the wonderful man who looks after the apartment we are staying in) gifted us the largest and ripest papaya I have ever clapped eyes on yesterday. Carving it is something like hollowing out a canoe from a large orange tree trunk. Peter obviously has a secret local supplier, I’ve never seen a papaya like this is the stalls by the side of the road. It would take up half the stall!

I am not sure if you’re going to be able to get a decent papaya in Europe and beyond. Maybe try a Caribbean or Asian shop, you know the one, the Aladdin’s cave of interesting ingredients from all corners of the world. The little space that transports you to Africa, Jamaica, Thailand and Pakistan just by the power of the brands they stock, the occasional aroma and random, unknown, packet of semi-illicit looking spice that just has to be experimented with.

Se Cathedral - the largest cathedral in Asia (with the largest bell also)

Se Cathedral – dedicated to Saint Catherine, the largest cathedral in Asia (with the largest bell also)

Goa is a magical land, totally different from the rest of India, the cuisine is very interesting, a mixture of many things, Indian and Portugese especially. Each dish changes from region to region and this is not a huge state by Indian standards.
I have been reticent to cook much in the apartment, not wanting to stock up on loads of spices and ingredients, we are only here a short time and whenever I travel I always end up with kilos of half used packets and sachets lurking in the depths of my backpack. This time, I’m trying not to waste a thing.

Tonight I will try something like a Goan Curry, which normally has a good tang to it, created by adding toddy vinegar or tamarind. Adding vinegar to food was the main influence of the Portugese who were here for hundreds of years, in fact, Vasco de Gama landed in 1498 and they hung around until well into the 17th century.  Old Goa had population larger than Lisbon or London at that time. The Portugese also brought some other quite important staples across the waves; namely, chilies and potato, along with some very common spices, especially nutmeg, which the Goans love to use liberally in savoury dishes.  The Portugese also influenced the Goan desserts, many resemble the flans and tortas of the Iberian Peninsula.  Most of our local friends, living around the apartment have Portugese ancestory and could actually emigrate to Portugal if they wished. Interestingly, most of them have the last name ‘De Souza’, there are a few ‘Courtinho’s’, ‘Perrera’s’ and so on.

Dad does an Abbey Road Impression - in front of the Bom Jesus Cathedral, Old Goa

Dad does an Abbey Road Impression – in front of the Bom Jesus Cathedral, Old Goa (‘Bom’ means ‘good’ in Portugese.

Goa is mainly divided between Christian and Hindu (with a small population of Muslims), they have lived in harmony since the beginning and even share some festival days. Religious background affects the way that dishes are prepared, one Xacutti or Kodi will differ greatly depending on the faith involved. Goan cuisine is incredibly traditional and diverse, awe inspiring really. I have never tasted anything like the Vegetable Xacutti I had yesterday in the excellent ‘Viva Panjim!’. A restaurant tucked down a side alley in a sedate quarter of the capital city, Panjim. ‘Viva Panjim!’ is located in the old Fountainhas area of the city, with many colonial looking buildings forming small quiet alleyways and nooks. In this place you can really see what things would have looked like under Portugese rule. My Xacutti involved alot of roasted coconut and was heavy on the warming spices, especially cinnamon and clove, there was definitely some kind of nutmeg/ mace going on in there as well . Dad opted for a Kingfish Goan Curry (like a ‘Vindalau’ – as they call it here), which has a vibrantly red coloured sauce which contained; Kashmiri chillies, tamarind, lots of onions and garlic, cumin seeds and tomatoes. It looked sensational. All of this served in an old colonial home with slow fans and hand carved furniture. The owner Madam Linda D’Souza sat at a desk overseeing things and when we showed an interest in the cuisine, how it was prepared (I was digging for a recipe or two of course) she gifted us a beautiful cook book, packed with the history of Goan culture and very personalised recipes from local home cooks and chefs.  There are even diagrams of how to climb a coconut tree and work a rice paddy.

In 'Viva Pajim!' one of our finest dining experiences to date

In ‘Viva Pajim!’ one of our finest dining experiences to date

Goa has no end of old school hippy joints that sell homemade tofu or seitan, pancakes, vegan cakes etc which was fine for a couple of meals (Bean Me Up, Blue Tao, Whole Bean Cafe and the legendary German Bakery were particular favourites) but we are now definitely in the hunt for more Goan delicacies. The only problem is we’ll have to leave the beaches and head inland, to the small towns to find the real deal. It seems that travelers/ tourists are not really into the local wonders. Which is a real shame. We have been invited by two real old school gents, Patrick and Peter (who run a tiny bar beneath our place) to their home for a home cooked (vegan!) dinner on Sunday. Something we are both very excited about. Will keep you posted.

Vegetable Xacuti, Fried Aubergine Chips and Dad's Goan Fish Curry

Vegetable Xacuti, Fried Aubergine Chips and Dad’s Goan Fish Curry

Categories: Curries, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli Salad (The Indian Traveler Classic) and Tribal Vegans

 

Israeli Salad

Israeli Salad

B.H.K. IN JODPHUR, INDIA

I actually had our homestay’s version of this for breakfast today, sitting on a roof terrace feeling inspired, taking in the massive Mehangarh fort and early morning city skyline with black kites hovering overhead.  The perfect breakfast setting!  I had forgotten about this traveler classic salad.  I enjoyed it so much, I’m having it twice today!  This type of salad is so quick and fresh , apparently hailing from Israel.  Salads like this are almost naked, stripped down and a showcase for glorious veggies.  They have this kind of salad in many countries, Morocco, Turkey, Iran etc, it’s one of the world’s finest side salads that compliments almost any meal.

Any traveler around India will recognise this salad, it’s served in most traveler/ backpacker style restaurant or cafes.  India is a home for many hybrid style world cuisine dishes.  For example, German Bakeries are everywhere selling bready croissants and random biscuits.  I guarentee that from Pushkar to Rishikesh, Gorkana to Leh, Varkala to Darjeeling travelers will be eating this salad right now with grins on their faces.  Salads are rare and normally a very small deal in India.  I am not sure exactly how Israeli it is, there are obviously some missing ingredients in India, like the gorgeous olive (which I miss deeply when on the road in the East).  I’ve been totally spoilt for olives in Spain over Christmas, we have our own olive man down the market who always sorts us out with a local and diverse range of those delightful orbs of oily goodness.

So I whipped my version up tonight for dinner (well Dad added an omelette to the mix, but he’s doing amazingly well to steer away from meat and embrace veganism).  I love making dishes in hotel rooms and always travel with my trusty little knife and a couple of plates and spoons.  Add to that two big tin cups and you have all the apparatus needed for a salad smorgasbord.  Jane and I have traveled with a grater before and other such bits, but space is at a premium in my backpack this time.  Making things in your room means you know exactly what went into it, sometimes in India they stir a little curd or cream into this salad.

I miss the crunch and vibrancy of a massive bowl of salad, all that raw food goodness.  I adore curry, but making my own fruit salads and veggie salads in my room is a real treat.  When I’m eating it, I can almost hear my body thanking me.  Keeping yourself topped up on nutrients and vitamins especially when travelling is a must to stay on top form.  I even have Dad taking part in my morning spirulina ritual, you can buy it over here inexpensively and organic.  Adds a touch of zing to proceedings!

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Dad striding through Sadar Market, Central Jophur with the giant Mehrangarh Fort in the background.

So, here I am with Dad, Jodphur, in Rajasthan.  A wonderfully historic city, I am typing beneath the giant fort, fantastically lit each evening.  In fact, it reminds me a little of an old Spanish town, dominated by a medieval fort.  The streets are small and windy and the people wonderfully friendly, something I find all over Rajasthan.  We are staying with a incredibly hospitable family (the Hill View Guesthouse), headed by the laugh a minute Zafran, who is also a member of the local government…..I could go on at this point for a long, long time, but Dad and I are starting a blog called ‘The Jalebi Express’, coming to wordpress very soon (aka when we can get a decent blast of reliable internet access).  It’s going to be a hoot, with all of Dad and I’s adventures around this truly awesome land.  For regular Beach Housers, the other half of the BHK, Miss Jane Legge, will be joining up with us in Delhi in some 5 weeks time.

VEGAN INDIA

Being vegan is a serious challenge in India, normally involving turning down sumptuous looking food and regular boughts of impromptu fasting.  I like yoga, I believe fasting to be very good for the health, but if you’re not expecting to go hungry it can be just plain pants!  Trying to explain not eating ghee to an Indian is a little like going into an Italian Mama’s kitchen and saying “What are you doing with all those rank tomatoes and this wine is like a poor man’s Vodka and Red Bull and as for that dodgy mouldy looking cheese, I’m going nowhere near that, smells like feet, and as for those dodgy noodle things.  Sorry, just not my thing at all.  I’m English you know.  Our food’s great etcetc…….”  I approach with hopefully a little more tact but the ghee issue constantly rears its head and seems to sneak into the most unexpected things.  I will soldier on and still have plenty of oatcakes left from Lidl!  Turning down things like camel milk tea, traditional village cooked dishes, constant streams of delicious looking steaming masala chai, basically all Indian sweets is one of the most difficult part of being a vegan.  It’s well worth it though, this is after all, very much my own choice. It’s just when cultures shift, so does the ethical playing field and in India, the cow is Holy and what comes from the cow, the milk and even the poo has sacred connotations.  I have started to go for the approach of lots of laughing and pointing at my head with a zany look in my eyes, trying to convey that I am slightly mad.  Lots of shrugging and confused looks ensue.  It rarely works.  Any ideas?

Down at the market, Jodphur

Down at the market, Jodphur

I had a magical time down at the market today gathering a few bits.  I have been to Jodphur before and love the little veggie market near the stately Victoria Clock Tower, a hopelessly British looking thing poking above the skyline of Maharaj buildings, Mosque Minauret’s and an enormous palace.  I always get local price there and meet so many characters.  The salad, with plenty of leftovers, cost around 1 pound to amass.  The experience of chatting with characters selling fruit and veg (market vendours are always a hoot all over the world, why is that?), local folk who are interested in my nationality; reasons for visiting India, marriage status, occupation, age, university back ground, next destination (a very standard range of questions fielded on average 30 times per day) and having a laugh is of course quite priceless.  I gently elbowed my way past many a ferocious, single minded house wife.  In the market, they mean business.  When buying veg I have regularly been elbowed out of the way or body checked away from the freshest looking produce.  It can get a little hectic.  All part of the fun.  For my quid I also got 6 small lemons and a wedge of ginger for morning beverages.  Not a bad price all considered!

TRIBAL VEGANS!

In fact today I’ve been quite busy in the kitchen.  Earlier on Dad and I visited a Bishnoi Tribal village, a very interesting branch of Hinduism (see here).  They are vegans!  The Bishnoi’s do not believe in harming nature, no cutting of trees, no animal products at all.  They eat grains and vegetables grown in local forests and this philosophy of life can only be found in Rajasthan, just 28 villages in fact.  You’ll see me busy below grinding millet to make flour which is them mixed with a little water and made into lovely, toasty chapattis.

Grinding Millet for chapati, Bishnoi Village, Jodphur

Grinding Millet for chapati, Bishnoi Village, Jodphur

Tomorrow, Dad and I are helping with the food preparation for a engagement party, some 300 guests are expected!  Fortunately Dad is an ace carrot peeler and garlic basher.  Indian’s love a wedding and this is wedding season.  We went to visit the brides house last night, Dad and I carrying plates of fruits and nuts down through the winding blue walled lanes of Jodphur.  The bride to be lives beside a large white mosque and we were welcomed like long lost family.  Dad has some tender looking mutton, I opted to nibble on roti (flatbread).  Tomorrow night, the brides family come to visit our homestay, with Raja (the amazing, 18 year old son of the family) taking centre stage.  Zafran is organising the feast and it sounds like a mutton affair again.  I’m looking forward to getting behind the scenes of mass Indian wedding catering.  The pots are normally the size of a small jacuzzi.  Maybe I could rustle up a salad?!

The Chef at Raja's Brides House (lovely fellow, cooking on wood fires for hundreds of hungry party goers)

The Chef at Raja’s Brides House (lovely fellow, cooking on wood fires for hundreds of hungry party goers)

I have made a few wee embellishments to the classic Indian/ Israeli salad.  You knew I would.    They are not really taste based, more with nutrition in mind.  I cannot live for long without green things in my belly.  So I’ve added loads of coriander and mint which is plentiful over here and 10p for a massive bag.  You could also use spinach or even watercress, and if you love parsley, parsley.  Flax seeds are one of my favourite things.  They are powerhouses of all sorts of nutrition.  I’ve added flax seeds which I bought in Dilli Hart in South Delhi (a wonderful craft market if you’re ever in the area).  In a classic Indian twist, these flax seeds turned out to be deep fried and smothered in salt and masala spices.  My diet flips on its head in India and after a week, my belly is just about coming up to speed.  Lots of carbs and a huge decrease in vegetation.

Dinner time, Dad and I getting ready to eat off newspaper on the roof of a Jodphur Blue House.

Dinner time, Dad and I getting ready to eat off newspaper on the roof of a Jodphur Blue House.

A (VERY) BRIEF HISTORY OF CARROTS

In North India, carrots are a shade of deep pink, potentially red.  Striking looking things and ours today was a whopper, about 2 foot long.  It stuck out of my ‘man bag’ like a baseball bat.  Originally carrots in Europe were black (it was the orange loving Dutch who changed the colour to and trend, the Dutch are excellent market gardeners and the British were not.  Many of our techniques for market gardening, meeting our supply of veggies in cities etc, we’ve borrowed/ bought from the Dutch.)

I say things like extra virgin olive oil and sea salt almost in jest.  There is very little of that touching our lips here.  I am sure there is a hotel in Jodphur serving these types of delicacies tonight, but not on our budget!  A miniscule sacrifice for travelling India, but would have embellished this salad very nicely indeed.  Instead we use two sachets of olive oil that Dad had pocketed from our dinner on Turkish Airways from Istanbul.  Genius!

Remember this a traditional Indian Israeli salad and if you decide to make it, you will be joined by thousands of travellers over here, chowing down on exactly the same crunchy, vibrant goodness.

Make this salad super fresh, straight off the chopping board, just like they do in Marrakech, Tehran, Jodphur and  Istanbul.

The Bits – For 4 as a side salad

2 carrots (black, red, orange…….white I hear are quite tasty)

5 tomatoes

1 large cucumber (peeled or non peeled, some say that the skin is hard on the digestion)

1 small, sweet red onion (finely sliced in half moons, nice for presentation)

1 green pepper (finely diced)

3 big handfuls fresh coriander leaves

1 big handful fresh mint leaves (finely sliced)

4 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 tbs flax/ linseeds

½ lemon juice

Sea salt (to taste)

Do It

Chop your carrots, cucumber and tomato in similar sized 1-2cm chunks.  Arrange your coriander leaves around the edge of a serving plate.  I like to add texture and layers to the salad so mix the mint, tomatoes and onion together (holding back a little onion for topping).  Pile as a base layer between the coriander.  Now mix the cucumber, carrots and pepper together.  Scatter/ pile on tip of your tomato layer.  Scatter the flax seeds and a few thin slices of cucumber on top.

Israeli Salad (The Indian Traveler Classic) ready for action

Israeli Salad (The Indian Traveler Classic) ready for action

Serve

When ready to serve, simply drizzle the oil over the salad and squeeze the lemon on top (watch those pips!)

In India, you can serve this with warm chapatti in most other parts of the world, crusty bread is nice.  Or keep it purely raw for optimum nutritional benefits.

PS – Carrots are of course a bit crunchy.  Maybe you’d prefer slightly more refined, smaller chunks.

Foodie Fact

FLAX SEEDS = PROPER ‘SUPER FOOD’, CHEAP, LOCALLY GROWN (It pretty much grows everywhere)

Flax seeds have outrageous amounts of Omega 3 fats, they are superb for anit-oxidants and have plenty of vitamin B.  You will also find them to ease and assist digestion.  They are also cheap to buy, no ridiculous ‘super food’ price tag here.  Not bad for a humble brown grass seed.

Happy muncher!

Happy Muncher!

Categories: Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A Massive Festive Hug!

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The depths of winter on Mojon Beach

Just a quickie to say:

MEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRYYYYY CHHHHHHHHRIIIIISSSSTMMAAAAASSSSSS!!!!!!X

and then:

HAAAAPPPPYYY NNEEEEWWWWWWW YYEEEEAAAARRRR!!!XXXX

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

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

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

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

Peace, Love and Light,

Lee and Janexxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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

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

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CHEERS! (G+T’s all round)

 

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

Brazil Nut and Banana Breakfast Cookies and the Trials and Tribulations of Vegan Travel

Brazil Nut and Banana Breakfast Cookies - Fresh from the oven

Brazil Nut and Banana Breakfast Cookies – Up close and personal

Warm, healthy cookies for breakfast.  Yes, please!!!!!!  A fine start to any day and even the sleepiest of heads can cope with the simplicity of getting these together.  This is a nourishing and energy giving breakfast on the run and one of these cookies contains much more nutrition than your average bowl of cereal.

A strange post to be winging it across from the Turkish Med, but the weather in the port town of Antalya is dreadful.  Jane and I are tucked up in bed with cups of well stewed Turkish tea.  We were here two weeks ago and the sun was blazing, it now resembles a supermarket car park in Leicester town centre in a November hail storm (with the occasional roman aqueduct thrown in).  Amazing the difference some pants weather can make.

THE BEACH HOUSE ON TOUR

A quick update as to our wandering ways.  We’re in Turkey, as mentioned and have been whizzing around in a hire car for two weeks, covering thousands of kilometres in this fascinating and rich land.  Firstly, Turkey is a country with many layers of incredible history and culture, stunning and varied landscapes, but the real star (as ever we find) is the people.  The folk we have met have been absolutely brilliant, wonderfully hospitable, kind and funny.  Jane and I have felt very at home ever since, on the first night, a genial waiter Abdullah, offered us his house to stay in for as long as we like. We declined his more than generous offer, so he halved our bill and sent us on our merry way.  This has become quite normal, every day we are confronted with bare faced kindness and highly welcoming behaviour.

The view from our hotel in Antalya on the first day, now it looks considerably greyer with occasional lightning forks crackling over the mountains.

The view from our hotel in Antalya on the first day, now it looks considerably greyer with occasional lightning forks crackling over the mountains.

We’ve been so active in the last 14 days its quite hard to recap that’s been done.  Having taken in most of the Turquoise coast, with its stunning ancient Greek and Roman Ruins and beautiful beaches, we headed up to Pammukale, which is a massive calcite wave with hot thermal springs (and an almost token vast ancient Greek settlement on top).  We then whisked our little Fiat up through the Alpine clad mountains, inland and across a vast Anatolian steppe to Konya (the resting place of the poet Rumi and the home of the whirling dervishes) and then spent a few days exploring and hiking in the ridiculously unique and surreal rock features of the Cappdocian valleys.  We stayed in a luxury cave, carved out of compressed volcanic dust.  The beauty of having a car is being able to stop alot along the way and get lost.  Getting lost I find is the best way to get to know a country properly.  The out of the way places are always more fun than the tourist ‘hives’.

Now we’re back on the coast, having traced the silk road for a while and hung out in caravaserai’s.  We’re readying ourselves for a weeks volunteering and cooking on an organic farm and animal sanctuary (meaning sitting down for a day).  Phew!  In a nut shell, its been intensely brilliant.  It feels like we’ve been away for years.  Pictures will hopefully follow when a better internet connection arises.

THE TRIALS AND TRAVAILS OF VEGAN TRAVELER 

Being a vegan foodie traveler outside select parts of LA  is never going to easy, but many Turkish staples are easily veganised and we haven’t struggle for sparkling sustenance thus far.  Saksuka, corba (soup, lentil normally), bean stews, gorgeous pides (Turkish pizza), village rice dishes, shepherd salads, smoked aubergine and pepper salads, many clay pot roasted veggie variations (in wood fired ovens), and lashings of white bread ( no whole grains on the horizon) have kept us ticking over quite nicely.  All washed down with plenty of tiny glasses of Turkish Whiskey (well stewed tea normally grown around the Black Sea).

We do have a very unique diet in the Beach House Kitchen and we always feel the pinch the first few weeks of a travel.  Gone are the 6 vegetable morning juices and rampantly organic raw salads and layered tofu bakes.  Having said that, back here in the big city Antalya (population 11 million) we have just enjoyed a slap up mezze-fest in a white table cloth joint.  Radical selections of local leaves, beetroot, funky turnip juice, fresh steaming white bread, melt in the mouth aubergine dishes (known as the ‘sultan’ of vegetables in Turkey and quiet revered), interesting and intense tomato rice (the shape of which I’d never seen before, very squat and dumpy grains).  Great stuff and an open fire to boot.

Generally travelling as a vegan means scouting out as many fruit and nuts as you can find.  I’m not a huge supplement fan, but do travel with some Spirulina which I picked up in India, see this article I wrote for more info on this wonder green powder.  Getting balanced nutrition is a happy quest when on the road.  A vegan traveler has to be more patient with food and accept the occasion stray lump of cheese or gristle with grace and impeccable manners.  After all, we are ambassadors of something highly  positive, why ruin it all with a restaurant rant.  It can get a little embarrassing on occasion, especially when in a home.  No matter how much you explain yourself, language barriers can become chasms when ordering in a restaurant.  It is quite an alien concept in most parts of the world.  So far, on this trip, I have been fine and had no encounters with surprise ingredients.  There is an element of keeping it simple and realising the the cornucopia of local food is generally out of bounds and you will have to settle with some simple veggies dishes and many baffled and perplexed looks from local waiting staff and restaurant owners.  Jane and I also make alot of salads and simple veggie dishes ourselves, we always travel with a good knife and some plates.  This keeps costs down a little and means that we can pack loads of gorgeous local veggies into diets with relative ease.  Overall, Turkey is a great country for vegan travel and much of the produce is organic and seasonal.

I made these cookies just before we left the Beach House for our travels around Turkey, Spain and India.  They were a real hit with our friends over coffee and chats.  As usual with our sweet things, they are an attempt at taking a gorgeous cake/ cookie recipe and making it as healthy as we can, without compromising on delicousness.

These baked beauts are packed with nutrition and low GI, all that shebang!  They are also super tasty and almost a meal  in themselves.  After one of these for breakfast, we feel pretty much sated for the morning.  We’ve basically put loads of the things that we love in a bowl and baked it, most are ingredients that we believe will do our body the most amount of good first thing in the morn.  A novel way of approaching cookie making you may say?!  But the cookie taste it there, it just so happens that we snook in a few wonder foods as well.  We’ve got oats, flax seeds, bananas, maple syrup, brazil nuts, cinnamon……it’s like a health food shop condensed down into small disc of crispy happiness!  All these things are going to make your body smile and sing.

Gluten free folk may like to try buckwheat flour or your favourite gluten free flour mix instead of the wholewheat flour, we haven’t tried it, but are sure it will lead to magic results.  Gluten free oats are also readily available.  You can also just use oats, but the cookies won’t quite have the density and firm texture that these will.

Fresh out of the the oven

Fresh out of the the oven.  Would you call this a cookie or a biscuit?

SO WHEN IS A BISCUIT A BISCUIT, AND A COOKIE A COOKIE?

I think this is a matter of cultural surroundings and varying criteria.  Personally, a cookie is moist and chewy and a biscuit is crunchy and crumbly.  Cookies are normally fatter and biscuits are thinner.  Cookies are not traditional in the UK, so any new and magical ingredients normally take things in a cookie direction.  What do you think?  I know in the States biscuits are served with savoury dishes, they seem to be more like a semi-scone, but generally quite heavy.  I know one thing, there is no way anybody would refer to these whoopers as a biscuit, maybe a ‘slab’ would be better way of describing them, or a ‘chunk’.

Use any variety of nuts and seeds here, whatever’s handy (although poppy seeds are probably best used only if you love ‘em dearly).

Once baked and cooled fully, these cookies will keep for a few days in a tight fitting container or biscuit tin and don’t just eat them for breakfast, eat them all day if you like!

 

The Bits – 6-8 big cookies

200g Scottish oats (50g more reserved)

30g wholewheat flour

2 bananas (mashed with your hands)

3 tbs sunflower seeds

1 ½ tbs flax seeds

1 handful brazil nuts (roughly chopped)

200ml sunflower oil/ light olive oil

3 tbs maple syrup/ brown rice syrup/

1 teas bicarb of soda

1 ½ teas ground cinnamon

1 teas almond extract

In the mix

In the mix

Do It

Preheat an fan oven to 180oC.

Mix together all the bits in a large bowl until a smooth dough is formed, then add the rest of the oats and stir in.  This will give the cookies a little bite and texture.

For soft cookies bake for 10 minutes, for slightly crisper cookies, turn the tray and bake for a further 2-3 minutes.

Breakfast is served!

Breakfast is served!

Serve

Using a flat spatula, place on a wire rack and leave for 15 minutes to cool.  Best served with a nice big cuppa tea.

Foodie Fact  

Many people believe bananas to be high GI (Glycemic Index) foods, meaning they release their carbohydrates straight into your blood stream and leave you with a ‘sugar spike’ that can lead to blood sugar level mayhem and long term ailments.

Bananas are actually low GI and are our friends, meaning they help against diabetes and keep our heart healthy.  The greener your banana, the less sugar present.  Plantains have the lowest sugar levels.

Goodbye from the Med!  (expect more pics soon)

Goodbye from the Med! (expect more pics soon)

 

Categories: Baking, Breakfast, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Autumn’s End at the Beach House Kitchen

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

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

The Beach House Garden bracing itself for the Welsh winter

The Beach House Garden bracing itself for the Welsh winter

Our Hawthorn tree all red and sparkly

Our Hawthorn tree all red and sparkly

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

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

Autumn sunset off the Llyn Peninsula

Autumn sunset off the Llyn Peninsula

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

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

Kindling ready for the fire

Kindling ready for the fire

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

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

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

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

Stash of funky rocks from the beach

Stash of funky rocks from the beach

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

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

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

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

 

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

Simple Blackberry Compote and Tips on Berry Foraging

The BHK bumper blackberry crop

The BHK bumper blackberry crop

We decided to let our brambles run wild this year, the back of the garden has sprung into a thorny, berry heaven.  Brambles are so prolific and need no encouraging to take over the joint!  We’ve had a bumper crop with kilos of blackberries flying into the kitchen and looking for a home.  I like what the brambles have done to the nether regions of our garden, creating a home for all sorts of cool creepy crawlies and a decent amount of little mice, which are big friends to our developing garden.

On our green and good isle, Britain, we are enjoying a good start to September, the extra rays of sunlight are resulting in some massive, succulent blackberries, so we’ve been making chutneys, wine (this recipe will no doubt appear here soon) and compotes/ jams. We are nicely stocked for the upcoming Christmas/ birthday present-athon. What better gift than a spicy chutney?

Blackberries are such a bountiful autumnal bonus and along with elderberries, are two of my favourite fruity treats. This is such an abundant time of year, it seems like all the warm weather we’ve had this year has come to fruition. Its hanging from almost every bush! It makes all that messing around with soil and late night slug raids on the veg patch worth while. We can eat from the land and there are few things more satisfying than a fruit salad made from you’re own (British!) garden.

Berry foraging bonus - fresh lavender smells around the house

Berry foraging bonus – fresh lavender smells around the house

Blackberries are native to Northern Europe and they grow as far north as Siberia!  Our berries, like most, just run wild all over the place.  You can be more organised and precise and run them up trellises etc.  But thats proper gardeners territory and we’re not there yet.

When making this compote, it will rarely get easier when playing with pots and pans. Two ingredients and a little heat, a jar and a cool place.  All you need for a knockout compote.  We took this in what is known as a ‘sugar free’ direction as a friend was visiting who is avoiding the heinous white powder.  A sprinkle of dates sorts out all of our sweet tooth requirements and also brings a thicker texture to the party.  Taste the compote after 5 minutes bubbling on the hob and add more dates if not quite sweet enough.  We are not sure how long it will last in the fridge, this compote is not made as a ‘preserve’ but should be eaten soon after cooking.  We’ve had a huge pot in the fridge now for over three weeks and its fine.  I did think that the reduced sugar content would shorten its life, but its still soldiering on.

Good blackberries are essential for this type of embellishment free behaviour, raid you local hedgerow to find the finest blackberries.  You will probably have a nice time too, just avoid those vicious thorns and if picking on a road, avoid speeding buses!

TOP TIPS FOR BERRY FORAGING

–  Never pick anything edible around train tracks, they regularly spray chemicals around the tracks to stop weeds growing.  Never pick berries that are cocked dog leg height, for obvious reasons.

–  Be careful not to squash berries when picking them, if you do, we suggest popping them into your mouth.  Try to keep your hands clean when picking fruit, the occasional scoff is very hard to resist (and all part of the fun).

–  Only pick berries that are plump and soft, the ones that fall off in your hand.  If you have to tug it, it ain’t ready for munching.  Leave if for a few days and then go back for it (blackberries grow and ripen quickly).

–  Use the berries straight away, that day.  If they look dirty, or you don’t fancy wild berry munching, submerge berries in cold water when you get home, give them a swish around and then leave them to drain, laying them out on kitchen paper when ready.  Handle them very gently, until they are dry-ish.  Then pop in the fridge covered loosely.  This works for us.  But as mentioned, the sooner they disappear into happy bellies, the better.

–  When picking blackberries, look at the white bit (where the stem should be), this is where maggots reside.  If there are maggots hanging out, ditch the berry on the ground and continue undeterred.

–  Don’t wear your new white shirt or trousers.

The Bits – Makes 2 regular jam jars 

800g freshly picked blackberries

2 big handfuls of chopped dates (to taste)

Do It

In a large, heavy bottomed pan, add the blackerries and dates, bring slowly to a boil and leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the berries have broken down.  Stir regularly, do not allow the base or edges of the compote to catch and burn.

Very easy Blackberry Compote

Very easy Blackberry Compote with some Rye Bread

Serve

The resulting deep purple gorgeous-ness can be spread on warm toast with soya yoghurt or with chopped bananas and nut butter.  Very pleasant when spooned over your morning bowl of muesli or even frozen and made into a sorbet (we haven’t tried this yet).  You could also make a wonderful dressing with it, by adding balsamic vinegar and a touch of oil and seasoning.

Foodie Fact

Blackberries contain a low-calorie sugar substitute called Xylitol, which is low GI, meaning slow absorption into the blood stream.  Blackberries are high in fibre and are full, full, full of antioxidants like vitamin C and chemicals called phenolic flavanoids (good guys).

See below for the physical after effects of a days blackberry picking.

Jane on Aberdaron beach yesterday, full of blackberries!

Jane on Aberdaron beach yesterday, full of blackberries!

Categories: Foraging, Recipes, Wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Beetroot, Apple and Caraway Sauerkraut

Great jar, inaccurate label.  It should read 'Beetroot, Apple and Caraway' Sauerkraut

Great jar, inaccurate label. It should read ‘Beetroot, Apple and Caraway’ Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a well disguised super hero. Cloaked in cabbage and a fermented glow, Sauerkraut is a dish that is not only delicious, but is very easy to make and gives us some very pleasant nutritional boosts.

China, with its amazingly rich and ancient food tradition seems the source of picklin’. It is said that traders brought many of their tasty pickles and fermented fare from the Far East to Europe. ‘Sauerkraut’ is the German name for fermented cabbage, the French call it ‘Choucroute’ and British people just call it “Fermented YUM”.

The fermentation of Sauerkraut involves a number microbial species; one creates an acid environment for another to thrive and the process continues until the ph is acid and we are left with the perfect conditions for pickling a cabbage. You just need to form a decent brine, cover the vegetable with it and leave it until you like the texture and flavour. Any kitchnen will have the equipment necessary to produce a decent ‘kraut and you can play around with the veggies, mixing and matching different combos.

This time of year, early Autumn in North Wales, is the perfect time for Sauerkraut making. All the ingredients we use here are bang on seasonal and we’re stocking up our larder for another long winter time, when vividly coloured sauerkraut is a pleasant surprise to unearth (not that we’ll be here, we’ll be in Turkey!!!!!!!). A ray of purple light in the chilly grey gloom. We like the addition of apples here, it gives a hint of sweetness. Beetroots are also doing well up here and a little caraway is always welcome to the party, giving things an unmistakeable, East Europe feel (where this kind of preserving behavior is very popular). Red cabbage makes an appearance to add even more colour and a backbone.  Proper cabbage-ness.

The process may seem a little long winded, but I’ve tried to simplify it down and make it accessible to the ‘kraut curious.

Buster (always interested in the smell of sauerkraut)

Buster (always interested in the smell of sauerkraut)

This recipe is lifted, with a few BHK modifications, from the brilliant book ‘Wild Fermentation‘ book by Sandor Ellix Katz. We are really getting our teeth into all things fermented at the minute, coming soon, the easiest Apple Juice Hooch imaginable (you almost have to do nothing to make home crafted booze!) and a really simple Kimchee recipe.

If you are avoiding salt, there are many salt-free sauerkraut recipes out there. We are yet to try them, but they will definitely be interesting!

You can add virtually anything to sauerkraut and it tastes good (this is not a challenge!); different herbs, spices etc.  We’re just sampling an Indian spice stylee version (you will not be surprised to hear!!!!) Can’t wait for the pokey results.

Fermenting and conserving vegetables using brine is something that once picked up, will be a constant source of inspiration in the kitchen. Making things like the glorious Kimchee or pickled onions/ gherkins is a not to dissimilar technique and of course, homemade stuff tastes leagues better than our shop bought friends. Once you start picklin’ and preservin’, its hard to stop (strange as that may sound).

Get your ‘kraut on!

The Bits – Makes roughly 1 kg of ‘kraut

1 medium-sized red cabbage
2 beetroots
1 red onion
(roughly grate these)
1 apple (cored and sliced)
2 teas caraway seeds
2 tbs sea salt

Grated and ready for action

Grated and ready for action

Do It

In a deep bowl or pan (preferably with straight sides), add the grated bits, caraway and sprinkle over the salt. Mix in well with your hands, pack down as well as you can.

Pick a lid/ plate that fits snugly over the sauerkraut and place a weight on top. Use kitchen weights, bottles of wine, whatever is handy and weighty. This weight will force the liquid from the veggies and fruit, the salt takes care of the rest via osmosis. The brine will begin to form. As the liquid gradually rises, keep pressing the lid down regularly until the brine covers the sauerkraut (this may take 24 hours). This is what we want. You can now cover this with a kitchen cloth and leave for 2-3 days and let the microbials do their work.

Some cabbages contain less water than others, if after 24 hours the brine is not covering the veggies, add salted water (1 tbs salt per 250ml water). Check the ‘kraut every day or two and skim off any ‘bloom’ that may form. This is technically mould, but is rare and does not affect your sauerkraut as it is protected by the brine.

The sauerkraut is normally ready after 3 days, depending on the heat of the room (the hotter the less time it takes to mature, the cooler the longer it can be left). It should be tangy and crisp.

You may like to scoop some out and keep it in the fridge when it is young and leave it for a few more days to mature, noting the flavour difference and what is your preference. We like ours funky and leave it for 5 days-ish. If the sauerkraut is getting soft, its probably passing its best and should be eaten pronto.

Serve

We’ve been having ours all over the place.  Great for picnics and packed lunches, on toast and a nice little surprise package on a plate of salad.

Foodie Fact

Fermented cabbage and other Brassicaceaes (Bok choi, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, mustard, kale, spring greens and many more) have been shown to help against cancer. When the cabbage breaks down, it goes through a chemical shift and the resulting isothiocyanates have been shown to fight the big C.

Sauerkraut juice is also a magical tonic, regarded as a digestive aid second to none.

Hell's Mouth Beach, Llyn Peninsula - Ideal picnic spot for sauerkraut scoffing

Hell’s Mouth Beach, Llyn Peninsula – Ideal picnic spot for sauerkraut scoffing

Categories: Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Side Dish | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Pecan and Fig Muffins (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free)

Juice Pulp Muffins with Pecan and Fig

Juice Pulp Muffins with Pecan and Fig

GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN, SUGAR FREE, LOW GI, HIGH FIBRE, …….whatever you want to call them, these muffs are very cool.

The worlds healthiest muffin?  Almost, possibly not.  The worlds strangest muffin?  Quite possibly.  The worlds tastiest muffin?  (Probably) YES!

These are muffins if Doctor Parnassus made them in his Imaginarium (any Terry Gilliam fans out there?)  Containing what can only be described as pscycedelic pulp (great name for a surfer rock band).  This is what you could call a classic Beach House post, we woke up and all of a sudden made some pink-ish muffins with turmeric in them, then thought we’d write about the experience.  I trust you don’t think any of these posts are planned or orchestrated in anyway.  This is adventure is all the food we are eating right NOW.  Steaming on the plate/ wire rack.  You can probably tell by the rushed looking photo’s, a hungry camera man is a complacent camera man.  Thankfully these freakish muffs are totally delicious, have an almost succulent texture and are happily brimming over with health giving properties and the main thing (that we almost forgot) is that they are a pleasing receptacle for your leftover juice pulp.

Yes,these sweet thangs are ‘sugar free’, although I don’t quite get this new movement.  The whole sugar free thing seems mystifying; you can’t eat one type of sugar but can eat other types of sugar.  Its like being vegan, but you can eat goats cheese because its lower in fat????  Can someone please explain the ‘Sugar-free’ craze?  Anyway, these are sugar free as they only contain dried fruit and maple syrup, which are not classed as ‘sugar’ by some.   They are of course, much better than processed, bleached, alien sugars, meaning all white sugar (which isn’t even vegetarian as it can contain bone meal!!!!).  Low GI seems the way forward, or eating fructose with fibre (like a banana) which naturally slows he absorption of sugar into the blood stream.

PULP (NON)FICTION

Jane and I would be nowhere without juice.  Our lives have changed since we got our first juice machine and we are now a happier shade of orange (too many carrot and ginger juices, you have been warned!).  We have been curious about juice pulp muffins for ages.  How can we use up all of this wonderful looking chaff.  Its almost pure fibre and we’re not eating it?  Quite a conundrum!  How can we utilise this excellent commodity, other than adding to the ever grateful compost bin.  What better way that baking with it!  We discover a great webpage that gives ‘20 smart uses for using up leftover juice pulp’ from making ‘pulpsicles’ to a face mask, there are so many creative ways of putting pulp to work.  Check it out!  We also like to add it as balast ie replacing, rice, lentils etc, to vegan burgers and patties (falafels, sausages, frisbee…….or whatever shape is being moulded), it can also be incorporated into a wholesome and frugal soup.  No doubt, more pulp-based Beach House posts are coming this way….watch this space for Pulp Gazpacho.

A bucket full of pulp derserves a home

A bucket full of pulp derserves a home

PULP NUTRIENTS VS JUICE NUTRIENTS

The leftover pulp from juicing is primarily fibre, although there are some other good things in it as no matter how good your juicer, dry pulp is virtually impossible to extract.  Too much pulp is not great for the system as the high fibre content may lead to ‘blockages’.  Some would say, and this makes perfect sense, that juicing inundates the body with concentrated nutrients that it may not be quite ready for and eating whole foods is the way forward.  We’d agree with this.  The enzymes needed to extract the nutrients of most foods can be found in the food you’re eating.  How cool is that!!!!  When we juice, we seperate the ‘whole’ food, so eating the pulp later means that all of the nutrients are not necessarily available to the body.

Another theory is that the nutrients from vegetables is in the juice and the nutrients from fruit is in the pulp.  Meaning, juice your veggies and eat your fruits.  This is due to the flavanoid content in the skins of especially citrus fruits.

This is not in anyway us angling against juicing, just give some differing opinions.  Juice is the finest way to start any day and we’d whole heartedly recommend it to anybody.  For us, it is the cornerstone of healthy, vibrant diet.  Juicing is a truly awesome way to offer our bodies potent nutrients and is a sublime wake up call to our system first thing.  How often would we normally eat 4 carrots, 2 apples, 1/2 beetroot, 2 inches of ginger and loads of kale (our juice ingredients this morning) in one sitting, especially one glassful!  You can just imagine what good that is doing our bodies and it shows the effect of bags of energy and a sense of ‘fullness’.  Normally after a breakfast juice, I won’t eat again until at least lunchtime.

These here psyco muffins are beautifully moist due to the high pulp content, we baked ours for between 35-40 minutes (37 1/2 minutes to be exact!) any more and you’d loose some of that ‘gooey in the middle, crispy on the outside texture’ that is so drop, dead gorgeous.  Also, under baking vegan/ gluten free goods will not mean that you catch anything or have dodgy digestion for the rest of the day, so there is no risk going for gooey.

Maple syrup is so precious on this hill, we did a half/ half mix between malted rice syrup and the glory sap (maple syrup).  Anything is better with more maple syrup, so go wild accordingly.  You could use any combo of dried fruits and nuts in this recipe.  With the bright purple beetroot content of these muffs, I thought at one stage that pecan and fig just didn’t go.  For some reason, they didn’t seem fun enough for pink!?  Peanut and cranberry seemed better, and still sounds nice.  Hazelnut and dried apricot, walnut and date, almond and prune……..The dried fruit used will alter the sweetness, especially if you’re going for dried dates.  I’d say this recipe is moderately sweet and would make the perfect, post juice, mid morning nibble.

If you’re not very keen on spice, omit the cardamom and turmeric (adding 1/2 teas more cinnamon), although the latter especially is one of the finest things you could ever wish to consume (health wise).  Turmeric also gives these muffins a very funky colour, especially when combined with beetroot pulp (although the raw mix hue does tame slightly when baked).  You can use most juice pulp here, but things like celery will take things in a more savoury, eclectic direction.  Things like carrot, beetroot, greens (maybe not cabbage), any fruit, ginger are all fine pulp fodder for baking sweet things.

So if you try one muffin this morning, fill it with psychedelic pulp.  Don’t worry, I’ve ate four of them whilst typing this with no obvious side effect (other than a goon like grin and a misty/ vacant look in my eyes, “Parnassus you rogue, is that you!!!!!??????”,,,,,,,,,,@).  All is well in the BHK!

Dr Parnassus himself would be proud of such a mound of goodness

Dr Parnassus himself would be proud of such a mound of goodness

The Bits

2-3 cups juice pulp (ours was beetroot, carrot, apple)

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (we used 1 cup rice flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal/ fine polenta)

1/2 cup vegetable oil (coconut oil is also wonderful)

1/3 cup whole bean, organic soya milk (any non-dairy milk will do)

1/2 cup maple syrup (brown rice syrup or liquid sweetener of your choice.  Adds to the crispy exterior)

3 tbs flax seeds (ground well and mixed with 6 tbs water.  Leave for 15 minutes to become gloopy)

3/4 cup dried figs (roughly sliced)

1/2 cup pecans (roughly chopped)

1/2 tbs vanilla extract

2/3 tbs bicarb of soda

1 teas ground cinnamon

1/3 teas ground cardamom and 1/2 teas turmeric (optional but awesome)

For additional oomph! and new flavour directions (especially if you’re making a breakfast style muffin):

Add 1 heaped teaspoon of ground coffee/ wheatgrass or spirulina/ lemon or orange zest – and let us know how these go……we are trying the wheatgrass version next week.

Do It

Simple as.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl with a trusty wooden spoon.  Form into big balls with your hands and pop into a muffin tray.  You don’t need a special muffin tray for this recipe, you can form big balls with your hand and place them on a lined and oiled baking tray and then fashioned them into a muffin shape.

Preheat an oven to 180oC (fan oven) and bake for 35-40 minutes, turning the tray/ trays after 20 minutes.  Our oven is a beast and can burn the items closest to the fan (do you have that problem?).

Leave to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before nobbling one or two.  Best served warm and slightly steaming.

The psychedelic interior (dampened slightly by baking)

The psychedelic muffin interior (dampened slightly by baking)

Serve

As quickly as possible.  We ate ours with some homemade blackberry and apple compote, just because it was on the hob.  I’d imagine some cashew cream or soya yoghurt would be pleasant.  You will of course need your favourite brew (that means a cuppa tea, not a beer in these parts, we are drinking alot of ‘Iron Buddha’ tea at the minute.  From China.) to hand.

Foodie Fact

Pecans.  These little beauties are members of the hickory family and like all nuts, are packed with the things we need and thrive upon.  Full of very good and useful fats, huge amounts of energy, good cholesterol and dietary fibre.  They are also rich in anti-oxidants, especially an excellent source of vitamin E which protects our cells and skin from free radicals.

Categories: Baking, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Tibetan ‘Magic Herb’ Momos

 

Momos a la GayBoo Homestay.  Made bt the magnicficent Nana and Gemma in Menchuka Village

Momos a la GayBoo Homestay. Made bt the magnicficent Nana and Gemma in Menchuka Village

Menchuka, or ‘healing-ice-water’, is a small village in a remote valley close to the Tibetan border of Arunachal Pradesh, Norteastern India.   Menchuka has a real outpost feel and is inhabited by the Memba, Ramo, Bokar and Libo tribes.  A.P. is one of the most stunningly beautiful, tribally diverse and ‘off the beaten track’ regions we’ve ever visited. Its a tough place to travel around, good old fashion slog with rickety jeeps and random time tables (most leave at 5am).  Arunachal Pradesh is very rich in culture, which normally means rich in food tradition and it didn’t let us down.  We ate alot of Momo’s stuffed with all sorts of wonderful bits (normally cabbage based) but this little recipe by Nana really blew our taste buds away.  We made Momo’s or noodles together most nights and it became the highlight of the day.

Because it’s a stone’s throw from Tibet, Menchuka is an expression of what India stands for, which is surely the most fabulous melting pot of humanity, religion and traditions.  Surrounded by endless ancient forests, where tigers roam freely and with a stunning backdrop of the high Himalayan snowy peaks, it is an untamed wild-land where we felt on top of the world (in more ways that one, its sits at over 6000 feet!).  The land is extremely verdant, with seemingly endless virgin landscapes stretching over countless valleys and breathtaking waterfalls.  Transport is tough, small jeeps playing terrible pop music cling to the craggy and pot-hole ridden roads/ trails and the pace of life slows right down, sometimes to a halt.

Some people say that Menchuka is the fabled ‘Shangri-La’ but it was normally raining and cloudy when we were there, this is picture is taken from Wikipedia (we’ve been to this exact spot, but couldn’t even see the village below due to cloud cover).

Menchuka is the end of the road and it took three days travel just to pass through Menchuka Valley from the nearest large town named, Along.  Each valley and turn seemed to unearth a totally different tribal culture; with differing techniques for hut construction, cultivating the land and keeping livestock, worshipping nature and dressing in a usually flamboyant and vibrant fashion.  Some of our best memories revolve around the nightly fire in Gayboo’s Homestay with all sorts of rosy cheeked local characters; hitching tractor lifts along muddy roads with friendly locals (crammed in with the lumber!), searching for isolated Tibetan Monasteries and Monks in the misty pine forests, navigating our way around the local army base with the massive runway construction project underway, slurping chow chow noodles (think a greasy chow mein) with mugs of restorative hot water in local eateries and crossing wide white rivers on long and creaking rope bridges… we had a ball!

Crossing creaky rope bridges......near Menchuka, Arunachal Pradesh

Crossing creaky rope bridges……near Menchuka, Arunachal Pradesh

What made it extra special was finding Gayboo’s homestay; a small group of log cabins in the middle of the village. The only warm place was beside the communal family fire, where we dried out with a mug of hot tea after yet another damp and chilly hike.  Gayboo, and his wife Nana, made us feel like we were wrapped up in a warm blanket in our little sanctuary home in the mountains.

Our sweet and very kind hosts welcomed us with open hearts and bright smiles. They told us the tales of their lives, showed us photographs of carpets of Spring time wild flowers blooming in secret places, and made us all sorts of Memba (their tribe) specialties.

They also taught us the art of making  Tibetan Momos, their speciality dish, served with a tasty chilli herb dip, made from a recipe passed down to them from generation to generation.  These momos are really special, the real deal. Of Nana’s three techniques to wrap them I liked the so called ‘pinch-pull’ method which gave the Momo a classic British Pastie look.  There was also the ‘twist’ and the ‘crimp’, favoured by Nana’s daughter Gemma, which admittedly sounds like something out of the Mighty Boosh, but all will be revealed….…

Jane and Nana gettign warm pre-momo 'fest.

Jane and Nana gettign warm pre-momo ‘fest.

The ‘Magic Herb’ mentioned in the title was intriguing at first, but turned out to be something very much like a whole Szchechuan peppercorn, which was bashed up and added to the mix.  A process we have repeated in Wales to a very nice effect.  The family gave Lee a whole peppercorn to chew on with comical, gurning results.  We would recommend going easy on them in their raw state!!!

The Bits – for 4 (makes about 16 momos – more if your dough rolling skills are good and thin)

Momo Filling
600g boiled potato (peeled and diced)
200g broccoli (grated)
1 medium onion (grated)
½ tsp chilli powder
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 inch ginger (crushed)
½ tsp salt
1 teaspoon oil
100g chard or kale (very finely chopped)
¼ teaspoon Szechuan pepper (to taste – you have been warned!!)

Momo Dough
2 cups white unbleached flour
½ – ¾ cup of water (depends on the type of flour)
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp oil

The Tibetan 'Cornish Pastie'

The Tibetan ‘Cornish Pastie’

Do It

Get the potatoes straight into a pan of salted boiling water and cook until they go soft and mashable.

While the potatoes are boiling, slowly and gently fry the rest of the filling ingredients in the oil over a low/medium heat so that they turn nice and soft. Take them off the heat before they go brown.

Mash up the potato when it is cooked, then add the fried ingredients. Give the mixture a good stir, seasoning it just as you like it.  Leave to cool for a good hour until at room temperature.

Whilst the mixture is cooling down, make the dough. For this, mix the flour, salt and oil in a bowl and add water gradually until the texture is smooth and the dough is stretchy. Knead the douhg for a minute and then stick it in the fridge to chill.

Then roll out the dough into a big circle and use a standard sized mug or scone cutter to cut it into smaller discs.  The size doesn’t really matter, just not too massive.  Then get creative with your folding styles!  The ‘crimp’ looks like a little semi-circle, the ‘push-pinch’ looks like a Cornish pasty and the ‘twist’ ends up looking like a little ‘dimsun’ style ball with a twisty top. Lee is the ‘crimp’ king, I’m partial to a ‘push-pinch’. See the pictures for a reasonable idea about what we are getting at.

There may be some filling left over at the end if the dough is a little too thickly rolled (they will still taste lovely though, so no worries!). This filling is so delicious you can just make leftovers into little patties the next day, or just snack on it while you are rolling.  If you are Tibetan and an expert then you’ll probably end up with too much dough!  Nana’s Momos were very thin, but we are just beginner Momo-makers.  We had a little filling left over at the end of our rolling session.

Momo's steaming on an open fire....

Momos steaming on an open fire…….Gayboo’s Homestay, Menchuka

Top Tip – if you try and put too much mixture in each momo it splurges out of the end…..!

These tasty little critters can steamed or shallow fried.  We steamed ours, so lightly oil both the steamer and the Momos so that they don’t stick to each other creating a giant inseparable momo blob. They take about 10-12 minutes to cook through on a decent steam and when they are done there is no stickiness to the dough any more, and the filling is piping hot through.

Serve

We quickly and simply pan fried bok choi, courgettes, tamari and ginger to make the perfect veggie accompaniment; eating our fresh Momos near a picture of the Dalai Lama with our minds all Himalayan.  We always serve Momo’s with ‘Senchen’, a Tibetan dipping sauce.  We’ll dig out the recipe and post it soon.

Traditional Menchuka Momos and a good read

Traditional Menchuka Momos and a good read

Foodie Fact

Fenugreek is a fascinating plant – even the ancient Egyptians understood the benefits of fenugreek – it’s seeds were found in Tutankhamen’s tomb!

The health benefits of fenugreek include relief from anemia, loss of taste, fever, dandruff, stomach disorders, biliousness, respiratory disorders, mouth ulcers, sore throat, diabetes, inflammations, wounds and insomnia. What a plant!

Slow moving traffic, waterfall meets road in Arunachal Pradesh.

Slow moving traffic, waterfall meets road in Arunachal Pradesh.

Wishing you all happy momo-rolling times. There are few things as satisfying as munching fresh Momos slowly as you’re rolling more of the delicious beasts!!!!!  It is a highly relaxing way to spend an evening away.

Om Mani Padme HumX

Categories: Recipes, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Redcurrant and Chia Breakfast Pots

Redcurrant and Chia Breakfast Pot.  Ready for action!

Redcurrant and Chia Breakfast Pot. Ready for action!

All you need for this easy and gorgeous vegan breakfast is a food processor and a fridge.  It’s that super easy, lightning quick and totally nutritious.  What a lovely, healthy start to the day.

Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods known to man and are the nutritious seeds of a plant related to the mint family!  Funky grass never tastes this good!! This tiny little seed acts a little like a sponge – becoming slimy and swelling up when soaked in liquid.  Because of this, chia is best served mixed into something creamy and delicious…. in this case coconut milk!  It can also be sprinkle on things liked salads or smoothies, like little seedy nutritional bombs!

This treat breakfast is also a perfect way to use up all those inevitable fruity autumn leftovers you (hopefully) have lurking in the corners of your fridge.  We had some mango bits and some red-currants that worked perfectly, in a very random way.  Sweet and sour…..bhom and mmmmmmm!

Any autumn berries would be find here, blackberries and elderberries spring to mind (as I can see them growing outside the window!)  We have an awesome little project planned for the next couple of weeks when we make Beach House Garden Jam for the first time.  Our plum tree has sought shelter under a dry stone wall, all the protected branches (from the vicious gales we get up here) are flourishing and its looking like a bumper plum crop this year.  Add to that a healthy Barsdey apple presence from our new apple tree and the ubiquitous blackberries swathe that is taking over parts of the garden and we’re looking good for tasty, sugarfree jam this year.  Does anybody know any good sugar free jam recipes?

For a more local/ accessible sweet fruit, why not go for a plum.  Oh, plum and blackberries, now we are talking in a sensation and seasonal fashion.

With bags of redcurrants at this time of year, what better way to use them?!

With bags of redcurrants at this time of year, what better way to use them?!

The Bits – for 4

1 cup of vegan yoghurt
1 small mango (or sweet fruit of your choice)
4 handfuls of seasonal berries (whatever you have in your fridge)
500ml coconut milk
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 date (optional added sweetness)
1/2 cup of linseeds
4 drops vanilla extract

 

Do It

Blend the yoghurt and mango and pour into the serving glasses.

Make a berry layer on top using half of the berries.

Next blend up the coconut milk with the date (it sweetens the milk a little), pour out into a bowl, and mix in the chia seeds, linseeds, and vanilla extract. Put this in the fridge for 20 minutes to cool and swell (or for as long as you can resist it’s charms for).

When the chia mixture feels thick-ish, pour it on top of the fruit layer in the serving glasses. Finally top with the remainder of the fruit.

 

Serve

Can be kept in the fridge for a couple of hours but better served straight away – dive straight in!

 

Foodie Fact

The benefits of Chia seeds are far and wide, with vast quantities of Omega-3 good fats and fibre being particular highlights.  Try drinking a large mug of lukewarm water with a chunk of lemon squeezed into it while you are preparing this breakfast, the perfect de-tox first thing in the morning.

Enjoy Xxx Sending you love this happy morning, Jane X

Cor!  What a pleasant way to start the day.

Cor! What a pleasant way to start the day.

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Jane’s Homemade Kefir (otherwise known as ‘Bob’)

 

 

The now legendary (and high maintenance spore), 'Kefir Bob'

The now legendary (and surely one of the highest maintenance bacteria/yeast), Mr ‘Kefir Bob’

The Beach House Kitchen has evolved into a vegan food corner, but Jane still loves the Kefir, read on to find out exactly why:

I didn’t know an awful lot about Kefir the wonder-culture, until the day I wandered into Solitude farm, Auroville, India, where a fantastically interesting woman, ecologist and shining light called Aline happened to be volunteering. Seldom found without a hose pipe in one hand (watering her lovely herb garden at the farm), and her jar of kefir yoghurt in the other, she always had a great big grin on her face.

Lovely Aline in her garden  at Solitude Farm, Auroville

Lovely Aline in her garden at Solitude Farm, Auroville

The Origins of ‘Bob’

Aline joyfully travels around the world volunteering at organic farming organisations with an abundance of enthusiasm and her yoghurty-culture in her bag. She is a self-taught kefir ambassador for the world, gladly (and with genuine enthusiasm) educating everyone with her big brain full of knowledge about the clever little bacteria/yeasties. Her particular kefir originated from her friend in Scotland, and since then it has probably become the most travelled bacterial-fungal culture ever. It has flown half the way round the world to several continents, on aeroplanes, trains, and buses, enjoying many a chilled nights’ rest from the tropical madness in numerous hotel fridges…. Most importantly it survived being thrown into the bin every single day (luckily in it’s jam jar and milk bath) by a well-meaning old man who’s daily routine included clearing out ‘off stuff’ from the communal fridge at Solitude farm. Believe it or not, Bob (the Kefir) was mistakenly confused with off-cheese. Poor Bob.

So you can imagine my delight when one day, over vegan chocolate ice cream to die for, Aline offered to give me some grains of Bob to take on my very own special kefir journey! Knowing nothing about how to look after my new friend, and with no time to get ‘kefir lessons’ from Aline before Lee and I departed Auroville, I was suddenly on the road with a fizzing gassing jar of little cottage cheesy looking lumps, demanding milk on a regular basis and semi exploding in 30 degree heat.

rsz_p1040005

Assamese New Year – Getting a ceremonial orchid woven into my hair live on local TV (as you do!)

Bob on tour

The first destination on our travels was Assam which happened to be boiling hot and we stayed at a place with no fridge and milk was in short supply. Feeling a little out of my depth and concerned that I was going to kill off my little lumps of Bob before the journey had even started, I went on a long and protracted hunt for dairy (milk is pronounced ‘dood’ in Assam), and a fine tea strainer which I found in Pondicherry for 8 rupees. Thankfully Bob was kept alive on UHT dood for most of the remainder of the trip, and as we travelled further North into the colder regions of Arunachal Pradesh, Bob relaxed and took it easy in his jar (more often than not carried around in my handbag in the back of bumpy jeeps and on crazy buses). He grew slowly in his ultra-heat-treated milky bath and we became good travel companions. Sometimes he went a bit cheesy though, but I drank most of the yoghurt that he produced and despite tasting sometimes pretty extreme it always settled in my stomach fine and I actually did feel the benefits of having a stomach supporting drink with the highly spicy diet.

Now we have been back in the beach house for a few months I am happy to say that Bob survived the Delhi heat and flight home. He is still with us, thriving fine and dandy. Kefir is pretty much the only non-vegan thing I eat now, and I am determined to start experimenting with it to see if I can make yoghurt out of soy, cashew milk and coconut milk too – yum!

How to make Kefir?

The culture prefers being in a glass jar rather than plastic. My mother-culture lives in the fridge in an old glass jam jars, because old jam jars clean out great with no smell. It’s really easy to make the yoghurt. Spoon a teaspoon of culture into a ramekin, and fill with milk, and stir. Leave out of the fridge in a warm place to ferment for a day, then put back in the fridge after straining the lumps out (re-use the lumps straight in the next batch). Eating a tablespoon of yoghurt with or after eating meals is enough to give the digestive system a boost. When the kefir ‘grains’ grow and multiply you can then give them away to friends and family to start their own culture…. I can’t think of a more fabulous pressie!

rsz_p1230622

Big question: ‘How do you make ‘Bob’ presentable for a photo?’ Answer: ‘You don’t’! He may be ugly, but he’s effective!!!

Why eat Kefir in the first place?

Originating from the Caucasus mountains in the former Soviet Union, it is a fermented drink, loaded with nutritional benefits. The yeast and bacteria kefir grains (they look a little like cauliflower) ferment the milk, using up most of the lactose making a slightly sour yoghurt filled with friendly bacteria – it is one of the most potent forms of probiotic. Regularly eaten it helps to clean the intestines, maintain a good balance of stomach bacteria, promotes a healthy immune system, as well as being an abundant source of vitamins (B12, B1 and Vitamin K and Biotin), minerals (calcium and magnesium) and essential amino acids. It even balances the nervous system (thanks to the tryptophan).

Kefir has also been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer, and has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)! It reminds me of Spirulina in a way – these little critters are so good for us.

Thank you micro organisms!

Actually, now I am already off on a microbial tangent I just want to take this chance thank our microscopic friends all round the planet for doing what they do. Incredibly microbes make up around 60% of the world’s biomass, including a large proportion of our own body mass. They generate a staggering 50% of all the oxygen that we breathe! So this is a big and overdue thank you, dear fungi and bacteria. You who break down leaf matter in our forest floors and give us nutritional humus, you who live inside us and help us to digest our food, you who grow on tree trunks and help us in our research about pollution. Thank you for sustaining life on our planet!

Love and Smiles, Jane x x

Carol (Lee's Mum) and I half way up Mount Snowdon, Wales

Carol (Lee’s Mum) and I half way up Mount Snowdon (surrounded by microorganisms)

Categories: Healing foods | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Spiced Beach House Chai and the Awesome Power of Cinnamon

 

Beach House Chai in Tamil Nadu

Beach House Chai on Karuna Farm, Tamil Nadu

This is something we quaff every day; with some sitar int he background and little incense waft, we could be back in Tamil Nadu, in our cottage on the hills (we have a thing for cottages on hills!!!!)

The ceremony of chai, the aroma as it bubbles on the stove, makes us both feel so at home. Its up there with the smell of freshly baked bread or sweet peas in the depth of summer.

A simple everyday chai here that adds spice and warmth to your morning cuppa. You may like it milkier, adjust the water to milk ratio as you like.  Namastex

Happy Chai Man, Madurai '14

Happy Chai Man, Madurai ’14

The Bits – 4-6 cups

1.5 ltrs filtered water

500ml almond/ soya milk (unsweetened)

12 green cardamom pods
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick (3 inches, broken in two)
2 star anise

4 teas loose leaf tea (assam is best or 4 normal tea bags ripped open)
jaggery or unrefined brown sugar (to taste)

Do It
Grab a large saucepan. Boil the water in a kettle (quicker) or bring to a boil in the sauce pan.

In a pestle and mortar, bash up the cinnamon and star anise, add to the boiling water, then bash up the cardamom and cinnamon, add that to the boiling water. Lower heat to a simmer and cover, leave to infuse for 20 minutes.

Now, bring back to a rolling boil, spoon in the tea. Leave to bubble away for a couple of minutes and then add your milk. Bring back to a boil and sweeten as you prefer. Indians love it very sweet indeed.  Using a sieve (and a ladle is easiest), pour into your favoured receptacle.

Serve

In your finest cups. Smaller cups are better and more authentic, even a small glass will do (generally how its served in a proper Chai stall). Sip and slurp with relish.

 

Foodie Fact – Cinnamon

Surely one of the worlds coolest barks!  Cinnamon is medicine. Powerful agent for healing.  There are two main types of Cinnamon that we can buy, Chinese (known as Cassia) and Ceylon(which is harder to find and supposedly more refined), it is one of the oldest spices we know of and was used by the ancient Egyptians as medicine and also for embalming!  It was considered more precious than gold.  It was even mentioned in Chinese botanical medicine over 4700 years ago.

Containing some truly magical essential oils, cinnamon is a potent anti-inflammatory, anti microbial (cinnamon essential oil can be used as a powerful preservative), flavouring high carb food with cinnamon slows the release of sugars into the blood stream,  helps with type-2 diabetes, it is a very, very, very strong anti-oxidant.  Even smelling the scent of cinnamon has been shown to boost brain activity.   It is also an excellent source of fibre, calcium and manganese.

Cinnamon has long be regarded as a warming spice in Chinese and Indian energy based medicine systems.  This means that is you feel a cold coming on drink plenty of cinnamon, ginger and lemon tea and you’ll be fine!!!

Cinnamon is best bought in stick form, it stores well for an age.  You can then crush it or grind it up freshly ans savour that familiar aroma.  Once crushed, kept it in a sealed container out of natural sunlight.  A fridge is best (this goes for all spices).

Chai's off the menu for me, I hit the Jack Fruit stand instead.  Yum!

Chai’s off the menu for me in India, I hit the Jack Fruit stand instead. Yum!

Or

Or a banana....

 Banana!!!!!

Categories: Healing foods, Infusions, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Inspiring Vegan Quotes (pt 1)

Hello Lovely Ones,

We normally let the food do the talking, but have been reading into veganism of late and unearthing some real pearls of inspirational wisdom.  We thought you might like them too.  Here we present a selection of our favorites (part one of a two part series!)  

Sometimes a good quote can really focus your mind on an issue, another persons voice, a like minded echo, can cast new light and energy.  These assembled quotes will be made into the new B.H.K. page ‘Inspiration Library’  (see above).  We hope you find them as challenging and uplifting as we did and that the message of peace to all beings rings true, far and wide.

Lee and JaneXXXXXXX 

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

“In matters of conscience the law of majority has no place.”

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

“I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man”  Mahatma Gandhi

“One should not kill a living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite another to kill. Do not injure any being, either strong or weak, in the world.” Buddha

“Let food be thy medicine.”  Hippocrates

“The Gods created certain kinds of beings to replenish our bodies; they are the trees and the plants and the seeds.” Plato

“Isn’t man an amazing animal? He kills wildlife – birds, kangaroos, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice, foxes and dingoes – by the million in order to protect his domestic animals and their feed. Then he kills domestic animals by the billion and eats them. This in turn kills man by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative – and fatal- health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year, sends out cards praying for “Peace on Earth.” – from Old MacDonald’s Factory Farm by C. David Coats

“The torch of love is lit in the kitchen.”  Author Unknown

“There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.” Charles Darwin

“Non-injury to all living beings is the only religion.” (first truth of Jainism) “In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self, and should therefore refrain from inflicting upon others such injury as would appear undesirable to us if inflicted upon ourselves.” “This is the quintessence of wisdom; not to kill anything. All breathing, existing, living sentient creatures should not be slain, nor treated with violence, nor abused, nor tormented, nor driven away. This is the pure unchangeable Law. Therefore, cease to injure living things.” “All living things love their life, desire pleasure and do not like pain; they dislike any injury to themselves; everybody is desirous of life and to every being, his life is very dear.”
Yogashastra (Jain Scripture) (c. 500 BCE)”

“I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

 

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.” George Bernard Shaw

“Let us remember that animals are not mere resources for human consumption. They are splendid beings in their own right, who have evolved alongside us as co-inheritors of all the beauty and abundance of life on this planet”  Marc Bekoff

“150 years ago, they would have thought you were absurd if you advocated for the end of slavery. 100 years ago, they would have laughed at you for suggesting that women should have the right to vote. 50 years ago, they would object to the idea of African Americans receiving equal rights under the law. 25 years ago they would have called you a pervert if you advocated for gay rights. They laugh at us now for suggesting that animal slavery be ended. Some day they won’t be laughing.” Gary Smith

“People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing to the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times” Isaac Bashevis Singer

“Most people would say they love animals, but the reality is, if your using animals for food, clothing, or entertainment, you’re only considering the lives of certain animals, typically those of cats and dogs.” Melisser Elliott

“Let us not look back in anger, or forward in fear, but around us in awareness.” James Thurber

“Make ethical choices in what we buy, do, and watch. In a consumer-driven society our individual choices, used collectively for the good of animals and nature, can change the world faster than laws.” Marc Bekoff

“Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals) is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission – to be of service to them whenever they require it… If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” St Francis of Assisi

“We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions and organs with our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of pain and fear.” Robert Louis Stevenson

“Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life. That is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring, and limiting life are evil.” Albert Schweitzer

“May our daily choices be a reflection of our deepest values, and may we use our voices to speak for those who need us most, those who have no voice, those who have no choice.” Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

“If you are a feminist and are not a vegan, you are ignoring the exploitation of female nonhumans and the commodification of their reproductive processes, as well as the destruction of their relationship with their babies;

If you are an environmentalist and not a vegan, you are ignoring the undeniable fact that animal agriculture is an ecological disaster;

If you embrace nonviolence but are not a vegan, then words of nonviolence come out of your mouth as the products of torture and death go into it;

If you claim to love animals but you are eating them or products made from them, or otherwise consuming them, you see loving as consistent with harming that which you claim to love.

Stop trying to make excuses. There are no good ones to make. Go vegan.”  Gary L. Francione

“Have a mouth as sharp as a dagger, but a heart as soft as tofu.”  Chinese proverb

 

 

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Edward Everett Hale

“Society does not want individuals that are alert, keen, revolutionary, because such individuals will not fit into the established social pattern and they may break it up. That is why society seeks to hold your mind in its pattern and why your so called education encourages you to imitate, to follow, to conform” Krishnamurti

“We all love animals. Why do we call some ‘pets’ and others ‘dinner?’” K.D. Lang

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

“It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.”

Albert Einstein

“The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor, ‘Can they talk?’ but rather, ‘Can they suffer?’ Jeremy Bentham

“In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.”  Ruth HarrisonAnimal Machines

“I am in favour of animal rights as well as human rights.  That is the way of a whole human being.”  Abraham Lincoln

”Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution.  Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”  Thomas Edison

“It shouldn’t be the consumer’s responsibility to figure out what’s cruel and what’s kind, what’s environmentally destructive and what’s sustainable. Cruel and destructive food products should be illegal. We don’t need the option of buying children’s toys made with lead paint, or aerosols with chlorofluorocarbons, or medicines with unlabeled side effects. And we don’t need the option of buying factory-farmed animals.” Jonathan Safran

“My body will not be a tomb for other creatures.”  Leonardo Da Vinci

“Of all the creatures, man is the most detestable. Of the entire brood, he’s the one that possesses malice. He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain. The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.” Mark Twain

Categories: Inspiration, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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