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: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What is a Flax Egg? and Other Vegan Egg Substitutes

This is!  (Flax Egg)

This is! (Flax Egg)

THE VEGAN EGG

A flax egg is basically 1 tbs of ground flax seeds mixed with 2-3 tbs of water. Left to sit for around 15 minutes, it becomes gloopy and a little egg-like. Ideal for binding vegan baked fare and highly excellent from a nutritional point of view.

The flax seeds should be as well ground as possible, depending on the equipment you have to hand.  It is best to use something like a high powered food processor or coffee grinder.  We use the later after a good rinse (old coffee grinders smell a little like ashtrays, have you noticed?)  We also try to use a pestle and mortar and after lots of elbow grease and caveman grunting; pounding and crushing, we were left with the consistency above. Namely, not very ground up at all. They are hardy little suckers, maybe it’s because they are so full of good things.  Even when only semi-bashed, they still work well.

OMEGA 3 POWER!

Flax seeds are full, full, full of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, one of the highest sources in nature.  In fact, flax, chia and hemp seeds contain more Omega 3’s than any type of fish, which may also contain heavy metal contaminants.  Recent studies show that baking or cooking these fats is no problem, these amazing polyunsaturated fats will not wilt in the heat.

One of their main uses for the Omega fats in the body is to aid and stimulate metabolism.  Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown, in tests (by people wearing white coats clutching clipboards) to help with cumulative conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes and can also assist with inflammation and may potentially help with cancer and mental health.  None of these ‘white coat’ tests seem conclusive but we can be sure that Omega-3’s (and their sibling linolenic fat, Omega 6) help with the healthy development of brains, eyes and nerves.  Other fatty acids in flax seeds give us shiny hair, strong nails and keep our cells firing on all cylinders.  Do I need to go on……………….!!!!  They’re great!

Glorious flaxseed (or is it a linseed?)

Omega 3 fatty acids come in different lengths, and without getting too scientific (because I am a cook), the longer the chains (called EPA and DPA), the easier it is for the body to synthesize these glorious fats.  Plants provide our bodies with short chain fatty acids (ALA), which can be converted into longer chain fatty acids (with more bonds open for chemical reactions) but the conversion rate depends on whether you are male or female, your age and on your diet.  Flax seeds contain roughly 10 times more omega 3 fats per serving than fish, so there is a pretty good chance you will be getting a good dose of the finest EPA’a and DPA’s if you use things like flax eggs, to regularly add flax seeds to foods; cereals, stews, baking, vegan/ veggie burgers, breads and pizza dough etc.  Once you make the decision to give up animal products, you are definitely not saying goodbye to our Omega 3 friends.

LIGNANS AND FIBRE

Flax seeds are also by far the highest source of lignans in nature (some say 800 times the amount of their nearest rivals!!!!), which basically translates as a whole bunch of anti-oxidant benefits. In fact, most people think that anti-oxidants rich foods are normally berries and brightly coloured foods, but flax seeds are well up there in the anti-ox states. Not bad for a grass. Flax seeds are almost 70% fat, but will not make you pile on the pounds. These fats are all beneficial to the body and are essential to a healthy, well balanced diet.

Flax is packed with fibre, which helps, especially in baking, when you are adding sugar to the mix. Flax seeds will help to put the brakes on sugar leaping into our systems and creating metabolic havoc and subsequent weight gain. These little seeds actually help to kickstart the metabolism, perfect morning food.  Flax seeds are widely used to help the bowels, they are cleansing and maintain ‘regularity’.  Especially good for I.B.S., diarrhea and constipation.  Try taking a tablespoon of flax seeds before a meal and you may feel fuller, reduce hunger and stimulate your digestive system.  Healthy bowels also have the knock on effect of you losing a little weight.

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1 tbs of flax seeds contains a similar amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and lignans as 30 cups of Broccoli. 

Fibre wise, 1 tbs flax seeds = 30 slices of wholewheat bread 

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Wow!  What a thing.  See this great site, Healthelicious, for more in depth info.

FLAX OR LIN-SEED?  WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

There is no difference, its all in a name.  Just be aware that boiled linseed oil is best for your shed or garden furniture and not for eating.  Things bought in DIY shops are normally not great on the plate!  Linseed oil is actually a brilliant wood preservative and perfectly natural, unlike the horribly toxic alternatives (creosote et al).  Golden linseeds and flax seeds (a dark reddish brown colour) are very similar things and both can be utilised in the same way.

OTHER VEGAN EGGS (!?)

There are many options out there for vegan egg-subsitutes, most come in packets and plastic wrapping. There are powders you can buy, but I have always found ground flax eggs to do the trick, they are like ‘an egg with benefits’.  As I’ve already harped on about, they are proper nutritional powerhouses.  Baking recipes with lots of eggs in are normally out of bounds for vegans, but if its something like a quiche or dished with boiled eggs in, tofu or tempeh will make for a perfect substititute.  I have used plain silken or firm tofu, blended together with gluten free flours like tapioca, potato or gram, this also works well in cakes and vegan burgers/ sausages.  It is always best to blend tofu first, as it may leave chunks in your lovely cake.  I have also used mashed sweet potato as a very funky binder.

Vital wheat gluten (or ‘Seitan’ as its called when formed into chunks) is a great addition to breads and burgers.  It  is basically flour, washed until only the gluten remains.  It acts as a string binding agent when added to things like vegan burgers or sausages.  It is, of course, highly non-gluten free and I like to enjoy it in moderation.

Chia seeds, when ground and soaked in a similar way to flax seeds, offer a decent gloopy texture and as you may know, wondrous health benefits.  Bananas and stewed apples/ fruit can also be used to replace eggs in some recipes, but non of these option offer the ‘fluffiness’ that eggs, especially egg whites can give to baked goods.

Here are some top tips from PETA on egg replacement options:

• 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. potato starch

• 1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed potatoes

• 1 egg = 1/4 cup canned pumpkin or squash

• 1 egg = 1/4 cup puréed prunes

• 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder

• 1 egg = 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed simmered in 3 Tbsp. water

• 1 egg white = 1 Tbsp. plain agar powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water, whipped, chilled, and whipped again

Read more: http://www.peta.org/living/food/egg-replacements/#ixzz3BmJLmnW5

The egg-options mentioned here are a reasonable solution to the vegan baking egg dilemma with the added bonus of being amazing for the heart (and all parts of the body for that matter). See our Juicer Pulp Muffins with Pecans, Fig and Turmeric for flax seed eggs in full effect.  It is fascinating what you can do when baking vegan, and although some recipes will be slightly denser than those with eggs, the obvious health and ethical advantages far out weigh the textural differences.

And flax eggs make these, Juice Pulp Muffins

And flax eggs make these, Juice Pulp Muffins with Pecan, Fig and Turmeric

Categories: Baking, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Juicer Pulp Muffins with Pecan, Fig and Turmeric (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: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Sepen (Spicy Tibetan Dipping Sauce) and the Nightshade Fairy

Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh

Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh

Tibet in a bowl!  I have never been to Tibet as such, but I’ve been close on a number of occasions, visiting various Tibetan regions of Northern India.  Tibetan culture is alive and well in India (unfortunately the same cannot be said of Tibetan culture in Tibet, but thats a whole different blog. post.  See here for more details regarding the present state of affairs in Tibet).  Once, on a hike in Himachal Pradesh (North West India) I thought I’d made it across the border when a Indian army fella popped out from behind a boulder with an AK-47 and politely asked me to turn around and don’t look back.  Shame, it was the absolute middle of nowhere!  Tibet looked like a majestic place, all icy peaks and vistas to take the breath away and inspire sheer awe..

Tibetan Monks, Tawang Monastery - March '14

Tibetan Monks, Tawang Monastery – March ’14

VEGGIE TIBETAN DELICACIES 

The food in Tibet is designed to fuel some of the worlds most hardy folk, many of them nomads.  Living at very high altitudes, with extreme temperatures and very little water, most Tibetans are rock solid folk and they need alot of sustenance.  Salted yak butter tea is one way of getting fat and energy into the body, but we would definitely not recommend it as a tasty beverage.  I normally opt for soemthing like Jasmin tea and Green tea is also common.

Tsampa is normal fare for breakfast, basically roast barley gruel (which grows well up there in the rare airs and windswept plains), sweetened or salty and we like to add banana to it for a luxury version.  Tsampa is lovely and reminds me of a very nutritious and fortifying ‘Ready Brek’ (a British brand of thin porridge that most kids were rasied on in the ’80’s).  ‘Balep’ is a light, spongy and chewy bread that is excellent dipped in a cup of hot tea on a crisp mountain morn.  ‘Tingmo’ is a light, dimsun like bun that is popular as a snack and can sometimes be found by the side of village and town streets, served straight from the steamer.  A welcome sight on wet and chilly day (seemingly very common in most of the Tibetan areas in India).

Noodles are an ever present and are made into something resembling what we’d call ‘Chow Mein’, sometimes with a broth, sometimes with bags of oil.  Basically different sizes and styles of quite bland noodles.  They normally call it Chow Chow, or they did in Arunachal Pradesh anyway.  ‘Thentuk’ is like a soft tagiliatelle noodle in broth which I find the most appetising way of noodling in Tibetan parts.  ‘Thukpa’ is another shape of noodle.  Seasonal vegetables are an ever present in these dishes and you normally get a good amount of greens mixed in.  The humble cabbage is well loved and creeps into most dishes.  Fermented bamboo shoots are very popular and add a wonderful flavour contrast to meals with a very, very funky smell indeed.

Our handmade noodle dish in Menchuka, Arunachal Pradesh.

Our handmade noodle dish in Menchuka, Arunachal Pradesh.

We hand made noodles whilst up in Menchuka village, Arunachal Pradesh (the north east corner of India, sandwiched between Bangladesh, Tibet, Bhutan and Myanmar).  We were staying with a lady named ‘Nana’ and she cooked us local specialities every night.  These noodles were made as a second course, eaten after momos.  The stock used was the water left after steaming the momos, she added some local vegetables (grown in the garden) and greens to the stock and let it simmer for a while and there it was, a gorgeous bowl of broth-y noodles, one of my favourite foods.  Definitely what we’d call a ‘bowlful of soul’.  I like the way Nana used the steaming water from the momo cooking, this type of cooking trick makes me very happy, it always seems that more traditional cooking techniques are far less wasteful than modern and the zero waste policy is something that we try and put into practice in the BHK.  The beloved family Mithun (a cross between a buffalo and a cow, only found in A.P.) ate the vegetable scraps and seemed very happy with them.

Wild Mithun

Mithun (when a cow merges with a buffalo)

Tibetans love cheese and make many varieties, normally using Yak milk.  Dried yak cheese looks alot like parmesan and certainly smells like it.  They also make fantastic little pastry parcels (like a British pasty) which I normally avoid as they’re stuffed with meat, like beef, or cheese. They do look delicious though.

Tibetans love a tipple and normally afterwards, a little boogie.  Chang (not the terrible Thai lager) is a barley beer drank in most households and distilled grain alcohol, called Ara, is something resembling rocket fuel that gets you there very quickly, especially when huddled around a blazing fire.  Falling over and dancing like a happy loon is quite common in Tibet (or maybe that’s just me!)

Being a vegan/ vegetarian couple, we find travelling around Tibetan regions quite easy, there are always plenty of vegetable based options to be had.  The ‘usual suspects’ on menu’s (mentioned above) can become a little repetitive, especially when compared to the fabulous diversity of food in the plains of India.

Probably the most ubiquitous of Tibetan foods is the mighty Momo (see here for our post on these bite size pockets of supreme tastiness) and Sepen, or something similar, is the sauce you will find on most Tibetan tables.  Momos are normally quite bland and need some jazzing up and this Sepen is the John Coltrane of condiments.

Menchuka high street, Arunachal Pradesh - March '14

Menchuka high street, Arunachal Pradesh – March ’14

This bowl of bright red wonderment is destined to accompany the MOMOS, but it also makes an awesome sauce to stir into noodles and can be used as a spicy little dip when canapes and nibbles are on the horizon.  You can use it like any Indian style sauce, stirring it into freshly roasted vegetables is a thing of extreme tastiness.  Its a good all rounder and one of our favourite things at the moment (even better than turmeric milk.  Yes, that good!)

This is pretty much the exact same sauce as you get in little momo shacks all the way across the Himalayas and to eat it in the Beach House Kitchen (North Wales) is quite a tastebud twister.  We have just recently been sorting our way through the local tomato bombardment, no not La Tomatina (that festival in Spain where they all lob tomatoes at each other), no, this is more like massive boxes of local tomatoes landing on our doorstep (twas the nightshade fairy we’re told!!)  We have been trying to figure out what on earth to do with the big old tom glut and sauces like this are perfect.  Ideal frozen (leave out the fresh coriander until you re-heat) we are amassing little red bags of sauces and chutneys all over our freezer.  Of course, Sepen is by far the finest, thats why we’re sharing it with you guys.

The work of the nightshade fairies (aka John and Pippa and their amazing farm in Bethel)

The work of the nightshade fairies (aka John and Pippa and their amazing farm in Bethel)

Make a big bowlful:

The Bits

1 tbsp oil
2 tsp 
crushed garlic
2 tsp
 crushed ginger
¼ tsp
 fenugreek seeds
1 
dried red chilli (finely chopped) or 1/8 teas chilli flakes – to taste
500g ripe tomatoes
½ cup
 fresh coriander (chopped)

Sepen in the pot

Sepen in the pot

Do It

Gently fry the garlic and ginger in the oil over a medium low heat, taking care not to burn. After a couple of minutes add the fenugreek seeds and the chilli and stir until the fenugreek starts to turn a darker shade of gold.  Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then blitz up in a food processer with the fresh coriander until smooth.

Serve

You can have this sauce warm or cold, both are very tasty.  Like most sauces/ stews, it does get better with age.  We’d recommend an evening of chilling in a fridge, to mingle and merge the beautiful flavours.

Couple of our mates from Arunachal

Couple of our mates from Arunachal

Foodie Fact

We love our tomatoes and we love our raw food, but the two don’t exactly mix.  Tomatoes are one of the only fruits/ vegetables that benefit nutritionally from a little warmth.  Cooking tomatoes stimulates the lycopene (a phtyo chemical found in the red pigment of tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables) content, but does reduce the vitamin C content.  For example, lycopene content in tomato paste is four times higher than that of raw tomatoes.  Its a balancing act, I imagine warm tomatoes are the way forward; not totally raw, not totally roasted.

Lycopene has been shown in tests to reduce the risk of cancer, but like most nutritional research, the evidence is debatable.   Tomatoes are good for you, eat them by the barrel-full (if you’re not allergic to nightshades that is!)  That’s the B.H.K’s advice.

Categories: Sauces, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Banana Bread Pancakes with Almonds and Maple Peach Sauce (Gluten-Free)

Banana Bread Pancakes

Banana Bread Pancakes

This is a Sunday morning breakfast to savour jam packed full of flavour and wonderful nutrition. I love pancakes and banana bread, so thought combining the two sounds nice. It turns out they are all the range in the States and a staple brekkie for our trans Atlantic brothers and sisters.

We’ve made them vegan and gluten free, we can’t make things too easy now can we?!   This changes the texture of the pancakes and makes them much lighter.  We find ‘normal’ pancakes quite heavy in the morn and can only eat a couple, these pancakes are less stodgy only contain natural sugars.

Gorgeous Peaches

Oooh!  You peach!

The flours we used here were what we had in the cupboard.  You may also like to go for some buckwheat or coconut flour into the mix.  They will both work well, coconut flour especially adds nice body to the pancakes.

Gluten free recipes normally need a little more care in the handling.  In the pan, let them rest and only bother them when the edges are turning to a darker shade of brown and crisping up.  Loosen well with a flat spatula and elegantly flip in one motion (much easier typed than put into practice!)  These don’t take the abuse and dodgy, warm up flipping that a normal full gluten variety will.  Softly, softly…

A good little non stick frying pan is essential kit for this recipe. You don’t need oil in the pan for these pancakes, but you do need a forgiving bottom.

We used four peaches for our sauce, we love it on toast, mixed in baked stuff and stirred into smoothies. This kind of fruit puree/ sauce is never far away from the beach house fridge.

The Bits, in the mix

The Bits, in the mix

As a variation, you can use any berries to make a nice sauce.  You may also like to throw some walnuts, brazil nuts, chocolate chips….into the pancake batter.

The Bits – For 6 big pancakes
1/4 cup rice flour
2 tbs fine corn meal/ flour
2 tbs potato flour
½ teas bicarb of soda
½ teas cinnamon
¼ teas sea salt
350g firm tofu (drained)
2 bananas
2 tbs coconut oil
¼ cup coconut milk
1 teas almond extract
2 tbs flax/ linseeds (soaked in 5tbs water for 1 hour)
1 handful of almonds (roughly chopped)

Maple Peach Sauce
2 peaches (de-stoned and peeled if you like)
Maple syrup (to taste)

Do It

If you have a small blender or coffee grinder (or just plain old blender) blitz the flax seeds for a minute, try to make a nice, thick paste.

Place all the pancake ingredients, except the almonds, in a blender and pulse until smooth.  Scrapping the sides of the blender a few times to get it all incorporated.  Pour into a large bowl and stir in the chopped almonds, leave to sit for 10 minutes.

Warm a small non-stick frying pan on medium heat, make sure its hot.  Spoon in roughly 3-4 tbs of pancake mix at a time. They should be nice and thick, more a American style ‘hot cake’ than a Basque ‘crepe’. Spread out using a spatula and cook for 2-3 minutes until bubbles begin to rise, flip using a flat spatula and cook on the other side for 2 minutes.

Cover with a kitchen cloth and repeat until you have a mighty tower of pancakes on your hands.

While that is going on. Place your peaches in the, now clean, blender and blitz until smooth. You can have this sauce hot or cold. Add the maple syrup to taste.

Banana Bread Pancakes with Almonds and Maple Peach Sauce

Banana Bread Pancakes with Almonds and Maple Peach Sauce

Serve

Warm and lathered with the peachy sauce.

Foodie Fact

Bananas are said to be Malaysian in origin, where they spread through the Philippines and India where Alexander the Great noted them growing in the 4th century BC.

Bananas are packed with potassium, brilliant for maintaining low blood pressure.  Bananas are super sweet but have a low GI rating, they are rich in fibre which keeps the digestion ticking over and regulates the amount of simple sugar released into our systems.  They are also good sources of vitamin C.

There are hundreds of types of bananas, but they are mainly grouped as sweet or plantain style.  To get an idea of the sheer range and textural difference, I can recommend some time harvesting bananas in Nicaragua.  The best bananas in the world!

 

Categories: Breakfast, Gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Creamy Broccoli, Sunflower and Lemon Dip

Broccoli, Sunflower and Lemon Dip

Broccoli, Sunflower and Lemon Dip

Fancy a quick dip!  This simple, creamy vegan dip is a great way to get more broccoli into our lives.  Which is never a bad thing!

Broccoli is one of the healthiest things sprouting from the earth.  Outrageously high in vitamin C and K.  Broccoli should not be cut before storing, otherwise the vitamin content decreases and should not be washed before popping in the fridge (a general rule with all fruit and veg) as this speeds up the spoiling process.

The nutrients in vegetables and fruits is directly effected by the soil and methods used in growing.  Organic is best, but even modern organic, industrialised practices leads to an depletion in the nutrients in soil and  subsequently the things grown in it.  In the Beach House, we wholeheartedly recommend befriending local producers/ farmers or even better growing your own.

This went down a treat at lunchtime today, perfect summer dipping fodder with the added benefit of being super healthy and light.

The Bits – Males one bowlful

300g silken tofu

2 handfuls sunflower seeds (soaked overnight = smooth dip, unsoaked = crunchy dip)

1 small head of broccoli (finely chopped)

1 small clove garlic (peeled and crushed)

1/2 lemon (juice and zest)

1/2 handful of fresh dill

1/2 handful of mint leaves

1 tbs good olive oil

Cracked pepper and sea salt (to taste)

Do It

Place all in a food processor and blend for a minute, scraping the sides down if you need to.   If you have used unsoaked seeds, expect a nice crunch to your dip, otherwise, make it nice and smooth.

Beach House radishes - ready for dipping action

Beach House radishes – ready for dipping action

Serve

With all your favourite crudites, we love to dip oat cakes into ours.

Foodie Fact

By birth, Broccoli is an Italian.  A member of the cabbage family and the green sibling of the cauliflower.  It is never good soggy, steam for 5 minutes max or serve raw.  Broccoli is a meal in itself, use the leaves and stems for different textures.

Broccoli has excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, especially high in vitamin C.  We regularly add it to morning juices to gives us a gentle kickstart in the right direction.  Broccoli is also outrageously high in fibre, helping fight cholesterol and keeping our digestion ticking over nicely.  This green hero also helps our eyes and repairs our skin.  Only a handful of broccoli per day will have considerable benefits.

Summer time and dippin' is easy.....

Summer time and dippin’ is easy…..

Categories: Nutrition, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Italian Flava! Holiday Snaps of Napoli and the Amalfi Coast

ITALIA!  What a place!  Pizza, scenery, pasta, wonderful people, gelato (for Jane), stunning scenery, espresso, incredible history….so much, a country filled with endless passion for life and bellies filled with wonderful culinary creations.  Here we have just a few of our holiday snaps from June’s trip to Southern Italy.

Jane's first gelato (she was a little pleased) - Napoli

Jane’s first gelato (Pistachio flavour) – Downtown Napoli

We started off in Napoli, hiring a car and camping for most of the time.  We rarely spent two nights in one place as the allure of the open road and the fascinating sights just kept us rolling deeper and deeper into Campania.  Napoli reminds me alot of Latin America, a real vibrancy and chaos, it can be scruffy and awe inspiring  in the same alleyway, it is a hive of creativity, is crammed full of ancient historical sights and offers all the opportunity to feast like a greedy baron.

Pizza is the mainstay of things and the Marinara (just tomato sauce, a little garlic and a drizzle of olive oil, so called because the fishermen used to eat it) took dough discs to a whole new level in my eyes.  The wine was local, with a vast array of indigenous grape varieties and generally, delicious.  Apart from eating and sipping coffee with jumpers tied around our necks, we walked the cities old town, took in as many museums, cathedrals, underground grotto’s, gelaterias (Jane) and Greek sculptures as our mortal legs could manage.  Napoli is my new favourite city at a canter.

On the road lunch - Graveyard, somewhere in the Cilento National Park, Campania

On the road lunch, Italy=best produce ever! – In an old graveyard, somewhere in the Cilento National Park, Campania

The spectacular Duomo Cathedral - Napoli

The spectacular Duomo Cathedral – Napoli

After Napoli, and the utterly mental driving conditions (most of the cars bear the scars of the outrageously tight roads and kamikaze scooters), we drove south past Mount Versuvius (the once mighty eruptor) and headed to the Amalfi coast, a place constantly banged on about as being rather pleasant.  Well it was in a  fashion, if you are of the manicured tourist variety.  We are not.  So camped in forests when we could and only ventured into the pretty towns for dinner, which was almost always, fresh, local, seasonal, made my mama and utterly delicious. We generally found things quite cheap, making our breakfast and lunch on roadsides and picnic benches along the way with some of the best fruit and veg I have ever encountered.  Believe the hype!  Italian lemons, plums, tomatoes, olives……the list goes on, are touched with something intangible and utterly magnificent.  Food here is a way of life, a cornerstone of culture…..I have heard this all before, but to witness it first hand and even better, to taste the fruits of this fascination and tradition, made me feel like the luckiest muncher on the Med.

Temple of Poseidon - The Ancient City of Paestum (600BC!), Campania

Temple of Poseidon – The Ancient City of Paestum (600BC!), Campania

Camping by churches seemed to work well - Cilento National Park, Campania

Camping by abandoned churches works well –  Near Morigerati, Cilento National Park, Campania

We found some beautiful camp spots and used disused churchyards regularly.  Almost painfully romantic and with the added bonus of clean water springs to do the washing up and for the occasional bathe.  The weather was sweltering, so we rose early with the sun and generally bedded down under clear night skies, sparkling with stars and fireflies.

Another roadside lunch -  Outside the very touritsy Ravello, Amalfi Coast

Another roadside lunch – Outside the very touritsy Ravello, Amalfi Coast

The awesome Hercules - National Museum, Napoli

The ancient and mighty Faranese Hercules 3AD (roughly 12 metres tall!) – National Museum, Napoli

Packing up one of our favourite campspots  - Overlooking Positano, Amalfi Coast

Packing up one of our favourite campspots – Overlooking Positano, Amalfi Coast

Stunning villages abound! - Morigerati, Cilento National Park

Stunning villages abound! – Morigerati, Cilento National Park

The national park, Cilento was a real highlight.  The second largest in all of Italy, with little villages on crags, waterfalls, endless forests and some stunning mountainous peaks, far too much to explore in the little time we had.  There seemed to be no one there and the towns were always sleepy and friendly, generally the opposite of the Amalfi coast towns which were packed full of tourists and establishments fixed to empty their pockets of silver.   We discovered a few gems on what is a dramatically beautiful, steep slope, but generally the Amalfi is a little overrated.  Its a big world, many coastlines, why should we all gather in one place?  I have to admire the marketing job done by the tourism folk, Sorrento for example is heaving with Americans who have flown all this way to the Med to see a sanitised version of what is surely, one of the worlds most stunning areas.  And, it was 45 euros for a dorm bed!  45 euros for a wonky bunk!!!!!!

Making salads on bins - A little medieval village, somewhere in the Cilento National Park

Making salads on bins – A little medieval village, somewhere in the Cilento National Park

 

Stunning nature - Cilento National Park

Stunning nature – Cilento National Park

Jane just before another amazing dinner - Campania

Jane just before another amazing dinner – Castellabate, Campania

We spent a week in Cilento National Park, driving the crumbling roads and marvelling at the sheer natural beauty of the place.  It seemed impossible to escape the ancient past as we randomly came across site after site filled with magnificent ruins of towns and temples, the most impressive of which were (of course) Pompei and Paestum.  Some of the details that have survived are stunning, it feels like you’re looking directly into the lives of the people who lived more than 2000 years ago.  We know their names, how much they earned and where they worked, the Gods they worshiped, what they did for giggles and even their favourite snack bars!  These incredibly preserved relics give colour and texture to the ancient world and open fascinating windows into how our forefathers and mothers would have passed their lives.  It wasn’t all good, being a gladiator fighting lions seemed like a raw deal but I have to say, in the most part, they seemed to live well and in a highly advanced, organised and cosmopolitan way.

Another lunch stop, abandon churches again (always with handy fresh water springs for washing up!) - Cilento National Park, Campania

Another lunch stop, abandon churches again (always with handy fresh water springs for washing up!) – Cilento National Park, Campania

Italian beaches are strange and normally filled with sun loungers, costing an exorbitant amount of euros to perch on.  It is the only place in the world I have visited where beaches are private and fenced off!  You need to buy a Cappucino to take a dip in the ocean!  What a strange approach.  Due to this, we only spent 20 minutes on the beach, it all seemed a little hectic and the opposite of relaxing.

Temple of Isis, Pompeii

Temple of Isis, Pompeii

The best pizza in town (gypsy guitarists just out of picture) - Di Mateos, Napoli

The best pizza in town (gypsy guitarists just out of picture) – Di Mateos, Napoli

There are a few famous and touristy pizza restaurants in Napoli, but we were assured by locals that Di Mateos was the best.  Located on Via Tribuani, one of the main streets in the old town, it is always packed full and has a real buzz about it.   It was, without any peer, the best pizza I ever met.  Add to that the band of gypsy’s (not the Jimi Hendrix lot) playing as we went in and you have the full package.  You cannot beat the sound of a well strummed mandolin and some toothless yelping.  It stirs the appetite and soul.

Our favourite dinner spot, in a cave! - Nochelle, Amalfi

Our favourite dinner spot, in a cave! – Nochelle, Amalfi

After all that driving, we landed in Pompeii, not a bad little town considering the daily influx of tourist coaches.  We camped there in a little family ran site and walked the 20 metres to the main gates.  Italy really impressed me in the fact that corporations don’t seem to have taken hold.  Family ran joints, hotels, cafes, restaurants etc seem to be very much the done thing and it adds so much variety and authenticity to towns.  You get to meet the real locals, eat their food, hear their gossip and understand a little about what is actually going on.  Places ran by people who genuinely care about what they’re doing which makes all the difference.  I hear this does not extend to Italian politics, but that’s a whole different blog……

Last but certainly not least, antipasti and pasta! - Mama made it, Morigerati, Campania

Last but certainly not least, antipasti and pasta! – Mama made it, Morigerati, Campania

So Italy is nice, very highly reccomended by the B.H.K.  There seems so much to rave about but its the warmth and intensity of the locals which will stay with me.  Prego!!!!  I think Jane and I would go back now, if we weren’t tending to tomatoes and reveling in the unpredictable beauty of a Welsh summer in full swing.

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Raw Food vs Cooked Food and The Power of Enzymes

Jane and I are very conscious of the power and cleansing attributes of a full-on raw food diet.  We have tried it out for the past two years for at least a month (normally stretching to two) and have felt amazing; energy levels through the roof, body and mind happy and content…..  Coupled with no alcohol, gluten or caffeine we were incredibly virtuous for a while and (almost) literally floated around in a state of exalted well-being.  It was nice.  We became converts by going through the process of learning to be more experimental with raw produce and the latent potential of the humble nut.  See more of our writing on the topic here Why Raw Food?  and more and even a little more (Raw Earth Month – Moving Back to Nature) for good measure.

The raw food movement does seem to attract a certain amount of food extremists, which puts alot of folk off.  Its not all about being super skinny and living a veg obsessed, semi monastic existence.  Jane and I do not fall into this bracket, we just love to experiment with foods and our bodies and really get a buzz from succulent, vibrant raw food dished.  Check it out!

The desserts are something truly heavenly, Raw Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Icing  or Raw Coconut and Lime Cheesecake.  Even the inventive way that salads are used is something to get the taste buds whirling, think Sprouted Wheat Grain, Apple and Mustard Salad or how about a Crunchy Thai Salad with Green Coco Dressing?  OK, now I’m on a roll, how about a Raw Lasagne with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta?  In fact its probably best just to check out our Raw button in the tags section (top right of the page)….

Raw Vegan Lasage with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta

Raw – Vegan Golden Courgette Lasagna with Avocado and Lemon Ricotta

RAW FOOD VS COOKED FOOD

So the food can be inspiring and creative, but what about the health side of things.  Most fruits and veggies are best served raw, but those containing lycopene (tomatoes, red pepper and other reddish fruits and veg like watermelons, red guava etc) are best served, from a nutritional point of view, slightly cooked.  Lycopene is a very potent antioxidant.  When cooked, tomatoes for example, show a boost in lycopene levels.  The drawback however, and this goes for most vegetation, is that when cooked for lets say 30 minutes, the Vitamin C levels of tomatoes decreases by 30%.  Basically heat increases the rate of degradation of food or ‘oxidisation’, which is bad for foods and bad for our bodies (hence the name ‘anti-oxidants’ which help against it).  Boiling foods results in loss of valuable nutrients which leech into the water (more reasons to use it as soup stock!?)  The healthiest way to cook food is to gently steam them and not to overcook them.  Firm is fine.  This will preserve much of their nutritional value.

So its a bit of a balancing act really, gain lycopene and lose Vitamin C.  Some people say that Vitamin C is more prevalent in the plant world and we are better served to boost the lycopene levels, which is rarer.  ‘Raw food vs Cooked Food’ is a complex comparison and I’d say that mostly raw is best for optimum health (if that’s what you’re driving at).  We are still not sure of all of the benefits of raw food, but each year, science is discovering more reasons to get excited about salads and carrot batons!!!!!

Oven Baked Summer Squash filled with Buckwheat, Beetroot and Walnuts

Cooked – Oven Baked Summer Squash filled with Buckwheat, Beetroot and Smoked Tofu

Here is an interesting article I just read about the importance of enzymes to overall health, our bodies cannot thrive without them!

Importance of Enzymes

Enzymes are the sparks that start the essential chemical reactions our bodies need to live. They are necessary for digesting food, for stimulating the brain, for providing cellular energy, and for repairing all tissues, organs, and cells. Humbart Santillo, in his book, Food Enzymes, quotes a Scottish medical journal that says it well: “Each of us, as with all living organisms, could be regarded as an orderly, integrated succession of enzyme reactions.”

There are three types of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, digestive enzymes, and food enzymes.

Metabolic enzymes catalyze, or spark, the reactions within the cells. The body’s organs, tissues, and cells are run by metabolic enzymes. Without them our bodies would not work. Among their chores are helping to turn phosphorus into bone, attaching iron to our red blood cells, healing wounds, thinking, and making a heart beat.

Digestive enzymes break down foods, allowing their nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream and used in body functions. Digestive enzymes ensure that we get the greatest possible nutritional value from foods.

Food enzymes are enzymes supplied to us through the foods we eat. Nature has placed them there to aid in our digestion of foods. This way, we do not use as many of the body’s “in-house” enzymes in the digestive process.

This is important to remember. Dr. Edward Howell, who has written two books on enzymes, theorizes that humans are given a limited supply of enzyme energy at birth, and that it is up to us to replenish our supply of enzymes to ensure that their vital jobs get done. If we don’t replenish our supply, we run the risk of ill health.

In the Enzyme Nutrition axiom, Howell postulates that “The length of life is inversely proportional to the rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential of an organism. The increased use of food enzymes promotes a decreased rate of exhaustion of the enzyme potential.”

In other words, the more food enzymes you get, the longer, and healthier, you live.

The key is to remember that food enzymes are destroyed at temperatures above 118 F. This means that cooked and processed foods contain few, if any enzymes, and that the typical North American diet is enzyme-deficient. When we eat this type of diet, we could well be eating for a shorter and less-than-healthy life.

This points back to the importance of eating raw fruits and vegetables because they are “live foods”; that is, foods in which the enzymes are active. The more enzymes you get, the healthier you are. And the more raw foods you eat, the more enzymes you get.

DETOXIFICATION

One of the roles of enzymes in the body is detoxification — breaking down toxic substances so that they are excreted and cannot build up to possibly cause harm. Although this is done by metabolic enzymes, research shows that enzymes found in the foods we eat — although not food enzymes — may help our bodies do this.

This has such potential that the U.S. Army is looking into it. The U.S. Army Edgewood Research, Development, and Engineering Center has isolated enzymes that neutralize chemical warfare agents. The center’s Dr. Joseph J. DeFrank believes the enzymes can be used to rapidly decontaminate facilities, equipment, and vehicles.

The Frank M. Raushel Research Group is looking at ways to exploit the properties of enzymes for a variety of chemical and medicinal uses. One project is studying enzymes that catalyze the detoxification of organophosphate insecticides.

Other research points in the same direction. Research at the University of California — Davis is showing that green barley extract may accelerate the body’s breakdown of malathion, an organophosphate insecticide used heavily throughout the world.

Six different experiments measured the ability of barley leaf extract to “detoxify” this insecticide. All revealed positive results.

Interestingly enough, one more test was run after subjecting the green barley extract to high heat. This, the researchers believe, denatured and removed the proteins. Detoxification ability was again measured, and this time, did not take place. This indicates that the detoxifying agent in green barley is an enzyme, and when heated, the enzymes are destroyed. It also points out that green barley extract is “alive” — that is, that the enzymes are intact.

This info taken from the AIM International Partners Magazine, July, 1997

 

If you fancy trying out a raw food diet, you will find loads of recipes on the B.H.K. and if you need any advice, just drop us a line.  The more raw food you can incorporate into your diet, the better.   With the sun shining on our beautiful little island, I can think of no better time to drop the wok and pick up the grater.  Go Raw!!!!!!(mostly)  But most of all, have fun and enjoy cooking and eating!

Categories: Detox, Healing foods, Raw Food, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Jane’s Easy Seeded Wholemeal Loaf

Jane on the beach this morning (Dinas Dinlle)

Jane on the beach this morning (Dinas Dinlle)

Jane has been running wild with the bread vibe recently, all kinds of doughy goodness has been rising and getting crusty around the BHK. The most impressive is the most simple recipe, which is just the way things should be.

Jane has taken a few steps out of your average bread making venture and the result is a light and crispy loaf, with decent density. It makes a great base for regular bread making and avoidance of all that strange stuff made by big supermarkets etc masquerading as bread (when we really know that some strange practices have happened behind the scenes). When you taste good quality, homemade bread, you will not be hurrying back to buy some ‘fly away’ seeded loaf from a luminous aisle. This is the real deal.  You also know what goes into your loaf, there can be some strange things done with wheat, bits taken out then added later, all kinds of additive and preservative action.

Whenever we turn the oven on, we pop a loaf in. It makes sense. Turning the oven on is a real event for us, not only does it heat our kitchen (where we have no heating!!!) it also gets our minds tuned into baked goods. What can we rustle up? Rustling things up is very prevalent in the way we do things over here on Tiger Mountain.

Last year we posted something like a ‘Simple Loaf’ recipe, but this takes things even further in the simplicity stakes. If you know of an easier way to make a decent loaf, please let us know.

Jane and I have both decided that bread is cool. We have tried going off it for lengthy periods, but in moderation, toast is a wonderful thing (especially with loads of Marmite lathered on). I don’t think either of us are gluten intolerant (although we all probably are to one degree or another). I am yet to find a decent gluten free recipe for homemade bread, I’ve tried a few, but many of them contain eggs and there is a limit to the way that silken tofu can substitute the richness and binding properties of an egg. I will keep trying though.

Serving suggestions. You have to love the way that companies incorporate a serving suggestion on most of their processed products. I was looking at a can of beans the other day and it was just a picture of a load of beans, underneath stating ‘serving suggestions’. Serve beans, as beans! Who knew!!!! Serving suggestions here are bowls of soup, try this one, or here’s another beauty or maybe a raw soup would be nice?  You can of course go old school and just toast it up and spread on some bramble jelly of even make a little crostini, with chopped tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil or oregano.

Have you tried spelt? This is my new favourite loaf and I will be posting a recipe for my ‘Roman Loaf’ very soon. Spelt has an awesome toasty taste and is filled with nutrition and relaxed gluten. Also barley is ridiculously high in fibre, natures highest in fact and makes for a magic crusty lump.

WHOLEWHEAT OR WHOLEMEAL?

When buying flour, try to get whole meal/ wheat.  Stoneground seems to the the most traditional way of doing things.  Sometimes ‘whole meal’ is not actually ‘whole wheat’ and this can mean a decrease in the nutritional value of your loaf.  These terms change from country to country, but we are looking for wheat with all the bran and germ etc intact and certainly not removed. Some brown looking flours can be mixed with other grains, so its worth checking the ingredients.  Also look for unbleached white flour, as bleach and food just don’t mix.  In fact, bleach and life just don’t mix!  You can easily make this loaf 100% whole wheat and experiment with different types of flour (see above).  The white flour is only really there to make it lighter and tighter (if you catch my drift).  As you all probably know by now, I’m the rough, crusty flapjack side of the ‘Beach House Bakery’ and Jane is the more frilly scone and tinsel approach.  This loaf is a compromise of sorts…..

Over to Jane for the simplicity masterclass:

For one average sized loaf (you know that bread tin shape)

The Bits

500g flour (roughly 300g whole wheat, 200g white)

7g fast action yeast (roughly one sachet)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp brown rice extract or barley malt extract

1 big handful of seeds (sunflower, hemp, pumpkin, poppy…….mixture of these?)

1 1/4 teas salt

 

Do It

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl with your hands.

Dissolve the oil and sweetener into 300ml luke warm water.  Stir this mixture into the dough.

Bring it together and turn out onto a lightly floured or oiled surface.  Knead well for 5 minutes until the dough is mixed, add the seeds now.  The dough should not be dry, and should still be sticky to the touch.  Roll dough into a fat oval shape.

Pop into a pre-oiled loaf tin and press down into the edges.  Leave in a warm place covered with cling film of a kitchen towel.  After 1 hour the dough should have doubled in size.  Make deep slashed on the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife.

Pre heat oven to 190oC and bake for 30-35 minutes, until dark golden and risen.  Loosen the edges with a spatula or pallet knife and turn out onto a wire rack.  If it is sticking, leave for a few minutes and have a go after its rested.  It will come out!  Tap the bottom of the loaf with your fingers, it will sound pretty much hollow when it is ready.  If it still feels solid and dough-filled, pop it back in for 5-10 minutes.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes before diving in.

Easy Seeded Loaf

Easy Seeded Loaf

Serve

See the ‘serving suggestions’ above.  Bread is of course best munched fresh out of the oven.  We tend to slice up old bread for croutons or crostini and freeze them.  You can do the same with breadcrumbs, which can come in very handy when making vegan bangers or burgers.

Foodie Fact

Wheat actually originates from South Western Asia and humans have been enjoying it for at least 12,000 years (and counting).   We only got it in the West when Columbus came back from his pilfering missions.

When wheat is processed, at least half of the minerals and vitamins are lost.  If we are eating pasta, breads, flours etc that are processed, we are normally getting very little of the good stuff that is present in natural whole wheat.

Wheat in its natural state is a very nutritious grain indeed, with bags of minerals like manganese and magnesium and barrel loads of fibre.   Sourdough breads are normally a better choice if you feel a gluten intolerant, they also boast better nutrition.  Interestingly, even though wheat is one of the fibre powerhouses of nature, raspberries still contain more fibre!!!!  How cool is that!  Maybe we’ll make a raspberry loaf next time……

And finally.....Buster in a box

And finally…..Buster in a box

Categories: Baking, Beach House Basics, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Spirulina – What is it and why we should all be munching it?

What may look like swamp thing is actually one of the worlds healthiest foods

Spirulina, the funkiest of green powders on the block.  Something Jane and I love dearly and take regularly to perk up our bodies and give us a super energy and health boost.

We recently visited Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India.  A community based on free expression, virtue and peace.  Its actually a difficult place to explain in an article like this, best to check it out for yourself here.

Jane worked opposite the Aurospirul Farm, a place we have bought Spirulina from in the past.  It was amazing to be so close to a fine producer of many varieties of organic spirulina. We love the spirulina mixed with Amla (like a gooseberry) which has potent levels of vitamin C which helps with the absorption of nutrients.

The Aurospirul Farm in Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India

We are spirulina converts and have been for a while now, mainly due to the fact that it contains 60% easy to digest complete vegetable protein without the bad fats and cholesterol of meat.  It also contains loads of Vitamin B12, which is a vitamin generally lacking from a vegan/vegetarian diet.  Considering all of this, many people still look at us strangely when we pop the bright green pills (or powders) of a morning, so we thought we’d share some things that we know and get us excited about spirulina.  An ancient source of  brilliant nutrition that we hope will be used much more in the future and is one of the only food ‘supplements’ that we’d whole heartedly recommend.

What exactly is Spirulina?

Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) is a tiny blue-green algae in the shape of a perfect spiral coil.  Biologically speaking, it is one of the oldest inhabitants of planet earth.  Appearing 3.6 billion years ago, it provided an evolutionary bridge between bacteria and green plants.  This water plant has renewed itself for billions of years and has nourished many cultures throughout history, in Africa, in the Middle East and in the Americas.

Spirulina grows naturally in mineral rich alkaline lakes which can be found on every continent, often near volcanoes.  The largest concentration of Spirulina today can be found at Lake Texoco in Mexico, around Lake Chad in Central Africa and along the Great Rift Valley in East Africa.

For many generations, Kanembu women have passed from mother to daughter the traditional methods of harvesting spirulina from Lake Boudou Andja in Chad

“Let your food be your medicine

and your medicine be your food”

Hippocrates 460-370 BC

Spirulina is called a super food because its nutrient content is more potent than any other food.

Many of the essential nutrients needed by the body are concentrated in spirulina.  It is comprised of of at least 60% all vegetable protein, essential vitamins and phytonutrients such as the rare essential fatty acid GLA, sulfolipids, glycolipids and polysaccharides.

Spirulina is a low fat, low cholesterol, low calorie, vegetable protein containing all the essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body but are needed to synthesize the non-essential amino acids.  Spirulina has no cellulose in its cell walls and is therefore easy to digest and assimilate.

Whats it got in it then?

Natural Beta Carotene (provitamin A)

Spirulina is the richest source of natural beta carotene, ten times more concentrated than in carrots.  Beta carotene is a very important anti-oxidant, some studies show it reducing the risk of cancer.

Gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA)

This rare essential fatty acid in mothers milk helps to develop healthy babies.  GLA is the precursor to the body’s prostaglandins, master hormones that control many functions.

Spirulina is the only know food, other than mother’s milk, to contain concentarted levels of GLA.

The best natural iron supplement

Iron is essential to build a strong system, and yet iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency.  Studies have shown that iron in spirulina is absorbed 60% more efficiently than from iron supplements.

High in Vitamin B-12 and B Complex

Spirulina is the richest source of B12, richer than beef liver.  Because B-12 is the most difficult vitamin to obtain from plant sources, vegetarians have taken to spirulina.  B12 is necessary for the development of red blood cells.

Phytonutrients

The polysaccharides in spirulina are easily absorbed with minimum intervention of insulin.  Phytonutrients provide quick energy without ill effects on the pancreas.

Sulfolipids

In blue green algae can prevent viruses from attaching to cells or pentrating them, thus preventing viral infection; they are ‘remarkably active’ against the AIDS virus, according to the NCL.

Pycocyanin

Is the most important pigment in Spirulina; it has both magnesium and iron in its molecular formation and therefore may be the origin of life, common to both plants and animals.

Chlorophyll

Is known as a cleansing and detoxifying phytonutrient.  Spirulina contains 1% chlorophyll, among the highest levels found in nature and the highest chlorophyll A level.

Cartotenoids

Are a mixed carotenoid complex functioning at different sites in the body and working synergistically to enhance antioxidant protection.

All the pills and funky green potions made by Aurospirul (our favourite Spirulina heroes)

How to use Spirulina?

Spirulina is a perfectly safe natural food which provides quick energy and nourishment.  Spirulina powder can be added to fruit or vegetable juices or to dishes to enhance the nutritional content.  It is tasty in soups, salads, pasta and breads or mixed into yoghurt.

There is no way around it, Spirulina tastes a little like very healthy ponds.  It is an algae after all!  Aurospirul make a crunchy capsule that can be eaten straight up and is actually very pleasant.

Special tip – Make a fresh lemon juice and stir in Spirulina.  The vitamin C in the lemon will help in the absorption of minerals like Iron.  

Do not cook spirulina as this affects its nutritional value.

Dosage – 1-5 grams per day to result in significant health benefits. Take it everyday for best results.  You cannot take too much spirulina, there are no side effects at all.

Spirulina nutritional composition

General Analysis

Protein 60%

Lipids (fats) 5%

Carbohydrates 25%

Minerals (ash) 7%

Moisture 3%

Values per 100g spirulina

Energy 387 kcal

Phycocyanin 1.37g

Total caroteniods 0.19g

Chlorophylls 0.97g

Vitamin B12 16.41ug

Gamma Linolenic Acid 0.02g

Iron 37.73mg

Spirulina grows naturally in alkaline lakes around the world

All info taken from a the lovely people at Aurospirul.  

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

Buckwheat Breakfast Crepes with Tofu, Olives and Cherry Tomatoes

Feta, Chive and Olive Breakfast Wraps

Buckwheat Breakfast Crepes with Tofu, Olive and Cherry Tomatoes

Sometimes I do feel sorry for Jane with all my vegan behaviour of late.  Jane loves lumps of cheese and gorgeously fresh eggs (lain below our window ledge!!!!).  We have chickens waking us every morning with a bombardment of clucks!  Add to that many wonderful cheese folk who live in the surrounding valleys and nearby islands making some amazingly pungent creamy mould.  We’ve seen their goats and they seem brimming over with happiness and vitality (goats being a particular BHK fav).  Having said all of this, Jane is now really getting into the whole vegan vibe and I fear she may give up the mozzarella balls very soon!

This recipe is a little Sunday morning surprise that incorporates our favourite grain of the moment, Buckwheat, along with herbs from the garden and tomatoes from a wonderful friend.  What a way to get things started!

Buckwheat is an awesome alternative for gluten free folk and has a proper full flavour, some would say an acquired taste, I’d just say YUM!  It has a misleading name (like many foods) it is actually a berry!  Nothing to do with wheat or gluten in the slightest.  I love to use the flour, although a straight dark buckwheat flour recipe can result in a vivid pink looking loaf.  You have been warned, buckwheat can get a little psychedelic when used pure.

Buckwheat crepes are common in France and are called ‘Galletes’.  These crepes are veganized, so turn out less like a ‘Gallete’ and more like a thin, fluffy American ‘hotcake’ (a word which Jane and I appreciate).  You can find light and dark buckwheat flour in the shops, I’d opt for light, especially if you’re cooking for an uninitiated buckwheat crowd.  I have put white flour in here, but must admit to using wholewheat flour normally (= more nutrition, and I’d have to say taste, but less of the fluffiness associated with a crepe).

We’re still here in shimmeringly shiny Wales, glorious at this time of year.  The bounty of local produce is in full swing.  All of these ingredients are special to us and we cannot think of anything that we have eaten recently that is filled with such goodness and positive energy.

Dawn’s (our neighbour) chicken chorus is a nice way to be wakened, natural sounds certainly beat a car alarm or even worse, an alarm clock (aka the enemy of peace and sanity). You know you’re living the good life if you wake with the chickens and not with the bleeps. The other wonderful thing about Dawn’s chickens is that occasionally they overlay and we are offered a small basket of perfectly formed egg-ness.

One of Dawn's chickers (aka our natural alarm clock)

One of Dawn’s chickers (aka our natural alarm clock)

Dawn’s little chicks are so tame, Jane and I were picking them up and petting them like little puppies the other day. I can safely say that I have never found a chicken ‘cute’ in the past, and am not a huge fan of the word, however these little cluckers where pleasant company and actually liked to be stroked.

Back to the crepe at hand, its a beat. Simple combinations of flavours that are sure fire winners, great colours and the perfect treat breakfast for a lazy Sunday morning or a decent brunch (just add dressed leaves).

The tanginess of the citrus feta (tofu or otherwise), the fruitiness of the olives and the plain deliciousness of the tomatoes mean that each mouthful was quite a thing.

You probably don’t live in a veggie+vegan household, obviously omit the parts of the method that don’t apply.  Its really a very easy dish to get together.

If you’d like this gluten free, just go the whole hog and have it 100% buckwheat.  They’re brilliant!

The Bits

For 10-12 crepes:

Crepe – 2/3 cup buckwheat flour, 1/2 cup unbleached white flour, a good glug of olive oil, large pinch of sea salt, 100g silken tofu, 1 cup organic soya milk, 3/4 teas bicarb soda, water (continue adding water until a ‘double cream’ texture is achieved)

Filling -

Janes (non vegan) – 1/2 tbs olive oil, 3 organic/ very free range, happy chicken eggs (preferably lain somewhere close to your front door), 3/4 cup feta (crumbled using fingers)

Lees (vegan) – 1 tbs olive oil, 300g firm tofu, a little squeeze of lemon juice, 1 teas nutritional yeast flakes (1/2 handful of cashew nuts if you’re feeling decadent!)

Mixed with half of the following:

2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes (halved if large), 2 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed), 1 handful of chives (finely diced), 1 handful green olives (finely chopped), squeeze of lemon juice, plenty of cracked black pepper and a little salt

Pre-wrap

Pre-wrap

Do It

In a large bowl, sieve in the flour and other dry ingredients.  Add the rest of the wetter ingredients, pouring the water in gradually at the end, mixing until a ‘double cream’ consistency is formed.  Cover and pop in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Mash up the tofu in a bowl with a fork, add the lemon juice and yeast flakes (this is best done in advance).  Whisk the eggs up in another.

Mix the filling ingredients in a bowl and add half to each bowl of tofu or egg.

Now warm a frying pan on the hob, medium heat, add the oil and fry off the tofu mixture for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.  Do the same for the egg mix, cook until the eggs are just how you like them.

Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.

Make sure the crepe batter is at room temperature (keep stirring it to ensure that the flour doesn’t clog or stick to the bottom).  In a small frying pan, heat on medium and cover the base with a very light film of oil.  Now pour in 3 tbs of your pancake mix and swirl around the pan.  The temperature of the pan is important (too hot is not cool, too cool is not hot!?)

Cook for 1 minutes on one side, run a spatula around the edges to loosen.  Flip over and cook for 30 seconds – 1 minute on the other side.  Keep this going until all the mix is used.  If there is too much mixture, it will keep in the fridge well and can be frozen for at least a month.

Serve

Lay out a pancake on a plate and spoon in a good amount of the filling (3 tbs is normally good).  Tuck one end over and roll away from you, like a fat buckwheat cigar (rolled on the thighs of a vegan).   Serve straight away, for lunch, toss together a green salad.  Two crepes are normally enough per person.

We had leftover crepes this morning and tried them with chopped oranges raisins, cinnamon and walnuts….lovely stuff.

Foodie Fact 

Buckwheat is a whole grain that is actually a relative of rhubarb and is best described as a fruit seed.  I love Buckwheat because its one of the few grains consumed in Northern Europe that is actually indigenous to the area.

Buckwheat lowers blood sugar and is packed with minerals like magnesium and copper.  It has also been shown to help fight gall stones and has very high levels of antioxidants and a packs a decent hit of fibre.

Last nights sunset

Last nights sunset

Categories: Breakfast, Gluten-free, Local food, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

We’re Back! and India Holiday Snaps

Under the Big Tree - Sivananda Ashram Madurai, 3/14

Under the Big Tree – Sivananda Ashram Madurai, 3/14

We’re back!  In two pieces;  older, wiser and hairier!

North Wales is shining; bee buzzing, flowers swaying, sheep baaaaaa-ing. This is definitetly the home of the B.H.K. Writing the blog from distant shores just seems a little strange, the creative culinary juices just aren’t flowing as deeply as when we’re hanging out up here with the heather.

This blog is such a big part of our life in Wales, so we’re back and ready to get stuck into good mountain living, with some gorgeous nibbles along the way……

There seems far too much water under the bridge to begin to catch up on the last 6 months. I decided to post a few travel pics to get us warmed up and reacquainted again.

I have been busy (even when travelling!) working on another food-related project which I am superbly excited about. More to follow on this soon. (Hopefully that is a decent enough excuse for not posting any news or recipes for a ridiculous length of time.)

Back in the lovely little Beach House, the fire is roaring (in June) and we are both full tilt and ready to get the garden blooming and the hob fully loaded with plenty of wonderful fruit and veggie action and no doubt some pictures of Buster the cat (who came back on our first morning back in the house, it seems we are linked with the little grey furball!).

Jane getting to grips with an onion - Udaipur, 2/14

Jane getting to grips with an onion – Udaipur, 2/14

Very brief catch up of our antics :
– We have been distant for the last 6 months, in Spain and India, spending time in the Himalayas and on a variety of beaches; cooked vegan food on farms, ate papaya straight from the tree, visited many huge desert forts and palaces, lived in huts and buses, hung out with warm tribal folk, learned to count to 10 in Hindi, practiced yoga by the Ganges, woke at 4am to sing songs, realised that there is more to life than chapatis (but not much!), ate our body weight several times over with the complete rainbow spectrum of all things curries, watched endangered rhinos play whilst sitting on a juvenile elephant, celebrated a Gods birthday……….too much. much, much to tell. Here are a few pics (most food related) that tell a better story:

It's Thali time!!!! (South Indian style), Madurai, 3/14

It’s Thali time!!!! (South Indian style), Madurai, 3/14

Tawang Lake, way up in the Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh, 4/14

Tawang Lake, way up in the Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh, 4/14

Cooking up a monsoon, Rishikesh, 1/14

Cooking up a monsoon, Rishikesh, 1/14

Survival Travel Breakfast (Papaya and Chia Seeds)

Survival Travel Breakfast (Papaya and Chia Seeds)

Jane, first day, first Bindi, Delhi. 1/14

Jane, first day, first Bindi, Delhi. 1/14

Vadas - some of South India's finest

Vadas – some of South India’s finest

A little taster, a canape of sorts, a wee bite into our last 6 months wandering the world.  We have a massive book full of new recipes to cook and hopefully post.  Its looking like a busy summer!

Love and Peace to all of you out there…..XXXXX

It’s great to be back, Lee and Janexxxxx

Categories: Photography, Travel, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kala Chana Masala with Beetroot and Bok Choi

Jane on 'The Rock' - Karuna Farm, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu

Jane on ‘The Rock’ – Karuna Farm, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu

Finally, we post something!!!!  We have loads of half finished bits typed hurriedly in internet cafes, but have yet had the time and drive to actually finish one off!  

We’ve been in Indian now for three months and things have been thick with experience and too many foodie experiences to recollect.  Expect many Indian themed post soon, packed full of delicious and authentic recipes……. 

Kodai Kanal, Tamil Nadu 21st March 2014

Kodai is a little ex-British Hill Station (somewhere where the Raj used to go and cool off during the summer months).  Lots of little Anglo Indian stone cottages with lawns and chimneys, tea rooms and a beautiful lake.  We are staying on a farm, on a steep slope, with spectacular views over the plains towards Madurai.  It thick jungle, full nature and absolutely beautiful and best of all, we have a small kitchen to play in!!!!!

A random little post here, but we are half way up a hill in the middle of nowhere (Southern India). This recipe came together on our first night in Karuna Farm, in the green and verdant Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu. We have been sweating and meditating, sweating and yoga-ing, sweating and chanting our way through the early part of March in the Sivananda Ashram, outside Madurai. The temperatures soared, so it is magical to be up here in the mountains where the night air is crisp and the sunrises come on like an intergalactic firework show.

This is a spectacular little farm and we are witnessing many positive projects in motion. They are building earth ships, from recyclable car tyres and starting a permaculture project to supply the on-farm restaurant with some proper local produce.

On Sunday, Jane and I ventured up to Kodai Kanala (the main town). We walked through little villages, with many smiles greeting us, for 2 hours and then managed to catch a little rickety van the rest of the way to town (we’re quite remote here!).

Kodai is an old British hill station, with many rock built chalets and a large dollop of Christianity. It is now a popular retreat for Indian honeymooners and surprisingly few gringos on the streets.

Haggling at Kodai Market

Haggling at Kodai Market

Sunday is market day and we spent most of it wandering around and ogling the local produce. Non of it organic, but all of it vibrant and full of potential. Our accommodation, a nice little cottage in a banana plantation, actually has a kitchen!  The first time we’ve been able to cook, apart from random cooking classes and making spicy tea with the chai wallas.  I was so chuffed to be having a bash at the pots and pans again.  We filled our backpacks with veggies and fruits and have not looked back since.

Internet in India is tough and I must apologise for the lack of BHK activity in recent times. We have heads full of recipes and new ways of conjuring up tasty nibbles.  We can’t wait to share them with you all from HQ (North Wales, which seems like a million and one miles away).

WHAT IS KALA CHANA?

Kala Chana (also Desi Chana or Bengal Gram) are brown chickpeas, unprocessed and packed with fibre.   ‘Kala’ actually means black in Hindi and Urdu.  They have more of a robust texture than your average chicker.  This type of chana has been enjoyed all over the world for millenia, from ancient Rome, Persia and Greece, to Africa and Latin America.  It has been used in British cooking since the middle ages.

Chana is so versatile to a veggie cook, we can boil them, sprout them, roast them in the oven, make them into magic puree’s (like hummus) or even make desserts with them.

We love this rough chana, especially in a dish with full flavoured veggies like cabbage and beetroot. A lovely old lady was selling these bok chois, we couldn’t resist them. I have never seen them cooked in India, but you wouldn’t expect us to be traditional now would you??!!

This is a highly spiced dish, similar to chana masala in many ways. The spices are warming including cinnamon and cloves, making it very much north Indian fare. In the South we have been eating mainly coconuts and white rice, the staple down here. Generally lightly spiced bu heavy on the dried chilli.

This dish, served with a massive salad, made a wonderful change and we actually cooked it ourselves! I have to say our bellies have not felt this good in the 2 month India adventure.

Jane washing up sporting socks and sandals, our new look

Jane washing up sporting socks and sandals, our new look

Grating the veggies for the sauce (called a masala over here) gives the overall dish a smoother texture and helps to thicken things up. Of course, grating things unlocks the flavours of the veggies and means you don’t need to cook them for so long to get maximum flavour.

I will be volunteering on an organic farm and cooking in a vegan kitchen soon, settling down a little. I imagine they will have internet and should catch up a little with the backlog of recipes and posts that have accumulated on my little computer gadget. There are some crackers!
Namaste and Much Love,

Lee and JaneXXXXXXX

The Bits – For 2
2 tbs coconut oil (or cooking oil)
1 large beetroot (scrubbed and diced)
6 large leaves bok choi (plus their fleshly stumps, chopped)
1 large carrot (scrubbed and grated)
1 small potato (scrubbed and diced)
1 big handful cabbage (grated)

Masala
1 onion (peeled and grated)
4-5 cloves garlic (peeled and grated)
1 ½ inch ginger (peeled and grated)
3 tomatoes (grated, skins discarded)
2 teas garam masala (or spice mix of your choice)
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tea cumin seeds
1 teas black mustard seeds
2 tbs curry leaves
½ teas chilli powder
½ teas sea salt
½ teas black pepper

¾ cup chana daal (soaked overnight)

Brown Chana Masala with  Beetroot and Bok Choi

Brown Chana Masala with Beetroot and Bok Choi

Do It
Drain your chickpeas and rinse. Place in a small saucepan and cover with 3 inches of water, bring to a boil and simmer with a lid on for 1 hour (or until nicely tender).

Whilst they’re cooking, get your masala ready. In a frying pan, warm 1 tbs of oil, add the cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick fry for a 30 seconds then add the onions. Fry all on a med high heat for 5 minutes, until golden.

Add the garlic, ginger and beetroot, fry for 3 minutes, then add the carrots and cabbage. Stir well and warm through. Cook for 5 minutes and add the garam masala, chilli powder and tomato. Bring to a boil and cover. After 10 minutes cooking on a steady simmer, add 100ml water and stir, then recover. Cooking for another 10 minutes. The sauce should be nice and thick.

Now add the masala to the chickpea pan, there should be some liquid left in the pan. Stir in and thin out the sauce with more water if needed. Check seasoning, adding salt and pepper. Be heavy on the pepper, chana masala loves pepper!

In a small frying pan, warm 1 tbs oil and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves on medium heat. Let the splutter for 30 seconds and remove pan from the heat.

Once the chickpeas are warm through, stir in the seasoned oil and serve.

No lights in our cabin, but candles are better anyway.

No lights in our cabin, but candles are better anyway.

Serve
In these parts we’d be having rice and rice (with a side helping of rice!)  but tonight, in our own little cottage, we’re having one of Jane’s bonza raw salads; with grated beetroot, kohlrabi, peanuts, beetroot leaves, carrot, coriander and lots more market fresh bits (when Jane does a salad, the entire veg basket is used!)

Sunrise outside the kitchen window

Sunrise outside the kitchen window

Foodie Fact
Kala Chana is very high in dietary fibre, one big bowlful of this curry with give women almost half of their daily intake of fibre (men a little less than that).  These brown garbanzos are also high in protein and rich in minerals like iron, copper and manganese.

Kala Chana is one of the earliest cultivated legumes, remains have been discovered dating back 7500 years!  India is by far the biggest producer of chana in the world, Australia is the second, which I find surprising.

 

Categories: Curries, Dinner, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Vegan-ity hits the UK!

I’m not a massive newspaper reader, but whilst visiting my sisters gaff in Whistable for some festive frivolity, I chanced upon a well known British broadsheet and dove in.  Surprisingly unearthing two separate articles about veganism, prompting me to believe the hype; vegan-ity is really hitting this little island cluster.

It’s been in the pipe line for a while, but now the celebs are on board and we all know what  that means…….  The first vegan supermarket is opening in 2015 and generally the tofu tide is shifting.  People are eating more plants which can only be a good thing.  I even learnt that Mike Tyson is a vegan, primarily due to the fact that Roman Gladiators ate a vegan diet.  Ferocious and animal friendly makes for an interesting combination.

Veganism is more than a passing dietary trend and I like to see it as a new type of food experience, like the recent trends for Southern Mediterranean cuisine or the rise of Peruvian nibbles, vegan food is just another wonderful way of treating food.  It doesn’t have to be drastic, pedantic or serious; it is fun, naturally healthy and easy to prepare and source.  Most people already eat alot of vegan food and don’t even know it!  Being a vegan normally means that you care about the welfare of animals, your personal health and that of the environment, but it can also just mean very interesting food prepared in creative ways.

Vegans make up less than 1% of the British population, but most folk are realising the benefits that vegan food can bring to any diet and going ‘plant-based’ for a meal/ day or week, can have a massive effect on health and well being.  It is surely the ultimate low bad fat/ cholesterol diet.

I’m thinking about starting a tofu helpline, aimed at spreading the good word of curd and offering survival tips to first time tofu tamperers (in a word, MADINADE, the rest is easy, quick and delicious).  This may ease the integration slightly.

Veganism has been around since 1944, or the moniker has at least.  The movement was started by a chap named Donald Watson who set up the British Vegan Society.  Only recently has the name be officially recognised.  Vegan-ity now has legal status in the UK.  Its taking root and establishing credibility.

Vegans no longer necessarily worship mung beans and wear scratchy kaftan’s as standard (although that is very cool by me!!!).  I hope Veganism is shedding these dodgy, out dated, misconceptions; with more focus being placed on the benefits of the diet and the glorious flavour’s of the food.  Badly cooked vegan food, prepared without passion or knowledge is just like any other badly cooked food, prepared without passion or knowledge.  Pants!  Once the good word of V spreads, the general standards will improve, just like vegetarianism in recent times.   Great food is simply great food; even minus a chunk of meat, or a poached egg on top.

Tastes change and veganism uses flavours and textures in new and inspirational ways.  Proper cooks love a new challenge and I imagine veganism as that new challenge.  I see vegan food as something vital and fresh, ever changing and evolving.  Food for us all to enjoy.

We are just about to leave for our Delhi bound flight, wishing you all a brilliant start to the new yearX  The Beach House Kitchen is on the road until April…..expect a few holiday snaps soonX

Categories: Healthy Eating, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Chard, Coriander and Avocado Smoothie

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Quite a mad sounding smoothie, but we can’t get enough of it at the moment. It’s more of a breakfast pudding than a smoothie. You can drink it, but a spoon is probably the safer bet.

What we haven’t mentioned yet is that this smoothie is sweetened with banana, so its not all funky vegetal flavour, but actually well balanced and thick like beautiful green custard.

We experiment with all sorts of things in the blender and they normally work.  Kale is fine, some cabbages are hard to take (especially when sweetness is involved in the mix), asparagus is fine and spinach is a real hero, melding into all sorts of flavour combos.  Soaked nuts add dramatic richness, different milks are fun to play with and really anything that needs using up from the veg basket/ drawer can be smoothed out into something lovely and superbly nutritious.  It’s floppy leaf territory.

Recently we juiced a parsnip with excellent results.  Next up swede (rudabaga), which could prove quite a challenge.  Turnip juice sounds fresh and sweet……

I think  my body likes me even more when I give it a smoothie first thing, I can feel it smiling and appreciating the pureed magnificence.

Jane on a beach walk, near Bolunuevo, Mazzaron, Spain

Jane on a beach walk, near Bolunuevo, Mazzaron, Spain

The Bits – For 2

1 avocado (de-stoned), 1 bananas, glug of rice/ soya milk, 3 chard leaves (stems kept for a stir fry), handful coriander leaves (stems in or out)

Do It

Place all in a blender and blitz into a very thick smoothie.

Hands off!!!!!!!

Hands off!!!!!!!

Serve

We love it with a splash of milk on top, like a green pint of guiness, you can then mix the ‘head’ in with a spoon.  It also looks very cool (the importance of which is never underestimated in the BHK).

We Love It!

Thick and green, two things we always appreciate, add sweet to the mix and sold.

Foodie Fact

Coriander (or cilantro) hails from the Mediterranean and like all green things boasts an almost ridiculous amount of antioxidants.  It helps fight ‘bad cholesterols’ and has a brilliant range of vitamins.  Coriander  has one of natures highest levels of Vitamin K which helps us in so many ways, mainly assisting the bones in growth and repair.

Categories: Breakfast, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Smoothies | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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