Full of Beans

2015-01-31 18.50.16Everyone is full of beans here this evening. Spikey is beside himself with excitement because for the first time ever his new best doggy friend Scruffy has come for a sleep over. They are both full of energy and having great fun playing together and I hope that they will soon tire each other out. Scruffy is quite taken by Spikey’s pink fluffy squeaky toy which Spikey won at Sticker Dog Show last year for having the waggiest tail.

It’s been quite chilly here over the last few days and the song Chilly Winds which my friend’s band plays keeps coming into my head ( you can hear them play the song at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=887u0luJ838 ). It is just as well that I have a new favourite recipe for cold winter days – cannellini bean stew. I got the recipe from the Deliciously Ella page http://deliciouslyella.com/recipe/cannellini-bean-stew/. It is also really tasty with different beans and it worked really well when I made it with black eyed beans. I always serve it with fresh veggies which of course includes broccoli and either my homemade scones or maize pasta.

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Cornwall Chamber Orchestra, flapjacks and puppies.

2015 January Scruffy and Spikey

This blog is a little like the Cornwall Chamber Orchestra (CCO)  – no activity over the Christmas period ;-). The CCO is a delightful orchestra and is now full swing into the 2014-15 season.  Judith Bailey the conductor of this orchestra puts some interesting programmes together to combine well known classics with new commissions. The programme for this season includes Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony and a new work by David Hart called Robal’s Orchestral Colours. Also on the programme is a Donizetti Cor Anglais concerto and it is a real treat to be able to hear Malcolm Andrews the soloist play.

The programme meets with Spikey’s approval for he is a real music lover although sometimes his tastes are a little eclectic – Jessie J (hmmmmmm), pieces for piccolos and alarm clocks. Usually he is quite put out about not being able to attend the concerts himself but this issue has now been solved – he has a new best friend called Scruffy. Mum and Dad have a new puppy called Scruffy and when the orchestra is playing, Spikey will go to play with Scruffy.
Forthcoming dates for the orchestra are –

Sunday 25th January St Elwyns Church Hayle 3pm

Sunday 1st February St Marys Church Penzance 3pm

So I’ve devised a new flapjack recipe which went down well with my flute group yesterday and will be a nice treat  with the slow release energy in oats  to have on CCO days. Thank you to Emma for her homemade mincemeat2015-01-18 11.25.18

Mincemeat Flapjacks

6 oz vegan margarine ( I used Pure)

2 oz agave

5 oz mincemeat

2 oz desiccated coconut

2 oz pumpkin seeds

13 oz oats

Preheat the oven to 190 oC .Melt the margarine, agave and mincemeat in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Press all the ingredients into a brownie tin and cook for 20-25 minutes

Butterbean and Sweet Potato Stew

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So it is November which means it is stew season. Spikey plays in the garden in summer evenings but is not so keen to do so in the dark evenings and instead entertains himself indoors – he has just had a mad burst of energy and has completed at full speed  a series of shuttle runs between the front door and the back door. When he does this in the garden he goes so fast that he often rolls over on the turn……

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Anyway, stew season and there are so many tasty and warming stews to make this time of year. My current favourite is a made up recipe with butterbeans, sweetpotatoes, carrots, sweetcorn, mushrooms, onion, garlic and some chilli just to give it a bit of a kick.  The orange and yellow colours in this stew are great and I like to add  some contrast to the colour by serving it with some broccoli.

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Butterbean and Sweet Potato Stew  Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

1 small red chilli

6oz mushrooms

2 medium sized sweet potatoes

2 medium sized carrots

1/2 pt vegetable stock

1 400g tin of butterbeans

1 198g tin of sweetcorn

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and finely chop the onion, garlic and chilli. Saute these ingredients and chop the mushrooms and add, peel and finely chop sweet potato and carrot and add. Pour in the stock bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes (or until carrot and potato getting soft).Next drain and rinse the butterbeans and sweetcorn before adding them and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.  Serve with scones (see previous blog for recipe) and seasonal vegetables.

Glowing on the outside and the inside

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Spikey is now glowing in the dark courtesy of his new light up collar – it is ideal for this time of year when it is dark so much of the time.  It’s also nice to have warming food that makes you glow inside as well so I thought that I would make some Spicy Moroccan Soup (http://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/spicy-moroccan-soup.html) as it features some of my favourite

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foods such as chickpeas, lentils and ginger. In true tradition I served it with some lightly steamed broccoli as I feel deprived if I don’t have some broccoli every day! I also made some scones to go with it.

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 Scones serves 4

8 oz Spelt Flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 1/2 oz vegan margarine

3 tbsp soya milk

Mix all the ingredients together in a food processor and when they have all stuck together put on a greased baking tray and cook in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees

Autumn Chill(i)

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Over the last couple of days an Autumnal chill has set in. It’s not exactly cold but nice and fresh and Spikey is making the most of playing in the garden after tea as next week it will be dark evenings owing to the clocks changing this weekend. It is nice to have some warming food so I thought that I would make a vegan chilli.

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I prefer to use fresh chillis as I think they add to the overall flavour in a much better way than chilli powder and they are a great anti inflammatory.

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To make a nice filling chilli I also include lentils – I wasn’t keen on lentils for years owing to the bad press they got at school. Everyone in the first year of my secondary school had to make lentil soup in cookery lessons. Well, everyone except me as I managed to organise a flute lesson at the same time an successfully avoided the lentil soup cooking experience. I don’t know what was in the recipe but the corridor outside the cookery rooms never smelt good when the first years were cooking lentil soup and it really is best not to go into detail about some of the things that  used to happen to lentil soup on the school bus…..Then as a young adult I didn’t want to fall into the stereotype of being a lentil loving vegan. However these days I’ve got over all those hangups from my youth and I am a lentil lover as they are just such a versatile ingredient and I enjoy sprouting lentils as well as cooking them ….. and you get different types of lentil which is really quite exciting. Well Spikey thought it was exciting when I was telling him about being able to get different kinds of lentil the other day.  I always like to serve my chilli with freshly steamed veggies including Broccoli. As discussed in an earlier blog, broccoli is always popular in my house and the contrast both in terms of taste and colour is great.

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Vegan Chilli serves 6


6oz Red Lentils
1 tbsp Olive  Oil
1 Onion, large, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
2 red chillis chopped
6oz Mushrooms chopped
1 400g can of  Chopped Tomatoes
1 heaped tbsp Tomato Purée
1/4 pt Vegetable Stock, (make with a  vegan stock cube)
198g tin of Sweetcorn

1 400g     tin of Red Kidney beans

Place the lentils in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave to soak for 20 minutes. (Alternatively, buy a tin of pre-cooked lentils.) Drain.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic together with the chillis until the onions are softening next add the mushrooms
Add the  carrots and drained  lentils and cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the tomatoes, purée, stock, sweetcorn and bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are tender (about 20 minutes). Add the red kidney beans and simmer for 5 minutes more.

Broccoli and Wildebeest

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One of the highlights of Spikey’s day is eating Broccoli…….yes eating Broccoli is something he gets incredibly excited and happy about. He will scamper off into the garden with his prized piece of Broccoli in his mouth thrilled to bits. He will then spend a few happy minutes tossing the broccoli around before rolling over it and then finally eating it clearly savouring every last mouthful. It is fair to say a good amount of broccoli does get consumed here as Poppy rabbit automatically expects Broccoli stalks to form part of her breakfast.  I adore broccoli be it raw, cooked or sprouted and a favourite treat is having freshly picked purple sprouting broccoli from Dad’s garden. I don’t have a veggie patch in my garden so have to buy broccoli because strangely enough I feel deprived if I don’t have my daily broccoli helping(s!). I don’t have a broccoli recipe for the blog today because broccoli is probably integral to most savoury courses I have.

2014-09-28 08.57.32However, a google search on broccoli has revealed how healthy it is as it is “a good source of Protein, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Selenium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.”  (http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2356/2#ixzz3EvFINxU7). Wikipedia revealed that China produces over 9 million tonnes of broccoli a year (43% of world production) so I be alright if I decide to visit China. Google didn’t reveal though that the little people in my family have called it “greentrees”. It might have been after they saw this picture from http://boingboing.net/2011/06/26/broccoli-treehouse.html

Broccoli HouseAnyway being a broccoli fan worked to my advantage this summer. If you eat raw broccoli at lunchtime at work it is a bit of a give away that you like healthy eating/are a vegetarian/are a vegan. So, a colleague told me about this great new restaurant she had been to which was…. wait for it……… VEGAN. (Thank you Ann!) Wow a vegan restaurant in Cornwall how wonderful. As all Vegans know eating out can be – well lets just say an interesting experience.


So a couple weeks later when I was on leave I had a day out with Mum and we went to the Wildebeest Cafe in Falmouth. http://www.wildebeestcafe.com/.  Just couldn’t decide what to have as not used to having a choice. In the end I decided to have an enchilada with butternut squash, salsa, refried beans, sticky onions and cashew cheese  followed by a slice of raw “cheese”cake. It was such a treat to have nice vegan food out and I savoured every mouthful. Everything is freshly prepared there and whilst waiting customers can entertain themselves by drawing on the blackboard which I thought was a fun idea. I’m glad we got there for an early lunch as it is the kind of place that gets busy. I can’t wait to go to go back there again as they constantly change the menu – even more choice how lovely and perhaps next time I’ll choose something from the menu which has broccoli in it…….