Thursday, 10 July 2014

Small is Beautiful- Moseley Mini Vegan Fair

Just some of Lakeside Ethical Treats' vegan confectionery
Last Saturday was Moseley Festival. The day was sunny, breezy and bright; it was just the kind of day for mooching around looking at the bunting-festooned stalls of the colourful street fayre and being entertained by local musicians. So off we went: we met some nice people on the South Birmingham Vegans stall, and our friend Tom of Vegetropolis, who was running an organic fruit and veg stall (his Italian apricots made the perfect healthy snack!) but our main port of call was St Columba's Church Hall, where West Midlands Vegan Campaigns were holding a mini vegan fair...
There were four stalls in all. You might think that's too few, but actually they filled the small space very well and there was more of a personal vibe. This made it easier to talk to stallholders and other visitors as we all stood around chatting. We looked at leaflets about animal cruelty on one stall, and ethnic clothes and jewellery on another; but it was past lunch time so we turned hungrily to Lakeside Ethical Treats for a sweet fix. (Sadly the Warehouse Cafe stall outside had sold out of vegan food). There was a lot to choose from, all vegan, from luxurious quality chocolate bars to well-known treats like Panda licorice. In the end, we went for the Organica White Bar (vegan white chocolate- quite a challenge), the Orange and Geranium dark chocolate by Montezuma's, a vegan version of the Mars bar called  Twilight and some strawberry marshmallows by  Freedom Mallows. A visit to Lakeside will convince any would-be vegan or vegetarian that you need not miss out on your favourite sweets. A promotional job well done! We enjoyed our selection (not that we ate them all at once, of course): the marshmallows were utterly convincing, the Montezuma's chocolate was delicately flavoured and exotic and the Twilight bar was yummy too (though we did notice it contains palm oil, so- depending on the source- it's not quite as ethical as it could be). The Organica White Bar was okay, but rather too sweet. I was surprised to see that powdered soya milk (or plant milk of any kind) was not featured on the ingredients list.
The last stop was Mimi's Miracle, a vegan natural cosmetics business run by a beautiful mother and daughter, who are great living advertisements for the efficacy of their products. We chatted there for ages, swapping blog and fb addresses and food/ beauty stories. We bought the shea butter body whip, which has just one ingredient: shea butter! It's whipped into a creamy texture and has a great fresh and spicy fragrance that you don't normally notice when shea butter is mixed with other ingredients. And it is so nourishing, moisturising and altogether luxurious... the best (bought) body butter I've ever tried.
Small festivals, small enterprises, small environmental footprint... Small really is beautiful.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Gluten Free Shortbread- vegan, suitable for Ekadasi, soya free, can be nut free

Crumbly and light gluten free "shortbread"
 Isn't it fascinating how recipes evolve? The same recipe, with a couple of small tweaks, can turn into something quite different in the hands of another cook, or even the same cook at a different time. Let me explain: these shortbreads were made by me, but my husband had the idea and suggested the proportions of the ingredients. The original concept was a kind of flapjack, which he has made this way before, but the crunchiness of the freshly-ground buckwheat (maybe I ground it to a different texture) and the buttery, rich coconut oil (we had used sunflower and olive oils previously) turned out to be much more like shortbread when I had a go at making them. Yet they are made the same way as a flapjack. Fascinating. And yummy.

This recipe makes 16 rectangular pieces, using a standard rectangular baking tray:
500g unroasted whole buckwheat grains (or use buckwheat flour but the texture will be different)
200g gour/ rapadura (evaporated cane juice with the goodness left in)
180ml coconut oil
50ml water
a handful each of: desiccated coconut, sultanas, cashew pieces (optional, or choose your own flavours, like chocolate chip or apricot, depending on what your dietary requirements are).

  • Grind the buckwheat (we use an electric spice/ seed grinder and process a little at a time) to the texture of fine oatmeal.
  • Melt the gour and oil with the water over a gentle heat, mixing well. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent the gour sticking.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the buckwheat together with whatever other ingredients you are adding.
  • Bake in the centre of an oven preheated to 175-180C for about 20 minutes, taking care not to over- brown the top, and cut into rectangles while still warm.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Home made organic vegan skin cream

This was made for me last week by my husband, and it's pretty much all gone now, but I just had to share it. I used it overnight on dry skin on my feet and woke up with soft skin! Here's how it was made:

15ml (3 tsps) organic coconut oil
5ml (1 tsp) organic cocoa butter
5ml (1tsp) extra virgin olive oil
5ml (1 tsp) aloe vera, squeezed from the leaves
5 rose petals from our garden
...It got better and better as the week went on and the petals gradually infused their fragrance into the oil...I am one lucky woman :)

Do you have a favourite home made beauty product? Maybe a face mask, cream or body scrub?