Monday, 27 September 2010

Autumn apples

Once again I know autumn is here simply by my abundance of apples propping up the kitchen. My neighbour has several apple trees and every year she gives me a boxful, I think at the moment I have about a hundred so I guess the family will be pretty appled out by the end of the month.

My neighbour and i share our garden bounty which I love doing I grow a lot of tomatos and herbs so I keep her stocked up during the summer and she always repays the gesture in autumn.

I have spent the weekend cooking them down into sauce to freeze I then turn them into crumbles, muffins, pies. I also plan this weekend to turn out some chutney. The smell of apples cooking is definetly an autumn smell for me, there is something very spiritual in the apple I always think.

I have already turned out several batches of apple spice muffins, some I gave my neighbour I bought in a batch to work this morning and they are always very welcome with my brother and his wife and four children as you can imagine muffins don't last too long in that house.

As a newly Vegan convert this is a great way to try out my new way of cooking, I love the fact people couldn't tell they were actually vegan and my neighbour commented about how they needed to cut down on the cholestral in eggs for health reasons so as well as using my apple supply up I think its getting the message out that Vegan food isn't all lettuce leaves and nuts!

My first apple recipe I'd like to share is Apple crump this has to be the easiest pudding ever.Don't be tempted to add more sugar to the apple filling as you need the contrast between the sharp apple and the sweet crunchy topping.

175 g (6oz) dairy free butter
175 g (6oz) Granulated sugar
175 g (6oz) Plain Flour
4 large cooking apples


For the topping; Place the flour,sugar and butter in an oven-proof bowl(do not mix together)and transfer dish to a pre heated oven at 170 C or 325 F gas 3 for 15 mins until butter melts.

For the filling; peel and core apples and chop roughly. Place in oven proof serving dish and put into oven for 5 mins.

Remove Crump topping from oven, stir together into a paste and spread onto partly cooked apples. Place in oven for about 40 mins until topping is slightly browned. Serve with either custard or cream.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Lady of Shallot part 2

Another interpretation of the Lady of Shallot by my favourite artist Susan Herbert, this one is very poignant to me as it reminds me of my beautiful Ginger cat Anfield who died four years ago.

Susan Herbert places cats in all the great art masterpieces if you like cats and art you should check out her work it's wonderful and one day I plan to buy one of her originals

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Lady of Shallot

I first fell in love with this painting years ago at school, there was always something that drew me to it. I remember my English teacher pointing me towards tennyson whose beautiful poem 'The Lady of Shallot'the painting illustrates.
I hadn't thought about it for years until a friend sent me this postcard today.
Just thought I'd share it with you all.

The painting is by John William Waterhouse and the poem is by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early,
In among the bearded barley
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly;
Down to tower'd Camelot;
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot;
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad
Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two.
She hath no loyal Knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot;
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armor rung
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, burning bright,
Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining.
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance --
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right --
The leaves upon her falling light --
Thro' the noises of the night,
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,
And around the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? And what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."

Saturday, 18 September 2010

In search of the perfect Vegan cookie recipe

As mentioned in a previous post I bought a vegan book on baking recently so today I thought I'd try out my first Vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe. First of all for some reason I never seem to have had much success with cookies in the past, not sure why I guess I have always found cooking cakes and biscuits a bit fiddly I'm more of a rustic cook, soups,curries etc and I'm in my element.

It may also be a lack of interest as I'm not really a cake or biscuit person so maybe I don't try to hard, but my partner loves cakes and biscuits so I thought I'd try for him.

Firstly I am new to vegan baking I have only been vegan for two weeks although I have been a vegetarian for 36 years I have always used eggs and dairy in my baking so all this is trial and error at the moment. I'm not used to using egg replacer and one thing I've realized today is to follow your egg replacer exactly as it says, my mistake I didn't.

The recipe I followed is American and they have their own brand which is different to the one I used which is UK based, I did realize this but of course I took no notice and followed my recipe exactly as stated, even though the quantity and method of the egg replacer was totally different, but do I ever listen?

The outcome wasn't exactly as I planned, my cookies weren't what one would call a success but I guess the trick is knowing where you went wrong right?

They were edible in a sort of over cooked soft way, not how I like a cookie but my partner is eating them so not exactly a disaster but not a success either.
Another thing I noticed in this recipe was the amount of brown and white sugar that was used, I thought it was an awful lot and the recipe was also a little heavy in the use of margarine, now I know chocolate chip cookies aren't exactly health food but This was way over the top.

Well I have found another recipe on line which I will try out next week which uses a lot less sugar and marg so I will give them a whirl and see. I'm not giving up at the first attempt but I have to say I'm still in search of the perfect vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

US Open Champion 2010

Having two weeks of sleep deprived nights has all been worth it now I can say Rafa Nadal USO champion 2010 how good does that sound.

Having the disapointment of Sundays final being called off because of the rain I ws already to sit up all night to see Rafa finally achieve his career grand slam, I feel so priveledged to have sat up to witness it.

Of course it wasn't an easy final for rafa to win he also had the rain delays to deal with after taking the first set 6-4 and the tie nicely poised at 4-4 of course the rain had to come again and cause another delay, this time for nearly 2 hours, still I sat and patiently waited.

After the rain delay rafa lost his second set 5-7, not to be put off his destination he went and took the 3rd set 6-4. By then Novak Djokovic had played some great Tennis but you could tell the inevitable was about to happen rafa broke novaks serve twice to take the 4th set 6-2 and that was it rafa was the champion.

I can't explain how emotional this made me feel especially after all the injury's he had to deal with last year, plenty of people had wrote him off and saying he'd never win a title again, feels so good to ram it all down peoples throats.

Rafa nadal is one of the most humblest sportsman I have ever seen and i truly believe we are witnessing History in the making everytime this man takes to the court.

Congrats rafa you did us all proud.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Video Test

Just thought I'd see how this Video thing works on blogger. OK here goes my first attempt thought I'd share the amazing run of Rafa nadal at this years Wimbledon.

Vegetarian Food for Thought Podcast

Vegetarian Food for Thought Podcast

Every now and again someone or something comes along to really inspire you. For me that person was Collen Patrick-Goudrau who runs the website Compassionate Cooks.

I have been a Vegetarian since I was 12 years old, basically I saw a film at school about food production and where our animals end to get on our table, that did it for me I went home and announced I was never eating meat again and since that day I haven't and I'm 48 years old now.

My mum rather than talking me out of it decided to help me for which I am forever grateful as in those days there wasn't the variety or choice of vegetarian food in the supermarkets. My mum is a great cook and I think she viewed it as a challenge I used to come home from school and she would have made me amazing meals like stuffed peppers, Vegetable casseroles with dumplings,Soups,Pasta,Curries, Chili's etc in fact you name it my mum would conjure it up.

Being Vegetarian has always been very easy for me as a keen cook I love experimenting with new recipes and trying things out, but for some reason turning completely Vegan never really entered my head, I don't know why I guess I never had the relevant information on hand, I thought if I bought free range eggs and Organic milk and vegetarian cheeses etc I was doing my bit, but I stumbled upon a podcast by Collen Patrick-Goudrau and her compassion and info blew me away. I immediatly started going back listening to all her old Podcasts and the wealth of nutritional and moral info was the best I have ever heard.

I always presumed Vegan Cooking would be impossible but through Collens web site and books i have learnt it isn't I may need to tweek a few of my favourite recipes a bit but so far it hasn't been a problem in fact if anything it has been so easy for me I am now wondering why I didn't do it sooner.

Please if anyone is actually reading this post don't think I am trying to lecture you, I know being Vegan or Vegetarian is a very personal issue just as being a meat eater is I wouldn't dream of trying to lecture anyone, I believein personal choice for everyone. I guess what I am saying to anyone out there who was considering becoming Vegan or Vegetarian give Coleen a listen on her Podcast or visit her website you might be suprised at the wealth of infoon it.

My big love in life is baking so whwn I realised I could still bake everything as a Vegan I was thrilled, I can substitute all my recipes with Dairy Free Butter, Milk can be substituted with Soya Milk or one of the many Milk alternatives out there and I can even replace my eggs with an egg replacer all news to me.The first Vegan book I bought is by Coleen Patrick _Goudraucalled 'The Joy of Vegan Baking' and it is a fabulous book for the Vegan cook to start on, there is loads of great recipes in it such as Apple pecan muffins,Chocolate chip cookies,Cinammon coffee cake to name a few I can't wait to try some out this weekend.

If you buy one Vegan book on baking I suggest this one. I'm going to start blogging on how I get on with them and how they compare to the original.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Vamos Rafa

My friends who know me well, know why I am wandering round with dark circles and bags under

my eyes, it's US Open time again.

Living in the UK we are 5 hours in front of NY so watching the Tennis for me means staying up all night to watch Rafa and then going into work the next day, not the best of plans but what else can you do?

Please don't tell me to set my recorder not an option I just couldn't sleep not knowing what was going on. Tonight I'm getting up at 01.00 am for the quarter final match between Fernando Verdasco and Rafa Nadal little bit scared, little bit excited but Rafa you know we'll be cheering loudly for you.

Vamos Rafa.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Autumn is around the corner

At this time of year I get the incredible urge to start tidying my garden for the winter.I think really it's more of a welcome home autumn gesture.I want all my borders tidy and weeded, all Summers withering plants removed, I need order and sequence, my plant pots have all to be washed and stored.

I know I'm really preparing myself for the great event of autumn.This has been my favourite season since I was a child my mum used to take us on woodland walks when we were children and we used to gather red leaves and foliage and beautiful red berries, my mum would make beautiful floral arrangements around the house from what we would gather and some of these traditions have stuck with me.

I see autumn as a time of gentle slumber before winters hibernation. How could anyone not love this time of year.

As a keen cook my. Urge to cook with beautiful squashes and pumpkins goes into overdrive, and all the beautiful apple dishes that await me.

I believe there is peace and beauty in every season and we should just take some time to welcome them, although not quite here yet I know autumn is truly around the corner