Author: elizabeth

Where We Belong

Last week a noisy flock of low-flying geese passed over my house while I was in the garden. ‘How nice for you,’ I thought. ‘Leaving Brexit Britain. Hope they let you back in next Spring.’ How ridiculous. Of course the geese can return. They can go where they like, live harmoniously in their temporary accommodation, and be off to the next place without a thought. They belong where they choose to be. If they find the conditions of their present situation hostile, they can leave for another – no documents, no passport, no problem. I never thought I’d be so envious of geese. The society I grew up in was deeply religious (I’m not), rabidly patriotic (which skeeves me out on so many levels), and rigidly structured (nope). I was made to stand and pledge allegiance to a flag every morning in school. I also had to say grace before I was allowed to eat lunch. Boys were allowed to chase me on the playground, but I wasn’t allowed to chase back because that wasn’t …

photo credit Sgaia Foods

Sgaia Vegan Meats

Photo courtesy of Sgaia Foods. While link hopping vegan restaurants in Glasgow, I stumbled upon a product called Mheat from Sgaia Foods. To say I’d had a fortuitous bounce would be an understatement, as I’d discovered the best vegan meat I’ve ever tried – purely by accident. And I do love a happy accident. Before proceeding, I’ll state right away that Mheat is not cheap – nor should it be. Mheat is a proper hand-made artisan product, carefully developed and crafted by a small team of passionate people who are dedicated to their mission to produce a healthy, tasty, vegan alternative to meat.  I hesitate to call it a meat alternative, because it really is a unique product within itself. But if I were to make a comparison, I’d say it is the Waygu of meat substitutes. We tried four products with our first order and all were exceptional. If I had to choose a favourite, it would be their Streaky Mheat Rashers. The flavour is perfect – savoury, salty and smoky, with a hint …

A Dress for That Occasion

Since downsizing my wardrobe at the beginning of the year, I’ve noticed a couple of gaps needing filled. Specifically, I had nothing to wear in the event of a somber occasion. And let’s be honest, in the midst of a crisis, the last thing we want to do is shop for clothing we’re going to wear to mark a sad time. So I decided to buy a dress now and wear it at other times so that the garment doesn’t become a symbol of death and sadness. Because I’m trying to be mindful of my purchases, I decided not to simply buy a black dress to keep in the closet. I wanted the dress to be something I could wear in any season and for things other than funerals, so I was delighted when I came across this beautiful linen dress from Gudrun Sjoden. It’s a simple, elegant dress with 3/4-length sleeves and subtle embroidery. The fabric is light-to-midweight, so it can be worn year round here in Scotland. I chose the ash grey version …

A Beefy No Bull Review

A while back, I wrote about being super impressed by Iceland’s No Bull Vegan Burgers. I still think they’re amazing, so I’m thrilled to report that Iceland has expanded the No Bull range with some outstanding beef substitutes. There are also some very good chicken replacements, but this review will cover the beefier options. Here are three that I absolutely love. I’ve tried a few mince substitutes, but I’ve not found any I like better than No Bull Vegan Mince. The flavour is amazing and the texture is the closest I’ve found to actual mince. Because it’s coloured with beetroot, it does remain pink – even after frying. I easily overcame this by adding in a gravy or sauce to cover the odd colour. So far we’ve used it to make spaghetti Bolognese and mince and tatties and both meals were very good. I’m looking forward to trying it in a chilli. Another favourite are the No Bull Vegan ‘Meat’balls. They’ve a similar flavour to the burgers, and they’re perfect served in pasta sauce or …

eSalon

Is it possible to achieve salon-quality hair colour at home? For a long time, the answer was no. I’ve tried loads of at-home hair colours, but I’ve never found any drugstore colour that could match the salon, so I decided to try eSalon – a company producing custom colour for salon-quality results at home. After seeing a good review from a trusted beauty blogger on Youtube, I was hopeful I could get salon results for a lot less money. The first step was to create a profile which included a detailed online consultation about my hair type, the colour I currently had, and the colour I was trying to achieve. This information was passed along to a colourist who designed and blended a colour specifically for me. I also ordered a colouring tools kit which included a weighted bowl, a brush, some sectioning clips, and a handy timer – these were invaluable and I highly recommend you take these if you do decide to order. Before my colour arrived, eSalon emailed some helpful videos so I …

Heavenly Chocolate

Every so often, I find myself eating too much sugar and have to cut back. I’ve gone so far as to not eat it at all, and while I do feel good when I’m off the sweet stuff, my sweet tooth always gets the better of me. In an attempt to achieve some balance, I decided to find a low-sugar treat that didn’t make me feel deprived. It was on this quest I discovered Heavenly Chocolate, and it’s nothing short of miraculous. With less than a teaspoon of sugar in each generously-sized bar, Heavenly Chocolate is also free from dairy, gluten, soy, egg, GMO, and palm oil.  This vegan-friendly chocolate comes in a variety of flavours, most of which I’ve tried, and I have to say my favourites are coconut and dark. I find one or two squares of either to be extremely satisfying. The texture is smooth and creamy – never waxy – and the flavour is what you’d expect from a proper chocolatier. At the time of publishing, the Heavenly website is offering free shipping …

Down, But Not Out

I’ve neglected my blog for the past few weeks. Brexit Blues and middle-age health woes are to blame, and I’m fairly certain the former lead to the latter. Less than six months to go and I have no idea if I can trade past March of next year. Do I stockpile? Do I wind down? Do I renew the lease on my premises? What do I tell my employees? My customers? It’s no wonder I’ve not felt my best. But even in this rather dark time, I’ve been enjoying things I’m looking forward to sharing here. I’ve tried some fabulous new vegan meat substitutes; bought a beautiful dress from an ethical designer; and discovered a glass water bottle I love. I will post reviews on all of these soon.    

Vegan Chilli

I’ve been making this chilli for years, and it’s one of our favourite things to eat when it’s a bit cold and grey out (so nine months out of the year in Scotland). You’ll get much better results soaking and cooking dried beans instead of using tinned, but if you’re in a hurry, tinned beans are fine. I’ve included the spice mix I use, but if you can’t be bothered, feel free to use a packet of chilli seasoning mix. I like Old ElPaso if I’m in a rush or don’t have everything to hand. This recipe feeds four. Six if accompanied by rice. Ingredients: 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped 1 medium onion, chopped 300g mushrooms, coarsely chopped (quartered works well if they’re not huge) 30g coriander, stems and leaves separated 400g tinned chopped tomatoes 250g dried pinto beans, cooked according to packet (unless it says to add salt – don’t!) 1 vegetarian stock cube 1 tablespoon tomato puree Spice mix 2 teaspoons cumin 1 teaspoon chilli powder (the temperature …

Good Gravy

I am obsessed with roast dinners at the moment. Maybe it’s the change of season, but I am seriously craving stodge – mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings – anything carby and comforting that can be paired with my favourite roast, and I’m after a rich, delicious gravy to top all of this lovely food. I don’t want to come across like a snob, but for me, Bisto just doesn’t cut it, and homemade vegetarian gravy is often thinly-flavoured and somewhat disappointing, so you can imagine my delight in discovering Essential Cuisine’s No1 Savoury Gravy. It’s by far the most full-bodied, satisfying vegetarian gravy I’ve tried, and it isn’t much of an exaggeration to say we eat it by the bucketload. It’s also not an exaggeration to say that it’s so rich and tasty that would not be out of place served over actual roast beef. It’s super-simple to prepare and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. It’s also gluten-free. And it’s extremely versatile. We use it as a base for savoury stews and soups, and …

Love Seitan

I’d always assumed that giving up meat would mean giving up traditional meals that I’ve loved since childhood. How could I enjoy a roast dinner without a roast? I’d tried a vegetarian roast from a rather popular brand, but didn’t like it, and while there are loads of good veggie burgers on the market, none really work as a roast substitute. So I’m happy I discovered Love Seitan. If you’ve not tried seitan, you must! It’s a fantastic meat substitute that can be used in all sorts of recipes, and it’s also great sliced and eaten as you would sliced beef or pork. It’s made from wheat protein, so it’s very high in protein. It also has a firm, pleasing texture that works well in dishes like curries, fajitas, and stews – any time you need something firm and a bit chewy. My favourite way to eat it is thinly sliced and fried in bit of olive oil until it’s crispy. This makes a fantastic bacon substitute and can be used as a breakfast ‘meat’ …

What’s Your Kibbe Type?

I’m sure it was someone effortlessly stylish who said ‘fashions change, but style never does’. I imagine they were tall, thin, rich, and beautiful – and any advice they had didn’t apply to someone like me. I’m a skosh over 5’2″ and I’ve struggled with my weight since my mid-twenties.  I have tried so many ‘looks’ but until recently, I’ve never been able to determine what works best for me. This has meant a lot of wasted money on all sorts of things that didn’t suit me. The fashion and beauty industry is weird, and its nomenclature is bizarre. Am I an apple? A pear? Is my face an oval or a diamond? What colour season am I? Should I wear all black to hide my roundness? Statement jewellery? Balayage? So much to consider and all of it confusing, at least for me, but I recently discovered something that clicked everything into place and I am so sad I didn’t come across it 30 years ago – long before I spent loads money on clothes …

Vivera Veggie Steak

For the past couple of years, I’ve been a ‘flexitarian’. Being married to a vegetarian means I eat many vegetarian meals, and became quite adept at cooking them, too. Over the last year, I found myself eating less and less meat until one day I decided not to bother with it anymore. My timing could not have been better as I’m spoilt for choice – there are some fantastic new meat substitutes on the market, and one of my favourites is Vivera Veggie Steaks. Similar to seitan, Vivera Veggie Steaks are made from wheat protein as well as soya. They’re fortified with iron and vitamin B12 which is a big help to vegetarians and vegans who can sometimes struggle to get enough of both. They’re also a good source of protein. The texture is surprisingly steak-like, and the flavour is lovely. They’re so versatile and could be used in place of beef in countless dishes – fajitas, curries, sandwiches, whatever – anytime you need proper texture and flavour. I like to pan fry mine with Brazilian …

Manufactured Chaos

It’s official. UK manufacturing is in recession. If the UK leaves the EU with anything less than single market and customs union membership, it’s game over for manufacturing in Britain. And the knock-on consequences* for the British economy are catastrophic. Brexit will impact every person in the UK who depends on manufactured goods as a component, as part of a supply chain, or as a finished product. My business relies on all three of these, and a no-deal/hard Brexit means the prospects for its survival, as for many others, are not good. Using my business and one of the more popular products we sell as an example, we might be able to illustrate the scale of the wider problem. Obviously, I don’t want to cause problems for any of my suppliers, so I’ll simply refer to this product as Product X (PX for brevity). PX is a component used in many cosmetic formulations. My supplier is based in England, and they manufacture the product there using many other components – components not available in the UK, which …

Pacifica Devocean Lipstick

Since giving up eating meat a few months ago, I’ve been making an effort to ensure the cosmetics  I use are also cruelty free. One of the safest ways to do this is to choose vegan products. If I’m honest, I was a bit concerned that these products wouldn’t be as good as what I was used to using, but I needn’t have worried. There are loads of amazing vegan makeup products about, and I’m especially impressed with Pacifica’s lipstick offering. Pacifica Devocean Natural Lipstick, £12.99, is beautiful, richly pigmented, and non-drying.  It doesn’t feather or settle into lines, and it has a slight sheen that gives the lips a youthful appearance. As it’s vegan, it doesn’t contain any animal products, nor does it contain petrochemicals, parabens, or drying alcohols. It does contain a light coconut fragrance, but it isn’t overpowering and I find it quite pleasant. Devocean lipstick comes in six shades, my favourite being Firebird – a pretty, neutral red. I ordered mine online as I’ve not been able to find it in …

New Hens

After a couple of false starts, we were finally able to collect three new hens yesterday. We made the decision a couple of years ago to rescue battery hens instead of keeping pure breeds, but the poor ex-batts don’t live very long, so we’ve decided to add a few hearty birds to the flock. We’ve selected a white leghorn, a minorca, and an araucana (not pictured). The first two will lay white eggs (we were gifted one today!) and the araucana will lay either a khaki green or a blue egg. It’ll be some time until we find out. She’s very young – so much so that she still makes wee chick ‘peeping’ noises. It’s quite cute. I’d hoped to get a better photo, but they’re still quite nervous and move around a lot when I approach the pen. Once they’re out free-ranging with the rest, I should be able to get a better snap.