Author: elizabeth

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.

Rambling

I used to write every day, usually in the morning and always after a pot of strong coffee and a cigarette or two. Nothing quite fired up my brain as well, and since I’ve given up smoking and limit my coffee to one cup a day, my melty grey matter doesn’t work as well as I’d like. So I rarely write. In fact, I don’t do a lot of stuff. I don’t read books, I don’t play guitar, I don’t make soap. I don’t do many things I used to enjoy because for over two years, my sodden headspace has been occupied with the worry that Brexit will cost me and my family everything. My attention span is short. It’s hard knowing our current way of life will soon be over. It distracts from everything. For awhile I comforted myself with the thought that someone would see sense and stop this madness, but now we’re actually talking about stockpiling food and medicine – all because a slim majority voted for self harm in a rigged …

Wife’s Cuisine

I’ve been taking a little break from writing over the summer – mainly because it’s hot and I’m lazy. But I wanted to share this amazing YouTube channel with those of you who enjoy food and cooking. It’s called Wife’s Cuisine and it’s gorgeous. The channel will appeal to anyone who loves to prepare and eat delicious, beautiful food. Every recipe is made with the love and care we’d all like to put into our food. The videos are beautifully shot with pleasing scenes and lighting. I find them super relaxing. If you have any interest in Korean cooking, I recommend giving them a look.  

Peanut Butter and Banana Overnight Oats

This is one of the easiest make-ahead breakfasts around, and it’s incredibly nourishing and delicious. You can easily scale this recipe up as it keeps well in the refrigerator for up to a week. Do use salted peanuts for your garnish. Trust me – it’s a lovely counterbalance to the sweetness of the banana and it lends a bit of texture as well. Serves 4 100 grams large oats 2 teaspoons chia seeds 350ml sweetened macadamia milk* 1 heaped tablespoon peanut butter Garnish per bowl 1/2 banana, sliced 2 teaspoons salted peanuts, crushed maple syrup, if desired Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl, stirring well to ensure the peanut butter incorporated into the mixture. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, put 1/4 of the oat mixture into a bowl and top with the sliced banana and peanuts. You can add a bit of maple syrup if you like a little more sweetness. Enjoy! * you can use any milk you like here. Unsweetened is fine.

Rice Bowl with Greens and Tofu

Vegan meals don’t need to be time consuming or a faff. With just a few ingredients, it’s easy to put together a nutritious, delicious and satisfying dinner. This recipe is my go-to when I’m tired or just can’t be bothered, and is the epitome of what I like to call ‘jazz recipes’. ‘Jazz’, because it’s a bit free form. There are not any set ingredients or measurements. It’s all down to what you like and how you feel! You’ll need: Rice – cooked as according to instructions Firm tofu (I like silken – it’s a little more difficult to work with, but I think it’s worth it) Greens (Chard, spinach, kale, spring greens, pak choi – anything dark and leafy will work) Oil for frying (I like olive, but sometimes I go for toasted sesame) Soy sauce Sliced chilli pepper ( you can use dried, but fresh is best) Grated ginger (again, use fresh if at all possible) Minced garlic Salt toasted sesame seeds (optional) Start cooking the rice. I usually let it simmer while …

No Bull Vegan Burgers Review

A couple of Christmases  ago, I took it upon myself to try every mince pie on the market to see which one was best. Iceland’s offering was the clear winner, and even though I can’t even look at a mince pie now, I still remember being super-impressed by their attention to detail – crumbly, buttery pastry; the perfect filling-to-pastry ratio, and gorgeous, boozy flavour. Iceland is onto another winner with their No Bull Burgers. Of all of the veggie burgers I’ve tried, these are the closest to real beef I’ve found. Aside from the added beetroot to give them a ‘bleeding’ effect (not necessary in my opinion, as this could make vegetarians and vegans a bit squeamish), they are close to perfect. They actually taste like a burger cooked over an open flame. I’d recommend shallow frying them for a better texture, but you can easily bake them if you’re not keen on adding extra oil. We enjoyed ours on a brioche bun with sliced tomatoes, pickles, lettuce and onion, and could have easily believed …

Spanish Butter Beans with Tomatoes

It’s been quite warm in Scotland these last couple of weeks, and the last thing I want to think about is food. So what do you eat when you can’t be bothered? I suggest something than is just as delicious at room temperature as it is when it’s hot. This simple recipe needs only a few ingredients and a relatively short cooking time. It also happens to be vegan. Makes four smallish portions, perfect for lunch or a light supper. Ingredients: 1 tablespoon of olive oil 1 medium onion, diced 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped 250g dried butter beans, soaked and cooked (use tinned if you like) 2 400g tins of peeled plum tomatoes 1 vegetarian stock cube 2 tablespoons mild smoked paprika 200g baby leaf spinach 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped (optional garnish) In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until it begins to shimmer. Now add the onion and garlic and fry for two minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the tinned tomatoes. Use your cooking …

Lifeboats for All

As a new recruit to Yes, I’m flabbergasted by the number of people on the other side who accuse all indy supporters of ‘hating the English’. This is ludicrous. I don’t hate the English and I don’t hate England. What I hate is Westminster’s callous incompetence, and I think that Scotland would be better off governing itself. That’s all there is to it. For me, the independence campaign has nothing to do with hate, or nationalism, or some kind of ‘Braveheart mentality’. It comes down to the firm belief that the UK is a sinking ship unwilling to save itself, while Scotland tries its hardest to provide lifeboats for everyone. Yes, a lifeboat might not be as stable as a large ship, but that large ship is useless if it’s under water with no prospect of sailing again. I don’t think independence will be easy, but I know sticking with a failed state is a bad idea. We are in for a difficult road no matter what happens. Having watched the UK government flail while …

Cruelty Free Surprise

I was sad to discover my favourite day serum – the one I’ve been repurchasing for years – is not cruelty free. I made a bad assumption that because the brand is French and there are strict laws against animal testing in the EU, my serum would comply. What I didn’t realise is that this brand is sold in China which does require animal testing on any product that makes a claim about its functionality. So I’m in the market for a new daily hydrating serum. I know I’ll need to avoid brands sold in China (but not necessarily made in China – go figure), so I’ll be looking at smaller, niche brands many of the bigger brands are either sold in China or have a parent company who sells there. I had a look through all of the products I use and was relieved to discover no others are tested on animals, so I’m glad it’s just one product I need to replace. Sadly, it’s one I really love.

Gazpacho

I had the good fortune to spend a summer in Spain a few years ago, and I learned to make this version of gazpacho there. It’s a lovely, relaxed dish to have when the weather is hot and you can’t face turning on your oven or cooker. The secret to the authenticity of this recipe is the vinegar. It really needs to be sherry vinegar from Jerez. I buy Sainsbury’s own brand and it works very well. This is a smooth cold soup, so if you prefer a little texture, reserve and finely chop a bit of the pepper and cucumber. You can add this as a garnish just before serving. Ingredients: 2 slices of stale white bread  or 1 day-old petit pain 1 tablespoon good extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar from Jerez 250ml cup cold water 6 ripe tomatoes, quartered 1 red pepper, seeded and roughly chopped 1 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped Salt to taste Place the first four ingredients in the blender and whizz until liquefied. Now add the …

Grow Your Own Country

The recently released Growth Commission report hasn’t had a universally positive welcome, with some critics arguing it isn’t radical enough. Fair enough – it isn’t possible for a document like this to be all things to all people. But the document, and the response to it, got me thinking. Whose responsibility is it to bring about an independent Scotland, and whose responsibility is it to make it work when it happens? For me, the simple answer is: All of us. We all have a stake in this. It isn’t up to the government to do the heavy lifting while we snipe from the sidelines. They can provide a framework, but it’s up to the rest of us to put the meat onto the bones. Business, citizens, and the government each have a role. We must become the change we want to see and there is no reason to wait. If you want a more socialist country, then start behaving like a socialist. Don’t sit back and wait for someone else to do it for you. …

Vapour Beauty

Vapour Beauty products tick a multitude of boxes for me. They’re organic and ethical, which means I can use them without guilt. They can be used to achieve a natural look, which is pretty much my signature these days. Because they’re mostly cream/stick formulations, they work well on mature skin, so I don’t have to worry about the products settling into lines and wrinkles, or making my crepey eyelids look worse.  They contain a wealth of skincare ingredients, such as antioxidants, which give my skin an added boost of health with every use. And many of the products are multi-use, so my makeup bag is satisfyingly lightweight. Here are three of my favourites. Multi-use Classic Blush. This ultra-smooth and sparkle-free formula can be used on lips, cheeks, and eyelids, or to give a sun-kissed look to other parts of the face. It’s dead easy to apply and it blends well without dragging on the skin. I went for the shade Spark – a fresh, light peachy-pink, but there are loads of other shades if you …