For those of you who have heard of the Axminster based HALFF charity, I don’t need to tell you what amazing work they do – they really need your help to get an award worth £5000 they’ve applied for. All you have to do is go to www.engagemutual.com/foundation/projects/halff-health-and-local-food-for-families register then vote for HALFF. I did it last week – it took less than 5 minutes. The voting deadline is 31st May 2014.
For those of you who have not heard of them, where have you been!!! They are currently running FREE courses in Honiton (Learn to cook on a budget & Cooking & eating when pregnant)
HALFF are one of 250 applicants for a community award through Engage Mutual. There are 10 awards up for grabs, and HALFF have applied for £5,000. The grant will benefit children who for come from troubled families, so don’t have parents to cook for them, and vulnerable elderly people who are too frail to cook for themselves.
HALFF say “As a small charity, it is really hard for us to drum up the support we need so please do vote for us. We believe that everyone should have the knowledge to cook and access good, healthy food, not just those who can afford expensive cooking courses. ”
I asked Honiton Town Council to strengthen and renew it’s commitment to Fairtrade last week and here’s a little news snippet about that on the Midweek Herald website www.midweekherald.co.uk
I spoke at the Senior Voice (formerly Senior Council) on Fairtrade last winter during Fairtrade Fortnight and have been invited back again this year. I’ll be there on Wednesday 27th February from 2pm at the Senior Voice meeting, Methodist Church on Chapel St, Honiton. Come along if you can or see the Fairtrade website for more information. http://www.fairtrade.org.uk
I am known far and wide for my truly scrumptious vegan chocolate cake but I’m going to have to let a lot of you down. It is not my own recipe but the wonderful Rose Elliot’s (from Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Cookery book). Here it is for everyone (and that’s a lot of you) who have ever asked me for it. I must add – it is probably the easiest cake ever to make!
Vegan Chocolate Sponge Cake
Makes one 20-22cm/8-8.5inch round cake
300g self raising flour
50g cocoa powder (I use Green & Blacks as it is vegan)
3 teaspoons baking powder
250g caster sugar
9 tablespoons sunflower oil
vegan margarine or sunflower oil for greasing baking tins – I use 2 tins to make two halves of the cake but you can fill one tin then cut the cake in half when it has completely cooled so you can add a filling. Alternatively make two cakes and add butter icing or plain icing to the tops.
1. Preheat the oven to 170c or 325f or gas mark 3. (Green Tip: I never do this as it is not necessary and you can save fuel & expense by never pre-heating your oven!)
2. Grease two 20cm cake tins and line the base of each with a circle of greaseproof paper.
3. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, oil and water & mix well to a batter like consistency. (Not so Green Tip! I use an electric whisk as it makes it a much lighter cake, you can whisk by hand of course).
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for about 30-40 mins until the cakes spring back to a light touch in the centre (I test with a skewer in the centre, if it comes out dry without any uncooked cake mixture on it then they should be done).
5. Once cooled – turn out the cakes or cook on a wire rack.
6. Sandwich together with a jam filling (yuk) or chocolate buttercream (my favourite). I like to ice the tops too and add vegan chocolate buttons or glace cherries (I love glace cherries!)
Hey presto – delicious vegan chocolate cake for everyone to enjoy!
You can also adapt this recipe to other flavours, make a plain cake without the cocoa (add a bit of vanilla essence). Try lemon or orange essence for a fruity flavour, I like orange & almond cake. Yum !
We visited Transition Town Totnes on Sunday to partake in a bit of food swapping with the Seedy Sisters. Here I am in a suspiciously posed photo (!!) with jars of homemade jam with Lou from the Transition office and Seedy Sister Alison (in the middle). I took my homemade citrus & thyme jelly, tomato relish, sloe gin and some of my freshly picked salad and came home with lots of eggs, potatoes, apples and some green tomato chutney! What a result. No money changed hands just mutually agreed friendly fun exchanges. They were a lovely bunch of people and I wasn’t the only swapping newbie there giving it a try. My daughter Natasha (10) particularly liked it as choosing the items you wanted and ‘doing the deals’ was really good fun. There were other kids there too, some swapping flowers they’d picked and others just enjoying the atmosphere.
Some people had extra produce from their allotments (yes they have allotments in Totnes, unlike Honiton!) and others had made big batches of one preserve or another and didn’t need it all. I thought there would be more baked goods like cakes, biscuits and bread and maybe some homemade wines but we were very happy with the little transactions we made. The whole process of bartering was really enjoyable and I think we could do this here with Transition Town Honiton.
Maybe you could add a comment to this blog if you’re in or near Honiton and you think this would be worth a try one day? We’d also need volunteers to organise it as these things don’t just organise themselves – so do let us know if you could chip in and help.
Really pleased to see cookery classes happening in Honiton, courtesy of Wendy Le Masurier at Wendy’s Cookshop on the High Street and the latest topic to be covered is bread making. The Bread Making master class class takes place from 3.15pm Thursday 31st May 2013 at The Holt, 178 High Street, Honiton and costs £25. Angus McCaig is taking the class and the afternoon will be an excellent opportunity to learn all the techniques for bread making including shaping the dough, kneading skills, baking and experiencing different types of dough. You will also be able to ask all the questions you need answering and learn the professional tricks of the trade! Call Wendy for more info or to book on 01404 45940 and please mention you heard about the class on my blog! Thanks.
HONITON TOWN COUNCIL – WAITING LIST FOR ALLOTMENTS
The Town Council is updating its waiting list for allotments and has recently written to all those on the current waiting list at their last known address asking whether they wish to remain on the Town Council’s database.
The Town Council would like to hear from anyone who thinks that they are already on the current waiting list for allotments but who may have changed their address since being added to the list.
Please contact the Town Council at its office in New Street, Honiton EX14 1EY
by no later than Friday 18th May to update your waiting list entry.
If you haven’t already been to Wendy’s Cookshop then you really are missing out! Slap bang in the middle of the High Street (No. 96 near Holland & Barrett and Nat West bank) is a cornucopia of culinary delights – that is Wendy’s world! Wendy has also started doing cookery masterclasses and you can find out more by popping in to see her or give her a call 01404 45940 or email email@example.com . Wendy is also on Facebook and the details of the cookery classes are on there – see http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wendys-Cook-Shop/102204846571622
I’ve taken a vegan pledge this March with the guys from EFFA – Exeter Friends for Animals. I’ve been vegetarian for about 27 years now and I have had a lot of vegan friends over the years, and often wondered what it would be like to live a vegan lifestyle. I was asked to do this month long pledge by Wendy at EFFA and I said yes, I’d give it a try. I’m now a third of a way through my month and it has not been an easy start I must admit. You’d think the transition from veggie to vegan would be fairly painless but I’ve found it…interesting, a learning curve, a new experience – but hey – life would be boring otherwise wouldn’t it !!
Apparently between 1% of UK households contain a vegan whereas 4-12% of households have a vegetarian person living there. Most vegans have lower BMI’s, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Vegans eat less calories, less confectionary, less fat and less cakes – one of my reasons to give veganism a try and I’ll give you the results at the the end of the month (says she who has just made a fabulous vegan chocolate cake – pictured below)
So what am I finding difficult so far – not being able to have a cup of tea or coffee at a friend or relatives house, or at most cafe’s or even at the town council where I spend many an evening! I had some issues with curdling coffee at the start of the month but now I’m only using Alpro soya and microwaving a cup of half water/half soya milk then adding coffee seems to do the trick. I’m drinking other things now – more water and fruit juices which can’t be bad.
I miss cheese – I realised I must usually eat some form of cheese most days even if it is sprinkled on top of pasta bolognaise. I can’t bear the thought of not having a lasagne or cauliflower cheese again, two of my favourite things. Or cottage cheese and a baked potato, a cheese sandwich, cheese on toast or creamy goats cheese and cranberry sauce! Apparently there are vegan cheeses but they look so strange I’ve not tried them yet. I also love Stilton and Brie so these things are hard to contemplate not having ever again…but it is only a month, isn’t it…
So apart from possibly losing weight (due to not being such a cheese monster) I am doing this to think a bit more about how being veggie does still involve the killing of animals in order to produce what I’m eating. I’m not really into eggs much these days but it’s amazing how many things contain eggs – eg Quorn which our family eats a lot of. But I know that for every female chick born – male chicks are being killed at a day old every day….then of course how are those female chickens housed and when are they killed for being too old to lay?
As for milk – I sometimes see poorly cared for herds of cows literally staggering from their fields to the milking parlour, staggering along pot-holed country lanes laden with udders of milk which are there for the calves which were taken from them and…fattened for meat then killed at a young age. Of course not all cows are kept in poor conditions, some live lives of Riley on delightful organic farms but at the end of the day this is farming – and these creatures are killed when the farmer decides their time is up. THE reason I became a vegetarian is because I do not believe that humans have any right whatsoever to kill animals, for any reason*
Both my children are vegetarian and I tell my 10 year old daughter that it is part of evolution. We’ve worked out, like slavery or the death penalty or other brutal acts of violence carried out by humans, that killing animals is quite simply wrong. What gives us the right to murder a living creature and then eat it or wear it or rub it on our skin in a cream or potion? Let’s just hope the rest of the human race realise soon that they have no right to stop a beating heart and no right or need to eat flesh. And as far as religion goes – a god who tells people (in the bible) “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you” is no god I believe in.
* I do believe in euthanasia if an animal (or a person) is in extreme pain however and in my younger days working as a vet nurse, I have helped suffering animals to die a calm, dignified death. I also helped many animals to live too! People should have the right to euthanasia as well – but that’s another blog….
I’m going to make a willow fence (or hurdle) in my garden to keep my naughty setter off the patio and out of my veggies!!! I’ve been offered some willow by someone from a neighbouring transition group. Any comments appreciated about how exactly I should be approaching this (new) skill !!
Specifically – what should I use as the posts?
How do I secure the willow to the posts at each end of the fence?
I’m extremely pleased to be able to announce that after many months of preparation – the South West Green Party cookbook is now available! Hot off the press from the lovely people at Axminster Printing, our book features over 60 vegetarian and vegan recipes contributed by Green Party members in the region.
Printed on 100% recycled paper, there are wonderful homemade soups, stews, salads, starters, main courses, cakes, biscuits, breads and more! And Caroline Lucas has contributed her delicious Christmas cake. It’s a great gift idea.
A huge thank you to Green Party member Cherry Puddicombe who did all the design work for free! Check out Cherry’s website http://lifework.biz The book includes a chapter on ‘Green Eateries’ – a useful list of veggie and vegan restaurants and cafe’s in the South West.
BREAKING NEWS: AS OF THURSDAY 8TH DECEMBER WE NOW HAVE A FEW COPIES OF THE COOKBOOK SIGNED BY CAROLINE LUCAS – A GREAT GIFT FOR ANY GREEN FRIENDS. THESE SPECIAL EDITION COPIES ARE PRICED AT £10 EACH. POSTAGE FOR ONE BOOK IS £1.