Category Archives: vegan

Making sauerkraut

A jar of purple sauerkraut looking jewel-likeSauerkraut is a traditional fermented food which produces probiotics, cheaply and naturally.

Probiotics are good bacteria which help good digestion, as Sacramento Natural Food Co-op explains.

“Fermented” food can sound a turn-off to our modern ears. But, for aeons, every traditional society has used lacto-fermented food – kimchi from Korea and cortido from Latin America, says Nourishing Days – for healthiness.

Sauerkraut hails (as do my ancestors) from Eastern Europe, Germany/Poland etc

I have been thinking about making sauerkraut for ages.

I bought a Kilner jar in preparation. I procrastinated. I had never made it before so feared failure. Making any food is a leap of faith. Will its mysterious alchemy work?

Then, by chance, I got a comment from Annie Levy, who holds UK-based lacto-fermentation workshops. Can you imagine? The maven of probiotics turns up on this ‘ere blog. Of course, I have to make sauerkraut, now.

So I read Annie Levy’s great piece on making sauerkraut.

I also consulted this sauerkraut one from the Kitchn and a few others. Exciting to be in the zeitgist – there is no shortage of posts on lacto-fermentation.

Lacto, I query? It means the type of bacteria which creates lactic acid. Lactic acid protects fermented food from being invaded by bad bacteria, says Natural News.

Basically, to make sauerkraut, you add salt to cut-up raw vegetables. Salt naturally draws out the water from the veg. Then the veg soaks in its own salty water for days (and then keeps in a fridge for weeks). The soaking-in-the veg’s-own-water creates the fermentation process which in turn produces sauerkraut with loads of friendly bacteria.


1 raw cabbage (and/or raw carrots/garlic etc)

1 tablespoon salt

Spices of choice: I used 1 dried chilli, fenugreek, cumin seeds and black peppercorns

organic purple cabbage sliced in half

Method: Slice cabbage thinly (my food processor did the job otherwise use a sharp knife). Mix the salt and veg in a bowl, rubbing the salt in with your fingers. Leave the salted veg in a covered bowl. I am amazed how quickly I was squeezing water out of salted cabbage. Mix again. Keep cabbage submerged in its water with a heavy plate.

Making sauerkrautHere is me submerging the veg in the Kilner jar using a cabbage leave to press it down. I got anxious about this bit. However, it is OK to add a few dessertspoons of water to make the sure the veg is covered. After 12-24 hours, transfer the salty cabbage from covered bowl to a Kilner jar and keep in the fridge.

I used two organic cabbages (and two tablespoons of salt). I thought two cabbages would not fit in the Kilner jar …but they did not even fill it!

The result: Having lived with my jar of sauerkraut for the month of July, with regular servings with a variety of dishes, I can report: it is delicious. A blend of salty and sweet, and easy to eat.

And, it works. For instance, last night, my digestion felt weak. I could not be bothered to eat. So, I had a small bowl of sauerkraut and within an hour, my appetite had returned, heartily. The magic of friendly bacteria!

Carrot and coconut salad plus literacy


Handwritten notes – clearly of importance because they hang around for years – yet they exist on scraps of paper, with no proper home.

OK, time to give two of them the attention they deserve.


George Cooper (who gave me the recipe on the above note) has since published a book on nutrition with recipes. Be Your Own Nutritionist marries traditional (mid-Victorian healthy diet) and modern thinking. As an acupuncturist, he also brings ancient eastern wisdom. Practical information on nutrition at George Cooper’s website.

“Dr George dressing for grated carrots” (says the note)

3 tablespoon coconut milk
1.5 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon honey

Pour dressing over grated carrots. Above amounts worked for three big carrots to serve 2-3. I grated ginger with the carrots too. (Carrots were organic, from local organic farm shop, Radford Mill Farm).

Delicious – now I see why I have hung onto that note for eight years. The cumin adds a special taste.

Next up…


My note says:

one of the lowest literacy
in developed nations
and highest obesity in Europe.

(Sunday Times)”

Is there a connection between the two?

Raw date and lemon cake

I am writing this post on my iPhone so a mini-experiment. So is the cake.


Many thanks to The Rawtarian for the Lemon Cheesecake recipe.

Mine differed in several ways. I used date syrup which made the base dark (pinky!) rather than white; I did not have fresh cranberries or enough dried ones (for the topping) so supplemented with extra dates and drained tinned mangoes (try pomegranate seeds next time); and finally I spread the base too thinly on too big a serving dish. Never mind, the taste was great – lemony, coconut-y and very refreshing.

The ingredients (such as raw coconut oil) were a bit costly – although healthy – but I saved money on cooking fuel.

However, not a low-tech cake, as you do need an electric blender and a freezer.

Lemon-y base

2 cups cashews
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 lemons)
1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup or agave nectar for white base – date syrup added darkness)
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
1 tablespoon lemon zest.

It really does all whizz into a smooth liquid. Pour it into serving dish, cover and freeze for 15 – 30 minutes. The coconut oil hardens as it cools so it turns into a firm base.

Fruit topping

2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup dates

First pulse dates (no need to soak). Stop blender every now and then to swoop down escaping date mixture with a spatula so everything gets properly blended.

Spread topping on frozen base and freeze again for five hours.


I found this useful conversion chart at Doves Farm.

Luckily, my measuring device does American cups.


It really is a handy (low-tech) measure for dry ingredients.

Grateful for all these devices that make life easier.

Including this WordPress App on my ‘phone. It halved the time it takes to post a blog because I could upload pics straight from my ‘phone. And I made cooking notes on the Notes App as I went along. Brilliant.

Keepers: Creamed coconut rice and raw vegetable marinade

Recently two recipes have entered my cooking repertoire. Both vegan (as it happens) they complement each other (as it happens). I want to record them with credits.

Creamed coconut rice

Step up, Claire Milne, the leading light behind the No Tesco in Stokes Croft campaign (and compadre), and the genius who came up with the easiest way to make the best coconut rice ever.

To cooked brown rice, add creamed coconut, cut small so it melts easily, and hey presto: soothing, luxurious coconut rice.

For 8 people: 3 mugs of rice for 6 mugs of water (how to cook brown rice here), 1 creamed coconut block (200g) cut in small pieces. (correction on rice proportions thanks for comment below).

(Experiment with adding cooked lentils, squash fried in small cubes, fresh herbs etc.).

Raw vegetable marinade

Step up,  Julia Guest. A filmmaker who made Letter To The Prime Minister in Bagdad during the bombing, in Fallujah during the occupation.

Julia’s current film, In Her Own Image, is an exploration of female divinity – in response to the war in Iraq as she explains at Indiegogo (where you can crowd-source/support the film). 

Anyway, food – where was I?

Raw vegetable marinade

A marinade is a sauce in which you soak your raw food (usually before cooking but in this case, no cooking required).

Which vegetables can you eat raw? Certainly not potatoes.  More info on raw food here.

I ate sliced mushroom, grated courgette, matchsticks of beetroot.

Choose veg you usually eat raw such as tomatoes, cucumber, radish, but think of others such as carrot or cabbage.

Sliver or slice or grate or anyway cut nice and slim.

Superfood dressing: tamari and cider vinegar and olive oil in equal proportions.

The marinade helps digestion of the vegetables.

Let the sliced veg soak in the dressing for a couple of hours before serving.

Would go well with the creamed coconut rice.

Sprouts and raw hummus

I was told yesterday that today is the last day of the Mayan calendar.

That means the end of 28,000 years of hierarchy and oppression.


And I have finally found a spouting system that works.

I bought this jar with its plastic perforated lid from Harvest, part of Essential Trading Worker Co-op.

DIY types can make their own. Or use old tights or muslin as the lovely Alys Fowler suggests.

Or buy one like mine (after years of experimentation, I can vouch that This One Works), and get loads of sprouting info from Living Food of St Ives.

First you put the dry (organic) seeds in the jar.

Add water and leave them overnight to bring them to life.

After that first long soak, you wash the seeds daily (or twice, thrice).

The seeds like being clean and wet (not soaked or drowned).

So after filling the jar with water, swill the seeds around then drain away the water (hence the natty perforated lid which makes life so much easier).

And how is this for a virtuous circle? I drain the water on the indoor plants so they get a regular watering.

After a few days, I have produced living things.

Here are some sprouting chickpeas, looking positively Lawrentian.

(DH Lawrence being one of my fave authors because he describes life on its different levels: soul, mundane etc and because: “Lawrence believed that industrialised Western culture was dehumanising…”).

So now I am going sprout-mad. Sprouts in stews. On toast with cream cheese.

Whizzed with Organico Artichoke Spread for instant hummus.

Hold on a minute. Did I say hummus?

I ask myself: WHY make hummus with cooked chickpeas when you can use extra-bursting-with-vitality FRESH sprouting raw chickpeas?

So, I substitute the cooked chickpeas for my Lawrentian darlings, add some turmeric and crushed coriander seeds (must sprout THEM one day) and of course lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, raw garlic, as in my usual recipe for hummus .

And it was delicious.

Tibetan soup at Buddhafield 2011

Buddhafield has all the wildness of a festival – live music, dance tent, cafes, workshops, healing area, fires, plunge pool, sauna; but without intoxicants.

There was so much on offer: every hour 10 simultaneous workshops and/or live gigs  to choose from.

Abundance was the festival’s theme. At first I moaned, stressed by having to choose, and being catapulted outside my comfort zone, cut off from home and the internet.

I plodded around the three field-festival site. I got effortlessly fitter from plodding.

This Tibetan soup – from the Outer Regions cafe – sustained me. So nourishing. light and warming. Perfect for rainy days and before dance workshops.


(Soup – something you can make quickly with what’s in the fridge. Fry onions or leeks, chilli and garlic. Slice or chop veg: carrots, courgettes, green beans, potatoes – the smaller you cut ‘em the quicker they cook. Add a handful of cooked dried beans such as butter beans or open a tin of plain beans. The trick with soup is how much water: it is easier to add than than remove. So start with two mugfuls and see how it goes. Add noodles towards the end of cooking.  Season with black pepper.)

I am grateful to Mike for making healthy refreshing breakfast every morning.

A camping-must. Muesli and fruit (bring knife to chop). Add water, so no cooking needed.

Festivals are up-and-down (like life) – all I know is I felt great when I got back.

Stokes Croft Tesco opens and butter bean salad

It’s hard to be happy about the 41st Tesco opening in Bristol (figure according to Tesco’s store locator).

93% of 500 locals surveyed had said No to Tesco’s in Stokes Croft. After over a year’s campaigning, it was bitter to see Bristol City Council bow to Tesco pressure last December.

Still, we are making the best of it.

On Friday 16 April, Tesco opened in Stokes Croft.

Friendly activists gave a Bristol-style welcome. They put a comfy sofa and lampshade outside on the pavement. Someone played a guitar.

Another strode into Tesco’s with a wad of Monopoly money. When he was not allowed to spend it, he tried to bribe a security guard with it.

A woman passer-by who also objected to Tesco’s monopoly, took up the Monopoly money-action.

On Saturday, a performer (see pic above) invited us in to ‘his’ Tesco, while outside on the pavement, stalls served free food, and promoted Picton Street’s local independent shops, in the street behind the dreaded Tesco.

Picton Street is a marvel, and includes the Bristolian Cafe, Yogasara yoga studio, vintage dress shops, an art gallery, Radford Mill organic farm shop and Licata, the family-owned Italian delicatessen.

Licata often has great bargains in olive oil and tins of beans. I am crazy about beans as they are a wonderful source of health. Licata has many variety of tinned beans, which to me = fast food.

I owe everything I know about beans to vegetarian hero, Rose Elliot. The Bean Book changed my eating habits for life.

The following recipe comes from there. Please consult The Bean Book for measurements, nutritional facts and top inventive recipes using dried beans and pulses.

Here is my sloppy fast-food version.

Gently fry sliced fresh mushrooms in (olive) oil so they are still succulent. Add a tin of drained butter beans and warm with the mushrooms. Add lemon juice squeezed from two lemons and chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or coriander. You can’t have too many fresh herbs so over-estimate. Mix it all in the frying pan, with salt to taste, and serve still warm with brown rice, or cold as a salad.

I used organic ingredients from Better Food organic supermarket, a 20-minute walk away from Tesco’s, and land cress as the fresh herb.

Rose Elliot’s recipe fries fresh cut-up garlic with the mushrooms and adds cumin spice, with coriander as the fresh herb.

PS I met a neighbour on Saturday who said she had to buy something at Tesco’s in Stokes Croft, and I am haunted by her anxious look.

So, just so you know: If it makes life easier to shop there, then do. Life’s too short for guilt and sacrifice.

I am not against people who use Tesco. I am against Tesco.

Vardo, Venice

I walk the boardwalk from Santa Monica to Venice.

The sky is overcast (yummy, just like home in England). The locals call it June gloom.

I am hungry but nothing takes my fancy.

It looks touristy and, well, not real food.

I can’t get this restaurant out of my head that I had passed earlier.

The sign had said: ethnic, vegan, vegetarian…

I don’t like retracing my steps, or leaving the ocean.

But I am glad I did.

It is rare to find somewhere where I want to eat every dish on the menu.

This is the place for me.

An oasis. Delicate flavours, vegan and vegetarian delights, raw food desserts and all ingredients organic.

I had the aromatic gently spicy dhal and spinach curries and salad, beautifully dressed with homemade vinaigrette.

followed by this sweetheart of raw chocolate with fresh mint and coconut filling.

Vardo means gypsy in Roma.

And suited this gypsy queen down to the ground.

Speedy spelt loaf recipe – not speedy roads

I am still on real bread, the topic of my last post.

Julia made the loaf in the picture above from a recipe in the Telegraph.

Apart from bread, Julia Guest, filmmaker extraordinaire, also made A Letter to the Prime Minister.

The documentary follows the British peace activist, Jo Wilding, in Iraq before and during the 2003 invasion.

Talking about films, I was round at Julia’s on Sunday to watch Life In The Fast Lane, a documentary she was involved with about the M11 road protest (1995).

The M11 sliced through three East London boroughs and tore apart communities – all for the sake of saving motorists three minutes of time.

The M11 road protest along with similar ones at Twyford and Newbury did not stop the roads being built.

However the cost of evictions – both financially and morally – eventually halted the then-mania for road-building.

This report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) shows new roads are not evaluated. And grandiose claims for reducing traffic appear not to have been realised. For instance, according to Countryside Voice, the CPRE magazine (summer 2006), the Newbury town centre peak-hour traffic flows are almost back to pre-bypass levels. And, “the actual damage to protected landscapes is even worse than expected.” [added 2012]

So while we were watching Life In The Fast Lane, we ate Julia’s homemade squash-from-her-allotment soup with the amazing bread. It was delicious – tasty and healthy.

I was blown away by Life In The Fast Lane:

- the local residents who helped patrol the squat including the 93-year-old resident made a squatter in her own childhood home

- the anguished cries of schoolschildren as the 250-year old chestnut tree was torn down by a digger (reminiscent of a scene from Avatar) and despite the protestors’ beautiful tree-top home

- the spectacular London rooftop shots of squatters who locked-on themselves to chimney pots with concrete and handcuffs to stop being evicted.

It was a real insider’s view of a mega-squat resisting the onslaught of so-called progress.

The M11 movie put me in mind of the eviction of the Tesco squatters.

Julia writes: “I make this with fresh yeast from the Better Food Company and less flour. Let it rise for just over an hour in the tin, then bake it.. but no kneading at all. I use a mix of any seeds I fancy…and the quantities vary. I also add a little olive oil to stop it sticking – as well as coating the tin in oil and then a coat of small seeds. Baking only takes about 30 minutes.”

Check out Julia’s inspiration, a spelt recipe by Xanthe Clay in the Telegraph using dried yeast and requiring no kneading or proving, and an earlier one by Rose Prince that ditto is fast.

For further inspiration visit Real Bread campaigner and master baker, Andrew Whitley, and author of much-recommended Bread Matters.

And for my real-life experience of Julia’s recipe see my blog on Easy-to-make spelt loaf – it works!

Surely a quick-to-make loaf is a better use of speed than an unnecessary road?

Last meal at the No Tesco squat?

Stephan rang me from the No Tesco in Stokes Croft squat.

I had just taken a picture of this Tesco bag blowing randomly on a branch in a car park in Portishead.

Stephan said tonight’s Sunday communal meal may be its last.

Last Tuesday, a repossession order was granted to Tescos plc – the ‘conscious squatters’ lost their court appeal to keep the site for the community.

I call them ‘conscious squatters’ because they look after the old Jesters comedy venue site with its bar and stage and share it consciously, hence the squat’s screening of Food Inc, last night’s Cosmic Cabaret and its regular Sunday night communal meal.

They have been occupying the premises ever since we locals heard Tesco has a planning application on the site. Even though there are 6 Tescos within a mile [see comment below] and 31 in Bristol.

I would much rather have this cosy communal space the squatters have created than another soulless supermarket.

Yet any minute now, eviction papers could be served. The squatters then have 48 hours to leave.

Here is Stephan’s Project Flowers at the squat. Note the framed flower drawings.

“Flowers represent positivity,” Stephan explains. “In a way we are all like flowers.”

He created the project so everyone could take part in it.

Food is like that – something we can all take part in.

Tonight the squat served the most amazing vegan meal for over 50 people in return for donations only.

My plate of varied inventive coleslaw (raw cabbage, slivers of kiwi, finely cut celery, herbs, seeds, and cardamon), vegan chilli stew, potato curry, beetroot and spinach leaves and a mound of brown rice. Followed by homemade fruit crumble and dairy-free custard.

The funny thing tonight turned out to be networking-central. I caught up with five different lots of friends from different parts of my life (including dance, work, family and food).

The No Tesco in Stokes Croft squat is creating community.

It is budding, at the beginning of its spring growth, fertile with plans including a food coop to make local healthy food affordable for all.

It would be no joke if the squatters in the old Jesters comedy club were evicted.