Chocolate Amarena Brownies for World Vegan Month

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Yes, it IS possible to make deliciousย vegan brownies without eggs and butter!

As promised, here is the recipe in my November ‘World Vegan Month’ series, and it is in factย relatively healthy compared to most other brownie recipes I have tried… relatively. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The twist to these particular brownies is the amarena cherries I used – the sort that come in syrup in a small jar. They are incredibly sweet and have a lovely slightly almondy flavour. If you can’t find them, try using an alternative syrup and ordinary tinned cherries.

Vegan Chocolate Amarena Brownies

(in a heart-shaped tin, just because! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dry ingredients:

  • 150g (1 1/4 cups) plain flour (I use one third wholemeal)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 50g (1/4 cup) raw cane sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar or 1tsp vanilla essence

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 tbsps syrup from the amarena cherry jar
  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil
  • 150ml (2/3 cup) sparkling mineral water
  • 50g (1 3/4 oz) vegan dark chocolate, melted in a bain marie
  • About 10-12 amarena cherries

Grease and flour a 15 x 15 cm (6 x 6 inch) baking tin (or a heart-shaped one ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Preheat the oven to 180ยฐC/350ยฐ F.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Stir the syrup, oil and water together and mix in, whisking lightly with a fork. Fold in the melted chocolate. Pour into the baking tin and spread evenly. Scatter the cherries on the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Leave in the tin until completely cool, then turn out, sprinkle with a little icing sugar if you like, and slice. Serves 8.

Delicious with vegan whipped cream! ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

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Enjoy!

(I dare you to resist!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Butternut ‘Steaks’ for World Vegan Month

Here is another recipe for World Vegan month 2016, and one I mentioned that I would post not long ago… Butternut ‘Steaks’. ๐Ÿ˜€

At this time of year it is easy to find pumpkins of any kind, and I like to make the most of them while they are in season. Since my Man of Many Talents is not so keen on the sweet flavour in savoury dishes, except for soup anyway, I make these butternut steaks just for myself. And the beauty is, you can slice as much as you need off the ‘neck’ of a butternut and save the rest of the squash for another day.

Butternut Steaks

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So, take a butternut squash and cut some 1-2 cm thick slices from the long end (not the end where the seeds are), then peel with a potato peeler. Place on a baking sheet, lined with greaseproof paper.

Preheat your oven to 225ยฐC/ 425ยฐF.

Mix 1tbsp olive oil with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and spread over the slices of squash. Season with freshly ground black pepper and, if you like, a sprinkle of ground ginger for some added heat. I also sometimes use ground dried garlic or coriander, or add a sprig of rosemary or two.

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Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Depending how thick your slices are, they may need another few minutes, but try not to let them get too brown. You can test one with a sharp knife to see if it is tender.

They can be served with just about anything, or even eaten on their own as a snack!

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So simple and so tasty!

What’s your favourite pumpkin/squash dish? I bet a lot of you are going to say ‘pie’ , and I hope to post a vegan recipe for that too soon. Stay tuned! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Falafel for World Vegan Day 2016

I wonder if you have heard of World Vegan Day before? It was introduced on November 1st 1994 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UK Vegan Society. I have only known about it for a few years, and feel it deserves a bit more publicity, so Iย would like to celebrate not only this day, but the whole month of November – also designated by the Vegan Society as World Vegan Month – by sharing some of my favourite vegan recipes. Some are new, and some are veganized versions of older recipes that I have refined over the past year. I should love to convince you all to become vegan! But since that is totally unrealistic I hope to tempt you with a few vegan delights instead! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So to kick off, a recipe I have actually had in my drafts box for some time:

Quick Homemade Falafel

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I make these delicious fluffy chickpea patties regularly, and especially love them for being so incredibly quick to prepare.

Falafel are traditionally made using chickpeas, but I use the ground chickpea flour here, also known as gram flour, and this makes preparation much faster with less washing up. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The result is also lighter than ones I have made with whole chickpeas. So go and find some chickpea flour (and a packet of pita breads while you are at the shops) and try these out!

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  • 1 1/3 (175g) cups gram/chickpea flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (400 ml) boiling water
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients together with a fork in a large bowl, and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Depending on your brand of flour you may need a little more water or a little more flour to make a porridge-like consistency, but keep it on the soft side.

Heat some olive or rapeseed oil in a large frying pan and add spoonfuls of the mixture. They will quickly brown so you can turn them. Keep turning until brown and crispy on all sides, then remove and keep warm while you do the next batch. (Don’t keep them in the pan too long as they will turn out overcooked and dry.)

Serve in warmed pita breads with lots of salad and tsatsiki (vegan sour cream, garlic and finely chopped cucumber).

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Enjoy!

๐Ÿ˜€

P.S. By the way, I have updated my recipe page (see top bar), with all vegan recipes highlighted in dark green.

And for those of you with a sweet tooth, I will be posting a sweet recipe at the end of the week.

Have a good start to the month of November! ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: Happy Halloween!

I wanted to find something spooky this week for a Halloween vase, as I join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her weekly meme…

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No, not spooky enough. Let’s have another try…

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Aah, now that’s better! The seed heads of the Clematis tangutica are just like little spiders…

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or a bit ghostly, like the hair of a very very VERY old person…

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And with some slightly creepy seed heads of Anemone japonica, the almost black Crocosmia and Echinacea, and the bright orange Physalis alkekengi I hope I managed to capture the ‘spirit’ of the season!

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The pumpkin was a present from a friend, and the butternut will be made into butternut ‘steaks’ this week (I will post a recipe soon!). Last week I called my fern ‘toffee’ coloured, but I think ‘butternut’ is probably an even closer description.

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Other ingredients to my vase were some orangey pink Epimedium foliage and a Sedum flower. Did you know Sedums were also renamed? (Actually some time ago but I was slow to catch on!) And of course the new name is much longer and more difficult to pronounce… ‘hylotelephium’. And at the front is the reddish pink seed head of the Ricinus communis that I had to cut down this week – the cold and damp had got to it, but it had lasted so well.

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I won’t be celebrating Halloween myself, but for all of you who are…

Have a wonderful spooky Halloween!

๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

In a Vase on Monday: Sugar and Lemons

Tomorrow is Pancake Day in the UK, and although the tradition of eating thin crepe-style pancakes on Shrove Tuesday does not seem to exist anywhere else in the world I have always made them wherever I have been – even when I lived in Japan I had a pancake party!

The traditional topping for these pancakes is lemon juice and sugar. Yes, there are plenty of other things you can put on your pancake, but not on Pancake Day. You can have maple syrup, nutella, bananas, etc any time of year. But tomorrow it’s simply lemon juice and sugar; the inspiration for the title for my vase this week…

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Every Monday I join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with her lovely meme where we are asked to find something from our garden and bring it indoors. Two days ago my first golden (lemony) crocus opened (Yippee!), so I knew I would have to bring some indoors.

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The tiniest ‘vase’ I could find was a miniature salt sellar, and since I had two I decided to pick a few (sugary) snowdrops too, which also immediately opened once brought into the warm house. There are only a few – most are still too small to pick.

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But these are not the only flowers I have this week. About three weeks ago I cut some Ribes sanguineum, remembering that when it is forced the normally deep pinky red flowers are white. In the course of the last week they have opened…

And another Amaryllis opened two days ago too – Amaryllis ‘Blossom Peacock’. A real beauty with a lovely straight stem.

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I shall do a round-up of all my Amaryllis/Hippeastrums once they have all flowered. So far I have had one or two flowering constantly since November. ๐Ÿ™‚

Until Friday it had rained practically all week, so having flowers indoors is very cheering. I am looking forward to seeing a few more of my spring bulbs emerge this week, but first I am looking forward to my pancakes tomorrow. What will you have on yours? Sugar and lemon juice?

๐Ÿ˜‰

A Very Short Day

To mark this short day I found a lovely, if somewhat sober sonnet by Edmond Holmes, from ‘The Triumph of Love’ collection, which I would like to share with you.

Like as the thrush in winter, when the skies
Are drear and dark, and all the woods are bare,
Sings undismayed, till from his melodies
Odours of Spring float the frozen air, –
So in my heart when sorrow’s icy breath
Is bleak and bitter and its frost is strong,
Leaps up, defiant of despair and death,
A sunlit fountain of triumphant song.
Sing on, sweet singer, till the violets come
And south winds blow; sing on, prophetic bird!
Oh if my lips, which are for ever dumb,
Could sing to men what my sad heart has heard,
Life’s darkest hour with songs of joy would ring;
Life’s blackest frost would blossom into Spring.

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The winter solstice occurred here in Germany at 5.48am this morning. I was not up to experience the moment, although I doubt very much if anything would have marked the moment anyway. Since it is, quite simply, just a moment – albeit a moment many of us have been waiting for – and it is over in a tick and leaves that little itch of a thought behind… Yes, the days will not become noticeably longer for a couple of weeks yet, but they ARE getting longer. And do you sense that tinge of excitement at the thought of snowdrops, daffodils and tulips popping up in the garden to greet the spring?

We haven’t had winter yet though, so I mustn’t count my chickens…

I had in fact been looking forward to a snowy winter, but now I think I may be happier to forego snow and ice and skip straight ahead to the March winds and April showers! I have been reading how the winter appears to be just as mild in most of the US and UK too. And John at A Walk in the Garden in North Carolina has already spotted some daffodils in flower! Have you seen any daffodils yet?

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Whatever the weather, I wish you all a very happy and harmonious Christmas, full of all the things you wished for. And I look forward to seeing you in the New Year to share another year of my garden and kitchen with you and to be delighted by all your wonderful posts too.

Merry Christmas!

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In a Vase on Monday: Peace

I read last night that today is the UN International Day of Peace. What good such a day can do, I cannot imagine. I am sure we are all very much aware of the troubles all over the world right now, especially in the Middle East – up to ten thousand refugees (mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan) are entering Germany daily at the moment – but a day designated for thinking about the desperate need for more peace around the globe can certainly do no harm.

I therefore decided to take the theme of peace into my Monday vase this week – joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with her weekly meme. Why not pop over and visit her and see Cathy’s creation and all the other vases linking in from around the world. Or join in and make your own contribution using materials from your garden!

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Cosmos “Purity” is the star of this vase – one of the cosmos that flowered well, albeit somewhat late this summer. It looks gorgeous against our clear blue sky this morning!

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I associate the colour white with peace, and another white flower I grew from seed is the Cleome. Unfortunately the flowers are now looking a bit tatty and the leaves have been almost completely devoured by caterpillars. The seeds are ripening and I shall scatter a few and save the rest for sowing next year.

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I have identified the custard yellow Echinacea above as “Aloha”, and decided to use it to contrast with the yellow centres of the Cosmos flowers.

Other flowers included are the white Achillea millefolium, which I planted last autumn and which has now got established despite the drought. Tough little plants!

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And the creamy Scabiosa ochroleuca – this sort spreads like mad in my well-drained soil and can get quite a handful, but is easy to pull out in spring.

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Various grasses fill out the vase with silvery and golden hues.

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To finish off on a serious note, a quote for today…

“I call on all warring parties to lay down their weapons and observe a global ceasefire. To them I say: stop the killings and the destruction, and create space for lasting peace.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Have a good week, and thanks for stopping by!

๐Ÿ™‚