Category Archives: Food/Drink

An Interview With Njori

I’m talking about cooking utensils this week – namely the Njori Tempo, the first pack-away smart induction cooker. The Njori Tempo is the brainchild of Jack Raison and Nick Orme. The Njori brand designs and develops innovative kitchenware and its prestigious clients include TV chef Jamie Oliver. I caught up with co founder Jack Raison to find out more about his products and cooking passions … Hi Jack, welcome 😊

Hello, my name is Jack Raison and I’m one of the founders of Njori.

What inspired the setting up of your brand Njori and the introduction of the first pack -away smart cooker?

Nick (the other co-founder) and I are both design engineers and have been working together, designing/making products for other people for years. During this time, we obsessively talked about food and cooking and came up with a few concepts and business ideas together. When we first came up with the idea for the Tempo, we both agreed that if it existed, we both would have bought one already.

What are the attributes of the Njori Tempo?

The Tempo is a versatile precision induction cooker. We wanted to create a device that gives people accurate control over the exact temperature they are cooking at to help refine recipes and perfect their technique. We found that the sensors and systems required for this can easily be applied to a whole range of different techniques, so it can also be used as:

An exact pan temperature regulated cooking surface,

A water circulated sous vide cooker,

A temperature regulated deep fryer,

A slow cooker with the option of using an external temperature probe to monitor internal temperatures of what you are cooking,

It has built in scales so you can measure your ingredients straight into the pot,

The scale functionality can also be used to ‘reduce by weight’ for exact reductions.

Have you got a favourite recipe/food that you would highly recommend making using the Njori Tempo?

Fried chicken has always been a passion of ours. We’ve spent years perfecting a sous vide fried chicken recipe which is incredible. The Tempo obviously has you covered on the sous vide front, but also the exact control over the oil temperature is ideal for really perfecting your technique. With most deep fryers, the temperature of the oil isn’t very accurate and drops a lot when cold food is added. The Tempo counters this change and brings it back to temperature straight away.

What are the benefits of using the Njori Tempo as opposed to using conventional cooking facilities or camping stoves?

Conventional cookers are normally set to 9 different levels and are basically just ‘power output’ levels. This means that whatever level you set it to, a pan will get hotter and hotter over time. It’s up to you to be able to tell when our pan is at the right temperature for what you’re cooking and to keep it at the right temperature while it’s in use, often resulting in burnt food. The Tempo can be set to an exact temperature, so no matter what you’re doing, you know the pan temperature is what it’s supposed to be. This is especially important for more adventurous things like sugar work, tempering chocolate, sauce making, etc.

As you are based in the UK, is the Njori Tempo available to purchase internationally?

Yep. We’ve recently closed a Kickstarter campaign in which we had backers from many different countries ordering them. We have developed two different power systems to work on the different international voltages.

What are the dos and don’ts when it comes to caring for your Njori Tempo?

Nothing that isn’t quite obvious. The nature of induction cooking and the smart systems make it a very safe device. It’s obviously an electrical device, so I guess the only ‘don’t’ is don’t put it in the dishwasher.

Have you always wanted to design innovative kitchenware or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?

Generally, yes. We’ve more recently been making all sorts of random things for other people, but we both started out designing for clients like Joseph Joseph and Jamie Oliver. It hasn’t been that intentional, but we both always end up working on kitchenware.

Hypothetically speaking, if you could create your ideal 3 course meal what would you cook & eat?

That’s a big question, and the answer would probably change from day-to-day. Right now, I’d say sous vide and grilled spanish style pulpo (octopus), then our signature sous vide fried chicken, and for dessert – I would probably just have more chicken.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m quite into overshirts at the moment. And I recently got a pair of Adidas Ultraboost 20’s, which I love. They are so comfortable I barely take them off.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Er, not really. I recently found Everpress which is a great website for people to sell their own t-shirt designs. It’s almost like crowdfunding for t-shirts.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

More ultraboosts!

Boots or Shoes?

I do love a good boot, but they are harder to find the perfect one, and are pretty seasonal, so I guess I’m a shoe guy!

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Njori Tempo

www.kickstarter.com/projects/njori/njori-tempo-the-smart-cooker-for-adventurous-chefs

njori.com

.instagram.com/njoricooking

Thanks for the chat, Jack. I think the Njori Tempo looks super cool yet practical.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Jack Raison & Nick Orme.

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An Interview With Nasslor Health Drinks

Have you ever been foraging? Picking wild berries, snuffling out truffles, scouting the coastline for seaweed … what about nettles? According to Roy Lamb, co founder of Nasslor Health Drinks, nettles are a superfood and he should know being a pharmacist by trade and having a great grandfather who was a Welsh herbalist who used to forage for nettles to make a “cure all drink”. Roy is like a walking “nettles” encyclopaedia so I caught up with him recently to find out more! Hi Roy & welcome..

Hi, my name is Roy Lamb and along with Nasir Isaji we are the co- founders of UK-based Nasslor Health drinks Ltd makers of the Emunity drink range

We are both pharmacists with a passion for helping people stay healthy and we want to let the world know about the benefits of nettle – the forgotten herb.

What inspired the development of your health drink, Emunity?

In 2016, my Locum company was engaged to help support professional services to the pharmacist manager at Thornton Health Centre on the Fylde coast . This is where Nas and I began working together and,over lunch one day, we were discussing the health benefits of herbal teas .

I told Nas about Moses Bellis my great grandfather who was a herbalist that foraged for nettles to make his famous “nettle cure-all tea”. 

The trouble was my grandmother said that she had to put 2 spoons of honey with it to make it palatable.

Our light bulb moment was to decide to create a great tasting, refreshing nettle drink blended with fruits and English garden herbs in a still spring water all in a ready-to-drink slim can.

We wanted it to be 100% natural with no artificial ingredients, low in calories and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Emunity comes in two varieties – Gooseberry and Wild Strawberry. Which variety is the most popular?

In terms of sales, the varieties are equal at moment as buyers are trying both!

On a more personal level, I love to drink the Nettle Dandelion Gooseberry Rosemary and Thyme combo as it gives me a mental lift and leaves me refreshed and invigorated.

Nasir loves the Nettle Chamomile Wild Strawberry Meadowsweet and Cucumber combo in the evening when he gets home from a long day at the surgery as he finds the drink refreshing and helps him to unwind and relax.

What are the main benefits attributed to nettles? 

Nettle contains a significant concentration of biologically active compounds particularly carotenoids and polyphenols that benefit the body. It is known to lower blood pressure due to its mild diuretic action. Clinical studies in Iran have found a mild lowering effect on blood sugars when nettle is administered in trials. Nettle also reduces the effects of skin photoaging and has been shown to be able to boost the immune system.

Nettle has antibacterial properties and has been trialled in animal feeds to various species to improve the welfare of the animals. And nettle helps fight the symptoms of hay fever.

Nettles are known as a “superfood” – is it possible to forage for wild nettle leaves? Any tips?

Nettles grow abundantly in all types of soil and hence they appear in every garden, hedgerow and woodland in the UK.

A ready supply of nettles for foraging is, therefore, in easy reach for most people. However, always wear thick gloves to protect your skin from potential stings from the leaves. To remove the stings from your gathered nettles the easiest and quickest way is to drop them into a large pan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes. To retain the bright green colour plunge your boiled nettles into a bowl of ice water then leave them to drain and dry. The nettles can be safely frozen after this process or left to completely dry out. When using dried nettle, steep in water to rehydrate before adding to your recipes.

Have you got any favourite drink or food recipes that contain nettles? 

There are various recipes are readily available on the internet such as: Nettle pesto, nettle soup, nettle spanakopita, nettle and blue cheese rarebit.

There are also nettle infusions – dried nettles can be easily made into tea. Chop your nettles finely, add boiling water, leave for 5 minutes and strain. Unfortunately, nettle tea on its own isn’t delicious despite the health benefits. Instead try a ready-prepared infusion such as Emunity.

As you are currently based in the UK, is “Emunity” available to purchase worldwide? 

Emunity can be purchased direct from our website at Emunity.co.uk or from specialist health food wholesalers (list provided on website and social media). It’s currently only available in the UK.

Is Emunity suitable for everyone ( eg vegan, gluten free, sugar content etc) or are there any exceptions/recommendations? 

Emunity is suitable for vegans and vegetarians and is gluten-free. The total fructose content per 100g serving is 11.2 grams, so it is low in sugar.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Clark’s shoes  – I may need therapy as I now have over 40 pairs!

Next and M&S suits – I’m too embarrassed to say how many .


Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

Cheshire Oaks outlet and Next online.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

UGG slippers. 

Boots or Shoes? 

Shoes for work, boots for gardening and rambling andtrainers for sports and play!

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g.website/facebook/twitter/ instagram etc so that readers can find out more about Emunity

Website and shop: https://emunity.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/emunitydrinks

Instagram: @emunitydrinks

Facebook: ‘Emunity Drinks’ – https://www.facebook.com/Emunity-Drinks-101222345096132/

Wow, I’ll treat the humble nettle with more respect next time….

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Nasslor Health Drinks

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Review: Sfizzio Tea Infusers

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The Sfizzio Tea Infusers have been supplied by Sfizzio for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

I love a cup of tea. I love a mug of tea. Breakfast tea with milk, whatever time of the day. I don’t mind an Earl Grey or an iced tea too on occasions. Flavoured teas are not my “cup of tea”though. Whatever your brew of choice, a good cup of tea is of paramount importance . I was therefore thrilled to receive a set of 3 cute Daisy Tea Infusers from Sfizzio to review… a teaholic’s dream review job!

THE BRAND

Sfizzio is a London based company that sells its tea infusers via Amazon (both in the USA & UK). The name Sfizzio was inspired by the Italian word which means whimsical or for fun. These tea infusers are definitely cute and add a fun look to your kitchen shelf as well as being practical too.

THE PRODUCT

The tea infusers come as a set of 3 Daisy tea infusers each with its own flower pot drip tray. The brightly coloured petals serve as a stirring spoon, and can hook onto the rim of your cup while the tea leaves are steeping. The small holes on top of the stem allow full immersion. The specially designed bulb is ideal for medium to large leaf teas, preventing unwanted tea leaves from seeping into your cup but allowing the tea to infuse.

THE TEA TEST

The tea infusers are made from BPA-free silicone and the bulb was extremely easy to fill with the loose tea. I filled the bulb up to the brim with loose tea and fixed the stem on. I hooked the tea infuser onto my cup’s rim and poured in my boiling water. I used the infuser to stir the water allowing the tea to brew. Very quick and easy.

THE CLEANING TEST

Cleaning used tea leaves out tea strainers/tea infusers isn’t a pleasant job at the best of times. I compared cleaning the Sfizzio tea infuser with cleaning a rigid metal tea strainer:

(a) emptying the used tea leaves into the food recycle caddy. With the metal strainer, it was a couple of taps on the edge of the food bin and the bulk of the tea leaves went into the bin. With Sfizzio, the flexible silicone means that you can turn it inside out – all the tea leaves went …. in the caddy, on the floor, up the walls ….. oops!
(b) Putting the infusers into a washing up bowl of hot soapy water to clean, the metal strainer took a bit of time as stray tea leaves were stuck onto the wire edges; the Sfizzio tea infuser cleaned, no problem. The Sfizzio tea infusers are also said to be dishwasher safe although I haven’t tested them in the dishwasher.

ECO FRIENDLY MERITS

There are a few eco benefits of using Sfizzio tea infusers :

  • The tea infusers are reusable.
  • Many teabags contain microplastics which are not present in loose leaf tea.
  • Sfizzio tea infusers are made from BPA -free silicone.

CONCLUSION

My previous experiences in making tea from tea leaves in a cup using a metal infuser left a lot to be desired so I was very impressed that (a) although I had almost overfilled the bulb not one tea leaf escaped into my cup; (b) the flower pot drip tray proved very useful; and (c) a decent cup of tea was made in a teacup rather than via a teapot with the minimum of fuss.

Sfizzio Tea Infusers are available from both Amazon UK & Amazon US.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07YHXLWJL?ref=myi_title_dp

https://www.Amazon.com/dp/B07YHXLWJL?ref=myi_title_dp

For Pinning Later

My thanks to Sfizzio for the cute tea infusers.

Linda x

Photographs are by Linda Hobden.

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Spotlight On FYX

FYX is a delicious new collagen infused spring water drink – one designed for giving a beauty boost ; the other a general body boost. A healthy way to be healthy and hydrated! I was fortunate to interview founders Theresa and Andy about their products and how they managed to get hydrolysed fish collagen to taste good. Also intrigued? Then read on….

Hello, we’re Theresa, Founder & Managing Director FYX, and


Andy – Operations & Marketing Director FYX

What inspired you to develop your new collagen drink, FYX? 

T: I have always been interested in health and beauty, and there are many brands of collagen products that I’ve tried over the years. Unfortunately, I never found one that I would enjoy and stick to, whether it came in a powder, tablet or gel form. It either smelled and / or tasted unpleasant or the texture wasn’t great. It was also time-consuming, especially when having to mix the powder that sometimes became lumpy. After many years of research and looking what was currently available on the market, I wanted to create a healthy, feel-good drink for men and women which would have collagen and added functional benefits. A drink which required no mixing or measuring, that tasted great and had the consistency of water,which could be consumed anytime during the day or night. The most important thing what l wanted to achieve was to bring a premium collagen drink to the market that everyone would enjoy and could actually feel the benefits of at an affordable price. With Andy’s wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise in marketing and brand development we are both very excited to share FYX with the world.

FYX comes in two varieties – BODY and BEAUTY. Which variety is the most popular?

They are both equally popular.

What is collagen? What are the main benefits to drinking FYX? 

Collagen is known as the glue that holds your body together.  Collagen is one of the main structural proteins that forms the connective tissue throughout your system, making up 30% of your body and 70% of your skin’s natural protein. Collagen is found in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as skin, hair and nails.

There are many benefits to drinking FYX but here a few key ones: • Hydrating as mixed with spring water, plus it has the consistency of water.• FYX BEAUTY has 2500mg of Marine Collagen and a blend of antioxidant ingredients to replenish your body from the inside out and enhance your skin, hair and nails.• FYX BODY has 2500mg of Marine Collagen and is designed to help replenish your body’s recovery pre and post exercise, as well as helping to repair any damaged ligaments, plus improve joint health.• Sugar free to prevent sugar crashes.• Less than 31 calories per bottle.

Was it a challenge to put together suitable recipes for your both FYX varieties that lived up to your standards? 

Yes, very much so. Anything is a challenge if you want to do something different. There is so much competition and there are so many brands to choose from in today’s market. You have to think outside the box and create something that will have an impact and stand out from the rest, whilst considering what consumers would like. For many years l had the vision and l knew what l wanted to create. Trying to get the recipe and ingredients, flavours, taste and texture spot on takes a lot of time and patience.

As you are currently based in the UK, is “FYX” available to purchase worldwide?

FYX is available to purchase at www.fyxme.co.uk and from the 10th of May we will be shipping globally.

Is FYX suitable for everyone ( eg vegan, gluten free, sugar content etc) or are there any exceptions/recommendation

FYX is gluten and sugar free and is suitable for men and woman of all ages and for young adults. It isn’t suitable for vegans as it contains fish (marine collagen). 

Have you always wanted a career in the health food/beverage sector or were your career aspirations elsewhere?

Andy and I have been close friends for over 20 years and we’ve always been interested in food and health. We both love to cook and lead a healthy lifestyle. During one of our many conversations we discussed several opportunities and we have spoken about opening a spa or restaurant overseas one day. 

Personal now – – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Theresa – l prefer casual clothes whether it’s a pair of jeans and boots or sports loungewear with a good pair of trainers. 

Andy – I prefer casual and colourful clothes generally. You need to feel comfortable in everything you do.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Theresa – Las Vegas is like my second home. l love shopping there. You are spoilt for choice – there’s too many to mention!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I haven’t really thought about it! 

Boots or Shoes? ( & Why?)

Boots – I go for comfort these days.

For Pinning Later

 Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter/ instagram etc so that readers can find out more about FYX

https://www.facebook.com/fyxhealth/

https://www.instagram.com/fyxhealth/

Thank you Theresa (and Andy) for the chat about FYX . The drink looks good, tastes good and does you good – so it is a win win! I will point out though, that if you are pregnant or breast feeding then consult your doctor for advice before taking marine collagen. Recommendations change regularly so always best to check! During each of my 7 pregnancies, there was always a different new food or drink or practice to avoid!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of FYX.

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An Interview With Louise Palmer-Masterton

This week I’m interviewing the delightful Louise Palmer- Masterton, founder of the hip and trendy plant-based Stem & Glory Restaurants. The food always looks colourful and inviting – like miniature works of art in food form – almost too good to be eaten! This is gourmet vegan food at its finest. Hi Louise & welcome….

Hello, I am Louise. I am the founder of Stem & Glory, a UK originating vegan restaurant brand, which is also making inroads into the retail space with branded ready meals and products. Stem & Glory isn’t my first business, I’ve been self-employed my entire working life, and last year exited my previous business, a multi-site leisure business, selling it in its entirety. 

Being a long time vegan, what made you decide to embrace the vegan lifestyle?

I had a friend in my teens who was a Krishna devotee, he introduced me to the idea of compassionate eating for the first time. I gave up eating meat on the spot and never looked back. It was one of those ‘aha’ moments that changed the course of my life forever. Whilst there are many reasons I remain vegan, the main reason is, and always was, for the animals. I cannot reconcile how anyone can purport to love animals and yet still eat them. I have a strong connection to the other species on this planet. I find the sheer scale of animal abuse by humans in pursuit of taste and flavour deeply upsetting. We really do not need to eat animals at all.

As founder of the trendy plant-based restaurants, Stem & Glory; what inspired you to open restaurants serving gut friendly, plant based food? 

It’s a passion project, most definitely. I’ve followed the growth of the plant-based movement in this country for almost 40 years, and through that time have experimented with plant-based cuisine (I am not a trained chef but cooking is my passion). I’ve had the idea of a restaurant rolling around in my head for a very long time. Stem & Glory is the manifestation of all that research and passion. I am also very motivated by the idea of community, so Stem & Glory is also a space for like-minded people to come together. Good things happen in restaurants, and they play a huge part in our enjoyment of one another’s company.

S & G. Raw Desserts

Recently in my local supermarket there has been a promotional “push” towards plant-based meals. As you are an expert in the field of plant-based nutrition, what do you feel are the main benefits to follow a vegan/plant based diet?

I am not an expert in nutrition in that I am not trained in that discipline, however I do have something to say on the subject as I have followed this lifestyle for so many years, and also given birth twice during that period. The main benefit I believe is to the planet. So, whatever you might feel about animals, or health, it’s undeniable that adopting a plant-based diet is the single most important step an individual can make in lowering their carbon impact. When it comes to health, it’s an important step towards eating healthier BUT it’s important to eat a diet rich in vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, nuts and seeds to ensure you are getting the right balance of nutrition. A lot of what is in the supermarkets currently is heavily processed plant-based fake meat products, and whilst I do believe these play a part in helping people to eat less animal produce, I don’t believe they necessarily represent healthy eating choices. Natural, unprocessed plant-based ingredients are always the best. At Stem & Glory we use natural ingredients and gut friendly probiotics such as ferments to give a flavoursome AND healthy experience.

The menus available at Stem & Glory feature some delicious colourful dishes – I adore the Buffalo Cauliflower Wings – and the Squash Goan Curry is on my list to try! What dishes seem to be most popular?

The Goan curry is very popular, but the most popular dishes at both sites are our lasagne (which is no ordinary lasagne by the way, it’s made with roasted celeriac sheets instead of pasta), our pulled mushroom bao burger, the sticky tempeh ‘ribs’ and the cauliflower buffalo wings. We try and balance fine, edgy new experiences, with more traditional ideas, with a twist, as people will always love familiar, comforting options.

S & G Buffalo Cauliflower Wings


I love that on your website there are recipes of some of the dishes on your menu.  Do you have a favourite dish?

My favourite dish on our current menu is probably the Kimchi pancakes which is a dish that has been with us since we started. It’s an absolute legend! My all-time favourite dish though is our Blue corn Tacos which will be reappearing on the menu again soon. They’re a perfect combination of flavours and textures. 

 How have your restaurants coped during lockdown?

Initially the closure was shocking to all hospitality businesses. But by the end of April, withsome funds in the bank, and the first furlough payments to our employees, things started to look up and we started to plan the future with renewed energy.

We had been planning our online marketplace and delivery portal for a while, but last year were too busy to dedicate much time to it. During May and June, we were able to fully focus on this. At the same time there was an absolute explosion of new technology for the food and beverage sector, so finally it was possible to integrate all our systems to create a seamless customer experience of online ordering, delivery, click and collect and also at table order and pay. 

We took on new partner, Afroditi Krassa, to do a complete branding and design overhaul, so that when we open again we could hit the ground running with all new tech, new look and feel, and completely notch up the brand to a whole new level.

We were very fortunate to have supportive landlords throughout the lockdown, so we were spared the pressure of rent. The hiatus also allowed us to go back to the landlords of our proposed third site and renegotiate a very favourable deal. And the landlords of a new location in Cambridge that we had been eyeing came to us with a really great package, which we snapped up. The new site in Cambridge will allow us to build our new brand model with our online platform capability built in. 

We were also fortunate to be awarded a post-Covid capital grant by Cambridge & Peterborough Combined Authority, so that combined with the landlord package meant we are able to move swiftly to occupation at the new site later this year.

The final piece in the jigsaw has been launching a fundraise on Seedrs. It hit its target in less than an hour, and we are now 217% funded. We would love to get to 500% funded, so watch this space!

https://www.seedrs.com/stemglory/

S & G Blue Taco

You have restaurants in Cambridge & London and you have a brand new Covid-safe site opening in Cambridge in October.  Have you any plans to open other restaurants in other locations? 

The other positive to come out of this crisis is the shift in relationship between landlord and tenant. We’ve now had approaches from some of the major landlords in the UK, with some very attractive offers on the table. Landlords and tenants have both become more appreciative of each other. A game change for us is that landlords are now willing to put in capital towards fit outs which means faster expansion is possible. We are seeking partnerships rather than one sided relationships, and landlords are very willing now to have these conversations. We’ve been viewing sites all over the country, so watch this space…

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

My guilty fashion secret is G-Star! I wear almost exclusively that label and it’s a running joke in my family. I do also favour baggy and harem pants, and stray from G-Star a little for those. I like things that dress up or down. I am definitely not someone that wears ‘normal’ clothes. My style is quite androgenous. Non-binary wasn’t a term in my youth, but it is a term I identify with and support my two daughters to do the same. Shoes, obviously vegan, I wear G-Star trainers, again, and also Converse. I am a big walker so footwear has to be good for walking. Occasionally I wear ridiculously high platforms when going out. But still with androgenous clothing. 

S & G pulled Mushroom”Duck” pancakes

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (apart from your own!) 

G-Star!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

What’s next on my list is not buying anything. I am moving rapidly towards a more sustainable lifestyle. I have everything I need for now. One of the reasons I like G-Star is they were amongst the first to use recycled materials, and clothing from ocean plastic. I am definitely making more sustainable, environmental buying choices these days, and will support other brands doing the same. My daughter is keen on fashion, and she remakes and upcycles old clothes which I am super supportive of too.

Boots or Shoes? 

Trainers – have to be able to take a brisk walk wherever I am.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter/ instagram etc so that readers can find out more about Stem & Glory.

For pinning later

All our social handles are the same on all platforms

@stemandglory

Order online at www.stemandglory .uk

Visit our Seedrs pitch 

https://www.seedrs.com/stemglory/

Social Media:

Web: www.stemandglory.uk  

Twitter: @stemandglory 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stemandglory/
Instagram: @stemandglory

Linked in: /louisepalmer-masterton

Seedrs: https://www.seedrs.com/stemglory

Thank you for chatting to us Louise. The dishes look mouth watering – kudos to your chefs!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Louise Palmer-Masterton

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The Cafe With Five Faces

Imagine a cafe with 5 different rooms, each room representing an iconic city and featuring food, chat and most notably coffee (some wine & mint tea too) …. that is the basis of a most excellent book by Chaelli Cattlin that I had the pleasure to review over the summer. Due to COVID-19 putting a dampener on my summer travels this year, having this book to read in my garden chair during lockdown was a real boost. Like always, I read the book and then got the urge to chat more with the author! But first, my review:

MY REVIEW
I used to work in a village cafe that used to be full of regulars and I often thought a book on overheard conversations would be very interesting reading.  The regulars in my cafe talked about similar issues, often with the same amount of intensity and repetition; that a newcomer would bring a breath of fresh air and a welcome change of topic.  So, The Cafe With Five Rooms, was the sort of book I was subconsciously searching for.  I absolutely adored the travel stories, the characters themselves were believable, loved the themed room idea, love the food and drink descriptions, love the details about coffee making – although I’m not a coffee drinker Chaelli so my drink of choice would be an Algerian mint tea! Or a glass or two of the Lebanese red wine 😊Maybe with a slice or two of Hungarian cake…..

LET’S MEET CHAELLI ….


Hello, I am Chaelli Cattlin, an author and a trainer working in the field of English language teaching, a job which has allowed me to travel all over the world for the past 25 years.

Your book, “The Cafe With Five Faces: What The Walls Heard 2018-2019   – is an engaging collection of short stories, presented as snippets within a fictional cafe with five rooms. Each room is themed and named after a location – Beirut, Budapest, Cape Town, Granada, Hebden Bridge. The stories feature everything including travel, gossip, politics, food , romance, and coffee. What made you decide to write a book of this nature?

While visiting Granada several years ago, I was sitting outside a cafe in the Albaicin district and surveying an empty property opposite, thinking what a nice cafe it would make. It had a few rooms / spaces and it occurred to me that it would save me from choosing between a Hungarian-style cake shop, a Spanish tapas bar, a Lebanese manouche shop and a CapeTown breakfast bar. So I decided to call my provisional cafe The Cafe with Four Faces. When I chose to make a book out of it, rather than a real cafe, I added my local village (Hebden Bridge) to the rooms as it fitted some of the characters I wanted to include. The five rooms of the book / cafe also allowed me to focus on different topics, each of which I wanted to discuss but wouldn’t necessarily fit comfortably in one setting.

I enjoyed reading the book  – I liked the mix of characters. I adored the travel anecdotes. My favourite characters were Zoe, Misha and “The Presence”. What character did you enjoy writing about the most?  Who was the hardest?

Misha was one of my favourites as he was so like me when I first moved to Poland 25 years ago and I quite enjoyed describing myself in self-deprecating but hopefully humorous terms. Mike rants in the way I like to rant myself, but rarely have the nerve to do so in real life, so he was a favourite too. And possibly Jimez, as I think he is such a lovable failure! The hardest ones were the minor characters who made infrequent appearances, like Anna and, I suppose, The Presence, because I would like to have made more of them, but seemed to let them down a bit.

The Five places featured as the rooms obviously hold a place in your heart – why did you pick Beirut, Budapest, Cape Town, Granada and Hebden Bridge?  Were there any other places you considered having as a “room”?

Beirut and Cape Town just picked themselves – they are unique cities and I just feel at home the second I arrive in them. Hebden Bridge was local – I could have chosen Haworth, but that is already very well-known for its Bronte connection. Budapest represents Eastern Europe (in its 1990s definition) – I could have chosen several others, principally Katowice, MInsk and Ljubljana, but I lived in Budapest for 7 years (just a little longer than in Katowice) and it has the old-style cafe society with its literary connections which I love so much. Granada represents the good life / place in the sun – it could have been anywhere in Andalucia, Sicily or Provence, all of which have very fond memories, but Granada is the city of most recent and lengthy acquaintance.


So, as we are talking travelling, where has been your favourite place you’ve visited or lived in so far?

In terms of full-time living, outside of the north of England (Lancashire and Yorkshire), I have lived in Opole and Katowice in Poland, and Budapest in Hungary. However, I have spent periods of 2-3 months in countless places and enjoyed so many of them for very different reasons, it’s rather hard to choose! As I mentioned above, Beirut and Cape Town are really special and I have lived in each for a total of around 3 years and 1 year respectively, and they really feel like home.

You are a coffee fanatic – that goes without saying – and I liked how you incorporated your coffee knowledge into your book.  What is it about coffee that really caught your attention?

This has been a slow burner for me, having grown up on Nescafe with milk and two sugars, and then Nescafe with milk without the sugar. I finally bought a percolator and started having one cup of ‘real’ coffee a day with fresh cream, Then I discovered speciality (third-wave) coffee shops and filter coffee where the addition of milk was frowned upon. It became a real interest to visit such cafes in every city I visited, and since 2016, there has been a dramatic growth in such establishments, which led to me wanting to own my own, In the meantime, I started buying a range of alternative brewing equipment for home use and then started taking training courses.


If we were in your cafe, about to indulge in a drink and nibbles – which room would you feel most comfortable in? What would you recommend we ordered?

Every room suits one of my moods. I am the political ranter (Cape Town), the failed musician (Budapest), the ardent traveller (Granada), the bohemian floor-sitter (Beirut) and the aging reminiscer (Hebden Bridge), so it depends how the mood takes me. In terms of order, however, it would have to be a Chemex and a slice of Eszterhazy (cake), Jen’s favourite in the Budapest room.

When it comes to your personal reading delights – what genre/authors do you read? Kindle or book?

My tastes are rather random. I have a real liking for the humour of PG Wodehouse, while loving the gritty Italian crime of Michele Giutarri. I have also whiled away hours in cafes reading the Brontes, Jane Austen and, particularly, Thomas Hardy. I also read the entire Harry Potter series more than once! Ironically, I prefer paper copies! 

Are there any other book ideas in the pipeline for 2020 and beyond?

Yes, but they’re still in formulation! 

Is “The Cafe With Five Faces” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, through Amazon, Apple and Google Play, with Barnes & Noble and Kobo on the way.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I can hardly remember pre-lockdown! There were some comments in the book about Matthew (Granada room) and his love of Armani jeans, and I have 5 pairs, accumulated over many years, which I wear till they fall apart (and beyond) because they are so comfortable. I have a substantial collection of headgear, including a Colombian hat just like that of The Presence (picture attached) and a larger choice of bandanas than Jimmy. At the moment, T-shirts are it (with the names of assorted cafes if I can manage it), because I’m not working in public, and I have a range of shoes which would terrify many women by their quantity, my favourites being Doc Martens and trainers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Armani Jeans in Milan! For certain items of clothing, I like the street markets in Hanoi, while for shoes, I always check out the windows of Vagabond in Budapest and those of a shop in Palermo the name of which I simply can’t bring to mind. Otherwise, I only seem interested in cafes and online coffee retailers!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I daren’t buy any more shoes for a while as I bought some pre-lockdown I haven’t worn since I left the shop. I love the shirts on the Konrit website, but unfortunately don’t like buying clothes online – I prefer to try them on and see before buying, so it may well remain on my wishlist rather than become reality

Boots or Shoes?

Doc Martens are a nice blend! Otherwise, comfortable trainers; nothing which comes up too high as I find them really uncomfortable.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc.
https://thecafewith5faces.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thecafewith5faces/?modal=admin_todo_tour

@thecafewithfa1 (Twitter)

For Pinning Later

Fabulous to catch up with you “virtually” Chaelli and I really look forward to reading more adventures of the Cafe in the future. Thank you also to Ben Cameron for the copy of The Cafe With Five Faces to review. All photographs have been published with kind permission of Chaelli Cattlin.

Linda x

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An Interview With Kate Guy

What do you get if you mix your love of food with your love of graphic design & printing? You get a range of exquisite printed tea towels & tote bags illustrated with the most scrumptious regional recipes, courtesy of print maker Kate Guy. Kate’s work is mostly inspired by her love of food and cooking. Without further ado, let’s meet Kate – Hi Kate!

Hello! My name is Kate Guy, I’m a printmaker who loves to cook. I live and work in London, but I am also very lucky to have one foot in the South of France, spending part of every year there. Both countries, cuisines, arts and cultures have influenced me in my work.

My background is graphic design but over the years I have also worked in animation, film, illustration and for 12 years I was head of Art and Design in a large secondary school in North London. These days I seem to have become a product designer, but my real love is printmaking.

What inspired you to create your range of illustrated tea towels and other homewares based on regional recipes?

My very first design came from a piece I made back in 1994 of fish etched into blue glass. This was my first foray into product design when I had it printed on a tea towel in 2012 (There is a story behind this which is on my 3 Fish Tea Towel). 

My second design and still one of my most popular was a print I made of a friend’s kitchen in the South of France ‘Rebecca’s Cupboard’. What I wanted to do then was somehow combine the two – fish and kitchens… this led me to thinking about illustrating recipes and I had my ‘eureka moment’. I came up with the idea that I could create a whole store cupboard of individual ingredients prints which could be combined into different recipes. I was in France at the time and so this led to my French themed ‘Simple Soups’ range: Soupe de Poisson (Fish Soup), Roasted Tomato Soup and French Onion Soup.

On return to the UK this naturally led into thinking about illustrating some of the classic British dishes such as Lancashire Hot Pot and Yorkshire Steak and Ale Pie.

How do you pick what recipes to feature? Are the recipes personal favourites, customer suggestions, easy to make & draw or a combination of all 3?

Really a combination of all three but a big issue is the ingredients. There must enough of a range to make an interesting design. I have been asked many times why I don’t do, for example, Yorkshire Pudding, but it is only eggs, flour and milk which would not make a very interesting design. I did run a bit short on ingredients for the Bakewell Tart design, but I love it too much not to include so I added a nice cup of tea at the bottom – as you can’t really enjoy one without the other I think!

I am tempted to try the Yorkshire steak & ale pie recipe that you feature …. and the Fish Soup 😊 What do you like to cook? Have you tried a recipe to feature that did not turn out as successful as you hoped? 

I love cooking (and eating!) and have had my fair share of failures and successes. The pie is a favourite and the fish soup was my first illustrated recipe and is the best seller by quite a margin. I think this is maybe to do with the colour rather than the recipe though – it’s a little more complicated than the other soups and really relies on a quality fish stock. The absolute easiest to cook is the roasted tomato soup – as easy as 1,2,3 – chop, roast and blend – yummy and so healthy.

Which tea towel has attracted the most attention so far?

Without a doubt it’s the fish soup, probably for its beautiful deep blue colour, which on the unbleached organic cotton really creates a very vibrant and bold design. I know that quite often people say my tea towels are too good to use and have even had them framed – there is a chateau somewhere in France with my full range of British Recipes framed in the kitchen!

Although you are based in London, are your tea towels available overseas?

Yes, I can ship anywhere in the world 😊 My tea towels have gone as far as Australia, New Zealand, Japan – I used to run a gallery on my old website called ‘Tea Towels on Tour’ where people would send me pictures of my tea towels in exotic locations around the world. I had one of my ‘3 fish’ meeting a panda in Peru, Tomato Soup on the Bolivian Salt Flats, Fish Soup in Greece and a Lancashire Hot Pot in Thailand! (I can send photos if you like)

Having a father who was a graphic designer and a mother, an artist; it is not surprising that you would grow up with such an artistic talent.  Lino cutting at the young age of 6; a degree in graphic design and you have worked as a designer, illustrator, in an animation studio, as an architectural glass designer and as an Art Teacher. Taking all that into account, which “art form” is your favourite? Which type of art do you find the hardest?  Is there any genre of art that you haven’t attempted before but would love to have a go at? 

I think printmaking is my favourite, there is a mystical moment when you’re not sure how the print will turn out and while you try to control it there is always an element of serendipity (happy accident) to the process. 

My father left me a whole load of old wooden type (lettering) blocks which I have added to over the years. I have played around with printing these from time to time but I would love to do more of this – Letterpress printing.

Hardest – ummm, I think it has to be drawing people. I did a lot of life drawing at Art School and even for my A Level art we did 3 hours a week which was unusual and fantastic for improving drawing skills but I still find trying to capture the personality of a person difficult – much easier with carrots and onions!

As well as your illustrated homewares, you also create some stunning house portraits. What inspired you to explore this art avenue?

Two years ago I was lucky enough to have a pop up shop in the gorgeous Primrose Hill area of London. While there I started to make monotype prints of the surrounding streets. One day a lady came in and she looked at a print I had made of a local view and said she loved it but I had missed her house – she lived a couple of doors further down. So I offered to do a print especially for her of her house… I have now done more than 20 of these, mostly for people around the Primrose Hill, Camden area but I work from photos and so could do one of anywhere in the world!

You also run printmaking workshops at your studio. What would I expect if I enrolled on one of your workshops? Do you cater for all abilities?

I mostly teach traditional printmaking techniques – lino cut, monotype, drypoint etching, to small groups of all ages, although I usually say from 8 years up as we use some sharp tools. And all abilities – no experience or drawing skills needed. Often people come with an idea, maybe a photo or design they want to do and I help them translate it into a print. In a 3-hour workshop you will design, draw, cut and print your artwork and come away with 3 or 4 copies of your print, framed if you want! People sometimes will do wedding invitations or Christmas cards as once you have created your printing block you can print as many as you like.

Alternatively, I run weekly sessions during term times – over a 10-week term you can produce a range of prints, explore different techniques or develop one project in depth.

I also run larger group workshops for parties or events, I have a small portable Victorian book press which I can bring to print with. The largest I have done was 24 at the Country Living Fair, Alexandra Palace – everyone made a print in less than an hour, great fun but exhausting!

I also do 1 – 2 -1 sessions for anyone to explore their artistic side.

And GCSE and A Level tutoring in Art and Design, Textiles and Graphic Design.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I am not really a fastidious dresser – I like to be comfortable and as I spend most of my time in the studio my outfit is usually pretty casual. I love dresses and long cardigans with pockets. Footwear is always comfort first for me – I love boots, I had a fantastic pair of Camper Boots which I wore into the ground and have been unable to find again. In the studio it is often espadrilles (sent by my French cousins this year as I could not go and get them myself) or slippers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love DeSigual clothing for the colours and patterns. I also have a favourite SeaSalt long dress – so comfy

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

If I could find a replacement for my beloved but worn out Camper boots, and a new Desigual dress to go with them I would be happy.

Two years ago we went to Vietnam and I had some shirts made in Hoi An, I’d love to go back and get some more – I’ve practically worn them out

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots – For comfort, I like the way they make legs look and they go with everything!

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Website  https://www.kateguy.co.uk/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/kate_guy_/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KateGuyPrints/

Beautiful tea towels, Kate – I love the blue/yellow colourway of the Yorkshire & Ale Steak pie tea towel and the recipe sounds just as good too! Thank you for visiting Boots Shoes & Fashion!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Kate Guy.

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AN Interview With Marlene Watson-Tara

Continuing on my healthy living theme this month, this week I’m chatting to Marlene Watson-Tara – author of “Go Vegan”, co-founder of the “Human Ecology Project”, Health councillor, teacher and expert in the field of plant-based nutrition. It was Marlene’s book “Go Vegan” that was the inspiration for my potato dish blogpost recently (view HERE). So, it is with great excitement that I welcome Marlene onto my blog….hi Marlene!

Hi! I’m Marlene, a long-time vegan, activist, lover of animals, nature and life and passionate about human ecology. As an eternal optimist, increasing the number of people worldwide to switch to a wholefood plant-based diet and vegan life is my mission. Together with my husband Bill Tara, we have created The Human Ecology Project. 

As a high profiled and dedicated health counsellor and teacher with over 40 years’ experience in the health industry, my dietary advice draws from the fields of Macrobiotic Nutrition, my studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine and my certification in Plant- Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

My clients range from the movies and arts to members of royal families. In the last 10 years I have been teaching chefs the art and skill of wholefood plant-based cooking and nutrition. As a regular columnist for many health magazines and websites I share my knowledge on living healthily. My vast experience informs a body of knowledge that I eagerly share with the world.

As the international author of Macrobiotics for all Seasons and my latest book Go Vegan  I share information that is simple, direct and effective, along with delicious recipes and medicinal teas. I teach alongside my husband Bill Tara. We have graduates from our “Macrobiotic Vegan Health Coach Programme” in 27 countries. I’m a driving force for health and fitness to all who cross her path. Our “Ultimate Health Experience” workshops have been offered in Europe, America, and Australia

My favourite saying – “If you don’t look after your body, then where are you going to live?”

Being a long time vegan, what inspired you to embrace the vegan lifestyle?

On school holidays my family would go to the countryside and it always seemed such a sad time when all the lambs were taken from the fields and loaded onto trucks.  As I grew into my teens, I had health issues with skin, digestion and menstrual pain. As I wouldn’t eat meat, I ate mostly dairy.  When I changed my diet to completely plant-based all these health issues disappeared.  When you connect the dots with diet and the development of disease, there is no turning back. When you look behind the curtain to the scale of what happens globally to our animal kingdom you cannot pretend to not know what is there. 


As you are an author of “Macrobiotic For All Seasons” and “Go Vegan”, surely you must have a favourite tried and tested recipe?  Do you prefer cooking “main meals”, desserts or are you a baker?

I find it exciting to create new recipes and train chefs and home cooks utilizing my seasonal menus and cooking skills, using the five tastes. My favourite creations are soups, I live and love them daily. From my delicious creamy decadence soups to the bean comforting cozy stews, soup is a daily staple in our home.

Food historians tell us the history of soup is probably as old as the history of cooking. The act of combining various ingredients in a pot to create a nutritious, filling, simple to make meal was inevitable. Healthy and healing soups are part of the cooking traditions in every country.

I always try and prepare my soup from fresh, organic, in season, and ideally local ingredients. Whether your ingredients are coming freshly grown from your own garden or you’ve bought them directly from the farmers’ market, making the connection between the food you eat, and your local environment is important. The food we eat is part of our cultural identity. Eating local foods helps produce a more resilient and sustainable future, both for yourself and for future generations.

Recently in my local supermarket there has been a promotional “push” towards plant-based meals. As you are an expert in the field of plant-based nutrition, what do you feel are the main benefits to follow a vegan/plant-based diet?

Thankfully, the popularity of plant-based diets has grown, which makes this an easier era than ever to start. Can I Get Enough Nutrients on a Plant-Based Diet? This is always the number one question that I am asked. Yes, and it’s easier than you’d think to consume these essential nutrients. You just need to know where to get them. For example, Omega-3 fatty acids often come from animal-based sources like fish. However, you can also get an ample supply from hemp seeds, flax, chia, and walnuts. It’s merely about understanding the alternative ways to get the nutrition you need.

Plant-based/vegan diets have been linked to a number of health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes and cognitive decline. Plus, transitioning to a more plant-based diet is an excellent choice for the planet and will end the death and suffering of our animal kingdom. Two billion animals are slaughtered daily for food. There is no need, we receive all the nutrients we require from plants. At the end of the day, the largest and strongest animals in the world are vegan, giraffes, elephants etc., they get their nutrients from the same source we as vegans do… from the plants.

Having received a copy of “Go Vegan”, I was impressed by the range of recipes – the ingredients were not too daunting or difficult to obtain; the cooking instructions were easy to follow; and the glossary was a godsend especially when I came across an ingredient I had never heard of. Was it difficult to put together suitable recipes that lived up to your ethos?  

Eating from my ethos is simple and doable for everyone. 95% of what constitutes my approach is obtainable from most supermarkets. Grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Foods like miso, tofu, and even some dried sea vegetables are now available in supermarkets. This makes my heart sing to see this growth year on year. One or two of the condiments I use are available from natural food stores or online. My teaching of plant-based/vegan nutrition is based on my teachings of Macrobiotics, a wonderful philosophy that teaches us that everything is connected, animal, plant, human, environment.  When I create and cook all of these considerations are always there. 


As you are currently based in the UK, is “Go Vegan” available to purchase worldwide? 

Yes, Go Vegan is available world-wide on amazon. U.K. and US 

You currently teach alongside your husband, Bill Tara, your MACROVegan Health Coach Programme.  Sounds intriguing. In a nutshell, what does that involve? 

We now have students who have travelled from 27 countries to study and graduate as a MACROVegan Health Coach. We see this as switching on lighthouses around the world. We now have students studying with us online which is fantastic. Our students leave as proficient and amazing cooks as well as wonderful health coaches. It makes our heart sing as more and more graduate and teach this work.

MACROVegan Health Coach Course

The dramatic rise in degenerative disease attributed to diet and lifestyle has created a demand for solutions to disease prevention and personal health maintenance. What is called for is a new generation of men and women who are capable of offering practical advice on how to live a healthy life in modern society. 

During the two weeks of study you will have the opportunity to learn the techniques of effective Health Coaching and experience the power of healthy living. You will leave prepared to be a more effective promoter of natural health care and set up practice as a Professional Macrobiotic Health Coach.    

The Macrobiotic Vegan Health Coach curriculum has been designed by Bill Tara, co-founder of the Kushi Institute, creator of the International Macrobiotic Institute (Kiental, Switzerland) curriculum and designer of the American and European Kushi Institute Teacher Certification Programmes along with his wife Marlene Watson-Tara who is certified in Plant Based Nutrition. 

This is a rare opportunity to study with teachers who are expert consultants and draw on decades of practical experience. Macrobiotic philosophy serves as the foundation of these studies and provides the link between the disciplines and life skills we will explore together.  This course also offers additional tools to enhance professional or Para-professional skills in both the orthodox or complimentary health and healing arts.

The Modules

Health, Healing and Human Ecology

Health and Emotion / East and West

Traditions of Nutrition

Wholefoods Plant Based Cooking & Home Remedies

Health Assessment

Principles and Practice of Health Coaching

When you are not working, what activities do you enjoy, to relax and unwind? 

I adore growing my own vegetables, and love being in nature. I am an avid and longtime yogi, (my daily practice keeps me in check) and miss teaching yoga, one day, I will have my own studio again. I adore cycling with Bill and of course, reading and writing, and I am currently working on my next book.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I live in yoga gear… always cycling, doing yoga, or working at my desk here so casual and comfort works for me. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?  

Yes, I love https://bambooclothing.co.uk

I always purchase clothing using cotton, hemp, linen, etc., More and more companies offer these wonderful alternatives for vegan and ethical clothing. I love Matt & Nat for more dress shoes and bags and Wills London for my backpack and casual shoes and have boots from both of them. 

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A new Ciao Bella – I adore feminine frilly dresses on the search. My next pair of yoga toe sandals from Supplefeet are on the list. They are fantastic, I have worn them for years and they keep your fee in great shape. 

Boots or Shoes? 

I love my chunky rubber sole sneakers, they look great with jeans, yoga gear, shorts and casual dresses. They are my first choice daily for comfort.

My Chelsea boots are my second choice…they are so versatile and can be worn in all seasons.

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter/ instagram etc so that readers can find out more about you and Go Vegan.

Website, Instagram, facebook, you tube, linked In, twitter, 

www.macrovegan.org

https://www.instagram.com/macroveganinternational/

https://facebook.com/marlenewatsontaragovegan/

https://www.youtube.com/user/Molly19571/videos?view=0&sort=p&flow=grid&disable_polymer=true

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/

Thanks Marlene for an interesting chat and you have given me and my readers “food for thought”.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Marlene Watson-Tara

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Go Vegan Inspired Potatoes

This week I’m sharing with you a simple recipe inspired by a recipe book called “Go Vegan” by Marlene Watson-Tara. Marlene sent me her recipe book to review and all week I’ve been devouring the pages wondering which recipe to feature. “Do a fancy cake recipe“ said my husband … unfortunately during lockdown everybody has decided to bake cakes and I couldn’t get hold of all things, bicarbonate of soda! What I did settle on cooking is Marlene’s version of potato wedges. I didn’t have King Edwards or Yukon potatoes but I did have a glut of new potatoes … but apart from that, I followed the rest of the ingredients and method to a T.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium/large King Edward or Yukon potatoes ….. (I used lots of new potatoes)
  • 1 tab plain flour
  • 1/2 teas sea salt
  • 1 teas paprika
  • 1 teas garlic granules
  • 1 teas onion granules
  • pinch
  • 1/8 teas black pepper

METHOD

In a small bowl, combine flour & seasonings, mix well and set aside. Wash and halve the potatoes. Place in a pan with a pinch of sea salt, and cover with water. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, and leave for 5 minutes

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F), gas 6. Line a roasting tin with parchment paper. Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the wedges. Spread the potatoes out evenly in the roasting tin and bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Remove from oven.Serves 4.

Conclusion

My husband and sons loved the wedges – they were not too spicy but flavoursome and quick and simple to make. They made a change from chips and plain boiled new potatoes.

“Go Vegan” is probably the first vegan recipe book dedicated to “every day” food, catering for the health and well being of all the family. It is a great introduction to vegan cooking. Apart from recipes, there is a comprehensive glossary of foods that are not so well known … for example, I didn’t know what umeboshi plums were ( they are Japanese pickles, actually green apricots). The book is littered throughout with facts and figures about everything from nutrition to myths; as well as recipes from main meals, desserts to cakes and sauces. It is a little minefield that I’m beginning to explore so look forward to other inspired recipes in the future …. and I hope to interview Marlene herself in a few weeks.

Book Details

Go Vegan by Marlene Watson – Tara. ISBN 978-1-913088-03-3

www.macrovegan.org

For Pinning Later

Linda x

All photographs by Linda Hobden

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Food & Drink Of Madeira

Ahh… Madeira. I could wax lyrical about this island for hours! However, this week I’m writing about the food and drink of Madeira. The Madeira Archipelago is an autonomous region of Portugal, consisting of 4 islands lying off the north west coast of Africa. The island is closer to Morocco than to Portugal. The main island of Madeira is volcanic, green, rugged and extremely scenic. Known already for its Madeira wine and warm, sub tropical climate – the food and drink in Madeira warrants a special mention. Yes, there is a McDonald’s – in Funchal, the capital – and a Starbucks ( much to the islanders’ disgust) situated at Funchal airport. The thing is that Madeira’s soil is fertile and volcanic – the warm year round climate lends itself to producing a vast array of fruits, vegetables (especially garlic & sweet potatoes), sugarcane, wines, coffee – and its location in the North Atlantic Ocean …. the fish! And Madeira cuisine is absolutely delicious!

Banana Plantation in Ponta Delgada, Madeira © Linda HobdenA

BANANAS

Bananas, bananas everywhere! The bananas grown are small and sweet. Alongside the different types of passionfruit, they are the main varieties of fruit you will come across in Madeira. Unfortunately in the UK we tend to see the larger bananas imported in from the West Indies or from West Africa.

MERCADO DOS LAVRADORES

Mercado Dos Lavadores © AdamHobden

The main marketplace for fruit, flowers and fish In Funchal is a “must see visit” on everybody’s tour list. It is a fully functioning market – the upper floor is full of fruit, vegetables and exotic flowers. The smells, colours, varieties are intoxicating! There are many strange and wonderful hybrid of fruits to try – such as banana-pineapple; passion-fruit pineapple; passionfruit-banana; lime passionfruit; peach-mango. Stall holders will try to entice you with samples of fruit to try. Beware though – it is rather pricey and you might find better prices in the smaller stalls outside of the main market. However, it is still worth a wander around – great for people watching and photo opportunities. It gets very crowded and, in summer, very hot. I prefer the cooler lower floor which houses the fantastic fish market. Yes, it is smelly but I don’t mind the fish smell. The range of fish on sale straight from the harbour is amazing – tuna, black scabbard fish, parrot fish, mackerel, castanets, limpets …

THE FISH

Castanets are small fish that are seasoned with salt & fried. Parrotfish is fried also – pay a visit to the Doca do Cavacas Restaurant in Funchal which has a reputation of cooking the best fried parrotfish on the island. Lapas or limpets are a slightly chewier version of clams. They are usually served in the frying pan they are cooked in. Tuna is extremely popular – tuna soup with noodles; raw in sashimi; tuna & onion stew; marinated tuna cooked with potatoes and chick peas; grilled tuna medium-rare steak; tuna steak with fried maize …. I must admit I was very surprised to see just how big tuna was! However, the ugly looking Black Scabbard fish – Peixe Espada Preto is divine. This is the fish you must try when visiting Madeira. It is grilled or lightly fried in a crumb batter and served in restaurants with a fried banana and a passion fruit sauce. It is better than it sounds, believe me! The sweet/savoury combination works well. As a snack though, try a black scabbard sandwich – a local favourite – tastes a bit like an upmarket fish finger sandwich!

Black scabbard fish with banana & passionfruit sauce. Onda Azul Restaurante, Calheta Beach © Linda Hobden

MEAT

Being an island, fish dishes do dominate however meat dishes are popular too – mainly pork and chicken. Estapada means food cooked on a skewer. In Madeira, wooden skewers are made from fragrant bay laurels, which season the meat as it cooks. Casseroles consisting of wine, garlic & pork are on every restaurant menu too. Garlic is widely used in Madeiran cooking – garlic oil, garlic cloves .

VEGETARIAN OPTIONS

Vegetables grow in abundance on the island and the vegetarian dishes I have come across have been wholesome basic vegetable stews/ kebabs that are just as delicious as their meat counterparts. If you are a vegetarian that eats fish, then you have no trouble being well fed on this island!

BREAD

Bolo de caco is Madeira’s regional bread, named after the caco or basalt stone slab that it is cooked on. The bread is extremely soft and is often served up in restaurants as a starter, with garlic butter.

FENNEL

Funchal (Madeira’s capital) literally means “The Place Where Fennel Grows” . This indigenous plant is especially found in the rocky mountains around Funchal. It is used for cooking, in the production of cough candy, in essential oils, tea and liqueurs.

Fennel © Linda Hobden

DESSERTS

The main dessert is Passion Fruit Pudding, using the various species of passionfruit available on the island. Passionfruit pudding is made with passionfruit pulp, jelly, condensed milk and cream. Tasting like a cross between a mousse and yogurt, it is a refreshing and flavoursome end to a meal. Fresh fruit salads are a healthier option, especially with the various fruit varieties available that the dish isn’t boring at all! Madeirans do have a sweet tooth, and a popular “cake” is the “Queijadas” made with cottage cheese, eggs and sugar.

Array of desserts, including the passionfruit pudding. Hotel Calheta Beach, Calheta © Adam Hobden

Talking of cake, traditional Madeira Cake isn’t the yellow light sponge found in the UK. Authentic Madeira Cake, “Bolo De Mel” is a sticky dark honey cake, a bit like a British Christmas Pudding. Served in slices, it looks like a thick gooey tart and tastes divine. The Calheta Sugar Cane Mill is famous for the dark honey cake and walking past the kitchens where the cakes are made … well, the air is filled with the delicious aroma of molasses, alcohol, almonds … in fact, the whole sugar cane factory is enveloped with the smell. A giant cake is made every January , which is matured and freshly basted throughout the year, and is then ceremonially cut a year later. The cultivation of sugar cane was the first significant agricultural product in Madeira. The sugar cane is used to make molasses, dark honey, Madeira Cake, rum & the island drink, Poncha. The mill in Calheta is still a working factory, open all year round and visitors are welcome. There is a small museum, the mill itself, a shop and tasting area. Free entry and I have visited many times over the last few years – it is a lovely place to while away an afternoon.

Although not Madeiran in aspect, the Reid’s Hotel in Funchal has a tradition that goes back donkeys years – the afternoon tea, British style. Every afternoon, proper brewed tea served in dainty wedge wood china cups ( or champagne) is served along with scones, sandwiches, petit four and cake. It really is quite a civil affair and a dress code is rigidly applied – no shorts, flip flops or trainers. Famous celebrities that have stayed in this hotel are numerous and include George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Charlie Chaplin.

The Madeirans are great sponge cake bakers – I tried a delicious slab of homemade orange cake ( and some chocolate cake) at a cafe near the church and cable car station in Monte, washed down with local Madeiran coffee. In Calheta, the homemade apple pie and ice cream sprinkled with cinnamon was a delight. And, cheese lovers need not despair – the cheese courses in restaurants are alive and kicking with some of the best European cheeses you can imagine.

Cheese … Calheta Beach Hotel, Calheta © Adam Hobden

DRINK

Like their Portuguese mainland counterparts, Madeirans do love their coffee. Unlike Italian coffee which is 100% Arabica beans, Portuguese coffee is a mixture of Arabica & Robusta beans. I was disappointed at first when my coffee with milk (Garoto) was served in a small espresso cup; but I soon discovered that asking for a Chinesa instead got me the same coffee with milk, but double the quantity in a larger teacup. All other styles of coffee, including cappuccino, espresso, iced coffee are available in the more touristy cafes in Funchal.

Brisa is a range of soft drinks produced and distributed in Madeira. A variety of flavours available include cola, cola light, cola zero, tonic water, orange, lemonade, apple, mango and, of course, passionfruit.

Madeira wine is one of the two fortified wines that Portugal is famous for – the other being Port. Unlike port, Which is stored and matured in a cold cellar, Madeira wine is stored in a warm place like an attic. The 4 most famous Madeira wines are Sercial, Verdelho, Bual, Malmsey.

Madeira produces some excellent table wines also, although not widely exported, they are well worth hunting out. There’s around 12 table wine producers in Madeira; 24 varieties of red, white & rose. The vineyard I visited was high up in the mountains above Sao Vicente on the north coast. The vineyard is small but oozes character, the producers are knowledgeable and they are rightly proud of the wines they produced. After a tour of the vineyard, I was able to taste the wines – all were good, hic! – and all had a touch of sea saltiness from the air and volcanic earthiness from the volcanic caves they were stored in.

If you like chocolate and cocktails, then you won’t be disappointed with a “Ginjinhas” – a strong cherry liqueur served in an edible chocolate cup. Cheers!

You can’t visit Madeira without trying PONCHA. Poncha is believed to have been inspired by an Indian drink called “panch”. Panch means 5 and was named because it is made from 5 ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, tea or spices. Traditional Poncha consists of sugarcane rum, lemon juice, and honey mixed together with a wooden stick called a “caralhinho” – named for its distinctive male genital shape!! And is served without ice. Legend also has it that fishermen used Poncha has a remedy for sore throats when they disembarked from their ships. For tourists, Poncha is now available in various versions – Surinam cherry, passionfruit, tree tomato, tangerine, orange. I’m not sure whether it is a great remedy for a sore throat, but as a drink it is delightful. Best to drink some at a local rustic bar where it is made in front of you, of course. You can buy premixed Poncha in bottles at the airport and supermarkets, which are nice but a bit sweeter than the real mccoy.

For pinning later.

I hope I’ve whetted your appetite! I know I’m craving for a slice of Madeira cake and a glass of Poncha now!

Linda x

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