Counting on … day 181

13th May 2022

Eating less meat is good for the environment, for the climate and for releasing resources to ensure everyone across the globe can be fed. An environmental newsletter, The Conversation, provides tips  to help people reduce the amount of meat they eat, based on research by the LEAP team (Livestock, Environment and People) at the University of Oxford. 

  1. Make at least one of your main meals vegetarian.
  2. Double the veg, halve the meat in your meals.
  3. Set a maximum number of animal products to eat today and stick to it.
  4. Try a new vegetarian recipe.
  5. Make your lunch and dinner vegetarian.
  6. Eat only plant-based snacks throughout the day.

 Counting on …day 179

11th May 2022

One victim of the war in Ukraine, is the global supply of wheat. Ukraine is usually a major exporter of wheat but this year will only produce a fraction of their normal harvest. This short fall in wheat supplies will affect many countries across the world – eg Lebanon, Egypt, Somalia and Laos. Across the globe wheat is grown not just for human consumption but as animal feed too. If more people followed a plant based diet, we would be better able to feed everyone. 

Counting on …day 158

20th April 2022 

At the heart of a plant based diet are beans and pulses. Hodmedod’s is a good place to source these as they specifically stock ones grown in the UK – both supporting UK farmers and reducing food miles. Variety is good for the diet – split green and yellow peas; blue, wrinkled, marrow fat, Carlin and black badger whole peas; fave beans, chick peas, haricot beans, green and red lentils …..

To save on electricity and cooking time, weigh out daily amounts (approx 30g dried weight per portion) half-filling glass jars. Then fill up with hot water, secure lids, and leave to soak for an hour or over night. Place the jars into a large pan and fill round the jars with water. Bring to the boil and simmer  for about an hour. Leave to cool. These jars of cooked beans are now ready for use – and because they have been boiled with lids on, don’t need to be stored in the fridge. 

NB cook red kidney beans separately as they need to boil vigorously for ten minutes to remove natural toxins. 

Counting on … day 67

20th January 2022

Coffee but not cake? I am surprised how often cafés have oat milk but no vegan cakes. I hope that by asking for a vegan cake I may prompt them to consider expanding their offerings. Sometimes people think that making vegan cakes is tricky or that the results will be unpalatable – but this is not so. 

This recipe is adapted from a childhood favourite, Quaker Oats’ Melting Moments 

250g margarine 175g sugar

300g self raising flour (or plain and add baking powder)

1 tsp egg replacement powder Oat milk to bind

A bowl of porridge oats Dried cranberries/ glacé cherries 

Cream the sugar and margarine till soft. Stir in the flour and egg replacement powder. Mix to firm dough using a little milk as necessary.

Take teaspoons of the mixture and gently squeeze into a round ball and roll in the porridge oats. Place onto a greased baking tray. Flatten slightly and press a cranberry/ cherry into the middle. 

Bake at 175C until lightly golden – about 15 minutes.

 Counting on …. Day 62

16th January 2022

Jerusalem artichokes are in season. These are tubers that in the summer produce tall plants with sunflower like flowers. They are easy to grow. Simply take an existing tuber, even one you have bought from the vegetable shop or supermarket, and plant it in the soil at a depth of about 5cm. The plant may need staking as it grows to stop it blowing over. 

Jerusalem Artichoke Pasta Sauce

Jerusalem artichokes  about 150g per person Cashew nuts about 25g per person Oil Garlic and sage to taste 

Scrub the tubers clean and chop.

Heat the oil and sautée the garlic. 

Add the artichokes and sage. Stir well. Add the cashew nuts. 

Cover the pan and cook gently til soft and golden.

Blitz the mixture adding a little hot water as necessary to achieve a creamy sauce.

Serve with pasta. 

Counting on …. Day 56

9th January 2022

Eating beans and pulses instead of meat and dairy products is a good way of reducing our carbon footprint. The Ethical Consumer’s Climate Gap Report lists  a top ten of things we can do as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint ( of which the top two are reducing meat consumption by 20% and dairy by 20%.

You can use beans to make soups and stews; you can blitz them to make pasta sauces or use lentils in  place of mince for lasagnes; hummus is made from chick peas and you can use other beans to make a variates of other spreads or pates. Chick peas are used in making falafel and split peas for dhal and again you can adapt these recipes for to the beans and pulses. Flour made from dried peas and beans can be used in making pastries and pasta, as well as a variation of a frittata. Soya beans and peas are being used to make alternative milks. 

Try the Hodmedod website for lots of recipes –

Counting on …. Day 53

6th January 2022

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, the celebration of the visit by the wise men to the infant Jesus.  Given the large number of traditional foods we have on Christmas Day when the shepherds visited to  the Christ Child, we have very few for the Epiphany. The French have their Gateau des Rois which is something I copy in a simpler form – ie a cake made by sandwiching a layer of marzipan, flavoured with madeira, between two rounds of puff pastry. All the constituent parts can be made with plant-based ingredients.

We also mark the day by chalking a blessing over the lintel of our front door –

Counting on … day 52

5th January 2022

The Ethical Consumer’s Climate Gap Report highlights the importance of we as individuals making changes now so that we will as a nation be able to achieve net zero by 2030. One area where  significant change is needed is our diet. We may not all  need to become vegan, but we will all need to reduce our consumption of meat and dairy products. Substituting oat milk and vegan butter in our cooking is an easy option. Use oat milk for custard and white sauces etc. use vegan butter in cakes and pastries. 

Bird’s Custard is an egg free custard that was originally developed because Alfred Bird’s wife had an allergy to eggs. Make it with oat milk and it is vegan custard.

Counting on … day 51

4th January 2022

Seville oranges that are the key ingredient of marmalade are now in the shops and as they are a seasonal crop, now is the time to buy them and make marmalade. This recipe is adapted from one belonging to my great aunt.

7 Seville oranges

1 sweet orange

2 lemons

3kg sugar with pectin

Cut fruit into quarters and boil until skin is soft. If you have a slow cooker this is ideal – just put the fruit and 5 pints of water into the slow cooker, cover with its lid and leave gently simmering for 4 to 6 hours as necessary. If you are using a large saucepan, cover fruit with 7 pints of water and bring to the boil, uncovered. You will find the 2 pints of additional water will evaporate during the boiling.

Allow fruit to cool, slice the fruit thinly discarding all the pips as you find them. 

Put sliced fruit, the strained water/ juice and sugar into a large pan, bring to the boil whilst stirring (to prevent the sugar from burning). Boil, stirring frequently until setting point is reached. If possible use a jam thermometer. Otherwise test by dripping a small amount onto a cold plate. As it cools the mixture should form jelly like surface that wrinkles when pushed. 

Pour into sterilised jars and seal.