Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Buying and Growing

Until the polytunnel kicks into action I am buying anything that I have not got stored in the freezer from last years crops, as and when we need them.  Obviously I will always have to buy oranges, bananas and lemons though.  I have tried to grow lemons or limes on numerous occasions but I'm afraid my green fingers don't seem to extend to citrus fruits!!

I can't wait for homegrown tomatoes to reappear or homegrown cucumbers ... we did really well with both of those last year ... and although we have no fresh tomatoes we have lots of sauces that I made with them both in the freezer and in jars in the form of sauces and these are keeping us going nicely.

And merrily chitting away in the cupboard under the stairs are these potatoes,  the last of the homegrown ones from last year.  In the pan waiting to be peeled are the last ones we ate before I sat the rest in an egg tray to chit comfortably until it's time to plant them out.

So at the moment we are heading for the 'hungry gap' in the gardening year, the time when the last of the previous years crops are being used up and, although plans are being made for this coming year, there is hardly anything left to eat that is still growing.  We'll have to see how long our jars and frozen supplies last and see if we need to preserve even more this year., and in the meantime anything we really need will be from supermarkets and markets.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Fish, Goats and Friendship

A brilliant short film to watch, especially if you have given up meat but are still finding it hard to give up fish.

Just a lovely story :-)

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Veggies and Sausages

My shopping from the other week, colourful and inspiring, as I'm finding most food is now.  Soon, hopefully, the polytunnel will be back in action and I'll be growing most of this myself .... although obviously not the bananas   ;-)

I'll always have to buy these though Linda McCartney does them so well.

Turning some of the veggies into a base for a couple of meals, with added Sweet Potatoes.  I'll show you tomorrow what the leek and fennel was for.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Why wouldn't we .....

I'm feeling so different theses days. 

I honestly didn't think would be the case ... or if it was going to be the case that it would happen so soon. But I feel lighter in body, mind and more importantly in spirit.  That will most likely sound like pure clap-trap to lots of folk but I have to say it as it's the God's honest truth and I don't give a toss if I sound like a total tw*t anymore.

I am enjoying my food, no more than that  I am absolutely loving it.  Trying new things, re-jigging old ones.  Eating far too much hummus ... but as addictions go that can't be bad ....can it  ;-)

I'm trying hard not to be preachy preachy, but I am learning so much and I'm sharing things I find on my social media travels on my Facebook page, mostly so I can find them for myself again but I'm no doubt driving friends and family mad ... but I don't care, if they love me they'll put up with it I hope.

I'm discovering lots of replacement foods for things that used to lurk in my fridge ... well some still do my hubby has to eat after all... but I don't eat them.

Spread for spread,

Parmesan style cheese for Parmesan style cheese,

cheese slices for cheese slices,

chicken has been swapped for fake sliced meat,
not brilliant but it added a certain something to a salad bun.

Soft cheese for soft cheese.

The list goes on, and I'm sure I'll discover lots more on my foodie shop travels.

' If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others ... why wouldn't we? '

Monday, 23 January 2017


On the whole I'm doing well, well enough for me to actually say I am proud of myself for how I have adapted things up to now.  My only slip up this week was to put some butter in the freshly cooked boiled potatoes  ... ooops  :-(

Alan even told me over the weekend how it was good to see me trying new things and experimenting with our meals.  For instance we had two kinds of hummus in our Buddha bowls for tea yesterday one normal garlicky version and the other with added beetroot, both tasted delicious ... and both were homemade!!

This morning I decided to price out my homemade version against the ones I had been buying on an extremely regular basis from Tesco.  The 200g sized pot is £1.10, there is supposed to be a 300g sized pot for just £1.30 but they have always been sold out when I get there. 

My recipe made up about 600g of hummus, half of which I added the beetroot to and the rest I left plain and it cost me (including the beetroot) £1.65 to make.  So to buy 600g of the lovely garlicky heaven would have cost me £3.30 .... exactly double!!

So my question is ..... if I am making it for half the price can I eat twice as much ? 
.... pretty please    😋

*** *** ***

adapted from 'Deliciously Ella' by Ella Woodward (page 102)

1 tin Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 tablespoons of Olive Oil
juice of one Lemon (or 1tbs bottled lemon juice)
1 tablespoon of Tahini
2 cloves of Garlic
1 teaspoon of Ground Cumin
Salt and Pepper

Put all the ingredients into a food processor along with 3 tablespoons of water and blend until smooth.  Add a little more oil if the mix is too dry ... I did.

This will keep for up to a week in a covered container in the fridge.

*** *** ***

And of course I could make it even cheaper if I bought some dried chickpeas and make it completely from scratch ..... maybe that is next on the cards.

Pictures taken from Google Images and mysupermarket.com

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Rest of the Dvd Collection

I was asked about the rest of my 'research' and my Dvd collection.

So here's a selection of what I have either watched ...

...or have yet to watch.

I've seen the short version of 'Cowspiracy' but not the full version yet.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Bargains ... and Research

Someone said to me when I mentioned I was considering a vegan lifestyle ..... 'ooh that'll be expensive'. 

But I've not found it so at all.  Yes you can go out and buy all the speciality vegan 'fake meats', cheeses and pre-prepared foods, and yes I have done some of that just to sample what's available, but by and large a vegan diet can be the cheapest diet around as well as the healthiest.

There are all sorts of yellow stickered bargains to be picked up not just the sugar ladened fake foods, but if you look carefully in the fruit and vegetable aisle there can be some good things there too.  I picked up these two at the start of the week, I don't usually buy celery like that ... with it's ends chopped off ... but for 13p who was I to quibble, and the Tenderstem broccoli was just what I needed to add to a homemade pizza to up my intake of cruciferous veggies.

Once the temperatures start to rise my vegetables will be virtually free as the polytunnel will once again come into it's own supplying us with virtually all that we need.  At the moment all I have out there are spinach, kale, spring onions and kohlrabi, still in my opinion that's not bad for the frosty days of January :-)

And talking of cold frosty days, at the  moment ... once chores are done ... I'm curling up on the sofa with the two little doggies as my hot water bottles and watching my way through some of my foodie and lifestyle dvd collection.  Yesterday's offering was 'That Sugar Film', which was along the lines of ...

... this much older dvd. 

Instead of eating a diet of virtually non-stop fast food Australian actor Damon Gameau eats the Australian average consumption of 40 teaspoons of sugar a day for 60 days after previously living a virtually sugar free life for three years.  The effect on his health both psychological and mental in just the first few days was astonishing and by the end of the challenge he was a completely different person ... and not in a good way!!

You've got to love a bit of cosy sofa 'research' on these chilly Winter days and with a big mug of coffee and two willing little doggies ... I think I'll do a little bit more today.

Friday, 20 January 2017

The Easiest Banana Recipe in the World .....

The easiest banana recipe in the world .... (well apart from banana icecream which is simply - slice up an over ripe banana, place in the freezer for a few hours then whizz up in a food processor until silky sooth like a Mr Whippy special) ... is these little Banana Cookies.

Just two ingredients banana and oats, although I added a little vanilla paste for additional flavour. 

Simply mash the banana and add enough oats to the bowl and stir together to make a moist-ish biscuit consistency.  Dollop in even sized blobs on non-stick paper on a baking tray, press down slightly with a fork to make them flatter and then bake in a pre heated oven for 15 - 20 minutes.

Not my favourite recipe in the world, and they taste better warm from the oven than later when they are cold, but it's a good way to use up an over-ripe banana .... and they go well with banana icecream  :-)

Recipe picked up from 'Cheap Lazy Vegan' on YouTube.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Chickens and Eggs

A comment on the last blog post got me thinking even harder about something that has been on my mind since late December ... ' I wonder how you feel about eggs since I know you love your chickens and are raising them on site? '.

Now those of you who have followed my 'country' journey know that for the last eight years I have had the joy of keeping, breeding and raising chickens.  We started with a small flock of ten rescue ex-free rangers, expanded due to breeding and buying until our flock reached the dizzying (for us) heights of over fifty birds.  We coped with fox attacks, witnessed the bravery of our cockerels defending their ladies and generally learnt so much about our lovely feathered friends.

Learnt for example how they make close friendships and stay with each other right to the end, learnt their daily rituals and funny quirky individual ways.  But most of all learnt that each and every one of them is unique and like us has a right to a good life, and that is what I have always tried to give them.  For example none of our birds have been culled because of age, and all live out a long and happy retirement after they have ceased to lay.

In return for our guardianship they give us eggs.  The bought in girls, the 'layers', each give us up to five eggs a week in summer, fewer in winter with its shorter, colder days as I have never pushed them to lay with artificial lighting or all the other tricks used by larger scale egg producers.  The Pekin Bantams, my special little girls and boys bred here on the smallholding, each give us around four eggs a week from late spring until early summer and whenever possible I let them raise a family each year to keep the generations going.

So they are not forced to lay, they live very good, almost completely natural lives compared to so many other egg laying birds .... do I or should I eat them or their eggs?

Well I haven't eaten chicken or any other meat since December 2010 so my birds are completely safe there, even though as laying birds they are not meant for the pot anyway as they have such lightweight little bodies, and I haven't eaten any eggs or egg products since December of last year.

I've thought long and hard about whether I would eat the occasional egg and I honestly think the answer is no.  I might, and I do stress might in the future eat the occasional homemade product (ie cake or mayonnaise type thing), but that's something I am not doing at the moment.

So the girls lay their eggs which Alan eats either as they are or in home baked things, and which we also sell to family, friends and neighbours and will be selling at the 'farm gate' when they are all back to more regular laying.  This covers the cost of their food, bedding and treats etc and makes them self sustaining and fit in with our self sufficient life style.

We have also decided that in future we will have dual purpose birds as and when we replenish flock numbers so that Alan can eat chicken raised here on our land.  It's not something I'm happy about but it is something I think I can cope with. 

I would rather have a bird that we raised ourselves that hasn't been bred to be a skinny minny and pump out egg after egg, nor one that has been designed to put on excess unhealthy weight struggling to carry it's bulk and living a short and painful life. And ... one of the main things is that if some of our birds are boys they will not be minced at one day old as useless to the egg industry commodities, but left to grow, enjoy life and be part of the flock for as long as possible.

I think this is our best way forward for the moment.

Chicken World as it is now, under Defra instructions to try as far as possible to segregate domestic birds from wild birds.  The quarantine period will hopefully be ended on 28th February.  Then we will move the girls (and Jack) to their other home on the hillside while we clear up this area thoroughly.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

A Voyage of Discovery

'Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.'

It's all pretty much a voyage of discovery for me at the moment, one that I'm loving every single minute of and one that although upsetting at times is making me feel more in charge of my life than ever before.

I never want to become one of those vegans that proselytises all the time, forcing my opinion and way of life onto others, I would much rather be a kind to people as well as animals type of vegan  and simply be a non-meat eating person.  But I do want to use this blog to document my learnings and my findings as and when I find them, for my own benefit mostly, but also so that anyone who has decided to follow my journey can see what and where I am up to .... so every now and then there will be info-graphics that I have found on my travels, little snippets of film clips and photographs that I have found on my social media travels or taken on my journey. 

My wanting to be a 'kind' vegan on a slow learning path is the reason I haven't made a song and dance, or a bit of a hoo-ha of having a new blog.  Those of you that have already found me are very welcome to read and to comment but Our New Life in the Country had over well 5,000 hits a day and visitors from all over the world and I wanted my new way of life, although it knits entirely with my old one in terms of what I'm up to on our little patch of Welsh hillside ... to be a lot more low key.

In a month or so the name of this new blog will make much more sense, as this year will be our first 'proper' year of self sufficiency, with Alan giving up the 'day job' and being on our smallholding fulltime.  Which of course means with very limited income that I will be growing the majority of our food in the polytunnel, net tunnel and out on the hillside Veggie Patch .... a very good time to be a plant based eater if ever there was one!!

I'm at the very beginning of a very special journey that will last for the rest of my life, and if you are one of the few that have already found me I hope that you will enjoy watching my progress ... and be equally kind if I occasionally slip up and make mistakes.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Jazzing Up Breakfast

Now I don't often have cereal type breakfasts but when I do I like it nutty and a just a little bit fruity.  Most shop bought mueslis simply do not cut the mustard with lots of cheap oats and only a minimum of the more expensive fruit and nuts ... and rummaging through my breakfast bowl for a lone sultana is not a good way to start the day. 

Sometimes I make my mueslis from scratch with the base being a simple bag of oats, sometimes when it is on offer, I buy the Muesli Base from Holland and Barrett which is a mix of oats and flakes, but the last few times I have made good use of this Original Muesli (the 1kg size)  being on offer there.  This muesli already has some fruit and nuts mixed in with the oats and flakes but that doesn't mean you can't add some more to make it even tastier.

I simply tip the bag of muesli into a large bowl and then set to with the additions I fancy.  This time it was a good mix of nuts and a bag of dried cranberries, to supplement the sultanas  that were already in the muesli base.  The nuts were going to be chopped up with a knife, hence them being on my chopping board in the photo, but I decided to speed things up and instead whizzed them up in my mini food processor.

Then they and the cranberries were tipped into the muesli base and all stirred together before being decanted into a screw top jar.  Of course first a good portion was tipped straight into my bowl for an immediate tasting session.  I have mine with unsweetened Almond Milk, but it tastes lovely with any sort of milk or yoghurt ...

... this one being my absolute favourite at the moment  😊

Cowspiracy - A Taster

Brilliant 15 minute snippet of a really good film.

Don't believe what you've just watched?  Doubting the figures?

Then watch this response to the doubters.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017


It was signing up for this years Veganuary that got me really focused to give this change of lifestyle my all, and for it not to be just some half hearted wimpy attempt to cut all animal products from my diet.  This is the third year of Veganuary (going vegan for January) and at the last count over 56,000 have signed up this year ... wow!!

The Veganuary website has been a brilliant place to go for tips, help and inspiration and one of the best things I picked up was the 'Daily Dozen' sheet, which as I have it lying around in the kitchen is now laminated.

It comes along with little daily checklists that have been invaluable for keeping track of how well I am doing in getting all my nutrients and vitamins etc each day.  I tick off each category as I eat something from it and although I don't get through everything on the list I am at least learning what I should be having, and some days even get closer to the magic 'daily dozen 'and the amount of each item that I should eat. 

If you want to get a copy of either or both of these for yourself or just have a look they are on the Veganuary website as art of The Starter Kit. 

(Bottom right hand corner 'What to Eat and How Often'.  Click on the box and when the new page opens up you will see where to click on the actual documents.  They are called The Daily Dozen Checklist and the Daily Dozen Weekly Planner.)

Monday, 9 January 2017

Making Changes, Feeling Good

At the moment this vegan way of eating is all so new to me. 

Okay I had been a vegetarian since January 2011 but then I slipped into eating fish at the beginning of last year thinking I needed it for the nutrients etc ....  feeling how I do now, I don't think I did!!

  I am feeling SO MUCH better since I stopped eating all animal products.  My head is clearer, my skin has improved in leaps and bounds and I feel lighter in myself.  Not weight-wise so much, although I did lose a pound of weight in the first week of the year,  but it's more of a feeling ... and it's a very good feeling.

I am currently perusing the aisles of any shops I go to to familiarise myself with product ingredients, and on my travels keep finding new things to try for myself.  These three products were all picked up at Holland and Barrett last time I was in there.  I haven't tried the cheese yet but the Sage and Onion Slices were pretty good in a bun with some salady things, and the mayo is okay but not brilliant.  If nothing else it should help wean me off my usual over-large mayo consumption 😉

I also picked up some liquorice while I was there, it's nice to have something to nibble on in the cinema while my Lovely Hubby chows down on a packet of chocolate sweets ... and I have always been partial to liquorice.  These two particular varieties are very tasty.

Now don't get me wrong I'm not suddenly going to be eating all processed and packaged foods, the majority of my meals are made from scratch with vegetables, mostly homegrown but some shop bought.   I am also eating slightly more fruit than I used to consume, although I'll never be a huge fruit lover.  I mainly have it in my smoothies, along with a couple of satsumas to chew on just to give me the ticks I need on my daily tally sheet to keep on top of the nutrients that's it's advisable to have in your day to day diet.

So to sum things up quickly before I dash out, I am into my second week of not eating animal products and I'm feeling great.  I have found replacement products for some old favourites, some new things to try and some delicious sweet treats ... life's pretty good up to now.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Brand New Year, Brand New Blog, Brand New Lifestyle

Well here it is, a brand new year, a brand new blog and a brand spanking new lifestyle for me.  Can I actually do it I ask myself on an almost hourly basis, I really, really, really really hope so!!

I signed up for Veganuary on the last day of December, I'm wearing the bracelet to remind myself ... and I'm doing my very best. 

I've slipped up twice in the six days since the start of this new eating thing.  As I chowed down my newly discovered favourite food in the whole wide world  hummus .... who even knew smashed up chickpeas and garlic equalled heaven!!  I picked up the cracker box and read the ingredients , and there it was in bold even ... milk ... (tip here: read the ingredients list before you eat the product not whilst you are eating the product 😉

Sob, sob ...

No I'm not really crying,   I'm determined not to beat myself up over mistakes.  It's not like I dashed out and bought the bloody stupid little Cranberry cracker delights, they were already in the house and will not, ever ever be replaced.  And I am in no doubt it will happen again in the not too distant future, but I will learn from each mistake and use it to pave the road to my gentler, happier path through life.

You can't do much more than your best can you.  😊

I've since been out shopping, and with my reading glasses perched on the end of my nose perused the aisle of crackers in Asda ... who even knew there were sooooo many different kinds, it saved me reading a book ... and now my cupboard is filled with 'kind' crackers .... the only thing is my Lovely Hubby has eaten all the hummus!!