Thursday, January 22, 2015


I have gotten out of the habit of making my own hummus (much easier to buy a pot in Aldi) but we've been on a health kick lately, trying to vary our diet and eat unprocessed stuff as much as possible. So I decided to start making hummus again. Also, I tend to like a chunkier, more garlicky hummus than the shops provide.

Hummus goes off quite quickly (3 days max.) so I only wanted two lunches worth, that is four portions, so I used a small can of chickpeas from Tesco - 130g drained weight.

97 kcal per portion, 6g fat

130g chickpeas
20ml olive oil
juice of half a lemon
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon tahini
pinch salt
pinch pepper
2.5ml to 5ml water - optional

- Throw everything into a food processor and whizz
- If you don't have a processor, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher then mix the other ingredients through.
- If your hummus is too thick, you can thin it down with a drop of water.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Here's a link to some great charts for healthy eating on Buzzfeed. I particularly love this one:

Monday, December 22, 2014


Juno churning
In my novel due out next year, Emily Dickinson's Irish maid makes butter. Since writing it I have been obsessed with mini butter churns, particularly the glass table-top ones with wooden paddles. I bought one on eBay after drooling over similar ones in Nairn Museum in Scotland and The Butter Museum in Cork.

I finally got around to making butter with it today and it was fun! I used a 500ml tub of double cream and put in two pinches of salt (not enough salt for my tastes, as it turns out).

Mr Vegan has a go
We all had a turn of the handle and I guess it took about ten minutes worth of churning, which is not long at all.

After the butter came together I drained it in a sieve, then pressed it more with my hands to remove the buttermilk. (If you leave it inside, the buttermilk sours). I then put it into a bowl of cold water, squeezed it again (with cold hands) and patted it into shape.

A little video to hear the sound of the churn and Joe Duffy chirruping in the background. (Oh, the sound has not come over with the video for some reason - I will try to fix this but, for the mo, it's just a jerky visual.)

Friday, November 28, 2014


All the ingredients, ready to go
It's hard to believe it's Christmas cake time again already. I've been making this Rose Elliott-based recipe for years and vegans and non-vegans alike love it - it's a boozy, fruity, moist cake. Absolutely delicious.
Juno mixing and wishing
We made the cake yesterday and Juno (5) said, 'We are celebrating Thanksgiving by making this cake.' Sweet girl.

Finn having a mix and a wish
Get all the ingredients measured out and ready before you begin. It will make the whole thing much easier. We don't ice our cake but it's easy to get vegan marzipan and icing.

Breadcrumbing is serious business
My wishes made while stirring this cake always seem to come true so I am hopeful for this 2014 version too.

The finished cake
Scotch this year (again!) instead of brandy.
350 gr wholegrain spelt flour
175gr vegan marg
175gr light muscovado sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
150gr sultanas
200gr raisins
150gr dates, halved & pitted
50 gr flaked almonds
1 tblsp treacle
100gr glacé cherries, halved
grated zest of an orange
2 tblsps ground almonds
120ml soya milk
2 tblsps red wine vinegar
¾ tsp of bread soda (bicarbonate of soda)
6 tblsps (90ml) brandy/whiskey

• Preheat oven to 150˚C
• Grease an 8” cake tin and line with greaseproof paper. Make an outer 'lining' with a higher cuff to stop the top of the cake burning.
• Sieve the flour and spice
• Rub in the marg until the mix is like breadcrumbs
• Stir in the flaked almonds and treacle
• Add the sugar, dried fruit, cherries, orange zest and ground almonds and mix
• Warm half the soya milk in a small pot and add the vinegar
• Dissolve the bread soda in the rest of the soya milk, then add
this to the milk and vinegar mix
• Stir this into flour and fruit mix until well combined
• Spoon mix into greased tin and smooth the top
• Bake for 2 hours, until a skewer/cocktail stick comes out clean
• Leave cake in tin to cool, then turn out and peel off greaseproof
• Prick cake with a cocktail stick and feed with a third of the brandy
• Wrap cake in greaseproof and store in a tin
• Feed with the rest of the brandy/whiskey at weekly intervals
• Will keep for 4 weeks or so

Nollaig shona! Merry Christmas!

Friday, October 31, 2014


I'm jetlagged so rather late baking my barmbrack and organising my Trick or Treat for Temple Street, But it's all go now. A few pics, a brack recipe, and a hope you are having a Happy Hallowe'en, wherever you are.

A witch eating curried pumpkin soup
Jack Skellington!
The barmbrack


150ml tea
30ml whiskey
250g mixed dried fruit
75g brown sugar
1 beaten egg
45g melted marg
250g wholegrain spelt flour
1tsp bread soda
1 tsp mixed spice


- Soak the fruit, sugar, whiskey and tea in a bowl - leave until cold
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Grease and line the bottom of an 8" round tin (I used a 2lb loaf tin, this time)
- Add the melted marg to the fruit mix. Stir through.
- Add the beaten egg. Stir through.
- Sieve then fold in the flour, bread soda and spice
- Pour into the lined tin (insert wrapped coin or ring at this point, if using)
- Bake for 55 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean
- Cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack.

Eat plain or buttered with a cup of tea. Yum!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


We were in Cork last week and went, of course, to Café Paradiso. Veggie heaven!! I took one pic of the food, that's all. I was too busy eating it!

Spicy tofu with noodles - so delicious!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Plums and apples before boiling
My father-in-law Pat grows plums and he gave us a bunch of them at the weekend. Jam time! I added two apples to the plums as they were going to go in the compost otherwise. The jam is super sweet. It would be lovely on a Ditty's Irish oat cake, or on some nice brown soda bread. I enjoyed it on a rice cake, in the absence of other substances :)

Juno squeezing the lemon
Stirring, stirring

2lbs plums
2 eating apples, peeled and chopped small
2lbs granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tblsp butter
100ml cold water

·         Wash plums and remove stalks. Cut the plums and remove the stone.
·         Peel, core and cut apples up small
·         Place fruit, lemon juice and water in a large, deep pot and bring to the boil, stirring frequently
·         Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the fruit has softened
·         Keep heat low and add sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved.
·         Stir in the butter to reduce frothing. Turn up the heat and stir continuously until the mixture comes to a rapid boil.
·         Continue stirring on high heat until the jam reaches setting point. This is when the mixture starts to thicken and set on the sides of the pot.
·         Remove from heat. To test, place a teaspoon of jam onto a cold saucer. Allow to cool, then push your finger through the jam, it should start to congeal and wrinkle up - if it’s still runny, you haven’t yet reached setting point.
·         If not set, return the pot to the heat; bring back up to a rolling boil and test again in a few minutes.
·         Remove from heat and ladle into clean, sterilised, warm jars. (I got four Bonne Maman jars of jam from this amount.) Seal while jars are warm.

Four jars - one with homespun lid
Sterilising jars
·         Preheat oven to 130C
·         Clean jam jars and lids in the dishwasher or with water and washing up liquid. Dry thoroughly.
·         Line a baking tray with newspaper. Place jars on it – make sure they are not touching.
·         Pop in the oven 20 minutes before you expect your jam to be ready – the jars must be hot when you put the hot jam into them.
·         Seal immediately with lids or with greaseproof rounds and greaseproof/plastic lids held on with elastic/string.

Plum jam on a rice cake - yum!