New Year’s Resolution: Veganury

I am full of contradictions. I am both for and against hunting: I respect the traditions of the countryside, but also am against unnecessary cruelty to animals. For similar reasons, I am both for and against shooting. I am a country girl whose tardiness to school was dependent on whether the family made it across the road before the cows blocked it on their way to milking. I enjoy weekends plodding though fields of sheep with a mischievous Labrador in toe. I am also a vegetarian who doesn’t eat meat for environmental and moral reasons.

Effectively, I am a very flawed and confused individual.

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I have been vegetarian for around 10 years, and that was a natural process of gradually eating less and less meat over this period; the moment I gave up gravy, I felt I could claim that I was vegetarian. Vegetarianism was my act of teenage rebellion. (I’m so cool). And yet I constantly feel the need to apologise for it – although my favourite critics will attest that I can be a tad self-deprecating occasionally (read: all the time; I told you, I’m flawed).

This January, however, I want to take the next step. I want to try out veganism in conjunction with Veganurary, ‘a global charity that encourages people to try vegan for January.’ The website boasts that ‘veganism is one of the most effective choices a person can make to reduce the suffering of animals, help the planet and improve personal health.’ Sounds pretty good to me.

However, I confess: I love dairy products. I drink glasses and glasses of milk (which some people misguidedly think revolting). I don’t understand the purpose of mini cartons of milk, or people who consistently worry that the milk will go off. Who are you? I’m also planning to eat the ultimate dairy overload for my families traditional New Year’s Eve menu: my grandfather’s secret Swiss fondue recipe (the trick is to add lots of alcohol) followed by that most indulgent of puddings, a chocolate fountain. Not very vegan friendly, I admit.

I have tried to go vegan once before whilst studying at university; this lasted for about a weak before I my need for proper cow’s milk in my tea became overwhelming. I am British, for goodness sake. This brief but passionate stint was prompted by friends studying Theology; they were studying the fate and morality of male calves and chickens. I was aghast. I naively didn’t realise any of this suffering even existed. Google it for yourself.

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So, when the clock strikes midnight – having indulged too heavily in my weaknesses of chocolate and cheese – I will try to go Vegan. I am of the firm belief, however, that going Vegan isn’t about denying myself the food I love, nor about going on a diet, but making small changes in my diet for a healthier planet.

For a while now I have followed the recipes of the foodie entrepreneur Deliciously Ella – who writes far more eloquently about this kind of thing –so there shouldn’t be too much of a chasm in my cooking and eating.  Deliciously Ella Every Day is worth getting your hands on; I recommend her Chickpea, Quinoa and Tumeric Curry.

I am excited to use this opportunity to discover new chefs, restaurants, and recipes; this is my chance to finally attempt vegan baking. However, I understand it’s important to check I am getting the correct nutrients and vitamins and minerals and a balanced diet.

Here are some links that you might find helpful:

Any hints or tips you can recommend? I have literally never been to a vegetarian restaurant before.

And, it’s only for a month anyway.

Happy New Year & good luck with any resolutions!

Blackberry & Apple Jam

Blackberries are delicious. So are apples. These two flavours with the juxtaposing textures work well in combination. Also it’s lovely to use seasonal fruits – mainly because it keeps cost down! (especially if you can resource your fruit for free). Unfortunately, the blackberry season is basically over, but there might be a few on a hedgerow near you if you are lucky.

TOP TIP: Blackberries keep well in the freezer. Place on a baking tray until frozen and then toss into a freezer bag until you need them.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg Blackberries
  • 1kg Cooking apples
  • 2kg jam sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons

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WHAT YOU NEED

  • Jam jars
  • Kit for sealing jam
  • Baking tray
  • Large saucepan

METHOD

Spend an afternoon frolicking around collecting blackberries and apples.

Sterilise your Jam Jars. The easiest way to do this is to this is to simply put them through the dishwasher. Alternatively, place on a sheet of newspaper on a roasting tray and heat in the oven for 45 minutes on degree heat.

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Place a couple of saucers into the freezer.

Place the blackberries, cut up apples, lemon juice and 200 ml of water into your biggest saucepan on a medium heat. You can use two saucepans if necessary. Let the fruit soften and expand for about 15 minutes.

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Next add the sugar and stir until it dissolves.

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Bring the mixture to the boil and let bubble for at least 5 minutes – but it usually takes longer. To know when the jam is ready, retrieve your frozen saucers, and teaspoon a little onto the plate. If the jam wrinkles against the back of the spoon, then the jam is ready! If it doesn’t – continue to boil for a little longer.

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Once you are happy, take the saucepan of the heat and ladle mixture into sterilised jam jars. It’s then important to seal the jam; one method is to use wax discs and then cellophane lids to top the jam.

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Don’t forget to label with the month, year, and type of jam!

Spread on toast and serve with a cup of tea for a delicious afternoon snack.

#nomnomnom