Perfect porridge

Porridge

Porridge

On those cold, clear autumn mornings, you can’t beat a bowl of porridge. It’s so warming and comforting, yet so simple to make. Here’s a tried and tested recipe with a few suggestions for toppings.

Preparation time: 2 mins

Cooking time: 5 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 2 cups of milk (use part water for a less creamy texture)

Method:

  1. Put the oats into a large saucepan.
  2. Pour the milk (and water) over the oats and stir well.
  3. Bring to the boil, stirring to make sure the oats don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Simmer for five minutes until thickened.
  5. Pour into bowls to serve and add the topping of your choice.

Why not try some of the following toppings: brown sugar, banana and cinnamon, honey and yoghurt, maple syrup, a handful of dried fruit (sultanas, apricots, cranberries), or fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries). Get creative!

If you have any other favourites, please feel free to share them below.

Photo: Elana’s Pantry

Foraging for food

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I had a great time picking blackberries last weekend, and it got me thinking about why we don’t turn to our hedgerows and woodlands for food more often. For most of us, a trip to the greengrocer’s is about as exciting as it gets, but maybe it’s time to get adventurous.

That said, this post does carry a health warning. It’s all too easy to mistake a poisonous fungus for an innocent field mushroom, but with a bit of common sense, foraging is a great way to get out into the countryside and re-establish that connection with nature.

Wild garlic

Wild garlic is abundant in the UK and is highly versatile. The plant is easily identifiable in woodlands, as it forms lush green carpets near to patches of bluebells and emits a distinctive garlic scent. It tastes much like cultivated cloves, but has a milder flavour.

The leaves can be used to spice up salads and stir frys and can also be used to flavour soups and stews. Wild garlic has many health benefits, including reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Mushrooms

Wild mushrooms grow across most of the UK, with parks and woodlands providing a good place to start looking. We have a huge diversity of native species, but autumn is prime mushroom-picking season, as this is when most edible varieties appear.

Wild Mushrooms Online has some great tips for fungi foraging. Once you’ve identified and collected your mushrooms, you’ll be spoilt for choice for things to do with them: grill them, stuff them, put them in soups or pies, or fry them with wild garlic and parsley.

Woodland

Woodland

Elder

Elder is commonly found in hedgerows and woods. The bushes are  covered in sweet-smelling flowers by the end of June, followed by berries between August and October. The flowers and berries are sweet and aromatic, but the stems and leaves are poisonous.

The fragrant blooms can be eaten raw, cooked or dried and can be added to cordials, jellies and jams, as well as ice cream, cakes and biscuits. The flowers can be eaten straight from the tree. Visit the Sacred Earth site for more recipe ideas.

Nettles

Although painful stings have taught us to avoid nettles, they are actually a very healthy and versatile plant. You can protect your hands with a decent pair of gardening gloves and boiling the leaves will get rid of the sting.

Nettles are packed with vitamins and minerals and, believe it or not, contain more vitamin C than oranges. They should be harvested before the flowers appear in early spring and only the youngest leaves should be collected. Use them to make tea, soup and even beer.

Dandelions

The old wives’ tale may tell us that dandelions make you wet the bed, but in fact, they are healthy and freely available throughout the UK for most of the year. The whole plant can be eaten, from flower to root.

The leaves can be added to salads, while the flowers, which are in bloom between February and November, can be used in anything from risotto to omelets. The roots can also be dried to make dandelion coffee, which has a hint of chocolate.

Just one final word of warning. Don’t forget to check whether the land you’re planning to forage on is public and remember to get permission if it isn’t. Always remember the countryside code and don’t over-harvest. Have fun!

Photos: kh1234567890, colros, markpeate, Sir_Iwan, Anja Jonsson, Mark ac photos

Photo of the week

Blackberries

Blackberries

The bronzed leaves and harvest moons are making me think autumn has arrived. I went for a walk last weekend and came back with an excellent haul of blackberries. This photo was taken by Farrukh and shows two fragrant blackberries in a hedgerow.

If you have a photo you would like to see featured on the site, please email lizannday@gmail.com or tweet @thegreenveggie.

Festival food

I remember when I used to go to festivals as a teenager and festival food was more or less synonymous with warm beer, greasy chips and overpriced burgers. But fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

I went to Green Man Festival at Glanusk Park in the Black Mountains last weekend and was overwhelmed by choice. There were dozens of food and drink stalls, offering freshly cooked dishes, as well as local ciders and ales.

Thali Cafe

Thali Cafe is based in Bristol, but has been catering at events for more than 11 years. As I walked past the stall, it was impossible to resist the fragrant herbs and spices, although it was difficult to decide what to order!

I finally went for a butternut squash and red pepper curry with seasoned basmati rice, which was delicious. The portions were hearty and at £5.50, it was good value for money. What’s more, all the packaging was recyclable and biodegradable.

Green Man Festival

Green Man Festival

Pieminister

I first came across Pieminister at the Bath Food Festival and have been looking out for them ever since. They serve some delicious vegetarian pies, including a wild mushroom and asparagus variety and my personal favourite, the heidi pie.

The heidi pie is filled with goats cheese, sweet potato, spinach and red onion. You can opt to have the pie on its own (£5) or with mash, peas and vegetarian gravy (£7). The veggie gravy is tasty, but slightly tricky to eat from a takeaway box.

Shepherds

Shepherds is based at Cwm Farm in Herefordshire and specialises in ice cream made from sheep’s milk. During the summer, they run stalls at agricultural shows, music festivals and other outdoor events.

The stall offered 16 different flavours of ice cream, including chocolate, ginger and banana toffee crunch. Sheep’s milk contains more minerals and less fat than cow’s milk, so you don’t even have to feel guilty about indulging..!

Video: Sue Gibson

Mango lassi

Mango lassi

Mango lassi

I’ve tried mango lassi at several Indian restaurants, but never realised how incredibly easy it is to make. Traditionally found in India and Pakistan, but gaining in popularity worldwide, this sweet yoghurt-based drink is perfect for summer.

Preparation time: 5 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 100ml single cream
  • 200ml milk
  • 400ml natural yoghurt
  • 400ml mango pulp
  • 4 tsps caster sugar

Method:

Blend the ingredients together and serve with ice. It’s that easy! Here’s an alternative vegan version, which is made with coconut milk and vanilla.

Photo: Jeannie

Vegetarian restaurants in Cardiff

I’ve been living in Cardiff for nearly a year now and after reviewing plenty of vegetarian restaurants, bars and cafés, I thought it would be helpful to compile a map of the best places for veggies and vegans to eat out in the Welsh capital.

Chapter Arts Centre

Lovely light and airy café-bar, with a sunny courtyard for summer evenings. Wide range of veggie and vegan dishes available, all made with fresh and local produce. They do a particularly tasty vegetarian breakfast.

Madhav

Cosy Indian café and takeaway located five minutes away from Millennium Stadium. All dishes are vegetarian and can be adapted for vegans. They do a good selection of freshly-made Indian sweets.

Milgi

Quirky kitchen, lounge and gallery in Cathays, complete with its own yurt in the garden. All dishes are vegetarian, by popular demand. Most dishes can also be adapted for vegans. Don’t miss out on the vegetarian Sunday lunch.

Riverside Market

An integral part of Cardiff life, the Riverside Market takes place on the banks of the Taff every Sunday morning, from 10am until 2pm. There are plenty of vegetarian stalls, including Frantastic Crepes and the Parsnipship.

Vegetarian Food Studio

Vegetarian heaven! Small and cosy vegetarian café, which offers an almost overwhelming selection of Indian and Oriental dishes. Vegetarian Food Studio has won many awards, including Vegetarian Society Best Restaurant and the Guardian Food Award.

For comprehensive listings, visit the Eat Out Vegan Wales site.

Environmental benefits of vegetarianism

Cattle

Cattle

In a new series of posts, readers of thegreenveggie from around the world discuss their reasons for choosing a meat-free lifestyle. In this post Molly Mizusawa, a 17-year-old student from the USA, talks about the environmental benefits of a vegetarian diet.

Molly stopped eating meat at the age of 12. “I had always been a lover of animals and thought the idea of slaughter to be barbaric,” she said, “but I had not seriously contemplated the benefits of vegetarianism.

“I was very young and only thought that if I chose not to eat meat, I would be sparing at least one chicken, cow or pig. But then I realised the advantages of vegetarianism stretch much further than the suffering of a single chick,” she added.

Rainforest

Molly discovered land used for rearing livestock currently takes up 30 per cent of the planet’s surface. This land, which is cleared at a rate of 2,100 feet per minute, often comes from the rainforest and is a primary threat of extinction for many species.

Molly also found that the meat industry contributes significantly towards the problem of  global warming, as breeding livestock produces three major greenhouse gases: methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.

Global warming

She said: “If each American family could substitute one meal of chicken a week for a vegetarian option, the amount of carbon dioxide saved would be the same as taking 500,000 cars off the roads. A small effort can have a large impact.”

Molly also considered the efficiency of a meat-free diet. “The practice of raising animals for slaughter is not only inhumane, but is also wasteful,” she said. “To produce a single pound of beef, a cow needs 16 pounds of grain, which could feed 10 people for a day.”

Animal welfare

Molly said it was environmental factors which finally persuaded her to give up meat. “The animal welfare arguments were enough to sway me towards vegetarianism, but the environmental factors enhance my dedication,” she added.

“When I told my parents I didn’t want to eat meat anymore, I had no idea how much of an impact I would have on the world. Vegetarianism requires dedication, but if each person plays their part, then we can help save the world and the people in it.”

Photo: Brendan Murphy