My best friend has just been over for a visit for my 50th Birthday! I know what you’re thinking, I could pass for 30, in poor light. Well, alright, no light! He lives in East Germany which, as a committed vegan, can prove a little tricky. “Believe the hype” he tells me “They really do love their sausages over there!”

We have spent a couple of very happy days in Cumbria, a few days in Manchester, my old stomping ground and food has been no problem at all. From a wonderful slap-up lunch at Gilpin Spice, to vegan street food in Manchester’s bang on trend Northern Quarter, we have been very well catered

for. It’s been spiced cauliflower and pulled jack fruit all round! One thing noticeably lacking from most of the vegan joints we have visited is vegan cheese. My friend’s take on it is that he has yet to come across a good eating cheese. “Grated on to a sandwich, or melted on a burger, fine, just don’t actually ask me to eat the stuff on its own!” If you find yourself with this dilemma, here are three of the best vegan cheeses to consider.

Lifelong vegan Ami Tadaa based near Newcastle has created an interesting arsenal of raw cashew ‘Cheases’ and their Caramel Pecan Creamed Chease is well worth a look. With great ingredients including Himalayan salt, a rich and dark fruity taste mixed with incredible creaminess and a good shelf life bear

Gardeners and farmers always seem to bemoan the weather! We can’t help it, we grow, whatever comes our way and love it when the right amount of sun follows the right amount of rain.

Sadly, the sunshine came too late to ripen off tomatoes to their expected sweetness and it’s been disappointing eating sun gold, which is usually a glorious orange cherry tomato full of sweet tangy flavour. However, the later ripening St Pierre, a large smooth red tomato has given a decent crop which served me well for making into sauces. The freezer is also full of courgettes and onions in a rich tomato sauce, which will be useful as a side dish on its own, or suitable as a base for various vegetarian casseroles. Runner beans which had gone too far have had their colourful beans removed and made into a type of minestrone soup (without pasta) with smoked bacon and lots of vegetables. I usually put in fresh herbs just before freezing. so they don’t overcook. A surplus of these beans can be dried and used again next season to start a new crop. Free seeds, what’s not to like?

Again, I’m blaming the weather, too much rain and not enough sunshine for the disappointing blueberries which are tasteless. However, their deep colour will mix well with other berries for puddings, so they’ve gone into the freezer too. I’m hoping their high vitamin C content is not affected. My Czar plum was heavily laden, and I


this in mind, especially as we head towards (whisper it!) Christmas. It would certainly make a sumptuous gift for the vegan in your life. Northampton-based Naturally Vegan Food Company make a great Italian-style cooking cheese for those who need a good and tasty replacement for Parmesan. Finally, Ellie from Kinda Co sells a range of inventive, nut-based cheeses which focus on healthy ingredients such as miso, natural cultures and apple cider vinegar. Her Faux Lox creamed cheese mixed with Dill and baked, fermented and marinated carrots which act as a convincing substitute for smoked salmon is a revelation. Try it spread on a toasted bagel with avocado!

John Natlacen, Owner

managed to pick most before the wasps gorged on them. The freezer has full boxes ready stoned. Likewise the cherries, I look forward to making clafoutis with both.

sow it, grow it, eat it! by Annette Gibbons

Annette Gibbons OBE is renowned as a champion of local food and whilst supporting Cumbrian farmers and growers, she cultivates her organic vegetable garden on the banks of the Solway Firth

I’m loving thick slices of cauliflower this autumn, seasoned then painted with olive oil and roasted in the oven. My own cauliflowers were attacked by the cabbage white, whose caterpillars demolished the leaves, but I see they are growing back. I may still get a small crop. Have I said that I live in hope?

While the oven is on, I like to pop in some slices of pumpkin or squash similarly seasoned, with slices of onion. Great as a side dish but if there’s plenty over (I usually do more than needed) I use it as a base for a hearty soup.

So, as you will have gathered, it’s been a busy start to autumn, and I haven’t yet started on the apple and pear trees. As I write, I’m in northern France and have visited a Normandy Pear and Apple festival. Amongst the cider, perry and juices there was a pear ice cream which was delicious. Maybe I’ll return to Cumbria with more ways to enjoy our fruit.

Annette Gibbons Email:

ISSUE 436 | 24 OCTOBER 2019 | 20

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