Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Living Kitchen: a cookbook review, a recipe and giveaway

Front cover of The Living Kitchen vegetarian cookbook
I'm an avid collector of vegetarian cookbooks, so I was delighted to be offered a copy of a new cookbook by Jutka Harstein, called The Living Kitchen: Organic Vegetarian Cooking for Family and Friends (published by Floris Books). As always, I had a good look through the book and tried out a few recipes, before I wrote up my review.

When I first received the book, it reminded me of a book I already had, but I couldn't remember which one. After reading the introduction, it became clear that it was The Moosewood Cookbook, and that this book had partly inspired Jutka to write her own cookbook.

The Living Kitchen is quite different from most other cookbooks as it not only details some delicious, organic, vegetarian recipes, but it also tells a story...
"Jutka has run the restaurant at the Harduf Kibbutz, Israel, for twenty years. This wonderful cookbook was born from her philosophy of sharing her recipes whenever asked, and the enthusiastic demand of her customers. The dishes are interspersed with captivating personal anecdotes telling of the inspirations behind her nourishing cuisine and her Rudolf Steiner-inspired philosophy of food.
The Living Kitchen offers colourful meals for children, feasts for family and friends, warming winter soups, fresh summer salads, meals for the week using seven different whole grains, plus advice on nutrition and on planning balanced meals that will nourish body, mind and spirit.
All the recipes are kosher and vegan recipes are indicated."
I found the book a little 'hippyish' in places, but not in a bad way! It contains a varied and eclectic mix of recipes, from Hungarian to Indian, which are listed by cuisine or menu rather than course or the main ingredients used. I initially found this a little strange and confusing, when I was looking for particular recipes to try out, but it does fit in with the narrative aspect of the book.

The recipes use easy-to-find ingredients and are all simple to follow with straight forward instructions in metric and imperial/cup measurements. Due to the organic nature of the book, all of the ingredients used are fresh, so some of the recipes might take a little longer than normal to prepare, if you're used to using convenience products. I would recommend the book to existing Moosewood and whole-food fans, plus anyone who receives an organic fruit and vegetable box or grows their own fruit and veg. 

Visit The Living Kitchen Blog for more recipes from the book. You can buy the book from Floris or n Amazon. I also have a copy of the book to give away, so if you like the sound of it, be sure to enter the competition below.

Here's one of the recipes I tried (and the whole family enjoyed):  Peppers stuffed with feta and ricotta*...
© Peppers stuffed with feta and ricotta

Preheat the oven to 150C (300F)

  • 2 medium onions, chopped or 2 leeks, finely sliced
  • 100g/3oz mushrooms sliced
  • 2 small carrots, grated
  • 1 large courgette, grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Fry the onions or leeks for 5 minutes. Add the other ingredients and keep frying for 5 more minutes.
  • 200g/7oz feta cheese, grated
  • 300g/10½ oz ricotta or labane
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • half a bunch of dill, finely chopped
  • 6 red or yellow peppers
Mix [above ingredients] in a bowl. Add the fried vegetables to the mixed cheese and eggs.
Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and take the seeds out. Fill the two halves with the cheese vegetable mix and place on an oiled baking pan or tray.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the filling turns golden brown.

*This recipe is from The Living Kitchen by Jutka Harstein, published by Floris Books.

ONE lucky reader will win a copy of The Living Kitchen by Jutka Harstein. To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter entry form below and remember to leave a blog comment to make your entry count.(UK ONLY)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Integrity Statement
I received a copy of The Living Kitchen to review and 1 copy to give away on my blog. I did not receive payment, and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family.
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Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Winter vegetarian meal planner

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I thought it was about time I blogged another seasonal vegetarian meal plan and this time I decided to combine some of my own warming winter recipes with a round-up of dishes from some of my favourite vegetarian blogs. Most of these meals are cheap and simple to make, using readily-available ingredients.

Do you like my cute magnetic meal planning board by the way? I bought it from Poundland, but unfortunately the magnets are so weak, it drops off the fridge every time I open the door!


Week 1
Tomato soup with basil gnocchi dumplings (Veg Hot Pot)
Veggie sausages (ready-made), baked beans and mashed potatoes
Penne Puttanesca (Meatless Mediterranean)
Cauliflower and broccoli cheese bake (plus 2.4)
Reggae Reggae chickpeas with rice
Turkish vegetable casserole with cous cous
Cheese and lentil loaf with roast potatoes, gravy and seasonal vegetables (Life is Delicious)

Week 2
Minestrone soup with home made bread (The Full Fridge)
Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower curry) with chapatis (Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen)
Vegetarian meatballs (ready-made) with tomato sauce and pasta
Mushroom and spinach risotto (Tinned Tomatoes)
Roasted vegetable lasagne
Butternut squash and chickpea stew with rice (The Vegetarian Experience)
Veggie roast dinner with seasonal vegetables and Yorkshire pudding
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Saturday, 10 November 2012

Savoury Cheese Muffins

savoury muffins
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These savoury muffins take just minutes to make, and taste delicious served warm with home made soup. They are also a great addition to packed lunches and picnics.
  • 2 cups hard, tasty cheese (e.g. extra mature cheddar, hard goat's cheese), grated 
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 level tsp paprika
  • 1 level tsp English mustard powder
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ level tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ cup chopped vegetable anti-pasti (e.g. olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers)
Mix the eggs and milk together.
Put all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the egg and milk mixture. Stir gently to combine. 
Spoon mixture into a well greased muffin tin. 
Bake at 200C/190C Fan/Gas 6/400F for 12-15 mins, or until firm and golden brown. 
Leave to cool for a few minutes and then loosen around each muffin with a knife before turning out and cooling on a wire rack.
Best eaten warm on the day you've made them.

Suitable for freezing.

Alternatives: Bake mini, bite-size muffins for parties. Reduce the cooking time to 8-10 minutes. 
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Friday, 2 November 2012

Approved Food - a review

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I was lucky enough to win £100 to spend on products from Approved Food, after submitting my budget family food ideas to a Tots100 competition. If you haven't discovered them already, Approved Food sell a wonderfully random selection of foods and other products which are either end of ranges, approaching their use-before date or past their use-before date. As someone who is happy to eat products a little after their eat by date, this was great, but I know other people maybe slightly more wary!

The Approved Food website is easy enough to navigate, although not as user friendly as the major supermarkets' websites, mainly because the categories are more limited and the product availability changes frequently depending on is in stock. For example, you might see a great bargain one day, add it to your trolley and come back the next day to find that it's out of stock. I found the best way to shop was to go through each category picking what I could use to make different meals, plus adding a few random products just to try, or ones which I knew would keep for longer such as dried pasta, rice and kitchen products. You then need to check out that day to ensure the goods remain in stock. 

One other point worth mentioning from a veggie view point, is that there were lots of dried pulses, pasta and grains, plus some eco, organic, vegan and gluten-free products available when I placed my orders, which would cost significantly more had I bought then in a supermarket or health-food store.


I was slightly confused by the checkout process, as I expected to be able to select a delivery day/time. Instead, after checkout I was emailed with an estimated range of delivery days. I was then texted with a day (no time as yet) for my delivery, and at this point I could choose to select the allocated day or one of the following two days. After that, I then received a further text and email confirming a one hour delivery slot, which again I could choose to change if not convenient. I had already specified that I was happy for the delivery driver to leave my delivery in a specified safe place if I wasn't in, so I was happy with the time slot offered. There was also a useful delivery tracking button, should your parcel not arrive as expected and a helpful
 approved food forum, where you can ask questions about different products, delivery times etc.

My deliveries arrived on time and in good condition. Everything arrived well packaged in cardboard boxes, with each glass jar or bottle individually wrapped in bubble wrap. Taste-wise, everything was fine. Some of the out-of-date biscuits I bought were a tad soft, but not enough to spoil their taste.

On my first shop I spent just £27.73 (including delivery) on mainly packet, tinned and bottled products which should have retailed at £86.62, saving me £58.62. I spent 23.26 on my second shop, saving £44.53 compared to the RRP. However, a saving isn't really a saving unless the products are used, so I would suggest that you meal plan as you shop and don't get too tempted by the array of discounted chocolate on offer!

Integrity Statement
I won £100 to spend at Approved Food. I was not asked or required to write a review and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family. The link provided is a referral link. Pin It

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