Letter from ‘The Ferns’ veggie B & B chatting about Lidl nut roasts, Plastic and Snow

Lidl nut roasts

I was reading  the Good Housekeeping web site and their review of 23 vegetarian options for Christmas For some years I have been buying our locally produced ‘Thank Goodness’ range of nut roasts, but I thought it would be interesting to try something new. Meat free Mondays  is starting to affect how we eat and 40% of us are chosing to eat less meat The Good Housekeeping Institute has , therefore, sampled some of the supermarkets offerings. They say that grocers are embracing the rise in veggie trends, with a better selection of great-tasting, meat-free dishes.

The GHI have sampled some of the supermarkets’ new offerings,  The top rated was Aldi’s ‘Specially Selected Vegetable Parcels Spinach, Leek & West Country Cheddar’

aldi-specially-selected-vegetable-parcels-spinach-leek-west-country-cheddar-0-.jpgRated 81/100

The Good Housekeeping verdict was: “Our testers devoured the golden, flaky pastry parcel seasoned with fine herbs. It’s comforting with creamy mature cheesy spinach and potato beautifully offset by crisp, buttery pastry. A great choice for all the family!”  Rated 81/100

I tried the product that they rated 4th out of 23. This was in fact was the top rated  nut roast, which was

Lidl Deluxe Hazelnut, Cashew & Cranberry Nut Roast

lidl-deluxe-hazelnut-cashew-cranberry-nut-roast-0-.jpg

The Good Housekeeping verdict was: “This delicious nut roast had a strong savoury aroma of mature cheddar and peanuts. Praised for tasting much better than it looks, the roast is densely filled with carrots, beans, nuts and cheese. Our testers kept coming back for more of this caramelised cheese feast”.

I do think that the image on the package does not look like the product  when in comes out of the oven or when it is served. This is disappointing.

As you can see below on the left  the  nut roasts looked fairly flat (see left image). What I did was to  run a fork across the tops to rough them up a bit (see right image),which made them look more home made

 

 

In respect of the Hazelnut, cashew and cranberry roast, . I feel that the really beauty of it is the cranberries dotted in the chunky nut mix, as you can see from the image below.

nr3 cranberry

Rated 78/100

The other nut roast was

Lidl Cashew, quinoa and carrot nut roast 

lidl-deluxe-cashew-quinoa-carrot-nut-roast-0-.jpg

This is described by the Good Housekeeping testers as:  “We adored this bright orange nut roast with its sweet aromas of carrot and onion, followed by an inviting scent of caramelised cheese. Bursting with flavour, this dish is well-seasoned with black pepper, rosemary, thyme and chunks of nut. However, some testers were disappointed by the mushy texture and felt it needed more bite”Rated 71/100

 

nr 4 quinoa

I wouldn’t  have said it was mushy. It did, however, have a totally different flavour to the  first. Mike  and my sister preferred this one, as it had a more sophisticated taste – not so sweet – despite having cashew nuts and carrots in.

The lowest rated on ‘Good Housekeeping’ website was Ocado Dee’s Christmas Vegetarian Stuffed Butternut Squash at 39/100. Oh dear. Won’t be trying that one!

Another good tip is to use any remaining nut roast as a  filler for  a ‘sausage’ roll. Thanks Bernie!

saus roll

Simple –  puff pastry with the nut roast fashioned into a sausage shape with some salad

 

Plastic

I have been worried  about the world getting swamped with plastic. I have done a beach clean several time when visiting Wales, but I have just read an article in The Times on which was titled: ‘Cleaning beaches cannot turn back tide of plastic’, which told of a study  of Cornwall beaches which showed that  90% of litter was made of plastic. The chief culprits were: drink caps, bottles, crisp and sweet packets and cotton bud sticks  Interestingly, only a fifth of the litter came from visitors to the beaches, most was washed in from the sea and so indicates that Beach CleanUp can not solve the problem because they do not tackle the source.

David Attenborough has urged people to stop using plastic unnecessarily.

The journalist, Ben Webster, recorded Prince Charles comments that there is so much plastic in the ocean that it will soon be consumed by anyone dining on seafood

 

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Releasing a  turtle that  had plastic wrapped round its leg

tomasina

Here she is before the rescue

He condemned the “throwaway, convenience lifestyles of many around the world” and called for the rapid introduction of a deposit scheme on plastic bottles. He also urged industry to make all plastic easier to reuse or recycle.

So what am I trying to do? In the old days when I went to Wolverhampton market with my mum and dad, you would either take your own heavy-duty bag for  potatoes, onions carrots etc, and for everything else there were paper bags. I have now taken to doing market shopping again in the hope that I shall try to stop myself for buying vast quantities of plastic and sellophane wrapped fruit and vegetable. We have a small market in Newport and also one in Market Drayton.

market drayton market1

Market Drayton market, Cheshire St. Every Wednesday

The Market Drayton stalls have much more choice and one of the stalls is  happy to use our bags.

We have done our market shopping there for 3 weeks. You can see they are using our Waitrose bags. The only plastic I came away with was the three pack  peppers and cucumber.  If I buy my peppers at Waitrose or Aldi I know that I can buy the peppers individually, so I shall do this. I have my own cucumbers in the summer time, so maybe I shall stop buying cucumbers in the winter.

I think we all need to be aware of where our plastic is going ( landfill, China, the oceans) and how to cut down. See what you can do.

Snow

Well I have finally started doing my Snow warden work.

snow warden1It was quite interesting because I found that somethings worked and some didn’t. The heavy-duty gloves were  too difficult to use effectively.  The shovel was Ok for soft snow,  but not for clearing snow that had been flattened by  lots of pedestrians.

I also felt a bit conspicuous clearing just a patch of say 100 yards, when there was obviously no one else doing it  locally!  I wondered whether it was worth it to just have a small section of pavement cleared? I did think it was worth while  clearing  the corner of our road where the footpath  was sloping and went round a corner to a crossing, which  certainly needed  clearing  and gritting.

I also enjoyed going in to the town this morning. Saw some neighbours with their snow man

snow man 10.12.2017 Adam and Eleanor Hicklin

 

and the church and Puleston Cross looked lovely

town centre

Well we are nice and snug in our house today, and it is so nice to be able to walk into town to get any groceries that we need.

Have a happy and  meat free (or  less meat) Christmas!

Best Wishes, Linda

 

 

 

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August letter from The Ferns veggie B & B, chatting about breads, wildflower roundabouts and Heritage Open Day

Breads: Jaspers Newport Cookshop and Waitrose

Although the Co-op closed in Newport, which was where I would get my pastries at 7.00 am for my guests who wanted Continental breakfast, I now have a selection of shops when I  find my breads and pastries. Unfortunately, none of them open at 7.00am as the Co-op did.  So this is a problem to get fresh bread and pastries for breakfast. Sometimes I buy the day before and freeze breads. The croissants and Danish pastries don’t need freezing they keep well in the fridge and I simply warm up at breakfast time

This is shot from today’s Continental breads and pastries offering:

 

bread-basket

We have croissants from Waitrose (right); chilli and coriander bread from Newport  Cookshop (top centre) and bread rolls (left)  and a pecan plait (centre bottom) from  Jaspers. I hope that I give a fair share to all our Newport shops!

Wildflower roundabouts

We are very lucky to have a borough ( Telford & Wrekin) who decided a few years ago to make most of the roundabouts  bee and butterfly friendly ie most are wild flowers. Here is one from Stafford Road, Newport.

stafford-road-roundabout

wild-flowers-stafford-road-roundabout-2017

We have one at the end of Station Toad, with a metal sheep sculpture at the centre.

 

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Not quite as pretty but it  reflects our market town status. Usually, at Christmas time, someone decorates them with Xmas decorations which livens  them up a bit!

 

Heritage Open Day Saturday 9th September

This year we are involved with Heritage Open Day in Newport.  So, any B & B visitors will have to be up early with us, because we shall – well I shall –  be preparing with other members of the History Society and Newport town hall staff to open Newport Guildhall for the public. Normally, the Guildhall is not open the  general public because it is our town hall and council offices all rolled into one – as well as being a 15th century building.

 

guildhall.jpg

Just taken today  – showing  lovely flowers courtesy of  ‘Newport in Bloom’ group

 

So we shall be doing guided tours, selling booklets and postcards, having a video showing all day about the history of the buildings, perhaps getting the mayor to sign in with a quill pen and getting involved with a group called Victoria County History Shropshire, who will be joining forces with us to create a new and definitive  history of Newport before long

The Guildhall has a very unusual timber-framed ceiling. Very smart for a little market town!

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Anyway the Guildhall will be open from 10am – 2pm on Saturday 9th September. Free entry!

May be see you there! Linda

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Our back door. The butterfly isn’t real, but looks good. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June letter from ‘The Ferns’ veggie B & B chatting about our artisan bread shop, fruit in the garden & food festivals in Shropshire

New bread  shop in Newport – The Cook Shop Deli

cookshop deli1The Cook Shop now do artisan breads, ice creams, quiches, gluten free products, unusual teas, oils and a wide range of deli products.

cookshop deli2

Hannah ( pictured )and Sue  know all about their products and are ready to help with any queries. We have tried  our local Mr Moyden’s Wrekin Blue and  individual quiches such as leek quiche, which were beautiful. Interestingly they had a thin layer of tomato on the base, which is  unusual and I’m sure enhances the taste.

The bread section is currently on sale on Fridays and Saturdays and comes from an artisan Shropshire baker. Here I am buying a baguette and Sue packing it up for me.

cookshop deli3

We have tried their olive bread, chilli  & coriander bread, granary and ‘Shropshire brown’  – an unusual very brown almost chocolate  coloured brown bread. Everything is lovely, I  have ordered the wholemeal for visitors next weekend. Although we have another more standard baker in Newport – ‘Jaspers’  – who bake their own bread from scratch, I shall be torn between choosing between them. I shall have to  have some bread from one and some from the other. The Continental style breads from the Cook Shop’ will obviously suit my continental breakfasters.

Fruit in the garden

Has just been looking round the garden for what’s ready and what’s not, for my B & B visitors  Black currants  are almost ready blackcurrants

Raspberries – because I cut down  my sticks in a certain way – I have early fruiting berries and autumn fruiting from the same stock. Some thing I devised myself , which I am quite proud of. Here you see the currently fruiting plants at the back, and the  autumn fruiting  just with their leaves in the front. They wont be ready for fruit for another month or two.

raspberries

Artichokes are just coming into flower. We don’t tend to eat them because they are so fiddly, but we do love seeing the bees visit them

artichoke

My peaches have a good way to go before ripening, but notice how the peach leaf curl has pretty much gone. This is due to covering the tree up before the leaves came out (see  my March and April  blogs). Mind you it’s a good job that it’s not a large tree!

peaches

Food festivals in Shropshire

We are blessed with great food   – cooks, restaurants and markets in Shropshire. The chief food festival,  which is an hour from here, takes place in Ludlow. This festival takes is on  8th – 10th September. Unfortunately the ale and sausage trail is for meat-eaters only. It  is lovely to walk around the town anyway and sample some of the delis.

ludlow

Then we have closer to home Telford’s  Telfood Feastival on 2nd — 3rd September at Southwater  / town park. Not keen on the bug eating bit, but, with the town park

 

next door, should be a fun-filled event for families in particular.

Then we have our own festival on September 23rd with demonstrations, beer and food stalls including our very own Newport success “Thank Goodness” nut roasts

 

 

Lets hope for a lovely day as it was last year. We dawdled down the High Street, which was closed for the day and sampled cuisine from Shropshire to Africa. We bought items that then became Christmas presents. We have our own microbrewery called New Brew in Newport and they had a stall as did Joules brewery of Market Drayton. Lots to eat and drink!

Food frenzy1

 

food frenzy4

Whatever the weather, we have lots to interest our visitors in Newport.

Have a lovely summer

Linda

Letter from ‘The Ferns’ veggie B & B chatting about pollinators, St Georges day, my peach tree update and Vegan, Vegetarian and Coeliac Fair here in Newport

Pollinators

I am determined that everything that I plant in my garden from now on will help the bees, the butterflies, the birds and hedgehogs.  I am concerned about how wild life in my garden has deteriorated in the last 20 years despite my best efforts. So I am making a concerted efforts and hope you will too. I will try every month to make an efforts to plant beneficial flowers/ shrubs, or make some sort of hideout/ nest etc for animals and birds , I shall tell you how I get on in future blogs.

This month I have planted hyssop seeds. The seeds are very fine so I simply  put a fine layer of sand on top of them as I didnt have any pearlite available

 

hyssop seeds

With a bit of luck I shall have lovely blue flowers like this this summer

hyssop

Generally speaking  blue flowers attract bees.. I have read that hyssop is  one of the top ten bee attracting plants.

One of our Newport local lads has made a famous career in entomology – Dave Goulson. He is now a professor of Biological Sciences at Susses University and studies especially  bumblebees. I have just bought his book  ‘A Sting in the tale’

a sting in the taila sting in the tail 2

Dave Goulson is the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation trust. A ‘Sting in the Tale’ was published in 2013,  and was the BBC Radio 4 “Book of the Week”.
He details the life of bumblebees and tells us the fascinating research into the effects intensive farming and what this meas for our bee populations and on the potential dangers if we are to continue down this path.

St George’s Day in Newport

sgd2

St George and the dragon

We have great fun on the nearest Saturday to St George’s Day in Newport. This years its the 22nd April. Fun starts at 12 noon.

sgd

St George with the town crier

Peach tree update

For those of who who read last month’s letter, during which I related that that we covered up our peach tree in early spring as we had read that it would help prevent leaf curl. You will see peach tree leaves that – for now – the peach tree has no leaf curl! Brilliant!

Vegan, Vegetarian and Coeliac Fair

cosy hall

This is a Newport event happening on Saturday 13th May at Cosy Hall from 10.30 – 2.30.

Map another

Organised by A Very Vintage Events

My friend Berni will be there with her ‘Thank Goodness’ range of nut roasts and pies, which I have reviewed and raved over in previous blogs. Delish! I shall be there with a few of my fliers to  support the cause, and maybe nick a piece of roast on the side!luxury-handmade-nutroast-small

luxury-nutroast

Hope to see you all there!!

Best wishes for Spring.

Linda

January Letter from ‘The Ferns chatting about vegan sausages, being a snow warden and Newport wildlife

Vegan sausages – taste testing

I did a taste testing some time ago  February 2014 which was for a variety of veggie sausages  (veggie and vegan) with a friend. I have been aware of the  Italian sausages from

packages-and-pan

Tofurkey for a while, and so decided to trial them for my B & B. There are many ways to cook these but I fried them gently. However,  you can boil or grill them as well.The main ingredient is tofu. I get them from Holland & Barrett. The brand  comes from the USA.

Vegi deli is the next product, and I am looking at their Lincolnshire Sausages.  I tried Vegideli before – the sage and marjoram – but this time I tried their Lincolnshire sausages Main ingredients -wheat gluten and soya protein. Vegideli are a UK company.

Because I do Sausage Sandwiches for my B & B guests, I tasted these sausage as sandwiches.

sausages-cokking

Here are the two types of sausages cooking. Too be honest, now that I am looking at them a couple of weeks after the testing, I can’t tell which is which product!

I added sautéed onion, red pepper and mushrooms to the sandwiches and the result is a nice moist, tasty sandwich; these are on granary bread.

sausage-sandwichnewMike and I then. Here’s me doing the tasting

me-tasting

The result was that the Tofurkey won hands down. It’s an expensive product – but the taste is so flavoursome and intense; chiefly chilli and tomato – a lovely combination. The main ingredient is tofu which really is so good for us (high in protein & calcium) and amazingly, although an American product, it had no GMOs ( genetically modified organism)

Sorry, Vegideli sausages again not able to compete except perhaps on price – you get  double the number of sausages in the Vegideli  pack as in the Tofurkey.

Pity about the Tofurkey name   its a bit silly really, but their sausages were great!

Being a Snow warden

I am really looking forward to the snow, because I am now a volunteer snow warden. I have had delivered my salt, my hi-viz vest, my shovel and gloves. I have  been given instructions about warming up first ,  not getting too cold,  where to put the snow and how to  spread my salt – very thinly apparently!

I broke my ankle 8 years ago and I go very gingerly on snow and ice these days, so I thought that  by clearing the snow and ice from the pavements outside our house I will benefit, not only  people walking into town but myself as well!

snow-warden

Just need the snow!

Newport Wildlife

We are very fortunate to have a canal running through Newport, and every time we walk along it we see a variety of wildlife. These are some of our photos from 2016

The robin (top left) was  on the path last week. He was very brave, standing on a small twig only about a yard from us. We have swans nesting every year ( top right) and this is this years brood, and a heron ( bottom) whom we suspect catches baby ducks as well as fish. Oh dear!

Well that’s it for now.

Just waiting for the snow so that I can demonstrate my snow shovelling skills. Watch this space, there may be more pictures in my February letter.

Linda

 

December Letter from ‘The Ferns’ veggie B & B chatting about mincepies, Christmas lights and The Bridge Inn @ Newport

Mincepies

My visitors always have biscuits provided as part of their tea/ coffee tray. However, in December I shall be putting  mince pies out as well, as a special treats for Christmas. I have found mincepies at our local Budgens shop that are veggie /vegan.  Have tried them and they are very nice!

mincepie

 Christmas Lights at Haughton

Although our Newport lights are very nice, if visitors want to be totally amazed, just go down the road ( about 10 minutes in the car )and visit Haughton. Switch on was Saturday December 10th.

Haughton Lights have their own web  just look for Haughton Staffs – they are just over the Staffordshire border.

There is also going to be a Santa Run  on 14th December at 6pm leaving from Haughton St Giles primary school.

These lights attract hundreds each night

Here is a utube video

 

Eating at The Bridge Inn, Newport

We went to se what the Bridge Inn had to offer last week. This is a local inn at the far end of the High Street. It has a lovely terace area at the back in the summer time.There is a huge range for meat eaters and two or three  dishes for veggies. We started with humus and pitta bread

hummous

This could be a main for vegans if they opted for olives and chips to make it a main course.

The veggie main courses are very cheese orientated. One was  wild mushroom risotto with cheese

risotto

and a halloumi burgerhalloumi-burger

They did have a spinach and chick pea curry on the menu, but had run out of it which was a shame as we both would have preferred this to the rather  high calorie burger and usual mushroom risotto . The food was very pleasant but not exciting.

Two other issues with The Bridge, are that they don’t have a web the site so you cant check on the menu options, and they’re not open on Mondays and Tuesdays. However, it is a  very nice venue – this is the oldest continually licensed premises in Newport dating back to the 1690s!

Avast there me hearties!

Linda’s pantomime theme…. Just for a bit of fun I had my photo take at  National Maritime Museum  at Greenwich a wek ago. I was playing the part of a varmint! Can you find me? I’d have made a good pirate. Arghhh! Happy Christmas!! Linda

linda

November 2016 letter from The Ferns chatting about Newport Lights switch on and composting and raspberry liqueur

Newport Lights Switch On Friday 25th November

Image result for guildhall newport shropshire lights

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Image result for newport shropshire lights

The winner of the schools’ Christmas Card competition gets to switch on the town’s lights and to drive in an open carriage  along the High Street accompanied by torch bearers. The winner this year is Thea Lee. The procession leaves The Guildhall at six, and the switch on takes place at 6.20pm at the old Butter Cross, after which will be a sing along at St Nicholas’ church.

I shall be there for the ‘switch on’ on Friday to record the event for our History Society’s Snap photographic project, which records not just old photos of the town but we keep the images up-to-date with pictures of local events. Next year when I do my November blog, I should be able to post some new and hopefully excellent photos!

If my readers are interested in other exciting lights, a local village Haughton is famous these days for its vaste display of Christmas lighrs. People travel from a huge area tro see them. Haughton is about 8 miles from Newport. They  are on from Saturday 10th December   till 1st January 2017. More on this next month.

Composting in our garden

We always have two compost heaps in our garden – the old one rotting down and a current one. Nothing gets wasted here from veg waste to fig leaves.  The old one has just been cleared out – and there are piles of compost waiting to be dug into the veg patch and strawberry plants. I know that people can buy  special compost heaps, but I have always just built our compost heaps from old bricks. My dad always did this , and, as long as there are  a few dozen old bricks in the garden, it means that there is no cost involved. The  new heap which has just been closed down,  has been covered with soil and an old carpet.

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Old heap

This will be left till next spring, when I shall give the whole heap a good turnover: bringing the old material up to the top and giving it all a good mix up. The new heap always gets started with old sticks or rough stuff such as the dead runner bean plants so that there is a bit of airation at the bottom.

compost3

Starting the new heap

Monty Don has some good advice in the Gardens World website. he says,

Put in anything that has lived but exclude all meat, fat and anything that has been cooked, as these will attract vermin.

 50:50 mix of nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen comes from lush, green material and carbon comes from woody stems.

For every barrow load of cut grass, you should mix in the same volume of straw, sawdust or cardboard. Ensure any woody material is broken into small pieces or shredded. Except for gloss or colour-printed paper, all packaging can be composted. It should be scrumpled up and mixed in equally with the normal vegetable waste to allow plenty of air to get in, rather than placed in lasagne-like layers.

Most compost bins have too much nitrogen, especially if the main source is from grass cuttings and kitchen waste – the result is an evil-smelling sludge. Equally, an excess of carbon will significantly slow down the composting process..

  • A sunny corner of the garden
  • An equal mix of nitrogen- and carbon-rich waste
  • Compost bin

Find a sunny corner of your garden, on soil, where you can site either a plastic compost bin or  built one up yourself. Setting your bin up on soil will allow worms and other micro-organisms from the earth to speed up the composting process; add some fine chicken wire at the base to keep rodents out. Start adding organic waste, aiming for an equal mix of green and woody waste as you go. Build up your heap in layers, or mix the ingredients as you go.

You can speed up the process by turning your heap occasionally with a garden fork to aerate it, mixing the outside ingredients to the inside. Make sure you cover your heap to keep the rain out.  When the mixture turns brown and crumbly and very slightly sweet smelling, the process is complete.

 Raspberry Liqueur

I always make a liqueur for Christmas and for gifts  to family and friends. This year it is raspberry.

liqueur1

 It is still not to late to make this excellent liqueur, especially if you have raspberries in your freezer.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh respberries
  • 3 cups good quality vodka
  • 1 14 cups sugar

Cut the raspberriess into small pieces. Place in a glass container (such as a large Kilner jar), add vodka.  Cap and store in a cool, dark place, stir once a week for 2 – 4 weeks.

Strain & transfer the unsweetened liqueur to an  glass container.  I leave the odd raspberry in the mix, just so that peopole can see that it  is raspberry!Add the sugar, recap & let mellow untill the sugar has dissolved – stir occasionally to speed up the process of sugar absorption.

Pour to a new bottle. Add more sugar if you want it sweeter! Salud!

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Best wishes Linda