Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Roasted Celeriac and Leek Soup (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Ahhhhh...The promise of spring. New flowers beginning to pop up, poking just above the soil, searching for sunlight. There's a warm quality to the light despite being bitterly cold, and I cannot wait for spring to arrive. I do love all the seasons in their finest glory, but when it's a cold drab wintery day, soup and bread has to be made. I'll post the bread recipe next time as Mr. Bee is a bit busy so we only have time to write this one up today.
I am STILL waiting to find the perfect gluten free bread recipe, so once I find it, perfect it and like it, I'll post it.

So...What kind of food do you turn to in winter? Stodge? Processed crap? I'm not a fan of beige food. You know the sort: Breaded, battered, burned, beyond recognition, bleurgh.

I like eating cleanly. That doesn't mean using a fresh knife and fork and plate - although you really ought to - just sayin'.

To eat clean, means to eat fresh, it means no processed food. No caffeine, no sausages, no burgers unless you make them yourself. Now, as a vegetarian-trying-to-go-vegan, and I'm also gluten free, I thought I'd find it really hard eating well, but the opposite has happened.

After another breakdown in 2012, I realised I had put weight on. This isn't a bad thing as I wasn't overly big, but with sore joints, extra weight can cause additional problems. So, I ate as well as I could, but the weight didn't shift. I can't exercise  - please don't ask me to try - I used to dance, I know what I can and can't do - and felt very upset, despite eating what I thought would nourish me and help me to lose weight, nothing was shifting.
Until I gave up meat.
I lost about one stone in a year, but still felt too big. I went over all my old vegetarian recipe books, and lost about half a stone, but when we set our date to get married I had a word with myself and said enough was enough. I'd heard about Juice Plus, a meal replacement system where you have two Juice Plus shakes a day, and one clean meal. No catches, it works. I'll do a post about that another time as I want to concentrate on the soup. The thing about Juice Plus though, is you HAVE to eat clean or it won't work. You learn a new way of cooking, and understanding what food can do for you. Which leads me to the soup recipe.

While learning about clean eating, I discovered the Paleo diet. Now, I don't go a whole bundle on diets as such, I believe in sensible weight loss without starvation.

Thankfully, the Paleo diet is perfect for me as it's gluten free, and the only restrictions are no gluten (so no bread or pasta) no rice and no potatoes no dairy I think eggs are allowed though. HOWEVER, you CAN use sweet potatoes. And there are tons of recipes out there if you want to try it. It's essentially like a cave man diet, no processed food! There's no starving, no pills, no potions. It's just good, clean, real food. Lots of veg, fresh meat (if you choose to eat meat) and fruit. Your skin will clear up, the weight will come off and you will be full, and you'll be laughing at yourself because it's so easy and delicious.

Right. Soup.

Mr Bee HATES peeling Celeriac as much as I can't even pick it up. So I asked him to chop off the knobbly bits, poke it, rub olive oil all over it, wrap it in foil and it was left in the oven on 160c for several hours (!!!) to slow roast. Now, while the house smelled amazing, it took a long time to cook.
It was worth it, but think it would be cheaper energy wise if you are able to peel, dice and roast it.
You could microwave the entire thing if you wish as you would for a screaming swede, but it won't have the roasted flavour. I'm doing the recipe for diced, but you can slow cook the entire whole celeriac in a slow cooker if you wish, as all slow cookers are different, you'd have to experiment. I reckon it would take about 10 hours in a slow cooker, I have a Morphy Richards one and I think it would take 10 hours on high! Up to you.
I also used two King Edward potatoes in the recipe as Mr Bee Doesn't like sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes are Paleo; normal ones aren't.


One big knobbly celeriac, the bigger the better, as a lot of it tends to be knobbles. Get two small or medium sized ones if you wish.

Two huge leeks

Two medium sized potatoes, you can use one very big sweet potato if you prefer.

One pint of preferably organic vegetable stock, the best you can afford.

A teaspoon of good olive oil for the leeks,

A tablespoon of good olive oil for the celeriac.

Pepper, and just a smidge of salt, but taste the end result before adding it!!

Mixed herbs, and a tablespoon of dried oregano.

I haven't added garlic as it gives me migraines, you may add a small piece with the leeks if you wish.


Preheat your oven to 200c, place a dry roasting tray into the oven to heat up.

Chop and rinse the leeks, peel and chop the celeriac and potatoes into one inch cubes.

Put the tablespoon of oil into a bowl with the cubed celeriac and mix well. Using a slotted spoon, carefully place the celeriac into the hot roasting tray and roast in the oven until the celeriac is soft, and beginning to look nicely roasted - this is your taste here. As long as it's soft and not black, it's done. It should take about half an hour to 40 minutes - ovens vary!

While the celeriac is roasting, heat the teaspoon of oil in the biggest pan you have on the hob, over a medium to low heat, add the chopped leeks and garlic if you are using it and soften the leeks, do not brown them. Use a lid if you wish to help keep some steam in. When the leeks are soft, add the potatoes and roasted celeriac (use a slotted spoon to minimise the oil) give them a good stir and add pepper to your taste. Add the stock and herbs, stir it and bring it up to the boil, then immediately turn down to a gentle simmer. Pop a lid on, then sit down for an hour while it cooks. We let ours cook today for about one and a half hours because I lost track of time, but it was lovely.
Once the potatoes are soft, really soft! Carefully take the pan off the heat and use a blender to get it to the consistency you require. PLEASE be careful here! Mr Bee kept the blender on low so it didn't splatter. You may want to add a splash of hot water from the kettle to loosen the consistency.
You can add just a touch of salt here if you wish, but not too much Ok? Taste it first.

Serve it in warmed bowls with a hunk of olive bread or gluten free bread, and if you feel particularly indulgent you can add a splodge of creme fraiche, but that's not vegan or waist line friendly. I think a sprinkle of pepper and chopped dill would be lovely on the top.
This quantity should serve four hungry people.

Celeriac has a sort of nutty, gentle celery flavour. I don't think it's used enough, even though it's gained popularity in recent years. If you're feeling adventurous, try a simple remoulade with it, a classic French dish:
(Not vegan unless you can use a vegan mayonnaise)

And I reckon it will take you nicely into spring.

*Shuts eyes to dream of breezy spring mornings and tulips bursting through the lawn*

Monday, 19 January 2015


So what is the meaning of this life? If not to stop and stare, look around you, shrug and not care?

Why are we NOT doing what makes us happy?
Do we even know?

Is it ever OK to sit night after night, staring at the telly or scrolling through endless mindless drivel on social media?
To start an argument with a stranger over a picture of a kitten?
To take things that aren't yours?
To deliberately hurt people?

I know not everyone does this, but those who don't seem like they are the few. If after work, college, caring (whatever your employment status is) Some go out and socialise with real live people, some take a class. But if we all just stopped and took stock, looked around and all of us just did that one (legal) thing that could possibly:

  • Change your life
  • Make you happy
  • Realise your potential
  • Break old habits
  • Change someone's life
  • Make someone happy
  • Help someone to realise their potential
  • Break off old habits for/with someone.
  • Examine every minutiae of your life to the exact point where you are now, and understand what it's going to take to change it. 
What would you do? Will it cost anything? Yeah, likely. It might cost dignity to say sorry. It might cost reputation to put yourself out there. It might make you rich in happiness or poor to cut off someone no good for your well-being.

Breaking old habits aren't neccessarily things you might habitually do. They could be people you keep going back to. There comes a time when you have to realise ex's are ex's for a reason, or the same tired excuse from the same person who treats you like a walking cash machine or a taxi.
Be ruthless. Cut them off. Say no. Do what you love. Be what you want to be, you want to write? Write. You want to sing? Sing. You want that promotion? Be early, work hard, ask for the promotion. Didn't get it? Ask why, ask what you can do to get it. Don't be afraid of your words, only be afraid of unspoken words. Do not get to your death bed and think "I should have done it..."

This will:

  •  Change your life
  • Make you happy
  • Realise your potential
  • Break old habits
  • Become who and what you want.

"It's NOT that easy!" I hear you cry. I know it isn't! I know! I can't say I know how you feel as that's an insult to you, I don't know you or your life. But I know mine. This isn't what I wanted. I have help to live my life, perhaps in the way you just do by yourself. Sometimes I'm OK, but in my own way. I have help to get dressed, I have someone to push my wheelchair as I can't self propel. I forget things, I have help to type. I am VERY fussy when it comes to that. All words are my own and I like them typed properly. It's also not such great fun having someone brush your teeth for you when your hands are locked up.
The word I hear thrown about a lot about me and people who need help everyday is FRUSTRATION. I get very frustrated. I can't grip things, I drop things, can't cook or bake alone. Can't get out the house by myself.  I get annoyed at small things, and of course big things too. I'd like to go to the theatre, but it takes 100 jobs just to do one job. I can't just book theatre tickets, I have to make sure it's accessible, and take discrete cushions to support me through out the performance. I can't sit there for 4 hours, travel there and back without considerable pain and locking joints and someone to take me. So I don't bother anymore. I haven't wanted to lock myself away, it's not because I've chosen to, far from it. I hate being a burden, I keep myself to myself and have few trusted friends. When they talk about frustration, it's usually over other people's actions, laziness being one recurring theme. Another theme is the reaction to a persons sheer ineptitude, offering them help after they say they need it and then refusing it, offering advice when asked for and not acting on it, causing them to skid from one disaster to another. Others (including me) are frustrated at a lack of respect and honesty from people you love, who are supposed to care about you, lying to your face while smiling and causing you massive problems.
Is it ever easy to just cut those people off? To stop helping? To stop being that familiarity they know so well?
When you cut someone off, for all the right reasons, the sense of relief is enormous. You may feel guilt, but overwhelmingly, it's relief. No more being taken advantage of, no more advice ignored. No more picking up the pieces for someone who just lurches from one drama to another, and lie to lie.


Be more YOU. Be whatever it takes to be happy and stop accepting the things that frustrate you...And YOU WILL find you Have:

  •  Changed your life
  • Become happy
  • Realised your potential 
  • Broken old habits
  • Become who and what you always wanted to be. 
It's not about being cruel and cold, it's about self preservation and saving your sanity. Don't cut off people who really need you. I mean cut off those who drain you for their own good and own benefit, those who have negative and draining personalities, those who tap you for cash or a babysitter. You know the ones, who take a liberty and advantage of your good nature. Who smile at you while digging a knife in your back.

I like the new me. I'm still in pain, and my joints are messed up, but I can happily say "no" these days and not feel a shred of guilt.

Frustration? Do one.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Parsnipmeggedon...Or, What To Do When You Have Too Many Parsnips.

So...I ordered the food shopping Like I normally do, and in my defence the website wasn't working too well at the time, and I was tired. And - AND I had a really horrible virus so maybe just maybe there was a tiny bit of human error, but somehow and it's not my fault honest guv, but I ended up with just over 6 kilo's of parsnips. Bag after bag of parsnips came into the house and ever resourceful, I thought I would smile at the delivery man and and say "no no it's fine, don't have to take them back, I'll do something with them!" While picturing vats of parsnip wine, roast parsnips and parsnip crisps.
After a couple of days of parsnips, this fervour faded to fever. "I never want to see another parsnip again." Said Mr Bee, grumpily. "I like parsnips, mummy!" said Mini Bee, smiling. "But I don't want another one ever again at all ever!" she said with a bigger smile.
Eyeing the parsnips in the veg box,  because we couldn't get them all in the fridge, I came upon an idea. How about Parsnip cake? I asked. The silence that met me would be only akin to the type of silence I presume you would be met with upon sitting in a vacuum. I searched for a parsnip cake recipe and ooh would you believe it, I found one. I asked Big Bee to help with the prep, and off we went. "Of course you do realise, I HATE parsnips?" Big Bee sighed as she flicked some parsnip off her fingers.
"Shush you and grate those parsnips." I demanded. I was very...erm...hopeful it would work and do you know what? It DID! It turned out really nice...And yes we're doing it again. But not for a while...
We ended up giving away two bags of parsnips, blanching and freezing some and unfortunately, some ended up on the compost pile.

Here's the Parsnip cake we made. In case you are wondering, it was actually VERY good and I think it was better than carrot cake. This cake will keep for a couple of days in an airtight tin, serve it up with fresh tea or coffee.

We had the recipe from http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/514249#print-options-modal and it's perfect. We omitted the walnuts as we didn't have any, but I should imagine it would be excellent with them.

  • 320-350g parsnips
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 ml sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 250 g caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 large lemons
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 375 g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 60 g walnut pieces, chopped
  • icing sugar, for dusting


1. Grease a square cake tin by brushing it lightly with neutrally-flavoured oil. Line it with baking parchment, then oil lightly again. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

2. Peel and trim the parsnips, then coarsely grate enough to give 250g of grated vegetable. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together, then add the oil, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla extract and grated parsnips. Stir to combine and set aside.

4. Sift the self-raising flour, cinnamon and salt into a second large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre, then pour in the parsnip mixture. Add the chopped walnut pieces and stir just enough to combine the ingredients and make a stiff batter.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, spreading it out fairly evenly into the corners. Bake for 1 hour - 1 hour 20 minutes or until the cake is well risen, the top is firm and brown, and a metal skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

6. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes in the tin before lifting it out to a wire rack to cool completely. Dredge with icing sugar before serving.
(This is where we decided to mix 100 grams of icing sugar with lemon juice instead, and drizzled it over the top because we prefer it to dredged icing sugar - our picture shows this)

Iced rather than dredged.
The inside, soft, light and fluffy.

No raw bits of parsnip, no grated bits to chew on. It's like it melted into the mixture. It reminded me of the texture of red velvet cake...but ever so slightly softer. It has a lovely spicy gentleness to it as well, which lifts it from the parsnippiness. I felt it may have benefited from a cream cheese filling, as this definitely is a "tea-time" cake. I think I would serve it up on it's own with tea or coffee, I don't think it needs anything else. It was certainly different, and I preferred it to carrot cake which can be far too sweet and usually too heavy or oily. Mini Bee loved it, she kept asking for more, so that's got to be good!

This cake would be very easy to convert into gluten free, I suggest using Doves farm gluten free flour. To make it vegan, use a vegan egg replacer such as Organ egg replacer, available from good health food shops.