Rose Elliot

When I first became vegetarian my friend Claire gave me Rose Elliot’s The Classic Vegetarian Cookbook.

It has lots of basics and nice ideas and has been my most-used book ever. Since then Rose Elliot has written many more cookbooks, both vegetarian and vegan.

Her website has some delicious recipes on it, as well as lots of helpful tips on being a healthy veggie. Some of her books are also displayed… I have several others by her and love them all.

Click here to view some of her recipes.

When looking at her website I found out that she received the MBE from the Queen in 1999 for services to vegetarian cookery. Rose is patron of a number of charities, including the Vegetarian Society in the UK, VIVA! (Vegetarian International Voice for Animals) and The Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation.

November Colour

November is definitely not the best time of year to try taking photos of gardens! Yet my Mum’s garden has still got a few beauties. Winter certainly hasn’t reached this patch of middle England yet.

Look at this fabulous Fuchsia – a hardy one which I could only dream of in my own garden in Germany. It looks almost plastic here, like some gaudy Christmas tree decoration… wouldn’t they make great earrings!!

Then there is still this single Penstemon flower remaining, trembling a little in the high winds we’ve been having.

And the pretty Cotinus coggygria ‘Purpureus’ (Smoke Bush), which catches the afternoon sunshine (when there is any… we’ve barely had a few rays in the past ten days!)

Everything is still looking so green and alive as there has barely been any frost here yet. It is incredibly mild this autumn in England.


Traditionally the Christmas markets in Germany open the first weekend of Advent.

My first visit to a German Christmas market, way back in 1987, will always be a magnificent memory for me.

I shall never forget the sudden overwhelming scents of cinnamon and nuts roasted in sugar, of mulled wine and punch, caramalised fruits and fruit cake, roasting chestnuts, fresh dates, roasted sausages, sauerkraut and schupfnudeln (finger-shaped potato noodles fried with kraut and onions). The wafting of all these delicious smells was so unexpected. I had had no idea! I was simply expecting the visual delight of stalls displaying all the little tree decorations and shiny baubles.

Visually it was, however, also much more than just glittery stands. The steam and haze surrounding the food stalls gave everything an ethereal glow. And the crowds of people, all looking so happy, with rosy cheeks from the cold, was a pure pleasure to see.

Then there were the sounds. Obviously a crowd has a kind of buzz, but there were also musical boxes and faint Christmas carols on the tannoy speakers, and the carousel music and the clanking of mugs full of hot drinks.

I remember eating a white-chocolate-coated banana on a stick, some cinnamon sugar roasted almonds, and some schupfnudeln with tangy sauerkraut. Washed down with a piping hot mug of Gluehwein (hot red wine and juice mixed with spices and sugar).

And I remember buying a couple of the little decorations from the amazing choice on the stalls…such difficult decisions!

And I remember feeling very small among all the hubbub.

Deck the Halls!

Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
‘Tis the season to be jolly
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Don we now our gay apparel.
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol.
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la

(Old Christmas carol)

Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent, and in Germany it is the traditional day for turning on your Christmas lights, putting up the decorations, baking your Christmas cookies, and getting into the Christmas spirit! There is a real sense of Advent time in Bavaria, and although there has been gingerbread in the shops since September the change in mood is always quite palpable this weekend.

Pastry and Pumpkin Pie

I thought I had basic shortcrust pastry sussed… “half fat to flour”, we learned in Home Economics lessons at school…. “rub the fat into the flour with the fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs”.”Stir in a little water with a metal knife”…

A few years ago I discovered Rose Elliot‘s delicious flaky pastry… a slightly higher ratio of fat, chilled and grated into the flour and brought together with icy water to form a dough.  Great for Delia Smith‘s vegetarian sausage rolls, or for apple pie.

But then I tried this recipe for a shortcrust pastry pie crust from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.  Perfect. I haven’t looked back since! It actually has less than “half fat to flour”.

I used it recently for my autumn favourite: Pumpkin Pie! There was enough pastry left over to make two mini quiches too. Here’s the recipe, exactly as in The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (which I thoroughly recommend, and you can order it here from amazon!).

The Hummingbird Bakery Pumpkin Pie

Basic Pie Crust

260g plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 110g (unsalted) butter

Grease a 23cm pie dish. Put the flour, salt and butter in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. (I used the old-fashioned hand method mentioned above… old habits die hard!)

Add 1 tbsp water and beat until well-mixed. Add a second tbsp water and beat until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for an hour.

Roll out on a floured surface and line the pie dish, trimming the edges. (I actually lined the pie dish directly after mixing and let it rest in the fridge for 20 mins.)

(No pre-baking required)


Preheat oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.

1 egg, 425g tin pumpkin puree, 235ml evaporated milk, 220g caster sugar, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp salt, 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1 tbsp flour (I used slightly different spices, adding cardamom and mixed spice instead of the cloves)

Put everything in a large bowl and mix until smooth and well combined. Pour into uncooked pie crust and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the filling is set firm.

Leave to cool completely, and serve with a big dollop of whipped cream.

My personal tip: when whipping the cream add a tsp liqueur such as Cointreau. I used some of my homemade Herb Liqueur and it adds that certain “je ne sais quoi”!

Fine Words

Fine words butter no parsnips

Old English Proverb

The meaning is that words alone are useless, especially flattering phrases or fine promises, and you should judge people by what they do rather than by what they say. The origin of this proverb is unknown, but appears to be at least 400 years old.

By the way, to butter someone up means to flatter someone, often with an ulterior motive to persuade them to do something.

– These flowers are lovely. Are you trying to butter me up?