About Us

We have been blogging since February 2006 (here is Freya's first ever blog post). Our first food blog, Writing at the Kitchen Table was starting to gather momentum when, in 2008 Paul decided to purchase a timber company and all that blogging nonsense got left behind. 
Unfortunately, so did our diet and love of kitchen experimentation. As the stresses of running your own business became paramount, so our diet became secondary to our lives and we slowly but surely began to put on weight.
Here's us on our wedding day, February 2004.
My original "About Us" page, from Writing at the Kitchen Table has a little bit of preamble about cooking at my mother's knee. For the sake of historical accuracy, and because I like the post, I will share it here. This was originally written in February 2006. Of course, much has changed for us since then, but my love of food remains.
What I hope to achieve today, with Writing at the Vegan Kitchen Table is to recreate those recipes that we learned as children, learned together and make them accessible for us (and our readers!) now that we are vegan.
Us, on holiday. A little older, a little wiser, a little plumper.

"OK, so by the time I moved into a (rented) house with my husband, I had a reasonably solid repartee of recipes (read: Spaghetti Bolognese, Lasagne, Chile, a curry non-specific and all the other usual suspects). However, I have always had an over-whelming desire to cook mountains of food for people. This is somewhat of a non sequitur because I am not particularly sociable. I enjoy the preparation of food, and I enjoy people enjoying my food but I find having to be polite to work colleagues or old friends who you haven’t seen in quite a few years to be a bit of a chore. I suppose if you produce a bountiful tableful of food, then you’re at least halfway there. Essentially, food and eating IS a social matter and to be honest, I do like cooking for my family although their dietary requirements can be tedious. There are two sides, like yin and yang or, perhaps more fittingly, Laurel and Hardy, to the eating habits of the women in my family: fad dieting or voracious eating. There is no middle ground. I have seen Atkins, GI, Food Combining, Detoxing, Liquid Diets come and go and I’ve even heard alarming reports of the usage (unwittingly) of amphetamines in the 60s and 70s to induce rapid weight loss. I am not an advocate of fad diets or in fact any diets! I am unable to give up carbohydrates, particularly potatoes and pasta. It is a burden being an ancestor of a survivor of the Irish Potato Famine and for sure I won’t let that happen again.
Many people learn how to cook through example as children, and I spent much of my childhood chopping onions or peeling garlic or stirring tomato sauce alongside my mother. I don’t wish to sound as though my mother put me to use in some sort of child labour, far from it. I have always felt at home in the kitchen, even other people’s – I suppose I’m a sort of portable kitchen utensil that can be used to rustle up a meal if everyone else is too lazy/drunk/incompetent.
I believe that if you grow up in a household where a kitchen is used for (gasp!) cooking and not just for microwaving ready meals or warming socks in the oven or looking like a showroom, you automatically become used to home cooking and nothing else will do. You utilise age-old family recipes, each generation adding their own minor adjustments to suit their lifestyle and that is how family histories are made. Many families have an old cookbook that Great Great Aunt Dottie started in 1850 and although some of the recipes, like those for brawn or pigs trotters stewed in blood of hare are not likely to be made anytime soon, there are recipes for fruit cakes, sponge cakes, peppermint creams, stews and casseroles, that are the best you will ever taste. Unfortunately in my family, all the recipes are scrawled on pieces of paper that my mother fastidiously filed away in a special recipe binder. Some of the recipes are written in faded pencil so it’s always pot-luck as to whether it calls for 2 tbsp or 2 tsp of baking powder. Many are splashed with milk or stock or chocolate icing.

I have very fond memories of my mother’s kitchen. Running along the top of the kitchen was a small recess in which a myriad of spices were stored. It was one of my chores to dust these tiny pots. I would teeter on top of a rickety wooden chair, unscrew the wooden lid from each pot and inhale their unique aromas: the musty nutmeg adored by Italians and remembered fondly as the dusting on top of custard tarts; the heady, perfumy 5-spice and Star Anise, used primarily in our household for molasses sticky, mouth wateringly tender spare ribs; Cinnamon, the queen of all spices, overtly loved in America but beautifully redolent in Mexican Cuisine; ancient Bay Leaves, their delicate crumbliness belying their irreplaceable flavour in stews and soups; finally the fiery, russet coloured dried chillies - always the most alluring to me because of constant warnings about eating them straight from the jar. One afternoon, not being able to resist their temptation any longer, I pulled a spectacularly long chilli from the jar, sunk my teeth into it, tasted nothing at first, as dried chillies really have no flavour until they are soaked, just heat, and then scuttling to the sink to souse my burning mouth with cold water.
Just as my mother and her mother before her has, I too have little pots full of exotic spices, of which I only use a handful. However, I feel safe knowing that I can produce some Middle Eastern delicacy or a Mexican Mole because I have Nigella or Achiote Seeds. Really, I'm just carrying on a family legacy."

Us today, in Devon. Happy, healthy and still here!

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