Wednesday, 17 January 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Black Bean and Mango Stew (two ways)

Hello lovelies! Last week I was having a mango craving and so I bought a bag of 500g frozen mango from Tesco for £2 as you get the most mango for the best price. Last week I roasted some mango with sweet potatoes and added it to a creamy red lentil dal.

I still had a few sweet potatoes and about 2/3 of a bag of mango left, so I adapted a recipe for Black Bean and Pineapple Stew which you can find HERE. She uses squash and pineapple, so i figured sweet potato and mango would work.

This makes enough for us to have for two nights. The first night I served it as a kind of thicker stew over brown rice, but the second night I added a tin of light coconut milk and made it more soupy.

Both were excellent.

The original recipe uses a cup of crushed pineapple and its juice. I wanted to retain that sweetness, so I added a 2 cups of mango to the stew and 1 cup cloudy apple juice to give the stew some sweetness. Lidl makes a really lush pressed cloudy apple juice for £1. The rest of the apple juice I froze in 1/4 cup portions so I can use to make the apple juice based dressing in THIS M&S copycat meal.

Black Bean and Mango Stew
Preheat your oven to 200C/400F
2 sweet potatoes, cut into cubes (about 400g--a medium and a small)
2 tsp oil
Drizzle your oil on your sweet potatoes and roast them in your big roasting tin for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and stir and roast a further 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the stew.
2 onions, chopped (I used a red and a white as that is what i had on hand)
1 red pepper, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin
1 TB chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp oregano
generous grating of black pepper

In a large saucepan, saute your onions, pepper and garlic in a splash of oil or few TB of water until softening. Add your spices and stir to coat. Then add the following:

1 tin of tomatoes pureed in a blender with 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp liquid smoke and 1/2-to 1 tsp red chilli flakes
2 cups frozen mango (no need to defrost)
1 cup apple juice
2 cups vegetable broth
3 cups black beans (cook yourself or drain and rinse two tins) 

Bring to the boil and then reduce heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are cooked. Fold in the roasted sweet potatoes and serve over brown rice.

Before we serve ourselves we put half away in a large jar for the next day.

The next day, add a tin of light coconut milk to your leftovers as you reheat them to turn them into a creamy soup.

So, that's it. Two ways to get your mango on. Enjoy.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--How old is the story of Little Red Riding Hood?

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.
Red Riding Hood by Vishnu M Nair
Vishnu M Nair
Today’s question is how old is the story of Little Red Riding Hood? Well, the first version to appear in print was written by French author Charles Perrault who wrote Le Petit Chaperon Rouge in his Histoires ou Contes du Temps Passe (Tales of Past Times) in.1697. Perrault is credited with laying the foundation of a new literary genre (the fairy tale) by retelling folk tales that had previously only existed orally. After Perrault's version was published, the tale rapidly grew in popularity and was anthologized in several English fairy tale collections during the 18th century

Huang Zhing wrote The Tiger Grandmother in China in the late 1600s (oral variants were common also in Japan and Korea). While this tale features a tiger and not a wolf, it is definitively a version of Little Red Riding Hood because in both tales the animal pretends to be grandma, attempts to prey on children and teaches a bit about “stranger danger.”  

The Brothers Grimm wrote Rotkäppchen (Little Red Cap) in Germany and published it in  Kinder und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales) in 1812. The Grimms most certainly based their version on Perrault’s, but changed the ending.

We don’t have enough information to know how old the tale actually is because the earliest versions weren’t written down (obviously), but we do know this:

According to Wikipedia:

The origins of the Little Red Riding Hood story can be traced to versions from various European countries. It was told by French peasants in the 10th century and recorded by the cathedral schoolmaster Egbert of Liege.  In Italy, the Little Red Riding Hood was told by peasants in the fourteenth century, where a number of versions exist, including La Finta Nonna (The False Grandmother), written among others by Italo Calvino in the Italian Folktales collection. (In 1956, Calvino collected 200 traditional Italian folktales from a variety of sources and compiled them into a book In his version it was an ogre and not a wolf, but the story remains the same.)

These early variations of the tale are quite different from the version you are probably familiar with. The antagonist is not always a wolf, but sometimes an ogrevampire, or a 'bzou' (werewolf) or as we see in the Chinese version, a tiger. At the time that these tales were being told, it was the height of the werewolf trials (similar to witch trials) making these tales relevant to the time. They also contain cannibalism (the young girl unwittingly eats the flesh of her dead grandmother and drinks her blood) and there is a sexual element to it as the wolf tells the girl to throw all her clothes on the fire as she won’t be needing them anymore. The earliest versions also tend to contain scatological elements (wee and poo!). These bodily functions help the girl form an escape plan. I like these early versions because Little Red is not the helpless victim that she appears in other more popular version. She is clever and resourceful and escapes. This plucky heroine is more to be found in the Asian versions than in the European ones.

Charles Dickens, the famous English author of such great works as Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist called Little Red Riding Hood his first love. "I should have known perfect bliss," he claimed, "if I had been able to marry her."  I think that speaks volumes about Dickens. 

Well my friends, that is the history of Little Red Riding Hood. Stay tuned next week for our earliest version which dates back to 14th century France and features a bzou (Werewolf.)

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Coconut Lentil Dal with Roasted Sweet Potato and Mango

Hello lovelies! I had a craving for mangoes this week, so I bought a bag of  frozen mango. Fresh mango is great, but one mango costs about a £1 and you have to wait for it to ripen, so you can't just eat it when you want it. Also, my mum once had a freaky allergic reaction to mango skin when peeling them, so don't like to take chances. A 500g bag of frozen mango costs £2 at Tesco, which is equal to approximately 3-4 mangoes. Win-win-win.

This recipe is so vibrant--I mean it was bursting with colours. It was almost florescent. The picture does not do it justice.

It is based on a recipe from the blog Including Cake. I can't seem to find the original recipe on her blog as she is having to re-index all the recipes. But basically, she had a a dal made from red lentils and coconut milk and spices which she topped with crispy spiced onions and mango. I kept the red lentils and the coconut milk and  some of the spices and added a sweet potato. She added 2 chopped tomatoes, i added a squidge of tomato puree.

Coconut Lentil Dhal with Roasted Sweet Potato and Mango
Preheat your oven to 200C/400F

I should mention that you need to have defrosted your mango for this recipe. So, the night before measure out one cup of  mango chunks and put them in a container in your fridge to defrost. Or frantically take them out the morning of the day you plan to cook it because you forgot the night before. Naming no names *coughSpidergrrlcough* 

400g sweet potatoes, chopped  (for me this was a little 'un and 2 tiddlers)

Put this in your large roasting pan and roasted for 20 minutes. At 20 minutes remove from the oven and add the defrosted mango chunks and roast an additional 10 minutes. (if you roast the mango too long it will break down and melt like a clock painted by Salvador Dali, so this is basically just to heat the mango without destroying the chunk shape.)

Meanwhile get ready to make your dal. It doesn't take long, so I let the sweet potatoes roast ten minutes before i begin the dal.

In a large pot add the following:

1 can coconut milk
1 cup vegetable broth
big squidge tomato puree (1-2 Tablespoons)
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp turmeric
1/2-1 tsp chilli flakes
3/4 cup red lentils, picked over for small stones and rinsed. 

Bring to the boil and then simmer  until lentils are tender. About 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking. If it is sticking, then turn your heat down a bit.

When the sweet potato and mango are roasted, spoon them over the bright orange dal. That's it! You can add salt and pepper to taste at this point.

This made 2 large bowls. If you needed to feed more people, maybe roast another sweet potato and another half cup of mango and serve over brown rice.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Once Upon a Time

Hello and welcome to the first in this year’s series of Fairy Tale Friday where I will be looking at the elements of different fairy tales and sharing variations on each story.
               Image result for fairy tales
Why fairy tales? I have a long history of devouring fairy tales. I was brought up on a steady diet of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. As a child, I much preferred the darker elements of these tales rather than the sanitised Disney version. Still do. I have written hundreds of short stories and nearly all of them are fairy tales. My mother always says they are “creepy.” I take that as a compliment. I learned from the masters. For years, I have thought about compiling my stories into collections and publishing them. I thought that this year, I would do an in-depth study of the tales that I love, and it would inspire me to write more and finally publish. Watch this space.

I thought it might help to begin by talking about what is a fairy tale?
 Fairy tales are a genre in literature that have their roots in the oral tradition. Fairy tales with very similar plots, characters, and motifs are found spread across many different cultures. I hope to share with you many variations of the tale you know (or think you know!) over the course of this year.  

 How does a fairy tale differ from a fable?
According to: source
A fairy tale is a fictional story that may feature folkloric characters (such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, witches, giants, and talking animals) and enchantments, often involving a far-fetched sequence of events.
A fable is a brief, succinct story, in prose or verse, that features animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature which are anthropomorphised (given human qualities), and that illustrates a moral lesson (a "moral"), which may at the end be expressed explicitly in a pithy maxim.
 A fable differs from a parable in that the latter excludes animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as actors that assume speech and other powers of humankind.

 Elements found in fairy tales (again, courtesy of source)

Special beginning and/or ending words Once upon a time...and they lived happily ever after. Sometimes, there’s a surprise ending…
 Good character ~ Do you see a kind, innocent character? Is the good character clever? Is s/he helped by others?
 Evil character ~ Do you see a witch? A demon? An evil stepmother? A sinister gnome? In the end, the evil character usually loses somehow…
 Royalty ~ Is there a castle? A prince? A princess? A king? A queen?
 Poverty~ Do you see a poor working girl, a poor family, a poor shepherd? – Do you see poor people trying to eke out a living to have enough to eat?
 Magic and Enchantments ~ Do you see magical things happening? Do you see talking animals/objects? You might see fairies, trolls, elves, goblins, etc.
 Reoccurring Patterns / Numbers ~ Do you see any patterns? Often, you’ll see things, phrases, tasks appear in "threes," “sixes,” and/or "sevens"
 Universal Truths ~ the tale probably touches on some universal experiences (i.e., coming of age) or hopes (i.e., to have enough food and love)

 Common motifs in fairy tales include:

  •          Talking animals / objects
  •          Cleverness / trickster / word games
  •          Traveller's tales
  •         Origins ~ where do we come from?
  •         Triumph of the poor
  •         Human weakness explored (i.e., curiosity, gluttony, pride, laziness, etc.)
  •         Human strengths glorified (i.e., kindness, generosity, patience, etc.)
  •         Trickster (sometimes a hero, sometimes on the side of evil but humans benefit)
  •         Tall story (slight exaggeration – hyperbole)
  •         Magic words or phrases; repetition of phrases/words (abracadabra!)
  •         Guardians (fairy godmothers, mentors, magical helpers, guides, etc.)
  •         Monsters (dragons, ogres, evil creatures, etc.)
  •         Struggle between good and evil, light and dark
  •         Youngest vs. Oldest (sons, daughters, sibling rivalry)
  •         Sleep (extended sleep, death-like trances)
  •         Impossible tasks (ridiculously mind-numbing, fantastic effort needed to complete, etc.)
  •         Quests
  •         Gluttony / Starvation (there’s a fine line between eating for survival and succumbing to temptation)
  •         Keys, passes (opening new doors)
  •         Donors, Benefactors, Helpers

How are fairy tales classified?
 Fairy tales and folk tales are classified under the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Tale Type Classification (ATU).

Antti Aarne was a Finnish folklorist and began the classification system used today to categorise folk tales. He first published his classification system in 1910. In 1920, Stith Thompson translated Aarne's work and expanded it making the Aarne-Thompson Classification. In 1961, Thompson published an updated version of Aarne's catalogue and created the AT Number System. The AT Number system was updated and expanded in 2004 by Hans-Jörg Uther where it became known as the ATU Classification System. 

The fairy tale I plan to start with is Little Red Riding Hood which is classified as ATU 333 (supernatural animals). Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Hoppin' John and Cornbread

Happy New Year! Blwyddyn Newydd Dda! 

After a successful day demonstrating against blood sports when the Fox Hunting Association had their annual parade through town before they went off to kill an innocent creature, we settled down to enjoy this traditional Southern dish. 

You *must* eat black eyed peas, cabbage or other greens and cornbread on New Year’s Day. FACT. The foods represent luck and prosperity--the black eyed peas standing in for coins and the greens for dollars (or in our case pound notes) and the cornbread for gold.

To quote Chris Rock: Cornbread. Ain't nothin' wrong with that.

How did this tradition come about? Is it only something people do south of the Mason Dixon line? According to

Why Are Black Eyed Peas Good Luck?
The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman's troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.
I don’t know about that, but I do know that this is a very satisfying meal that is cheap to make. It’s a stick-to-yer-ribs kind of meal. This is a vegan adaptation of the Southern dish Hoppin’ John.

Wikipedia says:
The Oxford English Dictionary's first reference to the dish is from Frederick Law Olmsted's 19th century travelogue, A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States (1861).However, a recipe for "Hopping John" in The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge, which was published in 1847, is also cited as the earliest reference. An even earlier source is Recollections of a Southern Matron,  which mentions "Hopping John" (defined, in a note, as "bacon and rice") as early as 1838.  The origins of the name are uncertain; one possibility is that the name is a corruption of the Haitian Creole term for black-eyed peas: pois pigeons (pronounced [pwapiˈʒɔ̃]), or "pigeon peas" in English.

I kind of see how that is possible. If you say Pois Pigeon, it does sound a *bit* like Hoppin’ John.

(if you close your eyes) 

Traditionally, Hoppin’ John was flavoured with bacon or a little ham hock. It was poor food that just used meat to flavour the dish not be the “main event.” Being vegan means meat is no event at all (main or otherwise), but don’t worry. Smoked paprika and liquid smoke will give you’re a cruelty free way to flavour your dish.

Now, as I said, this dish is best served with Cornbread. Or Cornybread as my Texas grandmother used to call it. It’s best to do your cornbread first.

Spidergrrl's Foolproof Cornybread

You need:
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 tsp vinegar
1 cup of corn--frozen and defrosted in boiling water for a few minutes and drained
1 cup polenta or cornmeal
1/2 cup flour (GF flour works great here--add 3/4 tsp xanthan gum)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking POWDER
1 TB onion powder --it makes it taste like hush puppies!
2 TB oil
2 TB liquid sweetener like agave, maple syrup or Lyle's Golden Syrup (my choice)

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Grease an 8 x 8 square pan.
2. In a blender, blend the milk, vinegar and HALF the corn to make a sort of creamed corn. Let it set aside to curdle and go all tangy and yum like buttermilk.
3. Sift together the flour, polenta, baking powder, onion powder and salt.
4. Mix wet into dry and add the oil and liquid sweetener and remaining half cup of corn. You can add the oil and sweetener to the blender, but it makes it harder to clean so I don't. I just add the oil and sweetener to the dry ingredients when I add the creamed corn.
5. Pour into prepared pan and bake 28-32 minutes until browning at the edges and slightly pulling away. Or do the toothpick test.
6. If you make it GF, then let it cool for about 15 minutes before you slice to prevent crumbling.

Once that’s going, start to work on your Hoppin’ John. This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Vegan on the Cheap (or Cheap-Ass Vegan, as Spiderman calls it)

Hoppin' John Soup
You need:
1 (white) onion, finely diced
1 pepper, probably the green one, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
enough garlic to scare the vampires
100g which is about 3-4 cups worth of kale, de-stemed and torn into tiny bites. We just buy a 200g bag and divide it in half and use it over two meals.
Squidge of tomato puree
splash tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke
Cajun spices to taste or a tsp smoked paprika and a tsp thyme
1.5 cups black eyes peas--1 tin drained and rinsed or cook your own
4 cups hot broth
1/2 cup brown rice
I large potato, cubed

Note: This feeds us for 2 days if you use TWO large potatoes and an extra cup of broth

1. Sauté your onion and carrot and pepper in a bit of oil or water until softening. Add your garlic and cook just a minute or so more.
2. Add your tomato puree and tamari soy sauce to deglaze the pan. Add your spices and stir to coat your vegetables.
3. Add 4 cups hot vegetable broth, the potato, (or 5 cups broth and 2 potatoes) and the rice. Bring to the boil and reduce heat and simmer until rice is cooked. Our brown rice takes around 25 minutes.
4. Add in the black eyed peas, kale and liquid smoke and simmer until kale has wilted and cooked down--about five minutes. Keep stirring to make the kale wilt faster.
5. Serve over cornbread while talking in your best "Ah do declare" Southern accent. 

Enjoy, everyone! May 2018 be a year where we change the world for good! 

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

How To Bathe a Snail

Hello! It's been nearly eight weeks since we adopted the Bronte Snails. Can you believe it? It's been a learning curve because they require much more daily care than the Spiderbabes. We adore our spidery friends and wouldn't trade them for the world, but it has been lovely to have the Snails to interact with as well.

For me, as a person who doesn't get to cuddle many animals due to crippling allergies, the Bronte Snails have been great as I get to hold them. While you technically *can* hold the spiders, the BTS (that's the British Tarantula Society) really discourages it.

The Bronte GALS (Giant African Land Snails) or ACE (Anne, Charlotte and Emily) as they are also known are fascinating creatures. We know a lot about spider anatomy, but have had to brush up on our snail anatomy.

For instance, did you know that snails are hermaphrodites? Yup, they have both a penis and a vagina so if you put two together, they will mate and the larger one will be the female and lay eggs. This is why the Bronte Snails are all living in separate containers.

For what I am about to describe, it might help to know  little basic anatomy. Here is a helpful diagram.
                           Image result for snail anatomy
When you look online at How To Care For Your Giant African Land Snail websites (and there are a lot of them) they talk about the importance of keeping your snail moist and warm. They can die if they dry out or get too cold. The Spiderbabes all have heat mats, so we know how to deal with this warmth issue.

We keep the humidity up in their tanks by misting the substrate, but we were finding that the condensation was making it boggy (I was having to siphon out about a Tablespoon of water each day that had collected in a puddle.) Nobody likes to live in a puddle, not even snails. This is an ongoing issue we are still working through.

We kept reading about "Snail Bathing" but kept reading conflicting reports. How much water do you use? If you use too much they can drown. But how much is too much?

Then we found this video:

      So, we decided to try it last night as it was clean out the tanks night.

Problem one: The water should be tepid but on the warm side. When you run the tap from our sink it was either HOT or COLD. We could not get warm to save our lives. I have misted the tank with a spray bottle where the water was cool room temperature and have watched the snails suck back into their shells at lightening speed like an undescended testicle. And hot water might burn their little sensitive skin.
Problem two: Even if we could get the temperature right, we weren't keen on the water waste for running the tap that long for each snail.
Problem solved: we filled the sink with tepid but warm water and used a plastic pitcher as a waterfall to pour over their heads.

I cannot gauge the "emotion" that snails have, but I can say they reacted in a way that seemed to show pleasure. At least they did not show displeasure.

Often in their tanks, you see their foot (see anatomy above) quite big and spread out beneath their shell with their head close to the mantle edge, but often don't see them "stick their neck out." I held them the opposite way from the video so I could see their wee faces. The point of the shell was facing my fingers and their head was looking at me.

As soon as Spiderman started to slowly pour the warm water each snail extended their head towards the water and I could feel the foot sliding forward in my hand. In the end each one extended up my wrist into the waterfall and was extended between 3 and 4 inches long. And each of them did that adorable thing they do when you put their favourite food cucumber in their tank--one eyestalk goes up and down like a piston.

I should mention here in the nearly eight weeks since we have brought them home, they have DOUBLED in size. Their shells are now about as big as an egg  (a large egg in Charlotte's case--she's a beast!) Anne comes in in second place and Emily was a titch when we brought her home, but is catching up with her sisters.

Remember that when fully grown the Bronte GALS will look like this:
                Image result for giant african land snails

After their bath we put them in the travel box while we cleaned out their tanks and gave them fresh substrate. Each one stayed extended for a long time and so I managed to snap a good picture of each of them.

In ACE order:
Anne all flattened out
Charlotte trying to escape (again)
Emily trying to copy her big sister Charlotte
Emily has had some shell issues. The others instinctively went to their cuttlefish bone and ate some for calcium every day. Especially Charlotte. She nearly ate her whole cuttlefish bone which is why she is so much bigger--more calcium = bigger shell. But Emily never went on there. We had to teach her how by putting her food on there so she'd get lured over to the cuttlefish and hopefully figure out how to eat some calcium. We also started supplementing their calcium by sprinkling limestone flour (calcium carbonate) on their food. 

Is there such a thing as a Special Needs Snail? Maybe. If so, that might be Emily.

Anyway, because she wasn't eating enough calcium, my thumb pushed through her shell a month ago when I was trying to pick her up. I cried as I thought i had hurt her. But what she did next was fascinating.

She retracted her head inside the shell and came out where the breakage was and starting rasping it with her mouth to file the rough edges down. Then when the break was smooth, she secreted a white gluey substance to seal the edges. Over time her shell grew back. If you look at the picture below I have circled where the breakage was and you can see how much new shell she has created since then.

It has been an interesting journey to get to know these GALS. We are so blessed to have these wonderful animals in our lives--the Spiderbabes and the Bronte Snails.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

What We Ate Wednesday--Sticky Toffee Pudding

Hello lovelies! I hope you had a very happy holiday! We had a glorious feast of savoury nutroast, crispy roast potatoes, green peas, homemade orange cranberry sauce and lashings of gravy. Then we had roasted parsnips and carrots like bookends on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

But what did we have for dessert? Sticky Toffee Pudding. Which is not a pudding at all, but a date cake with toffee sauce. Confused? In the UK, the term pudding can actually refer to any sort of dessert, not just the pudding sort. A bit like how every kind of fizzy drink in the American South is a coke. (as in Q:What kind of coke do you want? A:I'll take a sprite.)

There are plenty of high caloric versions out there with skyrocketing sugar and laden with animal fat and secretions, but this one is lower in sugar and fat and still taste *amazing.*

The original recipe comes from {HERE}. Oh She Glows is one of my favourite food blogs. I made it  a few years ago as it is described in the recipe in the link and it was a wee bit more trouble to make and used more dates than my regular date cake recipe. I decided this year to make my regular foolproof date cake recipe and then add the Toffee Sauce from Oh She Glows' recipe.

Now, this date cake recipe is lovely on its own. It comes up great gluten free--plenty moist and sticky. It makes a lovely snack cake or tea cake. But add the toffee sauce and might just want to slap your mama.

{HERE} is a link to my date cake recipe. I have included step by step instructions with photos to show you how to make it. I mean, if you have the time and can afford extra dates then by all means use the one from the Oh She Glows website. But this cake only uses 18 dates, so was more economical to make. Her cake also had pecan in them. I only had about half a cup pecan left from other cooking adventures so i opted to sprinkle mine on the top for some crunch instead of baking them inside the cake.

So, make whichever date cake cake you want--OH SHE GLOWS version or MY DATE CAKE.
Then when the cake has about ten minutes left in the oven make the toffee sauce.

Notes on the toffee sauce: it is *delicious* and would be perfect for making and drizzling over just about anything like ice cream or just straight into your mouth. Seriously, I could have drunk it. It needs a THICK liquid to make it like a toffee. She suggests brown rice syrup which is what I used, but as i was squeezing it out of the bottle I thought to myself golden syrup might well have worked and would cost less than brown rice syrup. I think something like Karo syrup would work if you live in the US. Both golden syrup and Karo syrup would be less healthy than brown rice syrup, but you only use 1/3 cup syrup, so don't sweat it if you don't want to splash out of expensive syrup when you already have something suitable in your cupboard.

Oh She Glows Toffee Sauce
1/3 cup brown rice syrup (or other thick syrup like golden syrup or Karo)
 1/3 cup unpacked brown sugar (I used Demerara)
3 TB vegan butter
1 TB  vanilla extract
1 TB plant based milk
Hefty pinch of (smoked) sea salt

 1/2 cup broken pecans

Bring to a low simmer, whisking constantly until sugar is dissolved and the sauce is warm. Stir in pecans.

When cake comes out of the oven use a fork to poke as many holes as you can (I made about 100) and then pour the toffee sauce over the top making sure all the holes are covered.

The toffee syrup sinks down into the holes and makes the cake all sweet and sticky and delicious.

We had a (large) slice warm from the oven as breakfast on Christmas day and then a (large) slice room temperature for breakfast on Boxing Day before Spiderman went to work wrangling those butterflies at the Botanic Garden.

After all, breakfast *is* the most important meal of the day.

I love this cake because it is relatively low in fat and sugar compared to other versions I have seen. Plus no animal was harmed to make it, so you just feel good about having a large slice for breakfast as a treat.