Natalie goes medieval vegan with tasty dish
LYTH-based model Natalie Oag is taking on the 2020 vegan challenge to find the best plant-based dishes available in Caithness.
January is marketed by the Vegan Society as Veganuary – a month in which the public is urged to try a plant-based diet – and with the current one coming to an end Natalie plans to further promote the diet she calls "the best ethical and healthy choice".
Together with her constant companion, chihuahua Louis Vuitton, Natalie visited award-winning Whaligoe Steps Café and Restaurant where owner Karen McMaster rose to the challenge of making a hearty vegan dish.
"Karen kindly took on the challenge and made a medieval vegan dish called mushroom and oat pottage," said Natalie, who is also the Highland representative for the animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta).
Karen explained: "This is a versatile and quick lunch or supper. Considering how popular salted porridge is in Scotland as a breakfast dish, it has always surprised me that it has not been used more in a savoury context."
In medieval times, poorer people would have largely subsisted on vegetables and grains with occasional meat when available.
They would chop all the vegetables into a big cauldron and boil them in whatever broth they could make from stray bones and vegetable scraps.
The stew would then be thickened by adding oats or barley, and spiced with whatever herbs grew in their garden.
Karen, with a bit of help from Natalie, worked away in her kitchen to create the delightful dish which took only 20 minutes to finish and made a perfect light lunch for four.
Natalie scored the dish as a 10 out of 10 and said she planned on making it for a dinner party and was keen to get feedback on it.
"I loved the dish. It’s quick to prepare and cook and ideal for families," Natalie said.
Whaligoe Steps Café and Restaurant is closed for the winter but will reopen in March.
Karen's recipe is available on the café's website at whaligoesteps.co.uk/cafe/recipes/001-2020-01-Mushroom-Barley-recipe.pdf