Tag Archives: vegan

Life begins at fifty – Healthy Life #14 My favourite way to eat quinoa and kale…at the moment!

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Up until last month, I didn’t like quinoa. I’d had it twice, once hot and once cold, but both times it was bland, wierd and gritty. I wanted to like quinoa. Whole grains are important in a plant based diet, and I was sure quinoa could be useful. Then I learned something interesting – add your flavourings to quinoa BEFORE you add water to cook it. This is my favourite way to cook quinoa.

Cooking quinoa

1 cup quinoa

1 cup water

1 tablespoon sesame/coconut oil (I cut this down to 2 tspns of sesame oil, and it works!)

1 teaspoon turmeric

salt and pepper

1 Toast quinoa in the oil and turmeric until you can smell the spices, and all the grains are well coated.

2 Add salt and pepper and stir again.

3 Add water. Bring to the boil and cook on a low heat for 12-15 mins. (Half cover the pan and stir at 10 mins to check all is well.)

The quinoa should puff up and all the water will be gone. Tip into another bowl. Fluff up with a fork and allow to cool.

This quinoa is tasty hot or cold, and a great way to get your daily turmeric, as well as being a whole grain.

Which leads us to kale…my delicious chickpea and spinach recipe https://wendysteele.com/?s=spinach+and+chick+peas

can be made with kale, but I’ve been looking for a way to eat kale raw, and Alyssa at Simply Quinoa gives a number of options. I’m working my way through them, and I’m sharing my favourite so far with you today. For more recipes, this is Alyssa’s YouTube channel  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKUDSBYR-rOFBflYGJ43Ixg

Kale and quinoa salad

1 cup red cabbage

1 cup grated carrot

½ cup quinoa (I used 1 1/2 cups)

4 cups chopped kale

¼ cup cashews

(I added ¼ cup raisins)

Dressing:

3 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons rice vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

1 whole lime, juice of (I used ½ lime)

¼ teaspoon maple syrup

1 In a large bowl check through kale and remove all hard stems. Add dressing and massage for 1-2 minutes. (I added half the dressing, then a little more, so didn’t use it all and saved it in the fridge)

2 Mix in the rest of the ingredients and it’s ready to eat, or chill in fridge.

This salad is a great way to tick off lots of boxes of your Daily Dozen! There’s veg and cruciferous veg, whole grains and nuts. In the photo you can see I added more salad, with tomatoes, rocket and beetroot, as well as pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

I hope this has inspired you to try quinoa and kale for yourself, and do share your favourite ways to eat them! See you soon for more recipes and updates on my Healthy Life journey.

 

 

 

 

 

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Life begins at fifty – Healthy life #13 – Why Vegan?

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This post documents my personal journey from being brought up as a meat eater by my parents to my ethical and health based choice to be counted as a Vegan. Everyone’s story is different. My reason for sharing my story is my inability to understand how a person can stop being a Vegan, if they’ve made a stand to be counted as one, and return to eating animal products. Let me tell you why…

I was born and brought up in a typical, ordinary household, where we had a roast dinner on Sunday, that also made up a dinner of cold meat, chips and peas on Monday, and the remnants added to the curry on Tuesday. As a child, I always disliked hot meat.

It wasn’t until I left home, bumped into an old friend at a wedding reception, that I learned there was an alternative to eating meat and fish. I was in a position to cook for myself, but didn’t know how, so I signed myself up for an evening class in vegetarian cookery. I chose to give up eating living creatures when I committed to being a vegetarian. It wasn’t easy. Though I rarely ate out, omelettes were the usual choice available at a restaurant. Over the years I built up a repertoire of delicious vegetarian meals, sharing recipes in the school playground if asked. At that time, I believed I was doing my best for animals, the human family and the planet by not eating meat and fish. I’d read as widely as I could (before the internet) about the huge swathes of land and water given over to producing beef that could feed the world, and I wanted to be part of a movement that had that as a goal.

Almost fifteen years later, with my life maxed out with stress, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In order to stop the pain, I needed to change my diet. With little guidance, I struggled to work out what was causing the problem. Further tests revealed I was intolerant to wheat and dairy, as well as a list of other foods. Wheat and dairy were the main culprits, causing most of my pain, yet I’d spent years cooking and perfecting recipes that regularly featured both (hence the problem), and I struggled to cope with the change. I continued to cook for my family, while eating very little in an attempt to keep my pain small too.

Bellydance saved my life. I joined in a class at the age of 40 with my daughter, then aged 9. I knew if I wanted to dance, I needed to eat. I began to learn to put meals together for myself without wheat and dairy.

It took me years to get the balance of foods ‘right’ in my body, and I tended to eat less, just to be on the safe side.

Five years ago my partner and I moved to Wales. Around this time, one of our sons switched from vegetarian to veganism. He pointed me in the direction of videos and books, explaining how damaging dairy can be on the body. He lives with arthritis, has done since he was twelve, and he decided to remove dairy from his diet. The inflammation in his joints reduced significantly and he felt a lot better, so my partner and I took a step in that direction; I gave up the goat’s cheese I occasionally ate and the Magnum ice lollies (made with skimmed milk powder that didn’t affect me as much), and my partner cut down on cheese. The biggest change was adding more green vegetables to our diet and making them a much bigger part of our plate share. Eldest son and his fiancee joined in the plant based eating, switching from eating meat to focussing on plants. Recipe swapping was prevalent, though the youngsters were so much freer with trying new ideas, making up recipes as they went along.

January 2018 my partner and I gave up smoking nicotine. The hormones in my body went ballistic. Weight landed around my middle, I felt weighed down, depressed and anxious. I took up walking regularly. In the time we’d been in Wales, we’d watched documentaries and Youtube videos about the environment, knowing a crisis was coming. We’d always done our best to recycle and make as few trips in the car as possible. By December 2018 it was evident that the climate crisis was upon us. Everyone needed to do their best.

I knew eating a whole food, plant based diet was best for my body. I now know it’s best for the planet too. I can’t proclaim to care about the amazing planet we live on, if I don’t stand up and be counted as a Vegan. I know Vegan means different things to different people; it must do, or the vloggers who can quit so easily were lying all along. I was a vegetarian; I am now a Vegan, and for me that means not consuming animal products or derivatives, but it also means I live my life caring about the causes of all my actions; from driving to a supermarket for only three items, to buying a bag of salad in a plastic bag. I need to think, and make choices not just for me. I’m not perfect. I have a long way to go, but it’s no longer a good enough excuse to say ‘but plastic is so convenient’ or ‘but I prefer drinking from a plastic straw’.

The new array of Vegan products in the supermarkets made to taste like meat, are a step in the right direction for all meat eaters to join in Meat Free Monday, but small steps need to be converted to big strides quickly. We need celebrities to get on board now. I was appalled to read Dr Michael Moseley’s articles on why he won’t be going Vegan or giving up meat, and even more disheartened to read in the comments the hateful abuse against vegans. It’s time we woke up to what is really happening to our world, or there won’t be a world to wake up to. It’s time to care. The time has gone to say ‘I’ll think about it’. We need to act now, so why not join me on my Vegan journey?

I’m excited! I’ve thousands of new recipes and food combinations to explore. Plant based food tastes good and it does you good! My energy levels have definitely increased since the beginning of this year, and my excess weight is disappearing. Check out the recipes on this website – put in ‘plant based’ or ‘healthy eating’ into the search box and away you go. All recipes are tried and tested, and my tips and alternatives are listed for your convenience.

We already do clothes swaps within our tribe….why not organise a similar one with your friends? Use local swap sites rather than buying new. Recycle items yourself….the inside of a washing machine makes a fabulous fire pit!

We can do this! Let’s join forces to save our planet.

 

Life Begins at Fifty – Healthy Life #10 HCH Lentil Loaf

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Welcome to another recipe post!

I’ve been looking for straight forward, practical, easy, tasty recipes that can be eaten hot or cold, and High Carb Hannah’s Lentil Loaf fits the bill perfectly.

HCH Lentil Loaf

1 cup brown lentils

1/2 cup red lentils

1 carrot, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped (I left these out)

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped

3 cups water

 

Flax egg: 3 Tbspns ground flax seeds

6 Tbspns water

 

1-1/2 cups oats, blended or processed to make a flour

 

Seasonings: 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning 1 tspn fennel (I used punch puran), 1 tspn onion powder (I left this out) 1/2 tspn cayenne (optional)

salt (my addition)

2 tspoons bouillon (my addition)

Ketchup (or Glaze see below)

Preheat oven or air fryer to 350˚F.

Bring all ingredients from lentils to water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered until liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, mix flax seeds and water to make a flax egg. Set aside. Process the oats into a flour and set aside. Mix seasonings and flax egg together and set aside. When lentil-veggie mixture is done cooking, take off heat and mix in oat flour and seasoning mix. Spread mixture into loaf pan or pans and put into oven/air fryer. (I used two tins and made two smaller loaves.)

Cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Take out loaf, spread ketchup on top of loaf and continue baking for another 5 minutes.

 

Alternative glaze for loaf:

3 tbspns brown sugar

3 tbspns tomato paste

3 tbspns apple cider vinegar

3 tbspns Worcestershire sauce (I used 1 tbspn of tamari soy sauce)

This lentil loaf makes a great base to add other flavours and textures…I’m thinking cashew and apricot or almond and date to make a slightly sweeter loaf, or mushrooms and tamari to give it more umami.

This lentil loaf works well with no fat or oil, but I added a little salt and two teaspoons of bouillon powder after experimenting a few times.

It’s delicious hot, and with the tomato topping, perfect cold…it went down well on the sharing table at our charity dance event!

You can freeze it…I cut into portion sizes and freeze this way, so you can extract just one slice if you wish.

Happy eating!

 

 

 

Plant based recipes 2019 #1 Mexican Beans

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I found this recipe on The Happy Pear. I love their enthusiasm and love of food! Subscribe to their channel here https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=happy+pear

This is the first recipe I’ve tried where I’ve taken out the oil and I can’t tell the difference. Enjoy!

Easy Mexican Beans

2 tablespoons oil (I used water)

2 tins beans (they suggest buying cheap baked beans and washing off the juice, but any beans will do)

1 red onion, chopped (white works fine)

2 gloves garlic, crushed (I used four cloves)

1 red pepper, chopped (any colour is fine)

1 green chilli, finely chopped (any chilli you have works well)

1 tin sweetcorn

2tspns cumin

black pepper

1/2 tspoon paprika

1 tspoon salt

2 tins chopped tomatoes

4 tablespoons tomato puree

11/2 tablespoons maple syrup

Juice 1 lime

Fresh coriander

Method

Rinse and drain your beans.

Heat pan and add onion, garlic, pepper and chilli. Add a splash of water to the hot pan and cook until veg begins to soften.

Add cumin, black pepper, paprika, salt and sweetcorn. (I left out the salt at this point.) Coat all the veg and cook for a minute.

Add tomatoes, puree and beans and stir.

Add your choice of sweetener – I used 1 tblspoon agave syrup (I’m using up before buying date syrup/sugar that’s even better for you!) Because I added less sweetener, I only used the juice of half a lime.

Add fresh coriander and cook for five minutes.

We found this recipe was still quite sharp to taste….I think it depends on the quality of the tomatoes. I added 1/2 tablespoon of tomato ketchup and it made all the difference!

I love making this recipe for dinner for the two of us because it leaves enough for lunch the next day too, perfect with salad and pitta bread. Enjoy!

 

 

Plant based recipe of the week – week 10 – Holly’s Jammy Flapjack

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My children visited at the end of August and I was looking for a different cake to bake to go with my lemon curd slice, which you can find here https://wendysteele.com/2017/12/04/plant-based-recipe-of-the-week-week-2-happy-birthday-to-me/

Camping with my tribe, we all brought food to share and Holly brought along this delicious flapjack, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you all.

Holly’s Jammy Flapjack

 200g butter/margarine

175g golden syrup

300g porridge oats

200g jam

Preheat oven 200C/Fan 180/ Gas 6.

Grease 20cm X 20cm tin and line with greaseproof paper.

Melt margarine and syrup. Turn off heat. Stir in oats.

Press half the mixture into the tin. Spoon over the jam. Spread over the rest of the mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden.

Cool and cut into 12 bars.

 

I used dairy free margarine and doubled the recipe to in the baking tray above.

 

Enjoy this delicious sweet treat. For more tried and tested plant based recipes, type ‘plant based recipe of the week’ into the search box on the home page. Do pop back again soon.

 

Plant Based Recipe of the Week – week 9 – Chickpea and Spinach Curry

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This is one of my favourite recipes at the moment and we’re eating it at least once a week, either with dahl or Tracy’s Curry https://wendysteele.com/2018/05/18/plant-based-recipe-of-the-week-week-7-tracys-curry/

Chickpea and spinach curry, affectionately known as ChiSpi (rhymes with hifi), in our house was originally a recipe by Hari Ghotra called Sholay Saag (Kale and Chickpea Curry). I enjoyed it with the kale, but I found it a strong, overpowering flavour for my taste buds. One day I had fresh spinach in the fridge and thought I’d give it a go. This is the link to Hari’s website with lots of recipes, tips and ideas for cooking authentic Indian Food https://www.harighotra.co.uk/

Chickpea and Spinach Curry

1-2 tablespoons of  rapeseed oil

½ tspn mustard seeds

1 tspn cumin seeds

1 large onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

4 plum tomatoes (I used a tin of tomatoes)

800g/2 tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tspn salt, or to tast

1 heaped tspn coriander seeds, crushed (can use powder)

1 green chilli, chopped (or red if you don’t have a green one)

200g spinach (or chopped kale)

1 green chilli, sliced for garnish

  • Heat the oil in a lidded pan over a medium heat and when it’s hot add the mustard seeds and then the cumin seeds.
  • Stir for a minute until you can smell the aroma of the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds stop sizzling, then add the diced onions.
  • Fry the onions for 15 minutes until they start to brown, then add the garlic. Fry together for 4 minutes before adding the tomatoes, stir and leave to cook for a few minutes. Add a little water if required.
  • Add the crushed coriander, green chilli, chilli powder, turmeric and salt and leave to cook on a gentle heat until the tomatoes start to break down and create a thick masala sauce (about 10 minutes).
  • Turn the heat up to thicken the sauce a little if required.
  • Add the chickpeas and stir to coat them with the masala. Add a splash of water and let them simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the spinach (or chopped kale) a handful at a time, stirring in between. Leave this to cook for 5 minutes until kale is soft and tender. Top with the sliced chilli and serve.

Take time to make the masala sauce… it’s worth it. This recipe benefits from reheating so if possible, make and refrigerate overnight.

 

I’ll leave you with a lovely photo of Jibby (the feral cat who came with the house) and Odin (one of the latest pair of rescued cats to come and live us), watching the sunrise.

Stay safe, stay healthy and enjoy life. Bright blessings xx

 

Plant based recipe of the week – Week 8 – Lisa’s Vegetable Curry

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Apologies for the delay in posting. I’ve not been trying new recipes, but instead eating food I know will be good while I focus on the latest Witchlit novel, The Flowerpot Witch, which will be published on Thursday 21st June.

But I did cook this curry again last week and remembered to take photos for you.

This curry is from my friend Lisa. It’s delicious with dahl and rice or with popadoms or naan…. in fact, it’s just delicious!

Lisa’s Vegetable Curry

2 tablespoons oil

2 onions

1 tablespoon fresh ginger

Vegetables:

My favourite – ½ butternut squash, 1 large sweet potato, 2 carrots (plus 1 head broccoli, 200g spinach)

2 teaspoons garam masala (I ran out and used 1 tspn madras curry powder and was good)

Salt

3 whole peppercorns

Big bunch of fresh coriander

1 tin of coconut milk

1 heaped tablespoon of peanut butter

Green pepper

150g green beans

Fresh parsley (optional)

Fry chopped onion for about 2-3 minutes until softened.

Add ginger and cook for about one more minute

Add chopped vegetables – you could try parsnips, peas, potato or swede. (I chopped up a whole butternut squash and roasted in the oven for about ten minutes and used the other half for making soup)

Add garam masala, salt, peppercorns, the chopped stalks of the coriander and, if you have it, about a teaspoon of a kebab spice mix containing chilli and dried mango. (I checked out Ras Al Hanout and used that. It contains coriander, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, salt, pimento, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and aniseed)
Continue to cook for about 5 minutes stirring constantly.

Add a tin of coconut milk and a heaped tablespoon of peanut butter.
Bring to the boil while stirring then leave to simmer for about 45 minutes.

If using cauliflower or broccoli then add after about 25 minutes. (I added green pepper and green beans with the broccoli)

After about 30 minutes taste and add more spice/peanut butter if you think it is needed.

If using spinach add it about 8 minutes before the end.
At the end add a large handful of chopped fresh coriander and/or parsley. (You can leave out both but fresh coriander is fab in this dish)

If freezing don’t add spinach or fresh herbs until you reheat.

 

 

 

 

Plant based recipe of the week – Week 7 – Tracy’s Curry

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This week I’m sharing a favourite recipe from my friend Tracy. She’s a dancer and one of the most inspiring women I know, remodelling her own home and designing and building her own garden.

Tracy’s Curry

5 tblspoons vegetable oil (I use 3)

2 tspns mustard seeds

1 tspn fenugreek (I used punchpooran – cumin, mustard, nigella, fenugreek and fennel seeds)

2 fresh green chillis (Original recipe was 3 but too hot for me!), finely chopped

 

1 handful curry leaves

3 large onions, peeled and chopped

 

Veg

 

1 tspn chilli powder

1 tspn turmeric

6 large tomatoes (or 1 tin/carton of tomatoes)

 

1 or 2 glasses of water

1 tin coconut milk

Salt

 

 

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add mustard seeds, fenugreek (or punchpooran) and chillis and stir for a couple of minutes.

Add curry leaves and onions and cook until they are light brown.

Add your vegetables, depending what you have in the fridge. You could try one large white potato, one large sweet potato, two large carrots, 150g green/french beans and a head of broccoli. Mushrooms work well with parsnips and butternut squash. You can use frozen veg too but be sure to adjust the additional water.  (if I’m using frozen veg, I don’t add any water until it has all broken down with the tomatoes and I’ve added the coconut milk.)

Add spices and tomatoes and coat all the veg.

Add water (or not!). Add coconut milk and salt…I start with half a teaspoon and add more if I need it.

 

This curry is good the day you make it but even better the next day!

 

I hope you enjoy this recipe. I’ll leave you with a picture of our elderly cat, Tiggy, sixteen years young but loving having new family to snuggle with.  He and Odin get on really well.

 

For short stories and extracts from my books, subscribe to my YouTube channel, Phoenix and the Dragon, where I read to you from Pan’s Grotto on my Welsh riverbank

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw3ee9CuNdek9ZC1Im8I_iA

 

 

 

 

Plant based recipe of the week – Week 6 – Wendy Woo’s Flapjack

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Eating plant based is about getting the balance right. I find eating enough veg a challenge, especially in the winter when a salad just doesn’t hit the spot, but chillis and curries are perfect for this. I try and include as many colours as possible too, as variety is also important.

But there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a sweet treat, as long as it’s part of the balance. This is my flapjack recipe, a merger of three old recipes plus a Wendy Woo twist! I learned this recipe by heart in ounces. I’ve used 1oz = 25g for the conversion.

 

Wendy Woo’s Flapjack

9oz (225g) butter/dairy free margarine

2oz (50g) brown sugar

1oz (25g) Demerara sugar

1 large tablespoon syrup

 

12oz (300g) oats

2oz (50g) sunflower seeds

1oz (25g) pumpkin seeds

2 teaspoons chia seeds

1oz (25g) dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, chopped cranberries, dates or apricots)

Line a baking tray ( 25cm X 35cm) with baking parchment and set oven to Gas Mark 6/200 C/400 F.

In a large saucepan melt margarine, sugars and syrup.

Off the heat, add all the dry ingredients and stir well.

Press into baking tray and bake for 12 minutes (May need two more minutes – test by lifting edge of sheet and if bottom of flapjack is light brown, it is done)

Once flapjack has stopped bubbling, divide into 16 (4X4) for big pieces or 20 (4X5) for smaller ones with a large knife. Leave to set.

 

The original recipes I merged had more than twice the sugar of this recipe. You may be able to cut down even more but your flapjack may be more crumbly and not hold together whereas this recipe travels in a tin to writing group and dance class to share!

 

I hope you enjoy this recipe. I’ll leave you with Jibby being cute, the feral cat who came with our house, who has adopted us as the humans who feed her.

If you’ve found me for the first time, you are most welcome. Do check out my books on my author pages https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref 

And for my friends across the pond https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Steele/e/B007VZ1P06/ref

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plant Based Recipe of the Week – Week 5 – Friend’s recipes – Hara’s Curry

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Some days there just isn’t time (or money) for a dud recipe so I’ve asked my friends for their favourites, knowing they are tried, tested and loved.

This week is Hara’s Vegan Curry

2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 red or green chilli (2 if you like it hot)

Thumb size piece of ginger

1 heaped tspn fenugreek (I used punchpooran, a mix of cumin, fennel, nigella, black mustard and fenugreek seeds)

1 heaped tspn turmeric

1 heaped tspn black mustard seeds

1 heaped tspn cinnamon

1 heaped tspn garam masala

1 heaped tspn coriander seeds, crushed (if you’re short of time, coriander powder is fine)

250 ml water (approx.)

2 tspn veg bouillon

Veg

Half block of coconut

100 gms ground almonds

1 tspn salt

 

Fry onions, garlic, chillis and ginger until soft.
Add one heaped tspn each of fenugreek, turmeric, black mustard seeds, cinnamon, Garam masala and coriander seeds and fry for one minute.
Pour in 250 ml water and two tsps bouillon, stir and add veg. You can use any veg you like. Hara says cauliflower works well but, unfortunately, it’s a veg my tummy can’t handle. Here are two combinations I’ve tried and enjoyed.

(Option 1: One white potato, one sweet potato, 150g green beans, head of broccoli, 300g mushrooms

Option 2: One sweet potato, head of broccoli, two large carrots, 1 red pepper, 150g frozen peas, 150g mushrooms)
Simmer until tender with the lid on.

When almost ready add half a block of coconut and 100gms ground almonds, and a tspn of salt, stir, simmer for a few minutes and serve.

TIP: If you dice the veg really small, you don’t need to parcook it and I prefer to add it before the water, helping me judge how much water I really need. This recipe works well with frozen veg but again, you’ll need to gauge the water.

 

I hope you enjoy this recipe. It goes well with Aditi’s dahl recipe from Week 4 https://wendysteele.com/2018/02/16/plant-based-recipe-of-the-week-week-4-aditis-lentil-daal-and-bonus-vegetable-pakora/

I’ll leave you with a photo of one of my kittens enjoying snow for the first time a few weeks ago and be sure to check out my stories and book extracts read to you from Pan’s Grotto on my Welsh riverbank

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw3ee9CuNdek9ZC1Im8I_iA