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AFRIKOA CHOCOLATE

AFRIKOA is the first bean-to-bar company in South Africa to produce chocolate made from cocoa sourced directly from African farmers. By trading directly with the farmers, Afrikoa ensures the freshest, finest-quality cocoa beans and empowers the farmers to create their own sustainable futures. Their cocoa beans never leave the continent, travelling just far enough to the southern tip of Africa, where their experienced chocolate-makers create the perfect chocolate bar.

While almost two thirds of the world’s cocoa is grown in Africa, most of it is exported to Europe and America where it is turned into chocolate before being returned to our African shores. Afrikoa believes in growing the art of chocolate-making within Africa and supporting the farmers and their local communities, which is why they have made a promise that their chocolate will always be made in Africa, for Africa, using cocoa beans that have never left the continent.

Afrikoa’s search for the best African cocoa beans led their Head Chocolate Maker, Antonino Allegra, to the small rural region of Kyela in Tanzania where he met two groups of passionate farmers headed by Castor Sanga and Simon Mwakyusa who were both frustrated with a system which left their hard work and excellent-quality cocoa beans with little reward. It was while sitting in a traditional meeting under the shade of a cocoa tree that Antonino realized the mutual benefit of simply buying the cocoa beans straight from these farmers.

Afrikoa believes that this partnership, which treats the farmers with fairness, dignity and respect, is the future of chocolate and one that also means you can enjoy their chocolate knowing that you are encouraging a sustainable future for these 60 farmers and their families.

Direct trade means that the cocoa beans are sourced directly from cocoa farmers, cutting out all the traditional middlemen, buyers, sellers and organisations that control certifications, all of whom add their own profit margins to the beans the farmers have worked so hard to grow. By trading directly with the farmers, Afrikoa ensures the finest-quality cocoa beans while the cocoa farmers earn 250% more than they would the traditional way.

Yet another benefit of direct trade is fresh cocoa; while the traditional cocoa bean trading system means that the majority of chocolate makers buy their cocoa from Europe, it also means that these cocoa beans sit in massive warehouses for months and lose valuable flavour. By trading directly with farmers, Afrikoa receives the cocoa beans within weeks of them leaving the farms in Kyela. Fresh cocoa beans are highly aromatic and packed with flavour and we believe that this is what makes AFRIKOA chocolate so unique.

Direct trade is certainly not the easiest route and Afrikoa have faced many challenges and gone to great lengths to do so successfully. While the process sounds simpler, removing all the middlemen also means removing traditional transport systems and starting from scratch. Often the best cocoa is grown off the beaten track and getting the cocoa beans from farmers in Kyela to the shipping port of Dar Es Salaam now requires a 12-hour journey by truck via dirt roads – a long trip that Castor and Simon take themselves in order to make sure their beans arrive safely and just one of the many examples of their passion and eagerness to empower themselves. At each step of the process, AFRIKOA provides them with support, knowledge and resources. While direct trade is a challenge very few chocolate makers undertake, Afrikoa believes in it because sometimes the right way isn’t always the easiest way.

You can order Afrikoa chocolate here

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Creamy Veggnog

Vegnogg

Creamy Veggnog
Author: Samantha Shorky

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup soaked cashews
  • 1 cup soaked dates in 1 cup water
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg + more to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • Pinch of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender (including the water you soaked the dates in) and blend until smooth and frothy. This can take a few minutes in an older blender.
  2. Transfer to a container and chill in the refrigerator until needed.
  3. When ready to serve, place back into blender to allow more frothing because mixture can separate. Pour into mugs and garnish with fresh grated nutmeg.
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Unicorn Cafe Business Update for December 2017

Here we are, wrapping up the year. A busy time for some and some relaxation time for others. We hope this month brings you a sense of community and love.

Unicorn Cafe was very lucky to have the services of Jess who was our intern for the months of October and November. She helped contact many suppliers for ethical products, images and information, and loaded them onto our website. The website now has numerous products including suppliers that feature in the Beauty Without Cruelty’s humane guide as well as gardening products like seedling mixes, compost, straw bales and other things that are not easy to find at mainstream nurseries.

She dealt professionally with customers and other tasks and we will miss her friendly, helpful disposition and extremely proficient business knowledge. She returns to study in December and will be completing a masters degree next year. Thank you Jess for all your help.

Please keep checking in our website as it is growing all the time.

We are still in the twilight zone of needing alternative income to keep this unicorn business alive and we are playing the cautious card before we completely let go of that substitute income and find premises. We looked around the area and are happy to say that Milnerton is undergoing a lot of development. We have our heart set on a small space with an outside courtyard and we are crossing our fingers that it will still be available next year. We didn’t want to take the risk and open now when many of our customers go away for the holidays and businesses that would potentially order lunch close.

Veganism seems to be exploding all around the world and also here in Cape Town. I remember how difficult it was some 17 years ago to find a variety of convenience foods compared to now. Now that climate change and crimes against the environment are almost impossible to ignore, more and more people are adopting more plants into their diets. We can reduce our negative environmental impact one vegan meal at a time. If you are new to making vegan meals, fear not. There are so many websites, guides, Youtube videos and Facebook groups to guide and support old time vegans, new vegans and those who would like to reduce their impact by incorporating more plants into their diet. It could even be for health reasons, to be part of meat free mondays, to get more variety of foods, to experiment with new dishes and save water. Phew! That was a mouthful!

In case you didn’t know, we thought these websites would help answer any questions your may have or provide support about compassionate living. It’s not easy making ethical choices in a world that is haunted by a system run for profits where ethics are left behind. Here is a list of websites we find very useful when it comes to finding suppliers, restaurants and general information.

The South African Vegan Society
Vegan SA – The South African Vegan Directory
Vegan Review – A community driven vegan directory
Beauty Without Cruelty
The Humane Guide

Lastly, but not least we are delighted that we have the Cape Town Vegan who makes amusing videos and eloquently writes reviews about ‘vegany’ things. He seems to live the life of a spoilt vegan socialite but we are only saying that because we are jealous. He goes to some interesting restaurants, spends time with fabulous vegan people making fantastic food and he is generally a ray of sunshine helping you find the right place for the right thing. We love his videos and his website. Check them out and be sure to watch the Vegan Food Guide for Tourists in Cape Town.

We hope you have a wonderful December and that you all stay safe and relatively healthy this season and we hope to have some magical surprises for you next year.

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Braai Sosaties and Sweet Potato Dessert

Braai Sosaties
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
1 pannet of button mushrooms
1 block of firm tofu
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon of hickory liquid smoke
1 pannet of baby marrows
2 tablespoons of syrup
2 tablespoons of vegan butter from All Life Vegan Products available from Unicorn Cafe
Braai salt

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Slice the baby marrows into pieces about 2cm thick.
2. Brush the mushrooms clean and cut the large mushrooms in half.
3. Cube the tofu into pieces of 2cm x 2cm
4. In a separate dish, mix 2 tablespoons of syrup, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce and 1/4 teaspoon of hickory liquid smoke and place cubed tofu in the dish to marinate.
5. Melt 2 tablespoons of All Life Vegan Butter and mix the cut vegetables in the butter with a sprinkling of braai salt.
6. Add the baby marrows, mushrooms and tofu onto the skewers by alternating the different pieces
7. Braai until vegetables are cooked through or as desired.

Sweet Potato Dessert
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons of vegan butter from All Life Vegan Products available from Unicorn Cafe
2 Medium sweet potatos
Vegan marshmallows
Maple syrup
Heavy duty Foil
Vanilla essence
Coconut cream

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Slice the sweet potato into 1cm slices but don’t slice all the way through. Stop slicing just before the bottom as if you were making a garlic bread.
2. Place a piece of thinly sliced All Life Vegan Butter between each slice
3. Place a marshmallow between each slice
4. Melt 3 tablespoons of coconut cream and mix in 4 drops of vanilla essence and pour over the potato slits.
5 Wrap potatoes in foil and braai in the coals until soft.
6. Open and enjoy for dessert.

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Gardening Tips for November

November is the time to plant :
– Amaranth seedlings
– Angelica seeds
– Asparagus seeds
– Basil seeds
– Beans – Dwarf/Bush/French seeds
– Beans – Pole/Runner seeds
– Beetroot seeds
– Borage seeds
– Broccoli seeds
– Bronze Fennel seeds
– Cabbage seeds
– Cape Gooseberry seedlings
– Capiscu/Sweet Peppers seeds
– Carrot seeds
– Cauliflower seeds
– Chilli/Hot Peppers seed trays
– Chives seeds
– Coriander seeds
– Corn Salad seeds
– Corn Maize seeds
– Cucumber seeds
– Dill seeds
– Eggplant seeds
– Florence Fennel seeds
– French Tarragon seeds
– Ginger
– Globe Artichokes seed trays
– Lemon Balm seeds
– Lettuce seeds
– Luffa seeds
– Melon/Cantaloupe seeds
– Mint seeds
– Mustard Greens seeds
– NZ Spinach seeds
– Okra seeds
– Oregano seeds
– Parsley seeds
– Pumpkin seeds
– Rocket seeds
– Rosemary seeds
– Sage seedlings
– Salsify seeds
– Spring Onion seeds
– Squash seeds
– Strawberry seeds
– Strawberry plants
– Summer Savoury seeds
– Sunflower seeds
– Sweet Marjorum seeds
– Swedes/Rutabagas seeds
– Sweet Potatoes
– Swiss Chard seedlings
– Thyme seeds
– Tomatillo seeds
– Tomato seedlings
– Turnip seeds
– Watermelon seeds
– Winter Savoury seeds
– Zucchini/Courgette seeds

Beans, marrows, cucumbers and squashes should be harvested as soon as they reach edible size. Allowing them to fully mature results in the level of quality dropping and adds an unnecessary drain on the plant.

References:
www.organic seeds.co.za
The A – Z of Vegetable Gardening in South Africa by Jack Hadfield
http://www.garden-network.co.uk/listing/organic-ways-to-solve-a-problem-with-aphids

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Events Calendar

Events Calendar

1 November
World Vegan Day – Everywhere

4 November
Grow your own food – Intro to urban permaculture, 24 Somer Street, Surrrey from 9:30am to 4:30 pm on 5 November. (2 day workshop). Tickets R350 

5 November
Grow your own food workshop continued – Details in link above.
Lions Head Full Moon Hike, Signal Hill from 6pm to 9:30pm. Entrance free. Essential information here

Guy Fawkes

Ban The Bang Protest – outside News Cafe in Milnerton from 6:30pm to 9pm.

11 November
Food Gardening – Why and How at Permaculture Research Cape Town, 9 Cockburn Street, Glanncaire Heights from 10:30am to 15:30. Price R350. More information here

Low Tech Shrooms – Mushroom Cultivation at 24 Somer Street, Surrey.Tickets R350

A Compassionate Footprint at Ubuntu Wellness from 6pm to 9pm.  More information can be found here

12 November
Make it Ferment – Culturing Gut Health at 11 Wade Street, Claremont from 9:30am to 3pm. Tickets R300

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Saving & Storing Heirloom Seeds

Saving & Storing Heirloom Seeds
Heirloom seeds refers to open pollinated seeds that have been handed down from generation to generation. These seeds have been preserved and kept true in a specific region. Usually a variety that is at least 40-50 years old is no longer commercially available. It is important to know how to save your heirloom seeds to preserve their overall genetic composition. Loss of genetic material can result if rains/irrigation water wets the seeds after they have begun to dry, selective seed collecting habits are employed (e.g. collecting more seeds from plants that do well in your garden) or the seeds are injured during harvest (e.g. rough treatment or overheating during drying).

The following article offers some guidance on how to collect, preserve and store these seeds.

How to collect Heirloom Seeds?
Collect your heirloom seeds after the morning dew has dried preferably on a dry and sunny day. This usually occurs around 10:00 a.m. Make sure that your herbs, fruits, and vegetables are completely dry.

Always save more seed than you think you may need and save equal amounts of seed from each healthy plant. Saving seeds from each plant ensures that all the traits of the type of herbs/fruits/vegetables are preserved and saving equal amounts of seed from each plant ensures that the original balance and range of traits is preserved.

How to preserve Heirloom Seeds?
Fruits that have seeds in their pulp are best picked when the fruit is fully ripe and turning soft (but not rotting). These include tomatoes, eggplants, melons, chillies, and passion fruit. However, some fruits are best picked when the seeds have had time to plump up, that is, just after maturity. These include red and green peppers, butternut, gem squash, pumpkin, and marrows. Some fruit seeds need to fully mature before being harvested. This excludes a further 3 weeks before the seeds are ready to be picked. These include cucumbers, zucchinis, okra, and sweet corn.

Broad beans, runner beans, bush beans and maize should completely dry out on the plant before being harvested. If rain is forecasted, the seed heads and pods should be removed and placed in a well-ventilated, dry area until the seeds are hard.

Note that some plants scatter their seeds as they mature. These include, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, onions, and celery. As these seed heads approach maturity, they should be placed into paper bags and shaken daily, that way the released seed falls into the bags rather than on the soil.

How to clean Heirloom Seeds?
Plants that scatter their seeds do not require need any attention. They are clean and dry and just need to be harvested and stored. However, some seeds are fleshy, that is, they surrounded by pulp that requires removal. For example, with tomatoes you would need to scoop out the flesh with a spoon and place it in a bowl of water. Subsequently, you would need to separate the flesh and seeds by rubbing the flesh vigorously with your thumb and forefinger. Finally, you would drain the water through a sieve to catch the seeds and allow them to completely dry out on a plate (±10 days).

                

How to store Heirloom Seeds?
The genetic material of heirloom seeds can still change or be lost in storage even after proper collection and sanitation. Seeds may die if they are stored for too long or if they are stored under unfavourable storage conditions.

The viability of heirloom seeds preserves their integrity. Some seeds remain viable for a long period. For example, peas, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts last for at least 3 years, while tomatoes squash, cucumber, and melon lasts 5 years or longer. However, other seeds are only viable for a short period. For example, corn, onion, leek, parsnip, and salsify only last for one season.

You can place harvested heirloom seeds in paper bags and store them in a dark pantry or cupboard. Keep in mind that the enemies of seeds are heat, light and humidity. In addition, label your seeds indicating their type and time of harvest. Alternatively, you could store them in dark glass jars or plastic. However, seed transpiration can cause moisture build up in these containers ultimately spoiling the seeds. Thus, when storing seeds in these containers, you run the risk of your seeds going mouldy.

If you use glass or plastic, then a layer of silica gel must be placed at the bottom of each container and the gel should subsequently lined with paper towels. You may then fill your jars with your seeds. The silica gel will turn from its normal blue colour to pink when the seeds start to transpire. When this happens, you will have to remove the seeds, and replace the silica gel until your seeds need to be planted.

Saved heirloom seeds should be stored at a cool temperature (below 10°C/ 50°F). If you are unsure as to when you will plant your seeds again, you can store them in the fridge (in glass jars) at 5°C/41°F.

After following all these tips, a germination success rate of 50%-80% can be expected when you replant your seeds. Please note that this is also dependent on the type herbs, fruits, or vegetables you are growing, climatic conditions and soil viability.

References:
http://howtosaveseeds.com/preserve.php
http://www.organicseed.co.za/content/6-what-are-heirloom-seeds
http://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/heirloom-seeds.html#.WfbyQ2iCzIU

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How to make Biodegradable Soap

How to make Biodegradable Soap

When using grey water for the garden, it is important to change the products in the house to biodegradable alternatives. Biodegradable cleaning and beauty products are becoming more available in grocery stores and health shops and it’s nice to see lots of different types to choose from. Making soap is also very easy and there is no reason why you cannot make your own soap for half the price.
It is important to follow this recipe carefully, measure out the required ingredients and take heed of safety precautions. It is also imperative that only glass and stainless steel is used and use gloves when working with caustic soda.

You will need:

  • 1kg of coconut oil
  • 153g of caustic soda
  • 380ml of water – distilled is best depending on the quality of the tap water
  • Plastic shopping bag
  • Wax paper
  • Vinegar
  • 3 Glass bowls
  • 1 Stainless steel pot
  • 2 Stainless steel spoons
  • Small kitchen scale
  • Thermometer
  • Stick blender
  • Moulds for soap
Fill one bowl halfway with water and add half a cup of vinegar. This is used as a safety precaution to dip your hands in, in case your skin is exposed to the reactive caustic soda
Line the moulds with wax paper
In a well ventilated area (preferably outdoors), gently pour the caustic soda into the water and mix. The water will look murky and will immediately start heating up. Put the bowl down with the spoon in it and leave for a few minutes while you heat the coconut oil.
While the caustic soda is dissolving, heat the coconut oil on medium in the stainless steel pot until it is liquid. Ensure the coconut oil does not get too hot. Aim for 70 degrees.
Check your caustic soda solution, mix any remaining solids in to make a lye.
Check the temperatures of both the lye and the heated coconut oil.
If there is a difference of no greater than 15 degrees between the two substances, then the lye may be added into the coconut oil and mixed with a stainless steel spoon first. 
Use a stick blender to thoroughly mix lye and oil at intervals of 10 seconds blending and 10 seconds mixing using a spoon. This is to ensure your stick blender does not overheat.
The mixture will reach trace which is a pudding like consistency that you can observe when pulling out your spoon or blender and any mixture that drops sits somewhat on top of the rest of the mixture.
Pour the trace mixture into the moulds and wrap the moulds in the plastic shopping bag and hot box it by wrapping it up in a few blankets or storing in a box filled with material.
After 36 hours, remove the moulds from the hot boxes and cut into desired shapes if necessary.
Place the soap in a well ventilated area and allow to cure for 6 weeks before using.