Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmassy

Christmas time! I've been wearing my fluffy red hat and white beard for about two weeks now, which can only mean its Christmas!
 
I was very happy to receive this advent calendar from one of my friends at roller derby, it was filled with sweet rice milk chocolate squares.
 
 
There has been a lot of festive cheer this year, and I've reserved Christmas for some cooking and baking!
 
First thing I made on Christmas morning was Vegan Eggnog with rum.
My first ever vegan eggnog was over Christmas in 2011 which we spent in China, I don't remember exactly how it tasted, but I love how adjustable the drink can be, as long as its thick and creamy with Christmas spice!
 
I got this simple recipe from my friend and adjusted it, resulting in this;
1 block of firm tofu
1 cup non-dairy milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp vanilla essence
1-2 teaspoons nutmeg and cinnamon
1/2 cup of rum or brandy
 
Wizz in a blender and top with a grating of nutmeg.
 
 
***

I couldn't find any vegan mince pies this year, so baked some mince pies using store bought pastry and mince filling, even with those cheats they tasted so much better than shop bought! I made a few raspberry jam ones for my papa who doesn't like mince meat.
 
 
For the main affair, Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings and at least 8 types of vegetables!
 Fluffy roast potatoes, roast parsnips, roasted sprouts, creamy cheesey leaks, cauliflower, carrots, swede, petit pois, with stuffing and Cheatin' Gammon.
 
 
Creamy leaks is a tradition my mum insists on, but everyone loves, the vegetable is sliced and poached in milk until soft then add a little grated Cheezly and nutritional yeast and season.
 
Here is the Gammon, I think I prefered the "Turkey and sausages in bacon" from last year.

 
 
***
 
For a few weeks I've been mulling over making a Gingerbread house, watching Mary Berry has only encouraged this. 
I had a lot of success with Gingerbread men last year using Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and this year made wheat free trees, bells and stars. I followed the recipe again, but wasn't sure how much dough I would need to make the house. With a lot of grease proof paper, a ruler and some cutters I made templates for the house.
 
 
They warp a little in the baking, but with a bowl butter cream icing, any thing can be fixed. I had to stick the 4 sides together, then pop the whole thing in  the fridge before attempting the roof.
 
Decorating is the best bit, I used glace cherries, round and chunky choc chips, Peach Googy Good Stuff jelly sweets and a candy cane by the door!
I later realised I had some star shaped candies I could have used too.
 
 
Also spread a bit of Christmas cheer by gifting these delicious treats to my friend Claire, she loves veggie marshmallows, but they are either hard to get hold of or expensive. These turned up in our local health food shop, and would be perfect for hot chocolate or rocky road! 
 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Cat Bar Vegano - Barcelona

I spent a lovely week in Barcelona this September, and was so excited to see how many vegan places there were to eat at.
 
Below are some photos from our night at Cat Bar, located quite centrally near Jaume 1 tube stop.
The best part is that the whole place is decorated with cat themed stuff, including a Ducati bike that lost a few letters, in the main entrance.

 
The opening times are a little random, so I messaged them on facebook before I went. 
I wasn't sure my non-vegan friends would want to eat there, but they took a chance, and were very happy!
 
We each choose a different burger, as there are lots on the menu. aside from their burger menu they also had daily special, including a wheat free option of the day. The price was reasonable too.
They also serve Punk IPA Brew Dogs beers, which the ladies of the group partook in.


with tofu, rocket and sliced beetroot

 
with pesto fries and avocado sauce
 

 
Double burger with creamy mayo dip

 
Spicy burger with chorizo sauce
 
I highly recommend visiting this place for an evening out!
 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Vegan Wedding food

At our friends wedding mentioned below the bride and groom are both pretty health conscious and were really concerned about making sure everyone was catered to, they made sure the venue would have vegan and wheat free meals available to all guests. Thought this doesn’t sound like a difficult thing, this venue really excelled!
The wedding was held at a beautiful barn conversion and the theme was Fuchsia pink. My partner and I were seated with a Buddhist couple who we had met before, so in all we were a vegetarian table, and I was the only one who drank alcohol (two bottles per table is a tall order for one person!)
The table was decorated with little butterflies with the name and menu choices on, and most importantly for the girls a table favour in the form of butterfly cookie cutter to take home (best idea ever!)
 
The first course was soup, whilst the other veggies on the table had an orange soup, I had a beautiful rich Beetroot soup, and oh my, it was amazing! I’m really addicted to beetroot things (juices, burgers, raw in salad), and this soup had a really good tomato taste too and was the perfect thickness and rather filling.
 
The main course was risotto, I am totally addicted to risotto too, my Mr doesn’t like it, and so I generally only make it when I’m having a meal for one. This was a deliciously filling meal; it is very easy to make a veggie risotto and keep it vegan simply by not using butter and not adding any cream or cheese until the very end (I noticed the regular risotto had some cheese on top). I managed to finish the plate, mostly because it was so tasty, I was totally full.
The dessert was a huge fruit salad in fruit juice, my neighbour at the table as pretty jealous; being vegan is the best way to get tasty healthy fruit. Though I do like chocolate cake at times!

Wedding cupcakes and gifts

I recently had the honour of being asked to make some speciality cupcakes for a friend’s wedding; I made Gluten Free Vegan cupcakes for the guests with allergies. Specifically I knew one of the Bride’s friend’s children was a celiac, and hate the idea of any child missing out on cake at a wedding when everyone else can have some. I decided to stick to simple flavours to please the crowd, so made lemon cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes, I think these cover a range of taste (I only know of one person in my life who doesn’t like chocolate).
 
As an unexpected present on the day I was given this gorgeous Cupcake themed cookbook stand, this is the absolute best gift I could ever think of! I actually don’t own a recipe book stand and struggle between trying to balance the pages open and not get cake mix splashed all over the book. This also folds down nicely and fits in a draw.  
Tonight I am using it whilst making Ms Cupacke's Blueberry and almond muffins, ( again theses have been made gluten free,) for my Mr to take with him to London tomorrow to share with anyone he meets at the Buddhist centre.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Raw day food eats

 
I got into work with my huge supplies bag of food, I was going straight from work to the studio to do some painting, so needed plenty to keep me going.
 
I started the day off with a banana and a cup of herbal tea, and then I snacked on coconut filled dates. Mmm dates and avocado are the best things to keep me going in the office.
I then messily ate a whole fresh mango and an orange. I had also prepared some sliced tomatoes with basil and cucumber batons.
 
Testing the gazpacho the night before with ice!
 
Lunch was avocado guacamole lettuce tacos with lime juice and sunflower and pumpkin seed and a thermal flask of cold gazpacho.
I really liked the raw garlic in this soup, and have seen a few Green Juices recipes which call for garlic; I’m definitely more willing to try that now!
 
After lunch I had peppermint tea and more dates and a few blueberries, I also had a few cashews and almonds. I wish I had been at home to make a nice big banana and frozen blueberry smoothie.
 
Dinner was going to be courgette spaghetti, but after a trip to the shops where I found some young sweet corn on the cob, I opted for a delicious corn, avocado and lime salad instead.
 
Apologies for the awful photo, this was about 9pm, I was hungry!
 
Doing the raw day, I first thought it was a food plan of restriction, “you are not allowed this, this and this” but the following day I realised it is instead about promoting eating more healthy food.
I think I would start to have more salads for dinners but having some cooked chickpeas in my salad isn’t going to kill me.
Also one of my friends has a sugar deficiency which means she also can’t eat many carbs, like white flour or rice. So I made her some almond Raw, Sugar free cookies, using diabetic jam, and using the recipe from the Vegan Vida Con Recipe book, send from Vegan in Brighton. I would use some time to make these treats before my next Raw Day.
 
Two of my friends at derby have done 2 week Detox plans, where they cut out processed sugar, alcohol, caffeine and wheat. I think after feeling how un-bloated I was after the raw day, I may take up this detox, and I think it not being raw means I will be able to do it for longer than a day. Brown rice and sweet potatoes are still included and I can live off of those J
 

Thai Food and Craft Festival

Basingstoke War Memorial Park on Sunday the 28th July.
 
I found about this Thai food and Craft festival via Facebook, so popped down on the Sunday morning.
As well as hot food stalls, imported Thai foods, they had clothes and kick-boxing and lady boy contests.
 
I have been looking for somewhere online to get Kaffir Lime leaves at a decent price. At the super market you can buy a small spice jar of leaves for just under £2. So when I saw a stall full of imported Thai spices, I knew what to get. The huge bags were only £1 each, so of course bought two bags. I can now lavish my home made Thai Green Curries with loads of tasty limey leaves!
 


 
They were also selling lots of Thai Beer, there was a really nice picnic atmosphere.
 
I was scouting for some lunch, and was a little confused about what Jay food was, apparently no onions or garlic, I assume no eggs as well? 
 
Anyway I found a curry amongst the Pad Thai, meat and fish.
 
Well placed Thai food banner in the background...

 
Here is the Thai vegetable red curry served with a massive amount of rice. I checked no fish sauce or cream (only coconut milk).
 
They also had stands selling Mango Sticky rice, which is fresh sliced mango served with coconut cooked sticky rice. I had no room left to eat that after this huge plate!
 
 
Mr Dada had a Thai Tea, (sadly un-vegan) it is made with condensed milk (very popular in Asia) it is made using brewed tea and served over lots of ice. The tea is a special kind that doesn't get too bitter and its a lovely orange colour when mixed with the milk.
 
The 7/11 shops in Thailand sell huge cups of Ice Tea and Thai Tea.
 
I hope to see more interesting festivals in Basingstoke like this, promoting not only independent restaurants but also different cultures.
 

RAW Day Preparation

For some time now I have been toying with the idea of committing to try a Raw day, I have eaten raw lunches and Raw breakfast, but I’ve never consciously gone a whole day just eating Raw foods.
If it goes well I might make it a regularly month adventure, much like the source of my inspiration Vegan Crunk, if it goes really well I might extend it to a few days or even a week!
I realise to anyone who is living raw or doing a detox this doesn’t sounds like much of a challenge, but with no restaurants nearby that offer Raw food and very limited health food shops, I’m going to have to do a lot of preparation myself.
I don’t own any books on Raw food. So most of my information is coming from what Blogs and my usual vegan diet.
Here are my meal plan ideas and a shopping list:
1st of the month Raw day
 
© Breakfast: Banana & Strawberry smoothie/ mango smoothie /Blueberry smoothie
© Lunch: Avocado Salad/ Lettuce tacos/ Gazpacho / coleslaw / carrot & raisin salad
© Dinner: Spaghetti courgette with tomato and basil sauce / Raw Mexican wraps
© Drinks: Herbal Tea - Peppermint, green tea, watermelon juice.
© Snacks: Dates stuffed with coconut, unroasted cashews & almonds, seeds, raisins homemade cashew cookies. Vegetable crudités
© Snack: Mini pizzas; sliced tomato with basil and sundried tomatoes
Im not sure if herbal tea is considered raw, but its really good for you, so I will allow some.
Planned Shopping list:
Veg:
Avocado
Basil
Tomato cherry and big
Carrots
Little gem lettuce
Celery
Sun dried tomato
Limes
Fruit:
Bananas
Mango
Oranges
Berries
Watermelon
Dates
Coconut
Nuts:
Cashew
Almond
Sunflower and pumpkin seeds