Sunday, 30 March 2014

Vegan Donut Heaven

I just have to take a moment to share these images of homemade vegan donut delight with you. Last night was the perhaps ill-advisedly chosen (by me!) Twin Peaks theme Manchester Vegan Potluck. The complete absence of cherry pie could only be considered a victory, and the abundance of donuts even more so..... Dom, head honcho and vegan diner hero at/of V Revolution treated us all to black coffees in honour of the theme and fired up the soundtrack for us too. It was a small but appreciative gathering, and the more donuts for me = MORE DONUTS FOR ME THAT'S MY ONLY POINT.



Thursday, 27 March 2014

In Which I Take A Moment To Gush About A Polar Explorer Of Yore...

I'm still suffering from a distinct lack of kitchen mojo at the moment, and have been tucking in to far too many Chinese takeaways and veggie sausages. I was pondering a few posts about my Vegan Lifestylée, but you know that would just involve dog walks and vimto, so I figured that probably wasn't for the best.

Anyhoo, one of my strange little obsessions is the history of polar exploration, and I'm particularly fascinated (not surprisingly) by the Scott/Amundsen (British/Norwegian) race for the South Pole in 1911 which famously ended in tragedy for Scott's party, and victory for Amundsen's.

The great heroic tragedy of Scott's effort dwarfed the celebration of Amundsen's achievement, and I'm currently reading a book that talks about both men, their backgrounds and their expeditions.

I came across a passage that referred to Amundsen's efforts as a younger man to gain some experience of sailing in Arctic waters, in order to increase his chances of being recruited on a polar expedition. In 1894 he was allowed to spend a season on the ice aboard a sealer, whose crew were to slaughter thousands of seals and seal pups. This passage made me swoon, just a little bit, for the 22 year old Norwegian, whose attitude was pretty progressive for its time, and for a man raised in rural Norway...
"Amundsen was shaken by his introduction to the wholesale slaughter of wild animals. He was not particularly squeamish, but he was appalled by the cruelty he saw and the effect on his shipmates. Bjarne Aagaard, one of the historians of Norwegian sealing and whaling, wrote: 
'When the hunting fever comes over a human being, the beast of prey emerges, and he who maintains otherwise has never been after seal or whale. All the veneer of culture is wiped off, and it is just a matter of kill, kill at any price, trample underfoot. Finally even the best are so brutalised by seeing the blood and gore, the pleading, dying eyes, and seething flesh, that he no longer feels the revulsion that gripped him the first time he killed a defenceless animal.'
This was one of the experiences that moulded Amundsun. He hunted when he had to, but he questioned the necessity for such prodigal and inhumane slaughter. He turned his back on blood-sports. He could never understand those who killed a fellow creature for pleasure."

Monday, 17 February 2014

Pizza, pasta and the best pesto ever...


It's been a strange and somewhat sombre few months for me lately, something I keep bleating on about, and one of the side effects of such a period of change and upheaval has been a noticeable loss of my joie-de-cuisine.

Being excited about new recipes and COOKING THEM used to come naturally to me, but lately all I want to do is eat doughnuts and mashed potatoes, and I find it hard to work up the enthusiasm to try out new recipes. I've also been struggling to eat more sensibly, and while not setting myself outrageous weight loss goals, treating my body more nicely with fresh, healthy, homemade food. I haven't always succeeded! This explains the sparsity of posts in recent times, and I'm sure that eventually, when my world becomes a little brighter in general, I'll be skipping on home every night with a new dinner idea, like I used to.

IN THE MEANTIME, I HAVE DISCOVERED THE BEST PESTO ON EARTH. Ok, never mind 'the best vegan pesto', this stuff is just amazing, and doesn't even have proper nuts in. It's made with sunflower seeds and pine nuts, and it's absolutely tremendous.....


First up I smothered it over some gnocchi (one of my favourite things in the world - god bless those little squishy potato dumplings of delight) and served it up with roasted cherry tomatoes and some mozzarella style cheezly....


And last night, two of my lovely friends came over for a horror/pizza/wine evening  and I merrily dolloped it over the top of some no-moo melty.....



I found this little jar of joy in Asda's 'Free From' section. I'll be heading over there to buy EVERY JAR pretty soon, since this has just overtaken avocado pesto as my new favourite <3

Thursday, 26 December 2013

A Very Vegan Christmas (Dinner)...

I broke with tradition this Christmas and cooked a vegan feast at home for me and my lovely friend Michelle (not to mention my beloved pooch, Vulpe, and Michelle's adorable dog Gadget).

Michelle recently moved to Manchester from the US so we enjoyed a very English Christmas Day, with plenty of food, booze, christmas crackers and shameless telly watching.

I went for the easy option this year and bought a Redwoods gammon style roast. Along with that we had roast potatoes, sage & onion stuffing balls, braised red cabbage, apple sauce, cranberry sauce, maple roasted carrots and parsnips, pan fried sprouts, chestnuts and shallots, and a delicious cauliflower/cream cheese puree that Michelle brought along. Oh, and a good helping of onion gravy.

I confess unashamedly to using Paxo, Bisto and ready made cranberry sauce!

Vegan Christmas feast!

Pan fried sprouts, chestnuts and shallots

Maple roasted parsnips and carrots

Can't go wrong with a Redwoods roast

Cauliflower cheeze puree

Perfect roast potatoes!

Stuffing balls <3

Overindulgence....

We didn't eat it all, but we had a good try...

Gadget joins in the English paper hat tradition

I was also lucky to receive some really lovely gifts, including this selection of vegan delights...


I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, ate and drank too much and got everything you wanted from Santa!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

A funny time to detox....


Let me just preface this post by saying that I don't believe in detoxes in the way they're traditionally regarded. I don't believe in flushing out the 'system' for 7 or 21 days (whatever that means) only to cram it full of toxins again, and feeling good about it. I believe in building good habits and practising long term healthy eating (if, yanno, that's important to you.)

It's important to me because....
  1. Pretty much all the women (and a lot of the men) in my family struggle with their weight, and in the last 10 years I've lost and gained and lost and gained and lost and gained between 3-5st (42-60lbs)....there is a definite correlation between this and my moods and events in my life.
  2. Around half of the adults in my family (particularly the women) develop diabetes at some point or another. This can be tricky to contend with when you've been inadvertently raised as a comfort eater.
These habits are so hard....SO HARD to break - I know because I've managed it in the past, but then it can be so easy to come crashing back down and undo months or years of hard work in a short time.

The last 6 months or so have been hellishly hard for me and I've ended up resurrecting a lot of my old bad habits..... Honestly, I'm pretty disgusted and horrified with myself these days, which doesn't help my mindset at all, and hence it goes around and around....

My body's just been crying out for some decent treatment lately. Headaches, lethargy, heartburn....I have no idea how I manage to force myself to cycle the pathetically short distance to and from work every day. So I don't believe in detoxes, but I desperately need to kickstart some healthier habits before I end up being more miserable than I can handle! I know from experience that getting off my arse and doing some healthy cooking and treating my insides a bit better will have an overall beneficial effect, and god knows I could really do with that right now....

I did this detox plan once before a few years back.... I remember being thoroughly miffed about what I could and couldn't eat. At the time I live with my then-boyfriend and watching him scoff whatever he wanted every night was torture. Well, now I'm living on my own there's no excuse!

This is the plan I followed.

Obviously, being vegan, I won't be having any quorn, fish, honey or dairy yoghurt.

Bearing in mind the flashbacks to my last attempt, when I followed the plan to the LETTER for 7 days (no coffee, tea or salt) I will have to tweak that slightly for the sake of my sanity. I'll be allowing myself a cup of coffee each morning, and decaf tea with soya milk (no sugar) in the afternoon. I'll also be allowing myself some salt!

My body could definitely do with the 'cleanse' (if such a thing really works) and I really need to get into better habits. I know it's two weeks before Christmas, but I've already drunk my way through the office Christmas party and I don't usually have too much trouble avoiding chocolates, etc, at Christmas since they're never vegan friendly.

Anyway, I started this morning with a breakfast of sautéed potatoes, mushrooms, carrots and onion with a spice mix. I'm off out to buy some rice noodles and baking potatoes......wish me luck.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Beefy Seitan Sandwich Slices

My vegan chums, 2013 has not been the year of the blog post. It has been the year of MADNESS! I dearly hope that life settles down a bit in 2014, and I can spend much time peacefully tinkering in the kitchen.

Lately I've been trying to save some pennies and remember to bring a packed lunch to work with me every day. The problem is that I miss a good ol' fashioned sarnie somethin' FIERCE. I decided to jolly well sort myself out and get to work with the many kilos of wheat gluten sitting in my cupboard.

I was muchos inspired by this Deli Slices recipe on the AMAZING Maple Spice blog, but I had to improvise a little with what else was lurking in the cupboards pre-payday, and mine turned out a bit less turkey and a bit more beefy, I guess.

As you can see, I cannot slice to save my life....

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tin black eyed beans
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp herbes de provence
  • 1.5 cups wheat gluten
I cheated and threw all ingredients aside from the wheat gluten in the blender, and whizzed it all up. I then mixed in the wheat gluten flour to make a dough.....



Shape the dough into a loaf, all ready to wrap in tin foil.....


I wrapped the loaf securely in tin foil and steamed for around 1.5 hours. You could try with a broth, or bake in the oven, but I've always preferred steaming seitan over using broth, and my oven is kaput!

Let the loaf cool fully before slicing; preferably leave in the fridge overnight.

Slap the slices on a sarnie with some pickles and enjoy a good old fashioned packed lunch!