Thursday, 9 April 2015

BBQ weather is HERE

Holy moly you guyz, the bank holiday weekend was PRETTY nice. Friday was a washout - I was supposed to spend the whole day studying, but I think the rain and the drizzle totally dampened my enthusiasm. I mostly lounged about with the pooch on the sofa. But Saturday came and SO DID THE SUNSHINE. It was so gosh darn NICE to sit outside with a coffee and do some studying. Sunday was much the same, except maybe for the bit when Vulpe came bounding over to check out the lovely pristine white tablecloth I just put on the outside table and donked her mucky little paws right on top of it.....

Cheeky monkey! I also had some lovely garden visitors throughout the whole weekend <3

But the thrill of line drying, studying al fresco and making friends with birds wasn't the best bit, the best bit was when the bestest man came for a flying visit on Sunday night. I REFUSED to believe we'd have anything other than BBQ weather on Monday and by GOD I was right.....

Ain't no guac like homemade guac.

Impromptu BBQ feast.

BBQ TOFU. I love appropriating meat sauces for tofu <3

OLIVES and the best pesto in the world.

We smothered the mushrooms in pesto and they were splendid. Tesco veg burgers less inspiring.

Yummers BBQ tofu and guac sarnie.

Vulpe (and even Miaowski) made the most of the sunshine. I can't WAIT for proper sunny times and for all my herbs/salad to grow grow grow so I can harvest them for BBQ salads and wotnot. Usually I fail horrendously, but the sheer size of my garden is making me feel confident this year. Probably falsely, WE SHALL SEE.

Here's a lil tip for you though..... Single use BBQs, don't put them on wood you guyz :( I know it's a shocker that I only just realised this at the age of 33 and 1/2, but boy have I learned my lesson....

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Worst Journey on Earth - or, Where Did My Omelette Mojo Go?

Dear readers, let me tell you a story.....a story about an ordeal. The Famous Five's worst nightmare: three humans and two dogs surrendering to nature's punishments. It all started when I had to choose a destination, a countryside stroll of moderate difficulty, suitable for dog walking, but most importantly, a perambulation that would not involve excessive sweating, smudged make-up, the danger of falling into mud or otherwise onto my arse in the company of my splendid new man-friend, who I felt I hadn't known quite long enough to humiliate myself in front of. Of course, this is inevitable, I am an oaf, but I was just hoping it wouldn't happen just yet......

I should have suspected the worst when my breakfast went awry, and my cherished non-stick ceramic pan exhibited STICKING. Where did I go wrong, folks? I used the PPK omelette recipe, but I added soya milk to help the mixture blend. Was this my fatal error? In any case, what it lacked in aesthetics it made up for in taste, for sure....

As you can see, some of it vaguely ended up like an omelette. Some more like scrambled eggs. But an omelette is just flat scrambled eggs, right? Uggggghhh well, I can admit defeat, sure I can - if anyone has a SURE FIRE vegan omelette recipe to share, please go ahead!

Welllll in any case, all full of one effed up tofomelette, we three humans and two dogs piled into the car and headed for beautiful Derwent Valley in the Peak District. The forecast was Much Rain, but we're all English (um actually, two of us English, only one Northern, one American human, one American dog, one Romanian dog and one German human.....but anyhow) ANYHOW! we said BOO SUX to the rain and put on our waterproofs and off we went.

At this point, I'd like to draw your attention to the National Trust's walk literature. Some words and phrases are very casually tossed around here, like "Grade: Moderate" and "Time: 1 hour 20 minutes". Admittedly I didn't pay too much heed to "A bracing walk" or "rough terrain" or indeed "steep wooded cloughs"......(what is a clough?)....

But off we romped nevertheless. And boy was it bracing. Boy was the terrain rough. Boy were the cloughs STEEP and WOODED......

A frog friend. One of the only other sentient beings out in such horrendous weather.

Lordy was it bleak. Beautiful, but bleak. 
Sheep friends.
Pheasant friend - sadly intended for sport or supper, I think :(

Hope hadn't entirely left us by this point.
Vulpe exhibited ENDLESS cheer. A trooper indeed. Or MAD.
Full on bleaking out.

I confess I stopped taking photos when, trudging across moorland, the rain and wind and hail lashed us. Those hours were not entirely pleasant you guyz, and by the time we limped back to the car we were all effectively wearing trousers made of slappy wet fish and had to sit in them for an hour. The worst bit was when I got home, those 8 seconds it took to climb the stairs in my slappy wet fish trousers and peel off all my clothes until I felt seven hundred times warmer not wearing anything at all. I knocked back p-much half a bottle of red wine whilst in the bath. That was all purely medicinal.

Obvs I totally know how to show a man a good time (ummmm), but hopefully I compensated with wine, the fire, and lots of Chinese food.....

I can't help but wonder if I cursed the day with my omelette disaster. I srsly need to find a reliable recipe to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.....

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Hebden Bridge, and stuffing my face with food....

Last weekend was so choc full of yummers food, that I couldn't help but have a little blog about it. The sun even came out on Saturday, which was a freakish and unexpected, but wonderful, delight. Usually when the grey clouds clear and the rain stops and the sun starts to shine on Manchester, I am prancing about the house trying to find towels and sheets to wash JUST SO I CAN LINE DRY. There's no greater joy, am I right?

Actually, it turns out there is a greater joy, and that's starting the day with a totally effing amazing tofu benedict with proper amazing imported hollandaise sauce that my lovely pal Sophie from over at Hasta La Vegan brought back from Germany for me yonks ago.......

I decided to be ultra post modern and use bagels for this.... I sliced the tofu and fried in a little salt, pepper, black salt and nutritional yeast using my BELOVED ceramic pan <3

Check it out, not too shabby eh?

Obviously having a big fat breakfast was necessary because my super duper lovely new man-friend and I were off to Hebden Bridge for a day of romping around river banks and scaling hillsides and generally taking in far too much fresh air for the city dwellers that we are.

After tackling the "easy" and "flat" walk to Hardcastle Crags and back in the (unexpectedly) blazing sunshine, all wrapped up in our Winter gear, parking our bums in the lovely Greens Cafe was a total treat..... First of all, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS SAMMICH. Smoked tofu, sundried tomatoes, avocado and chipotle mayo.....

This was accompanied by an unphotographed, but very tasty, mushroom soup. Obviously that wasn't nearly enough face-stuffing, and we all know there's a separate stomach for pud (right?) so some coffee and cake was definitely in order....

After all that clean air and grub, we headed back to the Manchester suburbs for some vegan sushi rollin'. This was definitely more fun than line drying my sheets. BUT ONLY JUST.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

It's Been a While - and sushi....

I guess I ain't been cookin' much lately.... I've been pumping money I don't so much have into the local Chinese takeaway, there's been plenty of that..... And a whole lotta toast. It's been all about work and the slow descent into madness that is January Exams. At the same time, I'm over on the other side of the counter soldiering on with my part time/distance learning MA and trying to fit in essay writing/journal reading along with dog walking and hoovering and far too many episodes of the X-Files.... (Hallo, I already have a doctorate in Procrastination.)

Speaking of the X-Files, d'ya like my new tattoo, by the absolutely ruddy lovely Hannah at Rain City?

But anyhoo, every now and then it's time for some super duper effort-worthy grub. My lovely friend Vicki came over last night. Sushi and wine, you guyz, sushi and wine.....

Step one: roasting sweet potato and LOTS of garlic in sesame oil, in preparation for mashing.

Step two: gaze adoringly at oyster mushrooms. Soak in teriyaki marinade.
Weird chilli faux meat from the Chinese supermarket.
Roll roll roll.

Not pictured: teriyaki soaked/fried tofu and lots of avocado. Also not pictured: my face contorted into salty soy sauce induced sushi delight. Proper actual heaven.

Here's a snap yoinked from Vicki's Instagram showing the full, cosy glory of our feast:

And I guess that THIS is what Vulpe thinks of all this fishless sushi heathenry.....


I seriously need to get some sushi accessories on the go so I can feed both my new obsession and my big fat face. Any suggestions, dear readers, on books or favourite vegan recipes?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Defiling Nigella's Gratin

My wonderful new house further proved its MAGICAL POWERS yesterday. Let me explain..... My need to move house surfaced fairly quickly when relations soured badly with my letting agency (the worst, THE WORST, in all of Greater Manchester, if not beyond) and after the Moving House Three Times Saga of Summer 2013, my heart sank big time.

The thought of grappling with another letting agency, paying agency fees, convincing a new landlord of Vulpe and Miaowski's good behaviour, etc etc etc.....was very very bad. So I posted an ad to my workplace's 'marketplace' page, pleading for a nice home within my budget that would be dog/cat friendly.

I soon heard from my landlord to-be, and there began the serendipitous process that would lead to my new residence, as well as a thrilling series of weeeeird coincidences. Only yesterday I was complaining to whoever would listen about my lack of teapot, so I could ensure a more plentiful supply of tea when beavering away on my MA in my upstairs study. Dear readers, what did I then find, in the garden of all places, tucked away behind a splendid collection of terracotta planters?


Anyhoo, for whatever reason I had a hankering for gratin potatoes tonight. I have no idea where the craving came from, but I had a slab of Tofutti mozzarella style in the fridge, as well as a carton of soy cream, so I decided to do something that would probably upset Nigella A Lot and veganize this recipe.

I halved the recipe so I could use my 250ml carton of soy cream, and I used spring onions instead of reg'lar onions.

How do you like my novelty potato?

I grated some Tofutti mozzarella style cheeze on top before it went in the oven.

By the way, don't leave your pan unattended when you're parboiling the potatoes :(

I doubt Nigella would approve, but this really hit the spot on such a chilly night!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Garden Thrills

So, dear blogging pals, the last couple of weeks has been CRAZY. I moved house. Again. But boy am I living in suburban heaven now. I am literally like a pig in muck, only with a huge garden, a dishwasher and a corner bath. I have trees and plants and a shed and decking and a STUDY ROOM YOU GUYZ. I am so disgustingly happy tucked away at the end corner of a little cul-de-sac 10 minutes walk from at least one place that is actually a "VALE" that I might explode.

My kitchen is an utter delight, and I've already been a bakin' and a cookin' more than I have for a while. I've also been super duper busy starting my MA though, so who knows how long that'll last (especially with a chippy just at the end of the road....)

More exciting currently is my bloody amazing garden. I have miles of garden (sortofnotreally), composters, planters, conifers, a shed, yehhhhhhh!

Behold my planter o' strawbs, which I hope will keep me well stocked in the warmer weather,

One of two glorious mucky tubs o' compost!

Vulpe is in garden heaven.

Tiny adorbs pine cones.

Pretty flowers!

Handsome planter.

Cheeky little bird house in my prize conifer.

I have TOOLS for heaven's sake....

...and a SHED!
I have some daff bulbs to plant in tomorrow, and am super DUPER excited about my raised bed plans, as I have plenty of onion and garlic bulbs ready to go.

My house is tremendous, and Vulpe is thrilled at being able to run up the stairs, down the stairs, up the stairs, down the stairs...... The garden is a huge hit; even Miaowski has mustered up some enthusiasm...

Vulpe's also been enjoying walking on nearby Sunnybank Vale, which is our new favourite walkies spot, and one that looks like it might be able to help me out with a crumble or two, when the time is right....

I'm enjoying my last few days off work before it's back to normality :(