Thursday, 22 January 2015

Vegan Life Magazine Issue 3

As a Vegan Life blogger I get a free digital copy of the magazine. We actually decided to pay to subscribe to the paper copy though as it's such a nice magazine. When we subscribed we got a lovely free gift of some shower gel and hand soap. The latest free gift for subscribers are a set of Hurraw Lip Balms which are my favourites and which I'd highly recommend if you're looking for a new vegan friendly lip balm. For info on subscriptions check out this link.

There's quite an emphasis on healthy foods and detoxing with it being a new year issue. As I posted here back in December I've been trying to focus on eating well and it paid off as for once I wasn't ill over the festive season! I've got several recipes from the magazine bookmarked to try over the next few weeks. We kicked off with this courgette noodle dish topped with marinated mushrooms and a sauce made from cashews and sundried tomatoes. It was delicious and really filling and only used half of the sauce. I've frozen the rest and reckon it will made a great creamy pesto style sauce to stir into pasta. I normally avoid pesto as basil gives me terrible acid reflux so I'm excited to have found an alternative!

I also loved the article on the benefits of drinking different types of tea and it's made me keen to seek out more types of white tea. I knew green tea had health benefits but I hadn't realised how great white tea is. The debate section also got me thinking. It's about whether it's ok for vegans to eat honey. Off the top of my head I can think of at least three people I know who call themselves vegan but who do eat it. I think it was one of the last vegan food issues I got my head round and it's definitely the one I most often find people asking me to explain. There's so much emphasis on saving the bee population these days that people seem to get confused about the issue and don't actually think about what honey actually is and what it should be used for. I used to take leaflets about milk, eggs and honey farming along to Cake Liberation Front meet ups to encourage non-vegans to think more about these issues. I'd like to start doing this again so if anyone knows where's best to get specific leaflets rather than just general vegan ones please leave me a comment.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Can You Guess What It Is Yet?

We've recently acquired one of these. It belonged to Matt's nana who inherited it off a lady she used to go and visit. She'd always admired it and it was left to her. After Matt's nana passed away it was in storage but has recently come to live with us. I've looked these up online and I reckon it's made of mahogany and dated around 1905. I'll give you a clue - Matt's nana was known for her baking.

It's a fabulous 3 tier cake stand with an ingenious mechanism which lets it go flat for storage. I first saw one of these a couple of years ago and even blogged about  it here!

I absolutely love it and will make sure it is well used but well looked after.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Heron Foods

Glossop is pretty good for shopping. We've a Co-Op, M and S Food, Aldi and a 24 hour Tesco as well as loads of great independent shops and a market too. I do miss my favourite bargain shops though and if I ever see a Home Bargains or B and M Bargains anywhere I have to pop in. I recently saw a few posts on the Facebook page - Vegan Special Offers UK, that mentioned things like tofu and oat milk popping up at bargain prices at somewhere called Heron Foods. And guess what? Yep, we have a Heron Foods too!

Just before Christmas I discovered that they had some Omega 3 non-dairy milk. I tried this at Vegfest in London in September but this was the first time I'd seen it on sale anywhere. At 3 cartons for £1 I stocked up. Whilst it hasn't replaced soya milk in tea or coffee I have been loving it for the last month in smoothies and overnight oats and I'll be sad when my stash has gone.

I discovered this earlier this week. Vegan friendly sunflower margarine for 80p. It's made in Ireland which may be why I've not seen it before. Like most sunflower margarine it's pretty neutral tasting and I reckon it will work well in baking. They also have some great garlic bread baguettes (2 for 75p) and on one occasion I even found the legendary Mr Kipling Treacle Tart for 65p! I'd seen this mentioned by vegans online but despite looking every time I saw a Mr Kipling display I'd never seen it anywhere before or since! Have you found any accidentally vegan food in surprising places or have you have any favourite bargain shops where you live?

Friday, 2 January 2015

2014 - A Year in Cheese!

Happy New Year everyone! A few years ago I looked back over the past year in cake but I think 2014 was more a year of exploring vegan cheeses for me. After years of not really liking soy based cheese I've started to try more and more products and it's been really exciting to see the developments in taste, texture and meltability! I've really got into making pizza from scratch and invested in a pizza stone and also a copy of Julie Hassan's Vegan Pizza book. I've had good success using the pizza dough recipes from the book and also the cashew based cheezy sauce for topping the pizzas.

Vegusto No Moo Melty is also a nice vegan pizza cheese that featured on quite a few pizzas.

As far as convenience goes though I think my new favourite vegan cheese for pizza is the Violife that is sold in a solid block. It's such a good price too!

I've also had a go at making my own simple nut based cheeses using recipes from some of my favourite bloggers. A recent discovery was this fab recipe for a quick baked almond cheese from Jasmine at Self Sufficient Cafe. Unfortunately it was eaten so fast that I haven't got a picture but I highly recommend it. I would also highly recommend these almond based cheeses that are set with agar by Debbie at Maple Spice. We've made both the chive and the sun dried tomato and basil ones and they are fantastic.

After hearing good things online, we really pushed the boat out when we discovered that V Revolution in Manchester had got hold of some Midas Fine Art Cheeses. This one is the golden cheddar. We also got the blue and the cranberry and pistachio dessert cheese.

I was really intriuged by the Midas cheeses. They're quite different from any vegan cheeses I've tried before, particularly the texture. The cheese just melts in your mouth. I did find them a little bit salty for my palate but they were also very moreish with the gourmet crackers we'd got to go with them and it was a real treat to have a cheese board with some new textures and flavours.

I already have a copy of Artisan Vegan Cheeses which I've never used and I'm thinking of buying a copy of The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook which covers all types of alternatives to dairy products, not just cheeses. After trying the Midas cheeses I feel quite inspired to continue with my own cheese making journey throughout 2015 so watch this space!

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

How To Use Up Leftover Mincemeat - Vegan Mincemeat Tea Loaf Recipe

I've you've ever looked at the Cake Liberation Front recipe blog you'll see that it's no secret that I love a tea loaf. There's recipes on there for gluten free rum and raisin Pirate Bread, Orange and Pecan Rooibos Tea Bread and Chocolate, Stout and Cranberry Tea Bread amongst others. After a mince pie fail (I left my filo pastry out of the fridge too long and it totally dried out) I had a jar of mincemeat that needed using up so I came up with this on Christmas Eve.

Vegan Mincemeat Tea Loaf


2 cups of plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinammon
1/2 cup of caster sugar
1/4 cup of sunflower oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of mincemeat (I used Meridian Organic)
1 egg replacer egg (I used Orgran)
1/4 cup of flaked almonds
2 tablespoons of brandy
1 cup of soyamilk (I used blue Alpro)

Pre-heat the oven to 350F/ 180C/ Gas 4


Grease and flour a loaf tin
Sieve the ingredients from the flour through to the sugar into a bowl and mix.
Add the oil, vanilla extract, egg replacer, brandy and soya milk and stir to combine.
Fold in the mincemeat.
Pour the batter into the loaf tin and scatter the flaked almonds over the top.
Bake for 50 mins covering the top with foil after 35 minutes so that the almonds don't get too well toasted.
Enjoy as it is or buttered with a non dairy spread.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

A Trio of Christmas Dinners!

I've been lucky to have not one but three amazing Christmas dinners this year. The first one was the week before Christmas at Topaz Cafe in Ashton. I've blogged about Topaz before as it's a favourite lunch spot of mine and Matt's but they don't usually open in the evenings so this was a special festive one off. To start with Matt went for a lovely velvety smooth leek, chestnut and sage soup whereas I opted for Asian Tofu. I have to say that this was some of the most amazing tofu I've ever tasted. The texture was perfectly crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside. It was really infused with flavour and there was a very tasty coleslaw on the side.

Our main was a cranberry and cashew nut filo with all the trimmings and a fantastic gravy.

Dessert was a sticky toffee pudding with icecream and the meal was rounded off with coffee and truffles.

Christmas dinner number two was organised by Manchester Vegan Society and was hosted by Martin the Mod at the Thirsty Scholar pub where Mod runs his veggie, vegan cafe. It's a few years since I've been to one of Mod's festive feasts but they are legendary. Put it this way you need to eat very lightly in the daytime! There were two starters - a tasty tomato soup and this cheezy, veggie bacon filled large mushroom with salad leaves. This was simple yet really good.

The epic main contained not 1 but 5 different mock meats!!!! You've heard of the meat sweats, I think we all had the seitan sweats by the end of this. I must say I don't eat a lot of mock meat but I really enjoyed this and there was a great selection of veg, perfectly crispy roasties and lots of gravy (always essential in my book).

Dessert was a traditional Christmas pudding served with a choice of brandy sauce, white sauce or soya cream. I went for the latter. I always forget just how much I like Christmas pudding which is just as well as we've got one in for Christmas and then Matt's won another one in a tombola at work!

There was homemade mince pies and chocolate mints to follow but I was so full I had to take these home to enjoy the following day. Our Christmas dinner at home came courtesy of Matt winning a Vegusto voucher in a competition during Vegan Mofo so we went for their Special Vegetarian Roast Stuffed with No Moo Cheese.

There was enough left to have Christmas dinner round two on Boxing Day! What did you have for Christmas dinner? Did you go for a traditional roast or something different?

Monday, 22 December 2014

Vegan Chocolate, Stout and Cranberry Tea Bread

I thought I'd post an old recipe of mine as it's got some nice seasonal flavours going on and is just perfect for this time of year. I can remember exactly when I devised this recipe. It was a few years back when I was struck down with flu on Boxing Day. This really was flu not just a cold and I wasn't able to get out of bed until New Years Day sadly missing out on a New Years Trip to London. I had finally started feeling better and wanted a treat to nibble on whilst lying on the sofa watching films. So here is my incredibly easy recipe for Chocolate, Stout and Cranberry Tea Bread. Make sure you look for a suitable for vegans stout. Barnivore can be a great help with this and I think the last time I looked that Sainsburys do an own label one.

Chocolate Stout and Cranberry Tea Loaf

2 cups of plain flour
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
3/4 cup of caster sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
12 fluid oz of vegan friendly stout
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
3/4 cup of good dark chocolate chopped into chunks

Pre-heat the oven to 350F/ 180C/ Gas Mark 4

Grease and flour a 1lb loaf tin.

Sieve the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl and mix together.
Pour in the stout and stir well until combined.
Fold in the cranberries and chocolate chunks.
Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes.
Let it cool in the tin on a cooling rack before eating.