Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Vegan Camping

We've bought a new tent. Last year we bought a cheap one from Aldi and it lasted us for the three festivals that Matt played at. The first two had glorious weather whilst the final one was a weekend of torrential downpours resulting in a leaking, ruined tent. So, this year we did some research and spent a bit more money on a tent that will hopefully last us many years. We enjoyed the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival so much last year that we chose it for new tents first outing.

We were hoping for a weekend of sun, cider and socialism. What we got on the first night was the worst storm that Matt said he'd ever camped in, and bear in mind he's been an avid camper since a teenager. I've got some amazing earplugs and managed to sleep through most of it! Luckily by Saturday lunchtime the weather turned and the rest of the festival was really hot and sunny. Here we are, two very pale people roasting away depsite the factor 30!

We knew from last year that there wasn't likely to be much vegan food so we came prepared with a cool bag full of sandwiches, M and S salads, mini cartons of rice milk, museli, crisps, oatcakes, pate and muffins. We had to buy our food from Saturday night and were able to find baked potato with beans and some not too spicy Indian food. Usually I struggle at festivals as the veggie food tends to be of the spicy persuasion which isn't good when you have a sensitivity to chilli and cayenne. It was also great to see a coffee van this year who had soya milk, teapigs teas and also sold fruit and popcorn. The festival finished on Sunday evening and we stayed with friends who've just moved down to Dorset.

Monday morning we had the luxury of having our breakfast on the beach at Burton Bradstock. what a fab start to the week! We've hoping to get several more nights under canvas before the summer is out and we're lucky as there's a range of nice campsites close to us in Derbyshire so we can head off after work on a Friday. Since we got back from Tolpuddle we've also bought a camping stove and pans and even this vintage folding table from a charity shop. Has anyone got any favourite vegan camping foods?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

New Things

We're starting to get settled into our new house. We've got a huge long list of things that need doing. Having to have to get the whole house rewired means there's loads of redecorating to do and the front and back yards need work. I think it's going to be an ongoing project for the next couple of years. 

I've wanted a Vitamix ever since I first heard of them but felt I could never justify spending that much on a blender. I've been wanting to up my energy levels though so we decided to go halves on this investment on our future health!

We've had it about a month though and have used it every single day. It's mainly used for smoothies in the morning. We've been making great protein packed smoothies which have kept us going until lunchtime. The texture is amazing. I had a pretty good Kitchen aid blender before this but the Vitamix does take it to another level. I like to have a base of a banana, then more fruit and either some nut butter, silken tofu or alfalfa sprouts. I've started growing my own sprouts again and it is so cheap and satisfying to do. I also add to this a pre and pro-biotic powder and things like raw cacao, carob, maca and baobab powder depending on what the main fruit flavours are. There's also been some green smoothie action going on with the addition of kale and spinach.

Finally, isn't this just one of the best house warming presents ever. My sister and family got us this vegetable Elvis worktop saver. I think the aubergine hair is my favourite bit.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Bistro 1847 Manchester

Tonight after work I popped along to the relaunch party for Manchester veggie restaurant Bistro 1847. The restaurant has been established for a few years and also has a sister restaurant in Birmingham. I've eaten here before and blogged about it. The Manchester venue has had a refit and was launching it's summer menu. I was surprised by the refit which gives the restaurant more of a cafe bar feel with fresh Scandinavian style design and has a back section that can be hired out for large groups - perfect for celebrating birthdays or leaving do's.

It was a really pleasant evening. The organic wine was free flowing and we got to sample some delicious canapes which give a flavour of what the restaurant is all about. The first picture is rye crackers topped with hummus, pomegranate and edible flowers. I could have eaten a whole plate of these. The rye crackers in particular were outstanding.

These bites are a mini version of one of the restaurants signature dishes. It's beer battered halloumi with pea puree with the halloumi subbed for tofu for vegans. The chef explained that the green leaves are locally soured oyster leaves, something I'd never heard of before.

This final super sized canape was a little nan bread topped with a mini bhajji, pickled pear, yoghurt and foraged yarrow. The presentation on all of the food was superb and I loved the attention to detail with the garnishes. The restaurant also runs cookery classes and has events such as jazz evenings and tasting menu nights. I'm looking forward to visiting again soon.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Violife for Pizza

When I popped into V Revolution the other day the guys there were raving about the new Violife for pizza hard block of vegan cheese. On their recommendation I decided to try it out and I have to say I was impressed. It's also the cheapest vegan cheese I've come across at £2.25 a block. It melted really well and had a pleasant taste. I used most of it on a Cheatin Ham and Pineapple pizza. I blogged a while ago about my forays into pizza making and I've progressed even further to using 00 flour and getting my bases nice and thin. I've been using this recipe which does most of the work in a food processor.

We had enough of the cheese left over to try it with beans on toast and to mix in with mushrooms and pesto in a pasta dish.

Whilst I don't eat masses of vegan cheese I'll definitely buy this brand again and look forward to trying it in a cheese and tomato toasted sandwich.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Pret Goodies

Now that I get a train into work Pret A Manger is on my radar as there is a branch in the station. My first encounter was with a Supergreens sandwich and I must say it nearly put me off trying anything else. The avocado was unripe and the dressing was mouth puckering with way too much lemon. However, I was much more impressed the second time round. I'm a massive fan of coconut water and was pleased to see it on sale here alongside delicious veggie crisps. Their kale crisps are pretty good too although I think the Inspiral ones just have the edge and I can get them from the juice bar in Piccadilly station along with Inspiral desserts. I  do have to recommend the dark chocolate covered rice cakes in the picture though. There was three in the packet and I rationed them out over the course of a day.

The sandwich is the new Dukkah wrap. I'm a big fan of Dukkah ever since I got to review it for Can I Eat It?  and one of my favourite ways to use this spice blend is sprinkled on roasted vegetables towards the end of cooking. It was great in this wrap.

I've also discovered that Pret do a really nice salad called Greens, Grains and No Bread which is just the sort of thing I like to eat at home. What other favourites have people discovered from here? I know they do quite a few vegan soups too. It's really heartening to see more vegans options like this appearing in mainstream places. There's an M and S food in the station too so I've got a pretty decent choice of lunches if I've not been able to bring stuff in from home.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Outside Cafe - Hathersage

We've recently got a car which has opened up a world of travel around the Peak District and neighbouring Yorkshire! Our first weekend tip out was to the Outside Cafe in Hathersage. Outside is a big outdoors shop which has a cafe upstairs. It's popular with walkers, climbers and the odd tourist like us. They do simple dishes like breakfasts, sandwiches and baked potatoes and vegan options are cleared marked on the menu boards.

We went for a cafitiere of fresh coffee and the five and seven piece breakfast. You choose your items from the list on the board. We had the same with Matt getting extras of tomato and toast. The rest of the breakfast was a sausage, beans, mushrooms, hash browns and fried bread. I've not had fried bread since I've been vegan and I have to say it was the stand out of the meal, really tasty!

The total bill was around £16 including the drinks. They also had nice organic soya milk. I'm looking forward to more trips out like this to check out other breakfasts in the area!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Egg Revisited

It's quite a long time since I've been to The Egg Cafe. I've not been to Liverpool for a while and the last few times I'd been to my new favourite cafe - Mello Mello. The Egg is a well established veggie cafe high up in the attic of a building. It's a really nice space, the food is well priced and home made but the menu seems to have been the same for years and a lot of the dishes are too spicy for my palate. Matt had a gig though recently and we stayed overnight. We popped into The Egg which is near Lime Street station for a quick breakfast with friends before catching the train home.

I'd only had the vegan breakfast on one previous occasion and I don't remember it as anything special. I was really impressed by it this time though. The thing that especially stood out was the tofu scramble. I don't know about anyone else but I find the tofu scrambles in cafes to be very bland. This offering from The Egg though was packed with flavour and generous amounts of parsley and peppers. Top marks from me.

I grabbed a couple of cakes for the train journey home. On the right was a chocolate tiffin type slice that was suitably sticky with nice big chunks of biscuit. The lovely looking cake on the left was a chocolate and beetroot gluten free muffin that was studded with big chunks of chocolate. Sadly, whilst the flavours were great it was completely undercooked with the inside like uncooked cake batter, It was so bad I couldn't finish it. Whoever baked it definitely needed to invest in a cake skewer for testing the middles!