Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Mock Duck Fresh Spring Rolls

This was a Sunday night tea I whipped up recently with stuff we had in. The quinoa and roasted butternut squash salad was leftovers from the day before. I bought tons of sushi rice when it was 49p a bag in Quality Save recently and we usually have a few tins of mock duck from the Chinese Supermarket knocking about in the pantry. So on the menu was avocado nori rolls and mock duck fresh salad spring rolls.

I heated a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil in a roasting tin, then added the mock duck and drizzled it with three tablespoons of sauce. I used vegetarian oyster sauce and have also had good results with sweet chilli sauce previously. After roasting for around 15 minutes until the pieces crisped up I took them out of the oven and put to one side to cool.
In the meantime I julienned some spring onions, red pepper and carrots. Then I wrapped the mock duck, veg and some mixed salad leaves in spring roll wrappers. These are the type of spring rolls wrappers that look like hard plastic discs but after soaking in warm water for a few seconds totally transform. These are really fun to make and there's always enough leftovers for an impressive packed lunch to show off at work the next day!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Trying out new recipes

Here's a couple of bloggers that are new to me, although I know they've been around for a while. I think I came across them by following links from other bloggers posts but I can't remember where now! The Happy Herbivore has several cookery books to her name and I decided to treat myself to a copy of Happy Herbivore - Light and Lean. I've liked everything I've made so far. The recipes are clear and simple and come together fast. Everything is calorie counted and the emphasis is on fresh, low fat, low sugar food made with mainly wholefood ingredients.

Alongside the steamed asparagus and broccoli on this plate there are burgers and a sweet potato salad from the book. I also made the granola from the book which contains peanut butter and apple sauce. It was softer in texture than other granola I've made but really nice.

Another recent 'new to me blogger' is Vegan Richa. This was my version of her Quinoa, Cauliflower, Collard Bowl with Almond, Siracha Sauce. My version where I subbed the siracha for a mild sweet chilli sauce and the collards for broccoli and asparagus may not be a photogenic as Richa's but it tasted amazing and was the perfect quick, yet indulgent Friday night after work tea with a nice big glass of chilled white wine.

I've no photographs but I've also made Vegan Richa's Spiced Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce twice now and it is divine. Check out the recipe here.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Big News

If you're a regular reader of the blog you'll have heard me talk about Cake Liberation Front. The CLF was set up in Manchester in 2010 and since then cells and events have sprung up worldwide spreading as far as Adelaide in Australia! The CLF exists to get people interested in vegan cooking. You don't have to be vegan to come to meet ups, indeed lots of people aren't, but you do need to bring vegan food, sweet or savoury to share. We've never gone down the route of merchandise as CLF is not a business. There have been small amounts of badges and aprons sold each year but these have been merely to go towards the cost of the website.

However, a few weeks ago I was contacted by a company called Philosophy Football to see if CLF would be interested in doing a t shirt partnership. After having a look at the sort of things they've done before including t shirts and events for campaigns like Hope Not Hate and The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign we decided to go ahead. The last 2 weeks have been a whirlwind of activity with emails and designs flying back and forth until the t shirts were launched yesterday just in time for the start of Great British Bake Off! You can find them on the Philosophy Football website in both the 'new' and 'dissenters' sections. The CLF share of the profit will go to the charity Dr Hadwen Trust. Sales for the first day have been good and we're hoping for lots more over the weekend as the t shirts will have a full page feature in the Guardian Cook magazine supplement on Saturday. Fingers crossed eh!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Vegan Life Magazine

I stopped buying magazines regularly quite a few years ago. Sometimes when I'm waiting for a train I go into WH Smiths to see if they've got the Fortean Times for Matt and I might pick up a vegetarian cooking magazine. There's usually too much cheese and eggs though and it goes back on the shelf. I am a member of a couple of vegan related organisations which send out little magazines for subscribers but these tend to lack the vegan lifestyle articles that I'd like to read about. I really miss the now defunct US based Herbivore Magazine which I used to buy and love 8 years ago when I first went vegan. All that is set to change though with the launch of Vegan Life Magazine!

The first issue will be available on the app on 15 August, and in stores on 21 August. 
The magazine will be available to buy from Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda, WHSmiths and Martin McColl as well as independent stores. I was really chuffed to be asked to join their blogger community especially when I saw who the other bloggers were - some old favourites and some amazing new to me vegan bloggers amongst them.

Check out the website for a sneak preview of the magazine and also the various subscription deals. There's even a great free gift should you decide to take one out.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Bierkeller Cocktail Menu Launch

Cocktails are a pretty safe bet for vegans as baring those made with cream, creamy liqueurs or containing honey, as most spirits and mixers don't contain any animal products in the ingredients or process they are likely to be vegan. I've been a fan of cocktails for much, much longer than the eight years I've been vegan and I love making them at home. The other week we got invited to the Bierkeller for the launch of their new cocktail menu. It had a good range of standard classics and a few more novelty ones. What immediately caught my eye on the menu was something I would not make at home - a smoked Old Fashioned. To start with you choose your spirit from whisky, rum or brandy. Then you choose the brand of spirit. I fancied a rum one and went for Appleton Estate 8 Year old as the base spirit.

The glass was prepared by the barman placing cinammon sticks and star anise on a slate, setting fire to them then upturning the glass onto it. It smelt amazing!

Next up you choose your woodchips from a wide selection. Then comes the fun, chemistry style bit. The wood chips are placed into a contraption and set on fire. The smoke from them travels down a tube and into a flask.

This is then poured onto the spirit, stirred with ice, angostura bitters, orange peel and a cherry is added for garnish.

It was very good and definitely a bit of theatre to watch!

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.