Thursday, 8 October 2015

Vegan Mofo Off Season Community - Pick 3

I had a fantastic time taking part in Vegan Mofo 15 and came across lots of great blogs. One of those blogs was Jennifer's blog My Blissful Journey. Jennifer had the idea to keep things going throughout the year between Mofo's by a series of blog prompts that people could sign up to. If you'd like to sign up to the Vegan Mofo Off Season Community then sign up here!
Our first prompt is called Pick 3. For my Pick 3 I've gone for sharing 3 vegan products which I am in love with at the moment.

Inspiral who are famous for their raw treats have just made some new additions to their range. They have come out with a lighter version of kale crisps and these coconut pecks. The pecks come in raspberry flavour too which are good but my hands down favourite are the Smokin' Pecks. Made from dehyrated coconut and flavoured with nooch, smoked paprika and lime these are quite simply a taste sensation. at around 80p - £1 these are a good price point too for a raw snack. I got mine from V Revolution in Manchester but they are pretty widely available in health food shops and online. Seriously get your hands on some, you will not regret it!

Also from V Revolution is the ichoc Choco Cookie bar. It's made by Vivani, a German company who make a large range of vegan friendly bars. V Revolution stock the range and I've been working my way through and this is definitely my favourite bar. Imagine bits of crumbled Oreo in a rice milk coating, so good!

Lastly these are not a new product but I don't see them very often, usually just at vegan fayres. I just did a shop at Vegan Store though for our holiday mainly to pick up some Vegg and an Anand's Round Up sneaked it's way into the online basket. It's like a superior version of a Wagon Wheel with 2 chocolate biscuits sandwiches with marshmallow and jam and then the whole thing is coated in thick dark chocolate. It's amazing and one will share well between two people. I'm imagining us having this next week with a cup of tea after returning from a walk on a wind blown beach!

We Shall Overcome Weekend 2015

Wow, what a week!!! I've had no time to mourn the end of Vegan Mofo. As soon as we finished work on Thursday it was straight into action with We Shall Overcome weekend. Matt played at 7 different events over 4 days and it was an amazing experience seeing the whole idea come together with events all around the country happening at the same time and for the same reasons. My friends who happen to be vegans too put on fantastic events. Here's Lynnmarie who runs Manchester Vegan Society and her partner Martin the Mod who runs Mod's Veggie Vegan Cafe. They put on a brilliant day in Manchester City Centre at the Thirsty Scholar Pub with bands, poets and speakers and off course Lynnmarie's wonderful vegan cakes for sale.

This was a picture just outside the Thirsty Scholar and too good an opportunity to miss. The woman with pink hair is our friend Morag Rose who runs psychogeographic group, the Loiterers Resistance Movement. Morag curated and led a fascinating walk around central Manchester on the Sunday morning sharing stories of public/private space, radical history, community resistance and more. Along the walk Matt and Steve on accordian gave a musical accompaniment. If you're near Manchester check out the group, they run walks every first Sunday of the month.

The banner in this picture was the idea of my work colleague and fellow vegan Helen of Helenmakes blog. It's made up of knitted and crocheted squares. I'm proud to say I knitted 18 of them. The weekend coincided with the Tory's arriving in Manchester for their annual conference so here's the banner welcoming them to Manchester. When we were at the Thirsty Scholar on the Sunday afternoon the massive demo passed by outside and we went out to watch. It was amazing to see the banner going past in the march, I think it took about 7 people to carry it!

My contribution was a baking one. I made an anti-austerity cake march for our event that we put on in Glossop on the Saturday night. All the slogans are from real banners from marches that have taken place in Bristol and London. I aimed to raise £30 by selling the cakes for donations and was delighted to get over £50! The money along with the other money we raised on the night and the tons of food donations has gone to our local food bank. As much as the events were about raising funds and goods they were also about bringing together communities and empowering people and getting them to feel that they do have a voice. I even got up on a stage and addressed a room full of people with a microphone, twice, which just shows the power of these events!

Here's the final picture of the weekend which I think sums up the spirit of the weekend. We ended up for our last gig at Bagthorpe near Nottingham. Matt was joined on stage by all the other musicans who had played at the event to sing 'We Shall Overcome'. What you can't see in the shot is that rest of the pub on their feet singing along. I'll leave you with this piece written by one of the organisers. Hope some of you will be involved in WSO 16!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 30 - Fusion Challenge! Black Forest Cinnamon Style Rolls

It's a bit of cheat today as I'm re-blogging something from last year's Mofo but I'm time short and it seemed to fit well with the prompt. Here we have a recipe that's a fusion of baked goods - there's the flavours of the German Black Forest Gateaux teamed with an American style Cinnamon roll (minus the cinnamon). To further add to the fusion I would recommend serving these with a pot of good old British tea rather than coffee!

I based my recipe on this Easy Cinnamon Roll recipe from Minimalist Baker.

1 packet of instant yeast
1 cup of soya milk
1/2 a cup of vegan margarine + 3 tablespoons
1/4 teaspooon of salt
3 cups of plain flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of sugar (I used Coconom coconut sugar)
50g of dark chocolate
50g of dried cherries, chopped in half
Seeds from inside a vanilla pod
Black Forest Chocolate Icing Sugar from Sugar and Crumbs

Heat the milk and half a cup of margarine together until melted. Let it cool until just warm and pour into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast and leave for a few minutes. Then add 1 tablespoon of sugar and the salt and stir. Mix in the flour half a cup at a time. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Wash out the bowl, grease it with sunflower oil, put the dough back in and cover with clingfilm.

Leave the dough to rise for an hour, it will double in size. Then roll it out to form a thin rectangle. Melt 3 tablespoons of margarine in a pan and stir in the vanilla seeds.

Brush some of the margarine and vanilla mixture over the surface of the dough and sprinkle with the coconut sugar. Then scatter the chopped chocolate and dried cherries over the surface. Roll the dough up into a long sausage shape and then use a serrated knife to cut it into 10 rolls.

Brush the rolls with the remaining margarine and vanilla mixture. Pop these into a pre-heated oven of 180C/ 350F for 25-30 minutes. Don't worry if there's a bit of space around the rolls are you can see these filled out and filled the whole dish during cooking.

I let them cool then I made a simple icing using the Black Forest Chocolate icing sugar and cold water and then simply drizzled this over the rolls as a glaze.

Enjoy with a pot of tea!
I have loved this year's Mofo. It's definitely been one of my favourites and I'm so glad I decided to join in despite not signing up to the blog roll. I've found some great new to me blogs and had so much inspiration. Thank you to everyone who has read my posts and left comments, it means a lot.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 29 - What would you bring on a vegan road trip?

It's been a while since I did a proper road trip. I used to do lots of Eurolines coach trips to Europe when I was younger staying in Youth Hostels on a very limited budget. I'd book somewhere that included breakfast and eat as much as possible and then the rest of my meals would consist of tomatoes, apples and crusty bread smothered with tubes of  Tartex pate that I'd have brought with me. This would actually be a vegan meal way before I became veggie!

These days we tend to book a cottage somewhere in England and do self catering. We are off to stay in the grounds of Harlech Castle in Wales a few weeks and I can't wait! With this in mind I've focused my post for today on what we'll be taking with us to eat during that week. For me on holiday breakfasts feature heavily and I like to have stuff I wouldn't normally have in the week.

I'll be making a batch of favourite granola recipe - the chocolate, coconut granola from the Vintage Tea Party book. It's vegan bar the honey which I'll sub for Sweet Freedom or Agave. I'm also thinking of making up a mix of the Chocolate Chip Pancakes from Vegan Food Gifts. it's a dry mix that you just add some oil and milk to.

Hopefully we'll find a great local bakery with tasty home made bread. I've been saving these mini marmalades and almond butter sachets for the holiday. I got sent the Pip and Nut along with some others in their range for a Can I Eat It review - seriously, best nut butter ever and palm oil free! The little jar on the left is chocolate sesame spread by Savvy Spreads which is amazing stuff too.

I always make up the tofu scramble herb and spice mix from Vegan With A Venegeance and take that away with us so that we have have scramble with a full English. We're hoping to have lots of days out if the weather allows and lunches will likely be sandwiches and bagels. I'll be making a trip to V Revolution before we go to stock up on cheeses and sandwich meats. Maybe I'll even get a tube of Tartex for old times sake. A packed lunch isn't complete without a few biccies and crisps though is it? We got mistaken for students last week in Manchester during Fresher's week and got given these free samples of Pringles which have gone in the holiday bag. I love that the Texas BBQ flavour are vegan friendly.

We're going to Wales, it'll be October, there's likely to be rain. For those times where we end up holed up in the apartment with books and dvds there's hot chocolate and marshmallows. Not just any hot chocolate and marshmallows either! These are extra special treat ones. There's salted caramel handmade marshmallows from Marshmallow Deli and my favourite ever hot chocolate from London company Jaz and Jules. It's called Caralimelicious which is caramel hot chocolate with a lime twist. The flavour reminds me of bonfire toffee, it is sooooo good.

A night in with a good film needs a wee dram to accompany it so we usually bring the hip flask filed with something from our bar. The white ceramic pineapple was actually a purchase on last year's holiday bought because it matched white ceramic Elvis.

We will be eating some vegetables too, honest! My skin has gone a bit crazy in the last few weeks and after not having any spots for the last few years it's breakout city. Matt is even calling me Rudolph after the big red spot I currently have on my nose. The holiday is a time to slow down and get back on top of my skin care regime as I've been terrible recently and just been using those alcohol infused make ups wipes which I don't think are good to use all the time, for me anyway. So I'll be taking some nice products for my skin and I've got enough black pots to return to Lush to get one of their fresh facemasks too.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 28 Tacos VS Burritos. Where do you stand on this important issue?

Firstly I have to admit that I do not have much familiarity with Mexican food or at least Mexican vegan food. I did travel a bit in Mexico 12 years ago but I wasn't veggie then. Also, in the meantime I have developed a condition called Hyper Sensitive Cough Reflex Syndrome and chillis amongst many other things can be one of my triggers. Incidentally it seems like the condition likely stems from a horrendous virus that I caught during that trip that caused neurological damage and this condition! When I have a coughing attack it can be quite scary and I can be sick and nearly pass out. People with this condition have even been known to break ribs from a coughing attack! I've developed quite a bit of anxiety around food that can trigger attacks but I'm ok with mild chilli powder and things like chipotle though so all is not lost!

Also, where I live in England Mexican food is not really a thing. Just recently though this has started to change and there's a couple of burrito chains and some food stalls in Manchester and these seem to be doing well so hopefully Mexican cuisine will start to get more established as I remember loving the flavours of the food that I ate on that trip to Mexico. So up until now my vegan Mexican experiences have been limited to burritos from the aforementioned fast food places made with the mildest salsas and sauces. So, in the spirit of Mofo I challenged myself to make tacos yesterday in order to give today's question a fair weighting.

 I picked the black bean and kalamata olive tacos from Appetite for Reduction. I skipped the jalapeno as the ones I'd bought in a jar were ridiculosly hot, I used a bit of chipotle tabasco instead which is lovely and which doesn't trigger my cough at all. Instead of the jar of green salsa I used a mild red one as I've never actually seen green salsa for sale anywhere. The white sauce on top is a lemon, garlic, yoghurt dressing. Oh wow, these were delicious! I did actually manage to get proper corn tortillas which I bought from Panchos Burrito's which is a lunch stall in the Arndale market. Matt and I wolfed these down in no time and decided we need to hunt down more taco recipes to try so please leave suggestions in the comments. So actually at this moment in time I think tacos are winning over burritos. I'm excited about trying more and grateful to Mofo that I've come out of my food comfort zone and tried something that I had a bit of a food fear about because of the chilli issue. Yay for tacos!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Vegan Mofo Day 27: Favourite Herb or Spice

I've picked something that I very rarely use but I love - star anise! I'm not actually sure if it is a herb or a spice. In my internet research I saw it described as both! There were also all sorts of health claims made for it but only if it's the Chinese kind, apparently the Japanese type is poisonous!

My favourite type of cuisine is Chinese and it's a spice that pops up in some Chinese dishes due to it's inclusion in 5 spice powder. Good vegan Chinese food is not always that easy to come by though. Luckily we have the Red Dragon takeaway in Glossop which does a pretty decent selection and includes mock meats and tofu on their menu (it's surprising how many places in England still don't). We also have my favourite restaurant Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen a thirty minute drive away in South Manchester. The food is so good it has even converted Matt to being a fan of Chinese cuisine. Here's a picture of the Stuffed Three Treasures we enjoyed last time we went. Hopefully there's be more Chinese cooking action going on in my kitchen soon. After I saw this post by Dandelion Vegan on favourite cookbook day featuring Authentic Chinese Cuisine by Bryanna Clark Grogan I asked Matt to order it for my birthday in November.

Another favourite recipe of mine that uses it in the form of 5 spice powder isn't Chinese at all but is a breakfast potato hash dish from Vegan With A Vengeance. Isa came up with a genius idea of cooking sweet potatoes with onion, garlic, salt, 5 spice and watercress. It might sound a bit bizarre but trust me it works. The recipe is here online. And finally star anise is not just for cooking. I've used it for Christmas cards before. Glue a single star anise onto a square of gold card or paper (Chinese money paper is good) then glue that onto your card background and hey presto a simple but effective and great smelling hand made card.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Vegan Mofo 2015 Day 26- It’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift outside your door! What are you going to make using the ingredients that you have?

Back to my original theme today which was Carol Vorderman -  Accidental Vegan Hero, blogging about recipes from a series of Detox Recipe books that the television presenter and maths whizz put out with nutritionist Anita Bean in the noughties. The answer to the blog title question - Dahl with Sweet potatoes and Coconut from Carol Vorderman's Eat To Be Cellulite Recipes.

This was the first recipe I made from Carol and Anita's book - Eat To Beat Cellulite Recipes. I remember the first time I ate dahl was back in the mid nineties. My friend Tracey came over from Wales to visit me in Manchester and she cooked some dahl for us.  I remember it being a taste sensation! I love sweet potatoes and I love dahl so I was immediately drawn to this recipe.

I've had cooked lentils in coconut milk before - there's a nice coconut dahl recipe in the Tibits cookbook. Where this recipe differs from other recipes is that there is no oil at all. You cook the lentils with chopped onion, garlic and sweet potato in water and coconut milk for twenty minutes and right at the end you stir in the spice blend and some grated fresh ginger and chopped coriander. Easy peasy, nice and quick and yummy comfort food. This makes a nice meal on it's own with some steamed green veg or as an extra accompaniment to a wider meal of curries.