Thursday, 30 June 2011

Lavender Shorties

Inspired by a combination of last night's Apprentice and the wonderful display of flowering lavender in the gardens at my flats, I felt the need to come home from work and create a new biscuit. I definitely recommend using Vitalite if you can get it (Co-Op sell it) as it gives these a buttery taste that other vegan margarines lack. Make sure you get culinary grade lavender too. I ordered a jar from the Cotswold Lavender Company via Amazon for £3.99 inc postage and only used a tiny bit in this recipe. These are very moreish and perfect for afternoon tea or a gift.

Lavender Shorties


Makes around 22 two inch biscuits

1/2 cup of vegan sunflower margarine

1/2 cup of icing sugar

Couple of drops of vanilla extract

1 cup + 2 tablespoons of plain flour

1/8 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 tablesppon of culinary lavender

Caster sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350f/ 180C.

Grease and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Using an electric whisk beat the margarine until creamy. Add the vanilla and icing sugar and beat again.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in the lavender.Fold this mixture into the margarine mix in two batches. Add a bit more flour if too sticky.

Roll out on a floured board. Cut out with your favourite cookie cutters. Sprinkle with caster sugar. Transfer to the baking tray and bake for 12-14 minutes until they start to turn golden.

Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Art and Cake

I've been asked to go on a local radio show in a few weeks to talk about the Cake Liberation Front which is very exciting. My friends and I like to use cake as an outreach tool when we can. Here's a couple of art projects I've been involved in that featured vegan cake!

Cake Liberation Front launched itself at this event last November at The Bed In at the Bluecoat at Bluecoat Gallery in Liverpool. The Bed In was a series of events to mark the anniversaries of John Lennon's birthday and assassination. Each day the bed hosted a new action by performers, artists and activists. We spent a lovely Sunday there and gave away over 200 samples of vegan muffins.

Lots of people stopped to chat and were interested in finding out more about vegan baking. People were really curious to know how it worked without eggs and milk and how we got the muffins to rise. We gave out Vegan Society and Animal Aid leaflets and recipe sheets and the whole event was live on the internet and then also available as a podcast.

This event was at Greenroom in Manchester as part of a launch for Larkin About . Larkin About host a series of games events throughout the year which get people experiencing the city in a different way. On the table is a vegan cake map of Manchester made by members of the Loiterer's Resistance Movement. The LRM is a Manchester based collective of artists and activists interested in psychogeography who meet on the first Sunday of every month to go for a wander of some sort and who also organise occasional festivals, exhibitions and shows.

We used around 300 cupcakes and each one was attached to a photo of a place, structure or space in Manchester. We asked people to let us know if their choice was 'consumed with love' or 'devoured with hate'. This made interesting reading as people told us their feelings and memories attached to the physical environment and these were then used to map out a further walk.

Even when the event is not specifically linked to veganism, it's good to have some literature available because undoubtedly conversations arise when people sample vegan cake for the first time and realise how good it can be! Have you seen vegan cake used in any unusual ways?

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Double Dough

I've blogged about Dough Pizza Kitchen before. If you want pizza in Manchester forget about Pizza Express and head over to this place in the Northern Quarter who also offer dairy free cheese and a choice of standard, wholemeal and gluten free bases. Whilst chatting to the owners the other month Dale and I found out they were trying samples from local companies to extend their vegan dessert options. They've always offered vegan ice cream but no cake up until now.

We suggested they try the fabulous Cocoa Emporium based in Afflecks Palace. Well, they did and Cocoa Emporium are now supplying two vegan dessert options. I've tried them both and they are both great. There is a chocolate and pear torte and a duo of chocolate brownie and peanut butter blondie. Both are served with a scoop of icecream with the peanut butter blondie being a particular favourite of mine.

It's so encouraging to see two local businesses working together like this. Neither of them are vegetarian/ vegan run yet both are acknowledging that people with different dietary requirements are part of their customer base. I've arranged loads of work, family, birthday meals etc at Dough because I know the food's great, everyone can be catered for and that those with the dietary requests and the omnivores will be equally happy.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Five Years

Today, my very good friend Dale and I celebrate our 5 year Veganniversary! During that time we've had some of the best meals ever, visited the fantastic Bristol Vegan Fayre 4 times, organised vegan events in Manchester (including the now legendary Basement Chocolate Fest), met lots of other great vegans ( we didn't know any 5 years ago!) and set up the Cake Liberation Front.

Dale had been vegetarian for a long time and didn't like milk so it's wasn't too big a leap for him. I wasn't vegetarian but had been gradually changing my diet for health reasons for about 2 years and probably ate vegan about 70% of the time so it didn't actually feel like a massive leap for me either. I think we both would agree that we probably eat a bigger variety of foods now than ever before! If you're interested in veganism I would encourage you to just have fun exploring it - go along to local social meet-ups, free food fairs etc and investigate the wealth of information available on the web. It took me a long time to decide if I wanted to commit to veganism and to use the label for my lifestyle but I still feel it's one of the best decisions I ever made!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Full English Vegan

Martin the Mod and his partner Lynnmarie are two of the best people I know. Not only are they interesting and fun but they are committed to making Manchester a vegan friendly city. Lynnmarie along with Linda runs Manchester Vegan Society and has also been involved with Cake Liberation Front from the word go. Martin has run veggie cafes at various venues around the city and can currently be found at the Seven Oaks Pub in Chinatown. His grub is the best value veggie food in the city with big portions, friendly service and pretty much everything can be veganised. The board below just shows the breakfast selection, there's burgers, paninis, noodles, chillis, pastas etc too.

This breakfast kept me going all day! Sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, hash browns, toast and there's a rasher hiding under there too! Opening times are weekdays 12-3pm and Saturdays 12-5pm.