Showing posts from 2013

Leftover Mincemeat?

Do you have any left over mincemeat that needs using up? I made mince pies with some fab Duerrs Mince meat with dark chocolate that I found in B and M Bargains. There was about a third of the jar left over though and I was pleased to find that it was exactly the amount needed for this Vegetarian Society recipe for mincemeat muffins. The resulting muffins were lovely and light.

Aren't these paper cases great? They were a birthday present and are from Lakeland.

Christmas Dinner Number 1

Apart from Christmas day I've not got any work's Christmas meals this year and I managed to be ill with a horrible lurgy and miss all the vegan Christmas meals happening in Manchester. I was starting to feel better though last Sunday so I made one at home. It was our first time trying a Vegusto roast. We chose the Porcini one and really liked it. It reminded me a bit of roast beef if I had to compare it to a meat. It was great with mustard and cranberry, stuffing, roast veggies and loads of gravy. On the side is some lovely Prosecco that I was trying for a vegan Christmas wine review.

I went for a light dessert rather than a pudding. These mango sorbets are from Lidl and were gorgeous. There's quite a lot of packaging in that they come in these plastic flutes but I've saved them to reuse as picnic glasses so that didn't seem so bad.

I still haven't decided what our main will be on Christmas day. What's everyone else having?

Happy Kale

Happy Kale sent me some samples recently of their products for one of my Can I Eat It? reviews. At the moment they do two different flavours, BBQ and Carob and Coconut. They interested me as they are doing something different from the usual cheezy, cashew flavoured kale chips. Don't get me wrong I am a fan of these flavours but it was interesting to try something different. What I wasn't prepared for the sweet savoury thing which is even going on in the BBQ flavour. I even went out and bought some more of the Coconut and Carob ones to try them again. The second bag got me hooked.

What was different on the second bag was that I got past my expectations of what kale chips taste like. I forgot that I was eating a vegetable. The kale really isn't a focal point. Sure it provides a crunchy vehicle for the toasty coconut and caramelly carob flavours but just sit back and enjoy the ride. I was eating these at my desk on my lunch break when they suddenly gave me a massive taste mem…

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone reading is ok. I know Christmas isn't the easiest time of the year for lots of people for lots of different reasons. It was ten years ago last week that my dad died and to be honest Christmas has never really felt the same since then. I do try to get into the spirit of things though. 
The nativity scene is in it's traditional spot on my bar.

My old childhood toys have come out of their basket for a visit.

This family of Father Christmas's hang out in the window.

The Christmas tea cosy is on the tea pot.

As usual I've bought a little real tree from the Christmas market in Albert Square.

My ornaments have been collected over the years. Some are from travels and lots are made by friends. There's a bit of a food theme going on too.

Santa banana is joined by Santa Carrot and Santa Hotdog.

And to crown the tree, what better than an asparagus tip!

Christmas Foods

This weekend we've got stuck into trying some Christmas foods. Matt's friends from Uni came over on Friday night so we put together a buffet and they helped out with trying some vegan wines from Co-Op and Waitrose that I'll be reviewing for Can I Eat It? over the next couple of weeks. The stuff in the first picture is the frozen V Bites 48 piece buffet pack from the V Bites Seasonal range. This was quick to cook and contained samosas, pork and cranberry sausage rolls, duck spring rolls, mini quiches and two types of pizza bites. I wasn't expecting much from the pizza bites but I think they were my favourites out of the pack. Instead of a bread base they are pizza topped puff pastry and are very tasty. The spring rolls were interesting too and would go well with some hoisin sauce or sweet chilli sauce to dip them in.

We also had lots of salads including this colourful mango salsa, homemade red cabbage coleslaw, sundried tomato and kalamata olive tapenade and sunflower …

V bites Vegi Deli Seasonal Range

I have another blogging hat. A few months ago I started doing a weekly blog for the Can I Eat It App reviewing products suitable for vegans. It's an App that lets you scan barcodes with your smartphone to see if they are compatible with your dietary requirements. They are also on Twitter and there's often food give-aways so it's well worth a follow. I've got to try some fabulous products including some things brand new to the market.

V Bites (nee Redwoods) sent me their Festive Range to sample.  It's meant Matt and I have been having some lovely buffet style meals. Pictured above is the Brussels Pate with Cranberry, Sage, Onion and Cranberry Style Bites and a Cheezly cheese board with red, blue and cranberry Cheezly. The range also contains lots of other 'bites', different flavoured sausage rolls and buffet packs. Check out their website to see the full range and for special offers. I'm still working my way through the range but standouts so far are the…

Mochi Ice Cream

I spotted these on Goodness Direct and a few other places recently and thought they sounded interesting. Although I like Japanese food I've never really tried mochi but I love coconut based icecream and the flavours sounded really nice - strawberry, mango, vanilla, green tea, black sesame, chocolate and coconut. I had completely forgotten all about them though until the other week when I had a fruitless search scouring every Chinese supermarket in Manchester's Chinatown for agar powder. What every supermarket did have though was these. They all sold them in boxes of their individual flavours and in this mixed box. 

They were cheapest in the last supermarket I went in at £3.15 and seeing as that was more or less what change I had in my purse I saw it as an omen to buy them! The verdict - well worth a try but I'm still not totally convinced by the mochi bit. This is the outer skin which is made from a sticky rice dough. I think it was a textural thing and I might grow to li…

Birthday Treats

I had a birthday last week. Matt made me the lovely tea pictured below. Whenever we have a hire car we always try to make a trip to the massive B and M Bargains in Gorton. Last time we went one of the vegan treats we found was a vegan friendly pesto. Said pesto inspired the tea which was a puff pasty roast vegetable and olive tart with pesto roasted potatoes. I've never thought to do potatoes like this but we'll definitely be having them again. They were new potatoes that were boiled then tossed in pesto and then roasted in the oven. Mmm, really good.

In amongst my lovely birthday presents from family and friends were a couple of specifically vegan things I've been wanting for a while. I got my first pair of vegan docs.

And, the new cookery book by my cookery hero. I can't decide where to start with making stuff from it. Has anyone else made anything yet? As usual with Isa it all looks amazing!

Manchester Vegan Potluck

Manchester Vegan Potluck has been running for a year. Until now I've been drooling over the photos on Facebook but always been double booked. Happily tonight I finally made it to one. The theme was Autumn and there was a great array of both sweet and savoury goodies. 

I was too busy tucking in to note down the names of all the dishes but off the top of my head there was a sausage and apple casserole, toad in the hole, Lancashire Black Peas, cherry beer chicken, mini steak pies and cheese pies, seitan roast stuffed with maple root veggies and an array of sweet pies, Eve's pudding and pumpkin choc chip muffins. My contribution was walnut and orange humus and chocolate chai cookies. There'll be one more this year in December. I'm hoping I can make it. It's such a great idea and you get to try some really creative vegan food. Jenny (of the blog Spice Box Of Earth)who organises it told me that someone bought Christmas sushi to the December one last year!

Tibits Cookbook

I have to admit I've never been to Tibits. If you're not aware of it, it's a buffet style veggie restaurant in London. I've always been impressed by what I've seen of it on other blogs and I was gutted when they recently invited me to some vegan tasting days and I wasn't able to make it to any of them. However, they also sent me a copy of their cookbook, Tibits At Home. I've tried out a few of the recipes and I've been very impressed so far. The book is vegetarian though I'd say about 50% of the recipes are vegan with more being easy to sub ingredients and make vegan. First of it is a beautiful book to look at, a real coffee table stunner, packed with lots of great colour photos and food styling that puts my efforts to shame!

The first couple of dishes that I tackled were soups. Above is Tomato Soup with Lemongrass and Coconut Milk and below is Parsnip Soup which also contained potatoes and was delicately flavoured with lemon. Both soups were a win…

Tropic Skincare

I've only ever watched one series of The Apprentice but it happened to be the one a couple of years ago where Susan Ma reached the final. She was my favourite out of the Apprentices that year and her idea was to develop her existing skincare range. Fast forward a couple of years and although she didn't win the series Lord Sugar chose to invest and the full range of skincare products and make up was launched earlier this year and has already won several awards. It's sold in the same way as Neal's Yard and Body Shop sell their stuff in that you book an 'ambassador' to come to your house to do demos for you and your friends and you can then order any products through them. As the host you get 15% of any sales to use against products for yourself. I booked a party as one of my friends had started selling it and the range is completely vegan. I must say I was really impressed with the quality of the products which smell amazing. I've got a bit lazy about lookin…

Oak Street Cafe

I've just spent a lovely afternoon tasting great food and wine in the company of Polly from Creative Tourist, Matt from Northern Quarter Manchester (both great sites to check out whether you're a local or visitor to the city) and fellow vegans Andrea of Chocolate and Beyond, Sophie of Hasta La Vegan and Sophia who organises the fabulous vegan Tuesdays at the Salford Arms. The venue was Oak Street Cafe in Manchester Craft and Design Centre. Owner Karen explained to us how with the exception of one or two dishes the food they serve is vegetarian with lots of it being suitable for vegan or gluten free diners. Chef Liz has been known to whip up dishes at short notice for visitors with multiple food allergies and they pride themselves on having something for everyone. The emphasis is on local, fresh and ethical fayre using suppliers such as Unicorn, Barbakan and Marble Beers.

We started off with this flavourful tasting plate. The thai tomato soup tasted like the best kind of homem…


I've been trying to sell my flat for the last six months but sadly have not been having much luck. Probably the fact that there's been a question hanging over things about whether the building was getting a new roof hasn't helped. The roof work is now definitely going ahead which is great news and I reckon the viewings will pick up once it's finished. In the meantime however another positive thing that happened is that an Indian Vegetarian and Vegan restaurant has opened just 15 minutes walk away. Yep, it's all veggie!!! 

It's called Sanskruti and is in the Ladybarn area of South Manchester. It's a family run business with extensive vegan choices. The menu is divided into Chats/Starters, Punjabi dishes, Gujarati dishes, Dahl/ Kadhi and then all the accompaniments of rice and breads. We tried a takeaway a few weeks ago. The round things at the front of the plate are Sev Puri which I loved and will definitely get again. Over to the left is Ringnan no Oro (a …

Manchester Vegan Fair

This weekend I ran a stall at the Manchester Vegan Fair. The stall was for Cake Liberation Front, a social group that I set up with some friends.

The aim of Cake Liberation Front is to promote vegan baking and smash the stereotypes of dry fruit cake or soggy banana bread. We meet up every few months in Manchester and people bring some amazing cakes and baked goods, such as these peanut butter and bacon cupcakes made by Sophie who writes the Hasta La Vegan blog. I've had a coconut bacon recipe bookmarked for a while now and after trying these I will definitely be making it!

The stall was really just to let people know about CLF and maybe encourage people from outside Manchester to set up their own group. There's graphics and posters that are downloadable from the website that people are welcome to use. We gave away free samples of a vegan Chocolate stout and Cranberry Tea Bread, my own recipe from the cake liberation front recipe blog. I'm pleased to say that loads of people …

The Great Vegan Challenge!

Being a vegan.... can you have your cake and eat it? Yep you can! Do you fancy a challenge? Go on, I dare you.....

If you're not a vegan but are curious about this dietary and lifestyle choice then there's no time like the present to try it out. Throughout November Animal Aid are running the Great Vegan Challenge. Once you've signed up you'll receive help and support for the whole month. You'll get :

 -       Advice on nutrition and vegan products
-       Recipes and motivational tips sent regularly
-       Access to an internet forum for swapping tips and stories
-       A telephone hotline for any burning questions
-       Information on exclusive offers and product give-aways
-       Sign-posts to resources in participants’ country and language where possible

Are you up for the challenge!

Frank Bars Giveaway!

Have you tried Frank bars yet? They're one of the newest vegan snack bars on the market and I was delighted when the company sent me a case to try.

The bars come in 5 flavours - oat, chocolate, orange, strawberry and blueberry flavours. They are a little like a Nak'd type bar in that they are made from oats and dried fruits. What makes them different is that each flavour is topped with a lovely chocolate layer and it's a a coconut based pro-biotic chocolate at that! I've found them a little more filling than most snack bars of this type so they've been great as an emergency breakfast or just something to 'put you on' until your evening meal if you're going to be eating late. They are low GI so they release energy slowly too.
The great news is that not only are the Frank bars vegan but they are also nut free and gluten free too. If you'd like to win some Frank Bars please leave a comment below saying what your favourite thing is to snack on. And don…

Ten reasons why vegans should visit Manchester's Northern Quarter


I've been making the case why I think Manchester's Northern Quarter is one of the UK's best vegan destinations. I've finished my 20 Vegan Mofo posts and there's even more places with vegan offers that I've not managed to fit in! So, here's a shout out to places I've blogged about before - Earth Cafe, Oklahoma, Simple and Odd who are all well worth a visit too if you're in the area. To finish up Vegan Mofo 2013 here are my top ten reasons why the NQ is amazing for vegans.

10. Soya milk is everywhere
Loads of cafes in the Northern Quarter have soya milk so no matter where you are you can pop in for a brew. Or treat yourself to an incredibly good soya latte at places like Eastern Bloc or Icelandic coffee shop Taak.

9. Fab fast food
Even the dreaded fast food places are vegan friendly! Get a mexican treat at Barburrito or Panchos or visit the 100% vegan Go Falafel. And every knows chips are better up North.

8. Arts and crafts
It's not all abo…

V Revolution

If you've been following my Mofo posts where I've been blogging about vegan eats in Manchester's Northern Quarter you'll have noticed one name that keeps cropping up again and again. All of the people I interviewed picked out this place and it's dear to my heart so I wanted to save it for my final Mofo post. V Revolution initially opened as a record shop selling some vegan groceries. As time has gone on the shop has evolved and become a cafe too. It can be found right at the end of Oldham Street. Alongside the vinyl, zines and t-shirts you can pick up all manner of vegan cheeses, faux meats, snack bars, icecream, chocolate, marshmallows etc. And the burgers, oh my, the burgers......How about a mini mac?

Or a jack fruit based pulled pork sandwich with home made coleslaw.

Or a Schnitzel Royale with extra bacon.

This one is the Towering Inferno.

There's even a loyalty card for their specials.

In their unwavering dedication to produce the finest vegan junk food th…