Tuesday, 29 December 2015

My 10th Vegan Christmas Dinner!

I was surprised the other day when I realised that this was actually my tenth Christmas dinner as a vegan! We started the day with a brunch around 10.30am opting to eat our main meal mid afternoon after a quick trip to our local pub for a drink. I helped with the planning but can take no credit for any of the cooking. The food you see is all Matt's work. For brunch we had these bagels. I recently discovered thin bagels which are the same width a normal bagel just half as thin and they are great for a breakfast sandwich. There was a layer of V Bites ham topped with chive studded scrambled tofu from The Starch Solution which was then drizzled with some Vegg. It was great and a good start to the day.

There was much debate about what to have as the main in our Christmas dinner. In past years I've enjoyed things this Mushroom and Chestnut Wellington, Forest Foods Nut Roasts and V Bites Turkey. I've tried Tofurky before too but not at Christmas, it was when I was in Canada at Thanksgiving. In the end we went with this idea of Matt's and it worked out brilliantly and was super rich and tasty. The filling is a layer of caramalised onion marmalade topped with Isa's Olive and Lentil Burger mix wrapped in shortcrust pastry.
It was served with roast shallot, brussel sprouts roasted in maple syrup, purple sprouting brocolli, green peas, roast potatoes, stuffing, red cabbage cooked with spices and apple, steamed carrots, bread sauce and a pig in blanket sausage. There was of course port gravy to top it.

We didn't have room for dessert but I can't finish without showing you the vegan Vienetta ice cream cake that my sister brought to my mum's for a Christmas Eve buffet. These can be found in the UK in Tesco's in areas with a big Jewish population and seeing as my sister lives in Prestwich she struck lucky and spotted this in the kosher dessert freezer section. It was fab and huge and cost just £5.

Any finally just in case any of you are looking for some new music to listen to for New Year here's a cheeky plug for Matt's alter ego 'Quiet Loner'. There is a Christmas/ New Year sale on all three Quiet Loner albums. All three are available as downloads (£4 each or £6 for all three) and the first two as CD's for £5 each (the third one has sold out). Check them out here.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Mid Week Munchies - Home Bargains and Co-Op

Mid Week Munchies takes place every week and is organised by Jennifer at My Blissful Journey. Check out the link to find what bloggers round the world have been buying and eating.

First up are these goodies that I found for fantastic prices last week at Home Bargains. The organic coconut oil was only £3.99 a jar! I've been using it to make my Pirate Bread with spiced rum soaked raisins to take along to various gatherings we've been to. The coconut water was 39p a tin and that's been going in smoothies. At 99p a box I picked up a few boxes of these chestnuts and we've enjoyed them on a pizza so far and I'm sure they'll be featuring in a pie soon. The chia seeds were £1.69 a bag, the cheapest I've ever seen them and a great find as I use them a lot in overnight oats.

These snacks were on offer for £1 a bag in our local Co-Op. We ate the cracker crisps in one go as they were very moreish. The popcorn I'm saving for a film over the festive period.

These next items weren't a purchase but I competition prize! I won a range of thai curry pastes in a Vegan Society competition - red, yellow and green and sweet chilli sauces made by Geo Oraganics. I'm looking forward to lots of nice curries in 2016 made with these.

Geo Oragnics are owned by Venture Foods who also own the brand Orgnaica know for their fabulous vegan chocolate. Their white chocolate is excellent and their milk is one of the best vegan milk chocolates around, it always reminds me a bit of Galaxy. They were kind enough to include with the prize this new bar they've added to their range. It's like a soft nougat and the dark chocolate and apricot flavours complimented each other really well. I'll definitely buy this when I spot it in a shop.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Christmas Preparations!

Blimey! I can't believe that I haven't blogged since the start of December. Where has the time gone! Part of the reason is that my old laptop has finally died a death and Matt is working from home now so I have very little access to a computer. I'm hoping to replace the laptop in the January sales though. I've also been busy making stuff. I'm on a much more limited budget these days as I am working part time but I also have more time at home to make presents which I've always loved to do, so that's been taking up my time too. I bookmarked this blog post for a pom pom wreath ages ago and really enjoyed making it. The colours are actually red, white and green although the photo makes the green look a bit blue and colourblind Matt looked puzzled when I showed it him and asked me why I'd made a patriotic wreath!

A few months ago Matt's mum gave me his Nana's old jam making pan and I spent a relaxing Saturday making Orange and Chilli Marmalade. I've been making this recipe for over 20 years and I love it. Although you cook with whole red chillis (you leave one in each jar when you bottle it) there's no heat to the finished product but the chilli just give it a certain ' Je ne sais quoi'.

I heard of Certosino Cake when Kayleigh first featured it on the Deerly Beloved Bakery blog a few years ago. It's one of her annual range of amazing vegan bakes that she makes and sells. Certosino is a traditional Italian spiced cake and I used this recipe from the Waitrose blog. It was easy to veganise and I halved the recipe to make 4 mini cakes which have about 4 servings each. The cake contains goodies such as candied peel, grated apple, pine nuts and chocolate. It's spiced with cinnamon and fennel and has booze soaked raisins (I used spiced rum).

Traditionally the cake is sweetened with honey. I used Sweet Freedom instead which makes a great honey substitute. Wrapped in greaseproof paper and then foil it will keep for up to a month.

This Fairtrade dark chocolate infused with orange oil is a new addition to the Co-Operative's own label vegan friendly range. At £1.50 for a 100g bar it's great value and very tasty.

I used it to make hand rolled truffles for gifts. This is a recipe I've featured many times before which I love as it's so easy and you can make loads of variations of it by changing the flavourings. Recipe here.

It's not all been about the food though. We've tried to make some time to sit down and watch some festive tv accompanied by a seasonal drink. I came up with a list of cocktails for our living room bar. So far we've tried the Chocolate Orange and the James Bond and they were both great.

At the weekend I also made Vegan Eggnog. Eggnog isn't really a thing in the UK and I always feel jealous when I see people in the US posting about all the different flavours of Silk Nog. I decided to have a go at my own using this recipe and boy was I impressed! It was gorgeous. We had some on Saturday afternoon spiked with bourbon accompanied by some Swedish Pepparkakor biscuits to dip in it. We had this whilst we spent last Saturday afternoon watching my favourite Christmas thing to watch which is Box of Delights. If you've never seen it all six half hours episodes are available on You Tube and I highly recommend it.

I was so impressed with the Nog that I made some more on Sunday this time spiked with spiced rum. We had no soya cream in so we poured some over our warm mince pies too! The tea cosy in the picture is one my mum made me that comes out every year and the lovely little vintage hand made candle I found for 25p in a charity shop the other day.

If you remember my blog post from October about our holiday in Harlech you'll remember what a lovely time we had staying at the Castle apartments. I'm so excited that we are able to go back for new year! In anticipation of New Years eve we ordered these artisan nut cheeses from Nutcrafter Creamery in Glasgow. We got the roasted garlic and the aged Scottish Dulse ones. They had some amazing sounding flavours and I'm impressed with the packaging and speed of delivery. I'm looking forward to seeing the New Year in with these, some nice chutneys and crackers and a glass of fizz.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Mid Week Munchies - Winter Spiced Tea Loaf Recipe

Mid Week Munchies takes place every week and is organised by Jennifer at My Blissful Journey. Check out the link to find what bloggers round the world have been buying and eating.

Now we are into December who's had their first mince pie? Not only are mince pies all over the shops but jars of mincemeat are on offer now so I thought it would be a good time to share this seasonal recipe. I've even used it to illustrate my Christmas cards for this year. I'm hoping that some of the people I send them too might save the recipe and make it, that way if they have any vegan friends, family or work colleagues then they've got something seasonal they can make and share with them.

Today I have a recipe for you for a Winterspice tea loaf. This is bursting with seasonal flavours and is super easy to make. It's a big favourite in our house with a pot of tea. It would go well with my Winter Spiced tea in fact!


2 cups of plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of caster sugar
1/4 cup of sunflower oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of veggie friendly mincemeat
2 tablespoons of brandy or orange liqueur
1 cup of soyamilk
1/4 cup of flaked almonds

Pre-heat the oven to 350F/ 180C/ Gas 4

Grease a loaf tin
Sieve the ingredients from the flour through to the sugar into a bowl and mix.
Add the oil, vanilla extract, brandy/ orange liqueur and soya milk and stir to combine.
Fold in the mincemeat.
Pour the batter into the loaf tin and scatter the flaked almonds over the top.
Bake for 50 mins covering the top with foil after 35 minutes so that the almonds don't get too well toasted.
Enjoy as it is or buttered with a non dairy spread.