Monday, 27 October 2014

A Lazy Sunday&Love Food Festival

So On Sunday T and I hopped along to Love Food Festival which was at The Paintworks in Bristol. It wasn't a planned thing, we were having one of those lazy Sundays, the kind where I got up, baked brownies and soda bread and then got back into bed with T and we drank coffee and smoked cigarettes until 1pm. 

I happened to see it mentioned on Twitter so we decided to take a stroll on down. It took us around 30 minutes to walk there, our legs moved slowly as we chatted and laughed and pointed at the river and birds and dogs.

Unfortunately it wasn't a very vegan friendly festival, but I enjoyed it all the same. T bought some kind of organic smoked cheese and I bought my mum a bottle of elderflower champagne.

Then our hearts jumped when we saw a stall selling wonderful is safe to say that T and I LOVE chutneys. So we decided on a red onion chutney, which tastes UNBELIEVABLE. It's like, a jar of caramelized onions. Yes, there did come a point yesterday when I had a spoon in the jar.

But the best thing was the table heaving with loaves of bread...sourdough, focaccia and pizza breads....DROOL.
So we opted for two loaves of sourdough, one white one granary. 
Then we went home, sliced up onions, tomatoes, capers and spinach and made a thousand sandwiches and ate them all.

I'd forgotten the power of a good sandwich. 


Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Vegan Kind

So last Thursday this gorgeous little box landed in my post! And yes, I am not ashamed to admit that most of the contents have already been scoffed...look at the packet of chocolate raspberries...I couldn't even wait until I'd taken a photo before tearing them open and gobbling half.

If you've not heard about The Vegan Kind, they're a wonderful monthly lifestyle/beauty subscription box for us vegans (and everyone else too!) Each month you get a great selection of vegan products, from tasty treats to cosmetics and cleaning supplies. 
They currently have two types of box; a monthly lifestyle box (this is the one I received) and the beauty box which is every 3 months.

If you are new to the vegan world then this is a great way to test out lots of different products to find out which ones you love. Becoming vegan can sometimes feel daunting, and if you're unsure which companies are cruelty free or which brands are vegan friendly, be it food or other products, I would definitely recommend The Vegan Kind.
If however you're like me, and you have been vegan for a while now and are well informed about vegan products, then this is still a great way to try out new products that are coming onto the market that you might not have heard about. I can sometimes get stuck in a routine of always buying the same stuff, I do my food shop and come back with the same type of vegan this or that. But having a bunch of new produce landing in your life every month shakes things up a bit, and it's exciting! It's like a big present, full of goodies for you to 'ooh' and 'ahh' over. 
You also get a lovely little recipe card in each box, and I don't know about you, but I am always welcoming new vegan recipes into my kitchen.

Inside this box I received;
Angelic Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookies
These were very tasty, as a keen baker I never usually buy cookies, I always bake them, so I didn't know how I was going to get on with them. But since they were gluten free as well, they were surprisingly moreish. Although I would call them biscuits, rather than cookies, because of their crunchy texture. 

Howdah Onion Bhajis
Ooooooh well these were rather gorgeous. They reminded me of a bhaji flavoured wotsit. Me and T devoured them in about 30 seconds.

Premae Skincare Triumph Creme Balm
Soft and buttery with a lovely gentle fragrance. Not greasy or slimy.  

Landgarten Organic Dark Chocolate Covered Raspberries 
These were my favourite in the box! A really simple idea but sooo amazing and tastes SO GOOD. Just a little raspberry...smothered in dark chocolate....bite sized pieces of heaven.

Nom Organic Oat Bar 
Again, if I'm craving a flapjack-y thing, I'd just whip up a batch. So I have to admit I didn't get round to trying this one until yesterday. I left it in my bag thinking I'd probably get hungry one day when I'm out and about and low and behold I did! I was shopping you see, for Halloween party supplies, which can really take it out of a girl. It wasn't what I was expecting at all, it was soft and crumbly and sweet and soooo not like some other brands where they're all dry and tasteless. This is one I'll definitely buy again, they'd be good for taking to festivals or on long train trips.

I hope you all go and check out The Vegan Kind, they really are wonderful, and I love that 10p from every box goes to they chosen animal charity of the month.

Happy eating! x

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

On Toast...

Sometimes, all you want is a piece of toast...

Rosemary Soda Bread

Chickpea Scramble

Avocado and Chickpea Mash with Roasted Tomatoes and Capers

In my humble opinion, toast is a wonderful thing, warm and comforting, quick and easy, delicious and satisfying and just damn good food.
For me, toast reminds me of lazy Sundays, the mornings baking filling the flat with a wonderful smell. Of the day after the night before, devouring piece after piece to soothe fuzzy heads. Of weekends at my parents, fat slices smothered in peanut butter and dunked in hot coffee.

What are your favourite toppings for toast?


Monday, 13 October 2014

I Can Be Happy

Life lately has been...busy. City life can sometimes become overwhelming for this country girl, I start craving the green fields and starry skies of my home village. So after a week of rainy mornings walking to work and tired evenings with hot soup to keep the cold away, me and T caught the train back to the country and spent the weekend in The Forest with my parents at their house.

We stayed up late on Friday night talking and drinking, my brother left for Spain on the Saturday morning so it was wonderful to spend some quality time all together.
I woke early in the morning, T slept gently next to me as I lay in my old room, the glow in the dark stars still covering the ceiling. I could hear mum making coffee downstairs so slid out of the bed as quietly as I could, pulled on an old jumper and tiptoed into the kitchen.
After the first pot of coffee had been drunk dad had woken up and put on another pot. We chatted quietly, easing ourselves into the pale morning, letting the sun warm up before me and mum took the doggies for a long walk. We ambled up and over muddy fields, down through streams and kicked our way through the pretty fallen leaves. Autumn is my favourite time of year and I felt so happy being completely immersed in it. 
My skin felt drenched in winter sunlight, my eyes teary and nose red from the cold air. I breathed it in as deep as I could, great big gulps of damp, Auntumn air that filled my lungs and tasted of wet earth.

When we returned home almost two hours later I woke T with coffee and the promise of a pub lunch. I showered quickly, scrubbing the dirt from my skin and beneath my finger nails, noticing that this made me sad, like I was somehow washing away the last traces of magic.
Lunch was eaten in a tiny little pub with sloping walls and wonky floors. We ate big plates of bread and olives, followed by alcohol and cigarettes.
I baked cake in the afternoon, whilst my parents dozed and T read the paper. The rain was falling hard but baking in the warm kitchen transported me away from the wind and the wet. T and I had had just enough time to pick the last of the raspberries and blackberries from the garden, and I stirred them into the sweet vanilla batter along with chocolate and hazelnuts. 
 T and I caught the train back late Saturday night, my head felt fuzzy and tired, my limbs were heavy and I had a sadness that settled over me like a fine layer of dust. I am always sad to leave The Forest. 
Yet since being back in our little nest I have cheered up and wanted to share with you the cake I baked on the weekend. It's a sweet little cake, so simple and can be adapted for whatever fruit or berries you may have found. I made quite a large, deep cake, about a 7" deep, loose bottomed cake pan. But you can always half the recipe for a smaller cake.

For the basic Sponge you'll need...

12 oz Plain flour
5 oz Vegan butter
4 oz Golden caster sugar
5 tsp Baking powder 
1/2 Pint of plant milk
2 tbsp Maple syrup
Splash of vanilla extract
1 tsp Lemon zest
Small pinch of salt

For the Crumble topping you'll need...

1 oz Vegan butter
2 oz Plain flour
Sugar to taste
Handful of bashed hazelnuts 

The yummy bits...

I added a big handful of freshly picked blackberries and raspberries into the sponge batter, along with some chopped dark chocolate (about 60g...would have been 100g bar but some of it got, um, eaten.)

So firstly, use your favourite wooden spoon to cream the sugar and vegan butter together along with the syrup.
Then add in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
Sift the flour into another bowl along with the salt and baking powder.
Now add a little of the milk to the batter, then a little flour, then a little milk, then a little flour...until all the milk and flour have been incorporated and you have a wonderfully smooth batter.
Now add the berries and chocolate and give it a stir, the colours are beautiful!

For the Crumble, use the tips of your fingers to rub the flour into the vegan butter until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Then add in enough sugar so it's as sweet as you like it.
Pop some hazelnuts into a bag or under a tea towel and use a rolling pin to bash them up!
Stir them into the crumble mixture.

Spoon the cake batter into your tin, sprinkling the crumble on top.

Bake at 180 c for about 45 mins to an hour, until a knife comes out almost clean when inserted into the cake. (Mine still had a few crumbs on it as I wanted it to be gooey, perfect with hot custard or coconut cream!)

This cake above was what gave me the inspiration for the one I baked on the weekend. Whilst I was at my parents in September, the end of summer was approaching and the trees in the garden were groaning with plump, shiny red apples. I brought a load of them back with me to Bristol, along with a big bag of blackberries. 
I made a beauty of a cake, Apple, Blackberry and Almond Crumble Cake. 

I made this cake slightly smaller, as it was just for me and T. I used a 6" deep, loose bottomed cake pan.

For the Sponge you'll need...

6 oz Plain flour 
2 oz Golden caster sugar
1 tbsp Maple syrup/Agave syrup
3 tsp Baking powder
2 1/2 oz Apple sauce - I made my own with just 2-3 apples, chopped and stewed with a little water and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon until mushy
1 tbsp Oil - coconut/olive/sunflower
1/4 Pint plant milk
Splash of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 tsp Lemon zest
1/2 tsp Ground ginger
5 oz Blackberries

For the Crumble you'll need...

1 oz Vegan butter
2 oz Plain flour
1/2 tsp Ground ginger
1 oz Brown sugar - or to taste
Handful flaked almonds

Simply mix the apple sauce with the oil, sugar and syrup.
Then add the vanilla and lemon zest.
In another bowl sift the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger together.
Add a little of the milk, then a little of the flour to the apple mixture and keep adding it little by little until you have a glorious, smooth batter.
Stir in most of the blackberries, leaving a small handful aside.
Peel and core a small apple, then slice it thinly and set aside.
Pour or spoon the mixture into the tin and level the top. Then place a layer of sliced apple on top along with the leftover blackberries. 
Now sprinkle the crumble over the top.

Bake at 180c for about 30 mins, or until a knife comes out mostly clean.

I hope you've enjoyed these two little recipes, simple they are but sometimes it's the simple, homely recipes that are the best. I love strange and wonderful recipes with stranger ingredients and flavours, but sometimes, it's the recipes that I can make whilst chatting to my family and friends in the kitchen that I enjoy the most. The recipes that you can make without having to run out to the shops, the recipes where you know as long as you have vanilla extract in the cupboards and berries in the garden you're good to go. I find that these are the recipes that soothe my soul, ease my worried mind and calm my knotted stomach.

Much love and happy baking! x