Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Joyeaux Noel

Wishing you all a Peaceful and Blessed day. Had planned to do a lot of blog posts during December but my mum has been poorly of late so havent had time, hopefully will get time over the Holidays. Have a great day everyone.

Mum bought me this lovely Christmas village and Nativity scene many years ago, comes out every year.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Hollingworth Lake nature reserve

Not sure where time at the weekend goes but I have great plans to get into the kitchen and do some baking but once again on Saturday the sun was shining and it seems a waste of a beautiful day to be stuck indoors.

So once again I grabbed my camera and headed off to visit a nature reserve at Hollingworth lake, this is a wonderful place to visit no matter what season it is. The combination of the birds and beautiful autumn colour is a winner every time.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Butterbean and chorizo casserole

Well I had big plans for the weekend, I was going to bake biscuits and do some cooking well the weather was so good I decided to take my niece out for a walk, we often go walking as we love taking photographs. So  we wrapped up, packed a flask of soup, grabbed our cameras and set off.

We were't disapointed the sun was out and we went into the woods I love this area its a haven for walkers and their dogs, the trees were just starting to turn red.

Also met a few delightful squirrels on our walk.

Well by the time I got home didnt leave much time for cooking, so I needed a quick tea I could rustle up in 20 mins, so it was the old favourite, perfect for an autumn day.

Butter Bean and Vegan Chorizo Casserole

1 pack of Redwoods Vegan Chorizo Pieces
1 Onion diced
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tins of Butter beans 
2 tbs Olive oil

Heat oil and gently fry garlic and onions for 5 mins.
Add Chorizio pieces and continue to fry for a few mins,

Add tinned tomatoes and cook for few mins.
Lastly add Butter beans and cook until heated. Nice and quick just what you need when you are in a hurry.

I have on occasions substituted Butter beans for Baked beans and put a topping of sliced potatoes on the top for a more hearty meal. Have even added spinach or Kale to the mixture when I have been using up greens.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Vegan Holiday Nog

OK I know it's a bit early for Christmas but its never too early for Holiday Nog right?

I had mentioned this before in a post about Tofu but I never gave you the recipe duh.
The recipe is one of Collen Patrick-Goudreus found in The Joy of Vegan Baking if you ever want to buy one Vegan book on baking this has to be the one, it has literally everything in you would desire to bake.

I have to be honest when I turned Vegan from Vegetarian the one thing I knew I was going to miss was Baileys Irish Cream, although I only drink it at Christmas it is a tradition I was going to really miss.

So I started looking round for a Vegan alternative and I soon found this one, I can honestly say it is every bit as good as Baileys, or maybe better as you can be as heavy handed as you like with the alcohol, also it costs a few quid to make, always a bonus.

1 pack of Silken Tofu (340g)
2 Cups of Non dairy milk I used Hazelnut, but almond also works or even vanilla.
1/2 Cup of Maple syrup
1 Tablespoon Vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Cardomon
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 Teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.Refrigiate for 1 hour before serving. That's the non alcoholic version :-)
To add a bit of a kick add 1/2 - 1 Cup of Whiskey,Brandy, Cognac or Rum, you can also replace the maple syrup with granulated sugar.

The original recipe called for a mashed bananna as well, I did add it the first time I made it but I found it made the nog too heavy and gave it a bananna taste and gave it a very thick texture it wasn't for me but it may be for you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Earth Cafe Manchester

When out shopping I always prefer to eat and drink in a Vegetarian/Vegan Cafe most cafes cant be bothered to cater for me so why should I compromise and end up eating something just because its the only Vegan option available. I've lost count of the number of times I've ended up with a black coffee (which I don't really enjoy) just because a cafe or can't be bothered to stock Soya or some other non dairy milk.

OK I know some of the  bigger chains like Starbucks or Costa do offer an option but I end up getting charged an extra 35p for it, that one really winds me up, also there is no vegan cake or biscuits available :-( and to be truthful there not going to miss the cost of my Soy Latte are they?

Like everyone else there is nothing more I like doing when out shopping is stopping for a nice Latte and a slice of cake, not being the worlds biggest cake eater its nice to occasionally have a slice when out and about, its part of the day for me.

So you can imagine how delighted I was to find The Earth Cafe in Manchester.

I found this place whilst looking for a Yoga class I wanted to try its above the Buddist centre on Turner Street Manchester. Its a lovely little cafe and everything on the menu is vegan as well, a double bonus for me being Vegan.

I only dropped in for a Coffee whilst waiting for a friend and was very impressed by the menu and the interior.

There was a delicious smell of cooking and wish I could have stopped to try the food but as I was in a rush I only had time to sample to carrott cake which was delicious :-) all the cakes are Vegan so that convinced me.
As for the menu there seemed to be a large assortment of curries,chilis and salads as well as some gorgeous looking juices and smoothies etc, I am definetly heading here next time I'm out shopping so will report back on the food.

Even if you're not Vegetarian or Vegan its a nice litte cafe when you want something quick and the service was wonderful.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Autumn Musings and food

Well I guess I qualify for being the worlds worst blogger of late, trying to juggle two blogs may not be the best idea but I do so want to try and keep this blog more vegan food orientated along with my love of all things French slightly apart from my other blog Ramblings of an electric witch.

As a food lover and vegan who likes to cook, this is a great time of year for me, my apples are looking promising along with my plum tree so for the next few months I will probably bore you all with my apple and plum recipes. 

The shops are filling up with beautiful colourful squashes and pumpkins, this is definetly one of my favourite seasons. I also start getting into soup mode at this time of year, I really do turn into the soup monster. I find its a quick and easy dinner for me to take to work nice bowl of steaming soup and some crusty bread always a winner, being vegan I find its easier and of course cheaper to bring my own lunch to work, I at least know everything that has gone into it.

My friend gave me a great recipe the other day for Sweet potato soup its quick,easy and delicious.

2 tbs Olive oil
1 large sweet potato (cubed) 
1 Red onion
1 Red pepper 
2-3 cloves of smoked garlic (or any other garlic, just that I love smoked garlic)
2 pints of veg stock

Heat up oil and add onions and garlic for 5 mins add sweet potatp and pepper and cook for 10mins keeping an eye that nothing sticks.
Add stock and simmer for 20 mins.
Then simply whizz in a blender or with a hand blender and voila a delicious and health dinner for next to nothing.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Peaches for Monsieur le cure

What is it about some authors that spin you into their fantasy as soon as you open the book and turn the page?

Joanne Harris does it every time, the author of chocolat has done it to me again, i can remember when i first read chocolat I immediatly turned my hands to making my own chocolate although not to the standard of Vianne Rocher I may add.

Vianne is the heroine of the books who is swept into a little french village and opens a Chocolate shop and turns the life upside down of all its inhabitants.

Joanne has the knack of tantalising your taste buds with her food I m not the worlds greatest Chocolate lover but after reading these books i always crave chocolate, strange? How does she do this? 

 The latest instalment in the Chocolat series does it again too, no sooner as I start the book I smell the pungent aroma of Peaches and the urge to make Peach Jam like vianne Rocher is unresistable, it turned out very nice actually. 

Once again Viannes chocolate making skills are soon tempting me.

Peaches for Monsieur le Cure is the third instalment in these books, the previous was lollipop shoes. Vianne is called back to the village after receiving a letter from her dead friend, once again  Vianne is called back realising she has unfinished buisness in this little french village.

I finished this book today and like all Joanne Harris books you feel immediatly sad that the story has ended, however I am now left with several pots of Peach jam and i am just heading into the kitchen to make a cup of Hot Chocolate so its not all bad news is it.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Summer musings And salads

Can't believe we're halfway through August the year is flying by, been busy with a number of home projects and garden revamp so haven't had much time to blog or anything.

The weather in the UK is definetly getting better had a very wet summer so far so didn't get as much done in the garden as planned.

At the moment I have an abundance of rocket and salad seedlings which I'm incorporating into every meal I adore rocket and one of my favourite summer salads is Rocket,Pear and Pecans with a shaving of vegan Parmesan cheese with a lemon or lime vinegarette dressing beautiful in its simplicity.

I love salads anytime of the year but feel they really come into their own at this time of year, they're simple,quick and easy and you can literally throw whatever you have in them.

If you have veg left over roast them and toss them in your salads add some pomegranate seeds,spinach leaves or rocket or whatever you fancy you have a delicious healthy meal.I also love to add dried fruits and nuts into my salads and dates are surprisingly delicious as well let your imagination run wild.

I think the key to a great salad is in the dressing here are a few of my favourites.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The great Tofu mystery

As a relatively new vegan (nearly two years this summer )the inevitable oh you eat tofu and lentils only jokes started. This actually inspired me to unravel the great Tofu mystery of why do people rave about this product?

I had been a vegetarian for most of my life before I turned Vegan and had tried tofu once and if I remember rightly I wasn't too impressed I actually think I just bought it and threw it in a salad, well as you can imagine dull and bland and slimy were words which came to mind.

Once I turned vegan and started buying vegan cook books and reading vegan blogs this mysterious thing called Tofu kept popping up if it was so bad why are so many people using it in their cooking?

I realized then I needed to get reacquainted with this substance.I first of all learned I hadn't even been cooking it properly I knew nothing about it's sponge like texture and how it absorbed flavours.

The first thing I ever made was an Onion quiche from Colleen Patrick Goudraus book 'The vegan table' and it was honestly all I ever used to love in a quiche tasty and had a cheesy flavor all this from using Tofu, in fact no one even commented it was made with Tofu I was hooked to this little magic substance.

I learned it is better to freeze your tofu as soon as you get it home and then when you need to use it you just defrost it and squeeze out all the water, tofu really is like a sponge.I find I get most of the water out by placing it on a plate and placing something heavy on top, I use a very heavy Pestle and Mortar.

I was soon making a tofu scramble which is just like a scrambled egg and takes literally minutes to prepare I have now started assembling some of my favorite tofu recipes and will post a few when I have time. I would love to try and blog more frequent but most days by the time I get home do my yoga sessions,make tea, have bath etc it is bed time again I seem to have very little free time in my life :-(

I have also fell in love with silken tofu that is an amazing ingredient used more in desserts.In an earlier blog post I have used silken tofu in the citroen tarts and also the cranberry cheesecake. it has a more softer, silkier appearance than regular tofu but it is so versatile.

I made a wonderful vegan holiday nog over the Christmas period to compensate my love of Baileys I thought I would miss this so much when I turned vegan but I can honestly say my holiday nog tasted better and cost me a quarter of the price to make compared to Baileys so it was definitely a winner for me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The beautiful Palette of Nice (France)

Having just come back from a week in France I realise how drab and colourless England can be,I know our own green pastures can look great at certain times of the year but on a day to day basis we lack sadly behind our French neighbours for color. I had a day trip into Nice whilst I was away and was immediatly taken back by the pastel palette of color everywhere, no drab house colors here. Hmm wonder what color I could paint my house?

Friday, 11 May 2012

Is it possible for a Vegan to eat well in France

As a Vegan on holiday my first questions are usually Where can I eat and what can I eat, I do like my food :-) I often hear very negative stories about eating as a Vegan in France, of course a lot does depend Where you eat and what you are looking for.

First of all I now have started to book an apartment rather than a hotel when I go away personally I prefer this as I hate being told what time I have to eat breakfast etc, also most hotels don't have non dairy milk etc for breakfast so I usually end up having to buy my own milk etc and I now think if you can't bother catering for me well I can't be bothered to give you my money, it doesn't cost any extra to stock up on soya or almond milk does it?

I was thrilled with my apartment it faced the Sea and it was enormous, every morning I was up at six watching the sunrise from my balcony I then did a yoga session before breakfast, what better way to start the day.

I recently had a week in Menton France, we visited here last year and loved the place so much decided to come back again.We come at this time of year to watch the Tennis at Monte Carlo, Menton is a great base as it is only 20 mins on the bus from Monte Carlo.

The first thing I always do when I go on holiday is google Vegetarian/vegan restraunts once I know where I can eat I am happy, also I prefer to eat in these restraunts, once again if you are catering for me I will give you my money.

We found a wonderful Vegan restraunt in Menton it is called Loving Hut and is one of the vegan chain which is popping up all over the place, I believe there is one in Paris as well. The food is wonderful, it is fresh,colorful, beautifully presented and most of all tasty.

We ate there several evenings enjoying a beautiful Tofu dish infused in lemon grass, I had a wonderful Mousakka and the salads are to die for and don't even mention the gorgeous Citron lemon tart and all 100% Vegan.

It is wonderful to be able to eat everything off a menu.We also found a wonderful wholefood shop in Menton that sold literally everything I could ever need and as we were self catering this was perfect. The thing I love though about France is the abundance of wonderful little green grocer shops,sadly in the UK these seem to be a thing of the past as now all our fruit and veg are in the supermarkets, but here in France all these grocers had wonderful fresh produce piled high it was easy to source wonderful fresh ingrediants to cook with. Along with the beautiful bread shops what more could a person want to eat? So as a Vegan eating in France I would have to give it a thumbs up I had no problem what so ever, my advice though is do your homework beforehand and you wont bewandering round the streets trying to find what you want.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:A Vegan in France

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Vodka Recipes part 2

Just found a few more easy vodka recipes, which are lovely, may be a bit seasonal I tend to do these for Christmas.

Cinnamon schnapps
3 cinnamon sticks
70 cl bottle of Vodka or white rum

1. Break up the cinnamon sticks and steep them in the spirit for one week.
2. Turn the jar everyday and then simply strain off the cinnamon.

Pomegranate Vodka
150g Pomegranate seeds
1x70 cl bottle of Vodka
1 large sealable jar approx 1 litre for steeping.

Sterilize your jar
Add the Pomegranate seeds to the cooled prepared jar,followed by the vodka.Seal and give the jar a shake before putting it in a cool,dark place.
Leave for 4 days,shaking it several times before you sieve it into a measuring jug.
Sterilize your 70cl bottle (or the original vodka bottle) and there you go Pomegranate vodka simple.

Winter Spiced Vodka
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
3 cardamom pods bruised
half tsp cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried red chili
500ml vodka
1x500ml sealable bottle

Sterilize your bottle and leave to cool
Pop all spices into your cooled prepared bottle
Pour in the vodka on top of spices and put to steep in a cold dark place.

These vodkas can be made up to a month before drinking or giving away and are best used within 1 year.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Fruit Vodka

Recenty chatting on twitter about fruit vodkas and liquers prompted me to do a blog poston the subject, as a girl who is partial to an alcoholic tipple this seemed rather appropiate :-)For some strange reason people always say to me oh you're a vegan you can't drink alcohol can you? obviously they don't know me but yes as a vegan i can drink alcohol, ok there is certain wines and beers that I cant but most of the spirits are vegan friendly.

One of my favourite tipples is vodka especially fruit flavoured ones.My dad first got me into making wines and liqueurs as a child we had an allotment and always had huge quantities of berries and fruit so my dad used to make wine out ofthe surplus.I have fond memories of my dad in his shed making his moonshine, sadly my dad passed away 12 years ago but I still have a lot of his recipes.

One of my faves is Strawberry vodka it is so simple and lovely in summer and it only takes a few ingrediants.

1 750ml bottle of vodka, i usually buy a supermarket cheap vodka as it is only used as a base.
575g Strawberries

Rinse,hull and quarter the strawberries and place in glass container with a lid.Add the vodka and agitate the jar.

Store in cool,dark place for 3-7 days swirling daily.

After 3-7 days strain with cheesecloth into original vodka bottle.

Rasberry Vodka is another lovely way to use up your berries.

Fill a large 2 litre kilner jar with 600g Rasberry's add 2-300g of caster Sugar. Fill jar to the top with Vodka.

Put in a cool dark place and gently shake everyday until sugar dissolves.

Leave for a couple of months and then drain through a sieve into sterilised bottles.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Still using up Christmas leftovers

I think we all buy an excess of food over the holiday period and we tend to get left with a lot of stuff, I'm one of those people who think its a sin to throw away food just because we're sick of it apart from it being expensive there are people starving in the world and unless food has gone out of date it should never be thrown away.

Yesterday I had several shallot onions hanging around so I decided to make a shallot tarte tatin which turned out really nice and with some veggies was a nice meal.

I had some puff pastry left over and was wondering what to do with it, I had read somewhere about using up cranberry sauce to make little tarts so I thought I'd give it a go.

I rolled out the pastry and put them into tiny pastry cases I added a spoon of cranberry sauce, a spoon of chutney and covered them with some vegan Mozzarella

A quick 10 minutes in the oven and Voila delicious little cheese and cranberry tartlets which will be ideal for me to take to work with a salad.