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Friday 31 October 2008

Vegan MoFo - Halloween

OK so it turns out that I SUCK at decorating cookies! I had plans make something similar to the awesome River's pumpkin cookies, I bought a pumpkin cookie cutter and everything - but they still look like they have been up all night on the Special Brew!!

I did two with all chocolate icing but they looked so pants that I started to cheat and use chocolate chips for the eyes and nose. Also, despite putting a buttload of orange food colouring in the cookie dough, they are still just a very pale peach!

I attempted some chocolate ones but they failed even more spectacularly, because I ran out of a few things and had to improv! But on the upside I think that the chocolate dough I made will become part of a future recipe - I have an idea for it!

Gah, ah well, they taste nice which is what matters - right?

Happy Halloween everyone!
And goodbye MoFo!

Thursday 30 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: Soy Excited!

I know - Groan!

Just a quick post tonight to show off my new soymilk maker that arrived today - YAYAYAYAYAY.

I am so excited to make my own soy milk and I got a free tofu press and coagulator so I can make my own tofu! YAY!

No food to post today as I went out for a thai meal with my parents and forgot to take pix! Shame too cuz it was uberrad!
Proper post tomorrow - last one of MoFo - :(

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: Chickpea love

I stared into the fridge for ages hoping for inspiration tonight. I had some chickpeas left from the big batch I cooked up at the weekend, some sugar snaps and a sweet potato - so I decided to make the famous chickpea cutlets from veganomicon.

I've made these a few times and whenever I've pan fried them, they're just wrong. The flavour is awesome but they are still soft and a bit stringy / undercooked inside and undercooked seitan just makes me gag!!

So I baked them and they were absolutely stunning! With some plain sugarsnaps and sweet potato fries. Mmm Mmm MMMM!

I also borrowed the mustard sauce recipe from V'con to go with. I say borrowed as I didn't have exactly the right ingredients. I subbed dijon mustard for the wholegrain called for in the recipe and I subbed arrowroot for the cornstarch. It was really REALLY good (I'm loving mustard lately!) and luckily there's some left to go in a sammie for lunch tomorrow with the leftover cutlets. YAY.

Cooking to: Thin Lizzy's greatest hits

Monday 27 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: What do you do if you see a space man?....

... park in it man!

Rubbish joke courtesy of my R.E teacher when I was 16!

I had a day off today and spent most of it cleaning the flat. It's amazing how long it takes to clean such a small flat! But also tidied up my little area where I have had to start storing stuff. I need this space because as you can see, my 2 teeny cupboards are rammed full:

I should add that I am the only person I know who frequently gets hit on the head by falling spice bottles / nooch tins / cans of veggies! Everyone else I know has very sad, empty looking cupboards. Happiness is a rammed cupboard / fridge in my opinion.

So anyway, there is no room for any more bags of stuff so I bought some storage jars for my little area behind the dining table. The spirally long one is now holding wholewheat spaghetti......

......but used to hold my hair straighteners - I knew I'd never be disciplined enough to put them away after I use them so I found a better use for the box.

But that still isn't enough room for all my crap, so I had to line up the 'essentials' behind the cooker:

Extreme close up....
Since seeing into everyone's freezers was so much fun, I want to see your cupboards too - so I think everyone needs to take pics and post them so I can be nosey!! :)
Onto more interesting stuff - today's food. I had banana wholewheat pancakes, drowned in maple syrup, for brekkie (love days off!) - I haven't got this quite right yet but promise to post the recipe when I do.

For dinner I had to ransack the fridge because I don't have much in until I get to the supermarket tomorrow. I had some leftover blended tomatoes from yesterday's dinner so I made a quick pilaff. It was going to be a quinoa pilaff but I searched and searched and couldn't find any so basmati it was instead.
I baked some tofu with a mustard / agave glaze on. I overcooked it though so it was a bit dry and chewy but the flavour was pretty nice. Needs work but I think it'll be pretty easy to fix so I can post the recipe.

Cooking to: my "mullet rock" playlist!

Sunday 26 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: Pa-tayto, Po-tahto

I was feeling a bit uninspired tonight but I have been fancying patatas bravas for a couple of days, ever since someone reminded me of the tapas place we went to with work a couple of years ago.

I don't really know what goes into it but I knew it was roasted potatoes with a (not too runny) spicy tomato sauce on top. So I whizzed up a tin of tomatoes and added about half of it to a sauted shallot and clove of garlic, some oregano, paprika, salt, pepper and a good old glug of hot chilli sauce.

As I said I was feeling a bit uninspired so I just sauted up the fresh corn I had in the fridge in some olive oil and a pinch of salt & pepper. The bread isn't homemade, I got it on the cheap from Morrisons but it is spelt & rye bread and it is freakin rad!

Cooking to: Strictly Come Dancing (gotta love V+ for recording for me the crap I miss on Saturday nights!!)

Friday 24 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: 20 MoFo'ing posts!

I got to 20 MoFo posts! huzzah!! What the eff is goig on with blogger and the pictures - I've edited this bitch about 10 times and the pics still look funny! ah well.

I was planning to make canneloni tonight, but instead of being a good girl on my day off and doing housework and going to spinning class, I sat on my arse and watched Californication and Entourage instead. So I needed something that was a bit less of an effort for dinner.

I went for some tvp mince and mashed taters. Easy, quick and pretty good. I also learned that gravy browning has to be mixed with water first and can't just be sprinkled into to hot mince as you get gross brown lumps that you then have to spent 10 minutes picking out with a spatula if you do that! grr.

I had some buttercream left from the viennese whirls so I HAD to make some more biscuits! I used a recipe for shortbread that I found on get sconed, only I had to use 3 cups of flour not two - as it was way too soft to roll out. I think it's because the margarine I use is a lot softer so next time, I'm going to try cutting the margarine by a third and see if that helps.

I also added some lemon zest and lemon extract to the dough and cut them out as butterflies. I added some lemon zest to the buttercream and some ground ginger and sandwiched the biccies together. They are super YUMMO and were perfect with a coffee.

Cooking to: AC/DC - Black Ice (did I mention I got AC/DC tickets for April? HURRAAAHHH)

Thursday 23 October 2008

Vegan MoFo - ooooohhhhh Viennaaaaaa!

My 2 best friends (and my best friend's beautiful pooch, Maddy) came over for dinner tonight and we were too excited about catching up with Supernatural for me to take a picture of dinner. It was just a stir fry with some noodles though anyway.

But I do have a pic of dessert! In my pregan days, the 3 of us could happily scoff our way through a pack of viennese whirls in no time at all. But they are of course, not vegan so when I saw them blogged on The Only Vegan in the Village, I knew I had to try this recipe out. I followed it exactly except that I added a pinch of salt as well.

When I tasted the cookie dough I thought - no way these are sweet enough. But then I remembered they would be filled with supersweet buttercream.

They are AWESOME and my friends loved them too. You have to give them a go!

The filling I used was just some strawberry jam and a basic vanilla buttercream. Mine are not perfect and I was laughing at my rubbish effort of piping them as I did them. But actually they turned out pretty good and didn't look so bad once they were baked!

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: I said, in these shoes? I don't think so!

I'm back from site and I'm done for the year - YYYYAAAAAYYYYYY! I must say though that when I was away, I had the best Indian meal I've ever had in a place called Zing. It was right opposite our hotel and I WISH I had taken my camera or even my phone to get some pics.

They didn't have the normal veggie options so I went for lemon & ginger rice, aubergine & sweetcorn curry and a chana (sp?) dahl (chickpeas!) with roti bread. It rocked so hard - I was wishing I wasn't so full so I could have eaten it all. So if you're ever in the Hammersmith area of London, get a bus or tube to Ravenscourt Park (one stop from Hammersmith) and go to Zing. It is pricey but soooo worth it.

Back to today though, as always, when I get back from site, I can't face anymore stodge and just want veggies. I was inspired by Jessy from happyveganface's veggie bowls post a wee while back cuz it just looked damn awesome.

My bowl had brown rice and some cucumber, it had VCon corn & edamame salad, spicy black beans and a carrot salad. The spicy black beans were based on Jessy's (as per the aforementioned post) but I didn't have chilli powder or cayenne pepper so I used chipolte paste and I also added some liquid smoke. The carrot salad was just a grated carrot dressed with a bit of raspberry vinegar, agave nectar, salt & pepper, some raisins and a pinch of caraway seeds.

It rocked.

Cooking to: Incubus - Light Grenades

Also, I got home to find my new shoes had arrived - which is what made me start singing Kirsty MacColl and inspired the thread title! (Fucking awesome song.) Here they are, I got them from - which is great because when you're looking for shoes you can select 'non leather' when you're searching!! Cute or what, I need to go out now to break these babies in!

Sunday 19 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: Thank Crunchie it's Ice Cream

Here is my ice cream post as promised. Brought to you from the tiniest laptop ever that I am using onsite to procrastinate.

I used to LOVE crunchie bars. I know they are dirty cadbury’s milk chocolate but they taste good and so when I found out that it is piss easy to make the honeycomb in the middle AND that the middle is nothing to do with honey and is, in fact, vegan, I knew I had to put this knowledge to good use.

Thus, this ice-cream recipe was born and let me tell ya, it is fucking awesome! It would be gorgeous just as a plain chocolate ice cream but the honeycomb makes it super special.

Chocolate Crunchie Ice cream

2 cups / 500ml of soya cream (or full fat non-daiy milk)
1 cup / 250ml of vanilla soya milk (or more non dairy milk)
3 tsp arrowroot
4 tbsp / 1/4 cup sugar*
½ cup / 100g semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp orange extract
1 recipe of 'honeycomb' (about a cup - I used this recipe** but you can also buy it in bags in Julian Graves - they call it cinder toffee!)

If you're making your own honeycomb, it's good to do it the night before so it can really chill and firm up and it makes smashing it much easier!

To make the ice cream: Mix the arrowroot with about 4 tbsp of the vanilla soymilk. Add into the rest of it and pour into a saucepan. Add half the cream and the sugar and whisk it all together.

Heat over a low flame, stirring to dissolve the sugar, until it just starts to bubble – at this stage it will thicken slightly.

Turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips and stir until melted and evenly combined. Add the rest of the cream and the orange extract and leave to cool before chilling in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (I left it overnight).

Pour into ice cream maker and let it rip! The ice cream maker takes it up to a soft “mr whippy” like stage and mine took around 20-30 minutes - I didn't want to overfreeze it as that affects the texture.

After this time, remove it and transfer to a freezer safe tub with a secure fitting lid. Stir in the honeycomb and freeze for at least an hour before serving. Once it’s been in the freezer a good few hours it sets SOLID! So bring it out 10 mins or so before you want to eat it.

I kept back a bit of the toffee to sprinkle on the top but you can add it all in.

*The cream is slightly sweetened and the vanilla soymilk is pretty sweet so go easy on the sugar. If you use unsweetened versions you might need more, so taste it before you chill it.

** The link for the honeycomb/hokey pokey is an american one, English version is 100g caster sugar, 4 tbsp golden syrup and 1.5 tsp baking soda!

EDITED TO ADD...... this honeycomb recipe does not freeze well! The first day or so it was ok but today (after a week in the freezer) weirdly enough the honeycomb had melted into sweet little puddles. Luckily the ice cream is still awesome but I might try it with bought cinder toffee next time. Either that or just serve it the same day - don't leave it in the freezer too long.

Vegan MoFo: No Sleep 'til Breakfast!

I didn't sleep all that well last night, probably because I'm going onsite today (last lot of the year - wahoo!) but I soon got over the tiredness with an awesome brekkie.

Yesterday I made bagels! I followed this recipe exactly (although I think I might have forgotten the salt!) It was good but I might google around for a better one.

Last night, I also sliced some tofu up nice and thin and put it in some tempeh bacon marinade (from VWaV) overnight. I had to tweak it a bit because I didn't have everything so I subbed a mixture of apple juice and white vinegar for the cider and I added a tbsp of maple syrup too.

I was planning to have tofu bacon and tofutti cream cheese on my bagel but I was heartbroken to find mouldy tofutti in my fridge this morning! So I had a bit of mayo instead and it still rocked.

For lunch, I used up the leftover butter beans that I cooked yesterday for the Rock au Vin and made a delicious spread (recipe below). When I was making the bagels, instead of making 10, I made 6 and used the leftover dough to make some bread. I just flattened it out onto a baking sheet, spread on a bit of olive oil and sprinkled it with sea salt and thyme leaves. It's good but not really the right texture for bread - a bit too chewy.

But it was pretty damn tasty with the butter bean spread and some cucumber....

Butterbean spread
About 1 cup of cooked butter beans
A good glug (tbsp or so) olive oil
A heaped tsp of dijon mustard
A large pinch of black pepper
Some water

Put everything except the water into a processor and pulse. Add a tbsp or so of water at a time, scrape down and blitz until it is the texture you want.

I didn't add any salt because I cooked the beans in veggie stock so it was salty enough. If you use plain beans then add salt to taste.

I made ice cream too! Will post about that tomorrow from my shitty hotel room.

Saturday 18 October 2008

Vegan MoFo - Rock Au Vin

This was the dish that I was planning for MoFo day 1, but my casserole dish didn't arrive. But I have it now and look - isn't it cute! It's a shame it's not pink but hey, it was 50% off in the sale!

It being saturday and all, I had the time to make something super spanking to bust the cherry on this baby! I remember my mum making Coq Au Vin once for a dinner party and it was pretty good, so I thought I'd awesomeise / veganise it. I decided to use butter beans instead of fake meat or tofu. Chicken style seitan or chick peas would probably work though.

Peeling the onions is a bit of a pain in the arse so if you can find frozen ones, use them.

About half a cup (a big handful) of baby shallots
A small pack of button mushrooms (150g ish) cleaned off
2 cloves of garlic
1 carrot peeled and cut up
250ml red wine
250ml veggie or faux chicken stock
A good splash of balsamic vinegar (tbsp or so)
A couple of sprigs of thyme
Salt & Pepper
Tbsp of flour
Tbsp of vegan margarine
About a cup or so of cooked butter beans (if you used canned, probably 1 400g can)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Put a tbsp or so of olive oil and a small knob of vegan marg into the casserole and turn on the gas to a med-low flame. Once the marg has melted and sizzled a bit add in the onions and cook gently for about 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, mushrooms and garlic (mince the garlic or chop it finely) and cook for a minute or so. Add the wine, stock, balsamic and the thyme and a good pinch of salt & pepper and bring to the boil. Turn off the flame and put into the oven for 1.5 hrs.

When the oven pings, take out the dish and put on a low flame on the hob. Mash together the flour and margarine and add to the pot. Mix well and cook for a few minutes to cook out the flour.

Add the beans and check seasoning. Serve with pasta (rice or mashed potato would rock too!)

I also had some homemade rosemary & sea salt bread to soak up the gravy (the best part of a casserole I think!!) More on the bread tomorrow.

Cooking to: Random 80s playlist

Oh and a bonus pic of lunch - this was sooooo good! I roasted up some sweet potato, green pepper, tomato and mushrooms. When cooked I added some sea salt, pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar. They went into a wrap with some sliced cucumber (the cold crispiness goes really well with the warm soft veggies) and added some chipolte mayo and it was awesome. The sweet potato was so good!

Friday 17 October 2008

Vegan MoFo - You're gonna get me some pie!

I don't have much to say tonight except that I made pot pie and hot diggity damn, it was ace. I apologise for the shit photos - I was hungry!

I had a bit of spare pastry so I stuck some rock stars on it! Or maybe the pie is just a bit emo, who knows!

I used the seitan stew recipe from one of my early mofo posts and the crust was borrowed from Vegan Dad's "chicken" pot pie. Instead of peas & carrots in my stew, I used some frozen veg and added some mushroom and I just made half a batch of the pie crust to make 2 indiviual pies. The flash has made it look a bit anaemic but it's not in real life and they took an hour in my oven.

Messy inside shot of the pie...

And what to do with the leftover pastry? Fill it with jam & peanut butter and bake it for 30 minutes to enjoy with a cup of tea and Supernatural - good plan!

Cooking to: Kings of Leon, again!

Thursday 16 October 2008

Vegan MoFo - Cranberry Orange Cornbread

My last attempt at this cranberry & orange cornbread didn't go so well, but I tinkered and I tweaked and I got it right this time!!

Here it is straight from the oven. I dug out a big wedge before it was even cool enough to turn out because I was starving and it smelt so good!

I took out the spelt flour and oatbran from the first incarnation and replaced them with regular plain flour, but I do think that wholemeal flour (or half and half) would work too. I also added a bit more sugar than I normally would to cornbread as I just think this recipe needed it.

I added lots of cranberries because I love their tangy sourness - but feel free to cut it back if you would prefer a more scant fruityness! Oh and I'm a donut cuz I didn't seive the orange juice, which means my cornbread has orange pips in! hahah, not that it affects the flavour but they're not so good to bite into, so seive 'em out!

Cranberry & Orange Cornbread
Wet Ingredients:
1 cup / 250ml non-dairy milk (I use light soya)
Juice and zest of a big fat orange
1.5 tbsp sunflower (or other light) oil
1 tsp orange extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Dry Ingredients:
115g / 1 cup plain flour
1 cup fine cornmeal (I didn't weigh - sorry)
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
3/4 cup dried cranberries (again I didn't weigh but 1/4 cup = 4 tbsps)
4 tbsp / 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.

Combine the wet ingredients and whisk well, set aside.

Combine the dry ingredients (except the cranberries) and mix well. Separate any cranberries that have stuck together and toss then well in the dry ingredients (a coating of flour helps stop them sink to the bottom).

Give the wet ingredients another quick whisk and then pour into the dry. Mix until just combined so you don't overwork the gluten.

Pour into a cake tin, lightly sprayed with sunflower oil and bake for around 35 minutes, until the top has risen, gone slightly golden and a knife comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Cooking to: Black Stone Cherry - Folklore & Superstition

I don't have any pics of tonight's dinner as I went to my parents' and my mum cooked me an AWESOME butternut squash and chickpea curry, that seriously rocked. But as usual, I did pudding. My dad loves fruit pies and crumbles so I did a crumble. Pear, mango, raspberries and nectarines with a splash of maple syrup. I used the same crumble topping as in this post but I added a pinch of allspice and about 1/4 dessicated coconut.

Before going into the oven....

The fruit!

We had it with hot soya custard

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: Leftover Lovelies

Today was a good day! I woke up in my own bed and had a lie in (well compared to the past week anyway). I had a lovely long hot shower and actually still had time for some breakfast before going to work. I came home at lunchtime and had an AWESOME sandwich and then on the way home when I was filling up Jeff* at the petrol station, a smokin hottie in dirty mechanic's overalls (rawrrr!) gave me the flirtiest cheekiest grin ever. I even did that thing where you look around to see who they're flirting with - definitely me!

This was lunch - one of the amazing pittas I brought back from cyprus (I froze them as I couldn't bear to see them go to waste!), toasted with the left over tofu from yesterday, cucumber, tomato and some vegan mayo mixed with some chipolte paste. It rocked my fuckin socks off!

Dinner had to be quick, because I went food shopping after work and by the time I got home I was hank bloody marvin! Luckily, I can't bear to throw things away, so I had some cooked brown rice left over from yesterday and I just cooked it up with some mushrooms, yellow pepper, a couple of tomatoes, peas, a big glob of peri peri sauce, nooch and lots of salt & pepper. It was awesome.

Oh and look at this... bag for life - my arse!

Cooking to: Kings of Leon - Only by the Night (I can't tell you how much I'm LOVING Sex on Fire and the rest of the album is ace too! Buy it, buy it now!)

OK and I was tagged by Bex - which means I now have to show you my messy old vegan freezer! The madness was originally started by Billy.

And also I have to tag 5 other vegan bloggeres, so I'm tagging:

Jeni from Heathen Vegan
Allularpunk from Awesome.Vegan.Rad
Jessy from Happyveganface
River from Wing it Vegan
Lisa from Cravin' Veggies

Stuffed full.....The moderately healthy drawer: frozen veg and some skanky fruit lollies - that I love!
The leftover drawer - soup, tagine, pasta bake and some frozen breads
The shit drawer! Puff pastry, chocolate and superskank veggie burgers!
The odds & ends drawer - tofu, frozen spinach, leftover cupcake frosting, ice and the bowl from my ice cream maker, which can only mean one thing - I'm making ice cream this weekend: watch this space!

*Jeff is not some poor random dude that I torture by sticking a petrol pump down his gob and pumping him full of unleaded, he is my car!

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: Veggies - YAYYYY!

I'm home YAY and I'm nearly done with onsite shit for the year, just a couple of days next week and that's it! YAY.

A week of pot noodles and smash made me want nothing more than some baked tofu, brown rice and stir-fried veggies. So that's what I had. It's not very photogenic, but damn it rocked.

Cooking to: AC/DC - Back in Black (anticipating the new album next week!!)

Monday 13 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: Foodz on your face!

I am away onsite at the moment and am finishing off writing this post in my hotel room with a pot of super noodles to go. Tomorrow night I want veggies - fookin LOADS of them!!

Anyway, the point is that while I'm away I'm finding it difficult to find stuff that doesn't look too disgusting to blog! So I was thinking about what else I could write about and found myself thinking about all the homemade beauty products I've made over the years. A lot of which made simply from food you might already have in your cupboards or fridge!

There was a time that I made ALL my own products: shower gel, eyeshadow, shampoo, moisturiser, cleanser.... the lot. I got a bit burnt out with it but I do still make lip balm, scrubs and soap and the occasional body butter when the notion takes me. I've still have a lot of the stuff and keep meaning to get back into making my own products again.

What I'm trying to say, very inarticulately, is that making your own products doesn't have to be hard or expensive and there will be loads of stuff in your cupboards right now that you can use.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

Bicarbonate of Soda - Makes a good facial exfoliator - you can just mix it in with some cleanser and use like a commercial cleanser.

Lemon - Great for whitening up dark patches on elbows and general cleansing. Good for whitening your nails naturally - just soak in water with some lemon slices or rub some cut lemon straight onto your nails! Faked tanned yourself and it's gone streaky? Fear not, lemon juice and sea salt mixed together with help scrub it off! Rub some through your hair before going out in the sun to encourage natural highlights!

Sugar - An awesome natural exfoliant. Just a handful in the shower or mixed with some vegetable oil will make a great body scrub (word of warning though - this makes for a slippery shower/bath so a squeeze of shower gel or shampoo added to this will cut the oilyness and making the shower less of a death trap!) Soapmakers - add a tablespoon per pound of oils to your lye/water mixture to increase bubbles! (Dissolve in a little warm water, then added to your cold water BEFORE adding the lye.)

Salt - Another great natural exfoliant. Use as above except it won't increase bubbles in your soap, it will decrease them - but will increase hardness! Salt bars are a great thing to make too if you're into cold process soapmaking and EASY!

Almonds - Another good exfoliator. I like ground almonds for the face as it's a lot gentler than salt or sugar. I mix it with some oats, finely ground to a powder then just mix to a paste with a little water and use it when my face is dry and patchy in the winter.

Oats - Oats are a wonderful thing for inflamed / irritated and sensitive skin. Put some in a muslin bag or empty tea bag if you can find them and throw it in the bath to help soothe skin. They're great if ground to a very fine powder in face packs (you can buy them as 'colloidal oatmeal' but it's such a rip off to pay extra for something you can do in a coffee grinder!!) and if you soak them in water to get oatmilk that can be used in place of water in all manner of products.

Coffee - Coffee is reputed to be helpful in combatting cellulite, if you use it in a body scrub. I can't attest to whether this works or not but I love it in a scrub with sugar, almond oil and a few drops of mint oil - it's great for waking you up in the morning!

Vegetable & Nut Oils - different oils bring all manner of different properties to skin care products and soaps. Plain old sunflower oil is great for whipping up a quick body scrub. You can take off make up with veg oils - a few drops on a damp cotton pad will remove even morning after / amy winehouse eyeliner! A few of my favourites are....

Olive Oil - great for dry skin, you can cleanse and moisturise with it, you can remove eye make up, great in body products, makes wonderful soap... I especially like to heat up a few tbsps and then massage it throug my hair, leave it for a couple of hours then wash out - it makes hair soft and shiny!

Almond / Grapeseed oil - almond oil is great in face packs and facial products as well as body products and soap and grapeseed oil is awesome too. Both oils are also great for massage, these were the oils we used at college when I was training in massage!

Cocoa butter - so many uses, so little blog space! Just break off a chunk and take it in the shower with you for smooth silky skin. Melt it and add some almond oil, sugar and some essential oill then pour into a mould and let set for a gorgeous exfoliating shower bar! Great in lipbalms, body butters, massage bars, moisturisers, hair products..... if all else fails, make it into white chocolate!! :)

Cucumber - another great thing for the face. Puree it and add it to face masks, a couple of slices over the eye to cool and soothe puffiness. I love to use it as part of the water content in soap as well.

Aspirin - OK technically not a food, but aspirin contains salicylic acid which can clense deeply to unclog pores and exfoliate dead skin cells. I'm told this is a great thing for people with acne prone skin and also it is great for those of us that suffer from ingrown hairs! I spent a fortune on this stuff called Ingrown Go and was gutted to read the ingredients were basically salycylic acid! Crushed up aspirin can form part of a mask for problem skins - there's quite a long discussion about this here...

Aloe vera - Again not technically a food, although you can buy the aloe juice (which by the way is another great ingredient for soapmaking). Aloe is great for healing minor cuts and burns - you just keep the plant on your window-sill, cut a bit off and rub it on the affected area.

I thought i'd finish off with a couple of really easy recipes. Put these together and pamper yourself!

Easiest body scrub ever: In a bowl, combine a couple of hanfuls of coarse sugar (such as demerera - don't use squidgy ones like muscovado) or sea salt. Add a good couple of glugs of any veg oil you like (I like sunflower or almond - I wouldn't use olive unless you plan to leave it unscented, as the smell is a bit overpowering). Then add 5-10 drops of essential oils of your choice (optional). If you use a strong one like peppermint, go easy and just add a couple of drops. Mix it together well and go scrub yourself!! Add bit of shower gel or liquid soap to the mix too if you're concerned about shower slippage!

To follow, one of my favourite things ever is just a really simple body oil. I like to put this on when my skin is still a bit damp, after a good body scrub and it leaves your skin super smooth and smelling awesome. (Something I learned from a treatment in a spa).

It is insanely easy and takes about a minute to put together. Fill a bottle (glass or plastic that can hold diluted essential oils) with the oil of your choice (I like to use a mixture of almond and jojoba oil - about 80:20, but plain old almond oil would do. I would avoid olive as the smell is too overpowering and may clash with the essential oils). Then just add a few drops of essential oil and shake well, then you're good to go.

About 10-15 drops should do it for a cup / 250ml of oil, but it doesn't have to be exact. Just don't go too crazy or it'll be too strong.

You can store it for a while in a cool place. Adding a bit of vitamin e or wheatgerm oil (or just bursting a vitamin e capsule and squeezing that in) to the oil will help prolong the life of it too.

For a really special oil, trying infusing your base oil/s with a vanilla pod for a couple of weeks before adding your essential oils, or just leave it as is.

For this, I start with 250ml (1 cup) of the oil of your choice and pour it into a clear bottle with a lid. As I said, I like to use about 80%:20% - almond:jojoba oil, but up to you.

Then, take 2 or 3 vanilla pods and split them down the middle. Scrape out the seeds and put them into the oil. Chop up the pods and throw these in too. Shake the oil and leave it in a warm (preferably sunny) place, shaking every day or so, for a couple of weeks.

You can speed this up by heating the oil and vanilla gently for 15 mins or so, but I have to stress - do this over a VERY low flame. Burnt vanilla STINKS! And vanilla's expensive so may end up cussing as much as I did when I burnt my vanilla!After a couple of weeks, strain out the seeds and pods through muslin and you have your body oil.

I do like to add some essential oils but you don't have to. I just add a few drops of ho-wood (I love rosewood and sandalwood, but they are not very economical so I go with ho-wood, which is very similar to rosewood) and some orange or lemon or maybe a bit of litsea cubeba (may chang) which smells amazing.

I started drafting this post about a week ago and as I've been revisiting it all, I've really inspired myself to start making my own stuff again because I've been remembering how much fun it is (and how much money I use to save). In fact I'm even thinking about starting a homemade product recipe blog to spur me on to get back into it! When I get back from all my onsite crap this month, I'm taking a long weekend so this might be the perfect time to get back in the saddle: watch this space!

I went digging back through my photobucket to see if I could find pics of anything that I made before and didn't have much luck. So when I get around to making some stuff, I'll post some pics.

Saturday 11 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: Almond Cookies

I'm still away onsite so I thought I'd post a recipe of some cookies I made a while back. They're really tasty and not too sweet - although sweet enough to cure a sugar craving.

1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seeds whisked together with 3 tbsp water)
1/4 cup vegan margarine
3/4 cup demerera sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp almond extract 3/4 cup ground almonds
1.5 cups plain flour
Whole almonds to decorate (optional)

Whisk together the flax seeds and water and set aside.

Cream together the sugar and margarine. Add the flaxegg and mix well. Add the baking powder, salt, extracts and almonds, stirring after each addition.

Add the flour in 2 or 3 goes stirring until you can't stir easily and at this point, use your hands to kneed into a soft dough. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge. You don't have to do this but I find it makes the dough easier to roll out. Alternatively, roll the dough between 2 pieces of clingfilm - this makes the whole process really easy.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Roll out the dough to about 1/2 a centimeter thick and cut out cookies with a cookie cutter and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Press an almond into each cookie and bake for 8 minutes (this keeps them nice and chewy - bake a couple more minutes for a crispier cookie).

Leave to cool for at least 5 minutes on the tray, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: Survey

Today I did not too bad foodwise! There is a lovely lady called Mary who works for lots of exhibition organisers at the NEC making them breakfast and sandwiches and tea and she rocks. When I'm lucky, I am onsite for an organiser who hires Mary and this week I am - YAY! She takes care of me and reminds me to eat, which unbelievably I do sometimes when I'm onsite.

Today was my first day onsite in a year where I could eat something other than peanut butter & jam.

Now don't get me wrong, I love PB&J but when you eat it every day for a week, it starts to look less appealing. Mary is a long time veggie - I just found this out today and I've know her for years! And she had hummus in her kitchen, roasted red pepper hummus to be precise so that is what I had on my sandwich for lunch. There was also a big fruit bowl which is awesome, because I sometimes feel like I'm living on shite crisps and chocolate when I'm onsite!

But to be honest, that's about all I can think of to say so I'm cheating for tonight's post. I also don't think there will be a post tomorrow because I will probably be working till after 10 and by the time I get back to the hotel I will ache everywhere that it is possible to ache!

I've seen a few people put this survey on their blog - Courtesy of Liz @ Food Snobbery is my Hobbery (hehe love that title!)

1. Name a song that involves food in some way
Eagles of Death Metal - Cherry Cola

2. What criteria do you use when choosing a new cookbook to buy?
Not too expensive, interesting recipes. I also read the reviews if there are any on amazon.

3. What did you eat today?
Apples, bananas, hummus and salad sandwich, bag of crisps, some tortilla chips, some more hummus and another apple. Oh and a lemon puff.

4. Name a vegan food that you know exists but you have never tried.
Tempeh. I can't find it in the shops and it's just too expensive to order online.

5. The Food Network just called and needs you to start your new show tomorrow. What will the title of the show be?
Skinny bitch in the kitch. ahhhhhahahahahahah, as if! I am so funny sometimes.

6. Favorite hot sauce or other spicy condiment?
Nandos Peri Peri sauce. Great for adding nip to anything!

7. How old were you when you became vegetarian/vegan?
Veggie - 26 / vegan 27

8. Favorite vegan cheeze?
I don't really care for most vegan cheese, although they're ok in small doses. I'll say tofutti cream cheese because it makes good frosting! :)

9. Cutest baby animal?

10. Favorite type of jam/jelly/marmalade/preserves?
I'm boring - strawberry jam.

11. Do you take any vitamins/supplements?
Vegetarian Omega 3 (when I remember!) and evening primrose.

12. What food/dish most embodies the Fall season?
Casseroles with mashed potato and warming spicy soups

13. What food would you have a hard time living without?
Paprika. Seriously, I put it in everything.

14. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?

15. It's 10PM and you're starving. What do you eat?
I'd love to say fruit but that'd be a big fat lie. It'd be whatever shit I can find in my kitchen. Probably a cookie.

16. If you have an animal companion, what is his/her favorite food?
I don't have one at the moment but I'm hoping to change that soon - wanker landlord permitting.

17. Worst injury you've gotten in the kitchen?
I burn myself on pretty much a daily basis. The worst I still have a fairly good scar from. I also had a narrow escape with a mandolin! They are tools of satan!

18. When you have a food-related question, who do you call?
Ghostbusters! (I ain't 'fraid of no ghost!)

19. Summer is ending- What food will you miss most?

20. What snacks do you keep in your purse/backpack/desk at work?
Whatever I've baked / bought that week.

21. Favorite soup to make on a rainy day?
Something thick and potato-y with sweetcorn in too.

22. What's your favorite combination of fresh vegetable and/or fruit juices?
I love just plain old orange juice, but I mix it half and half with water cuz it gives me heartburn.

23. Favorite brand of root beer?
I don't know if we have that here or if it's just called something else so I don't know. I like diet coke though if that helps!

24. Make up your own question! - Beans or Mushy Peas?
Mushy peas! Beans are the devil.

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: I don't understand how a heart is a spade but .....

Somehow the vital connection is made... BOOOO! Ahem, sorry about that little trip back to 90s britpop there.
So I'm sitting in my crappy hotel room and I can't face the restaurant here. Premier Inn only ever has one thing on the menu I can eat - with a modification that is - and it sucks anyway. So now I come prepared and I stopped at the supermarket on the way for some fruit, samosas, lemon puffs and some tortilla chips. I even remembered tea bags for once, hotel freebie tea is always mingin!

I'm working on some pics and tips for hotel survival for another post later in the month but for now, here is a little pic of my hotel foodz. Brought to you courtesy of my workmate's mobile broadband - SLOWEST AND SHITTEST CONNECTION EVER!

As you can see from the pic, I have my lovely boys of Supernatural to keep me happy for the next few nights so I'm off to watch a couple of eps before bed!

Monday 6 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: Loop-de-loop

I had loads to do tonight to get myself ready to go onsite tomorrow so tonight's dinner had to be quick. So I roasted up some veg and served it with some lemony couscous. mmm mmm.

I quite like Autumn because it means I have an excuse to make spicy warming soups. One of my favourites is curried parsnip but I didn't have any parsnips so I had a root (geddit!?) around in the fridge and came up with some butternut squash. I bought the BNS ages ago and only used half of it, so I froze the rest. Squash can be a bit stringy when you freeze it so it's good for soups if you're going to blend them, like I did.

This (plus an ear of sweetcorn that I forgot to put in the picture)....

Became Spicy Butternut & Sweetcorn Soup:

1 small onion
A couple of tsps of olive oil or low fat cooking spray
About half a small squash (270g ish)
1 small sweet potato (about 150g)
1 medium potato (about 185g)
500ml (2 cups) stock (I used a tub of fresh stuff that I had - impulse buy!! - but stock cubes and water would work)
Few sprigs of thyme
A clove of garlic
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp nooch (optional but awesome!)
1-2 tbsp soya cream (optional)
Salt & pepper
1 ear of sweetcorn

Saute the onion in olive oil or cooking spray and a pinch of salt, for just a few minutes.

Chunk up the veg and add it in (or grate the potatoes if you prefer - I like to chop). Add the stock, leaves of the thyme (I throw in the stalks too and just retrieve them before blending, spices, garlic and a good pinch of salt & pepper.

Bring to the boil and then turn down and simmer for 20 minutes, covered.

Blend the soup and then add the soya cream and nooch and test seasoning (I found I needed quite a bit of salt as my stock didn't have any salt in it).

Add the sweetcorn and stir well.

I add loads of pepper because I love it but just add a pinch if you want a more subtle hint of spice. Awesome with a hunk of homemade bread! :)

Cooking to: Evolution - I loves me a bit of David Duchovny!!

I have managed to borrow the work's dongle (hehe) to take onsite so I should be able to keep mofo-ing from my hotel room, although the entries might suck!!