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Tuesday 30 December 2008

So I didn’t find Jensen under my tree.....

..... but I did find Vinny, E, Drama, Turtle & Ari – so I’m still pretty happy!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful thingymas!?? Mine was pretty quiet but lovely and I made every muscle in my body ache from hours on my brother's Wii. I rock at bowling - if only I was that good in real life. Anyway it's all over for another year and I'm enjoying my week off work and looking forward to going out and getting rat arsed tomorrow night!! YAY.

Now onto the important stuff - the food pics. Strap yourselves in people - I got lots'o'pics for ya.

Starting with xmas day brekkie. I made the pumpkin cinnamon rolls from Don't Eat off the Sidewalk. I've never made cinnamon rolls before but these were soooooooo good that I will definitely be making them again. I made them on Christmas Eve night and just put them in the fridge overnight to complete the second rise, then baked them off xmas morning. Here they are fresh out the oven....

And glazed, just before I scarfed them down with a cuppa!

My chrimbo dinner main event.... I made a filo roll filled with mushrooms, chestnuts and herbs and it was yummy. I didn't have a recipe, I just made it up as I went along and luckily it worked out!

My mum does the best roasties ever. Ever.

My plate: filo thingy, sage & onion stuffing, carrots, parsnips, righteous roasties and brussels. MMMMMMM!

Pudding (which we ate about 3 hours later cuz we were so full) was christmas cake, which I made Christmas Eve. Again, I didn't have a recipe, I was wingin' it and hurrah, it turned out pretty damn good. I am not normally a lover of fruit cake but this one was good. I didn't make notes so I'm gonna have to try and replicate it and make it a bit more awesome.

Onto boxing day - Me & mum did a buffet for boxing day and my bro and his girlfriend arrived. One important component was a chocolate yule log. You cannot have christmas without a yule log (or poo log as me & my bro still call it) and this year was the first year I had to make it. It was aweseome!! I used the basic chocolate recipe from VCTOtW, and the same frosting I used for my dad's birthday cake. It was a bit of a mess when I rolled it but luckily, frosting covers a multitude of sins.

With soya cream.....

I made some sausage rolls with ready roll puff pastry and sos-mix (which they are not making anymore - boo!!).
Me & mum made some mince pies, that we got the recipe for out the paper. they had vegan custard in underneath the mincemeat. Unfortunately they were a bit of a fail and bubbled all over the place. Whatta mess! However, they still tasted pretty good.

This is the boxing day spread - I scrubbed out the omni food - hehe.

One of my pressies - some vegan white choccy - YAY! I feel like I need to put it to good use in some muffins or something! I'll keep you posted.

This is my mum & dad's little friend - she is the cat of one of their neighbours and she's a necky little sod, she wanders in and expects attention and food! Luckily for her, she is so damn cute that we couldn't resist giving her some leftover turkey. She came and gave me a snuggle too but unfortunately it appears that I'm allergic to her! I had a cat growing up but in the last couple of years I find they have started to give me allergies. This makes me super sad because I love cats and I was hoping to adopt one in the new year. Ah well, I guess I'll have to get a dog - or a shitload of benadryl!!

Last night I had my girlies over for dinner and we had chilli (I made it so that I could get my notes right as I'm putting the recipe in my zine) ....

And cornbread (also going in the zine and we had basmati rice too but I didn't bother taking a pic of that) .....

And peanut butter sandwich cookies - these were awesome. I'm working on getting the recipe right though so I can give it out.

Cooking to: Britney - Circus (heheh I got it for chrimbo, yes yes I know, but I love her!)
Today's lunch I used up the leftover chilli in a seeded deli wrap, with some rocket leaves and roasted peppers & onions. It was seriously yum.

See ya in 2009!! :-)

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Santa Baby.....

... slip Jensen under the tree, for me.... been an awful good girl!

I don't think that's too much to ask for, right?

I'm so excited that it is Christmas Eve tomorrow. I LOOOOVE Christmas and this year it seems to mean baking for me and lots of it. Starting with my little Christmas tree cookies. They are chocolate shortbread with minty green buttercream and sprinkles. I'm not the world's best cookie decorator but I think they're cute all the same. I wish the flash didn't wash out the pretty green of the icing so much though.

There was some dough (and frosting) leftover, so I made a couple of sandwich cookies with the remainders.

And it would be rude to just throw away the leftover frosting....

Last night was my best friend's fiance's birthday and he requested mango & coconut cake, so that is what he got. (I multiplied the recipe x 1.5, last time I doubled it and the cake was freaking huge so I decided to make it smaller this time). No inside shot though, we demolished it at the Chinese restaurant before I could get my camera out.

There was still a bit too much cake mixture though so I got a couple of little cupcakes out of it too.

I had loads of coconut frosting left - huzzah. Luckily my friends love cake and I love to bake so I made a quick chocolate cake with the leftover coconut milk and some shredded coconut added, for our little chrimbo get together tonight.

Last time I mentioned about making soap but I didn't have time for that this weekend. However, my friend's sister asked me to make her some gift sets for her friends so I dug out my dusty oils boxes. I haven't made anything in AGES but this was a lot of fun. I used to do this a lot, hence I have a shit load of fragrance & essential oils....

I made body butter & scrub:

Bath salts.....
And soy wax tarts, that you burn in an oil burner - these things rock hard!
And lip balm....

That's it from me until after Christmas, so I'll just say I hope you have a wonderful Christmas everyone and CHEERS!!!

Cooking to: cheesey chrimbo songs!

Monday 22 December 2008

Why can't we be friends why can't we be friends why can't......

I couldn't find a clip on youtube of that song in Baseketball so if you haven't seen it then you'll just have to go rent it!!

I've got a food post coming tomorrow pending cookie bake-age, but while my brain cells were still being eaten by the flu, the very lovely Jenn, from Vegan Dance if you want to, gave me an award. And it is another one with a butterfly on the pic as well, to boot!

I love Jenn's blog title, reminds me of the scene from bio-dome where they use this song to torture them out. GAH, I love that film, it's about time to dig it out I think.

When I first read about this award, my flu-induced stupidity meant I didn't really understand it 100%. Now that I'm pretty much better, I honestly still can't say that I fully do. But that's the thing about going back to being a blonde - I have an excuse to be a dipshit (I used to use the brown hair dye as Artificial Intelligence! hehe).

I struggle with these things when it comes to nominating other blogs and not because there's no one to nominate - because there's too many! There are so many great blogs out there, however the award appears to be about friendship & charm and so I'm nominating the people who's comments on this here blog never fail to make me smile. As usual I'm late so no doubt you've all had it already (I probably nominated you all for the last award too - haha)! And as you know, I never follow the rulez so I'm only nominating 5, not the 8 that I'm supposed to - including Jenn and not just cuz she gave me the award but for making me want to watch Bio-Dome - a lot!!

Jeni - Heathen Vegan
Jessy - happyveganface
Becks - I am not a rabbit
River - Wing it Vegan
Jenn - Vegan Dance

A little info on this award:

"This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Thursday 18 December 2008

Zombies do like the other other white meat

Thanks for your well wishes on my last post everyone. Not long after I wrote that, my dad picked me up and I spent 5 days mongin out on his couch. I was an absolute state - I looked like a zombie. I tell ya, if Sam & Dean saw me, they'd wanna hunt me!

I got home on Tuesday evening and about all I could manage to cook for lunch was some mushy peas on potato waffles. Tasty but rubbish. By dinner time I managed to get up the will to cook something better and I made some enchiladas and a nice cherry tomato salsa. I didn't have any beans so I used some tinned potatoes and they were really rad!!

A close up of the salsa.....

Then I made some muffins - these are just my basic banana & PB muffins but with 5 round tbsp of chunky peanut (instead of 3) and I also threw in half a pack of Dr Oetker dark chocolate chips (about 1/3 cup). They are sooooo good!

I experimented with my Soy Quick to make some nut milk cuz I didn't have any soybeans soaked. I poured boiling water over about a cup of skinned almonds and about 1/2 cup of raw cashews (both of which I pulsed up in a food processor) then after an hour, I put them in the soy quick with 3 tbsp of oats and a couple of tbsp of brown rice. The flavour was good! But I ran the machine 3 times and it still didn't crunch it all up and the milk was watery. So I emptied the pulp into the milk and used my stick blender to blend it all up. Then I strained it twice and had a glass with a muffin. I started to strain it through muslin but it was taking wayyy too long.

The texture's not really smooth enough to drink, but it's ok for baking (I used some in the muffins) and I'm keeping the pulp because I'm thinking I might add it to a batch of soap at the weekend - I haven't made soap in aaaaages! (haha look - that's Nigella in the background - love her!!)

Today's dinner was the Bodacious Barley & Bean Soup from the Garden of Vegan. I think I described this as the best soup ever last time - I stand by that, it's SO. FREAKING. GOOD!!!

I also made some more soda bread, to go with the soup. I swapped the white flour for spelt and I think I've cracked it this time, so I've included the recipe. Here it is, fresh out the oven with some margarine on! YUM!

Spelt & Rye Soda Bread
250ml/1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 tsp white wine (or apple cider) vinegar
240g/1½ cups rye flour
160g/1 cup spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.

Whisk together the milk and vinegar and set aside. Mix together all the dry ingredients, then pour in the milk mixture and stir until fully combined.

Don't be alarmed that it is a mega wet & sticky dough, it's supposed to be. At this point, throw it into a greased loaf or cake tin and spread out, or do like I did: lop it out onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and shape it as best you can.

What it looks like before shaping....

Then bake it for around 30 minutes until it sounds hollow when you rap the bottom of the loaf.Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool until you can't stand it any longer and have to cut a piece off (in my case about 20 seconds!!).

Here's one of the overall thing - to give you an idea of the messy shape I made it!

Cooking to: REM - Out of Time

Yesterday I went back to work and I still wasn't feeling 100% right. I had to go to the supermarket on the way home and I wanted something quick and I found curly fries in the freezer section. YAY! I love me some curly fries, I haven't had them in AGES! Well it was either those or potato smileys - which I very nearly bought instead! :)

I had them with some baked tofu and some cherry tomatoes macerated in balsamic vinegar. YUM.

Oh and off topic but Liono Lewis - cock off!! OK she has a good voice and she deserved to win the x-factor that year blah blah blah, but I hate all the songs she's released since, they're so annoying. And now she has covered Snow Patrol's Run. Run is one of my favourite songs and a song that almost brought me to tears when I heard it live because it was so beautiful. Well Liono has ruined it by turning it into a whiny whingy wowling piece of pop crap. Along with that and the piece of crap song that won this year's x factor - it makes me wish for the days when Take That & Mr Blobby were vying for the christmas no 1! /rant.

Friday 12 December 2008

Stupid lurgy

I'm ill! Boooooo. Mega booooo! I blame my stupid workmates for all being ill over the last week or so and passing it on to me. Horrible evil stupid workmates with their skanky lurgy!

And what pisses me off more than being ill - feeling too shit to go to the Fratellis' concert last night and missing my work xmas party today.

I hardly ever get ill, thank god because it is so boring sitting at home when you're ill - all I've done is watch Alias, eat comfort food and drink lots of hot water with lemon, ginger & agave stirred in.

Comfort food for me is squishy white bread, mashed potatoes and soup. So yesterday for dinner I had the last of my seitan, breaded in coarsely ground matzohs and baked and served with some smashed taters and bbq sauce.

Today I combined potatoes and soup and made baked potato soup. I remember seeing a recipe on, but it had soy cheese and other stuff I don't like in it. So I decided to wing and so have no exact recipe. I'd give approximates, but it wasn't quite right - too oniony. Don't get me wrong, it was nice but it needs work so I'm gonna have another go tomorrow so - hopefully I'll have a recipe next time! I threw half the baked potato skins on top of the soup, as it would have been wrong of me to bin them. The other half I just ate with some margarine and a sprinkle of salt. Sometimes I think the best bit of a baked potato is the skin!

Breakfast was just a thick watch of tiger bread with speculoos spread. I ordered this stuff after seeing Mandee's blog post and thread on the PPK and knew I had to have it. God, it is soooo good. Totally worth the £5 shipping!! :) I'm thinking it would be amazing spread between a couple of shorbread cookies!!

And here is my christmas tree. This pic is a bit crap, it is prettier in real life, even though I'm rubbish at decorating Christmas trees!

I'm off to watch the last Alias DVD of S3.

Tuesday 9 December 2008

It came to me, I think they call it an epiphany – man that’s a big word!

This is my 100th blog post! YAY.

Had a great weekend (Maz has the pictures on her camera so I can't post any till next time), despite sleeping for 2 nights on the world's most uncomfortable sofa bed, horrid food and Thin Lizzy sucking ass! We shared a chalet (with no shower – I had to wash my hair in the bath with a jug – ick!) with 4 fellas, who’s idea of hilarity was to play Orville singing I Wish I could Fly at 9am on Saturday morning, when I was hungover.

AND - I fell over, I used to fall over a lot when I was younger, after a beer or two. But this time, I wasn't even drunk! Someone who was drunk spilt beer and I slipped in it and smacked down on my knee - I have a lovely colourful bruise there now, but at least I amused the group of lads singing "she fell over she fell over" at me - aren't boys original!!

I also got lots of “why would you choose to be vegan”, “carrots are alive as well you know” and “how do you milk a soybean” …. type questions – the soybean milking question was pretty amusing though.

The only vegan food option on site (the Ghetto!!) was chips and crisps; typical. Luckily I took soya milk and cocoa pops and of course... cupcakes and cookies.

VCTOtW basic chocolate cupcakes, with my new peanut butter frosting – which rocks socks!! I was wingin it, but recipe on the way – more on that in a bit though!

This is what happens to your cuppies when you travel in the Venga Bus for 4 hours! :( Still, as my dad says - all goes down the same hole - we are eloquent in my family, eh!!

And cookies – these earned me a few “wait, you made these..... yourself?”, “these are vegan?”, “they don’t have tofu in do they?” …… etc questions, I think they were impressed! Dreena’s recipe again because it really is the best CC cookie recipe I’ve tried so far.

Onto other info, I’ve started writing a cook zine! Basically, I wanted to put together some recipes for my family and friends (as sort of an extra stocking filler for chrimbo), giving them ideas for easy, healthy vegan dishes.

I often hear from my family & friends that they are stuck for what to cook me and they don’t know where to start looking. So this zine is aimed at friends & families of veggies / vegans who are not sure what to cook for them and are stumped by ingredients they’ve never heard of in recipes they Google. All the dishes will be easy to make and I’m also avoiding using any ‘weirdo vegan ingredients’ – ie, anything that is difficult to find or requires a trip to a specialist shop / website.

Once it’s done, it’ll be a free PDF for anyone that wants it – more info on that when it’s done. Some of the recipes will be ones I’ve posted before on the blog but there’s a few new ones I’m working on too, going in there.

One will hopefully be a variation on this recipe that I ripped off from my new Favourite American TV chef, Giada De Laurentiis, because it was awesome – just needs some tweakage! (I spent about 2 hours watching videos on the Food Network website when I got home Sunday and I really like her and her "ya gotta have parmesan.." - even if I don't agree! I’m ‘borrowing’ another recipe off her when my friends come for dinner this week.)

Oh and the PB frosting recipe will be in there too, once I figure out measurements.

I had some leftover so I did a pepper too, as I only had one big mutha tomato. It didn't work as well, as I didn't think to pre-cook it, which peppers need. Served with roasted brussels, which I know looked burnt - they were perfect.
The point of the post title though (aside from listening to too much Bowling for Soup) – I finally got my white bean & sweetcorn soup right. HURRAH! I’ve been tinkering with this for ages and this about the 6th attempt. I just could figure out what was wrong with it – I tried adding potatoes, soya cream, soya yoghurt, changing the herbs, upping the beans, lowering the beans…. and it was still off!

But today it hit me – almost literally because of my stupidly over-filled cupboards. When I went to make the soup, I found I had only got one can of sweetcorn left and I’d eaten half of it for dinner! Dammit. But I did have a can of creamed style sweetcorn – GENIUS!

So here it is, I’m happy at last!!

Creamy White Bean & Sweetcorn Soup

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion
2 fat cloves of garlic
1½ (generous) cups / 350g cooked cannellini beans
3 cups / 750ml veggie stock (I used 3 cups water + 2 stock cubes)
A couple of sprigs of thyme
1 can (418g) creamed style sweetcorn
½ - 1 small can of sweetcorn (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste

Over a medium / low heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil with a pinch of salt for a few minutes, until starting to look translucent. Add the garlic and just cook for a minute or so, so you don’t burn the garlic. Add the beans, stock, thyme and a good pinch of pepper. Throw the herbs in whole, the leaves will fall of the stems and you just need to fish the stalks out before you blend the soup. I don’t add salt because my stock cubes are salted and also, I cooked the beans in veggie stock so it doesn’t need it. If this isn’t the case, add a good pinch now.

Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 25 minutes.

Take off the heat and blend the soup (I do mine with an immersion blender, in a jug, in 2 or 3 batches). Pour back into the pot, add the creamed sweetcorn & regular sweetcorn if using and stir through. Check seasoning and enjoy with crusty bread. Yum.

Cooking to: Incubus – Light Grenades
This was today's dinner, balsamic roasted cherry tomatoes (awesome!), yummy breaded seitan, sweetcorn and smashed taters! Rad.

I have some erm, experimental muffins in the oven right now – they smell good, let’s hope they don’t suck!! I'll tell ya next time.
I'm off to finish putting up my chrimbo tree! :-)