Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Rehydration



I've been ill for the last few days with a virus and tummy bug thing. I haven't felt like eating anything much at all. Today I was able to get to my local health food shop and stock up on organic coconut water which I use in smoothies. It's great if you are ill as it's like a natural form of Lucozade, being an isotonic drink but without all that sugar. The coconut water's electrolyte level rebalances the bodies fluid balance.

Monday, 28 June 2010

The babies are here!



I've added some baby tea cosies to the Tea and Sympatico Folksy shop. They fit a teapot that holds 2 mugs or 4 teacups worth of tea. They are available in the heart design and skull and crossbones as are the bigger size. As I am selling them to save up to go and see my English friend Sarah who lives in Vancouver. The lovely Sarah Kramer, famous vegan cookbook writer, did a giveaway of one of the big ones on her Go Vegan blog and gave me a plug. If you haven't come across Sarah's books check them out. I would recommend them all!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Hottest Vegan Bake Sale in Town!


Yesterday was a scorcher! Luckily, Vicki who organised this sale in aid of The Society for Abandonned Animals had thought of everything and we had a gazebo to shade us and the cakes from the sun, chairs and she even made us all lovely aprons. Here we are ready to sell. I met Vicki, Elizabeth and Jo all through Manchester Vegan Society. I'm so glad Manchester has a group like this, I've met some brilliant people through it and we are always organising fun events and trips.


Elizabeth and I are assembling cake boxes production line style as the sales start to come in. I totally underestimated the number of boxes that we'd need!


I've been part of a few bakesales now over the last couple of years and I have to say that this one had the best range by far. We had cheesecake, sponge cakes, cupcakes, sweet and savoury scones, cookies, biscottis, brownies, shortbread, crispy cakes, banana bread and stuff that was gluten free and sugar free too. There wasn't really a vegan audience at this event so it was a good bit of outreach and great to have people asking questions and taking away recipe booklets too.



As well as those pictured we also had cakes from Jenny at The Cottage Cupcake Company. Jenny if you're reading, I had one of your carrot cake cupcakes and it was the best I've ever had!
We raised over £160 in total. Well done everyone, looking forward to the next one.


Friday, 25 June 2010

Guerilla Wine Tasting


My friend Dale has been talking about the idea of Guerilla Wine tasting for a while now, since we first did a bit of Guerilla Gardening in fact. Basically enjoying a spot of wine tasting in a public place that you wouldn't normally associate with such activity. Last night on the way home from Dough he sprang one on Siobhan and I. The location - an empty bus shelter in the Northern Quarter. The Wine - the first ever Zinfandel planted in France. The Verdict - super fun and hopefully the first of many such events.

Liberation pizza!


Tonight was a preview of the new exhibition at Chinese Arts Centre. CAC previews are always buzzing and include a talk by the artist and/or curator. The latest show is Liberation an exhibition growing out of an ongoing discussion with Carol Yinghua Lu and Liu Ding following the blocked use of a selection of social-networking and self-publishing websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube in China.



After a couple of glasses of wine in the gallery we needed food. Luckily Dough Pizza Kitchen is right opposite. They have the option of vegan mozarella for all the veggie pizzas and also do a cheese free hummus pizza.


Thursday, 24 June 2010

Manhattan Time



Alex and I took advantage of the Orange Wednesday offer and went for 2 for 1 pizzas at Pizza Express and to see Sex and the City 2 this evening. Manchester might not have the Manhattan skyline but it still looks pretty good at night, particularly from high up.


I got the cinema times wrong and we ended up with an hour to kill. Urbis is closed whilst it's being changed from a gallery space to the National Football Museum but the good news is their roof top bar The Modern is still open for business. Enjoyed a delicious Manhattan and watched the wheel going round.



And in five weeks time we'll be drinking cocktails in old New York, New York itself!



Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Upcoming Bake Sale


This Saturday from 10am sees a group of Manchester's Finest vegan bakers setting up stall in Longford Park as part of Stretford Pageant . We will be selling our goods to raise funds for the Society for Abandoned Animals . The baking started tonight with gingerbread biscotti and cranberry and white chocolate biscotti. Nearer the time I'll be cooking up chai cookies, Earl Grey shortbread, apricot amaretto cake bars and pirate bread.


Monday, 21 June 2010

The Longest Day.....



Spent the summer solstice sitting in my friend's beautiful new garden as the sky turned red. Listening to blackbirds and watching the moths whilst feasting on a nibbly tea of Chorlton's finest olives, dips and ciabatta bread. Washed down with a glass of sauvignon blanc and delicious chai cupcakes. Lovely.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Paradise Gardens



On Saturday afternoon Helen and I went down to Victoria Park in Hackney to check out the Paradise Gardens festival. We had a short detour via the lovely Broadway Market to buy a vintage brass hook from The Dog and Wardrobe and pick up brownies and vegan red velvet cupcakes.


Once in the park we went to check out the DOG sculpture by Akane Takayama. The dogs were part of an installation and schools project and were given away to the public at the end of the event. There were lots of happy children and adults carrying them around. It started to rain so we retired to the Pimm's tent for a bit then headed home to find Debbie had made platters of delicious sushi for tea.


It was sushi again for the train journey home today. Usually I just pick up a Boots meal deal with a Fresh vegan sandwich from the kiosk in the station but I was pleased to discover Abokado in the food court just outside the entrance. This avocado, ginger and carrot sushi wrap and falfafel and corinader wrap were lovely and very fresh tasting.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Goodies from New York, New York


I'm in London this weekend visiting my friends Helen and Debbie. They've just returned from a trip to New York and braved fears of excess baggage by bringing me lots of Oreos and 2 massive tins of Libby's Pumpkin Pie filling! They will be making an appearance in recipes here soon. Oreos are available in the UK but unfortunately the ones we get here are made in Europe and contain ingredients that mean that they are not suitable for vegans. If I know anyone visiting the states I always put in an order!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Biscuit boxes



I'm hoping to soon go and visit one of my friends who has just moved house. She is a huge lover of Earl Grey tea so I am planning to take some Earl Grey shortbreads as a house warning gift. I've started recycling empty teabag boxes and reusing them as gift boxes for biscuits. Just open the box at the seams. Draw round the template on a piece of wrapping paper - extra brownie points if that's recycled too - and glue it onto the box. Pop some greaseproof paper inside if you want to make it look fancier and tie the box up with string or ribbon.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

VIVA Roadshow


Tonight the VIVA Roadshow hit town. I went along after work and it was good to catch up with folks I haven't seen for a while. Lynnmarie from MVS was on the merchandising stall and nudged me towards some bargains in the form of £1 short dated bars of Organica rum and raisin chocolate and boxes of Montezumas bunnies which will go towards refuelling the tuck drawer at work!



There was a talk on Veganism and the environment by Tony Wardle one of the directors of VIVA. This was followed by a cookery demo by Heather Mills. Heather owns Redwood Foods and created dishes using Redwoods products. We got to sample beefy potato curry, sausage and choritzo stew and chicken style cacciatore. She talked about lots of different issues whilst doing this and took questions from the floor. She gets lots of bad press but there is no doubt that she is extremely committed to her charity work and I found what she had to say inspiring. Let's hope her vision of one day having vegan fast food joints like her V Bites restaurant on the High Street comes true!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

World Cup party


It's been a very busy weekend. Friday after work was a leaving do, followed by the Spencer Tunnick preview at The Lowry arts centre, with an exhibtion created to celebrate the Lowry's 10th anniversary year. Tunnick has made photographic images using 1000 nudes as is his trademark style whilst referencing the work of L S Lowry.


After a late night I met Dale for brunch and finally got to sample the delights of the Thirsty Scholar veggie pub. Martin the Mod made us lovely Manchester Panninis - grilled ciabattas with melting mozarella cheezly, tomatoes and red onion which were washed down with lots of tea.

On Saturday evening Alex and Nick hosted a World Cup party which was also a celebration of their recent engagement and the fact that they are expecting twins in November! I can't wait to be an Auntie, it's so exciting!


As England were playing USA, we ended up with American themed food so there was lots of burgers and hot dogs. My contribution was Peanut Butter Cupcakes with peanut butter frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World topped with a white chocolate button.


I also made some of my own recipe chocolate cookies packed with ginger chunks. I feel that these need something else adding, maybe chocolate chips or hazelnuts. I will post the recipe on here when I've experimented a bit more.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Tea and Sympatico - Keepin' Yer Poison Warm



In attempt to fund my trip to visit Sarah in Vancouver in October I'm sell, sell, selling! Lots of stuff on Ebay and I have finally got round to setting up at shop on Folksy for my tea cosies. Hand knitted and made with vegan friendly yarn, you can find them here at my Folksy shop.


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Beth Bee Books



I got the basic idea for yesterday's recipe post from the Almond White cake recipe in this fab little cookery book by Beth Bee called the Rabbit food Cookbook. Beth Bee is a vegan artist from Oregon, USA and her books are beautifully made with wire binding, pen and ink block illustrations, hand silk screened covers and die cut card dividers for the different recipe sections.


Beth also makes blank books for you to write your own recipes in and card file address books. You can buy her stuff from Etsy. I have the address book with the cover featured above which I love. I lived in America for a year, in upstate New York, when I was 21 as an exchange student. When I first arrived there was a six week postal strike so letters where not the first thing on my mind but I remember wondering where you were supposed to post stuff. I didn't realise that these metal blue things were for mail, they looked so different to English post boxes!


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Apricot Amaretto Cake Bars



There's a saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Alternatively, do something positive and invent a cake for a friend. This one's for Jen at work, an Amaretto lover.

Apricot Amaretto Cake Bars

Ingredients

2 cups of plain flour or gluten free flour
If using gluten free flour also add a teaspoon of xanthan gum
1 cup of caster sugar + an extra 2 tablespoons for topping
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of warmed soya milk (or 1 and a half if doing the gluten free version)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1/4 cup of melted margarine
Cap full of almond extract
1/3 cup of flaked almonds
1/2 cup of plain chocolate chips
1/2 cup of chopped apricots
2 tablespoons of amaretto liqueur

Pre heat the oven to 180c
Grease and flour a 9x9 inch baking tin
Sieve the dry ingredients (flour through to salt) into a bowl and stir together.
Add the wet ingredients and mix with an electric mixer.
Fold in the chocolate chips and apricots.
Pour into the baking tin and spread evenly.
Scatter the flaked almonds on the top.
Bake for around 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Place on a cooling rack and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Pour over 2 tablespoons of amaretto.
Leave to cool.
Serve in flattened muffin cases.


Monday, 7 June 2010

Sweet Tooth Cupcakery



The image above is from the Sweet Tooth Cupcakery in Chorlton. They have just opened another outlet which doubles as a retro soda fountain in the store front window of Pop Boutique on Oldham Street in the city centre. Popped in today to have a look. The owners promised that vegan cupcakes will be available and that vegan shakes will be coming soon.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Vegan Tuck Drawwer


When I first became vegan I got into the habit of always carrying snacks around in my bag particularly when on holiday. That way if I was hanging out in a cafe with friends and they were tucking into non vegan cakes I wouldn't feel deprived as I had a flapjack or bar of Maya Gold on me. I don't tend to do this as much any more, but I do seem to have ended up with half of my desk drawer becoming the Vegan Tuck drawer! A couple of times a week around 3pm the contents go round my table. Colleagues have even started adding to it which is lovely. Discount shops are a good place to pick up stuff. Here's what's been in there recently.



Nakd lemon flavour raisins - 10p a bag from B&M Bargains.



Mini pretzels, Worcestershire Sauce Flavour (yes, no anchovies!) by Penn State. 8 bags for about 60p from B&M Bargains



Castus Fruit bars. 10p each from B&M Bargains.


Gillian McKeith Organic Red Miso Instant Soup. 19p for 6 sachets from Quality Save/Home Bargains.



Humdingers 12 pack of mini boxes of raisins, apple, apricots etc. Around 60p from B&M Bargains.



Moser Roth Orange and Almond Chocolate from Aldi. 99p for 5 x 25g bars.


Thursday, 3 June 2010

Rice Manchester


I spent the Sunday and Monday of the Bank Holiday weekend in the New Wakefield Street area of Manchester at the Eurocultured festival. There were loads of bands and street artists and dancers from around Europe doing their thing.


Martin the Mod had huge pans of vegan Jamacian one pot stew on the go outside the Thirsty Scholar. Dale and Steve had some on both days. Unfortunately chillis don't like me so I had to give it a miss. Luckily there were a few other food stalls that had vegan options too. I ended up with a pad thai minus the egg from Rice who are a Manchester franchise that can now be found in 4 locations around the city. I frequent the Piccadilly Gardens branch now and again for their delicious Japanese Teriaki Tofu.


Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Vegan Brownies



My lovely work colleague Andrew brought in homemade brownies today. And, he used a vegan recipe so I could have one, yay! I have tried lots of vegan brownie recipes and not been fussed about a lot of them, especially one made with pureed prunes, if you're going to have brownies go full sugar or eat a piece of fruit I say. Anyway, my fail safe recipe up to now was the Fudgy Brownies from Vive Le Vegan by Dreena Burton which I can highly recommend. I was so impressed by the brownies today though that I've printed the recipe off and added it to my folder too. You can find it here. Andrew customised it with brazil nuts, dried sour cherries, and some extra chocolate, yum.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Freebie




Twinings are running their two free samples offer again. Choose from the likes of traditional teas such as English Breakfast and Assam to the more exotic of black tea with Rose or Spring White Tea.