Friday, 30 January 2015

We All Scream For Icecream!

There's been quite a lot of excitement recently with new brands of vegan ice cream appearing in the shops. They're not always that easy to find though and I've got no chance of getting something home from Manchester to Glossop without it melting. So, when I saw this book for £2 in The Works the other week I snapped it up. I was drawn to it as Ginger's Comfort Emporium is a local Manchester based company and I've sampled one of their delicious sorbet pops at a street fair. There are actually a few vegan recipes in the book but there are also plenty that can be veganised by subbing coconut milk.

I couldn't wait to get started and as soon I got home I veganised this Salted Caramel Peanut Butter icecream. I don't have an icecream maker but this worked fine without one. You make the mixture in a pan then after it's cooled put it in the freezer taking it out every half hour to give it a stir (do this about four times and then leave it overnight).

We had it to celebrate what would have been Elvis's 80th birthday along with peanut butter blondies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. It's a super easy recipe and is online here on the Post Punk Kitchen website. I topped the blondies with these Maple Bacon Flavour mixed nuts we found in Tesco for £1.

I don't know if I'll ever buy shop bought ice cream again! I think I'm hooked and searching around on the internet the next week I came across this recipe for Vegan Chocolate Stout Icecream. I omitted the coconut but I bet it would taste great with it. Beermoth, a specialist beer shop in Manchester's Northern Quarter supplied the vegan friendly stout. It's Fade To Black from the Lefthand Brewing Co.

If you like chocolate and you're a stout fan you really must try this. It has amazing flavours. Seriously, I couldn't stop thinking about it at work and couldn't wait to get home!

We had it again with some of the blondies I'd frozen and also in cornets. Each of the icecream recipes made 6 servings so were perfect for treats over the weekend. The only problem I have now is deciding which flavour to have a go at next. Any suggestions?

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Vegan Life Magazine Issue 3

As a Vegan Life blogger I get a free digital copy of the magazine. We actually decided to pay to subscribe to the paper copy though as it's such a nice magazine. When we subscribed we got a lovely free gift of some shower gel and hand soap. The latest free gift for subscribers are a set of Hurraw Lip Balms which are my favourites and which I'd highly recommend if you're looking for a new vegan friendly lip balm. For info on subscriptions check out this link.

There's quite an emphasis on healthy foods and detoxing with it being a new year issue. As I posted here back in December I've been trying to focus on eating well and it paid off as for once I wasn't ill over the festive season! I've got several recipes from the magazine bookmarked to try over the next few weeks. We kicked off with this courgette noodle dish topped with marinated mushrooms and a sauce made from cashews and sundried tomatoes. It was delicious and really filling and only used half of the sauce. I've frozen the rest and reckon it will made a great creamy pesto style sauce to stir into pasta. I normally avoid pesto as basil gives me terrible acid reflux so I'm excited to have found an alternative!

I also loved the article on the benefits of drinking different types of tea and it's made me keen to seek out more types of white tea. I knew green tea had health benefits but I hadn't realised how great white tea is. The debate section also got me thinking. It's about whether it's ok for vegans to eat honey. Off the top of my head I can think of at least three people I know who call themselves vegan but who do eat it. I think it was one of the last vegan food issues I got my head round and it's definitely the one I most often find people asking me to explain. There's so much emphasis on saving the bee population these days that people seem to get confused about the issue and don't actually think about what honey actually is and what it should be used for. I used to take leaflets about milk, eggs and honey farming along to Cake Liberation Front meet ups to encourage non-vegans to think more about these issues. I'd like to start doing this again so if anyone knows where's best to get specific leaflets rather than just general vegan ones please leave me a comment.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Can You Guess What It Is Yet?

We've recently acquired one of these. It belonged to Matt's nana who inherited it off a lady she used to go and visit. She'd always admired it and it was left to her. After Matt's nana passed away it was in storage but has recently come to live with us. I've looked these up online and I reckon it's made of mahogany and dated around 1905. I'll give you a clue - Matt's nana was known for her baking.

It's a fabulous 3 tier cake stand with an ingenious mechanism which lets it go flat for storage. I first saw one of these a couple of years ago and even blogged about  it here!

I absolutely love it and will make sure it is well used but well looked after.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Heron Foods

Glossop is pretty good for shopping. We've a Co-Op, M and S Food, Aldi and a 24 hour Tesco as well as loads of great independent shops and a market too. I do miss my favourite bargain shops though and if I ever see a Home Bargains or B and M Bargains anywhere I have to pop in. I recently saw a few posts on the Facebook page - Vegan Special Offers UK, that mentioned things like tofu and oat milk popping up at bargain prices at somewhere called Heron Foods. And guess what? Yep, we have a Heron Foods too!

Just before Christmas I discovered that they had some Omega 3 non-dairy milk. I tried this at Vegfest in London in September but this was the first time I'd seen it on sale anywhere. At 3 cartons for £1 I stocked up. Whilst it hasn't replaced soya milk in tea or coffee I have been loving it for the last month in smoothies and overnight oats and I'll be sad when my stash has gone.

I discovered this earlier this week. Vegan friendly sunflower margarine for 80p. It's made in Ireland which may be why I've not seen it before. Like most sunflower margarine it's pretty neutral tasting and I reckon it will work well in baking. They also have some great garlic bread baguettes (2 for 75p) and on one occasion I even found the legendary Mr Kipling Treacle Tart for 65p! I'd seen this mentioned by vegans online but despite looking every time I saw a Mr Kipling display I'd never seen it anywhere before or since! Have you found any accidentally vegan food in surprising places or have you have any favourite bargain shops where you live?

Friday, 2 January 2015

2014 - A Year in Cheese!

Happy New Year everyone! A few years ago I looked back over the past year in cake but I think 2014 was more a year of exploring vegan cheeses for me. After years of not really liking soy based cheese I've started to try more and more products and it's been really exciting to see the developments in taste, texture and meltability! I've really got into making pizza from scratch and invested in a pizza stone and also a copy of Julie Hassan's Vegan Pizza book. I've had good success using the pizza dough recipes from the book and also the cashew based cheezy sauce for topping the pizzas.

Vegusto No Moo Melty is also a nice vegan pizza cheese that featured on quite a few pizzas.

As far as convenience goes though I think my new favourite vegan cheese for pizza is the Violife that is sold in a solid block. It's such a good price too!

I've also had a go at making my own simple nut based cheeses using recipes from some of my favourite bloggers. A recent discovery was this fab recipe for a quick baked almond cheese from Jasmine at Self Sufficient Cafe. Unfortunately it was eaten so fast that I haven't got a picture but I highly recommend it. I would also highly recommend these almond based cheeses that are set with agar by Debbie at Maple Spice. We've made both the chive and the sun dried tomato and basil ones and they are fantastic.

After hearing good things online, we really pushed the boat out when we discovered that V Revolution in Manchester had got hold of some Midas Fine Art Cheeses. This one is the golden cheddar. We also got the blue and the cranberry and pistachio dessert cheese.

I was really intriuged by the Midas cheeses. They're quite different from any vegan cheeses I've tried before, particularly the texture. The cheese just melts in your mouth. I did find them a little bit salty for my palate but they were also very moreish with the gourmet crackers we'd got to go with them and it was a real treat to have a cheese board with some new textures and flavours.

I already have a copy of Artisan Vegan Cheeses which I've never used and I'm thinking of buying a copy of The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook which covers all types of alternatives to dairy products, not just cheeses. After trying the Midas cheeses I feel quite inspired to continue with my own cheese making journey throughout 2015 so watch this space!