Blueberry Swirl tray bake guinea pigging…

Hello!!

Wow it’s been ages since I last blogged. We bought a flat and have been manically packing/moving/redecorating/attempting to stay married. 2013’s been a big year! But after a month and a bit we’ve finally got a usable living room.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll have a few things to mention in a round-up soon (lots of photos on my phone) but for now just a quick one to mention Blueberry Swirl: https://www.facebook.com/blueberryswirl

I discovered their stall at the North East Vegan Festival on 17th November at the Stadium of Light. I took my parents along to their first Vegan Festival and they loved it! Vegusto did some awesome hot dogs and there was so much cake about! My dad was a particular fan of the Blueberry Swirl savoury muffins and I went away with a coffee cupcake and an earl grey cupcake which were both delicious.

So when I saw that Blueberry Swirl were looking for people to test out postage methods on for a potential mail order service I volunteered immediately!

A snickers tray bake was put in the post with royal mail on Wednesday and R picked it up from the post office on Friday night. It was packaged up very securely:

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And had travelled very well, with just a few peanuts stuck to the lid (which I imagine would have happened anyway):

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Both R and I enjoyed the bake. It was definitely more of  cake than a brownie and was nice and moist, and the chocolate and peanut topping was tasty too.

Watch out for Blueberry Swirl’s postal service in 2014! And if you’re in the north-east find their cakes at various places including the Farplace Animal Rescue charity shop in Wallsend, the Good Apple café in Sunderland and the Olde Young tea house in Middlesbrough.

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Lovely vegan food swap- September

2012-09-23 05.51.30This month’s vegan food swap came from Jade in Lancashire. She wrote me a really lovely little card about what was in the box and her life as a vegan which was a cute touch. Even better- the card is impregnated with thyme seeds so can be planted and I can grow herbs!!!

Jade mentioned that all the food was from local shops and markets. This made me feel a bit bad about my over-reliance on supermarkets for food swaps and I am going to try to use local shops more in future.

I picked up the box from the  post office on my way home from work one night when I was really hungry so may have eaten a bit of it before I had the chance to take a photo (I really need to stop photographing things on my ironing board) so you may notice that the fruit snack and mini-moo honeycomb are just the wrappers. I do like the real-fruit-mushed-into-bars concept so enjoyed the fruit snack bar and the bear rolls. The mini-moo honeycomb chocolate bar was amazing! How have I not had one before? Granted I was picking honeycomb out of my teeth in a traffic jam but it was so tasty!!!!

There was also a bar of dark chocolate with orange which I think must be buried in the photo but I nibbled on it a bit on my way home too and it was good!

When I opened the box initially, there was this amazing herby fragrance which came from the arabiata mix from the market in the middle of the photo. This stuff is great and I’ve used it in stews, tomato sauces and on noodles.

The pretzels made a good snack one evening and R helped me out with the super hot jalapeno crisps! I loved the provamel almond drink, it was really sweet and like an almond milkshake and was great after the gym one morning. The soyesse black cherry soya yoghurt was also yummy.

Aha, the little blue bag sticking out from under the english breakfast tea was a mini pack of  oreos. Love them.

I haven’t got around to the clearspring miso soup yet but it’s in my work cupboard for a hunger emergency and I like miso soup! I also haven’t had all the teas, one of which is olive leaf which I haven’t quite found an occasion for but I will as Jade says it’s really nice!

So thanks, Jade, for putting in so much effort and sending me lovely treats!

UK vegan food swap link: http://www.tohappyvegans.com/wordpress/uk-vegan-food-swap/

And a guide to being an awesome swapper: http://www.tohappyvegans.com/wordpress/uk-vegan-food-swap-september-2013/

Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Another August, another trip to Edinburgh. This year’s recommendations are: James Bran (@ajamesbran)- funny haiku man, Jay Foreman- twee, comedy songs, Luke Wright (@lukewrightpoet) always amazing poetry and Claudia O’Doherty (@ClaudiaODoherty)- I LOVE THIS WOMAN- SEE HER SHOW!

Onto food…

The Auld Hoose, 33-35 St Leonard’s Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9QN

Official Website: http://www.theauldhoose.co.uk/

No photos but this student pub was a winner with me and my parents! Loads of vegan options as well as the standard pub fare, I wish we’d had room to share some vegan nachos! Vegan options on the menu are clearly marked and range from cheesy chips to Burritos, Chilli and a falafel burger.

What I did have, at about 3pm, was the all day veggie breakfast. To make it vegan you substitute the egg in the normal breakfast for one of the other items. R was ordering for me so he doubled up my haggis. Sausages which weren’t a kind I’d had before but were nice crispy mealy ones, awesome veggie haggis patties, mushrooms, hash browns and baked beans. A big plateful and I was stuffed after it!

My mother went for another vegan option, haggis neeps and tatties. Another huge plats with the haggis a bit more broken up than on my breakfast and a good pile of mashed potato and another of mashed turnip, she really enjoyed it too.

Service was pleasant, there was an extensive bar and it was a sweet little pub. I can’t believe I hadn’t been before but it’s up there as a new favourite!

Bonsai, 46 Richmond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DZ

Official Website http://www.bonsaibarbistro.co.uk/

I know, another review of a non-vegetarian restaurant but they do great vegan options and were happy to go and check things with the chef like whether or not the tempura batter had egg in (it didn’t: score!)

I had edamame beans, some nice avocado and red pepper maki rolls, a shitake mushroom hand cone and vegetable tempura:

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Lots to eat and easy to go with friends/family. I always find the waiting staff friendly and they know the food and give recommendations. Also the toilets are really interesting.

The Piemaker, 33 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1LL

Official Website: http://www.thepiemaker.co.uk/

I’m a big fan of this place. On the way to the train station to go home I insisted that we stopped off so I could get a vegan pastie. They normally have at least 2 vegan options on savoury pasties, although I’ve only had fruit ones from there before. I was pretty excited and chose a thai vegetable pastie over the Mediterranean vegetable option.

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Unfortunately, once I started eating this on the train it became apparent that I’d actually been given a garlic mushroom pastie (which were next to the thai veg ones on the shelf) and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t vegan, so R ate it for me and I ate my cake from…

The Baked Potato Shop, 56 Cockburn* Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1PB

*note this is pronounced “Co’burn”, to save your embarrassment…

Official website: https://www.facebook.com/thebakedpotatoshop

I just dropped in at about 10:15am so no baked potato for me but they had a lovely carrot cake labelled vegan and it was indeed awesome. Moist with a slightly lemony creamy topping.

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I’m a massive fan of the baked potato shop. They give huge portions (I think standard is TWO potatoes) have loads of toppings, many vegan including their home-made vegan haggis. Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of this haggis as it has DRIED FRUIT in it and I have some issues with dried fruit in savoury food (I am working on it) but anyway, vegan cake and awesome potatoes and good value. Go there!

Hopefully I will have even more exciting places to eat in Edinburgh in 2014!

August vegan food swap

Another awesome parcel from Sasha

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I requested that it was kept fairly ‘healthy’ this month as I’ve been eating a lot of sugar recently and my body/skin is not thanking me for it. Sasha came up trumps and sent me some lovely healthy snacks.

-Little bag of garlic olives. Lovely, good to have some portion control and easy little bag to carry to work.

-Nims fruit crisps. These were really nice crispy dried pineapple. I hadn’t had them before but I’ll be seeking them out again!

-Amazing white chocolate with freeze dried strawberry. This was so unbelievably good.  And I didn’t feel too bad about eating it as the other stuff was more savoury!

-Seed sprinkles- I ate these from the packet as a mid-morning snack but they’d also be good sprinkled over a salad or houmous.

-Saviour snacks nut and berry mix- with almonds, raisins, goji berries and pumpkin seeds. Great mix. It says on the packet ‘Keep yourself bouncing with this mix’ so I did some bouncing.

-Mushroom ketchup- This is great on baked beans and R used it in a sausage casserole the other day in which it went very well. I also think it would be good in a mushroom risotto. I had tried it once before ages ago and forgotten how good it was. New store cupboard staple.

-mini lovehearts ❤

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

-The best almonds I have ever had!!! They were home soaked-, juicy, succulent and so so tasty. The most satisfying nuts I’ve ever had. I assume that something like tamari was used to flavour them and I must work out how to do this myself.

Thanks, Sasha!

xxx

 

Diet ruined- July’s vegan food swap

I’m a little late on this one, mainly because I lost the photo of my box from @MrsREJC and have been desperately trying to get the picture off my phone memory card to no avail. I can’t quite remember everything that was in it because there was so much! Rachel seems to have got herself a bit of a reputation for sending ridiculous amounts of treats and included a little note promising me that she hadn’t gone over the spend limit and is just a very good bargain hunter! We got the confirmation email one day, I replied to Rachel with my address the next morning and the day after that my awesome parcel arrived!

I will probably have missed some things off but here’s what I received:

luna

White Chocolate macadamia luna bar. I love luna bars and this is my favourite flavour!

oreo

mini bag of oreos. I LOVE OREOS.

Strawberry ‘pencils’– the ones I was sent were definitely vegan but the ones I see in tesco and sainsburys don’t seem to be. They were lovely anyway- strawberry chewy licorice stuff on the outside and a sweet white filling.

nuts

Walkers  sensations smoked paprika nuts- these were really awesome. Just a slight kick and a lovely paprika taste and I do much prefer cashews and almonds to peanuts. Great snack.

pots

2 little pots of topas pate– these were lovely spread on crackers and really handy pots to take in my handbag to work.

Another popcorn cob– I’m not sure where these are coming from but they’re great.

Chocolate ice-cream mix– I haven’t made this up yet but I’m excited about it.

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A sherbert dip dab. When I’m sad or stressed, R always buys me one of these. Sherbert is amazing!! I loved it.

A pack of dark chocolate digestives– These were amazing! I hadn’t had chocolate digestives before as I’d never found vegan ones. I’m kind of ashamed to admit I managed to eat 6 of them the evening they arrived!

couscous

Merchant Gourmet Moroccan cous cous- This made a quick easy lunch. It was really nice with whole chickpeas in and a pleasant spiced tomatoey sauce.

Some nice chai teabags too.

Great box!! I just wish I could find that photo as it was so hard to angle everything so you could see it all in the picture!

Vegan food swap link

Three cheers for Mr Tofu!

Am I really that soppy? Erm, yes! My amazing husband ❤ for the past few days he’s been on a bit of a culinary mission. First on Saturday there was the pizza and tiramisu night. R is famous for his pizzas as he always gets a good crispy base with the pizza stone. We managed to find some Mozzarisella in Wimbledon so I had a pizza with this. It was pretty awesome! It melted nicely and had a good mild mozzarellay taste. It’s up there in my top vegan cheeses and I’m so happy the quality of vegan cheese has improved so vastly in the past 5 years!

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The tiramisu was amazing! No photo because, ahem, I ate it all. My only criticism would be that it could have been more boozy, but then I am a booze-hound and just chucked some ouzo on mine for that kick.

Also not a real recipe because Mr tofu doesn’t roll like that but basically a nice light sponge on the bottom- he used my standard sponge recipe (100ml oil, 200ml soy milk, 180g caster sugar, 280g SR flour, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt) soaked in 300ml strong coffee and a couple of shots of coffee liqueur (this is where I would also have added my brandy/sambuca/any other alcohol.)

Next he very cleverly made a sweetened marscapone-style topping with silken tofu, agave syrup and lemon juice and, as it was the best he could find in Balham, sprayed soyatoo spray cream over the top of this just before serving.

Then yesterday there was the wonderful rice pudding- pudding rice, soya milk, alpro single cream, vanilla extract and ST LUCIAN NUGMEG mmmm.

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Since I raved about my amazing mighty fork hotdog a couple of weeks ago, he decided to give my hot dog night tonight. Home-made wholemeal buns, vegi-deli hotdogs, fried onion and green chilli, tomato ketchup and vegan mayo.

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Followed by more rice pudding with apple and plum in calvados.

Good boy.

 

222 Veggie Vegan- Restaurant review

 Official Website: http://www.222veggievegan.com/

Address: 222 North End Road, West Kensington, London, W14 9NU

Tube station: West Brompton

I came here with a friend who’s thinking of moving to Putney. I’d read a few nice reviews and I was keen to try the ice cream pancake for pudding!

I made a reservation, the place is quite small but pleasant enough with a café vibe and I think all the tables were in use so I’m glad we booked.

I wasn’t going to have a starter as I was saving myself for the pancake but Alex ordered the raw chilled avocado soup and it was such a big portion I helped him out. I had thought that it might taste strongly of raw garlic but no, it was an amazing smooth, creamy avocado soup with some nuttiness and a hint of garlic but not too much. It was super tasty and I probably had half the bowl. My mouth waters at the thought of it and it was such a good choice.

Alex had the burger for main which I was quite jealous of but I rarely order a burger (even though I love them) as I like to be adventurous! It came with loads of chips (which I shared) and some salad and looked yummy.

I went for seitan straganoff which was really nice too- creamy and well seasoned in a nice savoury way and a good sized portion.

We both had the famous ice cream pancake for pudding. I think I’d built it up a bit too much in my head- I found the chocolate and vanilla sauces a little too sweet and the pancake itself a bit mealy and stodgy (it was made with wholemeal flour- I would have made more of a crepe personally) but it was still pretty awesome and compared favourably with many vegan pudding options!

It was good value for money and we also shared a nice organic wine. I will be returning.