Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Vegfest and Mofo '14 Goodbyes

I feel a bit crazy posting the day after Mofo finishes, I am in desperate need of a blogging break but I felt like my final post yesterday didn't quite round up Mofo as well as it could have and I also knew that if I didn't write my bit on London's Vegfest over the next few days, I just wouldn't get round to it at all.

I'll start with  my Vegfest roundup. I'm going to keep it brief because I didn't take any photos of it at all. It was partly because I was volunteering on a campaigns stall and I was more interested in stocking up on what I wanted on my breaks rather than trying to take nice photos amongst the crowds. I did however, take a photo of my haul, it includes; Vego bars, chia seeds, veggie prawn crackers (cucumber, sweet potato and mushroom flavours), Hoots baked flavoured bread snack things, lots of Consider It chocolate (so bloody good), some fudge and a few bags of No No's from Vegan Tuck Box.

A few things are missing, a few of the doughnuts from Fat Vegan Bakery ( formerly known as JP Turner, I'll
get back to that later), the Maki roll I had from Happy Maki and the Banh Mi Buddha from Happy Ghekko. The savoury stuff I ate was awesome, though by the looks of other reviews I feel like I struck lucky on that and picked some of the best bits of the show.

I feel like I'm either over those big cream filled doughnuts or the quality has gone downhill, they're not something I get hold of often so it's hard to tell. They're huge and beautiful and full of sugar which is always good but I struggled with the chocolate flavoured stuff I got from there. The icing tasted really metallic and had no chocolate flavour in it at all. I bought one of those long almond twists, which is covered in loads of icing...and then the woman serving it to me placed it face down in a plastic bag. Great. I lost all the icing and it was so sticky and annoying to eat that I just didn't enjoy it. Which kind of brings to me to their packaging, it's really not good enough if you're wanting to take the treats from there home. I took a cream filled doughnut home and by the time it got there the paper bag had caused all the icing to sweat off into it. So I was left with wet pastry and cream. I've felt this before and I felt it again this year, that just the general attitude and manner of the staff on that stall is poor. Last year I put it down to me turning up when they were heaving with customers, but this year I went just as the fair opened and they just weren't friendly or approachable at all. My friend asked what was in the vegetable pie they were selling and got the response 'I dunno, just vegetables' and they gave off the impression that they didn't really give a crap about much, which doesn't give me a lot of confidence when they aren't a vegan company.

I had a cake from V Delicious that was supposed to be hazelnut but had shitloads of almond extract in it. Not good. I'm not a fan of loads of almond, though the sponge was light and fluffy. Had the right flavour been there I know I'd have liked it. They did some cookie sandwiches which were really tasty.

I went to go see fellow Mofo blogger Jojo give a talk about vegan travel on the Saturday afternoon. While I was waiting for it to begin, I bumped into my friend and Manchester based blogger Tea and Sympatico!The talk was great. Speaking to Jojo afterwards she said she was really nervous, but I couldn't tell at all. She c-ame across really confident and was just a great speaker to listen to, loads of experience, advice and tips but told in a fun way that kept people interested. There was even pass the parcel. I can't convey to you how great that was! Once the talk had finished, I got round to speaking to Jojo and then met some other Mofo bloggers! It was ace, I met Laughfrodisiac and Alien on Toast. We all got a photo taken together, you can see it on Jojo's post here

Overall the fair was pretty good, I spent a lot of my time on a stall, but I got to see some good stuff. It is a hard place for campaigns as the emphasis is on food, so a lot of people would rather spend their money on treats. Campaigns kind of get looked over a bit, which is a shame. I was a little disappointed to see a few stall holders that I don't consider to be particularly vegan or ethical. I do feel like veganism is big enough these days that you can be picky over who attends the event, but then I'm not an organiser so there may be something I don't know. I had a bit of an argument with a tea and coffee vendor who had non vegan hot chocolate powder on display and simply shrugged his shoulders when politely informed that it was not vegan and he was at a vegan fair. It was eventually removed after we persisted but it shouldn't have been there in the first place. Also, considering the price of tickets, I think it's a bit stingy to charge people for programmes. Luckily I got in free but even stallholders didn't get a free programme and I refused to pay for one.

Back to Mofo '14, I just want to say how much I have enjoyed myself this month. The last few years my blog has been on a bit of a slump. I haven't been motivated to post, I've let life get in the way and haven't given it that much needed push to get it back up and running. I feel that Mofo has brought it back to life a bit and I really want to start blogging again, I've loved every moment of it. I've enjoyed posting, reading others posts and getting involved in the community part of it all.

Obviously there have been some tough times, my theme hasn't been the easiest to keep up with. I think I got to around day 20 when I really started to regret my theme, but I stuck with it and mostly it wasn't too bad. Even on the bad days it was always kind of funny. I am determined to have a theme I'll really enjoy next year though and I'm already working on ideas. I want to be a little more prepared next time. I'm super proud of myself for reaching over 30 posts this month, I only managed 13 last year and failed miserably. Despite telling you all I was going to do it this year, I didn't actually believe that I would! So yay! Go me!

I want to thank everyone who has supported me throughout the month, I can't tell you how much your comments have spurred me on. I've done my best to keep up with favourite blogs and come across new ones but I'm sure I'll still be trawling through the feed list looking for all the amazing things I've missed.

Thanks again, it's been awesome. Bring on next year!

I think the next few months will be low fat, low sugar recipes full of veg and pulses. I've gotten through around 4 pots of Pure soya butter over the last month and I'm missing vegetables. So keep your eyes peeled, I promise I'll come back and post this time!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Vegan Mofo: Dinosaur Cake

I cannot believe it! The final day of Vegan Mofo 2014 is already here! I still cannot believe I managed to stick with this for the entire month. It's been an awesome experience and I finally have some enthusiasm for blogging again but enough going on! I want to present you with my Mofo finale, which comes from this awesome novelty cake book.

I got this book off my Partner, his grandmother used to let him flick through this book as a child and pick out what birthday cake he wanted. Really sweet, right? I figured this was a special enough occasion for me to pick my own cakes. There was a dinosaur, so I went with that obviously.

Dinosaur Cake

  • 2 x vanilla sponge cakes
  • 1 batch of green buttercream
  • 1 pack of vegan mint thins
  • a few toothpicks 
  • chocolate beans/skittles
  • chocolate buttons
  1. Cut one of the cakes in half and cut both halves in a wave like shape to form the legs and stomach.
  2. Cut a third from the other cake. Cut a curved 1 inch wide strip, 3 inches long from the outside edge of the cake for the neck and head. From the large piece of cake, cut out a curved shape to form the chest, reserving the small piece for the tail.
  3. Sandwich the 3 cakes together with butter icing with the chest piece in the middle, place the tail in position.
  4. Attach the head to the body with toothpicks.
  5. Coat the cake in the buttercream, arrange the mint thins along the spine to look like spikes, use the chocolate beans/skittles for eyes and place chocolate buttons for spots.

Are you as confused by these instructions as I was? Maybe then you can understand why my dinosaur didn't exactly look like the one in the book.

I'm not gonna lie, I was a little bit upset that my dinosaur didn't come out looking fantastic. It was really hard to make that stupid head stick on. I think part of the problem is that vegan cakes are deliciously moist, which doesn't make it very easy do craft them into dinosaur shapes with tiny heads. It was also super sad that I used writing icing to make the skittles look like eyes and it just dripped down so it looked like my dinosaur was crying!

So sad. Ah well, I'm still pretty impressed I made a novelty cake.

And with this I bid my fucked up Bizarre and Outdated Cookbooks theme goodbye. There have been some great laughs, surprises, sadness and urges to throw up, but I'm glad I kept going. I found some great recipes along the way and learnt a few valuable lessons on how not to cook certain things. I've also enjoyed making some new friends, discovering new blogs, bookmarking LOADS of recipes and generally just loving the Mofo vibe. It's been great! I can't wait for next year!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Vegan Mofo: Chicken and Grape Curry

As well as Mofo being a big event throughout September, The Great British Bake off is also pretty big this month in the UK. I've already done one of Mary Berry's recipes at the beginning of the month, but I decided to return to this cookbook and try out another.

Testing my boundaries in the fruit/savoury department, I set myself the challenge of veganising the Chicken and Grape Curry. Bleurgh.

Mild Chicken Curry with Cream and Grapes
This has been a favourite of mine for years, and is perfect for a summer dinner party being light and mildly curry flavoured

Well, I'd hope it's going to be mildly curry flavoured Mary, being a curry and all that.

  • 1 pack vegan chick'n pieces
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 300ml water
  • 300ml apple juice or cider*
  • 100g grapes
  • 25g soya butter
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 25g flour
  • 150ml vegan cream
  • salt and pepper
  1. Put the onions and chicken pieces in a pan with the bay leaf, salt and peppercorns. Pour over the water and apple juice, cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes
  2. While this is cooking, slice the grapes in half.
  3. Melt the soya butter in a pan and stir in the curry powder, cook for a few minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Add to the chicken mixture and stir until it begins to thicken. Add the grapes and cook through for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the cream and heat through before serving
Serves 4

Despite burning the chicken when I was simmering it, this tasted pretty good. It dźidn't taste that burnt and I didn't find the grapes offensive so as far as I'm concerned, it's a winner

* The original recipe calls for cider but I don't drink alcohol. Instead I replaced it with some fancy Carey's Apple Juice and I think it did the job.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Vegan Mofo: Tofu Pan Pizza

I couldn't go through Mofo without returning to Tofu Goes West. My last effort from the book, Tofu Waffles was a success, but I wanted to pointlessly put tofu in something else before Mofo was up. Obviously I had a lot of recipes to choose from, as they all seem to include tofu for absolutely no reason at all. I decided to go with the Tofu Pan Pizza because I couldn't bear to think of a Mofo theme that didn't find a way to get one of my favourite foods in there.

Tofu Pan Pizza

  • 450g tofu
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flaxmeal with 6 tbsp water)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Tomato sauce (homemade or from a jar, whatever is easiest. I just fried some garlic, added tinned tomatoes a little maple syrup and stock and cooked it down)
  • Peppers, mushrooms, onion, whatever toppings you want
  • Cheese
  1. Mix the tofu, flax egg, oil and salt in a food processor
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and add the flour and baking powder, stir until a dough is formed.
  3. Spread the dough on an oiled pizza pan, pie dish etc.
  4. Spoon on your pizza sauce. Place your toppings onto the base. Finish off with some vegan cheese and then bake in a 180 degree oven for 30 minutes
Serves 4

 This pizza was great, maybe not because tofu was included but because anything tastes great when you slap pizza sauce on top of it, with faux meats and cheeses. It was more like a pizza pie though, which I liked. I guess it's a good option if you can't be bothered making a proper pizza base, it was really easy to put it together, but I can't see this being a regular for me. It was great to have a meal I really enjoyed, yay for pizza!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Vegan Mofo: Caturday and Sour Cream Apple Pie

Welcome to the final Caturday of Vegan Mofo 2014. I wanted to make this a really lovely post with more stories of Aidah but after a visit to the vet this week and some bad news, it's been stressful and upsetting and I'm finding it too hard to write about.Without going into details, she is going to be okay.

I have made something from a cat related book that has already appeared in Mofo, the Garfield Cookbook. When I saw a recipe for a Sour Cream Apple Pie I just couldn't say no.

Sour Cream Apple Pie
  • 1 pie crust
  • 1 cups cooking apples, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tub tofutti sour cream
  • 1/4 cup soya yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
for the topping:
  • 1/4 cup soya butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C and put the pie crust into your pie dish. Top with the chopped apples
  2. In a large bowl mix together the sugar, flour, salt, sour cream, yogurt and vanilla. Pour over the apple mixture. Pop into the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven to 180C and continue to bake for a further 30 minutes.
  3. While it's baking mix the topping ingredients together.
  4. Remove the pie from the oven, cover with the topping and bake for a final 10 minutes until golden.

Ahhh this was amazing. It was like apple pie but the sour cream and crumble topping made it even better. I want to make this again and again. I'm sure if Aidah ate desserts she'd approve.

I'll finish off with a photo of Aidah, happy caturday

Friday, 26 September 2014

Vegan Mofo: Bacon and Apricot Casserole

I started Mofo with one of my favourite outdated cookbooks, Cooking with Colmans where I recreated the Ham and Mustard Moulds. I had to come back to this book, especially as those Ham and Mustard Moulds have been one of my most popular posts throughout Mofo.

There was a lot to choose from in this book. Who knew you could add mustard to so many things? I decided to choose a recipe that would push my boundaries a bit (because clearly I've not been doing enough of that recently...) so it may seem fairly 'normal' to some of you, but to me was a challenge. I went for the Bacon and Apricot Casserole. I hate fruit in savoury things. Honestly the worst thing you can put in front of me is couscous with raisins in it. Jesus, why would you do that? But anyway, let's give those apricots a chance, eh?

Bacon and Apricot Casserole
A tasty filling, winter or summer casserole

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 Fry's slicing sausage, chopped
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • sprinkling of mixed herbs
  • 100g dried apricots, sliced.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and sausage for about 5 minutes until browned.
  3. Stir in the flour and stock, stirring until thickened.
  4. Add the mustard, mixed herbs and apricots. Transfer to a casserole dish and cook for 30-45 minutes
Serves 4

Maybe my experiences of casserole are different to everyone elses, but is there such thing as a summer casserole? I associate casseroles with cold nights, rain pattering on our windows and me feeling really smug as I spoon my warm, comforting casserole into my gob. Am I right?

That aside, I was pleasantly surprised by this dish. I cannot believe I tolerated the apricots in this, it was strangely sweet but it was tasty too. Also I love that the mustard didn't ruin this like it did with the moulds! Thanks Colman's!

Speaking of challenging myself, I had to stop myself from trying to jump through my computer screen when I saw these Cloud 9 Pancakes over at Vegan Heritage Press and these uhhmazing Meatballs with Gravy by Tofu Mom

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Vegan Mofo: Popcorn Mice

I picked up a few outdated novelty cake recipe books during my Mofo research. I love these, they're some of my favourites. They don't include fancy piping or fondant work but the recipes use different ingredients in an imaginative way to create impressive masterpieces. In some ways I think this is more impressive than the decorating skills most commonly used today which is why I felt a bit intimidated by these books. I can pipe buttercream on cupcakes and it looks great but that's all I know.

I thought I'd get started on Sainsbury's Novelty Cakes and other Novelty Food. There were some terrifying cakes in this book. I didn't feel up to making a gingerbread house or to build a jack-in-a-box out of sponge. I did see something cute and simple that I was eager to try though

Popcorn Mice

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 50g popping corn
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp rice syrup/golden syrup (I originally used Sweet Freedom but don't think it was thick enough, more on that later)
  • 50g marzipan
  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the corn, cover and cook gently until the corn has stopped popping. Put aside in a bowl.
  2. Mix together the coconut and sesame seeds
  3. Place the syrup in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the head and add the popcorn and half of the coconut mixture
  4. Take a tablespoon of the mixture and press firmly into a body shape with a pointed head, then toss in the remaining coconut mixture. Repeat to make 15 mice.
  5. Press out 30 ears, mould 30 eyes, 15 tails and 15 noses. Press in position.
Makes 15 mice

It all sounds so easy doesn't it? I don't know if the sweet freedom fruit syrup I originally used was too thin but damn, that popcorn was just not sticking in place. It was so infuriating. If I was doing this with a child (as is clearly intended) I would have set my entire kitchen on fire. In the end I put some of the mixture in the fridge to chill it down and then squeezed loads of rice syrup over the rest and then desperately tried to make them stick together.

I made 4 and gave up. I moved on to the marzipan ears, noses, eyes and tails. This was so tedious. So boring! At this point my back was starting to ache, I was stressed and fed up. The effort was not worth it.

I finished the four mice though and put the rest of the mixture in a bowl to eat later. The mixture tasted awesome, like proper toffee popcorn. Something I've not really had since going vegan. I'll probably make the mix again but there's no way I'm crafting mice out of it!

 Awww....they are quite cute though....

Check out these yummy looking Savoury Grits from Vegan Gourmet Caravan and these Pumpkin Waffles with Rum Butter over at Easy Vegan. They both look so good and are bookmarked in my recipes folder ready for post Mofo cooking!