Puppy farms and pig farms equal?

I know it’s Mofo but whilst perusing the local metro newspaper on my journey home a couple of stories stood out to me.  So I thought I’d share…

The first being a statement by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a man known for his rather daring palate when it comes to food, including things such as curried fruit bat in the past.  In a recent interview with the Radio Times he declared: ‘In principle but not in practice, I have no objection to a high welfare organic puppy farm.  You can’t object , unless you also object to the farming of pigs.  It’s an artificial construct of our society, a cultural decision, to make pets out of dogs and meat out of pigs.’

My opinion of this man has just increased, he points out the absurdity of placing one animal above the other.  Just because one species is cute (most of the time) and outwardly affectionate (again, most of the time) doesn’t mean that other species are less deserving of our regard.

I’m aware that this is my take on his comments and am sure that although he has undertaken 5 months as a vegetarian and is actively fighting for better farming methods of both fish and chickens he may possibly return to eating meat.  I think its great that it has started a debate within the mainstream media to get people thinking.

I couldn’t find a link to the metro article so here’s one to the guardian instead:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/8818975/Hugh-Fearnley-Whittingstall-eating-puppy-meat-is-no-worse-than-pork.html#disqus_thread

The second story was only a short one but rather disheartening.  It was that of a young boy aged 11 who had been given a few pigs to raise.  His parents were worried he’d become to attached so told him not to name them but he had already come up with names by himself: iPhone, iPad and other goods he planned to buy when they were sold for meat.  I found it a little sad that he was able to detach so easily from the animals and see them only as a monetary outcome.

That’s the news round up for today.  What are your thoughts on these stories?

Babycakes

I’ve been beyond excited to whip up some of the fabulous looking treats from babycakes since I picked up the  book a few months ago.

The book itself is wonderfully inspiring with glorious pictures and anecdotes from celebrity customers.  A wide variety of ideas for vegan, mostly gluten-free and mostly sugar-free recipes.

It gives three simple rules for baking when using the book:

  1. Read the recipe all the way through
  2. Identify and prepare all necessary ingredients
  3. Be precise. Follow directions as closely as possible.

We choose to try the meyer lemon and cherry cupcakes and the first thing I noticed was the vast amount of agave required, 400ml! That’ll make up for the lack of sugar then 🙂

Acquiring the ingredients required for the recipe we choose was something of a feat in itself, and a relatively pricey one at that, particularly the soy milk powder required for the icing at nearly £10!  I don’t know if it’s just because we’re on the other side of the pond or if these items are obscure in general but the local health food shop even had to order some things in for us.

They were also out of coconut oil when we went in and me being an eager beaver decided to ask my old pal google for alternatives (rule two broken!)  It said that butter would substitute so we went ahead with what we had (and rule three broken – eek.)

I wish we had waited as the result looked and smelled delicious but ended up being a tad dry, I wonder if the oil would have improved the texture.  Also as the icing also required coconut oil we had to hold off making that as well, which would have definitely added another element to the overall taste.

So as the old adage goes ‘fools rush in!’

I’ll do an update when they’re topped with icing – Coconut oil is being procured as I type 🙂

(I’m aware that I said this would be posted yesterday – I had a temporal time lapse occur in which I fell asleep at the same time as my children – bad times when you have work coming out of your ears and the evening when you have the peace to do it! Ah well catch up day it is 🙂 )

A Vegan challenge and an English breakfast

Another day has bypassed so quickly without the chance to fit in everything I wanted to do. Baking was once again pushed to the back-burner, postponed until tomorrow when my husband and two year old are going to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to the ‘Meyer Lemon and Black Cherry Cupcakes’ from the Babycakes recipe book. Can’t wait to try them although I have to admit I’m a little sad I won’t be able to join in the fun.

Full review will be up tomorrow, it will, it WILL! 🙂

In other news we’re preparing the meal plans for the next week as Mr Omnivore himself (my hubbie) has signed up to do a 30 day vegan challenge! I was more than a little shocked when he told me.  He has admitted to being rather trepidatious about the change but he’s fabulous in the kitchen so I’m eager to see what he comes up with over the next month.

He’s already thinking about making a good old english breakfast when we have friends over to stay soon.

English breakfast

Simple tofu scramble – Fry together in small amount of oil: scrambled firm tofu, small chopped onion, 1 tsp each of cumin, dried parsley, turmeric, paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2 pieces fake bacon

Beans

Tomato

Toast with vegan butter

Another healthy recipe from me hey!?  I think next week I’ll have to concentrate on my normal day to day savoury meals to balance out all the sugary ingredients I’ve been sharing this week!

Strawberry and Peach Crumble

The peaches were near the end of their reign on top of the fruit bowl and half a punnet of strawberries remained in the fridge. There was only one thing to do…concoct a crumble!

It’s a great simple, but messy, recipe to get the kids involved with. My four year helped to chop up the fruit, create the crumble and construct it all beautifully in its little dish.

Ingredients

Filling:

3 fresh peaches

100g strawberries

2tbsp fruit syrup (or other sweetener)

1 vanilla pod

1tsp cinnamon

3tbsp water

Crumble mix:

100g/4oz Flour

50g/2oz Vitalite margarine

50g/2oz Sugar

What to do:

Chop fruit and place in ceramic dish.

Rub sifted flour and butter together until it becomes like breadcrumbs then stir in the sugar.

Mix the syrup and vanilla together then add to the fruit and stir together.

Add the water to the bowl used for the syrup to help bring any excess into the dish and pour over the fruit.

Top with the crumble.

Cook for 25-30 mins at 180˚C. Serve with vegan cream.

Soooo good!!!!

It’s best eaten on the day it’s made but that didn’t stop us eating the slightly soggier leftover version the next day 🙂

Quick vegan lunch ideas

The past few days have flown by in a whir of work, appointments and my gorgeous but tiring kiddiewinks. At times like this I have my go to quick fixes, with peanut butter and jam sandwiches currently being at the top of my list of lunchtime ‘meals’ that take 10 seconds or less.  This is closely followed by the old classic beans on toast (although 10 seconds might be a tad optimistic its still super quick).

Here are my top 5 quick lunches:

  1. Peanut butter and jam (no 1 for sheer speed!)
  2. Baked beans on toast
  3. Houmous and salad on pitta
  4. Sun-dried tomato and soya bean baguette (recipe posted last week)
  5. Noodles with frozen veg and vegan bouillion (takes 5 minutes to cook and finito!)

When in doubt of vegan sandwich fillers I always find that pickles pack a punch (whether that be beetroot, pickled onions or a pre-mixed pickle sauce) along with salad and a base like houmous, vegan cheese or veggies.

They’re not going to win masterchef that’s for sure but when you’re in a rush and you need something fast my fall-back menu saves the day every time. With a sandwich, a handful of dried fruit, a soya yogurt and an apple in my bag, I’m out the door in no time.

I’ll have to post my more leisurely lunches another day 🙂

This weekend will see me writing about my most cherished kind of cooking again – desserts! I’ll be reviewing a few things from ‘Baby Cakes’ NYC bakery cook book and sharing my own peach and strawberry crumble recipe.

What are your favourite quick lunch ideas? Hope you all have a great weekend!

The best vegan cheesecake ever!

Success!!!

Oh my gosh this has turned out to truly be the best vegan cheesecake ever (well maybe not ever but its pretty darn good :))

My two boys devoured their pieces in an instant and quickly asked for more. My youngest is two and has a habit of being quite the fussy eater, so this is a triumph!

Even my reluctant husband tentatively took his first bite before declaring it tasted exactly like the lime and mascarpone torte I used to make in my pre-vegan days.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

Base:

200g Ginger nut biscuits

50g Vitalite (or other vegan butter) – melted

Filling:

225g Tofutti Creamy Smooth Original

175g Silken Tofu

1 large lemon (zest and juice)

1 lime (zest and juice)

3 tbsp agave nectar

1/2 tsp almond essence

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1 flat tsp xanthum gum

Crush the biscuits and stir in the melted butter before arranging it in a cake tin and patting into a firm base. Place it in the fridge for around 10 minutes.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  Spoon the mixture over the base and level it out.

Decorate with grated dark vegan chocolate (I used divine 70% chocolate orange and ginger) and a dusting of icing sugar.

Leave to chill for as long as desired – ours was left for nearly a day and was blissful – but I’m sure it would have that same effect after an hour or so.

If you give it a go be sure to leave a comment and let me know how it goes!

Happy eating 😀

Four kinds of flour and a whole lot of lime

Inventions were happening in the kitchen earlier today.  A drop of vanilla, silken tofu, a few squeezes of lime and a generous sprinkling of ginger and orange chocolate were part of the compilation of ingredients in the yet to be sampled…..

…cheesecake (you guessed it, I’m obsessed, a woman on a mission to find the perfect vegan cheesecake – let’s see if it can by done by the end of vegan mofo! A tall order perhaps!)

It looks pretty good but is currently setting in the fridge ready for our family pudding tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes. My four year old was quite happy licking the spoon after the mixing process so we’ll see! 🙂

When not in the midst of concocting new tastes I popped out to get a haul from my lovely local health food shop in preparation for a few book reviews I have lined up.

How many kinds of floury substance can one person buy in a day – that’s not even including the soy milk powder I ordered in! Can’t wait to get going and see how the experts recipes fair in my hands :s

Raspberry yogurt and fruit sprinkles

So I have an effortless little dainty dish for you today:

Grab yourself some…

Vegan yogurt (approx 150g – I used alpro soya)

Tinned raspberries in juice

3 Dried apricots – diced into small pieces

25g Raisins

Vegan sweetener (sweet freedom, agave nectar etc)

Optional – cocoa powder

And..

  1. Mix the yogurt with 1-2tbsp of the raspberry juice (depending on the consistency of your dessert)
  2. Add a squirt of sweetener to taste and stir.
  3. Serve into dishes (this should make enough for 2-3 people)
  4. Add a tbsp of raspberries to each dish, sprinkle on some apricots and raisins.
  5. Swirl the syrup on top and add a dusting of cocoa.

Yummy!!

Sundried tomato and soya bean sandwich

This sandwich was created in a ‘supermarket sweep’ style frantic moment. After realising there was nothing in the prepacked section for little old me when stocking up for a spur of the moment family picnic I came up with this:

Grab yourself a baguette, add a light layer of vitalite (or other vegan margarine), a dollop or two of tomato pickle/relish, a handful of mixed salad, 5-6 sun-dried tomatoes and sprinkle a healthy amount of dried soya beans over the top. Chop in half and devour!

It was so good I remade again the very next day 🙂

She can be taught… Cordon Vert’s Vegan Toolkit

I kicked off my Vegan Mofo (month of food – blog event) with a bang by spending the day on a vegan toolkit course at the Vegetarian Society’s Cordon Vert cookery school in Altrincham.

As a relative newbie to the diet and lifestyle and a lover of cheesecake I was very excited, and perhaps a little dubious, at the prospect of learning how to veganise my favourite pud!

The morning was spent producing various savoury and sweet delights in pairs before moving on to individual creations in the afternoon.  Between us we whipped up a fabulous buffet including such delicacies as vegan paella (yummy), sweet and sour tofu, quiche, tofu meatballs (soo good!), cannelloni (amazing – the cashew ‘ricotta’ was incredible!) and eggless omelettes.

Numerous desserts complimented the mains my baked chocolate cheesecake was sublime, so rich and no tofu! The filling was a mix of soya yoghurt, melted chocolate, sugar and coffee and miraculously it became firm! Muffins, cupcakes and brownies rounded up the day.

After all our hard work we enjoyed the glorious autumnal summer weather and ate a late lunch in the school’s beautiful gardens.

Met some wonderful people (that’s me at the front on the right) and learned some great new skills I’d definitely recommend the course to anyone thinking of giving it a go.  Not only that but we got to take doggy bags home, something which I took full advantage of…. 😀