Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Quince Jelly What I learned about making quince jelly- a) you need a decent number of them! Around 20 quinces, many of them quite small, made enough to amount to one jar! The fruit is very tough, much like cutting into butternut squash, and there was a small white case area around the pips which was tough and took up a lot of the fruit.. and b) it's so true that you don't have to add pectin. I couldn't resist adding the tiniest bit of powder thinking it would increase the chance of success, but actually the result is verging on solid! Here is the end result: two jars of jelly (spattered into the jars... always in a hurry, when I was jam making I was supposed to be on my way to the other side of London!- and two of marmalade). The scent of the fruit, as it neared the end of cooking time was heaven, such a luxurious, unique perfume! I have to say, sentimental as it is, that it took me straight back to my Grandmother's kitchen, nudging thirty years ago. Only on scent scores though, as that jelly was clear, and just set.The scent also confirmed for me that they really were quinces (I'd had my doubts, as they were more appley in appearance, and not the yellow-gold pear shaped types). On the plus side, it yielded two jars of marmalade. Lovely mixed into plain soya yogurt. The recipe I used was from here . Found the original recipe and the blog with pictures really helpful. I used the butter muslin cloths and seive method. So... no presents for neighbours and family as hoped! But, lots of lessons learned. And I WILL try again next year! Bread Have made more since attempt one, and found the right balance... half strong white bread flour, half wholewheat spelt, with a handful of sesame seeds and a handful of linseed mixed in, plus poppy seeds to coat...

Discovered yesterday that Waitrose's individual blackberry and apple pies are vegan. I think the large versions are too : )

So a yummy Autumny pudding was had. R only wanted the smooth custard though, but three out of four aint bad.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Treats, treats, treats (London Vegan Festival)

Doing a wholly inadequate quick overview of my trip to London Vegan Festival today...(I was lucky enough to go thanks to one wonderful friend who looked this up and suggested I go and she'd have the boys..)

Did some chocolate tasting- tried the rose petal one, as remember trying the chilli last year.... their own description says it all; the outer shell's texture will contrast beautifully with the smooth texture of the inner truffle'. This is dream chocolate, and a velvety delicious dream! It is also gift type chocolate though, so didn't buy any but will, however, make sure I keep the website at hand!

Tasted a couple of wines too- and bought a bottle of sauvignon blanc for afore-mentioned friend.

It was great to see the company who make Sheese. They do a blue cheese version of the hard vegan cheese now, which is really nice. I remember liking blue cheese in pasta sauces when I ate dairy, so I'll definitely be getting this sometime. I got a list of stockists from the lovely people running the stall, but it can also be bought at 'Goodness Direct'.
They were also offering samples of the cream cheese- dolloped on a biscuit (digestive or rich tea) with some jam- yum- instant 'cheese'cake!

As ever, there was a great atmosphere; I stopped long enough for a zingy chick pea salad for lunch and got to chat with some lovely people from Manchester who own this cafe.
Apparantly, it's vegetarian with many vegan options, they serve up bangers and mash and all-day breakfasts. Hmm, haven't yet been to Manchester- it must be time to go!

Picked up some fab Winter boots (I walk everywhere so comfort and warmth for the winter ahead were on my mind!). However, I managed to come home with two right foot boots! Ooops! I've emailed Vegan Store, I'm sure we'll be able to sort it!

First day back at preschool tomorrow for the boys. I am not looking forward to it as I don't have work to distract me, I start back next Monday. I have some fruit and nut bars baking in the oven from 'Vegan Lunchbox'. Having a go at making cereal bars. R doesn't like raisins or sultanas and it seems 99% of shop-bought ones have those in! Will report back if they go down well...

Monday, 31 August 2009

Completely vegan

VIVA's school speaker training day was a friendly day, bursting with information and meeting others doing the course who were veggie/vegan. I hadn't realised it would be led by Juliet Gellatley, VIVA's founder; am in total admiration of her and all she has done and is doing!
The day was split really into four main areas from which to talk around- Health and Nutrition, Animal Welfare, Environment, and Feeding the world. It also included an example of a cooking demo to include in the talk, showing a video (which we would play when giving the talk) and a very gorgeous buffet lunch with amazingly creative sandwich fillings!

It was a real pleasure to feel in the majority in terms of diet!

I came away from the jam packed day of information with a folder full of information and literature to match it which I'm currently devouring...

So I think by the time I've assimilated that, plus with some strong preparation.. I think I could give a school talk a really good bash. Isn't it always easier give talks on areas that ignite real passion? So, the main objective of the course is complete... the way it works is that sometime in the next weeks or months I should receive a phone call from VIVA giving me details of a teacher, leading to giving a talk to GCSE or possibly A-level students as part of Food Technology lessons or something similar.

On a personal level... from that day I am a proper fully fledged Vegan! That did it for me- got all the reasoning, I think the motivation for that last push had been lying dormant. I bought a small bar of DIVINE dark chocolate on the way home to celebrate! Seriously though, it feels GREAT!

Haven't got any pictures today. Think M must've taken the camera to Argentina. Never mind, the pea souflettes I made were lovely, but tasted much more gorgeous than they looked!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Greens are great! Today at least.

Isn't it amazing when toddlers embrace a food unexpectedly! I shouldn't even be writing this, it'll probably jinx it but they have just devoured spinach within tofu basil ricotta with wholemeal pasta spirals. It's like taking a mild anxiolytic (I imagine!!), the effect it has on me, when they are going through a good eating moment, or phase!

Have been stocking up on portable snacks (dried crisp bread, peanut butter, nut and seed bars, divine dark chocolate and soya milk) for M who's off to Argentina for a week on Sunday- someone described Argentina to me today in an email as 'land of steaks', sounds like it could be similar to Spain...

Before he jets off, I'm in London tomorrow to do VIVA's course on being a school speaker. Something I booked when the end of August seemed ages away; looking forward to it, hope I can cut it!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

catching up

Been meaning to blog; the boys go to sleep late into the eve these days which means its close to midnight quite often by the time I hit the sack after clearing up from the day. After tonight, the plan is to go to sleep soon after the boys, then start the days early...I love the early mornings though, waking up slowly, the peace.. and coffee..

I made bread from afore- mentioned superb bread book! It was an all-round baking day yesterday which entailed baking on a spectrum of quality! First, the boys had excitedly picked out one of those cake boxes you get in the supermarket- where it all comes in bags- and you are meant to add egg, mix everything, bake and ice. I couldn't say no and they excitedly made these 'Thomas the tank engine' cakes. Unfortunately it wasn't possible to veganise them completely; the mix already contained milk powder. However I did get the opportunity to use egg replacer (appropriately named 'no egg' by Organ) which I've had in the cupboard for a while. It worked very well. The boys made these cakes before at their friends house, and they looked identical. They clearly tasted as good too judging by the speed they were enjoyed! However, the sugar paper and sprinkly bits that came with them for topping kept them awake for even longer than usual.....

Making the bread took a few hours in all, not too much preparation time but lots of leaving, rising and proving. For some reason I harboured a misguided notion that the result would be a superb crusty loaf of the appearance you see in little bakery no. It is nice bread, very wholesome tasting, very filling. I took a picture of it this morning when M was cutting it to make a sandwich- into very thin slices because that is the only way to eat it! I slipped in some ground walnuts and golden linseed for the omegas, and coated it in sesame seeds. I really recommend the aforementioned book- it really lays the instructions clear, giving you the confidence that you can do it, and encourages you to customise it to your taste.

I did make some vanilla cupcakes on Saturday for a special gathering in Beckenham, topped with chocolate buttercream frosting, from VCTOTW. First time I experimented with piping- it was delicious frosting, and held it's shape.

Vegan holidaying

Its been a lovely Summer so far, with more wedding celebrations- my cousin J's wedding up in North Yorkshire- a gorgeous celebration in all ways- and then down to Seaford, my hometown, where we went to an evening wedding celebration of a lovely friend from school. In Seaford, we spent one night in a B&B- The Silverdale- which has a vegan breakfast menu. Very nice vegan cooked breakfast, as well as a variety of nuts and seeds on a counter, cereals, soya milk, and R was delighted to spot his favourite vanilla soya yogurt. Very friendly and relaxed place where we had all had the best night's sleep in an age, with the boys falling asleep to children's videos we found in the room. We were lucky that Summer was around during our visit, and we went along to Eastbourne, Cuckmere Haven, and Seaford beach where the boys never tire of the space, collecting stones and shells in buckets and throwing stones into the sea.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Potty about herbs

Now a few ailments and fevers are behind us...(partly swine flu? Don't know, would be good to think the boys might have it behind them though!) R and L's appetites are larger again this week so far.. which feels great!
Today was a simple dinner- blanched about 7 tomatoes and made a fresh sauce with them, adding the mixture to sauted garlic, a tin of butter beans and a couple of tablespoons of tomato puree. Other veggies could also have easily been blended in of course but we are doing quite well on the fruit and veggie front so far this week so didn't add more but put in a tablesoon of ground golden linseed. And fresh coriander from the window sill... a birthday present from a friend was 3 herb plants.. lovely and thoughtful as they were, yet also potted in these gorgeous green, spotty tubs! Lemon thyme, coriander and parsley. Perfect antidote to slugs eating the coriander we attempted to grow! And I'm so lucky to have the above view from the sink now.

Also, hollyhocks are out in the garden; love them. Have inherited this wonderful garden, and with it the original owner's great taste!

Friday, 3 July 2009

sticky weather; gooey cake

Crazily decided to stay up late last night to make myself a birthday cake; silly idea really when sleep shortage abounds here since poor Rohan has been contending with a cough for the last few days, and a temperature for the last three. Sitting up, when everyone else had gone to bed, at 12.30am, it really dawned on me- self inflicted sleep reduction really isn't sensible. Rohan awoke at 4.00am, suddenly full of energy and a raging thirst for juice, and a desire to watch 'Fifi and the flowerpots', the library dvd. I woke again at six to day one of the cycle arriving, in quite a grump!
However, there was cake! (recipe from La Dolce Vegan). Very delicious, velvety chocolatey, took ages to bake though only because I sleepily thought it would be okay to put it in one 8 inch tin, instead of divide it by two. Sigh.

Had a lovely day with my parents and one brother visiting; quite sedate though with Rohan being under the weather. Hopefully he will feel up going out somewhere nice tomorrow. Feeling warmed by lovely cards and wishes...and we are in the midst of a heatwave so the paddling pool has been out and lots of smoothies made, with mangoes and strawberries dominating them.

... just to mention a couple of books, I got a book on bread from the boys- it looks really good; covers all aspects of breadmaking, hand baking as well as by machine. It'll be good to experiment as wonder about getting a bread machine at some point.

And some books the boys are currently are enjoying:
Patrick paints a picture- got this from the library; both boys were really taken with it- introduces colour mixing really well integrated into a sweet little narrative.
Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel- saw this in Waterstones, when Luca and I went out one saturday on our own. (Trying to squeeze in some time with the boys individually- this was fantastic in the bookshop setting- impossible when they are together!) We bought it soon after- both boys love all things diggers and this story has lots to say- on people, and must have had a 'green' message long before it got fashionable.

Sorry this is getting really bitty now, but have to mention- we had the unusual opportunity of an evening out last weekend- the boys went to stay with their twin friends for the night, we headed to Tibits in town,and ate scrumptiously well. It's vegetarian but caters very well for vegans- with many dishes being vegan, and one desert. It's unique, the restaurant, it's a very nice setting which has quite an upmarket restaurant feel, really nicely decorated, but with an informal style- you get a plate and weigh it, same with a bowl for desert.

We had a tab and paid at the end. I don't know if it's to do with eating out being such a treat, or passion for gorgeous vegan food, or both, but I piled my plate high! Mit laughed- I helped myself to twice as much as him, however, it all went! The vegan pudding option was chocolate and coconut cream- delicious!

Walked from Oxford Street to Victoria on that balmy eve, taking in a variety of atmospheres from a look around Hamleys, to Methodist Central Hall, not before St Martin's in the Field's church where Michael Jackson tributes were being written... some had actually penned messages on the wall but the police had been called in, so everyone was leaving written messages taped on paper instead. To pick one; 'Sorry your childhood was hard... but you made mine'. The controversies were there- who knows what really happened. But seems to me Michael had masses of compassion, as well as huge talent.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

My weekend in Switzerland's now becoming more of a beautiful memory rather than feeling like something recent that actually happened! It's hard to encapsulate, but it was good to the point of being almost spiritual- a very special occasion (a special cousin's wedding) , a beautiful place- close to Thun by the lake, bordered by mountains and the warmest weather of the season so far, at 30 degrees plus. I stayed with family too, who I don't see so often because of the geography of it, and I absolutely adore them all.
Posting a handful of pictures from the wedding day, it was beautiful.

It was my second night away from the boys, and for that reason, as much as I'd been looking forward to the weekend, I was also anxious- it was such a wrench to board a plane and go off. But it's not as though we were both going away overnight/abroad, still feel they are a bit young for that. In the end though, the boys had been asking me 'mummy, when are you going on a plane?' because I'd said we'd get them a Thomas book from the series around the time I went. Shameless bribery? Yes. But also extra things to occupy them for the weekend! The boys were fine though, of course, and they all came to Gatwick to meet me; exhilirating to see them again!

Vegetarian/vegan swiss experience
I ate so, so well! Aside from the gorgeous wedding banquet (partly vegan, partly veggie) the swiss really know how to do salad. I'm not big on it usually, but in Switzerland there seems to be a knack of how to flavour food.. at Zurich airport, there was a restaurant with an amazing salad bar. Then round for dinner at my Aunt's, amongst other things a gorgeous potato salad. I need to get the recipe! I think though that a lot of the potato dressings include horseradish sauce, which isn't vegan because it has egg in it....

I had an attempt to recreate it back home without horseradish sauce, using mustard, rice vinegar, olive oil and fresh chives. It was good, but... I need to get a recipe!!

On the chocolate front... I must confess, I was very much almost vegan. I couldn't resist milk chocolate in Switzerland. I bought some chocolate from Bern for the boys, boxed with a picture of the bear symbol of the city, which me and my brother had been given as presents as children! There is a delicious brand called 'frey', who also do dark chocolate. I bought some but when checked the ingredients noticed that it had some milk content. Choosing chocolates to take back to Rohan and Luca's preschool proved tricky because I couldn't find one brand that didn't containt nuts (hazlenuts). So tricky with nut allergies, although a cousin with children said that nut allergies are common there too, so you obviously have to know where you're looking and go to specialist shops.

Cant' believe Switzerland was a month ago... the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. And this last one, Mit's been in San Francisco for a week with work. We are so looking forward to having him back tomorrow... has felt far away....tonight's been a funny one, as our online Sainsburys' order didn't arrive, after it had already been rearranged to this evening... I've had to grapple with my sense of perspective because I could have cried when I realised we can't get it til friday! We have a £20 voucher as compensation, however this does not give much cheer to hungry Marly, who's dinner (and breakfast for the morning) was meant to be in the delivery... happily, our newish neighbours are cat owners (and LOVELY!) and gave me some supplies until I can get to the shops after the preschool journey in the morning. Luckily, we have soya milk and basics for us.

Today we got some 'welcome home' flowers for daddy:

And this flower opened up this morning.. treasured friends gave the plant as a housewarming gift last year, purple clematis...looks painted to me, sitting there, almost too beautiful to be true!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

tart time

I want to report back on Switzerland... I'll do that soon....I just need a little more time than I have this eve.. no clothes to wear for anyone so must iron and maybe a few mins on the exercise bike to counteract today's indulgence:

Bakewell Tart from 'Another dinner is possible'. This was divine! When out and about I haven't always been able to resist these... and Morelli's in Broadstairs (went back for the day recently) do a very nice home made type one which just goes so nicely with coffee I think!
Got up early to make the pastry for this, but it was straightforward. The only thing I might do differently next time is to add a few more almonds above the jam (the almonds are all ground and mixed in the pastry in this recipe). The boys layered and iced some a smaller one each and we had such a lovely 'cafe in the garden' moment tasting them after some gardening!

Having mixed results with our planting efforts. The boys had a potato bag each... one bag is doing fabulously... the other nothing, but I think that that was down to some over-zealous attention! We have another pot which has since been adopted..

The coriander grew about 3cm and was looking great. Then one morning, the leaves had gone! The same thing happened with both troughs. I'm not sure what happened there... I think it might have been Marly nibbling it, or squirrels....

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

bitter sweet

At the boys' pre-school, parents usually bring in cakes or sweets for all the children on birthdays. Haribo seem to be really popular and they were all kindly given a bag to take home from one of the parents today, but the teacher (they are so good at observing dietary considerations) didn't give the boys any because of the gelatin content. The boys haven't been that interested in sweets really, (more chocolate orientated) but they wanted some today, so temporarily felt a bit bad that they went without, but I'd actually bought them some chocolate buttons today so they were happy with those.

The sweet scenario will be recitified for the future thanks to these from Vegan Store. I've ordered a supply so the school can keep some in for similar occasions...

It's too early to explain much about certain things but I had the following conversation with Luca:

'can we get some of those red sweets?'
'We'll get some sweets, but not those ones because they've got animal bones in and we don't eat those'
'But mummy, I like animal bones'. (Of course he will like the idea, presented in that packaging!)

Foodwise now, there are so many vegan and vegetarian alternatives for popular foods, thankfully. I don't want the boys to feel like their missing out (it'll only make them want to find out more) but I don't want to compromise our personal ethics either.

Monday, 18 May 2009

food bits and something beautiful

At work, I went to get my black coffee from the refectory and saw a banner up for 'National Vegetarian Week', and accompanying leaflets. So ironic, because the hall was filled with the smell of wafting cooked chicken. Even more so, I've never noticed that smell there before.... shame! When I'm there tomorrow I'll ask what's happening to celebrate the week. Normally, there are usually good vegetarian options including one vegan one.

Recent food bits:

Tofu lasagne from 'How to be dairy free', fantastic recipe booklet. This lasagne is nice because the flavours taste lovely and rich and it's very Italian style with passata sauce.

Made a soya bean and sweetcorn salad (Post Punk Kitchen) which I loved but that Mit thought was ok, maybe a little heavy. I didn't have rice vinegar (which would have made it 'lighter', only balsamic so that was probably the heaviness).

Have you come across
'B never too busy to be beautiful'? (Well, I am, most of the time to even try!) BUT, this company is just a treasure chest of sumptuousness! Beautiful, cruelty free products in gorgeous, fair trade containers. I made a special trip one lovely saturday afternoon a year or so ago to Carnaby Street, London when they had a shop there.(They've closed that one, I think, and moved it to Oxford Street now, and there's also a shop in Covent Garden). The shops have everything so beautifully arranged. I was looking to buy some eye and lip make up for a wedding. The sales people were really helpful and incredibly glamorous- I had been blown in in the wind and rain, no make up and messy, and one of the girls offered to help me choose a lip colour. She rescued me really, as I'd just caught sight of my washed out face in the mirror, trying to apply the dark red lip gloss without a brush... yikes! It looked like I'd just polished off a sizeable jam doughnut! I felt decidely unglamorous. But I came away with eye glitter and lip gloss that were really pretty. And I've just received a new one in the post via online order in time for the wedding this weekend: )

Probably won't blog again until next week when back from so excited about the wedding and seeing family. It'll be my first trip back, though, since ditching dairy which will be an interesting position to be in in Switzerland. I've got some soya milk packed and will take snacks. I always used to love the cheese and yogurts, so it'll be interesting. Maybe I can find out more about dairy farming when I am there. My impression is that it's much more small-scale and localised, and I always saw cows roaming freely on green hillsides. I bet it's a million miles better than the UK. Also, chocolate... I'll have a good scout around, if there's the chance, for dark...

Friday, 15 May 2009

If coffee doesn't work... just veg out

Coffee and cake- it doesn't matter what time of day, it's never too late for an espresso... but I knew I had to abandon the plans for today I had when even consuming a cup of this, I just wanted to put my head on the table and sleep! We only made it to Tesco to get some glue so the boys could have a sticking session- they love making collages- of anything and everything really, just random pictures cut out of magazines. Rohan's approach to carrot cake today was just to deftly nibble the icing and ignore the rest.. damn. The sneaky carrot and apple, and ground linseesd- all abandoned. But the advantage of having twins when it comes to food is that most of the time, ONE of them will gobble up your efforts with enthusiam...

I think that planning and worrying about your child's diet is relevant to all diets- and depending on what phases and habits the little people are going through... I worry a little about iron from time to time, just because the boys don't eat many leafy greens, just small amounts mixed in other things... so made some apple purees lately with dried apricot (boiled for a couple of mins). When I have doubts or worries I just glance at my Veggie Vitamins wallchart, it's a great quick reference to tell you which foods provide what, and it usually serves to reassure me, because I forget the exact nutrient content of foods we use regularly. Luca asked me what dates were in the supermarket the other day; so we bought some and he really likes them. That surprised me, would never have guessed that! We haven't won Rohan over to them yet... I'm not keen myself I have to admit! How crazy was I to take any delight in shedding a couple of lbs- shortlived. When you are sick, it's almost impossible to envisage enjoying food again... but a week on...of course you do!

Current favourite picture: rocket fun!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Mixture of moments

Sometimes it's little things in the day, small triumphs, that make it great. Rohan suddenly got the hang of riding his bike recently (he's always preferred to trundle it along by the handlebars and watch the wheels). And today, Luca ate 10 chickpeas (a counting game helped!), amongst other things I should say! Rohan's becoming wonderfully and elaborately affectionate (he grabs your face by the chin to kiss, and plants lots of kisses)... I know its corny, but even the busiest days are just peppered with good moments.

Just shaking off a stomach bug that took hold over the weekend for the boys, then Monday for me. The boys made an amazingly speedy recovery, enough to have a complete ball when some of Mit's work friends came round on Saturday. It was a gorgeous eve; Mit's often talks about how great they are so it was lovely to meet them. The food we made was vegan, with some of it being gluten free, as one of the guys is gluten intolerant. I didn't get round to photographing the spread though but it was homemade basmati rice salad, roasted new potatoes with rosemary, veggie samosas (bought, frozen), gluten free cupcakes from 'Vegan cupcakes take over the world', carrot cake (yet again!) strawberries and raspberry salad... and there was heaps of wine, and amaretto, which I tried for the first time.

Am still in the grips of nausea but at least able to cook now, and the one good thing of having that bug (but I would have preferred to do it any other way!) is that it's rid me of a stubborn couple of lbs so the chance of fitting into the dress for my cousin's wedding later this month is looking a little more likely:

Happy to find somethings lovely that's 100% cotton. Made that classic mistake when I bought it (much reduced in a January sale) of buying an optimistic size and hoping for the best! But that was the size left, and I hadn't bargained on all the baking I'd be doing between then and now...

Been trying to do some DIY but shelving it for a few weeks... painting the front door and step was on the tricky side, not so much with the boys, but Marly making an appearance when I thought I was safe to paint and leaving her trail of paws! The door was yellow before, so it was just to smarten it up after the winter bashing.. but no more DIY for a good while I reckon...needed or not!...

These ARE bluebells! Which type though, I don't know...

Dad came up and showed the boys how to plant potatoes:

Spotted a new Cauldron product in Waitrose (I should be doing more shopping at Tesco- more our budget- but Waitrose is on the way home!)

I love this clip, I've watched it a few times now when I'm seeking a smile! Its brilliant that to see a fantastic vegan chef on a mainstream, day time tv show, but you've got to admire Isa's handling of some of the remarks made...

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

getting to grips with the garden

Managed a few bursts of gardening before the rain these last few days...
we moved into this house in June last year, so are gradually getting a full year-round view of garden happenings. Picture above is of chives- I hadn't known that they flower so prettily...

..the boys planted some little troughs of coriander seeds;

have put in some spring green gladioli, blue delphinium in the back garden and some french lavender and a sprinkling of poppy seeds in the front. Will be interesting to see what and how things take! I'm very new to gardening but my dad's a veteran gardener so knowing I can tap into his knowledge gives me confidence. Just got to do a bit more clearing to make space for the potato bags, and I think we'll plant those when Grandad visits..

I'm wondering if these are bluebells:

Thing is, they are in a very shady area. I was reading that it takes 3 years after planting for bluebells to really go beyond shoots so it would be great if they are here already... they do look like bluebells but there are other varieties quite similar I think... when out walking in the area, so many gardens have bluebells in and I love their woodland look. Hard to believe that apparantly they are declining...

Saw some ice lolly moulds in M&S, and we've made smoothie lollies when we got in from pre-school, of frozen raspberries, honeydew melon and banana. One mould though was water only, as that's what R wanted to make! Its useful to have another fruit route now summer's coming! R still doesn't eat fruit pieces apart from banana, but loves different smoothies, on its own or mixed into porridge in the morning.

We were down in Southampton recently for my brother-in-law's birthday celebrations, which were all fun. Whilst down there, we took the boys to a miniature steam railway at Eastleigh- they LOVED it! Got some great pics, think my favourite is this one, captures the delight:

I don't think I've ever given our cat a mention on here so here goes: our bonkers but adorable cat we've had for 10 years, Marly, who graciously waited nine years for her own back garden to roam around. She has never been so happy and calm! She is my fellow female within this family but I think she's more volatile than me...
a rare mellow moment basking in the sun:

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

home made convenience

Was so late with dinner tonight; couldn't resist trying to squeeze in an hour of gardening when we got back from work and pre-school at 4. That was fine in itself, boys helping- although preferring the full size fork and spade to their little eyes in the back of the head would be sooo useful! But probably should have done a quick dinner but wanted to use some sweet potatoes, we had veggie burgers and sweet potato chips:

I'm not that into sweet potato but like the flavour of them roasted, and because they're protein rich they're great for the boys.. (part boiled then chopped and cooked on high for 20 or so mins). The burgers were a mixture of mashed black-eye beans, tomato puree, olive oil, yellow pepper and onion based on a recipe from 'Another dinner is possible'. Rohan and Luca ate well in the end; although Luca didn't eat properly until 8.30pm for one reason and another...

Yesterday... M took the boys to pre-school only to find it was an inset (teaching training) day.. oops! Obviously that didn't make our calender...all ended well though. Mit went with the boys to a soft play centre, and did some laptop work in the cafe; and after work we drove to Polhill garden centre, one of those places we all enjoy- great outdoor play area, bought some lavender, hebe, and some bags to grow potatoes and the seed potatoes. Will slowly get things started...

Friday, 17 April 2009

Viva's new websites

So heartening to read that meat consumption is on the downslide, according to VIVA, whose work and stance I greatly admire. They have two new websites at Save their world and Eatgreen. It's the dairy industry which has put me on the road to (very, very almost completely now) veganism but this website holds a host of info which informatively explains animal welfare is just one of the many pressing reasons to enjoy a vegan diet.

The 'save their world' 'soya' section reminds me that much soya is produced for animal feed rather that for soya milk. Someone mentioned to me once that drinking soya milk impacts on the rain forest. But I am now sticking to the 'alpro' brand- they state on their packaging that they use their own specially grown forests and not the rainforests.

So I can't get to the VIVA roadshow in London tomorrow and I do feel quite bereft! It is always such an amazing event, part of my heart is going to be there!!

Indulgence and then some wholesome goodness!

Well, I've learnt that to have a proper vegan Easter I am going to be better organised next year...did the boys little Easter boxes in the garden with a mixture of milk and vegan chocolates. Slightly disappointed in myself I wasn't organised in time to order some vegan goodies from veganstore UK, or Montezumas. Tesco had had the infamous chocolate Lindt bunnies in in dark chocolate, but close to the Easter holiday, the chocolate aisles were pretty ransacked and I didn't pick some up early enough. Sainsbury's did some lovely vegan chocolate which my parents-in-law gave the boys:

It's been a little whirlwind of a party season; 3 of the boys' friends turned 3 in the last couple of weeks, and Mit's brother is 40. My treasured friend down in Hampshire shares that landmark. A couple of the celebrations were in 'Pizza Express'. I love it in that chain, because they are good with children, and it's easy to be vegan- I had the Giadinera pizza with no cheese- just lots of artichokes, red pepper and olives. Really delicious! They don't do soya milk yet, though. Surely they will cotton on soon!
All the pizzeria dining has led us to make more pizzas at home. Had a hilarious cooking session. The boys helped make the dough in their own unique style after having observed the dough being pounded and thrown about in the restaurant. Mit's much more playful when cooking with the boys than me! Dough eyes:

Celebrations have also necessitated more cake making and eating:

Once again, fluffy white cupcakes from 'vegan lunchbox'. Due to the flux of special occasions occuring, I think I am going to have to find a healthier special occasion fix! But.. then again, no.

On the other hand, have rediscovered those great soup mixes you can buy from most supermarkets; dried bean and pulse mixtures that don't need much else adding to make a great, wholesome and filling soup. I just use onion, garlic and whichever veggies are left in the fridge, but the packets always have recipe suggestions. Made this twice recently. The second time, the boys ate some. It was so great to see them eating pieces of barley! But the second time I made it, I'd added some alphabet pasta pieces, and the barley and other bits just happened to be there as well....

The plan for the next few weeks is to really spend time in our garden, weeding, planning and thinking how to use it. We inherited a really pretty, mature garden with this house. I'll take some pictures over the next few days (when it stops raining so hard, to give the most flattering conditions!) but we just need to work out how much to leave things as they are, and what are where to plant. Because I'm indecisive, I think we will grow some herbs in pots, and look into growing potatoes in bags and making a space for those things with plenty of light.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

a little link of lots of food inspiration

Just a quickie, to say I've just come across this fabulous website; Parsley Soup. Looking forward to trying some of these recipes, and the hedgehog cake under 'kids'.. for the next birthdays!
As can be seen, I tend to do very well from other people's creativity when it comes to vegan cookery! The trouble is, the impulse to create myself is hard to push when there are such fabulous websites around....

Having a few busy days here, birthday celebrations and Easter activities. Also managed the half-marathon at Paddock wood which was a strange mixture of gruel and enjoyment!

Will post more soon.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

thoughts on burgers

One of the times when I've been food shopping with the boys, the lady at the checkout scanning our food commented on all the vegetables we were buying and we got chatting and I mentioned we were veggie (well, almost vegan). Because she had been admiring the aubergines etc, I think Id assumed she'd be an ally (!) but she suddenly looked genuinely aghast and cried 'Oh no, they'll never be able to go to Mcdonalds!' Looking back, the idea that never going to Mcdonalds is going to blight their experience of childhood is a strange one. True, I will never go in there with the boys or anyone; their disregard for animal welfare has been very publicy exposed, needless to say more. It does bring up social issues though, or at least raises them for the future. I don't want the boys to feel like their missing out on things. But I want them to know the origins of foods, and if their friends like burgers for their tea I want the boys to have an equivalent; actually, one that leaves it far behind. Made tofu burgers a while back which Rohan ate, but they didn't really go for them, but they hadn't eaten anything in that sort of form before. Tonight we had roast potatoes, lots of vegetables and I bought some Cauldron carrot and onion burgers which they had with a little organic vegan gravy. They did like these; and I tasted them too (very nice) as I noted that they were vegan with lots of good ingredients like chick pea and brown rice as well as the carrot, with salt reasonably low down on the list. Cauldron foods are really tasty, I only really buy the tofu now (the smoked is delicious) but when was more vegetarian I bought more of the range, but not so much now as they use egg, presumabley to bind. It would be so good if they could use a replacement for this, because the products are really excellent. I would probably take the boys to Wimpy though, if they were desperate. For the chips and veggie option. I've got some completely irrelevent pics to post! One of the boys with their cart (they got it for their 3rd birthday in November, but hadn't used it much but now its warmer out they have had fun being out with it and pretending it's a train etc!) Plus a pizza we had the other eve, with Cheezly's melting mozzarella on top, very tasty. Oh, and more cakes! Celebratory cakes when some lovely friends came to visit with their gorgeous new baby girl. Fluffy white cupcakes from Vegan Lunchbox.