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Archive for October, 2011

Roast tomato and garlic soup

I’m not really a soup person, and if I ever do eat soup, it’s likely to be tomato. So when I realised we had some pretty good tomato soup ingredients in the fridge and not much else for lunch, I thought I’d give it a go. And given that I have never made tomato soup before, it was pretty marvelous!

I’ve not done exact amounts because I think it all depends on personal preferences (i.e. how much you like garlic!), and I only made one bowl of soup because we only had a few tomatoes.

  • Cherry tomatoes (I probably used about 15)
  • Shallots (3)
  • Garlic (1 bulb)
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil (1 tsp)
  1. Pierce each of your cherry tomatoes so they don’t explode, and put them in a baking dish with the shallots (peeled, with the ends cut off)
  2. Cover with the 1 tsp of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper
  3. To roast your garlic, cut about 1 cm off the top of the bulb (so all of the cloves are exposed), and wrap it in tinfoil. Put this in the same tray as the tomatoes and shallots
  4. Put the baking dish in the oven at about 200 oC
  5. After about 25 minutes, take out the tomatoes and shallots but leave the garlic in – it’ll need about another 20 minutes
  6. Take the garlic out, and using a blunt knife take each clove of garlic out of it’s little pouch
  7. Put it all together in a pan and heat
  8. Add as much fresh basil as you like
  9. Whizz it up using a hand-held blender
  10. Pop it in a bowl, and if you are taking a photo of it then put some cute little basil leaves on the top 🙂

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(We went to Brighton in August, and I have failed to post about this place until now, oops! It definitely deserves a mention…)

The last stop on out trip to Brighton was VBites. It’s a little way out of town so we decided to drive there before we went home.

VBites is famous vegan Heather Mills‘ cafe. I didn’t know what to expect because from reviews I had read and what I’d seen on the website, the food seemed to rely heavily on redwoods products, rather than exciting fresh ingredients. But it’s a completely vegan place, so I definitely wanted to try it. And I’m really glad we did, because it was pretty good!

It is right by the sea, and also surrounded by a host of other exciting things, which I’m sure would be really fun when the sun is out (it was raining when we were there!). There was a small swimming pool, skate park, tiny golf course, and lake area with watersports such as wakeboarding – click here for info.

this photo is a bit crap. it was much nicer and brighter than this!

I had:

"Sweet chilli chicky style wrap"

The wrap was really great – the “chicky” (I wish they wouldn’t call it that, it sounds ridiculous) was really nicely flavoured. The salad was great too, which I wasn’t expecting.

J had:

"Beefy style cheese burger"

He was very happy with it.

And we shared:

Garlic bread

And:

cheezy chips

These side orders were ace – and the cheeze on the chips was super melty!

(I know it’s a lot of food. But we had a tiny breakfast to prepare for this, and then got stuck in a whole lot of Bank Holiday craptastic traffic on the way home so it’s a good job stocked up on food as it took forever to get back!)

And then! Dessert!

Swedish Glace - raspberry and vanilla

While we were there I was thinking about the location. Vbites is a few miles away from Brighton (2.7 miles from the pier according to google maps), which means that people looking for vegan food have to make a special trip there. It makes me think it’s a shame it’s so far away because maybe some vegans might miss out on going to one of the only vegan places around. But then on the other hand, it is so close to the beach (and there aren’t other cafes around) that hopefully it gets lots of non-vegans eating there, because it is so convenient and does nice food. So it is targeting people who might not necessarily choose to eat vegan food, which is great.

And I liked the bit they put on their menus about veganism:

I reckon we’ll go there again!

Address:

Hove Lagoon,

Kingsway,

BN3 4LX

Tel: 01273 933757

Opening hours:

Weekdays 10am – 6pm

Weekends 10am – late (weather permitting )

Click here to read reviews of VBites on Happycow.net

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Smart Chart

Source: I love charts / vegansaurus

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Homemade tofu yogurt

I have been thinking about trying this recipe for a while, but I think my attitude to it was similar to that of a non-vegan. Know what I mean? Like: “hmm…tofu yogurt? really? sounds a bit tofu-ey“. Ha! But I got over myself and made it, since I had all the ingredients in and no yogurt to eat for my breakfast.

Here it is, from the Happy Herbivore website:

  • 300g silken tofu (I used clearspring organic – it comes in a 300g pack)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsp soya milk (or any other non-dairy milk)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (I used bottled, not fresh)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (or agave)
  1. Whizz it all together (I used a hand-held blender)
  2. Top with other fruit, granola, nuts, seeds, whatever you fancy*
  3. Eat! (well, it makes rather alot, so maybe eat half and put the other half in a box to take to work tomorrow)

Here’s mine:

I really should have thought about how shit this photo would look before I put the yogurt in a white bowl...

This is bloody good! Waaay better than expected! I’ll definitely be making this a regular thing. I thought it would be heavy and dense (I guess because of the tofu?) but it wasn’t – it’s the same as any other yogurt! More natural and simple than bought soya yogurt, and it contains considerably more protein.

* I topped mine with tinned peach slices, simply because there’s no other fresh fruit in the house. And as proof that I never eat tinned fruit, the use-by date was January 2010. Yes, 2010! And it was completely fine, which just goes to show that often “use by” dates mean nothing!

 

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Pigs Vs Puppies

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has been in the news today because he has apparently made some comments about how in principle he wouldn’t be against the idea of farming dogs for food. The Telegraph reports he said:

“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.”

The man has got a point. It’s one the non-omnivorous among us having been saying for a while. It’s a constant puzzle to me how people who eat animals also have pets, and I wonder at what point in history some animals were deemed friends and others meals.

Now, obviously Hugh’s an omnivore. And I have to say, I don’t know how I feel about him in general. Nice guy, but there’s a lot of death on his TV programme. However, at least he has the balls to look creatures in the eye before killing and eating them, which is more than most omnivores who avoid the reality of their decisions.

A part of me wonders if the statement he made has more clout because it came from the mouth of a meat-eater, rather than a vegan. Maybe this means it can be viewed more as a question about the way the world works, instead of being seen as propaganda or dismissed as animal rights extremism?

As expected, the media coverage of Hugh’s thought-provoking comments have mainly tried to make him sound like some kind of monstrous puppy-killer (“Let them eat puppies”, and “hugh defends eating puppy meat”), rather than discussing the double standard he is talking about. But personally I appreciate that someone in the public eye is raising the question. Obviously I’m not saying people should eat puppies because they eat other animals, but I wish people would ask themselves why they distinguish between different animals and have completely different rules for them.

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My wonderfully kind friend Laura got me a Hope Street gift set for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, and since I’d never heard of them before, I thought it might be useful to mention them here in case it’s new to anyone else.

Hope Street is 100% vegan, and also uses no:

  • petrochemicals or mineral oils
  • parabens
  • sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS or SLES)
  • artificial colours
  • artificial fragrances

Here’s what arrived through my door:

Lemongrass and May Chang body wash, body milk and hand cream

I love this stuff! It smells great, and I really like that it’s ingredients are nice and natural.
Click here to have a look at the Hope Street website

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Sweet Potato Maple Muffins

From the Happy Herbivore site, these sweet potato maple muffins are really easy to make, super healthy and taste lovely, as well as being wonderfully moist. The original recipe called for “pumpkin pie spice” which is one of those things that just doesn’t exist in the UK, so I just used mixed spice* – luckily it worked perfectly and the spice level was great. And no, the muffins don’t taste of potato 🙂 I’d recommend making them at the same time as sweet potato mash for a meal, so you don’t have to specially faff about with sweet potatoes!

I’m having one of “those” days today – you know, the ones where everything you touch ends up on the floor, and you spend most of your time cleaning things up or jumping out of your skin because yet again, you turned your back and something jumped off the worktop onto the floor? Quite frankly it’s a miracle I managed to make these.

Here’s the recipe (based on the recipe from Happy Herbivore – I’ve made slight adjustments):

Preheat oven to 180 oC

  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce (I used sainsbury’s smooth one)
  • 1 cup mashed/pureed sweet potato (I blended it with a hand-held blender to make sure it was smooth)
  1. In a big bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and soda, mixed spice, salt)
  2. Add sugar, maple syrup, apple sauce and sweet potato
  3. Put into 12 muffin papers in a muffin tray
  4. Bake for 18-24 minutes or until a skewer jabbed in the middle comes out clean

* I have investigated the difference between pumpkin pie spice and mixed spice, and there’s quite a bit of different info on the internet but it seems that they are pretty similar – both mixtures of “warm” spices, with cinnamon as the main one.

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