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Foraged Nettle Soup | Eczema Diaries 3 weeks in

After some great advice from my friend Pat about what food could be great to continue me on my skin cleanse journey I decided to go foraging for nettles.
When I have thought of foraging I have always imagined some great long adventure where you find all the magic wild food treats in the forest. Turns out really … when it comes to nettles … it just means walking round the back of my house to the field and picking some from anywhere. Nettles are everywhere right now. Literally everywhere. So I decided to head over to the Cross o’ Cliff public orchard to get my nettles, hoping to find some as free from pollution as possible in a city.

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I have always associated nettles with the thing that stung you all over your body as a kid when you fall out of a tree… but it’s so amazing to find something so in abundance and totally free everywhere right now that you can also eat and has so many health benefits. I wish I had put two and two together sooner. Nettles’ have the ability to help to detox the body, and among so many other health benefits, can help to heal the skin.  This is something I am in need of. Nettles can also will help to boost your immune system, tackle inflammation (great for flare ups of arthritis), ease cramps and bloating during menstruation and boost circulation. So trying to incorporate it into your diet, especially during spring when it is new and fresh and everywhere, is a great idea. Even if that just involves making a nettle tonic or tea to start your day.

This skin cleanse I have been attempting, see my blog post My Eczema diaries, has definitely opened my eyes to the amount of junk I was/ am eating. Once I really looked at everything with critical eyes I saw how often I craved sugar, or crisps or bread, and it has honestly been a real battle to cut out as much as possible. Although I can do so much more I feel these last few weeks have been a chance to open my eyes and start to make small changes. If I want to try to rid my body from chronic eczema this is something I am going to have to make a lifestyle change rather than a months cleanse. So far over the last 3 weeks it has been going great and I can see improvements in the health of my skin, but this is really just the beginning! It will take a lot longer than 3 weeks for my skin to fully heal and repair all the damage caused.

So rather than focus of everything I have cut out of my diet, here are some of the things I have incorporated in over the last few weeks.

  • Every morning before anything else I have a shot of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the ‘Mother’,), followed every quickly by a huge glass of water as it tastes absolutely disgusting!
  • Drinking hot water with a slice of fresh lemon to replace milky tea.
  • Have fresh green/ vegetable juices everyday with lots of fresh turmeric and ginger
  • Making sure I remember to make smoothies with lots of blueberries and Spirulina to take to work with me
  • Drinking as much water as possible!!! And preferably with a slice of lemon , lime and a few chia seeds. This one needs more focus but is arguably on of the most important

These are little measures but as I add more and more of these into my daily life it will become easier and more natural. It will become less conscious and an effort to remember but will simply be part of my daily routine and something I can fit around working full-time easily.

So here is for my Nettle Soup recipe. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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Foraged Nettle Soup

 

  • Half a carrier bag of nettle tops (about 200g)
  • 1 tsp cold pressed rapeseed oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped,
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large crock pot or large stock pot heat the oil on a medium heat and add the onions. Cook slowly for 5 -7 minutes until softened.
  2. Add the garlic, potatoes and carrot and stir, cooking for a couple more minutes before adding the vegetable stock
  3. Once the stock is added, heat until simmering and add the nettles into the pot.
  4. The nettles will be overflowing out of your pan, but as they cook they will start to reduce and you will be able to mix them into the stock. Simmer gently for 20 minute, until the potatoes are soft
  5. Blend soup with either and immersion blender or in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  6. Serve with a swirl of coconut milk on the top and enjoy.

Yields 4 portions

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My eczema diaries | Day #1 

So here’s for some honesty. This might be the most honest post I have written and it’s about something I can be both very open about and also very conscious of. The only reason I am even writing this is because I have decided to start a body/food experiment for the next 30 days… and probably to continue afterwards. To see the results clearly for myself and hopefully for other peoples benefit I am going to document my progress,  if any at all, on here.

This is all about my skin,  and my lack of any healthy,  clear,  itch free,  rash free,  chronic eczema free area of skin on my body. My body is head to ankles constantly covered in eczema. And not just that little patch some people get in the crook of their elbow eczema. .. but the kind that makes me scratch at my skin while I sleep until my lovely white cotton bed sheets are covered in blood (disgusting right?)

So today I am taking control. I am going to do everything in my power to heal myself. I am going to research along the way foods and juices to make that benefit the skin and post my results,  recipes and resources here in the hopes that it will work.. and also that it may benefit someone else in this world. I am full of the belief that no amount of moisturising can get rid of eczema when it’s this bad… but that change has to come from the inside and radiate out.

I already seemed to have convinced myself I eat pretty well, and there have been times when my skin has been worse. The most extreme it has been when I was still eating dairy and working 55 hours plus in a care home in Norwich… I didn’t seem to see sunlight for about 6 months,  the eczema covered me all over my face as well as my body and I pretty much at first glance looked like a cross between a meth addict and a zombie.

I have been vegan now for about 6 years, I love juices,  I love smoothies and salads and super foods. . . But when I really assess what I eat I also often skip breakfast,  and if I could I would eat a double stacked vegan burger with violife cheese and ketchup everyday.  So it’s time to cut all of that out and focus on everything I put into my body.

I have tried to medical route,  I have tried steroids that just make it worse in the long run. Today was my last ditch effort with modern medicine and as writing this I am currently on the train home after a dermatology appointment at the hospital. I was offered stronger steroid creams,  steroid tablets and also long term immune suppressants that were so strong I wouldn’t be able to take if I was planning on using my reproductive organs anytime soon (which I am not, but to take something that has that effect on your body would be ridiculous!) I don’t know what I expected. I understand medical training only goes so far and does have its place in this world. But not for skin… not for me… no way do I want to take those drugs.

So today I start my own alternative route. I will do another update in a week to show any progress, and post daily on Instagram with what I am eating to help cleanse my body. My first start will be having lemon tea/water every morning before anything else…starting with the little things.

I would love to hear if anyone else has gone through anything similar and what worked for them. Please please tag me on my posts about your experiences on Instagram or Facebook… or comment below any tips you might have! I refuse to believe it when I am told this condition is incurable.  It will take longer than 30 days but it’s a bloody good way to start off.

So here to start this all off is my first ever ‘sexy-hand-holding-glass-of-juice’ photo and juice recipe… showing off exactly why my hands are NEVER in my photos.

Wish me luck! Xx

Red Cabbage Juice

 
Ingredients

  • 2 cups red cabbage
  • 4 large carrots
  • 2 apples
  • 1 whole unwaxed lemon

Put all ingredients through a juice extractor and drink… pretty straightforward.

Folks and Fables Cafe

The other day we finally managed to get a whole day off together for the first time in about a month,  and Ryan planned a suprise trip out for the day. So with me driving and him giving me blind directions badly we headed off down the A46 to I didn’t know where…

This resulted in a few heated words and me going round a few round-a-bouts twice,  accidently heading down the A1 and turning around again,  as I tried to follow his vague directions on where we were going.

We ended up in Bingham. I had never been here before … and more importantly had strangely never heard of the Plant based cafe/ restaurant / awesome community space called Folks and Fables.

These guys opened I believe around 6 months ago and have created almost the perfect balance of a cafe using their space to benefit community events and establish a welcoming creative space. They have a big calender painted on the side entrance wall announcing life drawing events,  yoga classes and more. They also have a large seating area upstairs where they showcase different artists,  and I assume on event nights they clear this space to use. All this is set in this beautiful old building with exposed brick and wooden beams.

We had Nomad with us so on arrival we had to first check if they allow dogs inside, something I never understand when veggie vegan restaurants don’t allow you to bring dogs inside! Luckily all was good … so they have now pretty much secured me as a forever customer.

The menu was really varied which I loved..  they has a big focus on healthy foods,  buddah bowls, smoothies and juices which is always great to see. But they also included lots of meals for very hungry people like me, such as burritos and burgers etc, all which had beautiful healthy twists that added something special to every meal.

We both decided, as I usually decide when I see this on any vegan menu, to go for the VLTs.  This choice was mainly made by the fact the use Sgaia meats in their sandwiches. Hands down the best vegan meats available anywhere… just super expensive to buy retail. The sandwiches were like £5 each which is pretty reasonable,  and were served on sourdough bread with a homemade beetroot ketchup. I also had an espresso, and again for such a specially place the drinks prices were also pretty standard. The staff had expert knowledge on what non dairy milks to suggest depending on the type of coffee you were after. .. such a rarity when usually it’s just soya or nothing.

All in all this is pretty much my new favourite veggie place and cannot wait for pay day so we can go back again and try their cakes this time. Bingham is only about half an hour drive out of Lincoln so it’s easy to get to, and as well as having Folks and Fables it is a lovely little town to walk around and has an amazing fruit and veg shop called Raw to nosey in.

So thanks everyone at Folks and Fables. .. your place is awesome and you were so welcoming. .. we will be back very soon

Xx

Lemon and Olive Oil Cupcakes

So here is just a little vegan cupcake recipe for Mothers Day. These were some cupcakes I made for a baby shower last week and everyone,whether omni or vegan, loved them!

The olive oil content of these cake keeps them from getting dry and the cake part is not too sweet, so is balanced nicely by the sweetness of the frosting. They are also again pretty straight forward to prepare… another case of simply mixing the wet and dry ingredients together.

Try to get hold of cold pressed olive and avoid using ‘pure’ olive oil or olive oil blends… in fact sometimes the cold pressed, though much better quality, is cheaper at the supermarket. I know this was the case at Tesco. Have a scout around and see what is available to you locally.

Have a lovely Mothers Day everyone!

Lemon and Olive Oil Cupcakes

 

Ingredients
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold pressed olive oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 lemons worth)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Method
  1. Prep your cupcake tray by lining with cupcake cases and preheat your oven to 180ºc.
  2. Take a large mixing bowl and sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and caster sugar.
  3. In a separate small bowl, using a fine grater or a microplaner, grate your lemon zest. Then using the same lemons and a lemon squeezer extract your lemon juice. Usually it’s about 2 large lemons for 1/4 cup. Trust me, get the zest before your juice them. .. the other way around doesn’t work so well.
  4. Mix together the zest and the lemon juice then add to the same bowl your olive oil, water and finally vanilla essence.
  5. Make a well in the flour  mixture and add the olive oil and lemon mixture into the large mixing bowl. Mix the wet and dry together well until you have no patches left and it is well combined, using a whisk it spatula.
  6. Evenly distribute your cake mix into your cupcake liners. You should end up with each one about 3/4 full.
  7. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick comes out clean.
Makes 12 Cupcakes

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Vegan Lemon Icing

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup trex vegetable shortening ( or another vegan vegetable shortening)
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
Method
  1. Add the vegetable shortening and the margarine into a medium mixing bowl and using an electric whisk cream them together until fluffy.
  2. One cup at a time, sift in 3 cups of the icing sugar/ confectioners’ sugar and mix together using the electric whisk.
  3. The icing will start to become stiff, so now add in the lemon juice and the lemon zest using the whisk.
  4. Finish by sifting in the last of the icing sugar and mix together until well mixed, light and fluffy.
  5. Place icing in the fridge until ready to use and the cupcakes are completely cooled.
  6. Place in icing bag with icing tip of choice and ice the top of the cupcakes as desired.

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Cabbage Kotfas

I had my first version of these made for me years and years ago when I first joined the ship, by the ships First Officer at the time, Vincent. I believe his recipe originate from time he spent with the Hare Krishnas. Koftas were something I had never had before and absolutely loved them, making them every since for crew, for parties and also for a couple of wedding buffets last year. It is such an easy dish to make and can be put together with so many different sauces and sides. It is also very cheap once you have a well stocked herb and spice cupboard, which is somehting I highly recommend you get! To me herbs and spices are the complete backbone of vegan cooking! See my posts part one and two about my pantry staples to get an idea of the supplies that are good to have in house if you are getting serious about cooking. I admit that while only just getting to the end of ripping our house apart and putting it all back together I don’t even have all of these yet… but I am working on it. First I could do with some actually shelves!

The thing to remember with this recipe is depending on how much water content your veg has in already, you may or may not need the extra water, and you may need more chickpea flour. I recommend added the chickpea flour suggested first and a couple of tablespoons of the water, clump mixture together in your hands into a walnut sized shape and do a test Kofta. You should be able to see clearly if the mixture is too dry and needs more water.

Once you think you have the mixture right heat your oil in a wok or none stick deep frying pan and add a tiny bit on mixture to test temperature. If it sizzles up to top and starts to cook its ready. If it sinks its not hot enough. If it starts to smoke and burn staright away its way to hot. You want it the gently bubble around the mixture.

Then add your test kofta. If it falls apart it needs you need more chickpea flour, and maybe a drop of water to make it a little paste and batter like. If it holds together and floats and starts to gently turn golden brown your on to a winner. Always best to do a check before accidently wasting all your mixture.

These Cabbage Koftas work great as a side dish with some chilli sauce and vegan raita dip. Or serve as a main course on a bed on brown rice or quinoa, topped with some Tomato Chilli Sauce, vegan raita or yogurt and fresh coriander.

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Cabbage Koftas

 Yields approx 20 Koftas

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a savoy cabbage
  • 2 small onions
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground corinader
  • 1/2 tsp each of turmeric, cumin. dried parsley and paprika
  • 1/4 tsp each of garlic powder and ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (based on preference)
  • 1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
  • up to 1/2 cup water (if needed)
  • Oil to fry, preferably sunflower or vegetable oil, or other of choice with a high smoke point

Method

  1. Finely shred the cabbage, onions and carrots. This can be done in either a food processor or with a knife and hand grater if you don’t have one. Place in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on the salt.
  2. Massage in the salt for a minute or two with your hands to help coat the veggies. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to let the vegetables relax and soften.
  3. While waiting for veg, measure all of your spices out and mix up in a small bowl. Then throw on top of veg and mix in with either your hands or wooden spoon.
  4. Sift chickpea flour and add bit by bit to the cabbage, stirring with a wooden spoon. The idea is to create an almost pasty batter like mix. its best to get your hands in to make sure your have covered all of the cabbage mixture. Add a couple of tablespoons of the water to start with and mix. You want to mixture to hold together into little walnut sized balls. If it seems dry add more water bit by bit ( see above recipe to more info on how to get this perfect)
  5. Once you have created your kofta batter, start to heat you oil in a wok or non stick deep frying pan. You want a couple of inches of oil to fry properly, you could also use a deep fat fryer if you have one. Test oil temperature by add a little mixture. If it bubbles and floats on the top turning golden brown its ready, if it sinks its not yet hot enough.
  6. Test run one Kofta by shaping batter in your hands into a bite sized ball and drop into hot oil. You want it to hold its shape and gentle bubble and turn brown. Turn kofta in oil after a few minutes to cook evenly. Cook for approx 10 minutes , or until evenly browned and crispy. Turn heat down if starting to burn!
  7. Continue to add Kofta batter to oil and cook until all mixture is done. You will have to do batches, so once cooked place them on some kitchen roll to soak up excess oil and cook your next batch.
  8. When  finished serve up as either a side, starter and main. Goes great with hot dipping sauce or sweet chilli.

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An Hour In Inverness

As anyone that knows Ryan and I will know,  our trips where ever we go will always start and end with a mission to find the best coffee and vegan food we can find … whatever the time frame.
Today we had an hour,  enough time to grab some food and coffee before heading off to have a look at Loch Ness. Granted Inverness is not huge so it wasn’t the biggest challenge,  even with 3 dogs in tow. Here’s what we came up with in that hour….

Little Bird Coffee House

We have been carrying our thermos and travel coffee kit around with us everytime we have left the cabin since we arrived in the Highlands. .. but today was the first day we have had the pleasure of having coffee made by someone else. We did a little search for local craft coffee places when we arrived and this place came up top.

I think alot of cafes forget that it’s not only the ability to prepare and sell great coffee that makes a place awesome. Half of it is about the people that work there. This place did not disappoint. I didn’t catch her name but the barista was so so welcoming and warm… we ended up having a little chat and left my brother and sister in law out in the cold with the dogs for a good 10 minutes (sorry guys!)

Today we grabbed a chemex for two with Workshop Coffees Gatomboya Peaberry.

 

Karma kola ethical cola ginger beer coffee shop inverness

We then picked up vegan croissants from a little bakery on the high street that none of us can remember the name off… it’s the one with Italian and French pastries and biscuits in the window if anyone knows it? Usually I tend to just walk past these places as they never ever have anything remotely vegan.. . The sign for vegan croissants luckily caught Ryans eye. They were pretty yummy with what I think was a raspberry and elderberry jam in the middle. Definitely worth a try if your passing by and need a little mid morning snack.

Nourish

Next we headed over to the veggie vegan cafe in Inverness to grab a tofu BLT to take away for our car journey. The place was pretty cute inside. The menu was quite typical of a small veggie cafe in a small city… Lots of beans, soups, wraps, hummous and falafel and a range of cakes. This is not a criticism but everytime I visit a vegan place I haven’t been before I go in hoping to be pleasantly suprised by a new inventive menu. It rarely happens. In fact it usually happens in none veggie cafes and restaurants.

Saying that our BLTs were yummy. Everything was organic and the bread was thick cut fresh bread from a local bakery. The inside was basic. .. using smoked tofu, mayo and salad and it did the job of keeping away the hangries.

So thanks Inverness… even if it was a brief visit, you kept us from going hungry which is more than can be said for a lot of place still.

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Here is a pretty simple vegan blueberry muffin recipe. Still people ask me how can you bake without eggs and butter etc but it’s so so easy if you have the right recipes. I find it is just kinda rethinking the basics of baking and the equations of the recipe. Vegans did not invent eggless muffins and cakes, those recipes have been around for decades if not centuries. Back in early early 1900s during the World Wars women were coming up with new ways to make delicious treats with the rations they had… usual when they were very low or completely without dairy and eggs.

This is my interpretation of vegan blueberry muffins in which I use the Baking soda with vinegar method to make them rise. In fact that probably my favourite method for all baking. It always seems failsafe. Check out my recipe for Chocolate and Coffee Cake and Chocolate Chunk Muffins. It tastes much better when you know its 100% free from animal products.
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Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Yields 12
Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup non dairy milk (soya or oat works best)
  • seeds from 1/2 fresh vanilla pod
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sunflower/ vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cup freh/frozen blueberries

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180ºc.
  2. Sift together the plain flour, baking soda, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Place milk in a separate bowl and whisk in the vanilla. Then stir in the apple cider and vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes.  This will create a sort of buttermilk, so if it starts to curdle that’s totally normal!
  4. Throw the milky curdle mix into the flour mixture, then add the oil and almond extract on top and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or spatula until there are no dry patches left.
  5. Gently stir in you blueberries.
  6. Prep your muffin tin by rubbing a little bit of vegan margarine around the inside, or pop in some muffin cases. Fill 3/4 full with muffin mixture.
  7. Bake them for 20 minutes until golden or when a cocktail stick comes out clean. If your not using muffin cases let the muffin cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the tray and placing on a cooling rack.

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Sundried Tomato Pesto

I am throwing out another pasta recipe simple because I LOVE pasta. I could eat pasta everyday and be happy… every type of pasta.. pasta in soup, baked pasta, pasta salad and spaghettis! This is a recipe you can literally throw in to any blender appliance and end up with a gorgeous creamy sauce. I used a Nutribullet for mine but it would also would with a food processor, regular blender or even a stick blender.

Currently I am feeling like I want to celebrate the simple foods. Things that you can make quickly after 11 hours at work all day and still it will taste delicious and not be too bad for you. Things that are not impossible to make that week before pay day when you look into the contents of your cupboards and try to work out how to be creative with some rice, pasta, baked beans, dried herbs and if your lucky half a tin on tomatoes and some spinach in the fridge.

I find within the vegan online community the lines blur quite a bit into the wellness community and people get shamed so often into feeling that veganism must also mean super extremely ‘healthy’. Phrases like ‘clean eating’ are flying all over the damn place.

The worse part is a few years ago I was nearly sucked in too…(but no this isn’t the ‘veganism nearly killed me and I now desperately need to eat dead animals to survive’ part.)

I got really into all of the nutrients and vitamins that were in all the food I was making. I considered doing an online crappy nonsense course about vegan nutrition. I starting thinking that to be part of that online vegan blogging community I had to only post about green smoothies and raw foods and salad… otherwise I would never find my place in the world!

Luckily I soon realised I didn’t care all that much and I really like cake so didn’t waste a few thousand pounds on a course that in actually fact would make me qualified for fuck all.

Don’t get me wrong… I love to be healthy. I love yoga, I love fresh juices and smoothies and quinoa. I feel shitty when I eat oven food and beige food and need green things in my life daily. I try to stay away from foods that I know are crazily over processed… but I will still eat an entire family size bag of chilli heat wave Doritos to myself if you leave it in front of me. And I also work a lot so don’t have the time to spend 4 hours a day anymore making dinner.

I got really annoyed at a documentary called “Clean Eatings Dirty Secrets” on BBC3 which basically lumped in veganism with extreme wellness bloggers and other restrictive diets and I do feel that we need to recognise there is a very big difference. Hannah Ewens Vice article Clean Eating Is Giving Veganism A Bad Name really got me thinking about this all again and is an awesome read, especially if you feel like you are being judged for loving sugar and gluten. Be proud of the fact you love food and all kinds of food, especially the vegan kind!

So here is some pasta….

Sundried Tomato Pesto

 

Serves 2-4 (depending how hungry you are)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 10 halves of oil packed sundried tomatoes
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp sea salt/pink himilayan salt
  • ¼ nutritional yeast
  • ½ pumpkin seeds

Method

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy
  2. Smother over your favourite pastas or noodles and enjoy warm or cold! Add in mushrooms, fresh spinach, sliced tomatoes, olives or whatever else you fancy.

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Roasted Garlic and Lemon Asparagus

Its coming to the end of asparagus season here, so if you can get hold of some still you have to give this recipe a go.

This makes the perfect side dish to so many meals. Try it with lemon braised tofu or some kind of delicious vegan pie with new potatoes. Or just on their own is pretty damn awesome too. I have never really been a fan of asparagus until I tried it this way. The traditional boiled and smothered in butter I always found a bit boring and overrated.

This bunch we grabbed last week while we were on holiday in Derbyshire, straight off Bakewell market. Then just a little olive oil, garlic, lemon and salt is all else you need to create these little gems.

 

Roasted Garlic and Lemon Asparagus

 

  • 12 stalks of fresh asparagus
  • olive oil
  • 2 thick lemon slices/wedges
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • sea salt
  • pepper to taste
  1. Pre heat your oven to 180c.
  2. With a sharp knife cut off the woody ends of the asparagus and place in a ceramic baking dish scattered with the chopped garlic.
  3. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil. Then take the two lemon slices and squeeze lemon juice over the top. Add the lemon slices into baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle the asparagus with sea salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place in pre heated oven and roast for around 30 minutes. Keep checking until it is delicious and crispy around the edges but not burnt. Serve straight away.

Serves 2 to 4
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Rosewater Cupcakes and Vegan Weddings

I am ashamed to say its been over 6 months since my last recipe post, which really is pretty bad.

Over winter I found it really hard to find inspiration. Our house was like a building site, literally. We had no floor for the first few weeks, we had plaster crumbling off walls and a ton of wallpaper to strip. We are finally at a stage of having a more welcoming home… at least parts of it anyway, (still waiting on buying carpets, buying a bed etc.) Though I will never forget those few weeks when all we had was a camping stove to cook all our food on!

Now summer is nearly here, the house is warm, the kitchen (almost) stocked its definitely time to start writing and cooking awesome foods again.

I have been busy the last few weeks catering a few weddings which has been amazing. The wedding season is here and with over 1% of the population of UK now vegan its now more than ever important to cater for vegans at big events like weddings. In Lincolnshire especially its shocking just how many caterers don’t do vegan very well if at all. I am sure in other parts of the country this may be different, but a friend of mine approached me recently for help after the caterers for her wedding asked if eggs would be OK for the vegan option. It seems even now a lot of caterers don’t know where to go when faced with the dilemma of proving food for vegans. I have been to weddings where I have brought my own food with me or where I have been given very poor medleys’ of soft stir fried veg and nothing else.  I have heard other horror stories of friends munching their way through ‘vegan’ potato salad, asking the caterers which vegan mayo they used and hearing the reply Hellmanns’ mayonnaise (definitely NOT vegan!) I have even heard of a friend interviewing caterers where the bride themselves is vegan and being told they could provide some salads for the ‘fussy eaters’.

The expectations for vegan food at events like these are so so low, with most expecting nothing or maybe a couple of salads if that. With so many more people adopting a meat free diet I personally see weddings as the perfect opportunity to demonstrate to a huge room of people just how amazing vegan food can be. Vegan food should never just be for vegans. When it comes down to it its really not that hard to create  gorgeous 3 course vegan dining experiences and buffets, even to a budget. I have seen at happen and I am dedicated to creating this myself as a caterer.

With that in mind here is a little recipe to keep us going. These cupcakes were made for a wedding buffet last Saturday, and I am not sure why but I have a thing about green food colouring, I just want to make all the cupcakes green every time!

We created all the vegan options for their buffet, to go alongside their none vegan options. It was amazing to hear the brides feedback about how unexpectedly well the food was received by her ‘meat head’ friends (her words not mine!) No one really knew what to expect and were all pretty shocked at how great vegan food can be. Alongside these cupcakes we made Southern Spiced Tofu, Olive and Sundried Tomato Palmiers, Tabbouleh, Focaccia, Mac and Cashew Cheese, Hummus Bowl and Pesto Pasta Salad.

Please feel free to contact us here to get more information about our catering services or just for a bit advice about how to cater vegan for events like weddings etc. We would love to help you out and spread to vegan food further.

 

Rosewater Cupcakes

 

Yields 12 Cupcakes

For the cake mix

  • 1 cup soya milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

 

  • 1 1/3 cups plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Pre heat oven to 180°c/ 160°c for fan assisted oven
  2. Mix together the soya milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside to curdle
  3. Sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder, baking soda, caster sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
  4. Whisk the soya milk mixture together with the oil, rosewater and vanilla extract together in the small bowl and pour into larger bowl of flour mixture well. Mix well together until there are no lumps or dry patches.
  5. Fill cupcake cases 1/3-1/2 full and place in middle shelf of oven. Bake for 16-18 minutes until golden on top. Place on a cooling rack and let the cakes cool entirely before icing

For the buttercream icing

  • 1/2 cup vegan vegetable shortening, eg. Trex
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. rosewater
  • few drops of vegan food colouring if desired
  • optional: crushed pistachios and mini  rosebuds to decorate
  1. Using an electric hand mixed/ or vigorously with a hand turned one, cream together the vegetable shortening and margarine until fluffy.
  2. Bit by bit while mixing sift in the icing sugar. As it becomes thicker add in the rosewater and any natural colourings you fancy.
  3. Mix until it become a nice stiff buttercream icing.
  4. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and decorate as you like. I like to add a few chopped or crushed pistachios or mini rosebuds on top.

Yields 12 Cupcakes

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cupcakes, vegan, rosewater cupcakes

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