Thursday, 29 September 2016

Trying Out Linda McCartney New Pulled Chicken

The new range of Linda McCartney frozen products was launched the other week. We managed to get our hands on a bag of the pulled chicken and put it to good use last weekend.

I decided to team it up with a jar of this free-from Bechamel sauce from Tesco. I always make my own sauces for lasagne and wasn't expecting much but it was ok and I would use it again. I definitely think I would take a jar of it on holiday for ease.

One of my favourite lasagnas in my pre-vegan days involved chicken mince which made me come up with a chicken, mushroom and spinach lasagne. I fried an onion then added the bag of pulled chicken and some white wine. I also added a punnet of sliced white mushrooms and some homemade tomato pasta sauce that we had leftover. It was probably the equivalent of a jar of shop bought sauce. I simmered it for about 20 minutes and seasoned with salt, black pepper and a little dried tarragon.

I layered up with the chicken mixture and the bechamel. On the middle layer of bechamel I also added about a quarter of a cup of finely grated Violife Prosociano (I used a microplane for all the cheese in the recipe as it helps it melt really well). To the top layer of white sauce I added about half a cup of Violife original grated from the block and then another quarter of a cup of grated Violife Prosociano.

I was really pleased with how it turned out. The finished lasagne made four servings. I would have made a bigger one but didn't have many lasagne sheets. There was leftover filling that we had in an oven baked quesadilla with some added cheese and slices of tomato. I will definitely have to try it in BBQ sauce in a sandwich next with a side of coleslaw. The other new products are chorizo and red pepper sausages, shredded hoisin duck and beef burrito. Have you managed to try any of them yet?

Monday, 26 September 2016

Glossop Goings On!

A few weeks ago I posted this picture in a blog post. We'd been mourning the loss of One 17 Bakery and it's fantastic vegan baked goods and were pleased to see that this new venture was also going to feature them.

Glossop already has a reputation as a vegan friendly town with it's pub, The Globe, which has an all vegan food menu and some vegan drinks. There is also a vegan menu at Pico Lounge and some great vegan options at Ayubowan Sri Lankan restaurant. The People's Kitchen event every month at Glossop Labour Club also provides a budget friendly vegan community meal and we have a great health food shop in Peak of Health.

 I'm pleased to report that the Pie Parlour has been an amazing addition to the town. Pictured above are a few of the cakes we have sampled. There's an oreo cupcake and the slices are chocolate and mango cakes which are gluten free too. I do find vegan, gluten free baking can be hit and miss but Dianne the owner of the bakery really knows what she is doing with both vegan and GF baking. I have been hugely impressed with everything that I have sampled and also that she is constantly trying out new things.

This plate of pies we shared was a Homity Pie and a Caramalised Onion pie topped with a tofu lid. We've also sampled an amazing cheese and onion pie. This had gf pastry which blew my mind, it was so perfectly crisp. The bread in the picture is a GF french stick and the one in the picture below is GF focaccia with green and black olives and the new Scheese Feta. This was excellent for dunking in soup.

I was in London last week and Matt treated himself to a Foragers Pie which was made with mushrooms and wait for it...........a Mac and Cheese pie! As you can imagine this got lots of likes on the What Fat Vegans Eat Facebook group. If you're not on this group it's great and you see some amazing meals.

It's great to see the Pie Parlour teaming up with another small business too by selling chocolate by Cocoa-Nut Grove Cakes. Think big thick slabs of handmade chocolate studded with goodies and you get the picture.

In other exciting Glossop based news check out this graphic novel with an animal rights theme. Animus will be the second book published by Invisible Six; a new small publishing company, based in Glossop. Animus is a moving, gripping and sometimes humorous graphic novel with a strong theme of animal rights and respect for nature. It's written by SM Worsey and illustrated in striking black and white by Brian Gorman, whose other works include Everyman - The Story of Patrick McGoohan, and Borderliners: True Realities.

SM Worsey has completed the script and Brian is drawing a page a day. They need funding to finish the project and cover the print bill. There's a variety of perks available for funders, and they'll have the satisfaction of knowing they've helped get an exciting and ethically-motivated book out into the world.

Animus is a moving, gripping and sometimes humorous graphic novel about animals fighting back. A book full of love, rage and stunning art. Animus tells the story of a tough, determined female badger, who assembles a skilled team of animals in order to liberate other animals, save lives and exact revenge on cruel humans. The main characters include a fox, a beagle, a rabbit, a cat, an ex-racehorse and a raven. Animus don't seem like much, against the might of modern human society. But Animus isn’t in our society, they exist alongside it, with all the skills, determination and instinct they can muster. Animus is an exciting and moving story of love, teamwork and revenge."

Here's a link to the Crowdfunder page. Incentives range from invites to the launch party which I believe will be at the new V Revolution, copies of original artwork and even a chance to have an animal of your choosing included in the book. I know the writer of the book and they are a really inspiring, creative person who has done a lot for veganism and animals over the years. Please check out the crowdfunder and spread the word!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


Hello! I am back blogging after an absence of over a month! I'm afraid I've been laid low with back to back viruses. The first one caused acute sinusitis and the second a throat infection. Having the chronic cough condition and a type of bronchitis anyway means that getting anything on top of those is pretty bad. For the first week and a half I struggled to watch telly or read and even get out of bed. It really wiped me out but I'm feeling a lot better this week. It's a bit of a sparse round up for a whole month but here's some vegan finds we've been enjoying.

First up is Grassmere Gingerbread. I started first feeling unwell on the weekend of a wedding of some dear friends of ours but luckily the full lurgy held off til the Monday and I was able to attend the wedding celebrations on the Friday and Saturday. They got married in a really beautiful place on the edge of Lake Windermere. As a lifelong fan of Grassmere gingerbread we stopped off on the way home to purchase some. You buy it from a tiny gingerbread shop where it is made daily and which smells amazing.

It comes in a lovely waxed packet and is like no other gingerbread. I've tried to show the inside where you can see pieces of candied ginger. It manages to be soft and chewy with a crunchy topping and tastes seriously amazing! The company that make it say that it is vegan. Amazingly they don't list the ingredients anywhere on the wrapping. I'm not really sure how they get away with this with the new allergy laws. I guess they maybe have a list of ingredients available to view in the shop if you ask but I didn't think to. I want to know the ingredients so I can make it at home. There are various recipes on the internet but it is hard to know if any are authentic and none of the ones I've found are actually vegan although some you could sub margarine for butter and they would be. Apparently the recipe they use is kept in a sealed bank vault!

One of the days I was sick, Matt brought me a bag of these home as a surprise after spotting them in WH Smiths in the train station. They also seem to be available in Starbucks and Boots too.

I was really excited as on first glance I thought they were going to be like Wotsits, a much missed crisp from pregan days. However, the texture is very different and is hard and crunchy. I liked these but found them more like croutons and ended up using them in that way to top a salad. Joey on Flicking the V's has included them on a recent vegan snack round up and after reading her review I am tempted to seek out the other flavours to try.

We got some free vouchers to try the new Alpro Go-On yoghurts and we also bought some as they were on offer for 50p in Tescos so we've managed to try all the flavours. My favourite is definitely the passion fruit one. I'm not really a big yoghurt person but I liked the set texture of these and I found myself actually craving one the other day so they must be doing something right!

Matt did all the cooking the first week I was ill including a lovely tofu and brown rice noodle soup one night. Later on this cropped up on Facebook - apparently whilst the tofu was baking the noodles were doing a Donald Trump's hair impression!

I don't usually look at Kellogg's cereals as a lot of them are fortified with non vegan Vitamin D but I spotted boxes of this in Heron for 69p and was curious about what it was made from. It's just organic wholegrain maize, organic dried sugar cane syrup, salt and organic molasses and I really like it.

For the same price they also had bags of this ancient grains museli again without any pesky non vegan added vitamins. The stuff is so cheap as it's usually coming up to it's best before date but there is a month left on each of these so we'll have no problem getting through them. The Pastinos are crisps made from pasta and were in the specials at Aldi. There are a few flavours in the range that are vegan but not all of them. I was really pleased to see these as we loved them when we found them on holiday a few years ago and I've never seen them anywhere since!

This Belgium chocolate with caramelised cacao nibs was also in the Aldi specials and was good value for 99p. Definitely worth popping a bar in your basket if you spot it.

Whilst I was on my sick bed when my eyes were up to using the computer I entered a few competitions as I like to do every month. Natural Balance foods who make Nak'd and Trek products run these competitions every month and I was delighted when I got an email from them saying that I had won the Feed Your Office For Free prize for that month! We got an amazing parcel of Nak'd bars, Nak'd crunch bars, bags of Nak'd bits. Trek bars, Trek Protein flapjacks and Nak'd flavoured raisins. The boxes all contained mixed flavours so there was so much choice and they went down really well with my work colleagues.

Finally I'll leave you with a picture of the Derbyshire hills. For a couple of weeks in August the heather covered hills turn purple. Such a gorgeous sight.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Friends, family and a food haul

It's felt like a really busy few weeks with the time flying by! We had a lovely visit from Jojo of Vegan in Brighton blog and her partner, Nick a few weekends ago. We loved having them to stay and it was amazing hearing about their travels and plans for the future. We managed to fit in taking them to the Globe, our town's vegan pub and whilst they were here I also knocked up a 'carb buffet' or as Nick renamed it a 'beige banquet'. As well as burgers there was mac and cheese made using my favourite Oh She Glows recipe that uses roasted butternut squash which is topped with toasted pumpkin seeds.

I also made one of my favourite pizzas. I can take no credit for this as it used to be on the menu at Odder in Manchester a few years back but I would urge you to give it as try. The base is covered with hoisin sauce then topped with sliced par boiled potatoes and slices of red onion. Simple and delicious.

I made some more ice cream this week with my recently purchased Aldi ice cream maker and the 20p cans of coconut milk from last week's Netto closing down sale. I was really pleased with how this came out. I used this recipe for Coconut, Almond, Choc Chip which is based on Ben and Jerry's Coconut, Almond Fudge. I never had the Ben and Jerry's when it was available to make a comparison but this was really good, especially served in Aldi's chocolate dipped waffle cones.

We had my nephew and niece to stay on their first sleepover at our house. It was a lot of fun and I got them to make dessert. They had fun choosing from my cookie cutter collection to make these lemon shortbread biscuits and I introduced them to a tradition I remember from being a kid of using the last bit of dough to make your initial that also acts as a 'tester' biscuit.

We also had a bit of a science lesson and observed what happens to chocolate when it is heated and cooled. It was the first time they had tried honeycomb and they loved it. The honeycomb is a traditional English sweet which doesn't contain honey at all. I picked up a bag for 65p from Home Bargains the other week which was even labelled as suitable for vegans.

Last Saturday Matt and I had a shopping trip to Ashton, home of many great bargain stores. We popped into B and M's, Fultons and our favourite vegetarian Asian Supermarket - ASM. We came away with a great haul and have a well stocked pantry again.

These noodles were labelled as vegetarian and there was nothing I noticed in the ingredients to suggest that they weren't vegan. For 50p they've been a nice snack/ easy lunch.

We can't go to ASM without picking up some Cofresh Cheese and Onion curls. We also found these pressels (39p) and almonds (69p) in B and M's. I love Smokehouse Almonds and am excited to try the Wasabi and Soy flavour which I've never seen before.

The noodles were from Fultons and we stocked up on some bargain teas there too. I am really enjoying the Vital Rooibos and Honeybush which are also organic. All five boxes came to a total of £1. The beige box on the left is some darjeeling from Bellevue Tea Company and is lovely too and a bargain at 39p!

Another thing I was pleased to pick up from B and M's was this Vita Coco coconut oil at £2 less than the usual price. Since reading about how monkeys are used in coconut farming I'm trying to be more aware of which brands are ok and this is a make that I'd spotted on an ok list.

Our big exciting news in our little town is that a new artisan bakery has just opened called Grains Bakehouse. We finished up the last of our Vegan Egg on some of their sourdough and it was wonderful bread.

In even more exciting news this is also about to open! Can't wait to see what the Pie Parlour will be selling. I'll be sure to report back. Have a great weekend everyone.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Weekly baking round up

There's been lots of baking going on in my house this week! After making 100 cakes for the LRM launch last Saturday I did a lot more baking for work. My lovely work colleagues donated money for baked goods and raised another $95 towards Hillary's Go Fund Me to get her rehoused and her cats back. If you've not donated yet and can spare a few quid to help a vegan blogger friend then please, please pop on over to the site and also please share it. She could do with one last boost to get to the target and the money will greatly help with getting her and the animals resettled.

The Golden Vanilla Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World are always a winner and are a recipe that works really well to double up on to make a big batch.

The Chocolate, Orange, Walnut brownies are the same ones that I made when I won the Bake-Off competition at work last year. They are the vegan brownie recipe I've found that tastes most like a non-vegan brownie with a perfectly crunchy top and gooey middle. I had half a bag of walnuts left over from the brownies so I made the Maple, Walnut Cookies from Vegan With A Vengeance. I'd not made these for years and had forgotten how delicious they are and so quick to make too. Perfect if you like a chewy kind of cookie.

I work three days a week and my workplace allowed me to bring in stuff for each of those days last week. On the final day I made muffins. Pictured are my favourite muffins ever - the Mocha, Choc Chip muffins again from Vegan With A Vengeance. It might be one the first vegan cookery books I bought over ten years ago but I still use it loads. A true classic. I also made some Orange and Raisin muffins which were based on an Orange and Cranberry muffin recipe from the much missed Urban Vegan blog.

Heron Foods has had Jus Rol breakfast stuff in a tin a few times recently so we've been enjoying croissant and also these pan au chocolat. I love these and think I improved them even further by adding a bit of maple pecan butter to them before rolling and baking. Yum!

And finally I've been getting back into making stone baked pizza again recently. This is the Cowboy Pizza from Vegan Pizza. The sauce is BBQ instead of tomato and it's then topped with smoked Violife cheese, brocolli and some BBQ soy curls (or in my case I used Soja Schnetzel pieces).

If you read this blog regularly you know I am an avid bargain hunter especially when it comes to food. We had a store open in our town called Netto about a year ago. It was a brand that was around years back which Sainsburys recently bought the name of and opened 12 branches around England. It's along the lines of Aldi and Lidl but with not as much range. It's a bit out of town for us so we hadn't visited too much but we'd got some good things when we had. Sadly Sainsburys have decided to close all the stores. We were passing yesterday on the way back from my hospital appointment and we noticed that they were having an 80% off 'Everything Must Go' sale. There wasn't much left but we picked up a case of tomato pasta sauce (which I'll use for pizza) and a case of coconut milk (which I'll use for icecream making) for 20p per item. I worked out that we will be able to have a treat dinner once a week of pizza and icecream for 3 months for less than a fiver! Champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget, that's us!

Sunday, 24 July 2016


I've been thinking a lot this week about community and what that means. In these times of political uncertainty when the media is bombarding us with bad news after bad news and the cost of living is shooting up it's easy just to want to become a hermit and not leave the house unless you have too! I have to admit, I've been feeling really affected but a couple of things have happened in the last week that have made me want to fight back against feeling like that.

First of all we went to The Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival. Matt did his new Battle for the Ballot show on the first night and we got to spend a weekend in the sun catching up with lovely friends listening to inspiring music and speeches including a visit from Jeremy Corbyn.

We've also both been involved with an exhibition organised by The Loiterer's Resistance Movement  I love what the LRM manifesto says - 'We can't agree on what psychogeography means but we all like plants growing out of the sides of buildings, looking at things from new angles, radical history, drinking tea and getting lost, having fun and feeling like a tourist in your home town. Gentrification, advertising, surveillance and blandness makes us sad. We believe there is magic in the Mancunian rain. Our city is made for more than shopping. We want to reclaim it for play and revolutionary fun.'

This amazing drawing is from the exhibition and is by artist and animal rights activist Jane Samuels. It is simply stunning and my iPhone photo does not do it justice in any what. There is so much more detail in real life! 

Myself, Lynnmarie from Manchester Vegan Society and some other vegan bakers baked hundreds of cupcakes for the launch party to create the cake map of Manchester. Each cake was topped with a building and people will asked to leave us their stories and connections to these places resulting in a wonderful wall of colourful post its and shared memories and tales.

Matt also has an artwork in the show, a song played on a old tape recorded and an accompanying artwork. We had a really great day ending in an after party with live music that was a lot of fun. Yesterday made me reflect how one small action trying to reach out to meet like minded people has led me to this point in my life. When I first became vegan 10 years ago I did not know any other vegans, not even online. I went along to a Manchester Vegetarian and Vegan Group meeting. I won't lie, I was very nervous about doing this but I am so glad I did. From going to this group and then Manchester Vegan Society meet ups I met Morag the person behind the Loiterer's Resistance Movement. A few years later, through Morag I met my partner Matt.

In these uncertain times, we need to look out for each other. In the last week it's been wonderful to see support from friends and solidarity from the vegan community and vegan blogging network in supporting the Go Fund Me Campaign by my blogger friend Hillary. I blogged about it in more detail here The response has been fantastic and she is almost two thirds there. If you haven't taken a look, please do and if you can make a small donation that would be so much appreciated. She is hoping to be able to start putting out searches for a new place to rent this week. Here is the Go Fund Me page.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

PLEASE READ - Let's Help Hillary and Her Cats

A few years ago I asked friends both online and in real life for help after my friend Jan was badly injured in an accident on holiday in Uganda and an insurance loophole meant that we had to fund raise to pay for a medically assisted flight home. I was so proud when so many people I know stepped up and made it happen. I am asking for help again. Can you spare the price of a coffee, a beer, a bottle of wine? Can you spread the word of this campaign on your blog or social media platform?

Vegan bloggers you may well know Hillary. She often comments under the name Vegan Peace and she writes the blog My Cat Loves Daiya. Hillary lives in Seattle and has had a run of bad luck. She moved to Seattle a year ago but then unfortunately experienced a relationship breakdown and loss of work. She was left with a twelve month lease on an apartment which she lost a week ago. She is homeless and has had to put her family of cats into a shelter. Anyone who has read her blog knows what characters these cats are and how much they mean to her. I'm not going to go into all the details of her background as I don't think that's my place but she has no family back up and no friends in a position to help other than to offer a temporary floor to sleep on at present.

She is a fighter though and she has managed despite being emotionally battered by this situation to get back into work. She is furiously trying to save to get money together to enable her to lease a new place and get her animals back. As the animals are in a shelter, time is of the essence and I know this has been very hard for her to do but she is relying on the kindness of strangers and fellow bloggers.

Please, please, do what you can to help. Here is a link to her Go Fund Me Campaign. Thank you for reading. x