Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Tourist in My Home Town



Tomorrow is my last day in work and then I am off to New York for a week. To say this has been a challenging year would be a understatement and I am so in need of a holiday. Some great things have happened this year though, one of them being my sister getting pregnant with twins! So, we are off to celebrate her 40th birthday 6 months early as the babies are due in November.

I was rushing round after work getting last minute holiday stuff and couldn't face the thought of going home and cooking. It was such a lovely evening I treated myself to veggie tacos with extra guacomole at Barburrito and sat at a table outside in the evening sun people watching in Piccadilly Gardens. I felt like a tourist and it was a little thing to do but it definitely put me in the holiday mood.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Vegan skincare bargains



Everything in the above pic I've bought from TKMaxx for between £2 and £4. It really is worth checking out the beauty products section in their stores as they often have vegan friendly stuff. The first 2 products are not labelled as vegan but I have checked with the companies and they are. The next 3 all carry the Vegan Society logo. They are also mainly organic too. From left to right - JR Watkins Hand and Body Lotion in Lemon Creme, Seboni Cornish Spa Essentials Fistral Sea Body Lotion, Purley Skincare Organic Lavender and Palmrosa Moisturiser, Kristen Bailey Organic Collection Lemon and Tea Tree Cleansing Handwash and Tisserand Nourishing Hand and Nail Cream in Organic Lavender.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Mama's Twisted Orange Carrot Cake



My sister's partner has just had a birthday and as part of his present I made him a cake of his choice. The choice was carrot cake. The recipe is Mama's Twisted Orange Carrot Cake from the Post Punk Kitchen website. It's definitely not from the health food school of vegan cooking with rather large amounts of oil and sugar but it tastes amazing!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Sold Out!



Yesterday lunchtime Alex and I had a lovely hour out of the office meeting our friend Matthew for a coffee. Matthew is a great cook and we got onto various food related topics and just before we left to go back to work we were talking about cake. Of course, then we wanted some. We popped into the Cocoa Emporium and they had sold out of vegan cupcakes. They have recently moved from the 2nd to the 1st floor in Afflecks Palace and now are also a cafe serving loose teas in fine bone china. Luckily there was back up in the form of the Sweet Tooth Cupcakery just across the road. We managed to get the last 2 vegan cakes they had - lovely chai flavour. Then when I got back to the office I found a vanilla cupcake with lemon icing waiting for me from Jen. All that sugar helped me get my work done twice as fast!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Start 'Em Young



My friend Eddie was 3 this week. In celebration we are having a picnic tomorrow at the fabulous Lyme Park, or Lion Park as the kids I used to teach always insisted on calling it! Eddie likes all sorts of toys but seems to have a fondness for food related items so I couldn't resist this Space Boy baking set for his present.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

School Night Partying



Had friends round for a sedate mid week meal last night which turned into a mini wine tasting and ahem a bedtime of after 2am! I had a late start and a training course today and have bizarrely felt non the worse. I forgot to take pics of the main but it was my favourite BBQ tofu from Get it Ripe. Dessert was pear and cranberry tart from Vegan with a Vengeance with Oatly cream and a 22 year old bottle of dessert wine.


And talking of school night partying I had an email read out by Steve Lamacq on BBC6 radio earlier in the day when people were sending in tales of going to gigs on school nights as young uns. Growing up in Manchester, I used to go to quite a few. The one I emailed in about was The Cure, The Top tour. I was 15 and when I went to my seat on the front row of the balcony of the Manchester Appollo and there was a projector there. The management gave my friend Shirley and I a free tee-shirt, we were allowed to stand at the front right next to the stage and we got to meet the band afterwards. And, of course we wore the tee-shirts the next day under our school uniforms! Happy memories.

Monday, 19 July 2010

New Shoes


I've wanted a pair of velvet Doc Martin boots for ages. They aren't made any more so the only chance of getting any is Ebay. They come up now and again in varying conditions and the rarity value means that they always go for more than I can afford, a good condition pair usually going for £80-£100. Hooray, hooray, I lucked out last week. I've never even seen a pair with this design and they are so vintage that they are even made in England, not China as they are these days. And, they are unworn. In fact they are so beautiful I'm a bit scared to wear them myself! I love the Autumnal leaf pattern, they remind me of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings where I used to work! A bargain at £21.


The last pair of shoes that I bought were these very comfortable heels with money from my last birthday which were half price in a TUK sale. All TUK shoes are vegan friendly and they have another sale on at the moment and you even get a free pair of flip flops with every purchase. Check them out.


Sunday, 18 July 2010

Beneath the Stride Of Giants



Had another visit to St Anne's this weekend. Got the train to Blackpool North and popped into the Grundy Art Gallery for an hour before Jude picked me up. I really like this gallery, it's small and quiet and they show some cool stuff. The current show has some stuff that had me laughing out loud in delight. There's a delightfully absurd cardboard box that starts talking to you and some fantastic films of an artist and family setting up practical jokes for each other with badly behaved furniture. And the centrepiece is the huge sculpture pictured 'Beneath the Stride of Giants' by Brian Griffiths made entirely from second hand wooden furniture with little wooden sculptures inside the portholes. Magical.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Odorama



I've just been to my second Odorama Scratch n Sniff cinema event. The first one was Gregory's Girl last year and tonight it was the turn of My Beautiful Laundrette. The event was at Hub and is part of this weekend's Hazard Mix festival of live art and gaming. There were bags of 80s sweets and retro cocktails to keep us refreshed whilst we watched the film. We were given scratch cards to activate and sniff at certain points and bubbles to blow whenever there were scenes in the laundrette and the evening finished with a QandA with Gordon Warnecke the star of the film. Can't wait for the next one!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Japanese Chips



1 sweet potato cut into wedges, tossed in sesame oil and sprinkled with this, the secret ingredient. Baked at 200c for 30 minutes. Pure comfort food.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Crisps



There were World Cup crisps in work on Friday. The only ones that I could spot that were vegan friendly were the Argentinian Flame Grilled Steak ones which were actually flavoured with soya not meat! Reminded me a bit of the Bovril flavour crisps of my childhood.I don't do crisps so much anymore. In my prevegan days I was a big fan of the maize type crisps, Quavers, Wotsits and Skips being my crisp of choice. I tend to just stick to Kettle Chips these days when I buy crisps. Maybe there's a whole world of vegan crisps put there I have yet to discover. If you know of any please comment bearing in mind I do not do ready salted, yuk.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Double Bourbon



I made this back last week but have had the most horrendous summer cold and have only just got round to posting. I made it as I had the start of a sore throat coming on and can vouch for it being medicinal as well as delicious.

Double Bourbon

2/3 pint of soya milk
Big scoop of Vanilla Swedish Glace icecream
1 shot of Bourbon

Blend in your blender/ liquidiser. Serve in a pint glass with straws.

Easy peasy. I had to use Jack Daniels which isn't technically Bourbon which must come from Kentucky but Tennessee whiskey but it was all I could get in miniature form and it was good enough.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Big Apple



I'm off to the Big Apple for a flying visit in 3 weeks with my sister. We only have 4 days there. If anyone has been recently and has any suggestions of vegan places we can't miss please comment. So far we have Lula's Sweet Apothecary and Pure food and Wine as must sees for this trip. We were last there 3 years ago when Candle 79, Red Bamboo, Teany and Quintessence were highlights for us. I can't wait for a holiday. My last one was well over a year ago and involved travelling by coach to Amsterdam and then getting flu!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The End of An Era


A great end to the weekend and the end of an Era. I met Dale at 6pm for a pre-theatre supper at the always reliable Tampopo. Tampopo are a canteen style restaurant serving quality fast food from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philipines, Japan and Korea. The chain started in Manchester and is starting to spread throughout the UK. They have always catered for vegans, including 3 dessert options and the menu is labelled accordingly.


After eating we headed for the Library Theatre. This Manchester institution opened it's doors 58 years ago and last night the curtain fell on the final night of the final production (The Importance of Bring Earnest) at this venue. The theatre is in the basement of the iconic Manchester Central Library. The library itself closed a few months ago for some major refurbishment work and will reopen in 2013. I've seen lots of productions at the Library Theatre over the years, including one of the best pieces of theatre I've ever seen anywhere.

So, tonight was the Library Theatre's send off. A gala evening of hits past and present with performances and speeches from the likes of Richard Griffiths and Patrick Stewart. It's so strange to think I will go past my favourite building everyday but I can't go in it for several years. And the Library Theatre? Unlike the library itself it won't return. For the next few years it will stage shows in the Quays Theatre at The Lowry. Then in 4 years time in 2014, it will move to it's new home, Manchester's oldest surviving theatre, and a bingo hall and nightclub since the 1970s, The Theatre Royal.



Cakes and BBQs


Last week was a really rubbish week for me. There was a good end to it though. On Friday I got an email from Cafe Direct saying they would like to use my Paddington Cake as a future recipe of the month on their blog.


They asked me to translate the measurements from cups into metric which meant I had to make a Paddington Cake to work this out and also to send some photographs.



I got invited to stay at my sisters for the weekend so we have been enjoying the cake for the last few days.


Last night we had a BBQ. We grilled Redwoods Quarter Pounders which tasted really great done on the BBQ. We also did sweet potato chips, pepper and courgette kebabs and some black bean kofta kebabs which looked like they were going to fall apart and there was much swearing when making them but they turned out well. Dessert was grilled pineappple slices soaked in rum which we flambeed and served with toasted pecans and vanilla Swedish Glace. Yum, I love BBQs.