Hello beautiful cats! How are you? I hope you are enjoying your weekend! For me, this is a very relaxing one as the past week has been so busy – but Sundays are also for a walk and I found a lovely new spot not too far from my home: I wasn’t aware of it as I usually go the other direction and a colleague told me about it. Loved this little Sunday adventure! And what better sweetie I could find at home if not this Vegan School Dinner Sponge by TraditionalPlantBasedCooking?! If you don’t know this website, please go and give it a look because they have veganised almost every food you grew up with not only from the British Isles but North America, Oceania and more.
So without further ado, here is the recipe!
225 grams self-raising flour sieved, or plain/all purpose flour with an extra ½ teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons baking powder sieved
175 grams caster sugar or granulated
6 tablespoons vegetable oil such as rapeseed/sunflower (this is not a strong tasting oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
225 ml water
Jam and coconut topping:
8 tablespoons fruit jam (jelly) Give the jam a good mix with a spoon so it’s easier to spread.
4 tablespoons desiccated coconut
Prepare the sponge:
Preheat oven to 160 Fan/ 180 Celsius/ 350 Fahrenheit/ gas 4.
Grease the baking dish and line with greaseproof paper if necessary.
Add dry ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix.
Add wet ingredients and mix to a smooth batter.
Scoop the cake batter into the baking dish. A spatula is amazing as it helps scrape all the batter off the bowl.
Place baking dish on the middle shelf of the oven.
Bake for 25-30 minutes depending on your oven. Fan ovens are often faster to bake. Check the traybake after 25 minutes. Cake is ready when risen, lightly golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Leave the cake for about 20 minutes and then carefully remove from the tin to cool on a wire rack. Or simply leave in the tin to cool. It will be fine. Carefully peel away the baking paper.
Once cool finish the sponge by adding the decoration.
Jam and coconut topping:
Whip your jam with a spoon to loosen it up and make it easier to spread. Spread over your cake.
Sprinkle coconut over the jam to cover.
Slice into 12 pieces.
I enjoyed a piece of this sponge with some hot tea after the walk!
Happy Sunday, cuties! Are you surviving the “Artic Blast”? The weather forecast for our area was saying that there would have been a lot of snow, but in the end, we had only a sprinkle and not much else! However, it has been below zero for a few days so this called for some warm and comforting food and I was in the mood for a goulash: I still remember when my granddad was making this dish, all the care he was putting into it and how delicious and comforting it was. Obviously, it wasn’t vegan, but I was looking to recreate that feeling again and I managed to find the perfect recipe! ForkfulOfPLants’ recipe for a Vegan Goulash with Mushroom and Smoked Tofu is just what you want.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 brown onions chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper chopped into 1 inch pieces
500 g mushrooms sliced
2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
200 g carrots chopped into ½ inch pieces
300 g potatoes chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 block smoked tofu (approx 225g) cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp flour
400 g chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
500 ml vegetable stock
3 springs fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the chopped onions and pepper, and sauté over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes until they start to soften.
Add the mushrooms, and cook for 5 minutes more, or until they start to release liquid. Then, add the smoked and sweet paprika, and the garlic powder.
Stir the spices through, then add the carrots, potatoes and tofu. Sprinkle over the flour, and mix well again.
Finally, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, vegetable stock and fresh thyme. Stir to combine, then bring the goulash to a steady simmer.
Cover and cook for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes has passed, remove the lid, stir, and allow to cook for a further 20 minutes uncovered, or until the potatoes are soft and the vegetable goulash has thickened.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
You can swap the smoked tofu for the same quantity of soy chunks – rehydrate them in warm water, drain them and add to the recipe instead of the tofu.
Hello beautiful kittens! How are you? These days everybody is talking a lot about how spring is approaching and they are all so happy, I don’t have the heart to tell them that spring doesn’t agree with me! But yeah, the past days have been decisively milder, although I wouldn’t scream “spring!” just yet as a couple of years ago we got snow in May and two years before that it was “The Beast from the East” in March.
Hello beauties! Just a very short post today. We’re having an unusual mild weather at the moment, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t make some delicious comforting food. So here’s the recipe for Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cookies by Elavegan: you won’t believe how delectable they are…and without flour!
1 1/2 tbsp ground chia seeds + 1/4 cup (60 g) water
1 scant cup (100 g) ground sunflower seeds or almond flour
3/8 cups (75 g) date sugar or organic cane sugar
5 tbsp (30 g) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp espresso powder (optional, but recommended)
3 1/2 tbsp (50 g) nut/seed butter of choice
1 1/2 tbsp (18 g)coconut oil melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup (60 g) dairy-free chocolate chips or chocolate chunks (or both)
1 To a small bowl add ground chia seeds (or ground flax seeds) and 1/4 cup water. Stir to combine and set aside. Also, preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
To a medium-sized bowl (or food processor) add ground sunflower seeds (or almond flour), cane sugar (or granulated sugar of choice), cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder. Mix until there are no lumps.
Add nut/seed butter of choice, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and the chia seed mixture. Stir (or blend, if using a food processor) until combined.
Finally, add the dairy-free chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) and mix with your hands until you have a smooth dough.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces (each weighing about 50 grams / or make 10 smaller ones) and roll each piece with your hands into a ball. You can also use an ice cream scoop.
Place the cookie dough balls on the prepared parchment paper and flatten them with your hand. Bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes. They will be still soft when you take them out but firm up once cooled. Enjoy!
You won’t regret making them and probably eating them as soon as they get out of the oven!
Hello my beautiful kittens! How are you? Are you enjoying the winter weather, with long walks in the cold air, or are you more of a hibernating creature? Here I do enjoy a bit of both. Especially with the increase in bills, to spend less it would be better to go for walks at the weekend to avoid consuming too much electricity and gas. But how good is it to get all nice and comfy, with loads of hot tea, under the blankies and by watching your favourite TV shows?! Love both.
But talking about the “cost of living crisis” (I feel we’ll get a new acronym for this too) there is much advertisement about how to cope with this.
One of these methods would be for consumers to switch to the so-called “value brands”, which usually means buying store-owned brands: in the United Kingdom it would be Tesco, Morrisons, M&S etc instead of the “Big Brands”. This seems to be such a big sacrifice for people because they have always given so much trust to these bespoken companies: true they are more expensive, but you get quality. In theory. So it makes sense that people are disappointed that they won’t be able to afford what they used to. But we should actually be happy that this is happening (not the prices rising, but people buying less of these brands).
Who are the “Big Brands”?
When we talk about these Big Brands, we are talking of the likes of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Mars, Johnson&Johnson, etc. We’ve already talked about how these are just evil incarnate previously, but if this is the first time you’re reading this blog please check this post and this one too.
The main examples I see around, are Heinz beans and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. These are staple foods in most of the kitchens probably around the world: who hasn’t heard about Heinz or Kellogg’s? Or what about Mars bars?
Everybody knows them, most of these brands have been around for a hundred years. And how much advertisement has been done in all this time? In my work, I sometimes have to search old newspapers, from the 1910s, 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s: they are filled with ads from these brands. You wouldn’t believe how many Bovril advertisements are in each issue of the newspapers I have to inspect: and to add to this, they also had fairly long articles sharing the *supposed* benefits of such foods, writing that they were the very best of the best, top-notch quality so every household should have them because these brands can really be trusted.
In the past decades, they managed to create customer trust that it is difficult to undermine: people will always prefer asking for a “coke” meaning that they want a soda by Coca-Cola or Pepsi. They will ask for “Heinz beans” or “Heinz ketchup”. They will go for Kellogg’s cereals, thinking that they’ll be making a safer choice.
But these brands have become so comfortable that while their products *might* have been decent in the past, now they now put all the different chemicals, extra refined sugar (yes, the beans too), palm-oil and more. Because they know that people wouldn’t even look into the ingredients, consumers will just buy them because of the name.
It seems that in the past years, there has been a fair change in consumers’ behaviours, with more people opting for a vegetarian or vegan diet or also just more interest in how the food is made, checking the ingredients and being more aware of what the food they want to buy contains.
There has also been a boom in small independent businesses, producing handmade vegetarian and vegan food that doesn’t use harmful ingredients. Because of how this is made, it is more expensive than the “big brands” products.
With the rising costs of bills and groceries, people are becoming more concerned about what they can spend their money on and they have to make choices about where to cut their expenses. The more expensive stuff will have to go: good offers on food are now very tempting. People are going to buy groceries at value retailer shops like B&M, which are fully stocked with Nestle, Mars, Kraft etc.
But choosing the Big Brands means that your health will be really compromised: the amount of sugar, palm oil and chemicals used to make these products, eaten in large quantities, will have an impact on your health.
Not only that. Their labour and environmental policies are appalling (see the linked posts above).
How to avoid them
It is difficult, I won’t deny it. They are everywhere, at convenience stores you’ll only find these brands and they can look like the better budget solution.
However, supermarkets like Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s make their own products: they are cheaper and usually have better ingredients and quality controls than the big brands.
The other solution, is to look into the special offers from the vegan independent businesses: the 3×2 or when products are close to the use-by date, you can buy in bulk and freeze the surplus.
For cupboard items like legumes, you can buy them dried: make a big batch once every 2-4 weeks to use for stews and soups and freeze the rest to use in future dishes.
The “Big Brands” worked hard to gain people’s trust through heavy advertisements to convince the public opinion that they are “good for you”, but they are actually full of food additives and chemicals. If you want to avoid them, you can by purchasing supermarkets’ own brands or buying dry items.
What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments.
Hello my beautiful cats! How are you? It’s been quite a long time since the last time I wrote here! I’ve been away visiting my parents for two weeks during the Holiday season and it’s been great: I spent such a lovely time with them, we’ve been visiting some different places almost every other day, just the three of us and it’s been amazing! The downside, leaving them and when I came back home to the UK I felt I was missing them a lot – but this is not the place to talk about it and will dedicate a post about moving away from home, to another country.
Today it’s Recipe Sunday! And I wanted to share the Vegan Borscht recipe by ConnoisseurusVeg I made this week, which was exactly what I needed for a comfy night after an extremely busy day. It’s an easy recipe with a delicious result!
Vegan sour cream, yogurt, or cashew cream, for serving
Chopped fresh chives and/or parsley, for serving
Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the beets, carrot and onions. Sauté until the veggies begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute, until very fragrant.
Stir in the broth, tomato paste, cabbage and potato. Raise the heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat and allow to simmer, uncovered, until the veggies are tender, 15-20 minutes. You can add more broth or water if you like.
Remove the pot from heat and stir in the lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the soup into bowls and top with vegan sour cream, yogurt, or cashew cream, and a sprinkling of fresh dill, parsley and/or chives.
Hi kittens! How are you? It’s been a very cold week: snow and ice have covered where I live and I was really a Winter Wonderland! Just perfect for the pre-Christmas period. And it’s a great time to have some comfort food like this Vegan Vegetable Wellington by ConnoseurusVeg.
Place the rice, broth, thyme, sage and rosemary into a small saucepan and set it over high heat.
Bring the liquid to a boil, lower the heat and cover. Allow the rice to simmer for about 40 minutes, until the liquid is fully absorbed.
Remove the pot from heat and allow it to sit with the lid on for at least 5 minutes before uncovering.
While the rice cooks, preheat the oven to 400°.
Toss the squash with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and and toss the mushrooms with 2 teaspoons of oil. Arrange them separately on the baking sheets.
Place the baking sheets into the oven and bake until the squash and mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove the baking sheets from the oven but leave the oven on.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and place it over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add the onion. Sweat the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute, until very fragrant.
Lower the heat and carefully add the whiskey (Note 4). Raise the heat back to medium, bring the whiskey to a simmer it simmer for about 2 minutes, until most of the liquid has cooked off.
Add 1 cup of the cooked rice (Note 5), squash, mushrooms and pecans to the skillet. Stir a few times to mix everything up.
Taste-test the mixture at this point (careful, as it will be hot) and season it with salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to incorporate. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it to about a 12-inch square. Transfer it to the baking sheet.
Pile the filling on the puff pastry, forming a long rectangle extending down the center of the puff pastry sheet. Shape the filling with your hands and pack it in. It should seem like a lot, but you can remove some if it’s way too much.
Option 1: Braid the dough. Use a knife to cut approximately 1-inch strips down either side of the rectangle, stopping about a half in from the strip of filling. Starting at the bottom, fold the strips inward at a slight diagonal, over the filling, pinching opposite strips together.
Option 2: Simply fold the top and bottom ends of the puff pastry over the filling, then wrap the sides overtop to form a log shape, pinching tightly at the seams to form a seal. Poke a few holes in the dough to allow steam to escape.
Brush the pastry with the melted butter.
Bake the log until golden and puffy, 30-35 minutes.
Allow the vegetable Wellington to cool just for a couple minutes, then slice and serve.
We’re so close to Christmas! Do you have everything ready for this holiday? If yes, I’m absolutely happy for you and kudos for your organisational skills. Here, we’re not 100% ready but. I know what I would like for my Christmas dinner! So, I’m sharing with you the recipes
I hope you’ll have a great time during these holidays and you’ll manage to also get some rest. And I hope you’ll enjoy some of these delicious dishes! If you make any of these, let me know what you think 🙂
Hello beauties! Is everything okay with you? Here it has snowed and it is really Winter Wonderland! So beautiful. This morning I felt like pancakes and followed a recipe by the VietVegan that I shared last year for Pancake Day: it’s my favourite recipe for pancakes, so easy to make and has a delicious result! For dinner, I wanted something versatile to use for tomorrow’s lunch and this Air Fryer Tofu by LovingItVegan was exactly what I needed.
Press the tofu for 30 minutes. It’s ideal if you use a tofu press. If you don’t have a tofu press you can place your tofu on a plate, with another plate on top and then stack something heavy on top of that, like a heavy pot.
When the tofu is pressed cut it into cubes.
Add sesame oil, soy sauce and maple syrup to a measuring jug and whisk together into a sauce.
Place the tofu cubes into a container with a tight sealing lid.
Pour the sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup mix over the top of the tofu.
Place the lid onto the container and rotate it a few times, gently tossing the tofu with the sauce.
Add cornstarch, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and ground black pepper to a small bowl and mix together.
Sprinkle half the spice mix over the tofu. Put the lid on the container and rotate it a few times to gently toss the tofu in the spices.
Then sprinkle the rest of the spice mix over the tofu, seal the container again and rotate it a few times again to toss the tofu in the spices.
Place the blocks of tofu into the air fryer in a single layer with space between each block. Make sure they don’t touch.
Depending on the size of your air fryer you may be able to do it in one batch.
Cook at 400°F (200°C) for 10 minutes until golden and crispy.
Hello beauties! Christmas is approaching. This is a time of celebration, of visiting your family and friends and spending time together with loved ones. But it can also bring up some anxiety as we want to find the right presents for these people. In addition to this, there might be concerns about how all this shopping might have a negative environmental impact on our beloved planet. Also considering that during this period it seems that the big companies monopolise the holidays’ scene.
Despair no more! There are many solutions for a more ethical, sustainable Christmas shopping without sacrificing originality, affordability and personality.
Probably one of the best ways for more sustainable Christmas gifts, are those made by you: from knitting to potpourri and wreaths and much more! There are so many things that you can make yourself and gift to your family and friends and it’ll show how much you care for them because you spent time making these creations. If you want to start your journey in the Christmas DIY, APieceOfRainbow really got you covered! ThePioneerWoman is another brilliant place that you can visit to get some more ideas, as well as TheSpruce.
Support Local Artists
Second in the list, I put local artists: look around your area, artists are everywhere and with all sorts of skills! There are painters and illustrators, sculptors and jewellers, just look around you and you’ll find a different world.
For example, in the town where I live, there is a place that hosts creations by local artists on a regular basis. And in another couple of towns not far from where I live, there are similar places.
Local artists have also small businesses where they sell their art. But there are other categories of small businesses that you can support: an example, artisanal food producers – jams, marmalades, chocolates, liqueurs etc. You can find small businesses that make vegan products and are handmade. True, they’re going to be more expensive compared to similar products by the bigger companies, but they usually also have smaller items for sale that would make for perfect gifts.
Last year, I got some sets of lovely handmade soaps for my relatives, while this year I got some handmade candles from a small business I follow on Instagram.
Many lovely small businesses put their stuff up on Etsy.
Good On You is a website that reviews clothing and accessories companies, rating them on a scale from 1 (“We avoid”) to 5 (“Great”) for “Planet”, “Animals” and “People”. While the obvious fast-fashion brands like H&M and Primark are rated “We avoid”, there are so many others that are rated “Great” and “Good” and are also affordable!
Adoption and Sponsor Packages
Probably one of the best gift ideas is adoption packages from animal charities. From the RSPCA/SSPCA, to the Cats Protection and all the different sanctuaries, you can find different adoption and sponsor packages: they usually provide a card with all the details of the adopted/sponsored animal, with a picture and sometimes a little gift such as a keychain or puppet.
Subscriptions to magazines
The Ethical Consumer is the perfect magazine for the person that wants to find out more about sustainable brands and ways to live a more ethical life.
If you are not vegan yet, this is the right time to try out some vegan dishes. If you don’t have time to make your own food, there are many brands that are making delicious vegan food that is also affordable.
Make your own food…and share it!
True, as said above, there are more and more brands making ready food for Christmas. But it’s so nice to make your own food. And yes, it takes time and effort, but there are many recipes that are easy and quick with great results. For example, this “50 Vegan Christmas Dinner Recipes That Impress” by Nutriciously article provides a number of easy, quick and delicious recipes for a brilliant Christmas!
Despite the fact that at Christmas you might find it difficult to be sustainable, I hope that this post
showed that this is easily achievable even during this stressful time. There are ideas for everyone!
Let me know what you think, and if you have other ways for more sustainable holidays.