Monday, 3 August 2015

Suma Bloggers Network - Tortilla Soup & Baked Tofu


I'm still totally in love with my Instant Pot pressure cooker that the lovely Mr B gifted me last Christmas, so much so that I'm always looking for new ways to use it. This soup is wonderful for a quick weeknight dinner. Although I used a pressure cooker to make this it can just as easily be made in a slow cooker or on the hob.

Ingredients
For the soup..

400g pinto beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 liter vegetable stock
1 red pepper chopped
1 medium onion diced
1 tsp Suma organic smoked paprika
1 tsp Suma organic Cumin
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp agave syrup
2 wheat tortillas
1 chopped avocado

For the tofu...

1 block drained and pressed firm tofu
1/2 cup soya sauce
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp agave syrup
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp hickory liquid smoke

To start the soup warm oil in saucepan and saute onion, peppers and garlic. After a couple of minutes add the beans, spices, garlic, tomato and garlic puree, liquid smoke, agave and chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 15- 20 minutes.

Warm oven to 180C. Cut up wheat tortillas and place on a baking paper lined tray. Bake until crisp.

Top soup with chopped avocado and crispy tortillas.

The tofu is best prepared in advance as it's best to let it marinate for at least two hours, but longer is better. It can be left overnight if in a sealed tub in the fridge. Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade and pour into the bottom of a food container. Slice your tofu and place in the container making sure it is all covered in the marinade.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with paper and place the slices of tofu evenly. Bake for 15 minutes, flip over and apply more marinade and bake for a further 15 minutes.   

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Nowlisteningto



I've been crazy about Belle & Sebastian for years. I fully admit to High Fidelity being one of my favourite films of all time (I love the book too) and confess that is the first time I heard of this band. They have so many great songs that resonate with me, but this week it is one of their better known songs from 1998.


Jessica Lea Mayfield is a quite new to me artist. "Our Hearts Are Wrong" is a haunting song, but obviously in a good way!


Sleeper are one of my favorite 90's bands and "What Do I Do Now?" is up there with my favorite songs. 90's Britpop at it's best.



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Friday, 17 July 2015

Tierra Kitchen - Lyme Regis


Yesterday evening we once again visited Tierra Kitchen in Lyme Regis - we've been quite a few times now in fact and I've blogged about them before. We have family in the area and we are delighted that there is somewhere to get a vegan meal. I've been pondering all day about how to write this blog post - I really dislike any of my posts coming across negatively, but I also tell the truth and won't say something is great when it isn't. In the end I decided to go ahead and write this post as I desperately want Tierra Kitchen to be better!

My starter was the 'Tierra provencal terrine, layered courgettes, aubergine and mixed peppers, lavender tomato water, basil and almond (V) £6.50". I have had hit and miss experiences in the past with the vegan food here and whilst I recognize that their customers are probably mostly vegetarian, I feel that the vegan offering is not properly thought through. The terrine was set with some type of jelly, but neither the vegetables or the pesto had enough flavor.


My main was the "Baby Rainbow Aubergine Caponata, served with five-herb polenta cake, toasted pine nuts, optional buffalo mozzarella (v option, m, n) £14.20". I of course had the vegan option so no mozzarella! I honestly think this was the most disappointing main course I have ever had here. The price point is similar to other top veggie restaurants in the UK (such as Manna V, Terre a Terre, Acorn) but the food served just does not reflect that. Terre a Terre meals obviously have a lot of skill and preparation involved and the price feels well justified. The meal I was served at Tierra Kitchen was pretty much polenta and ratatouille - by removing the mozzarella for the vegan option they hadn't thought the flavors through and the result was pretty boring.


To be honest by the time it came for pudding I wasn't feeling very optimistic. We had noticed a few things on the menu that were marked '(V) = suitable for vegans' actually had ingredients listed which obviously weren't vegan and should have instead been marked 'vegan option' so we wanted to double check with our server that it was definitely OK. It was at this point that the front of house manager became very rude with us stating that they were a vegetarian restaurant and didn't focus on vegan food and that the errors on the menu were OK because they were 'obvious'. I thought this wasn't strictly true as because they were marked vegan it might be assumed it was vegan cheese and be ordered without stating a 'vegan option' was required. The other two members of staff were lovely though, and we did let them know about the incident with the male who served us.

My dessert was "Pi­ña Colada coconut and lime Panna Cotta, pineapple purée and ice cubes (v) £6.20". It had some nice flavours but it wasn't really a panna cotta as they are normally set - this was similar to vegan yoghurt and puree layers.

In some ways I really hope that Tierra Kitchen will read this and take it on board. I think we were just unlucky with the food on offer on the night we visited, as I have had things before that have been lovely such as the samphire fritters, pumpkin seed sausages and the sweetcorn cakes (which are featured on their cookbook). I think they just need to ensure that at least one starter and one main actually works as a standalone vegan dish, instead of just removing elements of the vegetarian version to make it suitable. Despite my experience with the food I would return, however the rudeness from the front of house manager has seriously put me off.


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Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Garden Shed Cafe - Leamington Spa


I'd been meaning to try this place out before, I'd even tried to go once and it was closed. The Garden Shed Cafe opened it's doors at the beginning of 2015 in Leamington Spa, right behind Gaia health food shop in the old part of town. It's really nice to have a totally vegetarian place to eat in Leamington Spa as before now the choice has been a bit limited - especially if you are vegan.

We both had their vegan breakfast which came with 'lawn sausage', a hash brown, beans, mushrooms, tomato and toast. The lawn sausage was made by themselves and overall it was a really nice meal - a nice change from having a cooked breakfast at a cafe where all the elements are from a packet.


We were also tempted by their good selection of vegan cake and opted for this blackforest cake which was really nice. I was particularly impressed with their ability to cater for my 3 year old mini me with small portions and adapting what was on the menu to suit her tastes. We've been to many places that really don't do kids food very well - but The Garden Shed Cafe was great and she got a cheese toastie and a kids portion of cake which she wolfed down. We paid about £21 for the three of us which was a bargain. The only thing I'd like to see more of would be a bigger selection of drinks - perhaps some of the Fentimans range or Fritz Cola?

Overall we really enjoyed our food and I'm sure we will be back again soon.
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Monday, 22 June 2015

Just V Show 3rd - 5th July, 2015 London, Olympia

V Delicious is on soon and they've changed their name! 

Now in its third year, our show has quickly become the biggest UK weekend event for anyone that’s vegetarian, vegan or looking to reduce their meat intake.
We don’t need to tell you that whether you choose to live as a vegetarian or vegan, or are simply making the choice to reduce the amount of meat products you consume, there’s a complete spectrum of ‘V’ living choices that you’re interested in, and are adopting in your day-to-day life.
When we launched this event back in 2012, we set out to create a fabulous celebration of gorgeous v food and drink.  With 30,000 of you attending last year, the show has clearly struck a chord and we are delighted that so many now enjoy the event.  The thing is, though food and drink will always be a massive part of our show, it’s clear that you are looking for MORE than that; more clothes and shoes, more beauty, more household, more health and ethical products…

…so that is what we are going to provide you in 2015!

We thought that we would start with a new image that reflects everything we are about, i.e. the wonderfully diverse, multi-layered motives behind modern ‘v’ living.  From the ethically-committed vegan to the curious health-conscious ‘meat reducer’, there will be something for everyone in 2015.

Just V Show… just for you; vegans, vegetarians and meat reducers.

If you would like free tickets to the show then check this out! http://www.justvshow.co.uk/go/blogger1

Monday, 15 June 2015

Nama



As part of Mr B's birthday weekend we stopped off on our way home for lunch at Nama. I'd been once before but only tried their deserts, so had been really excited to try more. 
I kicked things off with this amazing green juice - 'Tropical Bliss'. It was really nice and even the toddler braved a try.



For my main I had the 'Raw Sushi Platter' and Mr B had their Cheese Board. I have a bit of a love affair with raw sushi and really like the ones at Manna V, but these were just amazing. Mr B's cheese board was so so good - I wish I could of had both! 



To share between us we also had their Cannelloni as Mr B has tried it before and said I couldn't leave without trying it! We also had a desert platter to share and they made small a special coconut free pancakes and ice cream (she is allergic to coconut) which I didn't have time to snap pictures of before they were eaten!



I grabbed a few treats to take home with me too! If you are into raw food I REALLY REALLY recommend you check this place out. I can honestly say it was one of the best meals out I've had - raw or not. I'd absolutely love to do one of their raw cooking classes and learn how to create things that delicious myself!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Veg Bar



Ever since Mr B first told me that deep fried mac n cheese balls existed I'd been dying to try Veg Bar. We got a few hours toddler free so headed over :)


We didn't have time to have starters and mains so just ordered a couple of things each and got it all at the same time which equalled into a huge pigging out fest. This was the 'Southern Fried Gold' - the menu says it's supposed to come with BBQ sauce but we got tomato. It was pretty good. I guess the Mac could have been a bit more cheesey - it didn't seem to have much sauce inside, but maybe that's a limitation of making it stick together into a ball?


For my other dish I had 'Bartolomeu's Adenture Playground' which was a hotdog, beans and salt n pepper home fries. This was nice too - I was less keen on the homemade hotdog sausage and maybe might have preferred a faux 'meat' style one, but that's a personal preference. 
We really enjoyed the meal and our only con at this point was the price - £10.50 is quite a lot for a main dish given their style of food and location. This is more than Manna V charge for their lunch burger & fries (they charge £8 at time of writing).

I kind of debated for a while about what to say at the end of this post, but as they say I guess honesty is the best policy and in all honesty although I enjoyed the food I wouldn't return there again. Like ever. 
As I said - both me and Mr B were really enjoying our meal until the point we both found hairs in our food. Mr B found his first inside one of his Mac n cheese balls - he showed me but we just thought it might of come from him. Then I found several hairs underneath food on my plate I hadn't even touched until that point.


I found several bits, but only got a clear shot of this. At that point we stopped eating, felt a bit ickky, paid the bill and left. I don't like saying stuff like this about v*gan places because I want them to be successful and I want them to exist, but it's just like the situation where The Waiting Room served us a kids hot dog where the bun was covered in disgusting mould (I emailed them and they apologised profusely), it has put us off and we probably won't be back. 

London Noms

I have just had a pretty epic weekend away for Mr B's birthday. We hadn't been down to our London pad for ages so decided we'd go there and do what we do best - have an epic vegan food tour :) We almost didn't make it as I was in hospital last week, but I'm glad we got there in the end!



On our way down we stopped for dinner at Mana V in Primrose Hill. This has been one of our favourites for a while, but I have to say I found the food a little disappointing. This was the sharing starter plate we had - I had some of the raw sushi and raw tacos which were divine.



This was the raw pad Thai I had for my main - to be honest I didn't eat most of it. It didn't have enough flavour and it had way to much cashew!



Black Cat remains my favourite place in the world to have breakfast/ brunch. Even though I ate mine whilst Mr B sat in the car (toddler antics) I still really enjoyed it.



Small hung out with daddy a bit more than usual to give me a bit of a break and I was still feeling pretty rough from being in hospital. We had a great weekend though and hopefully we'll be back down there soon.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Refried Beans? Burrito It! - Suma Bloggers Network


I absolutely LOVE making bean based dishes. I'm often a slave to my pressure cooker and make huge batches of bean based goodness and use it up in various ways throughout the week. Burritos are a great way to do this, and they give you a chance to please various members of the family. Mr B and I are always cooking ourselves something different, but with a dish like this each person can choose which elements to include.

Ingredients

500g Pinto Beans (soaked overnight and cooked or cooked in a pressure cooker for around 40mins)
2 x Tinned Chopped Tomatoes
50g Chopped Sweet Red Peppers
3 Tsp Magic BBQ Dust
2 Tsp Liquid Smoke
1 Tsp Organic Suma Cumin
1 Tsp Organic Suma Smoked Paprika
1 Tsp Garlic Granules
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Marigold Bullion
Pinch of salt

Combine all the ingredients into a heavy bottomed saucepan or a pressure cooker if you own one. Make sure everything is well combined, cover and simmer for around 25 minutes.
Once ready, carefully mash beans (a potato masher is ideal) until they are combined, but there is still a little structure left.

The beans go great with vegan cheese, avocado, salsa, cashew cream cheese, rice, faux meats or even with corn chips for nachos.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Bristol Vegfest 2015




This weekend we headed down to Bristol for Vegfest - it was the first time we had decided to stay over and we were really looking forward to it. 

As ever we bumped into lots of lovely friends and met some new faces from Instagram too. 

I've been to quite a few Vegfest events now and there wasn't much that I hadn't seen before, but it's a super excuse to get out and have some fun and eat a bunch of food.



We tried lots of the food stalls that looked appealing, this was  the vegan 'fish' and chips from Loving Hut - I wasn't a total fan as I'm not that keen on faux fish but I know lots of people there were raving about it. I think my favourite was Happy Maki - they make pretty tasty sandwich wraps sushi style. I also had a couple of pretty awesome burgers from the monkey sanctuary van and Small had a tasty looking kids hot dog from them too. I would have loved to have tried more, but some of the lines were so long!



We also went to the Cosy Club in the morning for breakfast as we had heard they had a vegan menu. The food was pretty nice and great that I was just around the corner from our hotel. 

We had a good weekend, Small got her Sea Pirates (Sea Shepherd) t-shirt and we are looking forward to doing it all again! 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Life Right Now





Life has been really crazy over the last few months. I mean really crazy. Ever since I spent a nightmare week in hospital in Bali I've been seeing all kinds of doctors and trying to figure out what is going on with me. 

I had a pretty scary MRI scan, not the results - just the experience! I spent an hour in the scanner and my tattoos heated up which was a pretty odd sensation. Luckily nothing was wrong with my brain scan and my neurologist has now diagnosed me with 'Familial Hemiplegic Migraine' which is not that much fun I can assure you! I previously had never heard of this condition so had no idea there was even such a thing! It's not just bad headaches - it affects me almost all of the time at the moment and when I do get a bad attack it looks like I've had a stroke.

I'm still seeing doctors to figure out what the whole picture is as its great I'm getting somewhere but that doesn't explain everything. The next step is seeing a rheumatologist I think which will hopefully happen soon!

In the meantime I'm trying out a crazy device called Cefaly which is supposed to help reduce migraine frequency. It's that crazy Star Trek type device I'm wearing in the picture! It's pretty much like a tens machine for your brain and since tens helped me in labour, I thought I'd give it a shot and see how it goes. I've also cut out gluten to see if that helps any, I know it has helped others who suffer from complicated migraine so anything is worth a shot!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Pure and Raw - Leamington Spa


Pure and Raw opened REALLY recently in Leamington Spa in the same shop that used to be home to my beloved 'Burst Juice Bar'. I'm not sure if it has the same owners or it's a new venture, but I was sad to see Burst go/ excited to try out this new offering.


The interior has been totally redone and they have a little bit more seating now than it did previously. It seemed bright and fresh and full of enticing fruit. I was a bit disappointed to see the food menu has gone - it used to be a great place to find something vegan - the sausage bagels being our favorite. Sadly though it doesn't seem to have been replaced with any raw food either - I'm not sure if this will come later. Some snack bars and vegan carrot cake were for sale, although at least half of this wasn't raw and the other half were bars such as Nakd. I found this all a bit odd since their logo says 'Pure Juice, Raw Food'. Pretty please can we have some raw food?


I had the 'Almond Crunch' smoothie made with almond milk, banana, cinnamon and almond butter. It was nice and I really enjoyed it, however a regular size was £3.95. Despite there being three members of staff my drink took around 10 minutes - I put this down to them having not been open long.


I brought these vegan & gluten free cookies for my daughter which were under £2 (can't remember exactly), but sadly there were pretty strange and they didn't get eaten.


UPDATE: I went back here a few weeks ago and they are serving some food now. Mr B and I had nice raw vegan cakes that we really enjoyed. They also have a salad bar, but beware not everything is vegan (or vegetarian) as we spotted tuna in the counter.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Warehouse Cafe - Birmingham


It's been ages since we last went to the Warehouse Cafe - once upon a time I worked there shortly and we used to visit regularly, but recently every time we try to book they're already full! It was my dad's birthday and although my parents aren't even veggies, they genuinely like the food here. He managed to snag us a table so we all went for a meal. I won't go into lots of detail as I've blogged about this place many times before!

To start I had the 'Aubergine and Sweetcorn Fritters'. It was lovely, although the dipping sauce was a little too spicy for me - but I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to spice.


My main was the 'Fish and Chips' - battered halloumi with sweet potato fries and mushy peas. This meal was everything my recent one at Bistro 1847 should have been but wasn't. The flavours were lovely and I was very happy it came with a lemon wedge, plenty of mushy peas and some extra sauce for dipping on request. It was a really tasty dish and SO much better value for money than Bistro 1847.

I had a vegan chocolate brownie with ice cream for pudding but didn't get a shot of this as I was too quick to dig and and share it with Small. 

The Warehouse is still the best place in Birmingham for veggie food - if you can get a table definitely head over there!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Sunshine

Easter in our house was lots of fun. Small is now old enough at *almost* three to understand a lot more of what is going on in the world. She definitely knew Easter had something to do with chocolate!
We are still swimming in vegan Easter eggs and I'm sure Small pretty much had one of each available (or at least it seems that way).
As the weather starts to get warmer and summer is just around the corner it's a little bittersweet for me as I know this is the last of the time Small is at home with me all the time and she starts nursery in September. I mean I'm excited for her - I think she's going to love it. She loves playing with other children and I sometimes think that is something she's missed out on so far as an only child. I don't have any friends close by who have kids and for one reason or another toddler groups just didn't seem to work out.
I started out being really anti formal education. I guess in a way I still am. I went to both private and state schools and disliked both equally. At first I wanted her to go to a Montessori nursery as I really like their ethos. We even had her signed up, but I started to hear a few things I didn't like and it caused me to have a good look at all the options available. I'm happy we've now found the right one for her and I'm glad I didn't go with our first choice.
So, I need to make the most of my time with her before she ventures out into the world!


Monday, 6 April 2015

Date Night

Guess what? Mr B and I have been married two years today! Our wedding day really doesn't seem like it could possibly be that long ago!
To celebrate the grandparents gave us some rare toddler free time so we decided to head out for a meal together that wouldn't involve noodle flinging or trying to coax a small person from out under the table.
As it's a bank holiday we were limited for choice so booked a table at Bistro1847. We have been a few times before, but have had mixed experiences and haven't always felt it was good value for the price.


To start I had the 'Goats Curd, Salted Baked Beetroot & Mint Pea'. Mr B had the vegan option of 'Mushroom & Garlic, Polenta, Tomato Relish'.
I'm not really sure what to say about the vegan starter - the veggie version would have included a poached egg, but it's just left out in the VO. It really annoys me when this happens as you quite often end up with a dish that doesn't work. It was dry and tasteless, if it had been my starter I wouldn't have eaten it.
My starter was ok, but nothing special. The mint pea really didn't taste like anything at all and I found the whole combination a bit odd.


My main was the 'Beer Battered Halloumi with Mushy Pea Emulsion'. It came with thick cut chips. Mr B had the same, but the vegan option which meant his was battered tofu. We have both had this meal in the past and enjoyed it, but this current version is definitely lacking in something. We even dug out an old photo of the last time we ate this to compare - and last time was better.
The actual battered part was nice and so were the chips, but the 'pea emulsion' seemed to be the same tasteless green goo from my starter. The last time we ate this it came with things to dip into, sea vegetables and lemon wedges - but without any of that it was dry and actually quite hard to eat.
After this we decided not to risk pudding and left feeling quite disappointed but glad we had a 50% off deal as we'd have been quite put out if we had paid full price.
Still feeling hungry and in need of tasty food we headed over to Mr Singh's which saved the day!


So this was my actual dinner - we had a romantic car dinner and awesome veggie and vegan pizza before heading back to collect the small person.

Happy Anniversary Mr B! XOXO


The Botanist - Birmingham

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited by my lovely friend Kitty Kaos to the media launch for a wonderful new place in Birmingham - The Botanist. Located on Temple Street it's really central and super convenient for an evening out or a well deserved break whilst shopping.


I absolutely loved the interior - it was something really unique and created a wonderful relaxed atmosphere. There was a massive attention to detail that was carried through into every aspect with a lovely outdoor seating area complete with log fire.


I'd heard great things about the cocktails so as soon as we arrived I headed straight for the menu. There was lots of choice and looking around at what others were drinking I couldn't wait to order!


My first drink was the 'English Mojito' whilst Kitty Kaos had the 'Blueberry and Passion fruit Martini'. I ordered a Mojito as quite honestly it's my favorite (my husbands fault!) - I've had many so I almost use it as my 'standard to be judged by'. I can quite honestly say it was one of the best. The bar staff took their time to make our drinks with care and attention and it definitely shows.


We were shown to a table in the lovely dining area and had some bread and olives to share whilst we took in the menu and decided what to have. Everything was nice and fresh and came quickly.


Next we had the Camembert with flat breads and fruit. If I was to have one criticism it would be that nothing is marked vegetarian on the menu, however the staff were very friendly and double checked the cheese etc for me. 


My main was the 'Cheese Pie' which came with a choice of mashed potato or chips, mushy peas and HP sauce. The pie was lovely with twist as the garnish was actually pickled.
I would have loved to see a few more vegetarian options on the menu - they had several types of burger on the menu, but not a veggie one. There was a halloumi hanging kebab on the menu but the member of staff that was serving us seemed to think it came with meat.


My desert was a trifle with lovely fruit filling, custard and cream. It was lovely - but massive! There was definately enough for two people here!


My last drink was a 'Bloody Porcini' which was a fantastic twist on the bloody mary cocktail - my other favorite! The bar staff were very helpful with customizing drinks - they made it to a medium heat for me and made sure it didn't contain anything non veggie like Worcestershire sauce (as most bloody marys do). I absolutely loved this one and have to say it was my favorite as the porcini twist really made it for me.

The Botanist opens it's doors on April 6th (Easter Monday) so why not head down and check it out for yourself?

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Vegan Burg - Singapore

During our brief one night stay in Singapore we were lucky enough to check out some of the delicious vegan food on offer there. Despite me feeling poorly we headed straight out for a leisurely walk over to a location of Vegan Burg. Mr B had read about all the v*gan food available here and he was pretty excited.


I had the 'Creamy Shrooms' burger with 'Seaweed Fries' and Mr B had the 'Chargrilled Satay' burger with fries also. My food was pretty good - I really wish they'd open one in the UK. The whole thing was branded like you'd expect to see any other fast food store, but everything was vegan and healthy!


Mr B also had one of their ice lollies for pudding which he informs me was very nice, but I was too full by this point!

I really enjoyed the food and definitely would go back if I ever find myself in Singapore again. The whole place seemed very vegan friendly - we even found a great meal in the airport terminal!