Thursday, 20 July 2017

"Cock"-A-Leekie Soup

This is a traditional Scottish soup involving chicken and leeks. I loved the Iain Hewitson recipe for this when I was younger so I thought I'd make a vegan version, unfortunately I couldn't find his online. I used a bunch of different recipes online to make this as I couldn't find one I liked. This is a lovely hearty soup, great for winter months and when you're sick. The rice makes it more of a hearty meal but you can leave it out or replace it with your choice of grain (traditionally rice or barley). If you're not adding a grain you can add less stock.
Additionally, a bit of history, this dish was the soup choice on the Titanic the night it sank.


"Cock"-A-Leekie Soup

Ingredients

3 pitted prunes
2 teaspoons Scotch
1-2 Blocks extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/4 inch strips or squares (alternatively you can use faux chicken strips)
1 teaspoon kosher salt or "chicken" salt if you have any
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons vegan butter
3 medium leeks, (light green and white only), halved and cut into 1/2 inch slices
3-5 carrots
5 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
5 Sage leaves
1 sprig Rosemary
1 bay leaf
6 cups vegan chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup uncooked rice


Method

In a small bowl combine the prunes with the Scotch and 1 tablespoon of water and set aside.
Season the tofu with 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper (or you can do this the night before).
In a large frying pan over medium heat and melt 1 tablespoons of the butter.
Saute the tofu on each side until well-browned, about 10 minutes, then leave to the side.
Add the remaining butter to a large sauce pan/soup pot, saute the leeks over medium-low until tender, about 25 minutes.
Place all the herbs in a nut milk bag (or tie with twine/add loose but the bag means you don't have to strain the soup later).
Add the herb bundle, the tofu and the broth to the pot.
Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover and cook the soup for until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 25 minutes, if using rice add it in about 10 minutes from the end.
Remove the herb bundle and discard.
Add the prunes, and their liquid to the soup.
Season with salt and pepper, simmer for 2 minutes before serving.
Remove the prunes if you want to - if you leave them once stored the soup will be slightly sweeter so it's completely up to preference.
After being stores the soup but have become thick due to the rice so just add some extra water or stock before reheating.

Fresh Artichokes

I never thought I'd make fresh artichokes because it just looked so daunting!! But it turns out not so hard, although a little fiddly. A very impressive starter or tapas dish. You don't get much artichoke heart/meat in each one so economically it's definitely cheaper to buy them in a jar and honestly the taste wasn't so different (except that the jar variety is normally marinated). Found this great YouTube video on how to prep the artichokes.


Fresh Artichokes

Ingredients

2 Artichokes
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Aioli sauce for dipping (optional)

Method

Set a large pot of water to boil on the stove while you prepare the artichokes.
Cut the tip off the artichoke and the end of the stem (not all because most of the meat is in the stem).
Cut the artichoke length ways into halves and then quarters. You need a SHARP knife.
Pull out the "flower" in the middle which is a the spiny inedible part, usually pink or red.
Place artichokes in the water and boil for 30 minutes or until tender. You may need to do this in batches.
Drain well and arrange on serving plate.
Drizzle with good quality olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Aioli makes a great dipping sauce!

Chia Seed Pudding

This is a very easy pudding to make and have ready for whenever you want something sweet, a quick breakfast or an easy baby dessert! My 18 month old loves them! There is some dispute on what ratio is the best but this is what works for me. I garnish with berries and hemp seed hearts.


Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients

2 cups non-dairy milk (I like coconut because it gives it a very creamy texture)
6-8 Tbls chia seeds
1/2 Tsp Vanilla extract
1 Tbls maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
1/4 tsp of cinnamon or all spice (optional)


Method

Whisk all ingredients together and divide into containers of choice.
Refrigerate overnight.
I like small (1/4 cup) containers because they are perfect for baby.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Vegan Products - June 2017

Here are some vegan items I've tried in the last month!

Trader Joe's always a fairly productive stop for vegan items;

The Tikka Masala was actually pretty decent! I've had their frozen vegan meals before and didn't really rate them but this was ok.


Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo was like the others on the market, tasted the same as others on the market and was the same consistency.


Trader Joe's Beef-less Ground Beef, this I was actually pretty impressed with! I normally buy Gardein but I think I like this better! 


Trader Joe's vegan chili in a can was pretty average - really lacked any kind of real flavor and definitely needed salting!


Trader Joe's vegan baked bean - YUM!!!! I was pretty impressed, I've only had the Amy's or Annie's one before and this was on par with that for sure!


Miyoko's Creamery Vegan Butter - I'm a big fan of Miyoko and this is good, but not cheap. It will set you back around $6 but has all organic and natural ingredients and does have a more buttery taste than the other brands although I wouldn't go so far as to say it tastes like butter. Also is very hard from the fridge so spreads kind of like real butter. If you have the extra cash then it's probably worth it to you :) Excellent butter replacement for young children being organic and natural.


I love the Natural Candy Store online! It's great for bulk orders and has a great range of vegan items (even tells you all ingredients and whether it's gluten free). If you have anyone with severe allergies this is the place to get their candy, they'll even package things separately to avoid cross contamination.


I'm surprised more people don't sell Eli's! I can never find it in store and so get them from the Natural Candy store. It's such an amazing vegan chocolate bar and no palm oil!


Found this vegan and gluten free Candy Tree licorice the last time I was shopping on the Natural Candy Store website and it's conveniently in shoelace style which is great for cake decorating.


Every time I'm on the Natural Candy Store site I get myself some Moo Free chocolate - it's just SOOOO good! The only time I'm eating real milk chocolate only VEGAN!


Go my hair all chopped recently and even though I'm still using my Shampoo Bar and that's basically it (link to my shampoo free experience), the hairdresser gave me these samples because she said Pureology is a vegan company! Smoothing Serum was great for frizzy hair (kind of essential in Florida!), and the Smooth Perfection conditioners were lovely and smoothing also.


Got this Pacifica nail varnish in "Abolone" because in the bottle it looked very pearlesque but when i put it on, even a few layers it just looked gun metallic grey - which is nice too but not what I hoped for.


I love EO's bubble bath so I was excited to try their face wipes which come from their new "Everyone" line.
I'm sad to say these were very disappointing, probably fine for removing your average day's worth of dirt and oil but terrible at make up removal. It barely took off the face make up let alone the eye make-up! I think that this is their "affordable" line even though it was around $10. Sorry to say these aren't for me, back to Simple brand eye make up removal wipes!


This was an interesting Bixby chocolate bar I found at Earth Fare. It's a combination of a protein bar and candy bar - genius! Tasted pretty good too but with a lot less calories! Quite a few flavors too.



Sol Cuisine Portobello Burger I found at Earth Fare and was pretty good actually! Tasted mushroomy but had a very meaty consistency and didn't fall apart which was nice.



Salazon Salt Chocolate - pretty good, quite creamy for a dark chocolate and the saltiness was very subtle.
I especially like the pattern on the bar but that's only important to my aesthetic sensibilities ;)
Also Fair Trade - yay!



When in Orlando...go to Ikea of course ;)
Just some things to get you excited for Jacksonville's grand Ikea opening this fall!

Found these drinks at Ikea which are so delicious! The one's in the boxes and the ciders are organic so definitely vegan but the concentrates are not organic. They don't have their country of origin on them and when I emailed customer service about where the sugar came from they told me they could neither tell me where the raw materials came from or where the product was manufactured which is entirely scary and makes me very wary of buying Ikea food in the future!





They were out of Ikea brand dark chocolate but they had Talanda dark chocolate and it was every bit as rich and creamy as the Ikea one (may more so! Sacrilege!) I haven't got a response back from the manufacturers on the vegan status of their sugar but it's made in Poland and I am of the impression that most European countries use bone char free sugar.


This is a staple of my life - one I'd been missing since moving to Jacksonville. I think these veggie balls are the bomb, they taste like vegetables though not meatballs. I love them plain, so good!


Got these Terra Sweets & Beets chips at Publix in Kissimmee and they were pretty good and very natural.


I've mentioned Natura before (because all their wines are vegan and you can get them at Publix) but I hadn't tried the Malbec! It was pretty good although I still think I prefer to the Pinot Noir.


Finally made it to the Riverside Arts Market (Jacksonville FL) and had a lovely time strolling along the Riverwalk and meandering around the venders. They even had some live music in a stage area which was nice. Found lots of local fruit & vegetable stands which was great and found some other hidden treasures!



At the Riverside Arts Market I found Olive My Pickle which had 100% vegan produce, mainly olives and pickles but they also had vegan kimchi! It was a little salty but other than than soooo delicious! The olives were really good too, can't wait to try the pickles!


The main reason I went to the Riverside Arts Markets was to find the Zen Butcher! Unfortunately they haven't got any GF vegan products yet but their queso cheeses are GF! I tried the Creamy Queso Blanco. It had a nice, albeit slightly garlicky, flavor but the texture was a bit gritty so it didn't work as a dip so much. I was great in roast vegetable lasagne (even without marinara - I did both versions) and I imagine it would be great in Vegetable Stackhouse or another pasta dish.. I am looking forward to trying the Creamy Nacho Cheese too!


My lovely friend bought me this Candoni Green Organic Pinot Grigio from Earth Fare, and it even has "vegan" written on the label. It was a very very nice wine too!


Wasn't sure if I had tried these Gardein Veggie Burgers before but I definitely had not! The were so delicious!!! Didn't need any condiments. They taste like vegetables, not meat (similar to Dr. Praegers Kale Burgers) and had a bit of oil in them so I didn't need to use oil when I fried them. Very nice!



Saturday, 24 June 2017

DIY Deodorant

My BFF gave me this recipe and the original is from Wellness Mama. I changed the oil to Shea butter as the coconut oil was two liquidy, but use that if that is the consistency you're after! I think Tea Tree and Lavender are a great essential oil combination for deodorant but you don't want more than 10 drops total or it will be too harsh on the skin. You can use an old deodorant stick container or just use a glass jar.
If you leave it in the refrigerator it will act like regular stick deodorant, if you have it at room temperature it crumbles a bit and you have to put it on my hand. I found this easiest anyway; take an amount around 1/2 tsp and hold on armpit until the Shea butter melts a little then you can rub it clear into the skin. I found this deodorant worked really well with or without essential oils. Just be careful of which ones you use, on my first try I used eucalyptus EO and it gave me a rash.


DIY Deodorant

Ingredients

6 Tbls Shea Butter
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
Essential oils (optional)


Method

Melt the Shea butter in a small sauce pan or stainless steel bowl over a low heat until completely melted.
Whisk in the other ingredients and pour immediately into desired container and place in refrigerator for an hour to set.



Tuesday, 30 May 2017

DIY Beach Hair Spray

Recently got the chop and needed something to aid my natural curl. My first attempt is this spray based on a recipe from Wellness Mama. I found the Himalayan salt didn't melt into the mixture so next time I'll use kosher salt or leave it out completely. It doe make your hair a bit dry and slightly crunchy so I also used a little bit of Pureology Smooth Perfection serum to define the waves and lose the frizz.I'll try a different recipe next when I run out to see the difference.You'll need a spray bottle that holds around 10oz. Bottle from SKS Bottle Packaging Inc.



DIY Beach Hair Spray

Ingredients 

1 cup of distilled water
2 tablespoons epsom salts
1/2 tsp Himalayan or Sea Salt (optional but adds stiffness)
1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
2 drops of jojoba or almond oil (or conditioner)
5 drops essential oil (I used tea tree essential oil)


Method

Heat the distilled water and add the epsom salts & sea salt (optional), until salts have dissolved completely.
Add in aloe vera gel and oils and mix well.
Allow mixture to cool before adding it to your spray bottle.
Shake before each use.
Should last up to 4 months.









Friday, 26 May 2017

DIY Vegan Children's Paint

I wanted to make baby some finger paint because the bought variety comes from countries with suspicious quality control. And I know he's going to try to eat it ;)
I found a few recipes online and they all seem about the same. For the dye you can use natural powders (such as beet and tumeric) or you can use a vegan food dye. Great blog here on making your own natural dyes!



DIY Vegan Children's Paint

Ingredients

1 cup plain flour
1 cup kosher salt
Hot water
Dyes


Method

Add salt to about 1 cup hot water and stir till melted. I didn't do this and the paint was granulated.
Once salt has melted add the salt water to the flour and whisk til there are no lumps.
To get your desired consistency add more water.
Divide flour mix into different bowls (one for each colour).
Add dyes to each bowl and stir, adding more dye if needed, until the desired colour is reached.
Store in air tight containers.

NB: some people also add 1 tbls oil for shine but I didn't do this.



Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Mum's Easy Spaghetti

This simple recipe is one my mum always made when we were growing up. It's far less tomatoey than the other recipes I've used and uses staples you usually already have so it's great for last minute dinners! In the USA spaghetti means Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce which is in Australia is often called "Spag Bol" so here it is...





Mum's Easy Spag Bol

Ingredients

2 Onions, finely chopped
1 Tbls tomato paste
Mixed herbs to taste
430g can of Tomato Puree (Aus)/sauce (USA)
1-2lbs vegan beef crumbles (I used Trader Joe's but Gardein, Beyond Meat or TVP would be fine)
1 Tbls oil

Method

Fry onions on a medium heat until clear, add faux meat and cook until onion has browned slightly.
Add tomato paste, herbs and pepper.
Add tomato purée, heat through and simmer for around 10 minutes.
Watch the consistency as it does reduce a bit as it simmers.
If you want more sauce to feed more people, add more puree.
Keep stirring regularly as it simmers so it does not stick or burn on the bottom of the saucepan.
Serve over pasta.