Saturday, 26 November 2016

2016 Vegan Holiday Gift Guide

Last winter I made a promise to myself to break out of old habits, to stop impulse purchasing things, and to try harder to support awesome businesses and people with my money. I have to say that I've been nailing it! I've been buying more stuff from charity shops, thinking about my purchases for longer, and I can't remember the last time I had anything from Amazon delivered to my house. I kept these things in mind when I put my gift guide together and I hope that you'd also like to give people things that they'll love, use, learn from, or treasure forever. Supporting both small businesses and vegan businesses is the best so over half of my gift suggestions come from vegan artists, chefs, and small biz owners who are doing really cool stuff with their time. I hope that you love these suggestions for your Christmas, Festivus, Hanukkah, Pancha Ganapati, or Yule shopping as much as I loved putting them together!

  1. Lush Christmas Candy Box This sweet gift is stuffed with four gorgeous sweetie scented products including Snow Fairy Shower Gel, Rock Star Soap, the Luxury Lush Pud bath bomb, and the Candy Mountain bubble bar which really does make mountains of soft candy scented bubbles. £17.95 from your closest Lush store.
  2. Adopt Don't Shop Tote This totes adorbz tote (yeah I went there) from vegan owned and operated store All Glamour No Guts is the perfect gift for the fashionable animal lover in your life. The classic black and white colour way goes with anything and it was designed by vegan artist Veronica Kolinska. Totes are £10 and 10% of that goes straight to the animals living at Hillside Animal Sanctuary.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Taking a Pause. Thinking About the Future.

If you've been paying attention you'll have noticed that I'm currently taking a pause from travelling. I'm not at home though - I'm not even in Brighton because my house is still rented out so I'm in a weird in-between place both physically as well as mentally. 

Towards the end of my travels in Asia this summer I hit a bit of a wall. I still loved travel but I was really craving the sense of community that you get from staying in one place. I've always dreamt of having a close knit group of friends who want to arrange bake sales, host potlucks, watch movies, cook dinners, and go to protests together but I never really had that in Brighton.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Cooking With Friends.

I'm currently feeling super excited that I get to watch the seasons change from autumn to winter. This time last year I was in Thailand and I definitely missed all things autumn and winter; from bonfire night to drinking glasses of mulled winter punch on cold nights at home. The leaves are falling from the trees and the nights are drawing in and I'm loving spending evenings snuggled under a blanket reading by the fire at my sister in law's place.

When I've managed to pull myself out of my blanket cocoon I've been spending days in central London getting reunited with my old favourite food joints (and checking out some new ones), interviewing for the Christmas temp job of my dreams (cross your fingers for me friends!), and having a tonne of fun hanging out and eating with friends. Last week Randi and I made pizzas with the Miyoko's kitchen mozzarella I brought back from New York and whilst I didn't take any decent pictures you can trust me when I say that they were delicious. My favourite combo was pesto, potatoes, rosemary and mozzarella. So. Damn. Good.

My cooking adventures didn't stop there though, I hung out with Sal from Alien on Toast last weekend and we made both lasagne and lemon meringue pie. Two of my favourite foods ever. The lasagne was a true lazy person effort involving jarred béchamel, two blocks of Sainsbury's vegan cheese, and a homemade tomato sauce with sneaky hidden carrots and courgette. It was super good and I hope that we make it again someday. I didn't take a decent picture so here's a photo of my breakfast the next day. Yes, I am basically a genius!

The lemon meringue pie recipe we settled on was this one from the blog Seitan Beats your Meat, we chose it because you can always trust Kelly not to put a shitty recipe out there in the world. I'm kind of a renegade so of course I didn't read the recipe directions before I shopped for ingredients or before we started throwing things together in the kitchen so the 2 1/2 hour cooking time came as a bit of a shock especially as this was after "cooking" the pie crust (um, warming store bought pastry. Thanks Jus-rol!) and suddenly our lemon meringue pie dreams seemed doomed.

Friday, 28 October 2016

A Weekend in Paris

If you live in the South of England and a friend is visiting Paris all the way from the US of A then you kinda have to make sure that you're there to greet them with a vegan croissant and tips on where to find the best chocolate chaud. When that trip also coincides with another friends parent's visit to the continent then this applies doubly and explains why I recently drove to Paris to spend the weekend with Joanna (of Yellow Rose Recipes fame), Randi (I hope you read her hilarious blog), her husband Zach, and her parents Cheryl and Bob.

Whilst Randi and family were still en route to the city of light Nick & I met up with Joanna for dinner at Brasserie 2eme Art. Both this spot and sister restaurant Brasserie Lola are new additions to the Parisian vegan dining scene since my last visit way back in 2011 and what great additions they are. It's not often that you find the vegan spots situated on main streets and bustling corners, blending into the local area, and tempting people with their mood lighting and cosy patio heaters but here we are.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Artisan Vegan Cheese from Nutcrafter Creamery

Glasgow based vegan cheese co' Nutcrafter Creamery have been on my radar for a while and I finally had the chance to try a couple of their cashew based cheeses whilst I was road tripping in Scotland this summer. I picked up two of Nutcrafter's cheeses from Roots, Fruits, and Flowers in Glasgow; The Decadent, a flavourful, salty, air aged, Scottish dulse infused cheese, and The Essential, their smooth, spreadable, double cream style cheese. I ate them both on Oatcakes next to lochs all over Scotland which made my travels even more delightful.

As a self confessed vegan cheese fiend I obviously needed to get my paws on some more of their cashew cheeses and luckily the lovely peep's at Nutcrafter were more than happy to send some new flavours my way. My package included the The Volcanic, an extra aged black ash covered cheese, and The Indulgent, a fresh chive chèvre, as well as their almond parmesan, and a jar of their delicious cream cheese.

The Volcanic is definitely the best ash coated vegan cheese I've tried. This is probably a personal preference thing but I find that the black ash itself can sometimes be a little too intense overpowering the delicate flavours of the cheese itself but this was spot on and probably my favourite of the bunch.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Confectionary NYC

I fell hard for Lagusta's Luscious long before I ever tried their chocolates thanks to word of mouth and the power of the internet. That may sound strange but chocolate is one of my favourite things and when you do as much vegan foodie research as I do you know where to find the good stuff. After years of gazing at the Lagusta's Luscious website and following their beautiful Instagram feed I tried their chocolate for the first time in June 2014 after winning a voucher at Vida Vegan Con, waiting patiently for my chosen chocolates to ship, and sitting on the doorstep on my Austin Air B&B on delivery day because I knew that everything would melt in the hot Texas sun. 

As soon as I bit into my first caramel I knew was in love, I'd never be satisfied with mediocre vegan chocolates again!