Liverpool Pt. II

My second day in Liverpool started with a nice breakfast at Brasco Lounge. They have an entirely separate vegan menu, and I ended up settling on their vegan breakfast plate. This was my first time trying baked beans since getting to Britain, and I was pleasantly surprised that I liked these. I usually find the American kind much too sweet. I’m more of a fan of savory breakfasts, so this hearty plate was right up my alley.

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The restaurant was conveniently located near the Liverpool Museum, which is a great free (!) place to explore. The best part for me was their large exhibit on the history and movement of transgender people.

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Albert Dock is also nearby and holds a few entertaining things to see. My favorite of which was the giant Echo Wheel. Although I’m not a huge fan of heights, I rode it anyway and had a great time being terrified on the squeaky ride.

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While wandering around the dock, I was drawn into a candy shop due to their amazing jelly bean portrait of The Beatles. Inside, I found some vegan vanilla Liverpool candy canes, which my inner tourist insisted I try.

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As a bonus: here’s a yarnbombing I saw at St. John’s Gardens.

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ESSENTIAL Biscuits (Vegan MoFo #8)

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5-27-2010-lord-sunday-by-garth-nixSince Lord Sunday (the book which inspired the below recipe), is the last book of seven in the Keys to the Kingdom series, I’ll be reviewing the first book, Mister Monday by Garth Nix, to avoid spoilers.

Keys to the Kingdom is a series about Arthur Penhaligon, a twelve year old boy who through a seemingly random accident is chosen to become the Rightful Heir of the House (the center of the universe). Controlling the House are the corrupt Morrow Days, who are each afflicted by one of the deadly sins. The Morrow Days are: Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, Sir Thursday, Lady Friday, Superior Saturday, and Lord Sunday.

Arthur soon learns that the Architect (creator of the House and “secondary realms”) left a Will which was unfulfilled. Not long afterwards, a mysterious virus begins sweeping through his town in the secondary realm. Knowing that this is the work of the Morrow Days, Arthur must go into the House to search for a cure. There he learns that to save his town, and the House itself, he must defeat the Morrow Days and release the imprisoned pieces of the Will . Through his journey, Arthur meets Suzy Turquoise Blue, a clever and capable girl who, along with all the other “Piper’s children”, was drawn to the House by the Pied Piper. Suzy holds a current piece of the Will, which has manifested itself as a talking frog. With his two odd allies in tow, Arthur must work to defeat the torpid Mister Monday and stop the spreading virus before it’s too late.

” “Have a biscuit, General,” said one of the children, reaching into the barrel, which was stuffed to the brim with biscuits. Since neither Denizens nor Piper’s children needed to eat, but liked to do so anyway, it was surprising that the barrel was marked ESSENTIAL GOODS FOR EVACUATION.

Suzy took the raisin-filled biscuit with glee and, between mouthfuls, introduced everyone.” – Lord Sunday (hardcover) page 145

I’ve never actually had a sweet biscuit (only savory), but these were amaaaazing.

raisin biscuit

Essential Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits

Based on a recipe from Food.com

Ingredients

1 cup raisins

1 cup water

2 cups soymilk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 cups self rising flour, or 4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons baking powder mixed together

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup shortening

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar

3 and 1/2 teaspoons soymilk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Set oven to 400 degrees.

Boil water and pour over raisins, then cover and set aside. Mix the 2 cups of soymilk with lemon juice, set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Cut shortening into the flour mixture (either using a fork or pastry blender) until crumbly and fine.

Mix in soymilk and drained raisins, then stir in cinnamon.

With a large greased spoon dollop out the biscuit dough onto a greased baking sheet.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.

While the biscuits cool, mix together the powdered sugar with vanilla and 3 and 1/2 teaspoons of soymilk until a glaze is formed. Drizzle over cooled biscuits and let sit until the glaze hardens.

Breakfast of Witch Fighting Champions (Vegan MoFo #3)

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The Last Apprentice – Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney is about Tom Ward, a young seventh son of a seventh son who is apprenticed to the local Spook. Spooks are fighters of the dark who battle witches, ghosts, boggarts, demons, and even the Fiend himself. As Tom starts his apprenticeship, he learns about all the things that go bump in the dark. His learning focuses on witches especially since they are quite common in this area. There are blood witches, who like to drain blood for ceremonies and occasionally drink it, and also bone witches, who will cut off the thumbs of enemies for spells. The Spook warns Tom that the easiest way to identify a disguised witch is by her pointy shoes.

One day, during an errand run into town, Tom meets a young girl named Alice. She seems fairly harmless and nice, but there’s one problem. She wears pointy shoes. Despite this, Tom has a hard time believing the girl could be capable of harming anyone. Since he has no friends since moving in with the Spook, he decides to befriend the girl.

Soon the Spook has to travel due to a job in another town. He leaves Tom in charge of the house, and promises to be back within a few days. Almost immediately, things take a turn for the worst. It’s not long before Alice is back, and Tom has a promise to keep to her. Through trying to keep his word and an unfortunate beginner’s mistake, Tom releases one of the most feared witches in the County, Mother Malkin. As she begins to terrorize him and his family, and without the wise guidance of the Spook, Tom must learn to fight the dark on his own.

“Yes,” I said “it was the very best breakfast that I’ve ever tasted. And I’m sorry for coming down too early and I promise that it won’t happen again.”

At that, the Spook grinned so much that I thought his face was going to split in two; then he clapped me on the back and led me out into the garden again.

It was only when we were outside that the grin finally faded. “Well done, lad,” he said. “There are two things that respond well to flattery: boggarts and some women. Gets them every time.” – The Last Apprentice – Revenge of the Witch (hardcover) pages 94-95

In the Spook’s home is a boggart that cooks, cleans, and protects the property. While it is a friendly boggart (most of which in the book are not), it does not like people coming down to breakfast early or insulting its cooking. The result is the offender either getting boxed in the ears or their food being burned. In honor of the boggart’s breakfasts, I’m made breakfast food for lunch today (since waking up early to cook an actual breakfast is over rated).

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Plated up is some cheesy tofu scramble (this tofu recipe with a handful of Daiya), Gimme Lean sausage patties, and a drop biscuit with strawberry preserves.

Sandwiches, Scones, and Game of Thrones

The weather was extremely nice last week, so Peter and I had a picnic at the park. There we munched on these grilled pizza sandwiches (which had pizza hummus and Daiya inside) and cucumber slices dipped in Italian salad dressing.
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I made a batch of Mom’s Chili, which I ate with crackers. I skipped using canned beans though, and cooked up some dried black beans and red beans the day before in the slow cooker. Then I mixed them with the rest of the ingredients to make the chili.

???????????????????????????????The next day the leftover chili was turned into a “Frito pie”. With layered crushed Frito corn chips and chili then smothered in healthy cheese sauce.

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Tomato-rosemary scones from Vegan Brunch. I’ve actually never baked scones before, but these were extremely easy to make and very delicious. My favorite way to have these is warmed up with a pat of margarine in the middle.
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Soft tacos with Upton’s Naturals chorizo seitan, Daiya pepper jack, lettuce, and tomatoes. It was my first time trying the Upton’s seitan. I really liked the taste and texture of it, but the small amount of seitan per package for a fairly high price (at least at my local Earth Fare) was not worth it.
???????????????????????????????“Chicken” parmesan, made with soy-tan dream cutlets from 1,000 Vegan Recipes (which I breaded and pan-fried), with melted Daiya mozzarella, all on top of spaghetti in a creamy marinara sauce, and sprinkled with nutritional yeast.
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Lentil and veggie soup, which I mostly made because I needed to clean out my refrigerator’s produce drawer. It has lentils, onions, corn, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, peas, potatoes, and lima beans which were all cooked in a garlic tomato broth.

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For our three-year anniversary, Peter got me (along with a few other things) The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook. I’m a big fan of the television show and hope to begin reading the books soon, so I was super excited to have these recipes based on the series.

Our local gaming group is actually starting a GoT roleplaying campaign, so for our session I made Arya’s Apricot Tart to share. Except there are no fresh apricots available around here, so we settled for peaches. To veganize the recipe I subbed Earth Balance for butter, coconut milk for heavy cream, and I used this recipe for the crust. It turned out delicious with a flaky crust, juicy peaches, and buttery crumble topping. I can’t wait to try more recipes from the cookbook.

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Summer Snacks

I have only been back home for a week and half, and I am already incredibly bored. School starts back at the end of August though, so I can survive for that long. But all this free time gives me a chance to cook good meals and try new recipes. Here are some of the things I’ve been munching (or slurping) on the past week:

Cape Breton corncakes (recipe) for breakfast! Little cakes made with creamed corn, flour, saltines, salt, and pepper. Super yummy.

The ultimate Southern dinner. Gardenburger BBQ riblets, mashed potatoes, and fresh corn on the cob.

Vanilla bean frappuccino (made vegan with soymilk and no whipped cream) from Starbucks. It’s so flippin’ hot here, I couldn’t resist getting a giant cold drink like this.

 Peter’s family made an awesome dinner Friday, with grilled Boca burgers, broccoli, and other yummy stuff. Check out the adorable ’60s plate, part of his mother’s collection.

And lastly, I made seitan for the first time in a loooong time. It’s based on the basic seitan recipe from Table for Two, but I added some original Mrs. Dash and chicken bouillon.

I tried to make semi-uniform nuggets with a biscuit cutter. The nuggets were then dipped in a cornstarch/water mixture and breadcrumbs. I then fried them and served the finished (and delicious) nuggets with dipping sauces and stuffed potato skins.

Biscuits & Beans

Since gas prices suck nowadays, I am trying to drive less places or at least not as far for things I can find nearby. So that means I am using our local Lucky’s grocery store for most of my ingredients, which forces me to rely on less processed foods (Boca patties, Vegenaise, etc.) and more on regular stuff.

The cookbook Table for Two is helping with this, because most of the recipes use common ingredients, plus the small quantities from the recipes make it where I am not forced to eat leftovers by myself for a week.

One of the recipes I used from the book was for whole wheat biscuits, but I subbed all-purpose flour for the wheat. These lovely little drop biscuits took less than 20 minutes from start to finish, and were delicious. I ate some with Earth Balance and strawberry jam for breakfast this morning.

Although it’s getting really hot outside, I am still eating a lot of hot food. I started swimming twice a week, and after getting out of the pool I am cold and wanting something filling. Chili is the answer! This particular chili had Navy and pinto beans and TVP. I actually ate this with some of the leftover biscuits and it was fantastic. This shall be my lunch for the next few days.

For dinner today I had a marinated bean and corn salad. I took a can of black beans, a can of corn, freshly chopped tomatoes, and let it marinate for a while in the fridge with Kraft mango chipotle dressing. I then put it on a bed of baby spring lettuce with crushed Fritos. The mango chipotle dressing was just okay, the mango taste seemed a bit artificial to me. But to not waste so much food, I just loaded on some salsa and the salad was saved.

The Vegg – a Review and a Recipe

The lovely people over at the Vegg sent me a sample of their product, the world’s first vegan egg yolk, to review. I was super excited because I had seen some of the dishes made with their product and it all looked yummy, plus the company seems to have a good heart since 10% of their net sales are donated to Compassion Over Killing.

Once it arrived in the mail, I made the one eggy thing I had really been missing since going vegan, scrambled eggs. Sure, tofu scramble is good and all, but still not the same thing. I followed the Vegetarian Recipe Club’s recipe for the scramble, using only 3/4 cup of water and minus the green onions, and then to make it similar to my pre-vegan dishes I threw in a sprinkle of Daiya cheddar and chopped Light Life “bacon”.

It was SO GOOD. I cannot emphasis how delicious this was and creepily similar to eggs. The texture of the tofu was eggy, but the flavor of the Vegg was what made it all stand apart from a traditional tofu scramble. After making this, I decided that even if every other dish I made was a failure, this made it worth buying.

I know that the Vegg boasts many uses to replace egg yolk and even has a spherification method, but since I never liked egg yolks in my omnivore days, I will not be reviewing that use of the product.

But the next way I used the product was to make a Vegg patty, which I made by mixing 3 tbsps of Vegg powder, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of flour. I then cooked them like pancakes, using a oiled skillet and flipping them over once bubbles began to rise on the surface. The patties were then put onto an open faced English muffin with some Vegenaise, tomato slices, and chives. These were very yummy and reminded me of a good version of the uber-processed egg patties that are used in sandwiches at fast-food joints. These patties would be fantastic in a biscuit with a little margarine.

And the last thing I made with the Vegg was my own recipe! The recipe is for Vegg breakfast bites, kinda like a quick thing to grab in the morning if you don’t have time to sit down and eat. Plus since these babies pack 6 grams of protein per muffin, it’s a filling way to start off your day.

Vegg Breakfast Bites

Makes 10 muffin sized “bites”

Ingredients:

14 oz. firm tofu

1 cup cooked quinoa

3 tbsps Vegg powder

3/4 cup water

2 tsps minced garlic

1/2 tsp of each: onion powder, black pepper, and salt

1/2 cup chopped vegan bacon (I used Light Life bacon style strips)

1/4 cup loosely packed chopped basil

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400º.

In a food processor, blend the Vegg and water, then slowly add in pieces of the tofu until a smooth texture is achieved.

Put the tofu/Vegg mixture into a bowl and mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Grease a muffin tin and pour the mix into the pan, and it should make about 10 breakfast bites.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking for done-ness by an inserted toothpick coming out clean.

Let them cool, then enjoy! These are surprisingly good with dipping sauces, I enjoyed mine this afternoon with some ketchup and “honey mustard” dip.

So all in all, I would definitely recommend trying the Vegg. It is fantastic scrambled, fried, baked, or cooked many other ways. Check out the Vegg’s website for information on where to it is available in your area.

Spring Break Noms

I have been on a blogging break for spring break, but it’s time to start back now that school begins tomorrow morning. I ate a lot of good food over the break and now it’s time to share pictures of all my noms.

Right before leaving for the break, the cafeteria actually made a nice vegan lunch. They had grilled eggplant “steak”, steamed broccoli, and spicy hummus paired with some tomatoes, olives, and cucumber slices from the salad bar.

My boyfriend, Peter, and I went to Arkansas last weekend to visit my mom, so we got the pleasure of not having to cook and let her be the one to feed us. She made some great blueberry muffins with streusel topping for breakfast.

Not everything was homemade though, we did get us some pizza from the US Pizza Co.

We got the veggie-lovers pizza. Though I had to eat mine cheese-less because I had no Daiya on hand, it was still really good. The thin crust gets super crispy and they use canned mushrooms which gives it a meatier texture. Yum.

Once back home in Alabama, I thoroughly enjoyed having my own kitchen to cook in. I am still not used to the icky public kitchens in the dorms. For lunch I cooked up some frozen hash-browns with spicy seasoning, a bit of salsa, and a ton of Daiya cheddar. I topped the hash-browns with Tofutti sour cream and added a Garden Burger black bean patty on the side.

The four ingredients in the following picture are magical… No, not really, but it seems like they are. (scroll down to see why)

Those ingredients turned into one of the best dishes I have ever made, chick’n and dumplings. I brought about half of the container of Imagine No-Chicken Broth to a boil, stirred in a vigorous dose of Mrs. Dash, added the chopped up Gardein chick’n, and lastly threw in the pre-made dumplings to cook. All in all, this meal took at most 15 minutes to make, and it was delicious.

Another experimental dish that turned into a keeper was this creamy pasta with sausage. I threw some spiral pasta in to cook and then began making a sauce. I added a can of diced Italian tomatoes, two big handfuls of chopped kale, a dollop of Tofutti sour cream, a healthy dose of Parma vegan parmesan, and some chopped of Yves Italian sausages. The sauce simmered for about ten minutes while the pasta cooked, then I threw it all together in a pot. I served it with a whole-wheat Alexandria’s roll on the side. This was delicious and my sister and her boyfriend (who are sometimes known to be picky around vegetable filled foods) sucked down all the leftovers with their compliments to the chef.

I know Easter is still two weeks from now, but I couldn’t resist making these cute cookies. They were pink lemonade flavored, and they were *gasp* from a box mix. The cookies tasted great though, but the bunnies were an issue. I found the adorable Easter decorations at  Walmart and since the box said “edible” on it, I assumed it was true. These sugar bunnies could literally chip your tooth if you tried to chew on one, they were like rocks. Everyone enjoyed the cookies though and just pulled off the decoration.

Slow Cooker Love

My Valentine this year is my slow cooker!… Okay, not really, it’s my boyfriend. But if I didn’t have Peter, I’d be writing a card for my slow cooker. For Christmas my mom got me the The Vegan Slow Cooker cookbook and she also gave me her slow cooker, which she didn’t use any more. I brought those two things to my dorm after the winter break ended, but didn’t actually use them until just last week. And wow, I never knew a delicious meal could be so easy. I just throw in a lot of ingredients, turn on the slow cooker, and return after class to a hot yummy meal waiting on me.

The first recipe I tried from Vegan Slow Cooker was the Philadelphia-Style Cheesy Portobello Sandwich. The mushrooms, along with some thinly sliced onions and bell pepper, cooked down in some seasonings into a chewy steak-like sandwich filler with its own gravy. Soooo good. I was out of cheez, so I just put it on a bun along with some Vegenaise, lettuce, and tomatoes.

The next recipe I tried was the Smoky Mac and Cheese. But I am picky about how I like my mac and cheez, so I left out the chili powder and liquid smoke, so it was basically just plain mac and cheez. That didn’t mean it was just regular though, that was possibly the best mac and cheez I’ve ever eaten. Whole wheat macaroni cooked down with plain soymilk, cheddar and mozzarella Daiya, and some special seasonings. You can tell it’s amazing because Peter and I ate this whole recipe (all 6 servings) in just two days.

The only recipe I’ve used in the slow cooker that wasn’t from the cookbook was when I made a doubled up recipe of Mom’s Chili. I also mixed it up a bit and replaced the recipe’s kidney beans with black beans, and added corn. It wasn’t too pretty after it finished cooking, but it sure tasted good.

Double the slow cooker power with chili mac! Using leftover mac and cheez and Mom’s Chili. Peter and I enjoyed this as our Valentine’s Day dinner together. Not very romantic, but very tasty.

And now on to some older food pictures:

Here is a lovely cinnamon bun I had for breakfast a few weekends ago. One of my sister’s friends is vegan also, and he brought over vegan doughnuts that evening. I managed to snag one and enjoy it for breakfast the next day.

I promise I’m not obsessed with chili, but Sigma Tau Delta (the English Honors Society that’s on campus) was having a chili fundraiser last week! Of course, they had the gross omnivore chili, but they also had some wonderful vegan chili. It had two types of beans, and some tasty tvp in there too.I love this stuff and I wish they did the fundraiser more often than once per semester.

And lastly, some semi-healthy convenience food. I was starving after getting out of sewing class, and quickly cooked up some Gardein Orange Chick’n, but left off the orange sauce and covered it with barbecue sauce instead. I piled some on top of pre-cooked Spanish rice, and voila! A not-too-bad-for-you and fast dinner.

And in honor of this being my Valentine’s Day post, I’ve decided to share my nerdy gift I gave to Peter. Here is a picture of the Pokemon themed card and a love Pokeball magnet made out of perler beads. In return, he gave me an adorable poem he’d written himself. I hope everyone had a good Valentine’s Day!

Craft Journal: Llamas, Germs, and Mexican Food.

Continuing my 365 Creativity Journal challenge, here is the last week’s crafts:

Day 7 – the prompt was “Make a stencil and use it in your work.” So I found a llama drawing online, took out my exacto knife, and started cutting away! I then used a grey marker to stencil it onto paper.

Day 8 – the prompt was “Transform an old book into something new.” I had just finished organizing my collection of books and taking out the boring ones I’d already read, so I had a plethora of books to choose from. I picked The Revenge of the Shadow King though, because the creepy cover is awesome. I (once again) took my exacto knife and carved out the majority of the inner pages. I then painted the edge of the hollowed out book with glue, to make it a more solid surface.

Now I have a secret compartment to hide money, jewelry, and small animals!

I couldn’t bear to throw away the book pages, so I used water colors to paint them, and then found a paper flower/pom pom tutorial.

I really have no idea what I’m going to use these pompoms for, but they are too adorable to throw away! I may attach them to ribbon and string them across my dorm room as decoration.

Day 9 – the prompt was “Make something with your breakfast before you eat it.” Too bad this prompt landed on the first day that spring semester classes started back, because in my rush I couldn’t make anything super cool. So I made toast, and topped it with some Speculoos spread and made a happy face with vegan marshmallows. 😀

Day 10 – the prompt was “Use only water as your inspiration today.” Coincidentally, it rained that day. So I used a cup to collect some rain water, and used it in water colors to paint out different shades of blue.

Day 11- the prompt was “Work on the other hand. Pick a medium you’re comfortable with and work with your non-dominant hand.” I’m not fantastic at drawing, but I am decent enough. Though if anything ever happened to my right hand, I would be out of luck when it came to any art or writing. Check out these two very different robots:

Day 12 – the prompt was “Make something camouflage.” When I hear camouflage I think of what most others do too: rednecks, the army, hunting. But I also think of octopuses. Since my sister loves tv shows about weird underwater sea-creatures, I have seen quite a few octopuses changing color. If you really want to appreciate their camouflage abilities, watch the video below.

And so, inspired by mother nature’s handy work and after seeing an adorable felt octopus on the blog Futuregirl, I made this precious octopus! He’s just looks so happy to be visiting on my desk and not in the deep sea.

Day 13 – the prompt was “Use tea leaves, tea bags, or liquid tea to create something today.” So I grabbed two tea bags from the cafeteria, some paper, and paper glue. And tada! It looks a bit like dirt, but it’s tea, I promise.

Day 14 – the prompt was “Make something microscopic.” Since I am not talented in the field of making things that are invisible to my naked eye, I did the opposite and made a tiny thing bigger! I knitted up Jimmy the Germ. He loves giving you a cold, the flu, or the stomach bug. But he’s just so sweet looking that you might not mind.

Day 15 – the prompt was “Use a dollar bill as your medium or inspiration.” I have seen some really cute money origami, so I searched it online and found a tutorial for making a dollar bill ring! And I like myself, so I put a ring on it.

Not part of the craft journal, but here is the delicious lunch I made today for myself and Peter. Toasted refried bean enchiladas that were smothered in creamy enchilada sauce, and paired with Spanish rice that had spiced veggie crumbles and fresh tomatoes mixed in. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers, yum.