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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Narnian Delights (Vegan MoFo #5)

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narniaThe Chronicles of Narnia is yet another classic book series. One of my pet peeves is that most people assume (due to the order they were written in) the first book of the series is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But towards the end of his life C.S. Lewis said he preferred the books in chronological order, so The Magician’s Nephew is actually the first in the story and is about the origins and beginning of Narnia. But alas, today is about the second book and not the first!

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, four siblings travel through a wardrobe to the magical land of Narnia. There they encounter the infamous White Witch, who rules Narnia with an iron first and keeps the land in a perpetual winter. As the children fight to overthrow her they meet wonderful allies like Aslan the lion, fauns, centaurs, talking animals, and more. Full of symbolism and extraordinary adventure, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a good classic to pick up.

The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle onto the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very center and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious.” – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (paperback) pages 36-37

Towards the beginning of the book, Edmund (one of the four siblings) encounters the White Witch. She is fascinated to meet a human boy (aka a “son of Adam”) and tries to win his favor by providing him any treat he desires. Edmund chose Turkish Delights, so that’s what I made today!

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The recipe I used was very simple, and turned out quite good! When cooking it, the Delights looked like a mix between jello and taffy, and I wasn’t sure I’d like the end result. But they were actually really tasty! The lemon extract is an unexpected flavor, and they kind of melt in your mouth.

Deadly Good Toffee (Vegan MoFo #1)

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This is my first year participating in Vegan Month of Food (MoFo) and I am very excited to exhaust myself cooking and blogging throughout September. The theme I have chosen is “Paper Bound Food” which revolves around dishes mentioned in my favorite books (all of which are fantasy or sci-fi based). I’ll be giving a short review (no spoilers!) of each book, then making a food item either mentioned in the story or based around it.

I don’t believe in saving the best for last, so I’ll begin this Vegan MoFo with my favorite book ever, Sabriel by Garth Nix.

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The story is centered around Sabriel, the daughter of the Abhorsen. The Abhorsen works in the Old Kingdom, a land of free magic and the Dead. Necromancers there use a set of seven bells (each with a different property) to make the Dead do their bidding. The Abhorsen does the opposite, using the bells to bind the dead and put them to rest.

While living at a boarding school in Ancelstierre, a non-magical and more modernized land near the Old Kingdom, Sabriel gets word her father has gone missing. She then makes the decision to travel to the Old Kingdom in search of him. This journey towards adulthood (and possibly her own death) makes Sabriel an extremely easy character to relate with and this is one of the few books I’ve read with a female main character who truly kicks butt throughout the whole story. This mission to save her father, and in turn also help save the Old Kingdom, involves many unique characters, including Mogget, a talking cat who is much more than he appears to be, Touchstone, a young Charter mage who has been trapped by magic for years, and of course the Dead who will not stay dead.

With decision came action. Sabriel dropped her skis and pack, stuffed some dried fruit and homemade toffee in her mouth for quick energy, and adopted the meditative pose that made Charter Magic easier.” – Sabriel (paperback) page 79

Hours after beginning her travels through the perilous Old Kingdom, Sabriel must stop for a snack of dried fruit and toffee. So I chose to make my own combo of the two with cranberry toffee!

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Cranberry Toffee

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup margarine

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Directions:

Place parchment paper on a lightly rimmed cookie sheet.

In a large saucepan on low heat, add the two sugars and margarine. Once the margarine melts, heat until everything is smooth and combined (about 10 minutes). Then turn the heat up to medium and bring to a boil. Add a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.

Continue stirring the toffee until it reaches an amber color and the thermometer is at 300 degrees (about 5-7 minutes). Remove the pan from heat, stir in the cranberries and vanilla and then quickly pour onto the lined cookie sheet.

Put into the refrigerator until firm (around 15 minutes), then break into pieces and store in an air-tight container.

Harry Potter Craft Swap

Yet another Craftster swap, this time with a Harry Potter theme!

Here’s what I sent my partner:

Knitted Mandrake baby (it is ridiculously hard to get a good photo of its face)

Hufflepuff badger t-shirt

Luna Lovegood cross-stitch bookmark

Lots of candy from Honeydukes in Hogsmeade

My partner, Smeddley, was amazing. She kept checking with me to make sure that the things she was using to craft with were vegan-friendly. And on top of that she sent me some useful and amazing crafts!

My personal favorite, the Mandrake painting. I love that it says “Repotting Station”

A lovely green crocheted bag with stones carved with runes (ancient runes is my favorite class)

Hufflepuff bag with beaded stitch markers (which I actually needed)

And lastly, an adorable Honeydukes candy themed needle case

Fall is the Season of Blogging

Well  summer has come and gone, thank goodness! As much as I like having nothing to do, I have desperately missed school and Montevallo. And for some reason when I have nothing to do, I don’t blog either. It may seem strange, but when I’m back at school (even with homework and projects to do) I have much more drive to blog just for the fun of it.

But just because I didn’t write this summer doesn’t mean I didn’t photograph all of my good meals. Here’s what I enjoyed:

Super veggie salad with mixed lettuce, avocado, tomato, cucumber, kalamata olives, a chopped Boca chick’n patty, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Baked tofu that had been dipped in a simple coating of flour/soymilk with tons of seasonings and topped with caramelized onions.

I realize this salad (can it really be called a salad if there’s no lettuce?) isn’t the prettiest dish around, but it sure was tasty. A tortilla bowl with beans, spiced veggie crumbles, nacho cheez (made with Daiya) and guacamole.

I also found out that the cardboard braces in the tortilla shell box make fantastic crowns! That is me modeling it below with my serious face on.
Summer is the perfect time for an ice-box pie. So I made this cherry cheez-cake pie. It’s just a simple homemade graham cracker crust layered with a mix of cream cheez, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar, then canned cherry pie filling. Super simple and fast, but really good.

Here’s yet another salad. This one has mixed lettuce, red onions, tomato, smoked tofu, and kalamata olive Greek dressing. I (sadly) can’t remember the name of the dressing brand, but I bought it at Earth Fare. It is by far the best salad dressing I’ve ever had, so if I can find the name I’ll be sure to share it here.

And this summer I also experienced something wondrous: I ate my first peanut butter cup since going vegan four and a half years ago. My traveled to Cullman, AL to visit my friend Seth and while we were there we found Justin’s organic peanut butter cups. They are less sweet than the traditional Reese’s Cups that I remember, but the dark chocolate and natural peanut butter were phenomenal together. Definitely worth the long wait to find something this good.

Easter Time – Veganized Cadbury Eggs

Yet again, Easter has come and gone, as has my sugar high. I hope everyone had just as good of a day as I did. I know you’re tired of my holiday wishes though, so let’s get on to the candy.

Last year I made Easter egg nest cupcakes, and the year before I did the same thing. So to change it up, I wanted to try a veganized recipe of Cadbury cream eggs. I was addicted to these as a child, and since they only came out around Easter, that made it an extra special treat. I looked through many recipes and couldn’t find one that I was interested in, so I came up with my own!

Vegan Cadbury Eggs

Makes 10 large “eggs”

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of light agave nectar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup margarine, softened

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

3 cups powdered sugar

1  4 oz. vegan dark chocolate bar (this can also be substituted by 1/2 cup of chocolate chips)

Directions:

In a large bowl, cream together agave nectar, maple syrup, margarine, vanilla, and salt. Then slowly add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. After the mixture is complete, it should look like this:

Put the cream into the freezer for a few minutes so it will harden. While that is happening, break the chocolate bar up, place into a bowl, and microwave for 20 second intervals. Stir the chocolate each time after it is heated, and continue until completely melted.

Hopefully by this time the cream has firmed up. If so, take the mixture and roll it into a several small balls (or whatever your preferred shape is). Quickly dunk the balls, one at a time, into the melted chocolate, being sure to coat the entire thing. Once coated, place them onto a plate with wax paper, then back into the fridge. Once the chocolate dries, you’re ready to eat them!

Also, so as to not miss out on the tradition of dyeing eggs, I bought some chicken-friendly paper mache eggs at Hobby Lobby. I made some boring pastel colored small eggs, but I also got a giant egg and painted Frank on it, who is from the cult-classic movie Donnie Darko. I followed an online drawing tutorial to get his face drawn right (though his teeth are still a bit too bucky).

PPK October Package Swap

During the month of October the PPK had a vegan package swap and for the first time I got to participate! It was really fun just wandering through the health food store and choosing some of my favorites things to put into my partner’s package of goodies. Though I forgot to take a picture of what I sent her, this is what I got in return:

I must say, I think I got the coolest swap partner ever. Here’s what all was contained in the above package:

The Nutritional Yeast Cookbook, and Vegan Vittles (both by Jo Stepaniak), Trader Joe’s crunchy curls, vanilla rice milk powder, raw blue agave nectar, Trader Joe’s maple leaf cookies (which are incredibly yummy, by the way), agar powder, Annie’s fruit gummies, peanut chews, Road’s End Organics shiitake mushroom gravy mix, marshmallow treats, Food Lion butterscotch chips, and last but not least a giant bag of organic lolly pops.

It was an awesome collection of foods that aren’t available in my area, so I was very pleased with the swap. I can’t wait to do it again next year!