Cardiff

My time in Cardiff Wales was very short, only one full day, but it was a lovely city with less hustle and bustle after coming straight from Liverpool.

The first place I visited was Cardiff Market, which was great because I got there early enough to avoid a big crowd. There was a great variety of interesting stalls including things like Indian spices, vintage records, palm reading, fresh produce, and my personal favorite, the yarn shop. It was called the Wool Pack, but she had a massive collection of acrylic yarn (all of the shelves on the left side), which I got a beautiful teal skein from.

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After getting lost (thanks, Google Maps) and having to ask for directions at a craft beer shop, my first food stop was at Crumbs Kitchen. It was worth the hassle though, because I had a very good lunch there. The first floor of the restaurant is a bit chaotic, due to that being where the orders take place, but there is a second story with extra seating away from the main crowd. I got the chili over brown rice, with rose lemonade and chocolate cake. The whole grain goodness of the brown rice was a nice welcome, due to my Workaway host at that time only feeding us less filling white rice. The serving was huge though, and I ended up taking half away for my dinner later.

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I gotta admit, part of the appeal of Cardiff was being a Torchwood fan. I never managed to get into Doctor Who (though I still find Weeping Angels terrifying), but I was addicted to Torchwood when I found it in Netflix. Because of this, I decided to brave the rain and wind and march two miles from my hotel to the area where they shot the show. It was odd to look at all these buildings in real life when before I’ve only seen them in panoramic filmed shots. Definitely worth a trip if you’re a fan.

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A place you must visit in Cardiff is Cinnamon Sticks, an almost painfully adorable tea room shop. Everything ranging from the wallpaper to the servers’ outfits is either floral, pink, or dainty. Though I’m not a huge tea fan (unless it’s cold, sweet, and Southern), but I did partake in their cake, which is beyond amazing. I got a piece of their chocolate peanut butter masterpiece and can say that it was probably the best piece of cake I’ve ever had. The peanut butter frosting was the perfect amount of rich and fluffy, and the chocolate cake was the perfect spongey texture. I was sad I didn’t have time or the stomach space to try their savory vegan options, but I’ll just have to get them next time I go to Cardiff, since I will definitely be visiting Cinnamon Sticks again.

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Magical Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan MoFo #13)

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The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs is probably the most peculiar book I’ll be writing about this month. It’s creepy and bizarre, but in a good way. The story start with recently orphaned Lewis moving into his Uncle Jonathan’s spooky old house. When he finds out his eccentric uncle and their nice old neighbor, Mrs. Zimmermann, are actually wizards, Lewis is ecstatic. But when he wakes up one night to find his uncle looking for a ‘clock in the walls’, things start to get strange.

Uncle Jonathan soon tells Lewis that a pair of evil wizard lived in the house before them, and the clock is ticking down to doomsday. Soon Lewis takes it upon himself to help find the clock and destroy it, before it can destroy the world. Add to that some awkward friend-making, necromancy, late night car chases, and creepy Edward Gorey illustrations, and you’ve got yourself a fantastically weird children’s book that is also fun for adults too.

“Oh by the way,” he said, “you might bring Lewis a glass of iced tea, and get me a refill. No sugar. And bring out another plate of chocolate chip cookies.”

Mrs. Zimmermann stood up and clasped her hands subserviently in front of her. “How would you like your cookies, sir? Stuffed down your throat one by one, or crumbled up and sifted into your shirt collar?”

Jonathan stuck out his tongue at her. “Ignore her, Lewis. She thinks she’s smart because she’s got more college degrees than I have.” -The House With a Clock In Its Walls (paperback) page 13

In the book, Mrs. Zimmermann serves freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on at least four different occasions.  So it was only right that I keep up with this theme and make cookies myself!

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It’s been a while since I’ve had just a plain classic chocolate chip cookie. About.com has a great vegan recipe that is super easy and delicious. It also made a ton of cookies, around 48. That way there’s tons to snack on and share with friends!

Plethora of Pie (Vegan MoFo #10)

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Thief of Always was the first book I read that was written by Clive Barker, so it holds a special place in my heart (and personal library). It is an enchanting story of a regular ten-year-old boy, bored from school and a dull home life, being swept away to a magical place called the Holiday House where he can have fun all day long.

Harvey loves this new place and enjoys the special treatment. Mrs. Griffin, the House’s care taker, explains that this is a get-away for unique children like him. There are only two other kids there with him, Lulu and Wendell. Wendell is near Harvey’s age and gives him a big tour of the House and explains that every day is full of holidays. Every morning is spring (which usually consists of playing in the tree fort), followed by afternoon summertime (full of naps and exploring), fall in the evening (Halloween and trick-or-treating), and lastly Christmas (with any toys you desire magically appearing under the tree). Other than Mrs. Griffin, there are other strange adults there who don’t seem to be normal humans. But Harvey is willing to look past this oddity since the Holiday House is so wonderful.

Harvey would like to spend the rest of forever here, until things start becoming weird. Lulu, though never particularly friendly, starts acting oddly secretive. And when Mrs. Griffin and the other adults refuse to answer his questions, he becomes suspicious. Then any attempts to leave the House are thwarted by mysterious powers. Now all Harvey wants is his dull life back, but he might not survive another attempt at escaping the Holiday House.

Harvey set himself down at the kitchen table, and within sixty seconds Mrs. Griffin had set a dozen plates of food in front of him: hamburgers, hot dogs and fried chicken; mounds of buttered potatoes; apple, cherry and mud pies, ice cream and whipped cream; grapes, tangerines and a plate of fruits he couldn’t even name.” – Thief of Always (paperback) page 20

I always imagined Mrs. Griffin being the perfect grandmother prototype with her elderly age and love of cooking pies. I didn’t want to choose a more ordinary pie (like the aforementioned apple or cherry), so the recipe below is for a rich and creamy mud pie!

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Mud Pie

Ingredients:

2 cups chocolate pudding (homemade or Jell-O brand is accidentally vegan)

1 graham cracker crust (either store-bought or homemade)

1/2 cup Smuckers marshmallow topping (it’s accidentally vegan and is found in the ice cream topping area)

1 cup vegan cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons original soymilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup raw pecans

Directions:

Set oven to 375 degrees. Bake the graham cracker crust for 3-5 minutes, just enough to let it brown and bake together (especially for looser homemade recipes). After baking, set the crust aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the marshmallow topping, cream cheese, soymilk, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar.

Next layer the pudding and cream cheese mixture into the pie crust. Put down a layer of pudding, then cream cheese mix, rest of the pudding, then drizzle the last of the cream cheese on top. Sprinkle with pecans and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Then slice and serve! It’s quite messy, but very delicious.

Dorm Noms

I finally got a camera cord, yay! Well actually I got a camera cord a few weeks ago, but I’ve been too busy to blog until now. School work is taking up more time this semester, so my posts will be more sporadic but will probably have a lot more stuff covered in them.

Here’s what I’ve eaten so far this semester:

Carrot cake muffins from a recipe on The Flaming Vegan.

Seasoned black beans mixed with Daiya on top of chipotle tomato rice.

The local eatery, Eclipse Coffee and Books, has added several new vegan items to their menu and I decided to try them out.

First was the couscous and quinoa salad. Gotta be honest, I don’t really like the texture of pearl couscous or quinoa, so this wasn’t a huge hit for me. It had a great taste, kinda spicy with a citrus-y undertone, but the texture was a deal breaker for me. The coconut macaroon cookie from Alternative Baking kind of made up for it though.
Although the first vegan dish was a bit disappointing, the second definitely wasn’t! They added a veggie burger to their menu and it is fantastic. It’s made with quinoa and beans and is served on rye bread with your choice of toppings. I got mine with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and ketchup.

I guess Eclipse’s burger got me in the mood for sandwiches, because a few days after that I tried my hand at making my own veggie burgers. I very loosely based it around this recipe, but made lots of changes.

I mashed up a drained can of black beans, added about 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 cup diced onions, 2 tbsp taco sauce, and some Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy. Then I formed them into four patties and cooked them in an oiled  skillet for a few minutes on each side. They were sooo good. After making these, I may just stop buying pre-made veggie burgers altogether. I need to make another batch and test whether they can withstand freezing very well. I ate my sandwich on a onion bun with pickles, tomato, and some Vegenaise mixed with Sriracha.

I broke out the slow cooker this weekend too and made some Mom’s Chili, seen here topped with some Tofutti sour cream.

On Saturday I spent time with my friend Skye and her lovely mother Sally. We went to Whole Foods and ate lunch at their cafe. I got fried tofu (with ketchup), a seasoned mixture of black eyed peas and butter beans, and a grain salad with millet, barley, and brown rice. It was all really yummy and I will definitely be going back their to eat soon.

And also for dessert at Whole Foods I got a double chocolate vegan cookie, woot!

Deliciously Dark

I finally got around to using the ice cream machine I got for Christmas! I couldn’t find any vegan recipes online that sounded very good to me, so I just threw some ingredients together and hoped for the best.

It turned out surprisingly good, creamy with a nice dark chocolate flavor. So I’ve decided to share the recipe with all of you! It’s incredibly easy, so for all you ice-cream making newbies out there (like I am) you might want to try out something simple like this your first batch.

Decadently Dark Chocolate Ice-Cream

Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

4 cups Mimic Cream (I used the Almond & Cashew kind)

1 cup 100% cocoa powder

1 cup raw blue agave nectar

Directions:

In a large bowl mix all ingredients together. Then freeze by following your ice cream machine manufacturer’s instructions.

Tada! It’s that easy.

Cookies Galore!

I’ve been on a cookie baking spree lately and here are some of the sweets we’ve munching on:

Sugar cookies I baked yesterday and frosted little hearts on for my boyfriend and I’s celebration of three months together. I also mailed a few to my friend Eddie, who’s in basic training for the army. His were unfrosted though because I was afraid it might melt on the trip there in the mail truck. The recipe is here on VegWeb. These cookies were soft, chewy, and just sweet enough. Pretty much the perfect sugar cookie recipe, in my opinion.

Here are some double chocolate cookies that were whipped up for a D&D session. Everyone there for gaming loved them and were surprised that they were vegan but still so yummy. The recipe for these is also on VegWeb (am I detecting a theme here?), at this link.

Totoro and Catbus Cupcakes

My sister’s boyfriend, Josh, had his birthday coming up and I decided it would be cool to make him a cake to celebrate. He’s leaving soon on tour with his awesome band Carridale so it was sort of a going away party too.

I was going to make him a chocolate cake in the shape of the Catbus from the movie My Neighbor Totoro because he loves that movie but the cake somehow failed and didn’t bake properly. Thankfully I had made a few cupcakes out of the extra cake batter, so we had something sweet to munch on anyway.

I cut some thin circles out of marzipan and drew faces on it with food coloring markers.  The one on the left is the Catbus’ face and the one on the right is Totoro’s face. I “glued” them onto the cupcakes with some chocolate frosting.

Josh is a huge Totoro fan, as is obvious from his leg tattoo.