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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Abaratian Pastries (Vegan MoFo #18)

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Abarat by Clive Barker is probably the hardest book that I will have to describe. It’s such a fantastical story that it’s a challenge to just give a short review/synopsis of it. But I will try my best!

The remarkable story of Abarat starts in the most unremarkable of places, Chickentown Minnesota. There lives Candy Quackenbush, a troubled teenager living with her mother, two brothers, and abusive father. After leaving school and venturing into a nearby abandoned field, Candy meets John Mischief, an odd creature with seven extra heads attached to his antlers, all of which have their own personality. She soon learns John and his brothers are from an amazing world called Abarat, but they are in peril due to a bounty hunter sent after them by the Lord Carrion, the Lord of Midnight.

Due to her less than desirable life at home, Candy chooses to enter the Abarat to help John and while there she starts her own adventure. Her journey will take her across the many islands of Abarat, each of which stands for an hour of the day, plus the mysterious 25th hour. While there, she encounters many other creatures more bizarre and far more dangerous than John Mischief.  As Candy struggles to find her place, either safe and boring Chickentown or wonderful and perilous Abarat, she finds out more about herself than she ever thought possible.

She went up two or three steps, to a stall with a variety of pastries laid out on it. The display looked very similar to something she might have found in the supermarket in Chickentown, only tastier. Turnovers, croissants, sticks of bread rolled in dried fruit and a variety of small cakes. 

She selected three very quickly: two turnovers and one huge scones; and then, greedily, went back for a croissant. Having got herself more than a meal’s worth, she glanced up and down the street, just to check that the vendor wasn’t making his or her return. It seemed she was free and clear.” – Abarat (paperback) page 180

The aforementioned turnovers are what inspired this whole Vegan MoFo theme. As I was sitting there thinking “What do I love that also involves food?” and “Abarat!” was what popped into my head. So for it I made apple cinnamon turnovers. I’m not positive they have apples in the Abarat, but I’m sure there’s something similar.

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Apple turnovers inside

I used the apple filling recipe from VeganBaking, then just stuffed it into vegan crescent roll dough and sprinkled cinnamon sugar on top. These were quite amazing. I had never shredded apples before and I really like how the texture turned out.

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.

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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.

Cooking Through Vegan Vittles

I got the cookbook Vegan Vittles: Down-Home Cooking for Everyone in October in my PPK package swap, but I’m just now finally getting around to cooking recipes from it.

The first I tried was the stuffed shells recipe, pasta shells stuffed with herbed tofu “ricotta” and smothered in tomato sauce and Daiya cheez. So freakin’ yummy! Here it is fresh out of the oven, with the sauce and cheez still bubbling:

I made this along with some steamed broccoli for my boyfriend and I to have a nice date night on Monday evening. Here’s a picture of his “joyful caveman” face upon seeing what was for dinner:

The second recipe I tried was called “Muffins that taste like doughnuts”. I made these for a Friday night D&D session and they went over great! Everyone thought they were tasty little snacks after the pizza and salad for dinner.

Though they didn’t taste much like doughnuts they were still good enough that I’ll definitely make them again. They turned out more like cinnamon spice muffins, but a little less sweet than usual so I drizzled some icing over the top for a sugar kick.