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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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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Will Travel for Vegan Food

First off, I’m writing this post from my iPad, so if the formatting looks strange, that’s why.

I’ve decided to start blogging again because I miss it and it honestly motivates me to cook different food (aka not fall into a “food rut”). This summer I’ve been busy traveling by using the website Workaway and through it I’ve had many wonderful opportunities to meet new people, and collect lots of lovely recipes on the way.

I’ve worked in both Ireland and Scotland, and also visited the rest of the UK during my time here. From all of this I have a neat little notebook filled with recipes from almost all of my hosts (I’ve had four in total), and I can’t wait to go back home to recreate or veganize them, then share my tasty findings on LimaBeanLover.

But until I return home mid-August and have a chance to tinker with the recipes, I’ll just be sharing some of the delicious food from my trip. My next post shall be all about Liverpool, so be excited! For a bonus, here’s a picture from of me in all my nervousness before Peter left me at the airport for the flight to Ireland. I have since then conquered my fear of flight.

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Weekly Wednesday Round-Up – Raw Pasta, Pita Pizza, and Whole Foods

I want to start doing a weekly Wednesday roundup of yummy meals I’ve made. Basically anything I’d put in the PPK’s Food Porn section, but doesn’t deserve an entire blog post.

One of my first raw food meals ever (not counting salad)! Spiralized zucchini and rich marinara sauce.
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The mini restaurant inside our local Whole Foods has a vegan sandwich! It’s toasted sour dough bread with balsamic tomatoes, arugula, onions, and basil hummus. Served with a side of roasted red skin potatoes.

Whole Foods sandwich

Fried tofu (from Whole Food’s hot bar) and mashed cheezy bacon potatoes.
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Pita pizza with mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, and nutritional yeast.

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Veggie stir fry with kale, tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms all piled on top of brown rice. rice stir fry

Vinegar Variety (part I)

The other day, as I was observing my pantry shelf, I realized I had a semi-dusty almost full bottle of red wine vinegar. I hate buying something for one recipe then never using it again, so I searched online for “recipes with red wine vinegar” and almost every recipe was for salad dressing. Now I don’t mind a good red wine vinaigrette, but I was surprised with the lack of variety.

From that incident, I decided that vinegar seems to be a bit of an under appreciated pantry staple. Due to that, I’ve decided to dedicate two posts to writing about different types of vinegar and how to use them in your dishes (with no salad dressing recipes in sight).

Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV is a very common vinegar. It’s made by crushing and releasing the liquid from apples, then putting the juice through the vinegar fermenting process. It’s a pretty mild type and has a light fruit undertone with a sharp tartness. The latest health craze seems to be drinking ACV plain (yuck) or washing your hair with it (I’ll just stick with my Jason’s shampoo, thanks), but this vinegar is still great for eating too, as is shown with the coleslaw below. The recipe was creamy with a hint of sour from the vinegar and relish in it. I served it with a barbecue Boca burger.

coleslaw

Balsamic Vinegar

Equally sweet and sour, this vinegar has the richest flavor of them all. It is commonly drizzled over salads with sweet accents, like fruit. Although the traditionally made BV from Italy is amazing (I’ve only bought a bottle once, but it was worth the money), the commercial made will make due for those who don’t want to splurge on it. But if you’re doing a dish with the vinegar as a main focal point, it might be worthwhile to get the traditional. I didn’t want to do a shameless plug and encourage you to cook my balsamic pasta and beans (recipe here), so I chose some salty and crunchy goodness with kale chips. These chips were super simple and delicious. You only need kale, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt. I ended up eating these while watching Supernatural in lieu of an unhealthy snack.

balsamic kale chips

Malt Vinegar

MV is made by malting barley, then brewing it into ale, which is finally converted into vinegar. It is commonly used in the UK for fish and chips, but it’s also known for being a good pickling vinegar. I’ve never actually pickled anything before, so I thought I’d give it a go! I chose to make pickled mushrooms since shrooms are one of my favorite foods. In the finished product the Malt vinegar has a distinct taste and the slice of onion and garlic in the jar add an extra depth of flavor. I’m going to serve these sprinkled on a salad with a sweet raspberry dressing to balance the vinegar taste.

pickled shrooms

Last Meal (Vegan MoFo #21)

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I decided to end Vegan MoFo with an entire book-based meal. Main dish, sides, drinks, and dessert are all mentioned in the book, so I cooked it all! I’ll miss the challenge this month has been, but it will also be nice to be able to not worrying about blogging five days a week. I’m already planning my theme (*cough* Disney movies *cough*) for next year.
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The genre of vampire fiction has grown rapidly these last few years. But the first vampire series I remember getting truly invested in (before all the Twilight hubub took over)  was Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan. The first book in the series is A Living Nightmare, in which the main character is a young boy, Darren. Darren’s obsession with the supernatural and outlandish prompts him and his friend, Steve, to visit a traveling freak show that has just rolled into town. Due to their encounters at the show, Darren and Steve end up over their heads and thrown from their mundane everyday lives into being involved in the dangerous vampire world. Now Darren must choose between saving Steve’s life and sacrificing his own human future.

In the same vein as Goosebumps, but with much better writing, A Living Nightmare (and the rest of the Cirque Du Freak books) tells a harrowing story involving vampire mythos, a dash of sarcastic humor, and good old fashioned gore. Great for anyone wanting to read a vampire story that does not involve romance or sparkles.

This would be my last meal with them and I wanted it to be special. When I was looking back on it in later years, I wanted to be able to remember us together, at home, a happy family.

Mom cooked my favorite food: chicken, roast potatoes, corn on the cob. Annie and me had freshly squeezed orange juice to drink. Mom and Dad shared a bottle of wine. We had strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Everybody was in a good mood.” – Cirque Du Freak (A Living Nightmare) (paperback) page 225

I won’t tell why (I hate spoilers), but Darren is having his last meal with his family. Because of this it’s a very important dinner and I wanted to make sure I captured that in my last Vegan MoFo meal. For the chicken I used PETA’s cruelty free Chick-fil-a recipe, the potatoes were just thinly sliced and baked with Lawry’s seasoning salt and pepper, and then some fresh corn on the cob. I served it with barbecue sauce and orange juice.

cirque du freak mealThe best part of this meal though was the dessert. I decided to adapt my lemon-berry cheesecake recipe and make it into strawberry cheesecake. I wish I’d done this recipe earlier in the month when strawberries were more in season, but it still turned out well with the mediocre selection that was available.

strawberry cheezcake

Strawberry Cheesecake

Serves 8

Ingredients:

One graham cracker crust (store-bought or home-made)

1 cup silken tofu

2 cups fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor blend together all the ingredients (except the pie crust) until smooth.

Pour the strawberry mix into the crust, place on a cookie sheet, and bake for 60-75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chill for at least 5 hours and then slice and serve! This is also great garnished with strawberry sauce or vegan whipped cream.

Brownies Love Brown Mushrooms (Vegan MoFo #20)

dragon-riderDragon Rider by Cornelia Funke is a classic tale full of magic, adventuring friends, and ruthless bad guys. The story starts with Firedrake, a young silver dragon, and his brownie companion, Sorrel.  They live in a valley which is soon to be flooded because of humans. To save their friends and family, Firedrake and Sorrel set out on a mission to find the Rim of Heaven, a land in which silver dragons can live in safety from the outside world.

Ironically, while traveling the save themselves from the humans, they become friends with and are joined by a homeless boy named Ben. The trio faces many trials including a golden dragon (who loves to kill silver dragons), spies, being lost in a foreign country, and more. They must try and follow their destiny to save themselves and their loved ones, all while learning what it really means to be home.

“Oh, yes, the question.” Sorrel rubbed her eyes. “Right, but only if we have something to eat first. This heat makes a person hungry.” She made her way over to her backpack, the sand hot on the furry soles of her paws.

Ben followed, grinning. “It’s the heat now, is it?” he teased her. “We’ve had rain and thunderstorms and all kinds of weather since we started out, and you’re hungry all the time.”

“So what?” Sorrel took the bag of mushrooms out of her backpack, sniffed it appreciatively, and licked her lips. Then she placed two large leaves on the sand and tipped the mushrooms out on them. “Hmm… Which shall I eat first?” – Dragon Rider (hardback) pages 174 and 175

Sorrel the brownie is constantly eating and on the look out for food to forage. Her particular favorite is mushrooms. I made golden mushroom soup and used a “gourmet” mix of baby bella, oyster, and shiitake. There was a bit too much dill in this for me, but I think I would like it better as a mushroom sauce over pasta and Gardein beefless tips. I will be using the leftovers for that.

mushroom soup

Sentry Soup (Vegan MoFo #19)

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Matthias is the main character in Redwall by Brian Jacques. He is a small orphaned church-mouse who lives in the abbey called Redwall. It was founded by Martin the Warrior, a legendary mouse warrior, and has long been a place of peace. There, Matthias lives with other animal creatures like his fellow mice, squirrels, shrews, moles, badgers, and rabbits. Redwall’s happy existence soon ends though when they are attacked by a rat named Cluny the Scourge and his horde of rebellious rats, weasels, and ferrets.

Matthias sees this as his opportunity to work his way up from being an apprentice to a glorified warrior. Cluny’s relentless attacks soon begin to wear down the resolve and resources of Redwall. As the citizens struggle to continue on, Matthias and his friends learn of a venerable prophecy about Martin the Warrior’s ancient sword. Trying to fulfill it, he and his friends begin to search Redwall for clues to the sword’s location. Each solved puzzle, every unearthed scrap of paper, and any whispered bit of prophecy brings them one step closer to finding the weapon that could save Redwall and its’ citizens.

“When Friar Hugo hurried off to join the defenders he left Cornflower in charge of the kitchens. She had busied herself with setting pans of oatmeal and oven bread ready for the next morning’ breakfast. Cornflower then thought of the sentries up on the wall, and she set about making a large pan of vegetable soup. It was a great favorite with the defenders at nighttime, especially when she made it to her own recipe.” – Redwall (paperback) page 300

The food described in Redwall has always sounded delicious. Especially since most of the animals are vegetarian. I chose the warm and veggie-filled Louisiana River Otter Hot Root Soup from Redwall Kitchen.

otter soupThis is probably my new favorite vegetable soup recipe. I don’t know if it’s the Zatarain’s shrimp boil seasoning, the thick roux base, or just the combo of vegetables the makes it taste so freakin’ good. Either way, I’ll definitely be making this again.

 

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.

Abarat apple turnover

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.

Jace Doesn’t Care About Your Mangoes and Tomatoes (Vegan MoFo #17)

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The dish today is based on City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. But since that’s too far into the Mortal Instruments series to avoid spoilers, I’ll be reviewing the first book, City of Bones, today.

Clary Fray is a teenager living in New York with her single mother. She and her quirky best friend Simon spend their free time drinking coffee and listening to lame poetry readings. Things soon begin to change though when Clary witnesses several teenagers with odd markings on their skin “murder” another boy at a night club. The weirdest part of it was that when they stabbed him, he disappeared. Shaken, she tries to forget what she saw.

But soon one of the boys from the club, Jace, seems to be turning up everywhere she is. Despite his terribly sarcastic attitude, Jace decides to take a chance and reveal to Clary that he and his friends are Shadowhunters. Shadowhunters are an ancient race made by the combining of angels and humans. Their goal in life to fight demons and protect the unaware human society, which is exactly what they did in that night club. There are also the neutral Downworlders, which are a hybrid of demon and human (this includes werewolves, vampires, faeries, and warlocks). After learning all these overwhelming things, Clary is just desperate to get home. But she finds that her apartment has been ransacked and her mother is missing. Who would want to take her mother? Why does she suddenly have the Sight to see the Shadowhunters? And why does the name Magnus Bane keep rattling around in her head? Clary must answer all of these things if there’s any hope of seeing her mother alive.

What’s this?”
“That’s a mango.” Simon stared at Jace. Sometimes it really is like Shadowhunters were from an alien planet. 
“I don’t think I’ve seen one of those that wasn’t already cut up,” Jace mused. “I like mangoes.”
Simon grabbed the mango and tossed it into the cart. “Great. What else do you like?”
Jace pondered for a moment. “Tomato soup,” he said finally.
“Tomato soup? You want tomato soup and a mango for dinner?”
Jace shrugged. “I don’t really care about food.” – City of Fallen Angels (paperback) pages 124 and 125

It is so hard to find a recipe involving tomatoes and mangoes that isn’t for mango salsa. After much searching and by taking some creative liberties I came up with (drum roll please)… The ugliest chip dip ever! Seriously, it doesn’t look good, but it tasted great. I used this recipe for tomato-mango soup and added some salt, pepper, and a deseeded jalapeno. It was too thick for me to enjoy as a soup, but it was just right to dip pita chips into. I’m pretty sure even Jace would care about this food.

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