Round up of the week’s food 160131

I started off the week on Sunday making vegetarian Haggis as it was Burns Night on Monday. I’d never eaten the meaty version in my pre-vegan days but I tried some of the veggie stuff when I visited Glasgow for work last year and bought a tin home with me. I decided to make some from scratch as I hadn’t seen it sold anywhere nearby. I did end up seeing some for sale at Vx near Kings Cross but I’d already picked out my recipe by then! I used this recipe from the lovely Sareta and then I stole an idea I saw on twitter and layered the haggis with neeps (swede) and tatties (potatoes) so it was sort of like a shepherd’s pie. I really liked the haggis with its spicy, peppery flavour and as its quite dense it was really filling.

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For dessert I finished up my vanilla Swedish Glace ice cream with some chocolate agave syrup I had in the cupboard and saved on the washing up!

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I had half a tin of kidney beans left from the haggis recipe so I ate them for breakfast the next morning mashed with some onion and garlic and a couple of samosas that needed using up.

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As I now have an open jar of hoisin sauce from my mock duck dish (see last week’s round up) I had some in a roll for lunch on Tuesday with a couple of my oaty sausage patties and some cucumber and spring onion. This is was so tasty and such a treat at lunchtime!

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I had a doctors and a hair appointment on Tuesday so didn’t have time to cook when I got home so it was more haggis pie, this time with baked beans.

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On Wednesday I had dinner over Mum’s after swimming and she had made a recipe from “A Vegan Taste of India” which I had bought her partner for Christmas. Its always good to buy cookbooks as Christmas presents as hopefully the recipients will make you something from them! This is okra and peanut hotpot which was lovely and filling after a good swim.

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On Thursday I made one of my now favourite quick dishes! This was so easy to make and tasted amazing! You simply put most of the ingredients which have been chopped and peeled etc into the pan, fast boil for 9 minutes and then add the cabbage to wilt at the end and you have a tasty pot of sweet chilli vegetable noodles. Dinner was served in less than 20 minutes (and probably eaten in about 3!) Find the recipe to try for yourself here.

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At the weekend we traveled down to the coast to stay with my cousins Dan and Amanda. Amanda loves to cook and had picked out some vegan recipes to make especially for me! On Friday we had three bean chilli with some coated sweet potato wedges. The chilli was very tasty and not too spicy and the wedges were a nice change from rice.

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On Saturday we went into town and did a bit of charity shop shopping (post to follow!) and stopped for lunch in a local cafe. I had jacket with beans (no butter) with a side salad. Unfortunately they’d put coleslaw on it right in the middle but I managed to eat around it!

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For dinner Amanda made a great roast with a mushroom loaf as the main event for me. I love a good mushroom and this also had parsnips running through it which was gave it a lovely sweetness.

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Later in the evening we were playing board games and eating snacks. I had a good few tortilla chips with this new Cucumber, Gin and Mint relish from Marks and Spencer. It says on the jar to have with fish but it is quite sweet so I’m not sure if that would go. It was also good on the garlic bread we were munching on. It’s £1 at the moment as an introductory offer so I woulld recommend you try it out although you may get addicted to it!

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I had an almond milk hot chocolate before bed with this rocky road edition from Whittards, I enjoyed it and could taste the vanilla in it but I wouldn’t recognise it as rocky road if I didn’t know. I didn’t really taste anything particularly marshmallowy or cherry-like.

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Over the weekend Amanda unfortunately developed a cold so made an Asian noodle dish she had found online to try and clear her sinuses. With the amount of chili she put in it I’m surprised she didn’t blow her head clean off! I am pretty much a weakling when it comes to spicy food and although this had some really lovely flavours I did have to glug down my drink afterwards!

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When we went to Deal in November (you can read about it here) Amanda gave me some rose lemonade tea to try. I love anything rose flavoured (or scented) so this really hit the spot. She bought me a box to take home with me today and I can’t wait to have some with my breakfast tomorrow!

I can’t believe it’s the end of January today and of course also the end of Veganuary. I’m really interested to see the feedback from the campaign this year and how many people will be continuing with their vegan journeys. I challenged my Mum to go veggie for January and she has decided to carry on with it so I’m a very happy bunny! I’ll have her vegan in no time 😉

Plumes x

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Round up of the week’s food 160131

2016 International Year of Pulses

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I first heard that 2016 was the International Year of Pulses through The Gate Restaurant, and then I saw more and more popping up on my Twitter feed. I had never heard of an international year of a certain food and when I reached out, a twitter friend pointed me in the direction of the UN website.

There have been international years of rice (2004), potatoes (2008) and quinoa (2013). I feel like I’ve been missing out!

Taken from the website –

The IYP 2016 aims to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefit of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition. The Year will create a unique opportunity to encourage connections throughout the food chain that would better utilize pulse-based proteins, further global production of pulses, better utilize crop rotations and address the challenges in the trade of pulses.

Being vegan, pulses are a large part of my diet. I use them in lentil curries, chilli, bean burgers, falafel, houmous and many other ways even if it’s just a jacket potato or beans on toast. You may only know pease pudding from a song but it is one of my faves to have with sausages! It is rare that more than two days go by where I haven’t eaten pulses in some form.

I wonder how many of my non-vegan friends regularly eat pulses? You can sign up to pulse pledge to commit to eating pulses once a week for 10 weeks and they provide a lot of great recipes. It is easy to add pulses to your meaty dishes and as they are lower in fat they’ll make it healthier too! Try replacing half the mince in your Bolognese with red lentils.

Pulses.org is a great resource site with recipes and videos about pulses around the world and the future of food. You can follow them on twitter @lovepulses and use the hashtag #lovepulses on FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter.

Aimee at simplebites.net has put together a list of pulses and how to stock your pulse pantry along with 24 recipes here.

Jasmine from Self Sufficient Cafe has also put together 30 recipes which look delicious. I’ll definitely be trying some of these out.

So there you have it! Now you have no excuses not to incorporate more pulses into your menu!

 Tag your food pictures with #iyop #yop #iyop2016 to share the love!

Plumes x

Here’s some examples of meals I’ve had featuring pulses.

2016 International Year of Pulses

Round up of the week’s food 160124

The week started on Sunday with a seitan stew my Mum’s partner made.

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On Monday I used up one of my portions of lentil loaf from the freezer with some steamed carrots and parsnips that needed using up with a potato and frozen spinach.

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In the mornings I’ve been having soaked oats with chia and flax seeds. If I’m being a bit fancy I chop up a banana into it.

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I had some seitan curry for lunch one day at work this week. I take my lunch in most of the time so I know what’s been used in it and it’s a lot cheaper!

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The next day I had avocado simply with a bit of salt and pepper and my fave sandwich filling chickpea mayo. This is mashed chickpeas, mustard, mayo, capers, spring onions and black pepper.

We were running low on supplies so an easy dinner is dhal with rice. I bought some samosas on the way home to go with them.

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On Wednesday I was suppose to go swimming with my Mum but unfortunately due to trouble with the trains by the time I got in it wasn’t worth it. I was really cheered up by this shepherds pie with chestnuts my Mum made.

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On Thursday we had a Chinese and I had my favourite sea spice beancurd with rice. This was definitely a treat.

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On Friday it was more tofu with this sweet chilli tofu with noodles from wasabi. This was really nice but a bit spicy for me.

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On Friday night we went to my in-laws and had a roast with a spicy bean burger. I also had some raspberry ice cream which I had left over in the freezer from our last visit.

On Saturday I had a simple lunch of houmous and mini rolls. One was piri piri and the other came with an olive tapenade, which makes a lovely change.

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On Saturday I went out for a Japanese meal with my Sister-in-law. You can read the full review here.

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Today I had a vegetable pasty from West Cornwall Pasty Co. It’s great to be able to pick up something for lunch when going through a station. It even won an award.

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My dinner tonight was something I’ve been looking to for a while. I got some mock duck and had Peking pancakes with Hoisin sauce. So tasty and easy to make at home.

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Looking at my week’s food it seems I had a very Eastern week although I didnt plan it that way. I wonder what kind of week I’ll have next week!

Plumes x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round up of the week’s food 160124

Review – Japanese Dinner by The Vegan Ronin

Last night my Sister-in-law and I attended a Japanese supper club hosted by Jhenn AKA The Vegan Ronin. I had heard about the night on the blog of a mutual friend Fat Gay Vegan and was aware of the work Jhenn had done when she was head chef at Veg Bar in Brixton which my Sister-in-law and I had visited in the Summer. We booked the dinner through Social Belly, a new site linking diners with hosts in London and at £24 it was great value for money.

Having never been to a supper club before we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Jhenn and her husband Ed were both very welcoming and told us lots of stories about their time living in Japan. There were 3 other guests, 2 of which I was aware of online as we followed eachother on instagram. It was great putting names to faces and loving getting to know new interesting people.

For our first course Jhenn had made us a selection of soya dishes. This included a soya cake, a salad and some spongy tofu that had been frozen and then defrosted to change its texture. We also had some warm fresh soya milk which was really tasty and creamy.

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Next up we had a potato salad with soya beans, braised daikon, bamboo and spinach, squash with adzuki beans, millet “eel” wrapped in nori and stuffed dumplings. Everything was so delicate and beautifully presented.

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Following that we had a dish made by Ed known as Ed’s balls! In Japan it is common to get battered octopus as a snack, so this is the vegan version. A cube of konjac is battered and deep fried and topped with a brown sauce similar to HP/Worcestershire sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and nori flakes. This was a real treat and very different from the other dishes we had tried.

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To end the meal we had miso soup, rice and sweet potato and pickles. This reminded me of the traditional breakfast I had had in Japan and is designed to fill you up if you are still hungry. I definitely wasn’t so I had a half portion of rice!

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Lastly we were treated to some Japanese sweets. We had coffee jelly made with agar served with soya cream. Two rice balls one of which was covered in sweet adzuki beans and a sesame seed crisp.

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All the food was amazing and I’m so glad we tried it out. Jhenn helpfully wrote up out menu so we could remember what we had.

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If you’ve never been to a supper club before its something I’d really recommend you do. You get great food and get to meet other people in a relaxed environment. I can’t wait to book out next one!

Plumes x

 

 

 

 

Review – Japanese Dinner by The Vegan Ronin

Round up of the week’s food 160117

Having been cooking a lot last week I have a freezer full of food I need to start getting through!

On Monday I made the last of my batch cooks for a while with two veg curries I made using Spiced! South Indian spice paste. The one on the left had broccoli, butternut squash, courgette, pepper and celery, and the one on the right had tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines, chickpeas and mushrooms. The spice paste is lovely and well rounded and I used some fresh chilli and cayenne pepper in the right one for a hotter curry.

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On Tuesday I started the day with baked bananas with some coconut cream. So tasty!

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I had heard a lot about the new fruit crumble bar from Costa that is the first from a coffee chain to have the Vegan Society logo. Mum and I shared one with a soya latte each. It was lovely to be able to have a cake option in a coffee shop although I think I will keep it to the occasion treat!

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Following that I had a healthy lunch before swimming. I showed Mum how to make houmous with cannellini beans and we enjoyed it with some salad.

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In the evening I used up some of my fresh veg by making bubble and squeak and served it with the  new vegan Quorn spicy burger. I enjoyed the burger, especially the crispy crumb. Its nice to have something easy in the freezer, although I will probably stick to Fry’s products for that.

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On Wednesday I had my second portion of Monday’s curry. I think I got about 4 portions of each from the pans in the earlier photo.

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I stayed at my Mum’s at the weekend as we were spending Saturday together and my Husband was going to visit his family. So I did a quick, lazy dinner before she and her partner picked me up on Friday. You can’t beat burger, beans and hashbrowns!

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On Saturday Mum and I went to a vintage fair which you can read about here. For lunch I already had the falafel stall Pilpel in mind, but we had a little look around and also found an Ethiopian stall serving vegan food so we got both and shared. I really like Ethiopian food and always get it when I go to the food market at St Katherine’s dock. I really enjoy the sour injera bread which is made with teff flour. I love how colourful this photo is and feel like I want to eat it all over again!

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My Mum and her partner are just over half way through their vegetarian January so I asked her whether there was anything she was surprised by. She said she was surprised that she didn’t miss meat at all (!), how easy it was to plan meals and how excited by beetroot she was!

After we saw Miss Saigon we had dinner at Raw at La Suite West. You can read the full review here.

On the way home from the restaurant we stopped in an Asian supermarket which I also did on my previous two visits to La Suite West! They are great for vegan finds and I look forward to using these ingredients.

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Today I raided my freezer and had some oaty sausage patties and marrowfat peas which I had cooked and frozen for easy reheating. I paired these with some mushrooms I had in the fridge which needed using up and potato.

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As the weather has turned colder I’m glad I have lots of meals ready in my freezer for when I get home from work and can heat up quickly. Brrr!

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Plumes x

Round up of the week’s food 160117

Pop up Vintage Fair at Old Spitalfields Market

Yesterday before the theatre and food, Mum and I went to the Pop up Vintage Fair at Old Spitalfields Market near Liverpool Street. The Vintage Fair is there on the third Saturday of every month. I was interested to see what was available as part of my no new clothes challenge.

I wasn’t planning on buying anything due to the other things we were doing in the day but it was great to have a look around. There were a few jewelry stalls which had some nice pieces including Roccabella who are a natural jewelry company. They had real leaves which had electroformed and finished with precious metals. There was a card stall, ipapyrus who had gorgeous handmade pop up cards. You really must check out their amazing work on the website where they have cards for every occasion and even pop up London landmarks. There were also a couple of stalls with some lovely vintage crockery. My Mum said most of it was similar to what she used to have.

There were quite a few “vintage style” stalls which had lovely new clothes but of it was unfortunately do not fit into my remit. I can’t remember the name of the one stall I did actually buy something from and I forgot to pick up a card! The stall owner had some great looking pieces and I’ll be sure to seek her out next time I go to fair. I can’t show you what I bought as it’s a present for someone, but will do after I’ve given it to them!

The last stall I went to wasn’t part of the vintage fair and is there every Saturday and Sunday. Enienay had some lovely upcycled pieces including dresses and tops. From the website –

NINA DAVIES (née Dewey) HAS WORKED UNDER THE LABEL Enienay since graduating from her MA in 2003. Enienay spells out the letters in her name; n-i-n-a becomes EN-I-EN-AY.

Everything she makes previously existed as a forgotten something. Taking unloved garments, she drapes them round a mannequin, to cut and pin, twist and sculpt. Each piece is approached and reconstructed by Nina individually.

Nina also via her Etsy Shop be sure to check her out.

Plumes x

Pop up Vintage Fair at Old Spitalfields Market

Review – Raw at La Suite West

I have visited Raw at La Suite West twice before to sample their amazing vegan afternoon tea, the last time was for my hen do.

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On both occasions I had a good look at the dinner menu and knew I wanted to come back to try it out. But as I’m an East London girl there’s usually somewhere closer to home so I hadn’t got round to it yet.

Mum and I went to see Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre in Soho as my Christmas/Birthday present. We usually see a Sir Matthew Bourne (side note – so glad he was recognised in the New Year’s Honours!) production at Sadlers Wells in Islington so have dinner at The Gate but this year it was a revival of Sleeping Beauty which we saw in 2012 and as Miss Saigon is closing in London at the end of February I didn’t want to miss out. (see what I did there? 😉 ) So we decided we would head to Raw after the matinee performance.

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Raw is situated in the La Suite West boutique hotel just round the corner from both Queensway (Central Line) and Bayswater  (Circle Line) tube stations.

The restaurant is small but really smart and modern with low lighting. There was some music playing it was very quiet so almost not worth having on.

The menu consists of vegan items many of which are raw. There is no alcohol served but a long list of soft drinks including smoothies and mocktails as well as an extensive list of teas. For starter you can have soup or a small salad. I liked the look of the shitake mushroom soup with wakame seaweed but decided to go for a dessert rather than a starter, which I’ll get to later!

For mains you can either go for a larger salad or share some tasting platters. We decided to go for the platters. With so many delicious things it was difficult to decide what to go for!

 

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First up we have golden beetroot with a cranberry cashew cheese and orange and fennel. I was a bit cautious of the fennel but it wasn’t overpowering at all. The cheese was gorgeous and really went well with the earthy beetroot.

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Next was filo parcels stuffed with leek and almond feta, the pastry was lovely and crisp, the leeks sweet and the cheese creamy and tangy. As I love making my own almond feta at home I might try doing this for myself!

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Our final tasting platters was glazed tempeh with cauliflower puree and lemon kale. I find tempeh a bit hit and miss but I really enjoyed this with the glaze and sesame seeds. After not being too fond of cauliflower for years I’ve grown to love it recently and the dehydrated kale on this dish added a lovely crispness.

The three dishes all tasted really fresh and we were comfortably full without feeling heavy!

For dessert I couldn’t refuse the sticky toffee pudding with white miso ice cream. It was heaven on a plate! The cake was light and the gorgeous sticky sauce wasn’t too sickly sweet. The miso in the ice cream gave it a lovely tang that wasn’t overpowering and cut through the sweetness of the cake well. The wafer was also really tasty and you can’t see in the photo but there’s another square if cake behind it so it really was a sizeable dessert!

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The meal came to £40 for everything including sparkling water, peppermint tea and 12.5% service. I think this was really reasonable for what we had and would recommend you try out Raw for yourselves.

Plumes x

 

 

 

Review – Raw at La Suite West

First Charity Shopping Trip of the Year

Today Mum and I went round our local charity shops before our weekly swim. I do visit them occasionally but looked at today as a scouting mission for my year of no new clothes.

We went in 6 shops in total and I was impressed by how organised they were. There were lots of staples so I’m sure I’ll find something when I’m in need.

I tried on one skirt but unfortunately it didn’t fit. I’m also trying to mindful about my clothes shopping. There was a lovely dress, but I have lots of lovely dresses and a few which are a bit tight so thought I’m better off concentrating on getting into those then buying more. I also saw a lovely patterned skirt but as I love a pattern I don’t really have many plain things to wear with it so left it on the rail. I wanted some flat shoes but there weren’t many flats at all. Maybe people keep hold of them and just give away the heels that hurt their feet! Also most of the shoes seemed to be leather which I can understand when looking for good quality second hand but doesn’t help little old vegan me!

I didn’t leave empty handed though! I bought a salt shaker for 50p in the St Francis Hospice shop, as we only have our big container of salt which isn’t great when we have guests. I bought my husband a DVD game of the TV show “24” still in cellophane for £2.99 in British Heart Foundation. We love a board game and I always keep my eyes peeled for them in charity shops. He has looks at the reviews online which aren’t glowing but I’m sure if nothing else we’ll have a laugh playing it once and it might go back to the charity shop for someone else to give it a go! I also bought a book by Niger Slater on British food culture again in BHF for £1.75. I love watching Nigel make his simple suppers even if most of them aren’t vegan and really enjoyed reading his autobiography of his early years “Toast” (which I still need to lend to my Sister-in-law!) So hopefully I’ll enjoy this one too. I’ll have to watch buying second hand books as well as I have about 3 lined up on my Kindle I need to read and I have to study for my exam in April. I’m also trying to declutter the flat so definitely don’t need any more!

I joined a group on Facebook run by the lady who inspired me to do this challenge Jen Gale (@makedoandmendyear on twitter and blog here) which I hope will provide lots of helps and tips throughout the year.

Apparently most people give up on their new year resolutions by 10th January so I’m doing well not just with no new clothes but no clothes at all!

Plumes x

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First Charity Shopping Trip of the Year

Round up of the week’s food 160110

I started off the week on Sunday using up some red pepper risotto from the freezer and topped with some almond feta.

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One of my favourite products at this time of year is Bottled Green’s spiced berry cordial. This is lovely to have hot or with sparkling water and on Christmas day we had it topped up with champagne. It’s a lovely non-alcoholic alternative to mulled wine.

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I made some leek and potato soup this week with some left over mashed potatoes. I always think its really important to use up leftovers and if you can do it in a different way even better! I paired this with a lovely fresh salad so I didn’t fill up too much on bread.

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My husband received a trio of meat rubs as part of his Christmas presents so I marinated some seitan I’d made last week with creole spices. It was very tasty and definitely something I will do again.

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I don’t drink many hot drinks at home but I do love a matcha latte. Matcha is the concentrated Japanese green tea powder. When we went to Japan last April for our honeymoon I was in heaven as I love matcha and could get so many different products flavoured with it! I picked up some more powder as its so much cheaper out there so I have a supply for a while. I love to pair it with vanilla soya milk so its slightly sweeter and I use my mini electric whisk for coffee shop style froth!

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I’ve been filling my freezer with easy meals this week in anticipation of going back to work on Wednesday. These are oaty sausage patties which are so easy to make, I liken them to a savoury flapjack. I try and have them with mashed beans rather than starchier veg due to the high carb content.

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This is a product I’ve seen on social media and I’m so happy to have picked it up in my local Tesco – vegan Vienetta! This is a Jewish product, as it is not Kosher or Parve to eat meat and milk in the same meal there are many dairy free products, which is also great for us vegans! This is pricier than a regular Vienetta at £5.50 although it is also larger. My Husband said he couldn’t taste any difference, but I told him hands off! and I’ll get him a regular cheaper one if he wants any!

I order my shopping online and when I ask for sweet potato I normally end up with a huge monster, but this week it was the smaller one I ever had. so I baked it and paired with a seitan steak and veg.

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I used up the last of my almond feta in a toasted sandwich with salad and another matcha latte.

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More soup! This time creamy parsnip, with a tin of chickpeas to thicken it.

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I made more bread this week, hopefully something I will continue once I go back to work. I didn’t get a chance to have any of this, so sliced and put it in the freezer to use in the week. I find it very therapeutic making bread and its so much cheaper, tastier and none of those nasty additives!

My Mum’s partner made a couple of lovely curries this week, a jalfrezi and a rogan josh. They were served with brown rice, yogurt and pitta as the naan weren’t vegan.

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I loved looking through these classic vegetarian cookbooks my Mum had, especially the photographs!

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We had my Aunt and Uncle over for dinner on Thursday. My Aunt had requested a tasting menu so I decided to make this Caribbean feast. I made jerk seitan, rice and peas, ackee and tomatoes, fried plantain, boiled green bananas, callaloo and fried dumplings.

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For dessert I made a Jamaica ginger cake which was adapted and veganised from a Delia Smith recipe. My guests also brought some gorgeous flowers including my favourite gerburas.

When we went to Berlin in January 2014 my Husband tried some curry wurst but wasn’t very impressed. When I came across a vegan recipe I thought I’d give it a go. To make the sausages you make a dough with vital wheat gluten wrap in foil (as it is quite soft) and bake in the oven, then you slice and fry. I used them in pittas with white bean houmous, salad and the curry ketchup drizzled over the top.

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I had some apples I needed to use up so I stewed them and had with custard and crumbled ginger cake one day and coconut cream the next.

I had some more of the white bean houmous I had made with warm pitta and salad for lunch with french dressing.

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I made a moussaka which I had the recipe for in my internet bookmarks for a while. I used to bookmark a lot of recipes and then never make them so I try to get round to it a lot quicker nowadays. I really liked this dish although my Husband wasn’t so keen so I have the leftovers in the freezer ready to take to work for lunch.

Lastly on the food front I made this pizza last night using butternut squash rather than tomato in the sauce and topped with red onion, broccoli, chickpeas and cashew cheese. I found the sauce a bit too sweet so I might adapt it next time.

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Yesterday we visited my Dad’s grave for the first time since his funeral and then had a long walk around the forest opposite the cemetery. We saw some lovely views looking over London as the sun went down.

Plumes x

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Round up of the week’s food 160110

The Danish Girl – review and more

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This week Mum and I went to see The Danish Girl starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. I don’t often go to the cinema but I was glad I went to see this film and now as we have a cinema with reasonably priced tickets (£4 a go!) I might start going more often rather than waiting for them to come on Sky or a streaming service.

The Danish Girl tells the story of Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) who was born Einar Wegener and received the first gender-realignment surgery in the late 1920’s/early 1930’s. She was supported by her wife Gerda Gottlieb played by Alicia Vikander.

I was impressed by the acting of the two leads and am please they have both been nominated  for Golden Globes and BAFTA’s (and I’m sure it’ll be Oscars next!) But I was particularly impressed by Alicia Vikander. I haven’t seen any of other films and thought she was very sympathetic as Gerda, who seemed an amazing women supporting her partner in times where gender dysphoria was completely unknown. The cinematography is impressive and I loved the Danish scenery, makes me want to visit Copenhagen even more! If you get a chance I’d really recommend you go and see this film.

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In the last few years transgender issues and role models seem to be more common in mainstream media. On a global scale no one can not know about the very high profile transition of Caitlyn Jenner, (being part of the Kardasian clan was sure to guarantee that!) and many people are aware of Laverne Cox, the transgender actor who plays a transgender woman in the popular Netflix series, Orange is the New Black set in a women’s prison.

Jazz Jennings is a transgender teen who is one of the youngest people to become a transgender figure. She is a transgender rights activist who has had many high-profile interviews in the US and had an 11 part series detailing her life as a transgender teen called I am Jazz.

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In the UK there has also been more transgender visibility on our screens. In January 2015 Bethany Black was the first transgender actor to play a transgender character in the UK in Russell T. Davies’ Cucumber and sister show Banana.

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Paris Lees is a high-profile trans journalist and presenter. She was the first trans woman presenter on BBC Radio 1 and Channel 4 and on 31 October 2013 Lees became the first openly transgender panellist to appear on the BBC’s Question Time programme, drawing praise from commentators who included former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and the Labour Party deputy leader Harriet Harman. In 2013, Lees topped The Independent on Sunday’s Pink List, naming her as the most influential lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender figure in the UK. (Wikipedia)

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Channel 4 produced a season of programmes in 2015 under the title “Born in the Wrong Body”. They featured, My Transgender Kid, Girls to Men and My Transgender Summer Camp as well as a number of shorts called My Trans Story. (All available via All 4)

Channel 4 is known for pushing boundaries but the BBC has also got in the act with BBC sitcom Boy Meets Girl in October 2015, featuring trans actor Rebecca Roots as trans character Judy who begins dating Leo played by Harry Hepple who is 14 years her junior.

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Even Eastenders are getting in on the act being the first British soap to feature a transgender actor in a transgender role. Coronation Street had the first transgender character in Hayley Cropper, but she was played by a cis gender (someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth) actor. Rylie Carter Millington plays Kyle who first joined Soap in October and returned at the end of 2015. Bosses say the character is fresh and relatable and hope audiences take him to their hearts quickly.

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The increase in transgender visibility in the media is welcome but there are still some shocking statistics in the UK.

The Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES) estimates that about 1% of the British population are gender nonconforming to some degree. Around 20% of them are likely to seek medical treatment at some stage. The numbers of trans men and trans women are about equal.

A survey found that 48% of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide, and 30% said they had done so in the past year, while 59% said they had at least considered doing so.

By comparison, about 6% of all 16- to 24-year-olds say they have attempted suicide, according to the Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey.

In 2014/2015 there were 605 hate crimes recorded by the police against transgender people. This was a 9% increase on the 2013/2014 figure of 557 following increases from 313 in 2011/2012 and 364 in 2012/2013. Recording improvement are noted as a factor in the increase as well as more victims coming forward. (Hate Crimes, England and Wales, 2014/2015)

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) was founded in 1999 to memorialise the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts held annually on 20th November to memorialise those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. In 2010, TDoR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries.Typically, a TDoR memorial includes a reading of the names of those who lost their lives during the previous year, and may include other actions, such as candlelight vigils, art shows, food drives, film screenings, and marches. (Wikipedia)

Recently in the British press there have been high profile cases concerning transgender women in all male prisons. The BBC reported on Vikki Thompson who committed suicide at an all male prison in Leeds in November and has led MP’s to review prison service instruction. Tara Hudson was taken to an all male prison before a campaign led her to be moved to a female prison in November. There are currently 80 transgender prisoners in a general population of 85,977 male prisoners and 3,935 female prisoners. The current rules state –

  • Prisoners should be placed according to their gender “as recognised by UK law” – usually as stated on their birth certificate
  • If a person has obtained a “gender recognition certificate”, they will have a new birth certificate in their “acquired gender”
  • Prisoners who obtain a gender recognition certificate while in prison “should in most cases be transferred to the estate of their acquired gender”
  • But the rules also say some transgender people will be “sufficiently advanced in the gender reassignment process” that they could be placed “in the estate of their acquired gender, even if the law does not yet recognise they are of their acquired gender”
  • Where issues arise, a “case conference” should be held to “review the prisoner’s individual circumstances and make a recommendation”

At the beginning of January, Maria Miller, chair of the committee looking at transgender equality called for gender to be removed from official documents such as passports and driving licences. She stated that a person’s gender was not relevant on official documents and created an unconscious bias in job and university applications. “As a society and a government we should be looking at ways of trying to strip back talking about gender, and only do that when it’s absolutely necessary. We need to understand that gender stereotyping can be as damaging for men as it can be for women. For individuals who have decided to transition but haven’t necessarily got the right documentation, it can cause problems. Why do we need gender on our driving licence? Why do we have to have it on our passport if it doesn’t really add identification? It’s not relevant. Australia has decided to degender their passports.” (as reported in The Guardian)

So we still have an awful long way to go. Something to think about.

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