Carrot & Ginger Soup

Finally. Here’s that carrot and ginger soup recipe I promised.

You having a nice weekend?

I’m enjoying every second of mine….

….beers and vietnamese food last night…..

….trip to the auction rooms this morning (didn’t win the hat/bags I bid on but hey, ho, that’s the way it goes!)….

….walked through Greenwich Park….

….raided the Cat’s Protection charity shop (I love cats and thrifted goods so double win!)….

…spent a small fortune in Mark and Spencer’s food hall (including a bottle of vegan red wine – score!)….

….and now I’m chilling in front of the telly watching silly movies on filmfour (just my luck – just what I needed).

I love weekends:)

ingredients

2 large celery sticks

1/2 head fennel

7-8 large carrots

1 large piece of ginger (approx 2”)

1 tsp garlic powder

1 vegetable stock cube

filtered water

1 tbsp oil

salt and pepper

soya cream and hemp seeds to serve

method

heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan.

roughly chop the celery and fennel and add to pan. season with salt and pepper, clamp on lid and allow to soften for several minutes, stirring occasionally.

peel and chop the carrot into medium sized pieces. add to pan along with powdered garlic, stir and allow to soften for 5-10 minutes.

peel and mince the ginger. add to pan and stir to combine. let the ginger infuse a little before covering the vegetables with water and stock cube.

bring to a gentle simmer and cook for around 30-40minutes until the carrots are tender. stir occasionally.

blitz with a hand held blender until completely smooth. it may be a little thicker than desire so thin out with some water. taste for seasoning, heat gently on the stove, stirring frequently but do not allow to boil.

serve with a swirl of soya cream and a sprinkling of hemp seeds.

 

 

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all dressed up and nowhere to go

It would seem my food blog is slowly morphing into a lifestyle blog. I hope this doesn’t bother too many of you. I can imagine any male readers I have will be less than impressed with yet another outfit post and for this I can only apologise. Sorry? Recipe tomorrow to make up for it?

I can’t deny I’m enjoying my blogging life more now than I ever have because I don’t feel so restricted. Don’t get me wrong, food is my passion but I have so many other loves in my life it seems a shame not to share.

One other significant obsession of mine is vintage clothing. I’ve always shopped this way, much to my Mothers horror-I’m not so sure she appreciated me spending my pocket money on second hand goodies from Oxfam but it’s just a lifestyle I was always drawn to. Lord knows where this thrifting bug came from but it has stayed with me right through adulthood and is slowly determining my professional life. What weird karmic action is going down there?

This little number (a wicked pink and orange 1960s psychedelic mini dress) was not actually my own find but rather my Sisters – it would seem this thrifting bug is contagious! She was parting ways with it a few years back and luckily I found it before it made its journey to the charity shop – close call! I’ve even been photographed for a magazine wearing it when I took part in a ‘come dine with me’ style feature a while back.

I donned it again for a very special birthday party we were supposed to attend on Sunday. A certain legend, namely the incomparable Des O’Connor, was turning 80. The man is eighty!

After making an effort (which is more than can be said for some of the attendees, ahem) we were hugely disppointed to not actually get in-too many ‘priorities’ apparently. Ugh. And so we found ourselves all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Off we trundled then to the O2 arena to catch a film only to have the worst cinematic experience EVER! Not only was the film not up to much (The Devil Inside-we were late for everything else) but the audience were so phenomenally bad mannered they ruined the entire film from beginning to end. Based on this one truly awful experience I will never return to this cinema again. The place itself was also so totally mind blowingly soulless, we couldn’t even bring ourselves to stay for a drink. You failed to impress O2 arena and with us it’s one strike and you’re out. Harsh but necessary – there’s just too many cool places to hang out in London, we can’t be wasting time on below par establishments.

Ah well, at least I got to wear a pretty dress.

dress – vintage  tights – topshop  shoes – peacocks  coral lippy – barry m

Oh yes! Another piece of exciting news (for me anyway) is that I’ve signed up to etsy and opened my own little vintage store – cool, eh? Do stop by for a browse! It may be a little barren at the moment but I have items lined up to photograph and upload etc. so the shop will be an ever evolving thing. Do let me know if you like the look of any of the items, I’d love any feedback x

My etsy shop

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a look at my lunches….

olives, homemade slow roasted tomatoes, grilled marinated artichokes, toasted wholemeal roll spread with sweet harissa and plain hummus, organic black seedless grapes

Having promised you a certain carrot and ginger soup yesterday, I may have got waylaid and ended up with a lunch focused post instead. Not sure why really ‘cept maybe I’ve missed partaking in the What I Ate Wednesday shenanigans and thought you might like a look at a normal weeks afternoon eats.

Generally speaking I don’t give lunch a terrible amount of thought. I certainly don’t plan my lunches in the same way I plan dinner, so it’s usually a hotch potch of what I have hanging around the cupboard/fridge that I don’t intend to use for our evening meal.

We usually have a few soups ordered with our weekly veg box – they’re organic soups, my current favourite is a red pepper and lentil, which is kinda to die for. I know most people think soups are bit whatever but I am a self proclaimed crazy soup lover lady. Can’t get enough of it.

fried sliced white cabbage and fennel with smoked paprika and flat leaf parsley, sliced fried tofu sausage, lettuce leaves, wholemeal roll spread with sweet harissa hummus

If we don’t have any soup or Hubby fancies something else or I decide we probably should mix it up then my next option will always be a ‘bits & bobs’ type affair. Variety is the spice of life they say and for me this is most appropriately applied to my plate. Tapas, Antipasti, Dim Sum, Sushi. You get me? Variety equals good.

Other times I’m just trying to use up ingredients like, for example, the never ending cabbage I’ve been seemingly hacking through for what feels like a lifetime. Get out of my fridge cabbage, I’ve had enough of your mocking white leaves! Best way to serve bland white cabbage? Thinly slice, fry with fennel, season generously and stir through some smoked paprika. I’ve done this twice already this week and still have half a cabbage left. Get out of my fridge cabbage!!

Today, I’m serving up leftovers from last nights dinner, namely pasta salad with grated carrot, basil tofu, tarragon and nayonaise dressing. So. Good. Might throw a little salad together or spread a rice cake with hummus and top with sliced tomato. Nice.

red pepper and lentil soup, toasted burrito filled with hummus and slow roasted tomatoes

*tummy rubbles*

*dashes off to get grub*

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Here comes the sun

*striped top – george at asda, flared jeans – gap, cardigan – vintage sandals – peacocks (now defunct), scarf – vintage, belt – dunnes stores handbagnica (gifted)

I couldn’t resist sharing a few photos from our afternoon walk today. As we are currently experiencing phenomenally good weather here in London and the rest of the UK (apparently Scotland took the top hot spot today – say wha?!) we’ve been making a point of taking a stroll each day. It’s also a great opportunity for us to really familiarize ourselves with our little part of the capital, which is not so well known but has a few well hidden (thank goodness) gems.

Charlton House sits at the top of our street, just off the high street (such as it is) and about a five minute walk from Blackheath standard. I am not kidding when I tell you it is one of the most beautiful and picturesque parts of South East London and indeed London as a whole. The House itself is simply stunning with a fully functioning cafe and library where they often hold lunchtime concerts – I mean, really? How frickin’ cool is that?!

*two people that bring me endless joy – my wonderful, magnificent, handsome Husband and my beautiful, talented and loving Sister.

The gardens are also a delight, as well as the green, which is perfect for ball games during the summer – rounders anyone? I cannot wait until it is properly hot and summery so I can spend a day laying on the lawn, sipping on a cold drink and soaking up the rays. Bliss.

Every day I spend in this new corner of London, I love it a little more. For a girl who initially turned her nose up at this underrated borough, I couldn’t now be happier with our decision to move here. Obviously it’s a massive bonus that I can hang out with my Sister at the drop of a hat too!

*scarves are my thing – I’ve been wearing them since I was a teenager, I have waaaaay too many but this is a new one from Greenwich Market in London.

Maybe this new found contentment has been partly responsible for my crazy cooking spree of late – today alone I roasted beets, made a carrot and ginger soup (recipe tomorrow) for lunch, baked a chocolate beetroot cake and made a pretty scrumptious dinner which included my current obsession, roasted cauliflower!

*a bag that was gifted to me by The Daily Express team – I heart it.

Tomorrow is set to be even warmer. I may even bare my pasty legs – if I’m feeling brave enough…

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Vegan Cashew and Coconut Granola

When it comes to breakfast I am steadfastly in the sweet camp. That is to say, given the choice I would rather have something with a little sugary kick to jump start me in the morning than savoury fare, which is something I only ever crave at the weekend and that’s most likely because I rise a lot later – like say lunchtime:/

Oatmeal is absolutely my go to morning meal but I do like to mix it up now and again with polenta, shop bought cereal (I’m going through a weetabix phase at the moment) and granola.

Unfortunately when it comes to granola, stores only seem to stock the honey variety and if there does happen to be a vegan friendly sort it normally comes with a hefty price tag. It seems ridiculous to me to spend 6 or 7 quid on something I can make myself for about a quarter of the price, which is why I have taken to making my own granola(here’s another, err, very similar granola recipe from a while back).

Quite honestly, granola is so simple to make and yet I often forget this fact. When I made this cashew and coconut one just the other day I was amazed at how painless a process it was and have since vowed to not forget its simplicity ever again. n.b. I will totally revert to type and forget within a matter of days.

This might not seem like a very big batch for two people but I can assure you it will keep you going for well over a week and that includes snacks – I love to sprinkle it on soya yoghurt for impromptu afternoon pick me ups.

Like the slow roasted tomatoes I last posted about, having something homemade and reasonably healthy at the ready is a pleasure I will never tire of. I only wish I had more time in the day to stock my fridge and cupboards with more of it!

cashew and coconut granola

ingredients

1 cup porridge or oatmeal (large flakes work best but I only had small in the cupboard)

1/2 cup whole unsalted cashews

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup flaked almonds

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 cup agave nectar or sweetener of your choice

1 heaped tsp coconut oil

method

1. pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius/300 fahrenheit.

2. place the coconut oil and agave in small saucepan and gently heat.

3. place the oats in a baking tray and place in oven turning occassionally – i find two rubber spatulas work best for this task.

4. add the cashews, sunflower seeds, half the desiccated coconut, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to combine. when the coconut oil and agave begin to bubble pour over the granola and using the two spatulas coat all the ingredients until you get a reasonably and evenly wet mixture. place in oven for 20 minutes turning frequently with the spatulas.

5. in the last 5-10 minutes add the flaked almonds and raisins.

6. remove from oven, add the remaining coconut and allow to cool completely before transferring to a sealed jar or container.

 

 

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Slow roasted tomatoes

ingredients

5 large tomatoes

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

1 heaped tsp rock salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp herbes de provence

method

1. pre-heat oven to 70 degrees celsius/160 fahrenheit.

2. slice tomatoes in half, place in a baking tray and cover with the balsamic, oil, salt, pepper and herbs.

3. bake slowly for 7-8 hours. allow to cool.

4. place in a tupperware container, cover with a little more olive oil and chill.

5. eat.


 

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New Specs! New Specs! New Specs!

I finally got around to getting some new spectacles last week after procrastinating for months and waiting for my bank balance to be a little less dry!

Me being me, of course, I’d already trawled the internet and had some idea before I went searching in earnest what shape I desired for my new frames. I had half a thought to forgo the opticians altogether and buy them directly from awesome online spectacle store Bonlook, as I adore all the glasses on that site but temptation got the better of me and I ended up blowing my meagre budget in Specsavers.

To be honest, internet shopping isn’t really my thing and this was at the back of my mind when I decided against getting my specs from a website. Having already experienced one previous internet spectacle disaster, I was wary of doing the same again and ending up with another pair that were so unbearably uncomfortable they were rendered useless.  I’m all about the try before you buy!

With that, I set about exploring every available opticians in Derry (my hometown – I was visiting for a week) and whilst I sampled some seriously fabulous frames including a pair of Lafont beauties that were waaaaaay out of my price range, I opted for the two for one option at trusty old Specsavers. I hadn’t bought glasses from Specsavers since 2006 (they keep records!) so I was pleasantly surprised to see what a wide range of trendy frames they had and with a two for one offer on all frames, who can argue?!

I was stuck on four different pairs, which I mulled on overnight finally settling on these two. The super round grey pair are actually from the new Gok Wan range and whilst I would normally run a mile from such things (terrified half the country will be wearing the same ones) I completely fell in love with these babies. I figure most people will try them on, admire them and then opt for a less curious pair. Here’s hoping anyway…

The tortoiseshell ones were a dead cert from the get go. They just suit the shape of my face perfectly and were exactly what I wanted – classic, timeless with a retro edge. I think they fit the bill, don’t you?

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Vegan Irish Soda Bread

Seeing as it’s St.Patrick’s Day and I happen to be back in the Motherland I thought it appropriate to offer up some Irish grub – vegan style.

I made this bread last year for the occasion and it was a great success so here it is making another appearance again this year.

VEGAN IRISH SODA BREAD

Having attended a 60th Birthday Party last night I have already been treated to Irish Dancers and plenty of ‘ceol agus craic’, which has made this trip feel very Irish indeed. Goodness knows what the day itself will bring, as we hope to venture into town to watch the St.Patrick’s Day parade and join in the fun.

Of course, nothing beats Chicago on St.Paddy’s Day – those Americans know how to throw a party and the atmosphere in Chi-town is second to none. However, I do have one tiny bugbear I must correct, which is that it isn’t and has never been called St.Patty’s Day, it’s always and will forever be St.Paddy’s Days.

If you want to know why this is the case then this website explains it all: paddynotpatty.com

 

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Chocolate Pastry Puffs

I am an unashamed ready made pastry fan.

Yes, I’ve made pastry.

Yes, I know it’s not that difficult but truthfully the lure of that convenient roll of frozen puff is just too appealing.

It’s that ‘bish bash bosh’ element.

Defrost. Unroll. Slice. Fill. Bake. Eat.

What’s not to love?!

This recipe, admittedly, is stolen from Nigella – I’ve added the almond, coconut, icing sugar bit but the rest is all Nig. Obviously, I swapped the egg wash for almond milk too….

Are they any good?

Well, we polished the lot in one sitting so you tell me.

ingredients

1 pack of ready made vegan puff pastry

12 large dark chocolate buttons

1/4 cup of almond or hazelnut milk

1/4 cup of chopped flaked almonds

1/4 cup of desiccated coconut

2 tbsp icing sugar

method

1. pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius/338 degrees fahrenheit.

2. Unroll the pastry and divide into 12 triangles.

3. Place a chocolate button on the widest part of the triangle and then fold in the edges before rolling carefully to the tip. Secure the roll by pressing closed any open sections. It doesn’t matter of it looks messy at this stage.

4. Brush with almond milk and top with the flaked almonds and desiccated coconut. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes.

5. Eat immediately or allow to cool before dusting with icing sugar.

 

 

 

 

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Super spiced carrot cake oatmeal

As promised, here is a recipe. Not the recipe I had intended to post, I might add, but a recipe none the less.

This morning I fancied something a little indulgent, a little sweet and a little bit wholesome. Plus, I have about a gazillion carrots to use up in the fridge before our next veg box arrives, which kind of forced the issue somewhat.

I had planned on making a carrot cake but the lack of flour put a distinct spanner in the works there, so I opted for the next best thing – oatmeal!

Oh oatmeal. Like a comforting blanket that smacks of nostalgia, tastes fantastic and also happens to be pretty good for you. Granted this one contains sugar (eek!) but should you wish to eliminate that element completely or substitute it with a sweetener of your choice, go right ahead. In my experience recipes are made to be tampered with and there are no hard and fast rules on this blog.

In a few steps as possible, here then is my super spiced carrot cake oatmeal…

ingredients

1 medium carrot finely grated

7 tbsp oatmeal

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp cinnamon and more for dusting

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg and more for dusting

2 cardamon pods

1 heaped tbsp natural unrefined molasses sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups of almond or hazelnut rice milk and more for serving

1/4 cup chopped dates

flaked almonds

2 tbsp chopped walnuts

1 tbsp desiccated coconut

Method

1. combine the oatmeal, grated carrot, spices, sugar and milk in a pan.

2. heat gently, stirring frequently for around 15 mins until the oatmeal absorbs the milk and you achieve a smooth creamy consistency.

3. add the vanilla extract, chopped dates and allow to cook gently for a further 5 or so minutes. attempt to fish out the cardamon pods…

4. divide the oatmeal between two bowls and top with the walnuts, flaked almonds, coconut and a light dusting of ground cinnamon and fresh nutmeg. Drizzle with agave or other sweetener.

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