Vegan Cottage Pie

I took these photos with the intention of tweeting them – not blogging them! I then had a thought that some of you might be possibly interested in the recipe, as it’s an everyday sort of dish, which is how and why this blog began.

You see, it’s been over two years since this site was born and along the way it’s changed direction somewhat (let’s call it progression) and I’ve almost forgotten what my initial desire was – to share simple recipes that I cook pretty much every single day.

Of course, in that time, I’ve taken up a plant based diet but really that has altered my cooking style very little. We still have the same meals (and some new ones too), albeit it veganized versions, and I still like to keep things simple. To me, that’s what home cooking is all about. Sure, I occasionally push the boat out but on a daily basis it’s those staple dishes I turn to.

So, before I got a chance to tweet this recipe, it suddenly dawned on me that it might be a good one for the blog. I hope you agree.

n.b. the grotty photos are merely a guide as to how it may look, I can assure you it tasted a heck of a lot better. In fact, it was delicious.

vegan cottage pie

1 pack cauldron tofu mince (you could use any brand or replace with lentils/beans)

1 small leek

1 celery stalk

1 parsnip

1 carrot

1 cup frozen garden peas

2 large minced garlic cloves

1 400g organic canned tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato puree (or if you’re desperate, ketchup)

1 tsp brown rice syrup or other sweetener

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp marmite

1 tbsp herbes de provence

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

mashed potato

5 medium organic potatoes

1 tsp vegan margarine

1 heaped tsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp finely chopped dill

salt and pepper

pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees/ 350 fahrenheit.

heat the oil in a large skillet on a medium heat. finely slice the leek and chop the parsnip, carrot and celery into small pieces. add to pan and gently sautee until they begin to soften.

add the tofu, garlic, seasoning, add a tablespoon of the balsamic and cook for 10mins before adding the chopped tomatoes. season with salt and pepper, add the sweetener, balsamic (remaining tablespoon), puree, marmite, splash of water and simmer for 20minutes adding more water if it becomes too dry.

meanwhile, peel the potatoes and chop into small pieces, salt, cover with water and clamp on lid. bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until soft. drain and mash with the margarine, salt and pepper until creamy. using a spatula mix through the mustard and dill.

finally, add the frozen peas to the sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes. transfer the tofu/veg sauce to a casserole dish and cover with the mash ensuring the mixture is completely encased in potato – I like to use a fork for this.

bake for 25-30minutes, allow to cool for 5-10minutes (it will be piping hot!) before serving.

 

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Sublime

I thought you might like to know of a little development in my work life. I’ve just embarked on a new, very exciting, internship at a wonderful magazine called Sublime. A cut above the rest, it describes itself at a publication for ‘creative thinkers and inquiring minds’ – like, hello! How perfectly suited am I to this place?

Take a gander over to their website to get an overview for yourself what they’re all about….talk about inspiring, they cover every possible angle when it comes to obtaining that not so illusive sustainable lifestyle. Unlike many magazines, which are gender specific, it appeals to men and women alike with some seriously interesting features as well as superb fashion spreads.

In my first week there, I was given this gorgeous signature tote bag made from vintage fabric. So sweet and the perfect size to roll up in my purse – I always carry a bag like this with me to avoid ever having to use plastic and this one is just about as cute as it gets.

 

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Hello Sailor!

Birthdays usually equal gifts and whilst I don’t expect them, I’m always thrilled to receive something especially when it’s as cute as this sailor top. Given to me by my Sister, it’s from the H! by Henry Holland range at Debenhams – I have a silly amount of stuff from this range already, I really adore all the designs. Knowing me only too well, she chose perfectly seeing as I’m all about the nautical.

Probably not helped by living, albeit briefly, in arguably the ultimate coastal town – I’m talking about Penzance, of course -my nautical inspired dress sense has only become more out of control. Even when we visited recently I managed to pick up an awesome anchor clad vintage bag and the most adorable red sailing boat pin brooch from a fabulous vintage store in Marazion called Fine & Dandy.

I’m not just crazy about nautical clothing though. I am generally a sea crazed nut. This even extends to me happily watching giant wave videos on youtube for hours – mostly ones being surfed, I’m entranced by that too. So, you see, I really do like to be beside the seaside. I’m an ocean gal through and through.

For now though, until we make our way back down to the waves, sand and dreamy views, I’ll make do with traipsing round London looking like I’m a Sailor girl on shore leave. Maybe I’ll pick up a few hookers while I’m here……

p.s. please don’t judge me on that last ‘joke’, I’m easily amused today:/

p.p.s. these photos only highlight my critical need for a haircut.

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Four of the best……..Plant Milks!

I love milk. Plant Milk that is. All varieties and in abundance. On my cereal, in my tea, smoothies, milkshakes and more. As a cold afternoon beverage and as a crucial baking ingredient to give my cakes and breads some extra oomph. Yes, I love milk.

Here, I’ve selected four of the best although I have many more that I love equally as much – hemp, oat, unsweetened almond, quinoa, rice and any other plant you care to blitz and strain, the possibilities are (almost) endless.

Whilst I’ve tried to curb my soya habit, I allow myself a splash in my morning tea – it’s my vice, so shoot me. I occasionally treat myself to a soya latte when we’re out and about but other than that our soya intake is minimal and I’m happy with the balance we seem to have struck.

Also, I must, must, must add that many people opt for the sweetened variety when first trying out soya milk. Bad move folks. It’s pretty much horrible and leaves a foul taste in the mouth. Organic unsweetened soya milk is the way to go. Trust me on this one.

The other milks I’ve featured are interchangeable with the ones I listed above – it all depends what is available in the supermarket etc. and even though I try to avoid sweetened plant milks I couldn’t resist this new alpro soya hazelnut milk, which is seriously indulgent and we all need a little indulgence now and again, don’t we?

The almond milk is, well, heaven sent and if you’re into marzipan as much as me, you’ll love the delicately sweet flavour too. I find it works particularly well in coffee, as it means you can forgo the sugar – we no longer keep refined sugar in the house, so this is a great option for me.

Saving the best for last, coconut milk, especially the pourable kind (although I’m obsessed with the canned variety too) is by far and away my favourite plant milk. Oh gosh, where do I begin about how great this drink is?! It’s probably best if you try it for yourselves and experience its wondrous, moreish, goes with and in anything taste. Hmmmm, on seconds thoughts, maybe I don’t like it so much in tea but other than that it’s an all round plant milk winner.

Do you have a favourite plant milk or indeed brand? I’ve spread the love between four different brands here but if I were to choose an overall brand champion, it’d probably be EcoMil, as they have so many amazing varieties and the quality is superb.

Plant milk RULES!!!!!

Brands featured….

kara

provamel

ecomil

alpro 

 

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Vintage Finds

 

Things that have happened lately:

I had a Birthday.

My 31st Birthday.

Yikes.

I visited Cornwall.

It was. Amazing.

We went snorkelling.

It was freezing.

But beautiful.

We saw starfish.

And a sea urchin.

Oh, and a spider crab.

Yeah. It was amazing.

I bought stuff.

Pretty stuff.

All of it pre-loved.

Now I get to love it.

I’m 31.

It feels…..good.

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Good Things Body Lotion Review

 I’m always on the lookout for really great vegan beauty products. Having a weakness for lotions and potions can be tricky when trying to lead a cruelty free existence although thankfully it is becoming easier with amazing brands, like Good Things, becoming more mainstream.

I remember when this brand first emerged a few years back. It was relegated to the bottom shelf with L’Oreal and the likes taking centre shelf stage – big brands, big bucks, big influence. Now though, it can be found near enough alongside the big bods depending on where you shop. Sainsbury’s had the range on the top shelf and Boots had it in a prime spot next to Jergens.

Gradually, it would seem, we are learning about the nasties (namely parabens) hidden in our creams, gels, powders and and are no longer happy to slather ourselves in chemicals that have been linked to the big C.

Away from such serious topics, when it comes to body lotion I am, as most girls are, more than a little particular about what I like. I take into consideration the following things…

Consistency. I like a reasonably thick cream.

Smell. I loathe anything heavily perfumed and having  sensitive skin I generally avoid creams with a fragrance.

Ingredients. As natural as humanly and indeed humanely possible. That means without parabens please and definitely not tested on animals – ya get me!

In this instance, Good Things scored highly on every count. The consistency was perfect and melted into my skin without any greasy residue. I felt perfectly moisturized for the entire day. I would also add it was particularly soothing and cooling – perfect for taking on a summer holiday.

The smell was heavenly. Made from fruit extracts and avocado oil, it is delicate but delicious. Total yummers – me likey mucho.

Best of all, the ingredients list have several notably absent culprits that are on my ‘I don’ fink so’ list – parabens, sodium laureth sulphate, mineral oils and animal ingredients. Get in!

Yup, all in all, this is a goodun and I will continue to champion this lovely, not so little anymore, brand. Good things, you get a double thumbs up from me. Keep up the good work my fabulous beauty friends. Keeping it real yo, keeping it real.

 

 

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Cocoa Coconut Cups

There’s no point in denying it, I clearly have a thing for chocolate. This honestly comes as a great surprise to me, as I’d always maintained it was something I cared very little about. But looking over my posts recently I can see a pattern emerging and it undeniably involves chocolate.

Coconut may very well be a close second when it comes to most used and loved ingredients in my kitchen. Coconut milk. Coconut water. Coconut oil. Shredded coconut. And now coconut butter.

Alright, so I may have given up 20 minutes into the making of aforementioned coconut butter (I stopped when smoke began emerging from my hand blender – never a good sign) but the pulp that remained gave me an idea for some super delicious raw treats.

Whereas I usually roll my raw treats into balls, here I smooshed (technical term) my mixture into silicone cups and refrigerated them for a day. Holy smokes. They are good!

Both mine and Hubbies eyes widened when we bit into our first one. What made it all the more surprising was my ‘here goes nothing’ statement just before consumption – I really didn’t expect much from these morsels.

Be warned though, they are sweet. Very sweet. If you’re not a raisin fan then I recommend two to three medjool dates, prunes or any other dried fruit with a sticky consistency. Personally I’d go with the dates and that’s exactly what I’ll be making them with next time – and there most definitely will be a next time!

ingredients

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup walnuts

1 tbsp ground almonds

1 tbsp cocoa berry flaxseed meal or just plain flaxseed meal

1 tbsp raw cacao powder

1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit

method

place the shredded coconut in a hand blender and blitz for 15-20 minutes until you achieve a pulp like consistency – you will have to frequently scrape down the sides. No biggie.

next, add the walnuts and grind to a fine rubble. then add the ground almonds, flaxseed meal and cocoa and blend to combine.

finally add the raisins and blitz until they are completely incorporated.

divide between six silicon muffin cases and press firmly with the back of a spoon until the mixture is firmly compacted into the moulds. refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours or ideally overnight for best results.

eat!

 

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Uke Time

Something you may or may not know about me is that I come from a musical family.

My Dad is a fantastic bass player and has spent most of his life in bands, even touring all over the world in his younger years. His talents also extend to acoustic guitar and keyboard although there’s nothing I like better than to hear him rocking out on the bass – the man has serious rhythm, s’all I’m sayin’!

Likewise, my Mother was a long standing member of a very well renowned Irish choir called The Colmcille Ladies. They’ve performed for the President of the United States, don’t you know! So you could say music is in our blood and in our bones.

Growing up my Sister and I attended music lessons several times a week – I play violin, piano and I sing whilst my Sister is a truly awesome recorder player (superb tone) as well as being pretty damn good on the old pi.a.no. Of course, her main gift in life is her kinda amazing voice. We’re not the only ones who think so because the record label peeps snapped her up sharpish when she graduated from music college and she’s just completed her first album(it’s called Songbook and you can pre-order it here). It’s all very exciting.

I myself went on to study music at Goldsmiths College and ended up staying for five years (God, I loved that place) racking up several qualifications (bmus, mmus, pgce) resulting in me taking up a teaching post at an all girls secondary school. Whilst I knew in my heart it wasn’t the career for me I nether the less enjoyed some of my time as a music and drama teacher – let’s just say working with the kids was the easy part….ahem.

Anywho, in recent years, after music literally consuming my life – I’ve performed since I was very small – I somehow misplaced my passion. I acted, I wrote, I blogged but there was something missing. Something that had given me immense pleasure for the majority of my increasingly not so short time here on planet earth. Making music.

I was drawn to the ukulele because of it’s size (always a sucker for a portable instrument) and it’s childlike charm. Of course, being a string player meant I was able to pick it up fairly quickly and easily although I’m nowhere near as good as I would like to be but practice was not something I was willing to put in and I’ll tell you why….ukulele time was not going to turn into a strive for perfection and being a hopeless perfectionist this was and still is actually quite difficult for me.

Nope, the uke is for me and me alone. I strum, I hum, I sing, I play. For me. This is not performance driven. This is pleasure driven. I never thought such a dinky little instrument could give me back my music mojo but it has and for that alone it deserves a mention.

Currently playing: Up On The Roof

Currently wearing: 

turquoise skirt: charity shop 

horse print tee: H! by Henry Holland

metallic cardi: zara  

tights: tabio  

faux suede wedges: next

 

 

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Russian Dolls

 

Do you have something in your wardrobe that you absolutely love but don’t wear enough of?

For me that item is a certain russian doll printed cotton blouse my Husband bought me a couple of Christmasses ago from a great Cornish store called Seasalt. The brand is actually Nice Things and by the looks of it, their current season is another winner – literally love everything but especially want the map printed one piece for my summer holidays.

Believe me when I tell you that I have never once been disappointed with a present that boy has given me – he either just plain gets me or is just a bloody good gift giver, choser, whatever OR both. It’s probably a bit of both.

I was so thrilled with this cuter than cute blouse I was convinced it would become a regular feature in many of my ensembles but for some strange unknown reason (and the reason really is unknown) it hasn’t happened.

Up until the Easter weekend just past it had barely been on my back and I knew that oversight had to be rectified immediately. So, Easter Sunday, fed and bathed, I reached for my forlorn and forgotten little russian doll blouse at the back of my wardrobe and I just knew its time had come.

After wearing it two days straight it was evident this awesome item had finally come into its own and now I’m excited about incorporating it into my working wardrobe. It’ll be great teamed up with some high-waisted trousers, a pretty skirt or worn simply like in the photo.

I love it when a plan comes together….or something like that.

 

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Soy & Sugar free Chocolate Pancakes

Soy & sugar free chocolate pancake recipe?

Here ya go!

Oh and when I say  ‘sugar free’ I mean sans refined sugar but there is a little sweetener in the form of Brown Rice Syrup, which I finally managed to get my hands on recently. I like it because it’s not mega sweet and the consistency is fab – runny, gooey, almost honey like.

We’re cutting out refined sugar here again although, of course, there’s some sugar in the choc chips/buttons – leave them out if you like, I was just trying to use up all my sugary treats before we started our cleanse in earnest.

Enjoy!

ingredients

3/4 cup plain white flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

1 heaped tsp cocoa powder

1 banana, mashed

1/4 cup brown rice syrup

3/4 cup oat milk (or any other plant milk)

1 tbsp cocoa flaxseed meal soaked in 3tbsp water

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips/buttons

1 tbsp sunflower spread and more for oiling the pan

combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, bicarb, cocoa and salt) in one bowl and the wet ingredients (mashed banana, brown rice syrup, oat milk, soaked flaxseed meal) in another. add the wet mixture to the dry and fold thoroughly using a spatula until a thick batter forms – if it is very thick just add more plant milk. gently stir through the chocolate chips.

heat the sunflower spread in a frying pan and add to batter. oil the pan with a little more spread ensuring it is on a medium to high heat.

pour a small amount of batter into pan, when bubbles appear on the top and the edges begin to brown, flip over and cook for a further couple of minutes on the other side. transfer to a pancake warmer or a low oven. continue until all the batter is used ensuring not to overload the pan – no more than two pancakes at a time.

serve with a little more sunflower spread or any other vegan butter and a decent squeeze of  brown rice syrup.

makes 7- 8 medium pancakes.

 

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