Sunday, 16 October 2016

Vegan Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake

I have been making lots of new things lately mainly on the food front.  One of my favourites at the moment is walnut cheese I absolutely love it, this week I also made a cashew cheese which is good in lasagne but not as great on toast.

The other day I saw this recipe for Vegan salted caramel cheesecake and I had to try it out.  All natural ingredients so you know exactly what you are eating and it is another raw recipe so mostly blender and freezer.  The most time consuming thing is bringing it all together, you can find the recipe here at My Vibrant Kitchen

Here is my version not as deep as the one in the recipe but my tin was large.
 In the photo on the blog it has got fancy drizzled chocolate on top, I chose to just grate some.

Now I enjoyed it but I found it sweet, that is probably because I don't eat many sweet things anymore and you really do adapt, you do, trust me.  So if I was going to make it again I would probably leave out the maple syrup altogether but that is just my taste.  It really does serve ten, there were five of us for lunch today and there is half left, you don't need a bigger slice as it is rich but all healthy ingredients.

Last night I watched a film I have been wanting to see since I saw it advertised, Captain Fantastic.  I really enjoyed although my husband said what a load of nonsense.  It is about a man bringing his children up in a remote place, home educating and away from society. The children are fit, intelligent, resourceful and of course a little different but I loved the way the film contrasted the way of life between the family and that of their in-laws.  The views on over sedated, shopping addicted masses I can relate to, however the opening scene with a slaughtered animal was a bit much for a vegetarian!  Also there is a very anti Christian message running through the film but I can deal with that, I accept the views of others and people often make some very good points even if I don't agree.  But in one scene a child states 'we don't hate anyone do we? Except Christians' whoa! hold on Hollywood, I don't hate anyone at all, so what's all that about then some agenda going on I feel.
So now you know what to expect, it really is an interesting film.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Autumn/Winter Wardrobe Shift Dress

Another week gone by so fast and I really can't believe how dark it is at seven in the evening, just a few weeks ago we were all still sat out in the sun!  I called in at the library earlier and in the room next door there was some sort of fayre and they were selling Christmas stuff, I'm really not ready for all that just yet.

When I got back I started my dress that I have had the fabric for, for absolutely ages and I just kept going until it was finished. If I have a little break from sewing I forget how the time passes so quickly when you are in the midst of making a garment.  Here is the finished dress, no one available to help me with  pictures so some awkward in the mirror ones.
Here is one on the hanger but it looks a bit bigger here as I didn't have a purple zip.  I still gave it structure with darts but I can just pull it over my head and it is all fully lined.

I thought I would include a few pictures of the process as I rarely use a pattern.  I lay out a dress that fits me well ( here it is another shift dress I made for myself, as a result of lots of pinning and trying on).
I then replicate this with the lining, I just realised the other dress is over the back of a chair here and you can't see it!
I lay another piece of fabric under the necklines to make my own facing pieces that fit perfectly.
Then I decide it all needs an iron. Ha!
Move the front piece out of the way and repeat with the back neck.
I sew the shoulders and pin the sides then check on the mannequin.  When I am happy with that I sew the side seams, try on myself and make any adjustments with pins. I found I needed a little dart back and front in the arms to stop it  gaping.  It also needed two little ones at the neck line just to make it lie a little flatter.
I sew on the neck facings, notch, trim then fold back and hand stitch on the inside to make it invisible.
I pin it first

I cut straight strips to face the arm holes
Then sew these on and hand stitch these inside also.  I make up the lining and attach it at the shoulder it also gets caught with the neckline, wrong sides facing so it is all neat inside.  I machine the lining hem and hand stitch the main dress hem.

I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else the way I do things but I hope it helps.  I think patterns can be more confusing.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Keep it Vegan (Scrummy food from this book)

This past few weeks have been a blur of getting back into that routine of work, home, cook etc. after the lovely summer break.  I always feel that the time between getting home and putting tea on the table goes through some incredible time fast forward! I have been trying extra hard to make new foods with my vegan cook books it's just a shame there isn't such a good audience for it all around here.  Oldest son is vegetarian and will try some new stuff but he also incredibly picky and often out, my husband and younger son are very much a 'what are we having with the meat?' duo,  so I have to just be my own chef.

So despite  the clock going into fast forward as soon as I walk through the  front door I have managed to make some of the recipes in my new book 'Keep it Vegan'.

  Today I made the stuffed mushrooms to have with our Sunday lunch and these did go down well.
Friday I made the red lentil and spinach lasagne, this was also appreciated by older son so maybe he is getting less fussy.  There was enough left for me to have another portion for tea yesterday.
Yes this is a photo from the book, we ate it before I thought of taking a picture again.

I have also tried the macaro-no cheese, but I added notes to that page as I felt it needed onions or garlic, there just wasn't enough flavour.
The cashew cheese was also a hit and there are so many variations on this if you look online I think I will have to keep experimenting.  I also made a walnut cheese this week (not from the book) I found the recipe here (Vegan Walnut Cheese)
This has got to be my favourite, I would say it's more of a nut butter but I made two pots and I have had it with everything, on cucumber, at the side of salad, on toast for breakfast and on leftovers to cheer them up.  If you like nut spreads then try this because it is so good.

Anyway getting back to the book, this week I am going to try the carrot cake bites, black bean chilli, the Indian spiced tacos and the mango salsa.  I went through a phase of getting cook books from the library and only making one thing from them, well I bought this book so I am making sure I work though it.  I know I probably won't like everything but at least I will have given all the recipes a go.  ( I would just like to add that this is just a book I saw and purchased, all views are my own and I am not affiliated with it.)

The days are really starting to shorten now and it is a little bit sad to be getting up in the gloom, I have decided to embrace this however and find the good in it. Yesterday I popped outside to take a photograph of the sun coming up behind the trees.
It felt very quiet, the horses were already out in the opposite field.

As I am very much a summer person I have decided I am going to focus on all the positives of the coming seasons and dark nights.  I will try to remember to post them here and if you have any ideas to contribute about what you love about Autumn and Winter please share.  Ooh I've thought of one already- Poldark,  for the time being anyway.

My sewing has been of the practical nature this past two weeks rather than creative.  I have had three blouses to shorten sleeves on for a friend along with a replacement zip, a large cushion cover and two shirts for my husband.  I am going to start a dress for myself later in the week and it will get done because I have written it down.  This is weird but I have found that if I write it down I will get to it, it's as though I'm letting myself down if I don't.

Sunday, 4 September 2016


This post was inspired by Christina from A colourful Life thank you Christina.  I always intend to write something about the books I read if only  to keep track myself.  Time moves on however and I'm onto the next book so prompted by Christina's post I'm making a start.  I did photograph some of them  last month so the intention was there!
The first book I read last month was 'David and Goliath' by Malcolm Gladwell.

I really enjoyed this book and if you have read any of his other work this one doesn't disappoint.  This is a non-fiction book and discusses the relationship between adversity and success.  How come some people seem to create triumph out of the most difficult of circumstances whereas others appear to have every opportunity and yet fail to thrive.  Also some really interesting points on how over priveledged children do not always succeed in the way you would expect given their educational and material opportunities. That in fact the struggle that many face to reach their goals is in fact important.  I've heard the phrase 'character  building' before, this book gives examples of how this can be so. 

The next book I read 'How to live on 24 hours a day, is very old and some of the politically incorrect comments in this book will make you wince!  This is another non fiction book.  There is a lot of wisdom there, in realtion to how we use our time and the excuses people make as to why they can't get things done.   I read this one in a day and also laughed a few times at the old fashioned language used but also wanted to throw it across the room a few times in relation to the  remarks about women and people of other cultures.  It's worth a read to pick out the wisdom that is there.

Moving onto 'The quest for Mary Magdalene'  I started off really well with this and super interested but halfway through I lost my way and didn't continue.  I think it was possibly just too text bookish.

El misterio de la llave is in Spanish and is ongoing as I am using it to learn, I'm not allowing myself to move on until I know each page well so it is taking forever!

Next I moved onto a fiction book 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' recomended on another site. here
While this book did take a bit of getting into and gets  bit high brow in places, I loved it.  RenĂ©e is a concierge in an apartment block for wealthy people but there is more to her than the narrow minded residents can grasp.  Lots of little glimpses into her mind and that of one of the residents, a young girl who feels there is no point to life.  I had to stop and have a little think many times throughout this book, it is not one you can whiz through but I did enjoy the characters.

When I finished that one we went off on holiday and 'Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage' went with me.  I felt this was slow to start, I know the author has been translated into so many languages but I just plodded on with it.  Halfway through I started to get into it and wanted to know the outcome, but I needn't have bothered as the ending was poor.   The story is about a young man who has four close friends, he moves out of town for his first year of university, the rest stay behind.  At some point during that year his friends decide they never want to speak to him again, giving no explanaition.  The story moves on from this, I may try another by Murakami at some point, but not just yet.

Finally I read 'We are all completely beside ourselves'  I bought this one from a charity shop a few months ago and it sat on the shelf after just reading a bit of it.  When I returned to it this time I loved it.
  Rosemary had a sister when she was young who suddenly disappeared from her life.  The family refused to talk about where she had gone and her older brother Lowell was left with resentment towards his parents and eventually he too leaves the family home in his teens.   There is a really good twist in this story so if you are going to read it don't skip on and read a bit from the middle as I know some people do when buying books.  You will spoil it for yourself,  a lot of the issues raised I found very interesting and in some cases upsetting.  This book makes you laugh and cry my, definite favourite of the month.
I shared this image before when I bought the book.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Charity Shop Bargains and Resizing a T-shirt

While we were away on holiday I had a look in  a couple of charity shops mainly to see if there was anything I could use for the fabric.  Fabric is now so expensive, I try to use recycled when I can but it is nice to buy exactly what you want sometimes.  I often find I don't buy it though when it can be well over ten pound per metre, thanks Sewing Bee!  When I first started sewing in my teens I would go the market and come back with something fabulous for a few pounds every week thrilled that I could recreate whatever I had seen in the catalogue for next to nothing. (Catalogue, or club book we used to call it)

I rarely have such finds in an actual fabric shop these days ( with the exception of the fabric I found in John Lewis at Christmas, I still have some left!) but I do sometimes find items I can use in charity shops the only trouble is you have to work around what you have.  I can't just decide on  a style first because when you deconstruct clothes you often have weird shaped bits left.

Anyhow I didn't find any wow fabric on garments but I did find two lovely T-shirts for a pound each, and what is even better about this is that I was looking at a T-shirt in a shop a few days before exactly the same as one them in style (different colour) in River island and it was nine pounds.  Now nine pounds isn't bad I know but it was either a washed out pink or black, pale pink doesn't suit me and I have enough black.  The charity shop one is purple, perfect!   The other T-shirt is way too big but that's not a problem.
I like this style because when you wear jeans that are low you have that extra bit of cover at the back for when you have to bend down, I always feel like I'm pulling those low jeans up! This one is size 8 so perfect as it is.

This top is a size 14 so needs some work.  I had been looking at cotton jersey in grey but like I said the price is just silly so this was a lucky find.

It didn't take very long to make it fit, I just pulled one of my tops from the wardrobe (this is sometimes quicker than trying on and pinning) and then I placed it on top of the grey T-shirt. Then I just cut around my own top allowing a small seam allowance, when I had done that I also cut around the armholes to take a little out there otherwise it would be too big on the shoulders as well. If you are only resizing by just one or possibly two sizes you may not need to do this step but as I was going down three sizes it was needed.
As you can see sides and arm holes need adjusting.

Here I just trimmed about a cm from the shoulder and around the sleeve, I didn't bother unpicking I just cut but if you are resizing only a small amount it's better to unpick.

I pinned the sleeve back in place and stitched it in place then folded the garment over, pinned all down the side then stitched all the way down starting from the sleeve.

Much better

Monday, 29 August 2016

Vegan GF Stuffing and Apricot and Apple Spiced Loaf

Recently I have been using catch up TV to watch a couple of shows that I had missed out on, one of them was 'Eat Well for Less' now I don't k now about you but I have been amazed at how much some people spend on food.  What's even more surprising is how shocked some of them are when they are told what it equates to over the course of a year.  The most recent episode I watched featured a man who was celiac and the presenters were helping the family to come up with more meals they could all eat together. During the show home made stuffing was prepared and that inspired me to make some of mine own to accompany yesterdays lunch.

1 white onion
100g of GF breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. chopped thyme
Vegan egg replacer equivalent to 1 egg
1 tbsp. vegan spread
1 tbsp. olive oil
sprinkle of garlic salt
sprinkle of pepper
1/2 tsp vegan cheese sauce powder

I blitzed the breadcrumbs in the food processor set aside then blitzed the onion.  Chop the thyme or remove leaves (that's what I did I think it's a bit woody) Mix up the egg replacer.
Fry the onion in the spread and oil, when soft add the breadcrumbs, thyme and seasoning.  Remove from heat then stir in the egg replacer, next take small amounts in your hands and form into balls.

Now these are uncooked, I forgot to take a photo once cooked.

I cooked them with a little oil in the tray for half an hour on 200 fan oven.  I will make these again and fussy son ate them so that is a plus.

Another thing I made this week was an apricot and apple spiced loaf.  I didn't have self raising GF flour so I used plain and added baking powder but it didn't rise much.  It tastes really nice though so I'm not too concerned I will just use the correct flour next time.  It was from my book Vegan and Gluten Free Baking which I have used quite a bit now.
It didn't last long so definitely one to make again.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Lovely Lake District

We have just returned from a wonderful week in Cumbria, a bit of a change from my holidays of recent years in the caravan but I was really impressed.  I didn't know if the accommodation would live up to the fantastic images on the website but I needn't have worried it outdid my expectations.  The cottage was so well stocked with every gadget you could need including all cleaning supplies, washer, dryer you name it, they even provided cling film (which I didn't need, but it was there!)
I booked it through Sally's Cottages and I will be using them again, it really felt like a home.
This is the cottage and garden, the building you can see behind is one of the other two cottages which are joined to it.  Those two were bigger, our cottage was two bedroom and although it looks big from the photo it was small but beautifully done.  One open living space downstairs with  spiral staircase in the middle, a downstairs bathroom and two bedrooms, one twin upstairs.

When we arrived on Friday it was raining heavily so we just settled in and ate, Saturday morning saw more of the same so I was relieved we weren't on a camp site having to trudge across a field to the toilet.  We did venture to Keswick on Saturday but it was such bad weather we had to go back as we were so drenched.  My newly waterproofed raincoat did not hold out and it went straight through to my skin!

The weather gradually improved and we managed to see a fair bit of the area, we returned to Keswick and had a walk around Derwentwater Lake.
It was quite grey again but still very beautiful.
That's not us.
This was a fantastic walk towards and then past Loweswater, we had a bit of an uphill climb in places which gave lovely views and we were out about five hours (but that did include a drink and lunch at a pub halfway).

We visited other nearby towns also, Cockermouth, Workington, Maryport and Whitehaven. There were also lovely walks around our accommodation.

It was nice and secure for the dogs with a walled garden and a solid gate.  The floors were wood so we wiped the dogs  as they came in on a towel. We had taken our own dog pens which they slept in at night.
The dogs exploring the garden.

This was during the first few days when the weather was wet, it had cleared a little so we walked down the lane. I didn't know my husband had taken this photo of me watching the cows.

It was quite sad packing up, we had all got into a little routine there and of course it's good to spend more time with my two boys who normally don't want to go out for walks with us now that they are older. I'm sure we will see it again sometime.