Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Re-design under way...

I tried to access my blog earlier today and got a warning message, saying 
Warning: Something's Not Right Here! contains content from, a site known to distribute malware. Your computer might catch a virus if you visit this site....We have already notified that we found malware on the site. For more about the problems found on, visit the Google Safe Browsing diagnostic page.
Scary eh? I think I've found the offending Shabby Blogs script and removed it, so everything seems safe again, but obviously my blog doesn't look quite the same as it did! I've challenged Miss Ony and Miss Kahonie to design me a new background and header, which may take a while and might take a few trial runs to see how it looks, so please bear with me until my re-design is complete.

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Vanilla Giant Cupcake

© A cake fit for the Queen (well almost!)
We recently had a Jubilee celebration at work and my contribution was a giant cupcake.. they loved it! This recipe was adapted from my giant chocolate cupcake recipe using the Wilton/Lakeland giant cupcake tin. As I made a Jubilee cake, I decided to colour a third of the mixture blue and a third red (although it turned out pink!) using a little food colouring. 

Serves 20

  • 250g/10oz butter/dairy-free spread
  • 250g/10oz sugar
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 250g/12oz SR flour
  • 5 tbsp milk/water
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
Pre heat the oven to 160C/150C Fan/Gas 3.Grease the cupcake tin and sprinkle with a little sieved flour.
Cream the butter and sugar and beat in 3 of the eggs.
Add the flour, baking powder, milk, and remaining eggs and mix until just combined.
Spoon half of the mixture into each side of the cupcake pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the cake has risen and is firm to the touch (in the centre).  If the cake is browning too quickly, turn the oven down by 10C.
Once cooked, leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully. Trim a little of the top of the cakes with a sharp knife (once cold) if needed.
To cover the base in fondant icing
Roll out some fondant icing on a board sprinkled with icing sugar, into an approximately 25cm/10" circle - I use a non-stick pastry mat.
Spread a little of the butter cream (recipe below) onto the base and sides of the cupcake doesn't need to look neat!
Place the cupcake base into the centre of the fondant and gently ease the fondant up around the sides and over the top of the cake (there should be enough icing to overlap the top slightly.) Press into each groove of the base with your fingers or the back of a teaspoon.
Top the base with a good dollop of butter cream (and some jam if you want to) before placing the top section on.

Icing the top of the cake

I've found that the butter cream doesn't stick to the cake very well if you pipe it straight on, so I crumb-coat it first (roughly spread a little butter icing all over the top section using a palette knife), and chill the cake for about half an hour, before piping the remaining icing on.
Pipe around the join between the two cakes.
Once iced, decorate with sprinkles etc. while the icing is still soft.

Vanilla Butter Cream/Frosting
  • 150g/6oz softened butter/dairy-free spread
  • 350g/14oz icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp boiling water, if needed
Cream the butter and icing sugar.
Add the vanilla and just enough boiling water, if needed, to make a soft, spreadable butter cream.

The 5 egg mixture I use doesn't quite fill the tin. You can make an even bigger cake in the same tin, by upping the ingredients to 300g/12oz butter/sugar, 350g/14oz flour and 6 eggs. Keep the amount of the remaining ingredients the same.

If fondant icing the base sounds too tricky (I'll admit it did take me two attempts), then just tie a ribbon around, or make a paper cupcake holder to cover the base.

You could also spread the butter icing onto the top of the cake if you aren't confident at piping.

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Monday, 28 May 2012

Barbecue Sauce (Vegan)

This is my tried and tested bbq sauce recipe, which is great for basting and serving with barbecued veggie burgers, kebabs and sausages.
  • 5 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp white wine/cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp vegan Worcester Sauce (I use Life Worcester Sauce)
  • 1 tsp soft brown sugar (optional)
  • ½ tsp dried English mustard powder (or use a pinch of cayenne)
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
Mix the dry ingredients with the vinegar and Worcester sauce. 
Add the ketchup and stir well.
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until needed (keeps for 1 week).

Add different herbs and spices if preferred.

Find more
bbq recipes here. Pin It

Friday, 25 May 2012

Bearded Theory Festival 2012 - a review

© Essential festival items!
We went to the Bearded Theory festival last year and to be honest, despite the line up, we weren't that impressed with the lack of space in the camping area and the (un)helpfulness of the stewards. This year, we hesitated before booking...partly due to our previous experience and partly due to the cost...and before we reached a firm decision, it was sold out! Amazingly, we were lucky enough to win tickets thanks to a competition I spotted on Festival Kidz, and before we knew it we were packed up and ready to go, hoping we'd be able to find a space to pitch without too many problems.

Thankfully, the organisation was much better this year, although it did feel slightly odd to cart all of our gear across the main arena to get to the camp-site! We trudged right down to the bottom of the camping area and easily found a flat space to pitch in the quiet family area...this was a big improvement on last year's cramped pitch of mole hills, nettles and thistles! Unfortunately it started raining as we arrived, so we had to pitch quickly before our stuff got wet....but such are the joys of camping in the UK.

© Family camping area
Although the weather was pretty cold and dismal for the whole weekend, the mornings were dry enough for me to get out the camp stove and make a cup of tea and a cooked breakfast for us all.

Portaloos and water taps were spaced out well throughout the camping areas and arena and were kept fairly clean (that's if you're used to festival toilets!). There were showers available too (for a fee), but we didn't use them due to the queues.

There was a good range of different genres of music during the festival, from folk and acoustic to dance and rock - so something to suit all the family. The Angel Gardens kids area looked better than last year too, and offered music workshops, craft activities, theatre and puppet shows plus a baby-care area and even two dedicated kids-only toilets! At 11 and 13 years old, my kids felt they were too grown up to go in though.
© Angel Gardens kids area

There was a decent variety of food outlets, including many which provided vegetarian and vegan options. The onsite shop sold essential groceries such as bread, milk and snacks too. Bar prices were reasonable, although most people (us included) chose to bring our own alcoholic drinks, which we were allowed to bring into the main arena area.

We saw some great bands over the weekend including headliners Adam Ant (replacing the Levellers, who were absent due a fiddle-related injury!) and The Damned. Other notable acts that we particularly enjoyed were Ferocious Dog, Terrorvision, Chumbawamba and Mark Chadwick (from the sadly missing Levellers!). We heard Wheatus (of Teenage Dirtbag fame) from outside the Tornado Town big top, as we didn't get there early enough to get a decent spot after decamping and lugging everything back to the car. My only criticism of the festival this year is that Wheatus and Mark Chadwick should have been on the main stage, as both drew large crowds which spilt out of the tent.

© Mud!

We had to leave before Dreadzone - the Sunday night headliners, but of course before we left, we had to take part in the hilarious fake beard record breaking attempt, donning our Poundland stick-on beards and moustaches and looking pretty suave. A beard-wearing baby scooped the prize for best beard and won tickets to next year's festival...aawww!

Bearded Theory Festival takes place at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire. For more information, visit
Bearded Theory.

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family festivalscamping recipeskids' camping food ideas.  Pin It

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

A trio of salads for Britain's Got Salad

Here's my own contribution to Britain's Got Salad...a trio of salads, which all just happen to be vegan: 

Mushroom and Coriander Salad

  • 250g/10oz chestnut or mixed mushrooms, wiped and sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced or sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Heat the oil up in a pan and add the mushrooms and onion.
Cook until soft and then the ground coriander. Cook for a further minute, then add the garlic and balsamic vinegar.
Heat until most of the juices have evaporated and then remove from the heat. 
Finally add the fresh coriander and stir through.
Serve warm or cold.

Spicy Store-cupboard S
  • 100g/4oz tinned sweetcorn, drained (use fresh when in season)
  • 100g/4oz roasted sweet red peppers from a jar, diced (or cook your own)
  • ½ red onion, diced finely
  • 1-2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Finely chopped pickled jalapeño chilli to taste (optional)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
Mix all ingredients together and serve!

Lemony Potato and Pepper Salad
  • 2 large potatoes, diced into 2-3 cm/1" chunks
  • 1 large/2 small sweet potatoes, diced into 2-3 cm/1" chunks
  • 2 yellow or orange bell peppers, diced into 2-3 cm/1" chunks
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • Black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a roasting dish at 200C/Fan 190C/Gas 6.
Par boil the potatoes (not the sweet potatoes) for 5 minutes. Drain.
Add both types of potato to the roasting dish and turn to coat with the oil. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until starting to brown.
Add the diced pepper, lemon zest, black pepper and rosemary to the same dish and turn the potatoes.
Bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until all of the vegetables are cooked and slightly crispy.
Remove from the oven.
Pour the lemon juice over while the dish is still warm and mix gently to coat.
Serve warm or cold.
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Monday, 14 May 2012

Britain's Got Salad!

I came up with this idea when I was ill and in a slightly delirious state a few weeks ago. I was in lying in bed, dosed up with painkillers and decongestants, listening to the TV with my eyes closed, when a trailer came on for Britain's Got Talent. As my ears were blocked, I misheard it as Britain's Got Salad and I thought that would be a great title for a salad talent show!!
blog linky
Now, one of my favourite veggie bloggers (Jacqueline at 
Tinned Tomatoes) runs a monthly soup and salad challenge, so I don't want to step on her toes. This is therefore a one off event (or maybe an annual one) to celebrate and publicise National Vegetarian Week.

Since starting my blog and reading many others, I've come to realise that there are some fantastic salad ideas about that include an 
amazingly wide variety ingredients, so I'd like to encourage as many people as possible to get excited about salads!

Unfortunately after ordering a salad in most British pubs and restaurants, you'll be presented with nothing more than a bowl of shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumber, some bullet-hard tomatoes and maybe a few raw onion rings if you're dressing, no herbs, no taste! 
Obviously we have to import many salad ingredients throughout the winter months, but we have fantastic salad ingredients coming into season right NOW.

To enter, just link up your favourite salad recipes (that includes raw and cooked salads, plus dips) 
or any other salad-related posts (review, news, growing tips etc.). The only proviso is that your post must be related to salad in some way, and any recipes must be vegetarian/vegan or show how they can be adapted for vegetarians. It would be great if you would add my BGS logo to your post too, but it's not compulsory. If you want to add the list of entries to your own blog post, get the InLinkz code here.  If you're not a blogger, feel free to leave your recipes and tips in a comment instead.

So here it is...ladies and gentlemen...BRITAIN'S GOT SALAD; Unfortunately Simon Cowell et al won't be judging your entries and there's no cash prize I'm afraid!

Logo made with
Cool Text: Logo and Graphics Generator
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Friday, 11 May 2012

Have you got time to share with Deki?

Tots 100 have recently launched Time to Share, which aims to raise awareness of smaller charities, publicise volunteering opportunities and of course raise funds, by getting bloggers involved.

I've been paired up with Deki, which is the first UK person-to-person microloans charity; Instead of giving 'aid' they give loans to people from Togo, Malawi, Ghana and Nepal so that they can set up or expand their own businesses and access training and support - this allows people to preserve their 
dignity, as they are not receiving a hand-out, but a fair loan that needs to be repaid.

How does it work?
Anyone can lend from as little as £10. You can even raise funds as a group (e.g. a work place or school). It's is a very engaging way of giving because you can pick the person you want to support. Also your money goes to that specific person and not to an obscure charity pot.

Before they receive a loan, each applicant goes through a process of basic training and the testing of their business idea - it's in everyone's interest that their idea is solid. 
All being well, you'll get the money back, when the loan is repaid (although there's no guarantee of this) and you can then reinvest the money to help someone else. 

Watch this animation to find out more:

This You Tube clip shows some of Deki's success stories.

What sort of people need a loan?

Deki's website features many people who have started their own businesses and want to expand them. These include stall holders, food vendors, dress makers and many more besides. People just like you and I, who want to be financially self-sufficient and to provide the best future they can for their families.

It's been a difficult decision to make, but I've chosen one particular person to lend to, and I'm asking you to consider lending to the same person, to try and make a difference together. I've decided to support someone who despite living in very different circumstances to me, has a lot in common with me.

Leontine Ameyo KoutremoLeontine lives in Lome, Togo. She's the same age as me and like me, is married with two children. She sounds like a bit of a foodie,  as she used to be a fruit retailer but now has a little stall selling rice, yams and cooked food. She's asking for a loan of £390 so that she can buy stocks of oil, beans, rice and yams to grow her business. Leontine wants to provide her children with a good education and maybe one day have her own home.

If you have the
Time to Share, please join me in raising money for Leontine's loan, by sharing this post and visiting her page on Deki's website.

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Monday, 7 May 2012

How to make your own vegetarian chorizo

I have an admission to make...I've never eaten real chorizo sausages, so my humble attempt at a recipe for vegetarian version of chorizo may be way off. However, it's worth having a go at making them, as they taste good whether they're realistic or not! I've looked at loads of  meaty recipes and I've come up with a combination based on those flavours added to my basic shami kebab recipe.

Makes 8 sausages

  • 1 ½ cups vegetarian mince (vegetarian ground-beef style crumbles), defrosted if frozen
  • 1 ½ cups fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 small or medium egg
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp sweet/mild paprika 
  • 1 tsp chilli paste/1 fresh red chilli deseeded and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Black pepper to season
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée 
  • 2 tbsp wine/cider vinegar
Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan.
Add the onion and cook on a medium heat until soft, but not brown.
Add the garlic, herbs and spices and cook for a further minute
Stir in the tomato purée and vinegar and heat through.
Remove from the heat.
Place the veggie mince and breadcrumbs in a bowl and mix to combine, breaking up any lumps of veggie mince. 
Add the onion and spice mixture and stir together (or blend in a food processor for a smoother texture -  I did this the second time I made them, and found that they stuck together a little better).
Finally add the egg and mix/blend until combined to make a firm but moist mixture, adding more breadcrumbs if needed.
Place in the fridge and allow to firm up for 30 minutes.
Shape into 8 sausages or 16 meatballs, and fry on a low-medium heat for 10 minutes, turning once or twice. Alternatively, brush with oil and bake in the oven at 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6 for around 15 minutes, or grill/broil/bbq.

Eat hot or cold.

Suitable for freezing.

For a vegan version, replace the egg with a suitable binder.
For a Mexican-style vegetarian chorizo sausage, swap the ground fennel and smoked paprika for ¼ tsp ground cinnamon and 1-2 tsp ground cumin. 

Find loads more veggie recipes celebrating National Vegetarian week, over at Tinned Tomatoes.
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