Tag Archives: VeganMoFo

Portable treats.

I am a big fan of chocolate, and thankfully it is one sweet snack where vegan types fare well here as it is all over the place and pretty damn tasty to boot.

I have previously mentioned the institution that is Butlers in my tour post. There are branches all over Dublin and I loved their hot chocolate in my omni days. Unfortunately their coffee is rather sucky and I have yet to get a decent soy cappuccino from them. First world problems, eh?  On the upside, they have some tasty offerings for vegans which are labelled clearly and are available in all branches.

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I’ve had the whole almond dark chocolate before and it’s really delicious. Good dark chocolate with plenty of lovely fresh almonds – nothing dried out or skinflinty about it. The other bar is one that I’m trying for the first time, and I fear that it may be the chocolate version of a leprechaun suit. Dark chocolate with a nip of Jameson. It’s clearly aimed at tourists but I’m willing to give it a try in the name of science. Tasty, tasty science.

These two will be added to my vegan snack stockpile for my trip. It’s not that I doubt the chocolate-creation abilities of other countries or that I’m one of “those travellers” who demands food from home when abroad, but I do doubt my ability to translate ingredient lists in other languages. I can spot things like eggs and milk, but there are a whole other range of flavourings and additives that are much trickier to spot. Sure, I’m probably being over-cautions, but it’s my first trip overseas since becoming vegan and I’m erring a little on the safe side. These should hit the spot nicely!

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Vegan MoFo day 25! Supply run.

I can’t believe that VeganMoFo is 25 days in! It has been a really fun month so far and I’ve hugely enjoyed reading everyone’s blogs and getting inspiration for all sorts of delicious dishes.

So this evening I did a quick snack attack run. We’re off on holiday this weekend, so my final MoFo posts will be from a warmer and drier location than my current one! The flight isn’t long enough for a meal to be included but it’s early in the morning and some form of snackage will most certainly be required in case I don’t have any decent breakfast options (…and paying a fiver for two pieces of droopy white toast with a scrape of jam is not a decent option, in honesty).

I’ve been scoping out our travel destinations and I’m very hopeful that I’ll eat pretty well. When I first started eating a vegan diet I always said that I could “just be vegetarian” on holiday, but I’m actually looking forward to sticking with my vegan ways. I guess I’ve become more comfortable and more confident with my decision over the last few months – plus vegan food is yum!

The first of the first snack bag was assembled this evening. This is for the airport and flight over (which means a 3.30am wake up call for a 6.30am flight. Argh) as from my previous experience the vast majority of airport breakfast options are egg and pig heavy, and there’s a distinct lack of non-dairy milk. Planning ahead is the key to avoiding belly rumbles and I’ve learned well from JoJo‘s post about travel snacks this month!

snacky

 

The current pile starts with a bag of sweet and salt popcorn. I’ve not had this flavour before but I like sweet and salt together, so I reckon I’m pretty safe. In truth, there was also a bag of the spicy and sweet, but that accidently got eaten on the way home. Delicious stuff and not hot spicy but more delicious-medley-of-warm-flavours spicy. Beside that is a pack of chicken that isn’t chicken. It may look like some sort of fancy jerky, but it’s made from tofu. In front is one of my many foodie downfalls. Chocolate and coconut covered rice cakes. These may resemble chocolate covered coasters but they’re insanely tasty and rather more-ish. It’s going to take some serious willpower not to crack into the packet before getting to the airport! I’ll be expanding on these tomorrow evening, as I’m guaranteed that someone I’m travelling with will think that my snacks look better than the rubbish ready made and over-chilled omni sandwiches when they’re over the ocean. I only wish that there existed such a thing as single serving nut butter packets in this part of the world…

I’m going to bring my (empty) bobble bottle with me as well, and give someone at a concession stand puppydog eyes until they fill it for me.

Right, time for some sleep. I still have a horrible cold and really want to kick it in the pants before the weekend.

Beer and sympathy

First post using the smart phone app, so bear with me!

I have been feeling a bit unwell for the last couple of days and today I must admit that I am just a little ill. Blargh. I still went to work today – the downside of freelance work – but dosed myself with Panadol hot lemon and cough syrup. Deeply attractive stuff.

On the way to the tram we passed the beer tents of Oktoberfest and my better half suggested we stop for sustenance, which would mean not having to worry about dinner later. I was easily swayed.

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Thanks to strict German purity laws with regard brewing, everything at the festival is vegan. In terms of beer, at least. The food was distinctly not veggie friendly and I was left with a bowl of fried potatoes and onions, liberally doused in mustard. On the up side, it was pretty tasty and the beer was delicious – its the Erdinger Oktoberfest brew which i try to get a couple of pints of every year in the brief window that it’s available.

Right, am already in pajamas so going to attempt an early night and hopefully beat this cold into submission. I refuse to be sick for my upcoming holiday!

Bonus MoFo

I meant to take some photos of this evening’s dinner, but it got scoffed before I remembered the camera. Nothing too fancy though. Brown rice, broccoli and crispy fried tofu in panko, with curry sauce and homemade chilli jam for dipping. Delicious, if not entirely attractive looking. It has been a crazy busy day – we’re trying to spend part of every weekend getting rid of “stuff” so that moving house later in the year is less of a pain in the bits. I even recycled three years worth of college notes today, which I was expecting to be a bit wibbly-enducing but it turned out to be very cathartic.

I also got a lovely, lovely email from the VeganMoFo team last night to say that a hamper of Vegusto products would be winging its way to me shortly, which I’m delighted about. I haven’t been vegan long, and one of the biggest achievements of my “career” to date has been adjusting to non-dairy cheese. Some taste like bath sponge. Some are more like play doh. I had really given up on all of them, apart from nooch, until I found Vegusto. It’s really hard to get around here – I manage to get a pack about every two months, and it’s always the no-muh melty, which gets rationed out for pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches. Now I’ll have the chance to try a whole range of their products – I’m so excited! I have the perfect showcase recipe in mind…

 

VeganMoFo Day 22 – Spice World

One of the main reasons that my top five pantry items post had no herbs or spices is that I couldn’t pick just one. Physically impossible. I’ve expanded my collection hugely over the last few years, particularly as I set myself the challenge of learning to make curry from scratch instead of using ready made curry pastes (though I still use these – they’re awesome for a fast dinner).

During the summer, having been assaulted once too often by jars and bags falling out of my cupboard, and having discovered that I had not one but three containers of ground cinnamon,  I decided that something needed to change. So I cleared out the dreaded junk drawer and turned it into my spice rack.

spice drawer

Best decision I’ve made in years. Everything in jars that fit nicely in the drawer and hold a full Asian market sized bag of most herbs and spices. Everything is visible at a glance. The majority of the jars, which originally contained one of my favourite brands of jam, are recycled and look pretty pretty. The remaining few were donated to me by a friend who was having a clear out, in exchange for a jar of my apple butter.

It’s a rather large collection, but it’s not all of it. This little caddy is also filled with herbs and spices and generally lives on the worktop. Some of these aren’t used often (cayenne pepper) or only come in either very small bags (40g) or very large ones (5kg) (like oregano) or are things that need to be used quickly (most dried herbs).

caddy

My running total then!

In the caddy I have black peppercorns (use quickly), dried oregano (use quickly, bag size issue), herbes de Provence (same as oregano), cayenne pepper (don’t use often), green cardamom (don’t use often), and star anise (end of a big bag).

Working left to right, front to back in the drawer, we have…

Garlic granules, ground fenugreek, ground coriander, onion granules, ground ginger, a tin of whole nutmegs and a little yellow tub of asfoetida. These get used quite a lot, particularly if I’m going through a curry kick.

Next row there’s ground cinnamon, whole cumin, bay leaves (from my parent’s bay tree!), turmeric, and a giant (half kilo) tin of smoked paprika. These get used a lot making Mexican, Tex-Mex or Southern food. I get through a lot of cinnamon in baking and preserving as well.

Next back there’s whole fenugreek, garam masala, Chinese five spice blend, ground cloves and a small tin of mixed spice. These are largely used in curries, but the cloves and mixed spice also get brought out for baking – especially anything involving apples like crumble or pie. The couple of unlabeled jars have a bbq rub and “steak” spice blends in them, made by a friend of mine.

There’s actually another row of jars behind the visible rows, in the same format. These are whole yellow mustard seeds, kala namak (black salt, which I’ve yet to play with) dried chilli flakes, dried (English) mustard, a small jar of ground allspice (as opposed to mixed spice) and (Indian) curry masala.

Some jars get used very regularly (oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, nutmeg, cumin, bay); some are the less used but critical ingredients for certain dishes (asafoetida, fenugreek, dry mustard, star anise) and even fewer are largely around for when I’ve run out of something, or it’s late and I need “pantry dinner” or when it’s close to payday and I’ve moths and gum in my purse (dried chilli flakes, onion and garlic granules, ground ginger).

I find that I reach for the drawer almost every day and I’ve not had a “smashed in head by falling tin of paprika” or a “breakable item of kitchen kit smashed by jar escaping from press” incident since I moved them down from the press. For the record, I’m currently down a sugar bowl, two Wedgewood plates, two measuring cups (on different occasions), the rim of a kilner jar, a nice water glass and one of my favourite mugs thanks to several years of divebombing spice jars.

Anyone else have creative storage for spices? Any herb or spice that you couldn’t live without or that makes you want to run a mile?

VeganMoFo Day 17: A walking tour around Grafton Street..

This one will be rather long and picture heavy, but will hopefully be useful to anyone planning a visit to Dublin.

The Happy Cow website is fantastic, but doesn’t do the city justice at all (I know, I know, I need to get my butt in gear and contribute to it!). There are oodles of places to eat, drink and be very merry indeed, and while it’s not the veggie-topia that many American cities are it’s really possible to eat well. That said, it can be confusing for tourists, so I thought I’d do a bit of a walking tour. It’s also entirely possible to be ripped off to epic proportions here, as with most capital cities, so hopefully this will make your dosh go a little further.

This is the National Art Gallery, and is well worth a look.

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It’s a stone’s throw from Trinity College and the corner where all the tourist and local busses converge. It’s very much worth a look around – not just for the Caravaggio.

Down the street, back towards Trinity, you’ll find a few good places to grab a takeaway post-gallery coffee to sip as you stroll. Cup and The Brewbaker are two, and both have non-dairy milk.

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Nibbles may be on the short side though, so head further down the street to The Runner Bean for a sandwich, coffee, some kale chips or other goodies (it’s where I buy my avocados!).

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It’s a little treasure trove.  Right next to it is O’ Briens, a familiar Irish sandwich chain that I usually avoid like the plague – I find them to be overpriced and overrated.

If the weather doesn’t lend to al-fresco eating, which it often doesn’t, then you might want to escape in out of the elements for some lunch or drinks.  Continuing up the road you’ll find the fabulous K.C. Peaches, which is good for coffee/tea and cake (there’s always a vegan one – just ask!) or breakfast…or lunch or dinner.

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I heart this place. It’s an omni restaurant where you don’t get looked at like an alien if you ask what the vegan options are – and there are lots of them. Just take a plate and have a little of everything you fancy. All the serving dishes are labelled clearly and if in doubt, the staff are very knowledgeable.

A little further down the street is the Porterhouse, which is good on craft beers and therefore one of the best places for vegans to drink in the area.

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As we head to the corner and look to our right, we can see the side of Trinity on the right, largely obscured by trees, and Bank of Ireland at the end of the street with a queue of morning busses in front of it – this used to be the old Irish Parliament building.

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Turning (or possibly stumbling!) left onto Grafton street (with the highest land prices in Ireland), then we turn right down Wicklow Street.

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Here we pass Nourish, which is an itty bitty goldmine for vegans as they have a freezer full of Frys products (with a few Amy‘s vegan products as well). They’re also the only place in Dublin with a reliable stock of seitan in the fridge. Next door is the secret book and record store– one of the few remaining independant music shops in the city.

A couple of doors down is the veg*n mecca, Cornucopia.

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It started in just one building as a health shop with a takeaway counter and has bloomed. In the last few years it took over the building next door and also has seating upstairs now – despite this, it’s always jammed to the rafters. They even have a (very nice) cookbook out. I highly recommend their vegan breakfast (portabello mushrooms, roasted onions, homemade baked beans, homemade vegan sausages, toast and tea or coffee with a few non-dairy milks to choose from). If you’re there at lunch, you can’t go wrong with a bowl of their soup – it’s life-enhancing stuff. Their garlic and roasted hazelnut potato salad is something that I lust after, and they make a great vegan brownie.

If you’re still peckish, directly across the road is the best thing to happen to ice cream in Ireland, ever.

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Murphy‘s make amazing handmade frozen treats and always have two incredible vegan sorbets on hand. I’d recommend one, but they’re all fantastic and the flavours rotate during the year, depending on what fruit is in season.

Down the road again, Wicklow Street turns into Exchequer Street and we have itsa and Fallon and Byrne (our teeny version of Dean and Deluca) side-by-side. Itsa have a great vegetarian bagel that is vegan if you have it without the goats cheese (I ask for extra hummus instead). It’s truly delicious. Fallon and Byrne is very omni-targeted, but is great for store cupboard essentials and breads.

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If we take another left here, we pass Blazing Salads, which is very much closed at 8.30am.

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I thought it was just being painted, but the name has been gone from over the door for a while now, leaving nothing but an intriguing carrot to identify themselves. It’s spendy, but good, especially for people with food intolerances.

Georges market, likewise, is closed, so I’ll have to talk about that one again.

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Passing my beloved Asia Market we see two pubs that everyone ends up in at some point, but that really should be avoided; the first is the rather cute-named Hairy Lemon. The other is Break for the Border.

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Around the corner and across the street there’s a laneway which holds Pablo Piccante.

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There are a couple of branches in Dublin – this is the only one with tortas, but I haven’t tried them yet. Head to the burrito side for a Vittorio Verde, no cheese, and have your tastebuds thank me. Probably the best burrito in town.

Around the corner to the right and directly under one of the tackiest tourist shops in the world lives Wagamama, which has a few vegan options (mostly the yasai, or “healthy” options). I like their udon quite a lot.

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Passing the Gaiety Theatre on the left..

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..we’ll pop out at the other end of Grafton Street.

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A word to the wise – don’t get coffee from Butler’s. Blargh. Their dark chocolate with almonds is delish and accidently vegan though.

Right beside us is Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre (photo from across the road) which is a lovely building that reminds me of  the Botanic Gardens – it’s like a huge Victorian greenhouse. The shops always leave me a bit cold though, as they just don’t live up to the dramatic and beautiful structure.

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Across the road from the centre is the entrance to Stephen’s Green park – which is well worth a stroll around and tends to be mobbed at lunchtime in summer with locals enjoying the sunshine.

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No sunshine today though, so I’ll leave you here as the rain is pelting down and I need to get to work. Hope you enjoyed this round of the vegan survival guide: Dublin edition 🙂

Tea-tastic!

Seeing as my first proper post involved potatoes, I figured I’d go the whole stereotype hog and start this one with tea.

I like tea.

I go through phases with it, and with coffee. Tea, coffee and water are my beverages of choice over the course of an average day – I don’t drink much juice and I steer clear of fizzy sugar water/soda/pop, apart from the occasional Fentimans with some rum

I didn’t like either beverage much until my early twenties and, honestly, I’m still not enamoured with most “Irish tea” or Irish breakfast blends which generally involve crappy tea in crappy bags and are served with far too much milk and sugar for my liking, probably to kill the taste of tannin and cardboard. I’ve had far too much coffee over the last year due to college (and a 60+ hour lecture/study week), sometimes up to a couple of pots a day – yup, pots! I’ve been cutting down a lot though, and generally I’m a one mug a day girl, except for weekend brunch.

This was my start to the day.

 

tea for one

 

Apple loves Mint tea, from the amazing Suki Teas. This is technically an infusion or tissane, and not “real tea”, but it’s delicious and a great, slow start to the day. I had this in KC Peaches, one of my favourite places in Dublin, which I’ll probably talk about at length later. I first discovered Suki when I was living in Belfast, as they were a regular at St. George’s Market on weekends (which I highly recommend visiting if you happen to be in the neighbourhood). They have an amazing range of teas and I’ve yet to find one that I’ve not loved. I bought so many of them to take with me when I was moving back “down south”. My favourites are the Apple loves Mint, blue flower earl grey and the amazing Belfast Brew, which is possibly the best Irish breakfast tea on the island (and I’ve drunk a lot of different teas over the years!).

When I’m in work, I have my own itty bitty desk that I share with a crapped out CRT monitor, that used to be mine until recently (and there’s no way I can huff down three flights of stairs for recycling). Beside it is my itty bitty tea station.

tea corner

I used to have a few boxes on the go, but it started to turn into tea jenga, so I’ve gone this route instead. The tub currently contains Numi Aged Earl Grey and Pukka Three Mint. These are two of my favourite teas and tea brands – they’re very good for bagged tea, which I often find tastes more of the packaging than the ingredients. Pukka make a large number of more unusual teas, involving spices and things like rose petals. Numi have an amazing range of blooming flower teas as well, which are incredibly pretty to watch unfurl in a glass teapot.  These two brands, as well as being tasty, are also pretty widely available and don’t require a mortgage, unlike some of the really specialised tea shops. I also have brown, unrefined sugar, which I’ve decanted into a tub, for when I have the need for coffee. My giant mug (which currently contains the last of my Pukka Vanilla Chai) is also handy for cereal, on occasion, or some much needed lunchtime soup. There’s also chocolate, because…well…chocolate.

We all have our own nerdy mugs in the studio. It guarantees that you’ll never be without a vessel when the urge for tea strikes and it’s a nice way to show a bit of personality. Most of the huge mug collection is comic or movie related. Not surprising, seeing as we essentially make cartoons for a living 🙂

Anyone else have favourite tea or coffee-ish beverages? Any that work really well iced, or that are perfect morning or late evening drinks? I’m intrigued by the idea of sun tea, but unfortunately I live in Ireland!