Haver – Ancoats General Store Porridge Pop-Up

You know I like my porridge. A warm hug of a bowl to dive deep into first thing on a wintry December morning, it keeps you chugging until lunch and it certainly isn’t a modern day ‘health fad’, high in beta-glucans that benefit your heart health and soluble fibre which gives your gut some love. I have my own way of making the creamy oats, soaked overnight in a plant based milk, some chia or ground linseeds stirred through and topped with nut butter (ALWAYS) and whatever seasonal fruits take my fancy. Perhaps my daily bowl would look way too high maintenance for the average breakfaster, but I can’t do simple. It’s just not in my makeup. I like every mouthful to have different textures, flavours, temperatures, all the elements that make some damn good eating.

Occasionally there are days when I don’t want to make my own porridge and need it fancifying up, even more than I can muster. I have written a review in the past on 26 Grains, a porridge café in Neals Yard in London, so you know how much of a fangirl I am and how long I’ve been waiting for some genius to bring the same experience to us in Manchester. Thankfully Hester Lonergan, the face behind the brand Haver, has heard our cries and comes brimming with gifts.

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Currently popping up in Ancoats General Store on Great Ancoats Street in Manchester on Fridays from 7:30am-11am. All porridges are vegan, the flavours change weekly and in no way is this your mundane banana, cinnamon and peanut butter. Expect toppings galore of granola, compotes, caramels, nut butter, edible flowers and a lot of love.

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On the dreary November morning when I wandered into AGS (Ancoats General Store as it will be known from now on), tummy grumbling, eyes still bleary and legs already tired ahead of a long day of work. Hester was busy hustling in the corner surrounded by plants and with a soundtrack of ABBA quietly jingling in the background, it was enough to bring a smile to my face and crack the morning grogginess. Two choices on offer Pomme Classique and PBCB, the first a almond oats, apple and cinnamon compote, raisin granola, date caramel and walnuts a tough choice against the PCBC, coconut oats, banana chia jam, coconut crumb, maple peanut sauce and cacao nibs. Pomme Classique won the day, because who doesn’t love a good dollop of caramel?

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So I got chatting with Hester after ogling her masterpieces on Instagram for a while. We both share a strong love of the ManiLife Deep Roast Peanut Butter and porridge (DuUUHH), it was great to finally meet her in person rather than virtually whilst she was prepping my porridge. There are too many people I communicate with over Instagram, but have never met them in real life. 2018 goals I think!

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So the porridge came, and my oh my was it delish. One brilliant thing that Hester always asks, is whether you would like the sprinkling of salt on top which she strongly advises. Similar to salted caramel, the combination of fat, salt and sugar get all of our senses tingling, that little bit of salt elevates all the flavours and it’s a little tip I’m going to be adding to my own bowls. Nothing was overly sweet, just perfectly balanced. The oats had the subtleness you want with a almondy note, some sweet jewels when you bite into the raisin granola, the date caramel mixed with the salt brings out a rich almost treacly flavour, the compote was rich in cinnamon and alongside the crunch of the buttery walnuts it left me scraping the bottom of the bowl wondering where it had all gone.

However my tummy was full, I was set for my day and left hoping that the wait until my next bowl wouldn’t be very far away.

 

The last pop-up of the year is this Friday the 15th of December, if you can make it down expect some festive flavours. The most recent have been Terry: an almond oats, chocolate and almond granola, clementine, cacao caramel, almonds and zest, a posh Terrys Chocolate Orange of sorts and Drift: a snowy white spectacle with coconut oats, baked apple, coconut chia, blossom sugar and macadamia. Happily munched with carols gracing your ears, it’s a morning that surely will get you in the festive spirit. Christmas jumpers and antlers are optional. After then, I’m not too sure what’s happening on her agenda. Hopefully many more opportunities are on the horizon for Hester, where she can spread the word of porridge to more people of Manchester. If you’re after a beautiful bowl, the picture for Instagram is optional but recommended, there aren’t many other options in town, and whilst you’re waiting at AGS why not have a wander of the shelves or get yourself a cuppa or a coffee. It’s also one of the very few city centre options for a turmeric, matcha and beetroot latte FYI. It’s a wondrous store and gives rise to many other pop-ups like Haver, it’s the small and independent ventures we need to be celebrating. Much better than your Pret breakfast or lunch I can guarantee.

Get hurtling with those spurtles.

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November Nuances

November has felt like the month everyone wants to be over and done with to let the festivities begin. Aldi started selling their Christmas trees with well over 1 week until the big countdown, carols are jingling out the speakers in shops (indeed Bublé is in the mix) and maybe I have already started on the mince pies? For us in Britain, unless we have any American relatives, November is a bit meaningless. No thanksgiving, just a large empty space between November 5th and December 1st. Time spent saving up for the gifts for your beloveds, ie a month of having no money, stashing up on booze and slowing down on the cheese consumption, as soon there’ll be enough in the fridge to feed an army of mice. I’m sad that we don’t celebrate thanksgiving here, the chance for another turkey dinner I wouldn’t pass up, and don’t get me started on all the fruit and pumpkin pies. Perhaps another celebration would be overkill, and Christmas wouldn’t be as special, I’m going to keep telling myself that but if anyone fancies adopting an English girl for next year’s thanksgiving meal, I’d appreciate it very much!

I’ll bring the stuffing.

The past week or so we have been trying to avoid any talk of Santa Claus and what we would like for Christmas, but starting today, don’t know about you I’m ready to throw myself headfirst into the Christmas pudding. The supermarkets and takeaway lunch options are giving us some seasonal mix-up to our lunch routines. Pret offering three Christmas sandwiches and a salad alongside a whole host of drinks and treats, Leon also have two festive wraps (one of them vegan), a dinky mince pie with 20p of each sale going to Save The Children’s Make the World Better with a Sweater campaign, and a brussel sprout soup too. Find yourself in Tesco, Eat, Boots and M&S where you can eat your Christmas dinner between two slices of bread (or stuffed in a wrap), you most definitely won’t be allowed to do that any other time of the year, so get some whilst you can!

A round-up now of some highlights to my month, I have some nice seasonal posts coming up soon, but enjoy this meanwhile. I hope you have eaten your first advent calendar chocolate this morning, or if you have a gin calendar treated yourself to a rather cheeky G&T at 7 in the morning. Isn’t that what Christmas time is for…

 

#1 The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle: Book 1) by Patrick Rothfuss

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A good long read. One that slowly draws you in, you make new friends along the way to only feel saddened that they’ve left your life once the book is over. But not to worry there is another in the trilogy, and one book still in the making. A fantasy world has been created by Patrick Rothfuss, a combination between The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter best describes it. There’s magic, demons, faeries, murder, and mythical creatures there’s not much else I want from a book, oh and a bit of murder is in there for good measure too. Reading this on the busy commuter train has been the perfect escape for a good half hour twice daily, too busy to notice all the surrounding bodies when i’ve been so engrossed in the story. For a much better description and some ratings here it is on goodreads and if that tempts you enough buy it here.

 

#2 Persimmon (or Sharon Fruit)

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The bulbous bright orange fruits many of us walk past in the supermarket, wondering what on earth thy are and what on earth to do with them. Leave to ripen until very soft, some say they must feel like a water balloon when ready, if caught earlier they can be sliced in a salad and have a much firmer texture. A strong honey flavour with a jelly texture, just pierce the skin with your teeth and suck out the flesh. Or as I’ve seen others do, stick one in the freezer and once frozen slice the top off and scoop out the sorbet innards with a spoon. As delicious as it sounds I reckon.

#3 Jam from The Old Cow Shed  in Chisworth

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Seeking out local producers and adding their products to my cupboards and fridge makes me rather happy and contented. In a small little village called Chisworth, drive down a rough and bumpy road for a few minutes until you come to a farmhouse and there you shall find the 17th century converted old cow shed. A husband and wife team singly making all the sausages, black pudding, cured and smoked items, jams, chutneys, sauces and pickles all changing with the seasons. Their sausages are the best ones I’ve ever come across, meaty but not dense, made from free range rare-breed pork, they will amp up your regular meal of sausage and mash for sure. I’m not here today though to talk about sausages, this month has been all about the jam. A plum, orange and cardamom jam, but almost verging on marmalade territory with the bitter rind of the orange and lime. Sunday brunch has recently been ending with a half slice of toasted sourdough, salted butter and some of this jam. My idea of pure autumnal heaven and a little (not so) guilty pleasure 🙂

#4 The Handmaid’s Tale

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I’m quite late to the show here as this series featuring Elizabeth Moss, based on the book by Margaret Atwood has already finished on Channel 4 and I’m watching the re-run. The story-line disturbs me deeply, I’m not sure if that’s just me as a woman and relating to it in that way or if men get the same uncomfortable feeling too. I don’t want to give anything away, there’s not much for me to spill as of yet, but for a little background info: set in Gilead, a near-future United States of America which is under a christian military dictatorship. The story of Offred, a handmaid, whose place in the world is to have two functioning ovaries and provide a child for their owner. It gets complicated, too much for me to explain on here, way much more than I understand myself! It’s great watching though, dark and mysterious and leaves you itching to watch the next and the next one after that.

 

#5 Earrings from Geo Heaven

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A visit to the Christmas markets at the Hepworth Gallery over the weekend, intending to buy plenty of Christmas gifts, to only come away with gifts for myself. Don’t we all? A selection of the UK’s best crafters of home wares and accessories, a few hours were spent oohing and ahhing and a slight sense of jealousy building for all those talented people showcasing their goods. My standout buy, these earrings from Geo Heaven. They are 3D printed, rose-gold plated and made in Yorkshire. Ticks all the boxes of coolness and look pretty amazing on too. Head on over to their website to see all the other jewellery available or pop over to their instagram page for some lust-worthy ideas for Christmas gifts, or do as I did and treat yourself.

#6 Faux Fur scarf from Pretty Little Thing

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I’m going to be frank with you, Pretty Little Thing isn’t my first port of call when shopping for clothes and accessories. The world of Boohoo, Missguided, Pretty Little Thing and the likes may have changed a lot since they first appeared on our web browsers but I still picture them as the cheap bulk clothing they once were. After talking to a girl who was wearing some awesome leopard print flares and she said how long they are, too long in fact, well that got me clicking away. I’m in desperate need of a new pair of flares so ordered some in black and some in red, plus a faux fur scarf just to bulk up the price for free delivery (don’t we all?). In the end, the flares were returned and the one item I wasn’t intending on keeping has stuck. A powder pink and grey-blue fluff, when wearing it I was told I looked like I was being strangled by a raccoon, does that paint a good enough picture? Well it’s pretty snazzy and keeps your neck warm too, plus it doesn’t look cheap. It’s no Fendi or even Shrimps but it’ll do until the day when I can justify paying top dollar and still have money leftover to feed myself for the month. It’s now sold out sadly but instead there’s this bundle of joy that is still available, but don’t delay!

With as much festive jingley love that I can muster, crack out the mulled wine and mince pies it’s time to embrace Christmas!

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ChicP Hummus and some fancy toasts

It’s hummus time again. Dips are things that have to feature everyday, otherwise withdrawl symptoms start to ensue. My carrot sticks don’t know what to do with themselves if there’s no tub to hand, what else can you really dunk them in? On days like those resort to tahini, close I suppose and a pretty good substitute, but it’s definitely no hummus.

Of course making your own tends to be the better option, meaning you can make it to your own taste, varying the beans if you like and making flavours that you would never find in the shops (see THIS black truffle and chilli hummus). But we all know time and effort gets in the way. We finish work at 5, get home for 6 no one wants to be whipping up their own hummus to delve into before dinner. The Tesco Express is usually the better option, either their organic hummus or just the original one (it’s cheaper and tastes as much of hummus as the first), stick it in your own bowl and drizzle with some nice extra virgin olive oil (ooh fancy) and you’ll even be kidding yourself that you made the slightest bit of effort.

For those times you do want to push the boat out and search for a more artisanal product, there are a few on the market. One that I’ve had my eye on lately is ChicP. A young brand founded by Hannah McCollum, all using surplus raw fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. She produces alternative, interesting and most definitely delicious dips with flavours you can’t find anywhere else, plus the the most popular with those in the know, the banana, avocado and cacao hummus.

 

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Sweet hummus, still the main component parts of chickpeas and tahini but the garlic, oil and cumin gets replaced with over-ripe banana, cacao powder and some avocado, plus a little agave for that touch of sweetness. Well…it is a sweet hummus. I really enjoyed it as a dip for apple slices, or smeared onto some banana, on toast was good, oh and don’t forget in porridge. That is one way not to forget about.

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Lovely Hannah sent me one of each variety of her hummuses. Hummusi? I don’t know where to stand on the plural. Anyway, I received a beetroot, horseradish and sage, a carrot, ginger and turmeric, a herby hummus and the banana, avocado and cacao. All a rainbow of colours, pretty tempting to dunk a spoon right into, or if you have company, I suppose some crudites should come into the mix. I was looking to do something a little more with the hummus. One evening I made a vegan pasta dish, roasting up some fennel, courgette, garlic and tomatoes then stirring them all together with the herby hummus the pasta and some of the cooking water plus extra herbs. It was creamy with a nice garlic hit, and ever so moreish. From the title, a pasta coma is inferred of course. It will be a meal on my mind for those times when hummus is leftover in the fridge (does anyone EVER have hummus leftover in their fridge? Not in our house anyway!), makes for a pretty good clear out of the fridge.

Fancy toast is what I’ve got for you today. A bit of hummus on toast is a lovely thing, breakfast, lunch, for dinner or a snack, it’s very versatile and is definitely a blank canvas to get creative. The Biona Rye bread is always my choice when we don’t have a fresh loaf of sourdough from the local baker. TOP TIP my friends! Once opened stick your rye bread in the freezer and just take out a slice whenever you want, toast on defrost and when it pops up toast again until crispy. Less waste and it keeps sooooo much longer.

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Not satisfied with just the one flavour I needed to do half’n’half. In the mix was the beetroot, horseradish and sage hummus, screaming out for some crunch of shaved fennel, and goats cheese crumbled on top. Asian vibes were coming my way for the carrot, turmeric and ginger hummus. Recently my way of cooking mushrooms has been to stray away from the pan and instead drizzle them with oil and some tamari and roast in the oven until shriveled and a little crispy. All the water evaporates, so the mushroom flavour is concentrated and meaty, once topped with kimchi and pleentyyyy of sriracha, that will be a few mouthfuls you will never ever want to end.

If you want to get your self some ChicP hummus, which I highly recommend you search high and low for. You lot in London will have a much better chance than us north of the border. Here’s a list of individual shops and online marketplaces to get your fix, or buy direct from their online shop. Even if you polish the whole tub off in one sitting (I’ll just hide behind my hands, I swear I didn’t), that’s fine, obviously, you’re doing your bit to combat food waste. And we can all do a little bit more in that crusade.

 

To be honest no recipe is really needed,  just a list of ingredients to pile up and create your own masterpieces with. Let me know what you top your hummus with, if you’re as avid a fan as hummus on toast as I am, I bet there’s some serious contenders out there. Better than avocado on toast? I think so. That might cause some arguments though, I might just leave things there….

Beetroot, sage and horseradish hummus on toast

Ingredients

  • 1/2 slice rye bread
  • A good scoop of beetroot, sage and horseradish hummus
  • Finely shaved fennel, reserve the fronds for sprinkling
  • Handful of frozen peas
  • Hard goats cheese (I used St. Helen’s Farm)
  • A few leaves of parsley
  • Black pepper
  • Lemon

Directions

  1. Pretty simple things here, toast your rye bread slice until crispy on the edges.
  2. Meanwhile pour boiling water over your frozen peas in a bowl and leave to sit for a few minutes, then drain.
  3. Time to assemble. Spread the hummus over the toast, place the fennel slices and peas over the top, however artfully you care to be. Top with the crumbled goats cheese, parsley, fennel fronds and a good grind of pepper and a spritz of lemon.

 

Carrot, ginger and turmeric hummus on toast

Ingredients

  • 1/2 slice rye bread
  • A good smear of carrot, ginger and turmeric hummus
  • A handful of chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • Tamari
  • Kimchi
  • Coriander leaves
  • Lime
  • Sriracha

Directions

  1. Turn the oven to 180C. Toss your mushrooms in a roasting tin with a dribble of tamari and oil, then roast in the oven shaking a few times until crisped up and shrivelled. Can take around 20-30 minutes.
  2. Once the mushrooms are cooked, toast your rye bread and the smear on the hummus.
  3. Dot with the hot mushrooms, some kimchi, coriander leaves, lime juice and a good sized squirt of sriracha. THAT is the most important bit and must not be forgotten!

I would like to thank Hannah from ChicP for sending me the hummus to sample. All these words and opinions are my own, can you tell when I’m excited about something?  I definitely felt it about this brand who are setting a prime example to other young companies. Having won Best New Convenience Food at the World Food Innovation Awards, Trailblazer Award at Food Vision and shortlisted at the YBFs, I reckon we will be seeing ChicP in our own fridges sometime soon.

 

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Lifebox – Birthday Box

Lifebox. A monthly package delivered to your door, bursting at the seams with snacks, powders, treats, chocolate, drinks and teas to enrich your life, widen your tastebuds and make healthy eating easy and accessible in your busy lives. Jennie and her team have now been providing people across the country with their goodies for the past three years, I have been following them from the very off after finding them on Instagram and watching how far they have come since then.

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With a choice of four different boxes to either order as a one off or as a subscription there is something to suit every lifestyle and pocket. The everyday wellness box, the men’s health box and the women’s health box all costing £22.95, encasing full sized products from exciting new startups and old favourites on the market. Also there’s the Lifebox mini, offering samples of products featured in the everyday Lifebox for a smaller price, so you can dip your toe in the water before committing.

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Is there anything more enjoyable than receiving a parcel in the post? Not really. It’s like Christmas day for me! So the fact that if you subscribe to Lifebox every month you will receive a jam-packed white box, with food and drinks to fall in love with, that’s a pretty great thing to look forward to. Also included is a booklet with workout routines anything from HIIT to yoga and recipes from guest bloggers using ingredients found in the box so when you’re lacking some inspiration you know where to turn.

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So in this birthday box, first some things that were well-known to me:

Alongside that many new nibbles:

Standouts of the group have to be the Vild and Co. granola. Strong in cinnamon but a tart bitterness cuts through from the bilberries. It’s addictive. It’s granola, what’s not to love. The Wilde Nuts chocolate cashew butter is mightily good, creamy but with a good cacao hit. In porridge with raspberries…NEXT LEVEL. I’ve also been enjoying the energy bomb sachet from Your Superfoods in my overnight oats. Cinnamon typically is the only spice or powder that features in my breakfasts (maybe maca if i’m feeling fancy), but this mix-up of açai, guarana, lucuma, maca and banana powder is nice to switch things up a bit. Lightly sweet from the banana, supposedly great for energy levels, not that I’ve noticed a difference but as long as it tastes good, that’s what we’re here for really!?! A note on the Leithy Creates raw puds, specifically the peanut butter truffle, it’s a good job that you don’t get more than one they’re devilishly good and would be polished off in one sitting!

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Head on over to their website to see what’s in store for this months’ box. Follow them on instagram @lifeboxfoodco for some daily inspiration for recipes, the breakfast and drinks in particular are really rather funky, and the odd giveaway here and there. you never know you might be the lucky devil one day! Don’t miss out on the seasonal specials either, at Christmas time and Easter there tends to be a luxury Lifebox, full of seasonal treats. Better than your tub of quality streets?? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

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The Allotment Vegan Restaurant – Review

The most unlikely of places for a vegan restaurant, it’s true. Fine dining vegan even more so! Manchester has the odd few places, V Rev for the times when you are in need of some serious junk food action and The Earth Centre for vegan comfort food like dahls, pies and soups. Then most places have some vegan options on the menu, but they never really stray much further than a bean burger or some fried tofu. Wander slightly further afield to Stockport however, a 20 minute drive, and there you will find what is starting to become a foodie mecca.

Down a steep declining hill from the market, on the corner of Vernon street you will find a bright, minimal but warm restaurant, stocked with hanging plants and succulents and a bustling open kitchen. We visited shortly before 7 on a Thursday night and it was almost full and by the time it hit 8:30 every table had guests, a good sign that they’re doing something right!!

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Starting with some water flavoured with cucumber, mint and orange as we browsed the menu, deciding between the 10 or 7 course taster menu, the a la carte or the early bird. The menu is short and concise, but even so I struggled making a decision on what to eat, everything sounded so tempting. The wine and beer list isn’t extended either, all the more easier to pick and choose, a few award winning wines and craft ales, also a wine pairing menu if you so wish. I would have walked out sloshed if that were the case.

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First out came an amuse bouche, aubergine, beetroot and cucumber, a perfect little tasty concoction whilst sipping on our chardonnay, just a little taster of what was to come. Don’t get me started on the plates, the temptation to lick the plate clean and stuff it into my handbag definitely ran through my mind.

Next along came the starters, one the courgette scallop with sea herb salsa verde. A pan-fried courgette scallop with a samphire salsa verde on a celeriac puree, tapioca pearl, apple and nori. A salty sea freshness and the smoothest celeriac puree that has ever graced my mouth. Alongside the allotments’ signature dish cauliflower hot wings with some roast garlic hummus. Addictive doesn’t even explain it. My mum is not a fan of cauliflower at all. No matter how much I try to disguise the flavours she will always shove it to the side of the plate for me to pick at. These went down pretty well though. How can they not really? They’re deep fried!! 😛

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I opted for the aubergine manchurian for main, an indo-chinese spiced confit aubergine, spring onion rice, chilli popcorn, lemon kale, pickled vegetables and fried enoki. Full of different textures and flavours, some spicy some sharp and the meaty aubergine to mop up all the lovely sauce. For my mum was the sweetcorn and pickled chilli. A fried sweetcorn and jalapeno fritter, lemon thyme and cumin potato puree, tomato marmalade glazed roasted romanesco, white bean, pine nut and avocado. All plants. Yep not a bit of meat, eggs or dairy in sight! And that’s coming from someone who when a dish isn’t feeling quiiiitteeee right, cheese is always the answer.

Another glass of wine down and out came an unexpected (and my favourite bit of the night). A PRE DESSERT. Can this be made obligatory at every restaurant. K thanks. A bottom layer of turmeric custard, topped with a pink fir apple compote and some toasted chopped hazelnuts. We could’ve eaten this by the bucket full. Only to be followed by the dessert, a sweet potato custard tart with meringue shards and lemon sorbet. Nicely spiced, in between an egg(less) custard and a pumpkin pie, a bit of crisp from the meringue, all cut with some zing in the lemon sorbet. We did share the dessert, I’m sure much to the dismay of some of you, but stuffed we were and it topped off a lovely meal.

Sorry that there’s no images of the pre-dessert and dessert, you’ll just have to picture it in your head. We just wanted to tuck straight in for once, it was my birthday, let me off!

I’d like to add that neither me nor my mum are vegan or even vegetarian for that matter. We tend to eat plant based meals the majority of the time, but still do enjoy some fish once or twice a week and the odd roast chicken or steak. That being said, dinner at the allotment was refreshing and inspiring, every plate full of varying textures and using ingredients together that you would not normally dream of. There is indeed a cheese course. Cultured nut cheeses served with seasonal nut cheeses and raw crackers, something that I am yet to try and anticipating it to be sooner rather than later!

Starters cost £6-£7, mains are between £17 and £18 and desserts are £7, it’s fine dining so don’t expect large portions, but that just means you can try more of what they have to offer. If you do visit though, please make sure to order the cauliflower hot wings. Just for me. Even if that’s all you go for, it’ll be completely worth it.

The Allotment Vegan, 6 Vernon St, Stockport, SK1 1TY

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BBQ pulled shrooms and beans

I am not one for fake meats, vegan versions of chicken nuggets and ‘vegan cheeze’. They just taste too funky and as someone who isn’t vegan (or vegetarian even) the concept of cheese which isn’t, when I would much happier delve into a chunk of cheddar, it just doesn’t register.

Saying that it seems these sorts of dishes are popping up on menus as the majority of the public are becoming aware of meat consumption and its effects on the environment. One in particular I’m spying on my Instagram feed is the jackfruit. Said to be the contender to pulled pork, the soft tooth-wielding and melting meat, with lashings of BBQ sauce, requires a certain hunch to make sure it ends up in your mouth rather than all down your front.

Out for lunch the other day with my mum, BBQ pulled jackfruit cropped up. Piled onto some toasted sourdough with lettuce and tomato, never had I eaten it before, plus the sight of BBQ sauce made me in deep need for some of that sweet and smoky sauce. Upon arrival, due to being hungry dived in pretty swiftly, but on eating my thoughts quickly dissipated. Not enough BBQ sauce, not enough of that smoky addictive lick-your-lips-smackingly good flavour and the jackfruit, well it was ok. It had the texture of a stringy fibrous fruit, perhaps if the BBQ sauce was better it would have been a more enjoyable experience overall. I’m sad it didn’t live up to expectations, but there’s still plenty of time to experience another one.

Anyone have any tips for a good pulled jackfruit burger, and by good I mean even better than a pulled pork (I’m sure it’s highly possible) Manchester or northern England preferred, pictures of proof is good enough though!!

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One day last week I was wondering what to cook for my mum and I for dinner. Fancying a baked potato because STODGE=LIFE and beans were on my mind. It’s a classic British combination baked beans on a jacket potato. You feeling the need to be truly British? try baked beans on toast with grated cheese, oh you’ve hit the jack pot. I had a quick flick through Laura Wright’s cookbook, The First Mess for some inspiration, to come across BBQ mushrooms on toast. Well I had loads of mushrooms in the fridge that needed eating, I could add some kidney beans for that baked bean vibe, and BBQ sauce. That’s what I’m looking for to satisfy that craving.

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The sauce is really simple to make just a few store cupboard ingredients needed, to be left with a deeply flavoured BBQ with heaps of oomph and a little tingly spice. Feel free to stick close to the original recipe and keep it solely mushroom based just double the amount used, or skip the mushrooms entirely and use an extra tin of beans.

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We have a baked bean/pulled pork hybrid going here, may as well have both if you can! For a vegetarian, or plant based eater, the mushroom is the meatiest of textures you can get without straying anywhere near to the meat substitutes. By slicing them thinly and cooking them over a high heat first so they lose their excess water and shrink down, this resembled the ‘pulled pork’ element. I served it on a baked jacket potato the first time and brown rice the second but a sweet potato, also piled onto a burger bun would be more than marvellous, just make sure to add all the fixings. Pickles, extra sauce and mustard are all necessary!

 

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BBQ pulled shrooms and beans

Ingredients

  • 300g mushrooms (I used large flat mushrooms), sliced very thinly
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/2 tsp sweet smoked (dulce) paprika, use a little more if using a paprika from the supermarket
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tin plum tomatoes, blitzed up in a blender till smooth, failing that use 400g passata
  • 25 ml maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Directions

  1. Heat some oil in a large frying on a medium high heat. When hot add the mushrooms and leave for a minute or two. Once the water starts evaporating stir them gently to move around the pan, you want to let all the water escape and make sure they don’t stew. Once the mushrooms start to sizzle and have shrunk down in size, this will take up to 5 minutes, transfer them to a plate and set aside.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and add a little more oil to the pan along with the onion and garlic. Cook gently until the onion is soft and translucent, if it starts to stick add a little water.
  3. Once soft add the paprika, mustard and chilli flakes stir until they start to smell fragrant and quickly add the blitzed tinned tomatoes, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and tamari. Bring to the boil and then turn down low and leave to simmer gently.
  4. After around 5 minutes and once the sauce has thickened and reduced slightly add the mushrooms, stir to coat and leave to reduce for a further 5-10 minutes. Add the beans for the final few minutes.
  5. You want a sauce that coats the beans and mushrooms, with enough extra to mop up with some carbzzzz. Taste for seasoning, there should be a balance of sweet, spice, salty with a little acidic kick at the end. Add extra salt, pepper, mustard or chilli if you so wish.
  6. Serve over your carb of choice, a slaw on the side, some avo and extra hot sauce for shaking over liberally.

I have a feeling this recipe is going to be on repeat this autumn and winter. Today being the autumn equinox the days are slowly turning into longer, darker and cooler ones. For me that means deep bowls of soul soothing warm dishes. Preferably with some spice, hot sauce always on the side and a good bit of stodge to keep those chills at bay. I hope you enjoy this recipe a much as I did!

On a side note, it was my birthday yesterday, and this weekend I will be celebrating with all my family and friends. Of course that means lots of cake and sweet treats (brownies, blondies and bakewell tarts in my case!!), bubbles and dancing it all off till my little toes can’t stand it no more. I’ll report back next week, once I have recovered!

Till then my loves

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August Antics

I’m way too hot right now. Taking a respite from the blazing Cretan sunshine, I’m sat under the umbrella writing this post, also the only place I can see the screen. Is there such a thing as a laptop screen that you can still see in the sun? No matter how much I turn up the brightness I’m still staring into a black void, which isn’t so ideal for editing photos, and god knows what I’m actually typing here.

So yes, I’m spending my last week of August in Crete, near to the city of Rethymno. We have a beautiful villa here, surrounded by olive groves and pomegranate trees and the mountains in the distance. Did you know that Greece is approximately 80% mountain?? I didn’t!! It’s so peaceful here too, except for the sound of crickets, birds (not forgetting the bloody barking dogs, they’re not so peaceful but we can forget about them) and the swilling of the pool, well that’s about it.

The so-called British summer has been pretty poor this year. All those who don’t believe in global warming, well surely it’s proof enough when our summer’s have been getting wetter and cooler year on year. The boots and puffer coats never get put away and the sandals and bikinis are too shy to come out. I’m very grateful to be here and to end August on a good note in a beautiful setting. I’m sick of the rain, so when I get back home to England can you please have gone away? Thanks.

With next coming September (my birthday month, annnnddddd it’s a big’un!) I’m very much looking forward to it, celebrating with a bang. Also what’s not to love about Autumn, the last of the seasonal fruit and vegetables, foraging for blackberries, low and golden sunshine beams and walks through the falling leaves. But that’s next month it’s a while to go yet, so back to now! Here’s what I’ve been loving this August, just a couple of things, mainly with a sunny theme of course!

#1 Daily morning swim

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There’s no way that I could go on holiday without having a pool nearby, just a few steps away is ideal. I’m not a huge fan of the beach, sand gets everywhere in every single crack and crevice, you can’t eat or you’ll end up chewing on the stuff and swimming in the sea gives me the heebie jeebies. The pool is a must. On holiday I like to have a little routine of waking up putting my swimsuit on and swim a few lengths. It’s just me and the pool, some time for myself to reflect on things in my mind and get my body moving before a hard days’ work of lying down, reading books, doing crosswords and eating. The pool isn’t so big where I am right now, maybe only four or five strokes per length, but hey that only means more lengths. I’m currently on eighty, let’s see by the end of the week if I’ll make it to one hundred. I highly doubt that! NOTE: One day I did manage one hundred, pretty chuffed with myself I must admit, also pretty ravenous the rest of the day. Can’t complain about that just means more cheese for me!

 

#2  This dress from & Other Stories

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The love affair all began way way back on a shopping day with my mum to Manchester, let’s say around May. I spotted this dress in & Other Stories, the skirt with the same print too, and just fell in love. I knew I had to own it. Unnnntttil spying the price tag of a lofty £79, well that idea was swiftly put aside. A week or so later I did a shoot on Formby Beach (which is absolutely beautiful on a sunny day by the way) and what was to be one of the looks? Of course that dress. It’s was as if it was fate. So again on another shopping trip in the summer months, I spied this beauty. ON THE SALE RAIL. I felt like all my stars had aligned and karma was on my side (something which doesn’t happen very often). It was meant to be after all! So finally last night I had the chance to wear said dress for a meal by the sea. It was a little breezier that anticipated and the waves were definitely crashing on the rocks, and the waistband perhaps was a little too tight so I had to undo the zip (too much feta maybe?). But it got its first outing and that’s all that matters!

 

#3 Greek Tea – particularly this brand Krocus Kozanis

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There’s a theme this month if you haven’t already noticed, I am pretty in love with Greece. They like tea, as do I, meaning we get along well together. They do something called mountain tea which is made from the dried leaves, stems and flowers of the sideritis plant. But many other herbal teas are popular including the likes of sage and oregano all with supposed individual health benefits but a delicious flavour too. I’ve found this brand Krocus Kozanis, who sell a small range of organic greek teas, it is available in the uk but not the easiest to get hold of. The best of the lot are the herbal tea with sage, lemon verbena and saffron and the herbal tea with rosemary, thyme and saffron. I will be stocking up whilst we’re here and packing my suitcase with teabags. If we’re overweight on the baggage allowance – I’ll sure know why!

 

#4 Pistachio and dark chocolate cookies with sea salt from Joy The Baker

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This is one of my go-to’s. Whenever my family is pining for something sweet or I need a present to take to someones’ house, I know it’s a pleaser. A mixture of finely chopped almost ground pistachios with chunkier ones for some bite, dark chocolate chips (the darker the better to contrast with the sweetness) and a good sprinkling of sea salt on each one which is totally obligatory. They’re a little more adult than your regular chocolate chip, and just that little bit better. Joy the Baker has some brilliant finds on her blog, I’m a repeat visitor for her cookie recipes and also her chats about cats, I’m always into that. Cats are life. As are cookies.

 

#5 Organic cold-pressed rose hip seed oil from The Ordinary

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Rosehip oil is something I’ve intergrated into my beauty routine for some time now. A few drops on slightly damp skin (nothing which a good spritz of rosewater can’t solve) massaged in then left to absorb before applying my moisturiser. It’s highly hydrating, full of Vitamin A and Fatty acids which are beneficial for our skin, is lighter than many other oils such as coconut oil so won’t clog your pores and it gives you a natural glow due to its orange colour (I’m not talking oopma loompa, but just eough of a tint). I’ve been faithful to this rosehip oil from Pai, it has a lovely scent but also a bit costy too. A friend suggested the company The Ordinary to me, a new beauty brand which aims to bring trustworthy products to the market, dispose of false advertsing and to sell everything at a reasonable price. Well at £9 a pop I can’t really argue with that.

 

#6 Swiss cheese plant or Monstera (or as I like to call it Grilled Cheese Plant) from Ikeamonstera-potted-plant-swiss-cheese-plant__0507893_pe636086_s4

Oh Ikea, you walk in with intentions of tracking down the one wardrobe, to walk the wrong way down the aisles, get hungry halfway round so stop for meatbealls and a cinnamon bun, buy way more unnecessary things than you intended to and then struggle with the trolley on the way to the car as the flat pack is way heavier than you anticipated and the trolley has a Dickie wheel. We’ve all been there! HOWEVER they do sell everything at a reasonable price and you can get some pretty snazzy finds. Even though I have just bought this mirror for my room (which I love to pieces may I add) but every other man and his goat has the same one, which is rather annoying. They also have a really good plant section. I bought two plants from there, a Calathea (obviously purchased entirely on the basis of the name) and the Montera (or swiss cheese). Perhaps plants have become that indie ‘staple’ to be seen in every coffee shop and young persons apartment. It’s true I also have a pinterest board full of plant inspiration for my bedroom, I’m talking planters, macramé and succulents. Buutttttt it’s also true that plants are really beneficial to our health when kept inside. They increase the quality of the air by removing pollutents, keep the air more humid and less dry and supposedly encourage an increase in mood and lower stress levels. Well I’ll be having some of that please. Also they just look really nice. The swiss cheese plant, has holes in its leaves, similar to an edam or gouda (d’ya get it now?), and a hell of a lot easier upkeep than a dog or cat. I’m just praying that after a 1 week holiday it hasn’t given up on me!

 

August it’s been a fun ride but here we are on the other side. I’ll be chatting here this time next month when I’m another year older. 21. Pretty excited I must admit, but do I feel like I can officially call myself an adult and I have my life in check. Hell NO. Am I looking forward to eating my weight in birthday cake, drinking way too much prosecco and seeing all my family and friends (ooh not forgetting the new outfit)? Why OF COURSE!!

Ta ta

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