Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Starrlight Jewelry - Trendy, Gothic and Fabulous.

One of my favourite shops on Etsy is this fabulous shop called Starrlight Jewelry .
Everything in this shop is Cruelty Free, vegan suitable.
The owner Starr has a wonderful, kind, caring spirit and is very helpful and friendly. She makes beautiful jewelry, gifts and home decor,  as well as caring for many  homeless cats, and raising funds for worthy animal causes. Certainly a busy lady!

I purchased this stunning necklace, made with black and red beads, and a beautiful black rose cameo. It looks gorgeous on, and I've received many lovely comments about it. I've worn it on  'dressy' occassions, as it goes very well with black clothing, of which I have many! It certainly turned a plain outfit into a glamourous one.

A look at Starrlight Jewelry will show you a good assortment of fashionable, alternative jewelry, in a Gothic/Victorian style. All unique and handmade.

If black is not your colour, then with luck, you may catch a beautiful coloured item such as this multi coloured ring, which would look gorgeous with everything, and could be worn as an evening piece or equally look good in the daytime. Just wear it with confidence, and accept the compliments!

I'm a big fan of spiders, and this brooch is one of my favourites. It's Stylish and exciting.

Starrlight Jewelry has a good assortment of jewelry at reasonable prices. Actually, considering all the time and effort that goes into creating such gorgeous, individual pieces, they are well worth the money. There's Home Decor such as fan/light pulls, to add a touch of elegance (or decadence - depending on your choice) to any room, and who could resist this adorable stich marker. If I was the lucky owner of it, I would just have to wear it as a brooch - sorry Starr - it's far too beautiful to be hidden away with knitting, it needs to be shown off, on a black jumper or wrap!

So next time you are on the internet, feast your eyes, by checking out this wonderful shop, Starrlight Jewelry and treat youself - you know you want to!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Where to find vegan information.

Anyone looking for vegan information will sooner or later come across
The Vegan Society. The website if full of information on subjects such as the History of the Vegan Society, Nutrition, Lifestyle, Faith, News and Events, Shopping and a whole lot more.
It states "Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose."
Another useful website is The Vegan Village , with a useful noticeboard, groups and forums, shopping and services, health, charities etc.
Here's the link for a list of animal ingredients to look out for: http://www.happycow.net/health-animal-ingredients.html
and an interesting site that lists foods that are 'accidentally vegan' - I can't believe it's vegan!, which lists American products that just happen to be vegan suitable, but were not made to intentionally be vegan. Cool eh? Wish there was a UK site like that, maybe there is......
PETA has a whole load of information about being vegan, it's a very useful site. I find the American site has more information than the UK site, but it's all good.
To Happy Vegans is an interesting and informative site from written by two women Mitsu and Sasha, about all things vegan. Well worth a read.
Another fab read is The Vegan Family House Blog , which has some interesting recipes and information. Including the link to these white chocolate buttons which are a vegan godsend to chocoholics and can be bought from Goodness Direct if your local health food shop or supermarket does not stock them.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Vegan Cupcakes really do rule the world (no need to take it over!)

This is my favourite recipe book. The cupcakes are amazing. I tend to stick to the basic vanilla cupcake with the buttercream topping or the chocolate cupcake, with ganache topping. I usually change a bit here and there, adding something or substituting something either for convenience (that's all I've got in stock) or to try it out or cos it's what i fancy. They have always turned out fabulous. So I can very highly recommend this book. There are superb basic recipes, also some very fancy cupcakes, with mouth watering pictures and easy to follow recipes. I'm not much of a baker, so if I can make a decent cupcake anyone can.

Today I fancied lemon cupcakes. Actually I've been fancying lemon cupcakes for a few weeks but only just got around to making some today. I finely shredded the rind of 2 unwaxed lemons. Then squeezed the juice from them. Quite a bit of lemon for a cake, but I really fancied the 'zing' of lemon with the sweetness of a cake. I used the basic vanilla cupcake recipe from this book, leaving out the almond essence (I find it too overpowering- even in small amounts), and added two-thirds of the fresh lemon juice and rind.

For the topping, i used the 'lemon cream cheese frosting' recipe from the above book, but added a bit more sugar and the rest of the fresh lemon. I already had some vegan soft cream cheese in the fridge, which has a sweet taste, and not savoury as I was expecting it to be, so perfect for cakes, or even a vegan cheesecake. I found this dairy free spread at Waitrose, it's new product to me, so I don't know where else they sell it.
The recipe for toppings in the book, are always generous in the amounts that they make, so unless I want lashings of a topping, I will half the ingredients. Today, I went for the full amount.
The cakes cooked in about 20-25 minutes on a low heat. they smelled delicious. I waited for the to cool down, then added the frosting, which as predicted, the recipe made a bit too much topping. Still, it was nice, no, it was more than nice, it was delicious. Sweet and Zingy, lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting, perfect!

To see this recipe and lots more, check out theppk.com, where you will find this book, and lots of other recipes. The ppk.com is a wonderful place to interact with vegans. There is a forum, blog, shop and much more. Very funky cool.

This amazing cupcake book is available at Amazon. Which is a convenient way to shop, or by searching google you can find lots of suppliers that sell it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Brunch on a budget

Brunch has become a favourite with us lately. It's easy and quick to make, and there are no set rules as to what to include. Brunch originates from a combination of Breakfast and Lunch. Our brunches tend to be along the lines of a cooked breakfast, but I like the term 'brunch', and it usually differs a bit from traditional cooked breakfasts, being a) we're vegan and b) it depends on what's in the cupboard!
A lot of pre-made vegan options for a cooked breakfast can be very tasty, but on the expensive side. Also not that readily available, unless you happen to have a wholefood store nearby, or indeed a very good supermarket. we have neither. our supermarkets are bog standard - Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose - in no particular order other than where I shop- depending on my budget. As my budget is usually tight, I thought I'd write down today's recipe, for what was a particularly tasty brunch, that was produced on a shoestring (so to speak). I must add that some of the ingredients used are personal taste, such as raw garlic, as I'm sure many people with find the flavour too strong, and prefer toasted garlic, or no garlic at all, but we're garlic freaks, and never mind the consequences. Therefore I'll try to mention alternatives, where I think it may be overload for others, actually i think garlic is the main one!
This particular brunch ended up being piled high on toast, but would work equally well laid side by side, flat on the plate, again whatever you fancy.
The items were: buttered toast, garlic, yeast extract, tinned tomatoes, patties (my version of a burger!) and mushrooms. ta-da: -

Now then, how to reach this stage: It doesn't take long but does require a bit of juggling, especially since only one of the rings on our cooker is working!

To start with , how to make the patties (burgers). For a base, I use a packet or Sage and Onion Stuffing Mix, or any other flavour stuffing mix if I fancy a change. Around Christmas time, there is a multitude of mixes to try, so good other a bit weird, but all interesting. Supermarkets basic range of Sage and Onion Mix can costs as little as 16p a pack. You only need one pack. of course, you can make your own mix from breadcrumbs and stuff if you are so inclined, but that would be another recipe all by itself!
Add the tomato juice from the tin of tomatoes, also a little olive oil. the olive oil is optional, but I find it helps the patties to stick together (any oil would do the same).

Add a small amount of hot water. the mix will be quite wet now, so add some dry potato flakes to thicken up. Other options at this point could be to add oats or breadcrumbs, or anything that is absorbent, that you fancy. I also added a sprinkle of seed mix at this point. Again optional, and you could add anything that takes your fancy, such as:- Baco Bits, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, onions, veg etc. I also added a shake of cayenne pepper (optional - experiment with flavours!). This is what the mix looked like before cooking:

Put them under the grill, until cooked,
they will look darker, and the outsides firmer.

While they are grilling, make the toast (separate toaster if you have one), crush a much garlic as you can handle! I used 3 cloves- hardcore!

Chop the mushrooms, and saute with butter, add salt and pepper to taste. I'd like to mention that the cheaper, odd shaped mushrooms usually taste better than the perfectly sized and lined up ones, don't know why. 
While the mushrooms are cooking, butter the toast, add yeast extract, if desired, and spread with crushed garlic. Timing is crucial to get food hot!. While this is going on, make sure you have flipped the patties. When the mushrooms are cooked quickly swap the tomatoes to heat up, or in most cases (more than one cooking ring), this can be alongside the mushrooms. 

Add tomatoes to prepared toast, unless you prefer crispier toast, if so, add the tomatoes last. I prefer the tomatoes to partially soak into the bread.

The final part is to add the patties and top with mushrooms. voila! A very tasty and satisfying brunch!

You can make variations of this by using different types of bread, you could use beans instead of tomatoes, oh the variations are endless. I guess by just starting with a cheap pack of Sage and Onion Stuffing Mix, you can make no end of delicious meals and it won't cost much at all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Fabulous Vegan blog!

While searching for a recipe to cook a vegan omelet, I came across this site:
It has the most amazing, delicious recipes, and pictures.
I must try some of the recipes!
I will post pictures and the recipe of the omelet I make, when I have found a recipe I am happy with, or one I can adapt. In the meantime, browse any section on this site to get you thinking of food :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

From the Vegan Village notice Board:

ADI USA vacancies
Animal Defenders International is expanding, and moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles. We are looking for campaigns and office management staff. We will also be looking for lobbying staff for a satellite operation in Washington. See www.ad-international.org/work_with_adi for details.