Look, look, I'm still eating my vegetables, I promise. Here's proof, a big salad I made recently:
That's some rocket that was past its best in the back of the freezer, tomatoes, green lentils, avocado (who doesn't love avocado? Show me that person and I'll give them a Chinese burn), and the pickled figs I made last year. I'd been avoiding opening them for fear they'd actually be disgusting. Don't get me wrong, I love figs and I love pickled stuff, but sometimes two and two do not make a delicious four. I hadn't found any recipes on the internet either, so I kind of had to guess how to make them myself. I'm surprised at how good they turned out, so I'll be making some more next time fig season comes around. Just another six months to go, then.
While I'm waiting for the figs to return like fruity migratory birds, I'll be pickling anything else that stands still long enough. Case in point: a bag of jalapenos that had set up home in my fridge for a bit too long. I had a little light bulb come up over my head: 'I've got jalapenos, I've got vinegar, I normally chuck out £1.50 for a jar of pickled jalapenos... I know what I could do here.'
I could do this:
Yep, it looks a bit like a science experiment, I grant you - like those jars of specimens are used to decorate the science labs at school. (Side note - they had animals in formaldehyde when I studied first science *cough cough* many years ago, and they still have them now. No no no no. Just no.)
Anyway, the jalapenos were good. Some things belong in jars, and chilli peppers are one of them.
And of course, as well as eating my veggies, I'm still eating cake.
One of my colleagues from another office was over last week. He's a vegan too - the only other vegan I know in real life - and very kindly brought in a vegan cake from Pourtoi which he picked up at Whole Foods in Piccadilly.
It was a delightfully huge gluten-free chocolate and orange number, and I was pleasantly surprised by its tastiness. The sponge was nice and light, the icing deep and fudgy. The cakes aren't cheap apparently, but they are pretty darn good. I nabbed two slices while my colleagues weren't looking. (Don't tell them, OK? That's just between us.)
I headed up to Manchester recently to visit my family up there, including my nieces, who won't allow me to enter their house without a box of Ms Cupcake cupcakes. "Seriously," I was told, "don't come without the cakes, or they will shiv you."
I didn't want to get shivved, so I took a box. It was this box. The colours looked particularly pretty, I thought:
We ended up going out for lunch in Tampopo, an Asian chain restaurant with branches in Manchester as well as a couple of other cities. I was pleasantly surprised - they not only have a handful of vegan options that are well-marked on the menu (always appreciated), there's a couple of nice ones for dessert too. (Get the fried banana with the dairy cream swapped for mango sorbet.) I ended up going for the tamarind tofu, and it was rather good. A bit on the expensive side, but who can complain about a load of tofu in tasty sauce and enough rice to sink a battleship?
That's enough talking about things that aren't cake, let's talk about cake some more.
I just discovered Code Planète - it's a French green/vegan blog with lots of interesting recipes on. This one, for crème de marron muffins, really caught my eye. I had a tube of crème de marrons in the cupboard, some pear puree from a Vegan Kind box a while back, and a desire to make these muffins.
Said desire was particularly strong as, after enjoying a streak of baking successes, I'd fallen onto hard times. A recent attempt at madeleines came out hard and slightly oily, while a courgette cake I'd made before to great effect was wetter than an otter's pocket and could not be rescued. It met its ignominious end in the kitchen bin.
Luckily, the crème de marron muffins turned out way better than I had hoped: lovely and bouncy and well-risen. I even managed to feed them to my parents for dessert. There was custard involved. We were all happy.