Fluffy Vegan Pancakes

July 22, 2014

Light, fluffy pancakes and they're vegan friendly too, what's not to love? Pancakes aren't something that I actually eat all that often for breakfast but I had a bit of a craving for them on Sunday morning, plus I wanted to test out my new stainless steel frying pan that I'd just gotten (I'm giving up non-stick cookware) and so pancakes for breakfast it was.

This recipe is super simple and can be made from basic storecupboard ingredients; no fancy substitutes required. The batter will make about 8 saucer sized pancakes. If you don't need that many, just half the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain flour (or whatever kind of flour you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup milk (my preference is soy or almond)
  • 4 tbsp oil (I use rapeseed/canola or coconut usually)

Method:

  • In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.
  • Add the wet ingredients and mix well until you have a smooth batter. Be careful not to overmix.
  • Put the pan onto a medium heat and add a drop of oil when the pan gets hot.
  • Pour batter into pan (how much will depend on the desired size of pancake)
  • Do not flip your pancake until bubbles have started to appear on the surface, once this has started to happen, flip and cook on the other side until it has started to brown.
  • Serve.

As my pan isn't huge and I can only get one or two pancakes in the pan at the same time, I like to keep the oven on a low heat and put the cooked pancakes in to keep warm until I'm ready to dish them up. I like to serve my pancakes with a drizzle of syrup and a berry sauce.

For the berry sauce:

  • 1 cup or so of berries (frozen is fine and is what I usually use)
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tbsp water

How to:

Add all of the above to a saucepan and cook on a low heat until the berries start to break down and the sauce has thickened. This will probably take 5 - 10 minutes. Any that you don't use will keep well in the fridge for a few days and tastes delicious served with plain yoghurt.

An Update

July 17, 2014

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I'm not quite sure how six months have passed since my last post; at the start of the year I had every intention of posting much more frequently, as I mentioned in this post, however things don't always quite work out how you intend them to. The last six months have been pretty hectic, so I thought I'd give you a little update as to what's been happening lately.

Towards the start of the year, I got a new role at work. This meant a promotion (which was much appreciated), moving to a whole new department and working with people that I'd never worked with before. The new role is much more challenging than my previous role, but this was something that I was grateful of, as I'd begun to feel pretty apathetic in the exisiting job. I was also working longer hours in an attempt to get to grips with what I was doing and so by the time I got home and made our evening meal, I didn't have much energy to do anything else.

A few weeks after starting the new role, we found a new place to live. This was something that had been on the cards for a long time, as we'd really outgrown our one bedroom city centre apartment. Living in the city is pretty fun when you're in your early twenties and go out most weekends, but when you start to reach your late twenties and become more of a homebody, somewhere with a bit more space is needed. After much searching, we found a really nice little house out of the city; rent is cheaper and the second bedroom means that we can have a proper office, which made Samuel very happy.

It took quite a few weeks to get settled into the new place, as we didn't really take any time off to move and so packing everything up around work was pretty stressful, who knew we had so much stuff?! We also moved from a furnished apartment to an unfurnished house and therefore had to spend a while (and quite a lot of money) shopping around for basics like a bed and a sofa; I still don't have a dining table but that's a whole other story. Thankfully we're pretty much all settled now and the house is a much more relaxing place to return home to after a day at work than the apartment ever was.

I wasn't quite sure if I should write about what's been happening for the last two months as I don't really know where to start, but I have mentioned things on Twitter and so if you follow me on there, you'll have an idea anyway. Around this time last year, I found a small lump under my arm and it was decided that it should be removed. I had some MRI scans to check the location and size etc and on these scans, it was also discovered that I had quite a sizeable (about the size of an egg) lump on my right lung. The consultant decided that it didn't seem to be causing any harm to my health and so they would leave it and monitor it and just remove the lump from under my arm.

Fast forward to May this year and I started to experience an uncomfortable feeling in my chest area. I went back to the consultant and she didn't seem to think that it was anything to worry about , but sent me for some further tests, to put my mind at rest. Around a week after the tests had been done, I received a call from the consultant advising that the results showed that the lump had probably become cancerous and therefore it needed to be removed. Just over two weeks after that on June 10th, I was wheeled into surgery to have a posterolateral thoracotomy performed. It's a pretty big procedure and so I had to stay in hospital for almost a week afterwards; I'm still off work at home recovering now, complete with a pretty impressive scar. I was so thankful to get back home after being in hospital for a week—hospital food really is the worst, especially as a vegan. Hopefully, now that the lump is gone, there shouldn't be any further issues, but I have to wait for my follow-up appointment in a few weeks to find that out.

The last few weeks have been pretty challenging, but I've tried my best to maintain a positive mental attitude. I've think that I've managed pretty well so far and haven't gotten upset or down about the whole thing, but I don't think that I would have been able to do that without the love and support of my amazing family (particularly Samuel) and my wonderful friends. Thank you to you all.

So, that, in a rather large nutshell, is where I've been for the last six months, hopefully it won't be another six until you hear from me again.

Home-made Granola

January 05, 2014

Granola is one of my favourite things to eat for breakfast, whether it's with yoghurt or milk, but finding a decent store bought one that's not laden with sugar can get quite expensive and so I choose to make my own. Some of the ingredients may seem expensive, but if you can buy in bulk (check out the world food aisle of your local supermarket for good deals on nuts and seeds), it works out much cheaper in the long run.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of rolled oats (not porridge)
  • 1 cup of nuts/ seeds (I use a mix of cashews, flaked almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds)
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
  • 1/4 cup oil (I prefer coconut or rapeseed)
  • 1/4 cup sweetner (either maple or agave)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • pinch salt
  • 4tbsp ground flax seed (optional)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 150°C/ 300°F/ Gas Mark 2
  • Mix all dry ingredients, except ground flax, together in a large bowl
  • In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients together
  • Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well, ensuring that all of the ingredients are evenly coated
  • Place on a lined baking tray and bake for around 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes
  • Once cool, mix in ground flax and store in an air tight container

I like to serve the granola topped with berries, here I have it topped with pomegranate seeds, but it also works brilliantly with raspberries, strawberries or blueberries.

Happy New Year

January 02, 2014

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Happy New Year to all of you! I can't believe that it's been a month since my last post; where has the time gone? On New Year's Eve, Samuel and I decided to stay at home and got a takeaway from our favourite restaurant, because neither of us could be all that bothered with cooking. After stuffing ourselves with a delicious curry and with about twenty minutes to go until midnight, we decided to stroll into town and watch the fireworks. They were so much better this year without the clock tower of the town hall blocking the view. After the display, we headed straight back home and I was in bed by about half-past! I had been in work at 8am though, so I think that I'm excused.

2013 was a bit of a tough year, but looking back, there were a lot more ups than downs. I know that most people have been posting all about their resolutions for 2014, but I'm not usually the sort of person that makes them. However, this year I thought that I'd set myself a few goals.

  • Be more organised. In general, I am a relatively organised person, but when it comes to blogging (don't even get me started on how long it's been since I last uploaded to YouTube) I'm terrible, hence this being my first post in a month. This year, I'm hoping to organise myself and dedicate a few hours a week to drafting posts, which can then be scheduled for posting whenever I feel like. That's the plan anyway!
  • Take more photographs. When Samuel and I first got together, we used to take a lot of photographs, but now I hardly take any. I'm hoping that regular blogging will encourage me to take more photos and hone my skills over the coming year.
  • Be a better friend. I like to think that I'm an alright friend and I hope that my friends know that I'll be there for them if they need me, but I'm not very good at texting/ phoning, just to see how they are. This year, I'm going to make much more effort.
  • Explore more. In 2013, we made the most of having a car and went on lots of days out. I think that my favourite part of the whole year was packing the car up with all of our camping gear and making the 330 mile journey down south to Cornwall. I'm hoping that in 2014, we're going to make the most of having a car and a tent and explore a lot more of the green and pleasant land that we call home.

Room Restaurant, Manchester.

December 03, 2013

A few weekends ago, five of us went along to Room Restaurant in Manchester for a little celebration lunch. A few of us have had birthdays recently and thought it would be nice to get together for a bit of wining and dining. Rather sillily, I didn't take any photos of the restaurant itself (which is beautiful) or of the group of us together, just of the food that I ate, but that's the most important part right?

The rest of my friends ate from the set price lunch and dinner menu and absolutely loved what they had, however there was nothing suitable for vegans on that menu and so I ate from the vegan menu. Room caters well for those with special dietary requirements and has separate menus available for most needs.

To start, I went with the Bloody Mary consommé. It might not look like much, but this packed a punch and was full of flavour whilst being lightly spiced.

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Moving onto the mains and for this course I went with the Malayan vegetable curry. The menu stated that this would be served with spiced rice, however mine was actually accompanied with coconut spiced lentils and roasted cauliflower, which were delicious. I'm definitely going to have to try and recreate them at home. The potatoes were delicately spiced and went perfectly with the lentils and cauliflower.

I also may have pinched a couple of the chips that my friends had ordered with their mains and they were really quite yummy. 

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Lastly were the desserts. I decided on the sorbet and had a scoop each of raspberry, strawberry and fennel. They were all beautiful but the fennel sorbet was sublime. I almost wish that I'd gotten three scoops of just that; without a doubt it was one of the nicest things that I have ever eaten.

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Overall, I would highly recommend Room Restaurant. I've eaten there twice now and on both occasions, the food has been great. The wine and cocktails that are available aren't bad either. It can be a little pricey, however for me it's worth it, especially if it's for a special occasion.

For many of those with special dietary requirements, going for a meal can feel a little daunting, especially when you have to contact a restaurant in advance just to make sure that they're able to cater for you, but with Room, all of those anxieties are taken away and that's just one of the many reasons that I know that I'll be back.