20

The Ultimate Veggie Sandwich

I am SO happy that it is finally eating outside weather! I often dream of living somewhere where it’s warm enough to eat outside most days of the year, like California (although I think this might be a “grass is greener” type of dream, since I’m only ever in hot countries when I’m on holiday and¬† it’s okay to spend 80% of my time reading by the pool.) It feels so good to sip lemonade with the sun on your back. To celebrate what seems to be the beginning of the British summer, James and I made my favourite sandwich and ate it in the garden. It features guacamole (avocados are quickly becoming my favourite food) grilled mushrooms and a big helping of hummus – yum! Here’s how ūüôā

Ingredients: 1 small loaf of freshly baked bread, 1/2 carrot, 1 avocado, 4 or 5 mushrooms, 2 tomatoes, a handful of olives, hummus, chilli sauce, salt and pepper 1/2 lime and some balsamic vinegar.

Grate your carrot, and slice your olives into halves.

To make the guacamole, mash a ripe avocado with a fork, and stir in a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Chop up the mushrooms and fry them in a little oil until soft. Chop the tomatoes and add these along with two teaspoons of mixed herbs and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Cook on a low heat until the tomatoes have softened.

This is the chilli sauce that James and I eat with everything. Since cooking together my spice tolerance has improved a lot! This stuff is rather hot, and a bottle doesn’t last us very long!

To assemble the sandwich, spread guacamole on one half of the bread, followed by a layer of grated carrot and a drizzle of chilli sauce. On the other half of the bread, spread a generous layer of hummus, some olive halves and a spoonful of tomatoes and mushrooms. Squidge together and you have the best sandwich ever!

Crisps and lemonade are not optional. Who said vegan food was boring? Here’s to many more meals in the sunshine!

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11

Vegan Black Forest Cupcakes

At my internship we had a team meeting every Monday, and we took it in turns to make cake. Because I was vegan, my colleagues were so sweet and made me my own vegan treat every week! When I left, they bought me this amazing cupcake book – Vegan Cupcakes Take over The World! The first recipe that I’ve used from this book is the Black Forest Cupcakes recipe. The cakes were delicious and spongy, and I never would have guessed that they were vegan! My frosting was runnier than it should have been but oh well, practice makes perfect! Here’s how:

You will need: 1 and 1/4 cup soy milk, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 1 and 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 2 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup margarine, 3 and 1/2 cups icing sugar, teaspoon vanilla extract, 10 ounce frozen cherries (thawed), 1 tablespoon arrowroot, 3 tablespoons pomegranate juice, a bar of vegan chocolate, 20 candied cherries, 5 tablespoons of cherry brandy (Kirsch) (Makes 20!)

Make the frosting first, so that it has time to thicken in your fridge! Beat together the margarine, icing sugar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of soy milk and refrigerate.

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees C. Whisk together 1 cup of soy milk with the vinegar, and let it sit for a couple of minutes to curdle. Add the 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the vegetable oil. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and the almond extract, a tablespoon of cherry brandy and mix it all together. In a separate bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, the baking soda, the baking powder and the salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to your original bowl, and beat until smooth. Pour into cupcake cases, and bake for 20 minutes.

Whilst the cupcakes are baking, make the saucy cherries! Over medium heat, combine the cherries with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk together the pomegranate juice and the arrowroot, and pour this into your pan slowly. The mixture will thicken very quickly, so take it off the heat straight away! Then stir in a tablespoon of cherry brandy. Once the cupcakes have cooled, use a knife to cut out their middles and scoop the cherry mixture into the well.

Retrieve your frosting from the fridge, and pipe on top of the cherry mixture, covering the cupcake (in retrospect I should have left my frosting in the fridge for a little longer!) Then put the cupcake cones back on top

Pipe some more frosting on top of the cupcakes, add the glace cherries and grate some vegan chocolate over the top.

For the glaze, combine 2 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons of cherry brandy in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 2 minutes whilst stirring. Pour straight over your cupcakes!

These cakes are so tasty. It’s quite an in-depth recipe, but it’s fun spending the time to make something a bit different! Also, cooking with brandy is always fun. There are so many cakes in this book that I can’t wait to make, like the Margarita Cupcakes, Lychee Cupcakes, Pistachio Rosewater Cupcakes, Coconut Lime Cupcakes, Green Tea Cupcakes, Peanut Cupcakes…. the list goes on! Would you like to come round for tea? I’m going to have trouble eating all of these by myself!

2

Blogger Favourites: Oh Dear Drea

Jessthetics / An Interview with Oh Dear Drea

I was so happy when Drea agreed to be interviewed for the blog today. She writes a gorgeous lifestyle blog, Oh Dear Drea, which features travel diaries, photos from daily life in Florida, her beautiful daughter Marlowe, the (delicious looking!) vegan food she makes, and her house and garden. Her blog has always stood out to me as being an honest and welcoming space, and I can spend hours getting lost in her archives. Drea inspires me to eat better food, take more photos, and lead a more colourful life! Without further ado, here’s what the lady herself had to say :

Jess: I’m always curious about how my favourite blogs have started out. What inspired you to begin blogging, and how have you developed Oh Dear Drea into what it is today?

Drea: I actually started “blogging” or publicly writing anyway when I was 15 or 16 years old— the good ole’ livejournal days, about 13 years ago for me. Crazy, I know. I used livejournal up until I was 22 or so and then closed it up. When I became pregnant, I decided that it would be nice to start a new chapter of writing in my life—- 1. because the community I found had been so awesome and 2. because I have THE WORST memory ever. Ask me my daughters birth date—- it’ll take me while.

The blog just kind of evolved as I evolved. People found it, shared it and enjoyed it— I’ve enjoyed it too.

Jessthetics / An Interview with Oh Dear Drea

Jess: I’ve read about your transition to veganism and I am so jealous of your vegetable garden! Has your lifestyle always been inspired by nature?

Drea: I’ve always been an outdoor loving girls. Mud, salamanders, forts. I told my mom at 12 that I didn’t want to eat meat anymore. At 14 I gave up chicken. And that was that, an animal and outdoor lover from the beginning.

Jessthetics / Oh Dear Drea
Jess: What does a day in the life of Drea look like?

Drea: Wake up at 7:40 every morning thanks to Marlowe’s internal clock. Cuddle marlowe. Espresso. Computer time. Garden time. Lunch time. Project time. Marlowe time. Dinner time. Story time. Marlowe bed time. About 5 hours of computer work time until Alex get’s home from work. Bed at 2 am. Repeat.

Jessthetics / An Interview withOh Dear Drea
Jess: What is your favourite thing to come out of your blog so far? What’s next for Oh Dear Drea?

Drea: Absolutely the connections I’ve made. The internet is an amazing place filled with amazing people and this blog has brought so many of them to me. Also, it’s just been amazing to watch my blog naturally grow into what it is— a business of doing things I love. It’s a pretty rad life when you get to help support your family, be at home, and do fun stuff. Ah— what’s next is exciting! Really exciting. I have a few big projects that I’m announcing this year. I’m not ready to reveal them yet, but they will be delicious, adventurous, and colorful ūüėČ

Thank you for being on my blog today, Drea! I can’t wait to hear about your new projects!

3

February is Finished!

February Review / JesstheticsGolden hour in my living room

February Revview / JesstheticsMy beautiful old bike, which has been taking me to work every day this monthFebruary Review / JesstheticsPlanning my blog posts with my homemade calendar

When I set my February goals I said I would aim to take more lifestyle-type photos and I have! What do you think? I’m really pleased I have these images to remind me of a month that’s been full of fun, food and friends. Nothing big has happened this month, but I’m just in a really good place (both literally and metaphorically!) I’ve loved working, living in this house with James and spending my weekend catching up with my favourite people, wandering around York, grabbing some really delicious food and catching a movie. Not every day’s been perfect, but I’ve definitely made the most of this month in the way I intended to. And I watched two seasons of Buffy, so it’s been an all round success.

February Review / JesstheticsThe view from my kitchen windowFebruary Review / JesstheticsA lovely lunch at El Piano

February Review / JesstheticsChai tea and people watchingFebruary Review / JesstheticsEarly, frosty mornings

This month I’ve blogged about vegan food (here and here) and two paisley outfits (here and here.) I shared a pair of crochet socks I made for James (here) and my finished cushion for the autumn stitching club (here.) Most recently I interviewed one of my favourite bloggers, Ally from Now That’s Pretty (here.) It’s been a good month! How’s your February been?

p.s. You can enter my GIVEAWAY up until Middnight GMT tonight!

11

Vegusto, A Review

Last month when I first became vegan I mostly ate fresh veg with bread, potatoes or rice, apart from snacks. This month I’ve been experimenting with vegan dairy and meat substitutes! Vegusto are a fairly new company well-known for their vegan cheese although they also do snacks, drinks, vitamins, pet foods and meat substitutes. I was so excited when they sent me a goodie bag full of food to review since I was on the hunt for a good vegan cheese!

Vegusto Review / Jessthetics12The first thing I tried was this Mushroom and Cheese burger. I fried it for a couple of minutes and ate it with tomatoes, extra cheese and chilli sauce! I was pleasantly surprised Рit was thicker and firmer than I thought it would be and it was very mushroomy! To compare, it was similar to a Quorn beef burger (which are not vegan), but with more flavour!

Vegusto Review / JesstheticsVegusto Review / JesstheticsI fried the Farmhouse Style Sausage for a couple of minutes and ate it with mash, gravy and cauliflower cheese. Similar to the burger, the sausage had a firm meaty texture. It also had a strong smoky flavour which I wasn’t so keen on, but James loved it! It’s definitely the chunkiest Vegan Sausage I’ve come across.

Vegusto Review / JesstheticsVegusto Review / JesstheticsWe used the No Moo Melty Cheese to make an enormous vegan pizza! This is my favourite meal that I created using Vegusto products. I grated one half of the cheese under the veg and the other half on top. The cheese wasn’t as melty as I thought it would be, but that might be because we put it under the grill. This cheese has a very mild flavour and is the most similar to other vegan cheeses that I’ve tried – ¬†it was lovely on the pizza and would be nice in lasagne and moussakka but it’s not similar enough to cheese for me to eat it by itself. Although, James said he would buy this again.

Vegusto Review / JesstheticsVegusto Review / JesstheticsThe two Vegusto hard cheeses are hands down the nicest vegan cheeses I’ve ever tried. I swear you wouldn’t know that it isn’t real cheese! This No-Muh Aromatic cheese tastes like a medium cheddar and I ate it with apple chutney on a panini. I would eat this cheese by itself straight from the fridge, or on crackers! It cut like real cheese and it was crumbly like cheddar too, with a tangy flavour.

Vegusto Review / JesstheticsVegusto Review / JesstheticsThe No-Muh Piquant was also lovely. This cheese is my favourite! I ate it on top of a panini and grilled veg, and it is most similar to a mild parmesan. It’s more crumbly and has a stronger flavour than the No-Muh Aromatic but I would also eat this cheese straight from the fridge.

Vegusto Review / JesstheticsVegusto Review / jesstheticsDid you know that most dark chocolate is vegan? Now you do! This coconut and raspberry dark chocolate is no exception, and I enjoyed this with a cup of tea and an episode of Buffy ūüôā The sweetness of the raspberry really cut through the bitterness of the chocolate and the coconut was a nice crunch, although the coconut flavour didn’t stand out.

Don’t forget that you could win all of these Vegusto goodies and more by entering my giveaway! Have you tried any vegan meat, cheese or chocolate products?

134

My Favourite Things Giveaway [ENDED]

In October my blog turned one and I kind of forgot to celebrate. I also reached a couple of follower-milestones and I published my 100th post, which slipped by without me noticing. So, I feel like this blog is owed a good celebration! I want to say thank you to all my readers, old and new, and the friends that I’ve made along the way! I’ve put together a giveaway package of some of my favourite things to say thank you for reading – food, vintage clothes, jewellery and bath bombs – which I hope you’ll love as much as I do!

If you win the giveaway you will receive…

My Favourite Things Giveaway / Jessthetics£25 to spend in Absolute Vintage

My Favourite Things Giveaway / JesstheticsVeggie Stuff Vegan Sweets: Haribo Rainbow Strips and Haribo Rainbow Twists
Vegusto Hamper of vegan goodies containing No Moo Melty Cheese, Mushroom and Cheese Burger, Farmhouse Style Sausage, No Moo Piquant, No Moo Mild Aromatic, Organic Coconut and Rasberry Vegan Chocolate (contents may vary subject to availability)

My Favourite Things Giveaway / JesstheticsThis crystal pendant from Ebay

My Favourite Things Giveaway / JesstheticsLush goody bag contains Karma Bubble Bar, Avobath Bath Ballistic, Rose Jam Bubbleroon, Fizzbanger Bath Ballistic, Phoenix Bath Ballistic and Big Blue Bath Ballistic

To enter the giveaway you need to be following me on Bloglovin¬†or on WordPress Reader and leave a comment on this blog post with a method of contacting you if you win! This giveaway is open until midnight on the 28th February. Because it contains food, this giveaway is only open to UK readers (sorry!) Good luck everyone ūüôā

[Giveaway ends February 28th at 12:00 AM GMT. Open to Residents of the UK Mainland and UK Offshore Islands only.  Winner will be selected at random and be notified via the method provided. This giveaway is sponsored by Vegusto, Veggie Stuff and Absolute Vintage. The products offered for the giveaway are free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Bloglovin and WordPress are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone. I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.]

9

Veganuary – Five Favourites

I’ve been thinking about becoming vegan for a long time. I would be happy to eat eggs and drink milk from animals which I knew were happy and well looked after but the majority of the time that’s not the case or there’s no way of knowing, and since I’m a vegetarian for ethical reasons, becoming vegan makes sense. Plus, it’s good for the planet! I’d been putting it off because it sounded unpleasant (no cheese?!) and also difficult. I thought it would be hard or expensive to buy food at the supermarket and in restaurants. Me and James started veganuary when we moved back to York because it’s a good way to try out veganism without the commitment. I decided I would still eat my Christmas chocolate, and for now we both eat vegetarian meals in restaurants if there’s no vegan option. I believe it’s better to make changes like this gradually!

I’ve actually had a lot of fun cooking vegan food, and I’ve never felt hungry or restricted. In fact, we’ve been trying so many things, I’ve rarely eaten the same thing twice! I thought it would be fun to share with you my five favourite meals from January, and an overview of what we’ve been eating.

1. Sunday Roast! We ate nut roast, roast potatoes, mustard parsnips, broccoli, veggie sausages and lots of gravy.

veganuary 1

2. Peppered Tofu Steak. We baked and then grilled the tofu and ate it with sweet chilli sauce, grilled peppers, burger buns and a green salad.

veganuary 5

3. Quesadillas (recipe from Oh Dear Drea). We ate these with some avocado and vinegar.

veganuary 2

4. Burritos with veggie chilli. We spread vegan cream cheese on the tortillas and it was so tasty!

veganuary 4

5. Quinoa burgers (recipe from Delciously Ella). We ate these with home-made french fries, mushy peas and fried mushrooms (not a healthy combination but a tasty one…)

veganuary 3

For breakfast, we’ve been enjoying alpro yoghurt, fruit, maple syrup, and granola with vegan pancakes and cinnamon bagels on the weekend. For lunch I’ve been eating a lot of bagels with hummus, vegan cream cheese, tomato and basil or guacamole and James has been eating salads with pasta, rice or cous cous. For dinner, as well as my favourites we’ve been eating lots of curry and noodles, soup, pie, risotto, tapas, tacos and grilled vegetables.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! I’m definitely going to be vegan into February and beyond! If you’re still feeling nosy about what vegans eat my blogger buddy Laila wrote a brilliant post about food (here).

12

Environment and Ethics

I spent yesterday writing a new page, “Environment and Ethics” for the blog. Go and check it out! I just wanted to explain to you what it’s about and why I’ve introduced it. I use this blog to share my creative projects – I talk about food, clothes and DIY – but there’s another aspect of my life that’s been absent thus far. I spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to act towards reducing my negative impact on the world (and maybe even having a positive impact!) I don’t want my actions to cause harm to other people, animals, or the environment. Many of my beliefs are a product of the thinking I did during my Philosophy degree. See, Philosophy is a practical degree after all!

robin hood 1

Dressed in all vintage

I dream of working in the environment sector one day, but I also try to make a difference by altering my lifestyle. For example, I’m a vegetarian, I try not to support shops or companies who treat their employees badly, and I reuse and recycle where possible. Lots of my clothes are second-hand, and lots of my projects recycle old materials. I’ve come to realise that these two parts of my life –¬† my creative side and my commitment to living ethically and sustainably – are not all that separate. So much of what’s involved in making ethical and sustainable life choices requires creativity, and so many DIY projects have a positive impact! I’ve realised that this blog is a wonderful place to talk about ways to make one’s lifestyle more ethical and environmentally friendly.

Jam Jar Lanterns 3Making laterns from recycled materials!

So, there it is. I’ve created the Environment and Ethics page to highlight projects that are ethical and environmentally friendly. I had been worried about writing this page – I don’t want to sound preachy, or worse, like I think I know everything. Jessthetics is a place (hopefully) for sharing and inspiration, not a place for guilt or judgement! I am not always good at following my own rules, there are some things I’m not so sure about (I’ve kept my topshop/primark/leather clothes for example, even though I wouldn’t buy them from new anymore), and there are plenty of issues (probably more than I realise) that I’ve not even thought about. But all I can do is do my best! The introduction of this new page will document what I learn, and I hope you’ll stick around for the journey.

environment and ethics 2Making vegan pancakes!

P.S. Please let me know what you think! You can comment here, or feel free to drop me an email (jessthetics@gmail.com)!

5

How to cook with tofu: Crispy

My favourite way to cook tofu is to marinade it. However, it’s also really yummy when it’s cripsy. This way of cooking tofu is slightly less healthy but a lot quicker, and requires fewer ingredients than marinading! Recently, I had some crispsy tofu as part of a meze of lunch foods. You can see it at the bottom of my plate below my dolmades. I realise dolmades and tofu aren’t usually served together, but hey, you’ll never know if you don’t try it! I love dolmades, they go with everything. If you want to eat crispy tofu like a normal person, it’s delicious on top of a salad or a bowl of noodles. The cripsy tofu itself is vegan.

Cripsy Tofu 1

You will need:

Tofu
Flour
Soy Sauce
Oil

Crispy tofu 2

Step 1: If your tofu needs to be drained and firmed¬† up (if it does, it will say so on the packet!) I wrote some tips on how to do this here. If your tofu is called “firm” or “ready to eat” like mine, then you can skip this step!

Step 2: Mix a small bowl of one part water to two parts flour until it forms a paste. Roll around your tofu in it until it looks like this:

Crispy tofu 3

Step 3: Fill a frying pan with about an inch of oil, and put it on a high heat. When your oil has heated up, carefully place in the tofu. When it is golden brown on one side, turn it over and sprinkle on some soy sauce. When the tofu is golden brown all over, you are ready to serve!

Cripsy Tofu 4

Cripsy tofu 5

When I was cooking this at my parents house, we were having our kitchen re-done so my mum set us up a camp kitchen outside. It was kind of fun like camping, but mostly it ws cold, with no campfire songs or marshmallows. If I can make tofu on a camping stove, then anyone can do it!

What are your feelings about tofu?

6

What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta!

I’ve been a vegetarian for two years now, and I have (even if I do say so myself) a much more exciting and varied diet than most people think. Last year I couldn’t get enough of hearty food, and I was eating lots of chilly, curry, risotto and stew. Recently I just love anything that includes tofu or noodles. Yum! I am here to show you how to make spicy noodle soup. Because I am too busy (or too lazy..) to cook every day, I will make a huge pan of noodle soup, and freeze it so that I can have some whenever I’m too sleepy to spend time in the kitchen.

Noodle 1

One of the great things about this recipe is that it’s so flexible! You can use whatever vegetables / sauce / spices you like. I often substitute the mushrooms for some fried tofu. This recipe can also be vegan if you make sure that you are using vegan noodles.

(Serves 6-8)

You will need:
6 shallots
Two small green chillies
A palm-sized chunk of ginger
Two cloves of garlic
Vegetable stock cube
A mug of frozen peas
Half a punnet of mushrooms
Sesame Oil
Soy Sauce
A bunch of spring onions
A handful of coriander
Asafoetida (optional)
6 nests of noodles (If you are vegan, make sure to get the kind that doesn’t contain egg!)

Noodle 2

Step 1: Peel and chop the shallots, ginger and garlic. Chop up the chillies and onions. Fry together in a little sesame oil for about 5 minutes.

Noodle 3

Step 2: Transfer the vegetables into a large pan. Mix together the stock cube with 500ml of boiling water and add to the pan. Also add the peas, noodles and asafoetida spice, if you are using it. I have recently discovered this spice, and it’s so exciting, it has such an unusual flavour! At this stage, you can add whatever spices you fancy.

Step 3: Put the pan on a medium heat and simmer until the noodles and the peas are cooked.

Noodle 4

Step 4: Add four tablespoons of soy sauce, and four table spoons of  sesame oil and stirr well. Chop up the spring onions and coriander and add these.

And you’re finished! I hope you enjoy this recipe, what sort of food are you into at the moment?