Vegan Car Picnic

We’re on the road!

We think it will take us about four hours to get to Brighton. Now, on account of the fact that the boy and I think mostly of our stomachs, I would normally pack us a little picnic. However, as we stayed at Alice’s last night (of MorethanToast fame) we didn’t get chance to pack food in advance.

I was worried we would struggle to find good quality food for our journey at a service station (no, two packets of pringles, a fry’s peppermint cream and a can of diet coke do not qualify as a nutritious balanced lunch).

Good old M&S to the rescue:

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Accompanied by a gallon measure of soya latte:

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And we are both mobile and fed!

Now we could just do with the weather improving:

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Holidaaaaaayyyyyyyyy!

The boy and I are off work at the moment. We spent last week doing household chores (and napping, there was a lot of napping). This week, we were planning to hit the road in our camper van and explore the country but the weather has been somewhat apocalyptic and, to be honest, we’ve both been working super hard and feel like we need a bit of a treat.

So, we have, within the last six minutes, booked ourselves a three night stay here:

Kemp Townhouse: Five star reviews on TripAdvisor and happy to cook vegan. As much as I love our camper van, I think this is going to be a much more luxurious experience…..

I love Brighton, its been a few years since we were last there. I was super excited about eating at Terre a Terre which has to be one of the best veggie/vegan restaurants in the UK, if not the world. However, I’ve just gone on to their website and discovered they have had a fire and won’t now be open until the New Year, noooooooooooooo! If anyone has any recommendations for other vegan friendly eateries in Brighton, please let me know.

We’ve leaving tomorrow, I can’t wait…….

Bread Bowl Butter Bean Stew and a Crossfit Update

So, Week One of Crossfit Induction – done. I’m bruised and quite sore, but absolutely buzzing about this week.

I know Crossfit comes in for a bit of criticism for being a bit ‘culty’, but I can totally get why people really get into it: both as a way of working out and as a lifestyle. I have never worked out so hard, or in such a supportive environment.

As we’ve been doing the induction course there has never been less than four coaches on hand watching over our every move and making sure we’re nailing the techniques. There’s a real range of fitness amongst the inductees, the great thing is that the workout is adjusted to suit each one of us individually and once you’ve finished (and can breathe again) you cheer on the rest of the team.

On the flip side, I’ve genuinely never come so close to puking through exercise as I did that first monday night: kettle bells, box jumps and shuttle runs (in the rain) at 10.15pm…. bleurgh.

I can’t wait to finish the induction this Friday so that we can get WODing in the main gym every day.

Crossfit Week One : Yay, muscles!

Now, the most important thing for exercise? Fuel.

I feel as an ode to Crossfit that I should do some paleo-style recipe cooked on an open fire in a cave overlooking the plains of the Serengeti. But, I love bread, salt, oil and being vegan, so that’s not going to happen.

Bread Bowl Butter Bean Stew

Serves four

Bread Bowl Butter Bean Soup : Definitely Not Paleo

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain white flour (unbleached for my American friends, UK and EU don’t worry about it as we can’t get bleached flour)
  • 675 millilitres good strong vegetable stock
  • 400 grammes pre-soaked butter beans
  • 1/2 white cabbage, shredded then cut into 2 centimetre squares
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • Pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • Handful of fresh herbs, I just used thyme for today but this also works really well with a mix of thyme and chopped rosemary.
  • Four good sized crusty bread rolls (or cobs as we call them here in Nottingham)
  • Optional : 4 vegan sausages grilled and cut into two centimetre chunks. Linda McCartney sausages work especially well. If you’re not a fan of fake meat products, then just omit these – the dish stands well with just the cabbage and beans.

Method

If I’m honest, this dish is actually half way between a soup and a stew, but given that I’ve already done three soup recipes I’m concerned you guys are going to think I’m a one trick pony, so we’re just going to call it a stew and not question it further. If you want it to be more of a soup, add more stock, it’s that simple.

  1. Start by making a roux using the oil and flour. Traditionally roux is made with butter, which has a lower burning point than oil, when using oil you need to be careful not to get this too hot as this will adversely impact on the taste at best, and at worst congeal and burn the flour.  Heat the oil in a sauce pan and mix in the flour with a wooden spoon moving continuously. We’re making a ‘white roux’ which is the lightest of the roux styles and so you only need two – three minutes to cook off the flour. If the roux starts to stiffen too early, just start adding small amounts of stock to keep this nice and loose.
  2. Gradually add all of the stock to the pan, keep stirring continuously so that the roux doesn’t go lumpy.
  3. Bring the temperature up to a light simmer then throw in the butter beans, garlic and crushed chillies, simmer for six or seven minutes, add the cabbage, herbs and sausage and simmer for a further six or seven minutes or so until the cabbage is lovely and soft and the sauce is rich and creamy.
  4. In the mean time, cut the top off the rolls and use your fingers to pull out the bread from the lower section.
  5. Serve the stew in the bowls and replace the top to act as a lid.
  6. Viola! Don’t forget to eat the bowls thereby significantly reducing the washing up.

Holy Moly : There’s millions of you out there

Is it ok to talk about your stats when you blog? Or is it one of those unwritten rules that you’re meant to be so cool that you don’t notice how many people read your blog?

Oh, who cares: I check my stats.

So I was pretty freakin’ excited to realise that I just had my best two days ever with literally millions and millions of you visiting me.

I figured it was because I posted about shoes, because that’s the kind of thing that would get my attention too.

But then I found out it was because this happened:

My Best Friends Blog

Yes, my wonderful friend Alice has written about HFTB on her blog, MorethanToast.

As it transpires, the thing a blogging girl needs more in her life than shoes, is an Alice. She does wonders for your stats.

So, to my fabulous amazing friend, who quite genuinely was the reason I got into blogging in the first place:

  1. Thank you for the big up on your blog and the resultant deluge of visitors I have had; and
  2. I have just ordered a huge case of vegan wine and we are going to get trollied and talk about Twilight drink responsibly and have a great intellectual catch up when I see you this weekend.

To everyone else, quick, go read Alice’s blog, it’s brilliant (and I’m not just saying that because she’s my BFF).

Mwah!

A Dirty Dilemma: To soap or not to soap, that is the question…..

My journey into veganism has been a real eye opener. I was not a strict vegetarian but I am a strict vegan. This means that I do my utmost to keep all animal products out of my life.

When people ask me what the hardest thing about being vegan is, my honest answer is: shoes and handbags.

I love shoes and handbags.

Really, really, love them. In a slightly disturbing, sometimes want to lick them, kind of way. The range of shoes and handbags available when you chose not to wear leather is seriously curtailed. My credit card balance does not view this as a bad thing.

Myyyyy precciiouuuusssssssss
(Animal free shoes courtesy of Dorothy Perkins)

I have made some pretty daft errors since I turned vegan in January: a puffa jacket that I didn’t realise was down-filled until I’d been wearing it for three weeks, a woollen jumper (I know! I didn’t think about the whole sheep thing either) and carrying on eating crunchy nut cornflakes for six weeks before the fact that they’re covered in honey caught my attention (I promise I am normally very good at label reading – I think I just got so excited that lactose wasn’t listed in the allergens section that I forgot to check the rest of the ingredients).

But this weekend I was out for dinner, took a trip to the bathroom, went to wash my hands and this happened:

Ok, I admit it, by the time I took this picture I may have had one too many, hence the lack of focus. For those unable to read through my beer glasses, this soap proudly contains milk and honey. Nnnnggghhh. Cue: unexpected vegan dilemma.

Argghhhhh, what to do, what to do, what to do?

Principals and dirty, bacteria-ridden, hands? Or, clean hands and a dirty conscience?

Honestly? I soaped. I’m sure there are some hardcore Big Vs out there who will think that that was the wrong thing to do.

From now on I’m going to be one of those OCD people who takes hand sanitizer everywhere……..

T-day: Minus one

Ok, so I know that I genuinely run the risk of losing half my readership at this point. But I don’t believe in doing one of those blogs where you only get the polished version of me. Nope, you lucky people get me warts and all, not just a super-slick, instagrammed, only-ever-doing-cool-things, me.

Yes, I believe in honest blogging. So, here goes:

I am sooooo freaking excited about the new twilight movie coming out tomorrow.

I am going to make you feel even worse about this by confirming that:

  • Yes, I am an (early!) thirty something woman;
  • Yes, I know there is something weird about a vegan liking vampires;
  • Yes, I am aware the book is not a stunning piece of literature and there are a million other books that are better written;
  • Yes , Jacob did sound a bit like Scooby-Doo on crack in the last movie; and
  • Yes, I get that the protagonist basically sets back the feminist cause by approximately one hundred years.

And do you know what: I don’t care!

I love the books, I love the movies, I love K-stew, R-pats and Taylor Lautner (who I suddenly feel sorry isn’t called T-Laut).

Me, not caring at all that I love twilight.
Ok, fine, I admit it, its K-Stew. I just wanna beeee her!

Unfortunately work and family commitments mean that I won’t get to see the movie until next week, but I can’t promise that I won’t see it twice. So judge me all you want, be disappointed in me, shake your head and tut a little because:

About three things I am absolutely positive:

First, I am old enough to know better. Second, There’s a part of me – and I don’t know how potent that part might be – that thirsts for Robert Pattinson. And third, I am unconditionally and irrevocably in love with Twilight.

(btw: if you get that last paragraph then you’re as big a twi-hard as I am – yay. If you didn’t, just try to forgive me).

Finally, I really do promise I will do some proper vegan blogging soon

Mwah Mwah x

WOD One

Now I’m guessing my readers are going to fall into two categories at this point:

Firstly those of you who read the title to this post and went : ‘eh?’

Then those of you who read the title to this post and went : ‘oh yeah, crossfit baby, woop woop, high five, back slap, grrrrr’

Crossfit has been around for a while now, in its own words it is : ‘constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity’. As I understand it it combines weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics and cardio. There are some awesome YouTube clips displaying the skills of some the top Crossfit athletes or try this one that gives an overview of the whole thing.

WOD stands for ‘workout of the day’ and is one of the core things around which Crossfit is structured.

I’ve been wanting to give Crossfit a go since I heard that a Crossfit gym had opened up in Nottingham, but I was worried that I wasn’t fit enough and that I’d be the only girl.

Fortunately, Mr HFTB has been along to scope out the joint and has reported accordingly that 1. There’s tonnes of girls 2. Those girls are awesome and 3. Yep, I’m probably going to be the least fit person there even though I think I workout like a badass.

But you know what? How am I going to get that fit if I don’t get myself down there?

In the words of Ronnie Coleman : ‘Every body wanna be a body builder, nobody wants to lift this heavy ass weight : I do though!’

For the record I’m not a body builder, but I do love this quote. It applies to everything you want to achieve in life: if you want to do something, if you want to be something, there’s no point sitting around and hoping it will happen, you got to get out there and make it happen.

I want to be the fittest I’ve ever been, I want to surprise myself with the strength and durability of my body, I also, quite vainly, want to look in the mirror and feel proud of my reflection.

So people, tonight will see me do my very first Crossfit ‘WOD’.

Wish me luck and remember, if you don’t hear from me for the rest of the week, it’s not because I don’t care, it’ll just be because I’m a little bit broken….

NOTES : Guys, I’m not quite sure what happened with this post. It was published today (12 November). I published it via my mobile and somehow it published for yesterday (11 November) – I’m a techno-drip and therefore have no idea how I managed to achieve this. So, I’ve tried to re-publish and hopefully it will come out for the right day. Needless to say, I did not manage both a hangover and my first Crossfit Induction on the same day……