Wednesday Wants: More for the garden

Whilst I was looking for garden tools for last week’s Wednesday Wants post, I came across so many other lovely gardeny things that I just had to write another post about some of the things I’ve found! As I mentioned, we’ll soon be moving to a new home, and as we’re finally buying (yippee!) we can really make it our own and invest some real effort into the garden. There’ll be lots of planting and re-arranging I’m sure, but I’d also love some pretty furniture and other things to go out there….hence this list!…..

I just adore festoon lights, and I’d love to drape them all across the garden for evenings outside.

I can’t wait to get back into composting again….and this composter has to be the cutest out there. I’d love to have bees too, so I’d have to be careful not to confuse the two!

I am *always* losing track of time in the garden, so I very much need a big clock out there to remind me!

I love to watch the birds and plan to have lots of places for them to nest and feed. I love the copper roof on this feeder, which is nice and open so I can see what they’re doing, but they also feel safe out of sight of bigger birds above!

I’ve always wanted a cast iron garden furniture set and I think it will work perfectly in our new garden (and look stunning sitting on the Yorkstone terrace!). This set features a lovely long table, perfect for barbecues and garden parties, as well as a parasol for those of us who burn easily! The chairs come complete with super comfy pads, and are even stackable!

I’m just imagining sitting there, gin in hand, with the smell of the wisteria in the air…..I cant WAIT!

Ems x

Foodie Friday: Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe

One of the big benefits of our recent move has been our proximity to Costco. I know. What a loser. But I’m totally in love with the place. I love wandering around seeing what totally random things they’re selling (a hot tub, a wooden castle, multi packs of Sharpies, TVs bigger than a car….) and honing in on the bargains on offer. Their own-brand stuff is just wonderful….the Kirkland maple syrup is some of the best I’ve ever had, and their vodka is terrific!

They also have some really great organic and whole-food offerings now too, and we’re now getting all our pasta there as well as buying organic virgin coconut oil in bulk. Whilst wandering the aisles there recently we came across a bumper pack of organic coconut flour. Noticing that it’s gluten free and you can use it as a substitute for regular flour, we thought we’d give it a whirl.

Apparently, coconut flour is one of the healthiest available…. because it’s not grain-based like most flour, it is non-inflammatory like those which contain gluten, and is also very low in carbs. The fats are of the more healthy kind (as with coconut oil they are primarily medium-chain saturated fatty acids or ‘MCTs’) and have been shown to improve metabolism, being used up for energy, not stored in fatty tissue. It is also high in fibre, which helps fill you up!

Whilst looking up what we could do with our coconut flour, we found that a little goes a long way….you can’t use it as a straight substitute for regular flour for this reason, and it also requires more liquid. There are however lots of great recipes out there, especially for cakes and breads….and why not use it to make a more-healthy-than-usual treat?!

As we were off to a friend’s birthday party around the time we bought the flour, and especially as that friend is wheat intolerant, we decided to bake her a birthday chocolate cake! We scoped out some recipes, and actually baked the cake a second time to perfect this recipe. I’m pretty pleased with it now though, and as it’s made up of ingredients we tend to always have in, I know that it will be a bit of a staple when a baking session is in order!

The texture of the cake is very even….nicely moist but also solid enough to comfortably eat a slice without necessarily needing a plate and fork. Initially it wasn’t sweet enough for me, which is why I tweaked the recipe….now though it is wonderfully velvety and chocolatey, not too sickly but also very satisfying. Especially when you consider it’s so quick and easy to make, plus low in carbs and naughty sugars!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

Ingredients:

30g good quality cocoa
35g coconut flour (ours is made by Nutiva)
7g baking powder (gluten free if you’re gluten intolerant)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
4  free range eggs
3 tablespoons organic honey
3 tablespoons grade A maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60ml melted virgin coconut oil

For the icing:

approx. 5 tablespoons softened virgin coconut oil
approx. 3 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
approx. 2 tablespoons organic honey
approx. 2 tablespoons grade A maple syrup

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

 How to make it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 c and grease and line a 15cm diameter baking tin
  2. Mix together the cocoa (which you may need to sift), coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt
  3. Fold in the eggs, honey, vanilla and oil
  4. Mix well until smooth….you will find it takes on an almost mousse-like texture
  5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
  6. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack whilst you make the icing
  7. Combine the oil, cocoa, honey and maple syrup using a metal spoon
  8. Depending on the temperature (coconut oil has a very high melting temperature) you may find you want to add more oil or cocoa, and you can also add more honey or syrup to taste, depending on how sweet a tooth you have
  9. You can pop the icing in the fridge to cool it down if it’s too runny, or warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds if it’s too hard….then once you have it to a nice soft fudgey consistency, cut the cake in half horizontally and sandwich together the two parts with icing
  10. Then just use the rest of the icing to coat the assembled cake (it’s so quick and easy to make that you can always make a bit more if you run out), slice and enjoy!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

I bet this cake would work wonderfully with some raspberries and creme fraiche or yoghurt, although we very much enjoyed it on its own. The icing is pretty handy to make a nice chocolate fudge sauce for ice cream or whatever too, as you can make it all runny and gooey by heating it up.

Next I plan to try a banana bread with the coconut flour….I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants: tools for my new garden

Well I think most of us enjoyed a rather nice show of sun last week. And whilst it’s not quite as exquisite as it was, the rumours of a coming heatwave and the recent memory of blue skies and warmth have me thinking of being outdoors.

There’s the added factor that with our impending house move, I’m starting to think about our lovely new garden. I got really into my gardening when we had a rather large outdoor space to tend to in Hitchin, but knowing we wouldn’t be in this house for long I’ve not really invested any time in the garden here. I can’t wait to get my hands on my very own, ‘forever’ garden though, and that’s got me thinking (as I do) about shopping for exciting things to help me make it beautiful…..

OK, so I already have a little Haws watering can (in a pretty powder blue), but I think this copper one is rather special. It is said that you can improve the quality of water by bringing it into contact with copper, so this can is sure to help my plants along. Plus it’s really shiny and pretty. Just because it’s for the garden, it doesn’t mean I have to be *completely* practical!

And because I’m aiming for some pretty impressive boarders as well as smaller pots, I’m going to need something a little heftier to help me water in bulk. This nine litre galvanised can with copper trim has a top and a back handle, to help feeble little me pick it up and dispense the water more easily.

And keeping with the copper theme….The PKS bronze (aka copper and tin) tools are made to last a lifetime. The Castor trowel has a smooth beech handle and pointed, heart-shaped blade. The sharp edge and scoop shape make it a most practical trowel for general weeding and planting. And yes, again, isn’t it pretty?!

I’ve never really gone in for more specialised tools before, but I have to say that something to help me with those tricky bits of stray grass and weeds would be a God-send. The PKS Tabit weeding tool is specifically designed for lifting perennial weeds such as creeping buttercup and small clumps of grass without disturbing the surrounding plants. The pronged point gets underneath the roots, then using the rounded underside you can lever the interloper out!

Er, yeah, so I’m really into copper right now. Anyway, I love to label pretty much anything that stands still long enough. I’m the proud owner of not one, but four label makers, and so it only seems fitting that I get to label the garden too. These copper ‘Tee’ labels by Burgon and Ball are easy to engrave using a ball point pen, plus the copper helps to repel pests such as slugs. Bonus!

I’ve always bought cheap secateurs in the past, which is a total false economy as they don’t last long at all. There’s also the issue of my feeble little hands, which really struggle with pruning, but I’ve found that a pair of ratchet pruners could help me immensely. These ones by Darlac have a slim profile, perfect for my small hands, and the squeeze/release action reduces effort by up to a third. And they’re gold. Gold.

Not all pruning requires such hard-core toolage though, and for the more delicate plants, dead-heading and flower arranging, these mini snips look great. They work like embroidery snips and come in a handy pocket size, perfect for well, keeping in your pocket!

I bought a kneeler to use in our last garden, and used it precisely once.  The problem is that you have to move it around with you, and I’m so forgetful I just ended up leaving it behind each time I moved. Plus I usually have my hands full whilst gardening, so something that’s actually attached to me sounds like a much better idea! These leather knee pads are made in Shropshire from carefully selected British leather, and feature a soft lining to cushion your knees as you work. They are attached to an elasticated velcro band to make them easy to get on and off, as well as fit anyone (even me with my chubby knees), and are built to last a lifetime.

And on the subject of forgetfulness, if I got a penny for every time I lost my tools in the garden, I’d be able to afford to pay Monty Don to come and work for me full time. Enter this tool pouch, which you wear as a belt around the waist so you always have your most-used tools with you. I’d keep my nice bronze trowel in the main back pocket and my secatuers in that handy pointed pocket at the front.

 

Whilst shopping I also came across lots of wonderful non-tool things for the garden too….so perhaps I’ll share those next week!

 

Do you have a garden? Do you have any tips or recommendations?

 

Ems x

 

 

Tuesday Tutorial: Glitter Name Bunting

Glitter Name Bunting Tutorial by Under a Glass Sky

Yes, you’re right, my last tutorial was about glitter too. But then glitter is worthy of repetition.

A trend has been emerging with my recent crafting projects….glitter. And why the heck not? After all, glitter is the quintessential crafting supply, and everything is better with a good sprinkle of the stuff.

I bought a stash of glitter card ages ago, and did the usual thing of ‘saving it for something special’. And what could be more special than my niece’s first birthday?! Having decided I wanted to make something glittery for her, I thought about what a one year old could best make use of…..she’s mostly pointing at me and laughing right now though, and doesn’t seem to be in need of anything other than whatever food is out of her reach, so I opted for for something to decorate her bedroom. And because (I think it’s fair to say) I’m pretty bunting obsessed, that’s what my first thought ran to!

You don’t need any crazy equipment or mad skills for this DIY, but it does take some precision and patience. The result is pretty rewarding though I think!

Glitter Name Bunting Tutorial by Under a Glass Sky

What you will need:

  • Glitter card
  • Wooden pennants with pre-drilled holes (enough for each letter of the name)
  • Mod Podge or PVA glue
  • Ribbon (enough to go across the width of each pennant, plus about 30cm extra)
  • A plastic spatula
  • Craft knife or scalpel
  • Metal rule
  • A pencil
  • Small scissors

How to make it:

  • Place your first pennant on the back of a piece of glitter card and trace around it with a pencil as close as you can get
  • Cut the glitter card with scalpel and ruler or scissors if you prefer, and check it up against the pennant to see that it fits
  • Now give the pennant a good generous coat of glue….it’s better to have too much on there than too little
  • Carefully place the glitter card onto the pennant, squaring it up quickly before the glue dries to ensure all the edges are aligned
  • Press firmly down on the card so that any excess glue comes out at the sides
  • Use the spatula to remove this excess by sliding the flat edge along the side of the pennant….this will also help to nicely seal the edges
  • Repeat this for all your pennants and then set them aside to dry for a couple of hours
  • Whilst you wait, cut out your letters from the glitter card…..I used the pencil to draw onto the back of the card then cut around that, but remember to draw in reverse
  • Once the newly glittered pennants are dry, arrange them in the order you’d like them and offer up each letter to check that the colours contrast well enough to see them
  • Apply glue to the back of your first letter, again using plenty as you’ll need a good coat to get in between the bumpy glittery surface
  • Carefully place the letter on the pennant, check you’re happy with the positioning, and press down firmly
  • Again, use the spatula to remove any excess, although don’t worry too much as the glue will dry clear
  • Repeat for each pennant and allow to dry well, preferably over night
  • Now you just need to thread the pennants together by cutting through the glitter card to reveal the hole in the wood with the scalpel, and posting the ribbon through each hole of each pennant, then moving on to the next
  • Finally, tie a knot in each end to stop the pennants moving about, and you’re done!

If you find it tricky to get hold of some wooden pennants (I got mine from an online craft shop who sell lots of laser cut MDF shapes) you could always cut them yourself from foamex.

I also made a single pennant with a star shape on it for a friend’s birthday, and of course you could apply any pattern to your bunting, or even just leave it plain in all its glittery glory!

Happy glittering!

Ems x

 

Something from the weekend, and my “Not Cross Bun” recipe

Did you have a lovely Easter break? I certainly did! It was just wonderful to have a four day weekend, especially with the gorgeous weather.

We spent Good Friday baking…..a coconut flour chocolate cake which I’ll share with you later in the week, and also some yummy ‘Not Cross Buns’ (my version of Hot Cross Buns!). I was rather pleased with them and thought I’d share the recipe with you, as they’re too delicious just to have around Easter!

Not Cross Buns (Hot Cross Bun) recipe by Under a Glass Sky

Ingredients:

  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 250g plain white flour (we used gluten free)
  • 125ml warm water
  • 125ml warm organic semi-skimmed milk
  • 5g powdered dried yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 1 medium free-range egg
  • 50g organic butter
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp orange liqueur (or orange juice for a non-alcoholic version)
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • Syrup for glazing (we used the syrup from a jar of stem ginger, but golden, maple syrup or even honey are fine too)

To Make:

  1. The night before you want to bake, pop the fruit in a shallow bowl with the orange liqueur or juice and soak overnight
  2. Ideally in a food mixer, combine the flour, water, milk, yeast, salt and sugar in the bowl and fit the dough hook. Add the egg and butter and mix to a sticky dough. You can of course do this by hand, although it will be a bit more work!
  3. Add the dried fruit and spice, then knead on low speed until well mixed. Again, you can do this by hand, but flour your hands as the mixture will be sticky!
  4. Now cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.
  5. Next, ‘knock back’ the risen dough and divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape into rounds and dust with flour, placing on a floured baking tray before covering again with cling film and leave to prove for about half an hour. You can now pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 so it’s ready when your buns need to go in.
  6. Once ready, bake the buns in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool. You can brush them as they cool with the syrup to create a nice golden-glazed finish.
  7. Serve them warm if you like, or split and toast before smothering in butter!

Not Cross Buns (Hot Cross Bun) recipe by Under a Glass Sky

 

On Saturday we took the short trip into Harrogate with some dear friends. We first visited Baltzersen’s cafe which is on Oxford Street. It prides itself in its offering the best Yorkshire-sourced ingredients prepared with Scandinavian inspiration. The space itself is charmingly Scandic, with simple furnishings and quirky trimmings. I ordered the Lapskaus, a Norwegian lentil and root vegetable stew, which was super. Adam went for the soup of the day, and our friends chose from the sandwich menu, all of it looking yummy.

After that we explored the wonderful Royal Pump Room Museum which exhibits the history of the spa town, as well as some other interesting bits and pieces….there’s currently a small collection of small temporary exhibitions, including ‘The Clothes We Wore’, ‘Inside the Victorian Jewellery Box’, and ‘A Town At War’. It’s well worth a visit (only £4 entry for adults) although you can sadly no longer taste the healing waters that made the town what it is, due to health and safety precautions!

Finally we made the necessary pilgrimage to Betty’s Tea Rooms for coffee and cake. Well, in my case Champagne and cake! We took a lovely table in the Montpelier Bar (which I love as it reminds me of the cafes in Vienna, and you don’t have to queue so long as for the afternoon tea rooms!) and I decided to make the most of it by ordering a Moutard Rose (one of my all time favourite Champagnes) as well as the miniature patisserie selection. It was all delicious as usual and our friends enjoyed their first visit there too!

That evening we all ordered a take out back at our place and Adam made us a few cocktails whilst we watched a Liam Neeson action/thriller film I forget the name of!

Harrogate: Betty's, The Royal Pump Room, Baltzersen's, by Under a Glass Sky

On Sunday we had a leisurely breakfast with our house guests, then went for a lovely walk up on Baildon Moor, which overlooks the village we’re moving to in the next few months. It was such a glorious day and we became even more excited about the impending move….not least on Adam’s part because there are ice cream vans stationed at the car parks there!

Baildon Moor, by Under a Glass Sky

On Monday we drove up into North Yorkshire to meet more dear friends in the pretty village of Leyburn. We had a very nice pub lunch then went on a charming five mile walk to a nearby waterfall. We couldn’t believe the weather (I had taken my big insulated coat, which got left behind in the car!) and were all very eager to get a cup of tea and some cake back in the village at the end!

Leyburn, by Under a Glass Sky

On the way home we stopped off at Brymor, which is a wonderful dairy and ice cream cafe not far from Middleham. I opted for a sugar cone filled with raspberry and pineapple ice creams, which were just divine! Adam chose the elderflower and St Clements flavours which were delicious too. The perfect way to end a splendid weekend!

Ems x

 

Wednesday Wants… Easter eggs and other gift ideas

For weeks now I’ve been ogling the supermarket shelves as they’ve filled up with rows on rows of Easter treats. There’s no worse time of the year for chocolate temptation, in my opinion….as much as Christmas tends to bring with it more than its fair share of chocolatey goodness, there are so many other treats on offer that chocolate pales in comparison. We’ve already eaten our first Cream Eggs (keenly lamenting the loss of their traditional recipe), and scoffed more than one bag of Mini Eggs, which are clearly the work of the devil due to their temptation factor.

As usual though, I’m also massively drawn to pretty packaging, and I just adore the look of some of the more ‘luxury’ type of Easter treats. None more so than Booja Booja‘s Easter Collection which looks simply divine….

Featuring hand-painted, papier-maché Easter eggs made in Kashmir, each is hand-packed in Norfolk with delicious chocolate truffles in several flavours. If you’ve not tried Booja Booja chocolates before, I highly recommend that you do. And once you have, I bet you’ll find it hard to believe that they’re vegan, and free of gluten, dairy and soya.

The truffles are seriously luxurious, rich and dreamy and melt-in-the-mouth. You can choose from Hazelnut Crunch, Around Midnight Espresso, Banoffee Toffee, Almond and Sea Salt Caramel, or Fine de Champagne. Small eggs, which include three truffles are £9.99, whilst the large eggs, which contain twelve truffles, are £24.99. Plus of course you get to keep the beautiful egg once you’ve finished off the contents, and use it to hoard treasures and trinkets!

Booja Booja Hazelnut Crunch Easter Egg, Under A Glass Sky

Booja Booja ‘Hazelnut Crunch’ Easter Egg

Booja Booja 'Around Midnight Espresso' Easter Egg, Under A Glass Sky

Booja Booja ‘Around Midnight Espresso’ Easter Egg

Booja Booja 'Banoffee Toffee ' Easter Egg, Under A Glass Sky

Booja Booja ‘Banoffee Toffee ‘ Easter Egg

If you’re trying to kerb your chocolate consumption though, perhaps try this yummy sounding lip balm from Sweet Cecily’s. The entire range is hand-made and natural, paraben and SLS free, and never tested on animals. This one even looks like a chocolate bar….but with the advantage that it won’t go straight to your hips!

If you really must ditch the chocolate entirely though, I think these adorable egg cups by Quail Ceramics are a perfect Easter treat. I’ve long since lusted after their adorable animal inspired treasures, and these three are just so perfect for a Spring breakfast spread.

And because it’s not *all* about food (well, almost), I think this super cute trinket dish would make an adorable Easter gift. Just look at that podgy little bunny, waiting to tidy up your treasures! He’d be a lovely addition to a dressing table, or would be perfect to pop next to the sink for when you need to take your rings off!

I hope you have a lovely Easter filled with whatever treats tickle your fancy!

Ems x

Global Tribe Cafe, Leeds

We’ve hardly been into Leeds really since we moved….most free weekends have been spent adventuring around the kind of places we were thinking of moving to, and looking at houses. We decided to pop into town on the train for a few hours though, the weekend before last, mostly because Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair was taking place at the Corn Exchange (we used to love going to the one held in Spitalfields Market when we lived near). After some treasure hunting and a stop off at the amazing organic food shop opposite the Corn Exchange, we decided to head for lunch at Global Tribe Cafe…..and I think it’s safe to say it’ll draw us back to Leeds much more often!

The unassuming cafe is located above the Global Tribe Crystal shop on Swan Street, opposite the City Varieties Music Hall. It’s extremely purple inside, and super friendly with an open kitchen. We were very lucky and got a table right away, but the place is clearly very popular and several people had to wait or come back to try their luck again.

Vegan Autumnal Pie at Global Tribe Cafe, Leeds

Vegan Autumnal Pie at Global Tribe Cafe, Leeds

The menu is seasonal, and jam packed with things I want to try…..most things are available as a vegan option (if they’re not already) and they also have lots of gluten free options too. Being the pie fiend that I am, I opted for the Autumnal Vegan Pie….the pastry was perfect and the filling delicious, plus the garlic kale and sauteed potatoes were just divine. Oh, and I also got my very own boat of gravy….just perfect! Adam went for the Vegan Jambalaya with Cajun Patties, which was equally yummy, and for drinks we both chose the chocolate milkshake made with coconut milk (you can also choose from soya, almond or dairy milk).

Vegan Jambalaya at Global Tribe Cafe, Leeds

Vegan Jambalaya at Global Tribe Cafe, Leeds

The service was friendly and efficient, so that along with the several other dishes I want to try will certainly see us returning for more!

Ems x

The Cheerful Chilli Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant, Otley

The Cheerful Chilli Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant and Tea Rooms, Otley Chevin, West Yorkshire

When we first moved to Yorkshire, I did the usual thing of scouring the social networks to find local people and businesses in order to get a feel for the area and find out what’s going on. And when I found that one of the most recommended local restaurants was vegetarian, I was super pleased. I’ve often struggled when eating out, because I tend not to eat meat out (other than when I really know where it’s come from) and I get pretty hacked off when the vegetarian choices are precisely the opposite….a list of one, which means I have no choice at all. Things are further complicated by the fact that my husband doesn’t eat mushrooms or beetroot, which seem to be the staple for many chefs trying to feed veggies. Oh and a salad isn’t a meal…..just because I want to eat veggie doesn’t mean I’m on a health kick! (End rant)

Anyways, pretty excited about the massive choice on offer, we visited The Cheerful Chilli soon after we arrived. It’s a small, family run place, situated on top of the beautiful Chevin Forest Park in an old farm building. It’s fairly casual (no table cloths) but you need to book well in advance if you want to go on a Saturday night as the place is clearly very popular. We’ve now been three times….twice for dinner and once for lunch….and I can thoroughly recommend it.

The menu is varied, although there is a slight Mexican slant….the chilli is their ‘house dish’ and if, like me, your’e into your chimichangas, fajitas, tacos and enchiladas, you won’t be disappointed! From the dinner menu our favourites are the sharing platter starter (seriously yummy and HUGE), the blue cheese burger (yes, this is made from mostly blue cheese, held together with a few breadcrumbs and then topped with melted cheddar!) and the tacos (super tasty and mega satisfying). The puddings are also to die for…the ice cream is home made and AMAZING, and the Chocolate Nemesis is divine.

The lunch menu changes weekly….we loved the vegetarian lasagne and the Moroccan tagine. You can actually visit just for coffee and cake at the weekends (the only time it’s open during the day) and I defy anyone not to enjoy their chocolate Guinness cake, which is clearly a gift from the Gods.

The restaurant offers Bring Your Own Bottle, although their wine list is very reasonable and there are also some great soft drinks to choose from. You can also buy dishes to take away, and they even have a stall at Otley Farmers’ Market too!

It’s a great place to go with friends or family….everything is pretty relaxed and you won’t be stared at for getting a bit noisy and enjoying yourself! We’ve been really impressed by the great value and generous portions (one has to be very careful if hoping to fit in a pudding!) as well as delighted with the choice. There is a good range of vegan dishes, as well as a banquet menu for larger groups. All in all, well worth a visit if you’re in West Yorkshire!

Ems x

Roots and Fruits Vegetarian Cafe, Leeds

Roots and Fruits Vegetarian Cafe, Grand Arcade, Leeds

I was lucky enough to get chance to meet up with an old school friend who was in Leeds for work recently, and decided to take the opportunity to try out Roots and Fruits, a veggie cafe that had been recommended to me….and it didn’t disappoint!

For a start, I adore Leeds’ beautiful arcardes. I love the glass-fronted shops and cafes, and the nostalgia and elegance of it all. Roots and Fruits is a charming little place which sits beautifully in the Grand Arcade, right in the town centre. The space is bright and airy, cheerfully decorated and informal.

We were welcomed by the friendly Kay, co-owner, and after nattering away finally picked from the ample menu choices, which included daily specials. Although tempted by the burger of the day (yes, they do a burger of the day!!), I opted for the lasagne…..partly because it’s something I don’t often make at home (SO much washing up) and partly because it contained mushrooms (which I don’t get to eat a lot at home because Adam hates them!). It’s actually made with feta as well as cheddar, which made for a super creamy bechamel. It was pretty dreamy actually, and mega filling…so much so that I had to forgo pudding and opted for coffee instead (which was pretty good too).

The cafe is open from 11am until 7pm (it’s a shame it doesn’t open later) and I know I’ll be back often….next time I’ll try the burger of the day and try to save room for churros and hot chocolate afterwards!

Ems x

Meat Free Week

As you’ve probably seen on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere already, this week is Meat Free Week! The global campaign is challenging us all to give up meat for the week, to get us thinking about how much meat we eat, and the impact of that on our health, the environment and animal welfare. It’s not just about red meat (beef, lamb and pork), but all meat, including poultry, processed meat (like ham, bacon, salami and packaged sandwich meats), fish and seafood.

Going meat free for one week is a really positive step for anyone; The hope being that for the other 51 weeks of the year you’ll consider eating smaller portions or fewer meat-based meals as part of a balanced diet, and also ensure that the meat, fish, eggs or poultry you eat is ethically and sustainably produced. I’ve written about my feelings on meat-eating before, and because this means I eat very little meat (those ‘meat-free mondays’ actually work better in opposite in our house as we’re only really likely to eat meat once a week!) I suppose this week will be relatively easy for me.

And that’s why I thought I’d share a load of recipes to encourage you to take part, and to show you how easy it is to eat meat free….really well! I adore my food, and I love meat and fish and all the rest, but because I am now very picky about these (in terms of welfare mostly) the increased cost means that it’s more of a treat than a staple. I’m sure that this has benefitted my health which is of course a bonus too.

Anyway, for our main meal today (we have this at lunch time, with a lighter supper later) I made a super delicious dish that took only ten minutes and didn’t require any special ingredients at all (in fact, all stuff we had in the fridge already). I cut a courgette into small cubes, and finely chopped up a small white onion (both from our excellent organic veg box from a local farm), frying them both in a knob of butter until soft and golden.

I then whipped up a simple four cheese sauce, by melting another knob of butter in a pan and adding a small carton of organic single cream. I grated in some of the AMAZING smoked Mrs Kirkham’s Lanchashire I bought at a farm shop recently, some organic mature cheddar, organic parmesan, and a little left over goats cheese that needed using up. Once that was all nice and melty, I thickened with a little sauce flour and cooked some fresh gnocchi in a second pan. Then it was just a case of combining the veg, cheese sauce and gnocchi…serving it up and scoffing the lot! SO quick and easy…..very satisying….and of course, meat free!

Well hopefully that’s enough to whet your appetite, and perhaps you’d also like to try some of these recipes to enjoy a week of meat free meals…..

I hope that gives you some inspiration to go meat free for the week….if you’d like any more ideas or advice please do leave a comment as I’d love to encourage anyone to join in!

You can sign up to the campaign here….. Good luck, and enjoy!

Ems x