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

Mothering Sunday Embroidered Card Project

You may have read that I’ve recently taken up embroidery, and have been learning some new techniques and stitches as I go along. And because I’m enjoying it so much, I decided my next project would be a sort of embroidered Mothers Day card for my lovely Mummy. 

I had some nice pale pink cotton casement off cuts in my fabric box, and opted for shades of green and orange which are my Mummy’s favourite for for the silks. Having quickly sketched out a design on a scrap of paper, I pinned this to the back of my fabric which I’d stretched into an embroidery hoop, then traced the design onto the fabric. I used some of the stitches I learned whilst making my little bear plushy from the Mollie Makes kit, including a chain stitch for the lettering. I did the same again for the message on the back, then stretched both pieces back to back into a hoop, adding a satin ribbon for hanging to the top.

I’m rather pleased with the result, and my Mummy loves it!

I hope you’re having a nice Mothering Sunday,

Ems x

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British Pie Week, and my regular Friday Pie-day!

I never needed an excuse to eat pie. I’ve loved pie since very young, and I have fond memories of burning my tongue on scalding hot pie filling erupting from freshly made Wrights Pies (a delicacy of my native Stoke on Trent!). My all time favourite dish my Mummy cooks is her incredible mince meat pie and onion gravy….one day I will perfect it!

But in case unlike me you need an excuse, or perhaps the humble pie isn’t something you often opt for (I won’t hold it against you, promise), you may be interested to hear that we are currently in the middle of British Pie Week! Conceived to share the pie love, promote this wonderful British dish and to show people new and wonderful recipes, Pie Week is a perfect time to indulge in something yummy and pastry-encrusted!

Now we have a bit of a tradition in our house…..Friday Pie-day! Whilst we sometimes swap out for Fish Friday, we very often like to scoff a home made pie on a Friday….a sort of ‘you made it through the week!’ treat, and a way to use up whatever ingredients we may have languishing at the back of the fridge to boot!

For me, pie is best served with a creamy mash, but gravy is an absolute MUST (another Potteries, or perhaps Midlands thing I think!). But beyond that, anything goes in my book! I often use up the end of a ham in a pie with cheese sauce and leeks….I adore a fish pie….and anything with a mashed potato topping is a grand idea as far as I’m concerned (cottage pie and shepherds pie feature heavily).

We’ve recently taken up a new organic vegetable box subscription though, from nearby St Helen’s Farm in Tadcaster, and so this week I’ve had some squash that I need to use up. I visited Fodder in Harrogate yesterday and came away with a log of Yellison Goats Cheese which is also made nearby in Skipton. So along with some other things I needed to use up, I made up a tasty pie filling in a rich tomato-based sauce.

It always feels quite rewarding to home-make a pie, but it’s really the easiest thing. I like making pies when we have guests as I can pre-prepare the filling, then clean up before finishing them off in the oven once our guests arrive.

For this pie I simply peeled and cubed the squash, and roasted it in the oven until soft. Then I fried up some onion and garlic, followed by sliced fennel and spring greens. Oh and some chick peas left over from a salad earlier in the week. Next I added a tin of chopped tomatoes (the fresh ones we got in our box are long gone!) to the whole lot, seasoned well and reduced slightly before spooning into pie dishes, crumbling in some of the cheese and topping with puff pastry. Lush!

Ems x

This year, I will learn to embroider……

OK so I know it’s rather late to be talking about New Year’s Resolutions, but as I’m currently still keeping mine up, I figure it’s acceptable! Having spent the last few years crafting various treasures to sell, I’ve recently been thinking how I’d like to get back to crafting for pleasure and also learning some new skills. I had a bit of a go at cross stitch last year, which I quite enjoyed, but I didn’t feel like I could / wanted to go any further with it. And for years I’ve been meaning to learn to crochet properly, only to drop it again after learning a single new thing. Anyway, last month I decided to subscribe to Mollie Makes to give me a little more inspiration and to help me keep my promise to myself to learn something new this year. I was lucky to get a copy of the 50th anniversary edition, which came with a darling little kit for an embroidered bear plushy. Now I’ve had those kits before (and many of them are sat languishing in the bottom of my sewing box) but the super cute little bear really appealed to me, and I decided I’d make it as a gift to my husband, who loves bears. The kit included a printed piece of fabric, showing guidelines of where to stitch, all the embroidery silks I’d need and instructions of how to do all the various stitches involved. Perfect for a newbee wanting to learn! Dutifully following said instructions, I fixed my fabric into a hoop and began embroidering….. I learned chain stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch, fern stitch, lazy daisy, buttonhole wheel, french knot, arrowhead and straight stitch! Not a bad start! Once the embroidery was complete (this took several nights’ work whilst snuggled up on the sofa watching The West Wing), I pinned the back of the bear onto the fabric still in the hoop, and stitched them together leaving a gap to fill him. I opted to fill my bear with lavender instead of toy stuffing, because a) I had lavender and no toy stuffing at the time, and b) I thought he’d make a nice pomander to go in the car (which can niff a bit of the dogs at times!). Once filled, I used the left over threads from the kit to make a four-way plait, then sewed this onto the back to make a loop to hang from the car’s rear view mirror. And now he’s happily installed in the car! We’ve named him Bear McCreary (after the composer of Battlestar Gallactica, because we named the car Caprica and used some of his music to walk down the aisle last year….don’t judge me!) and he’s a very happy sight indeed! Here, see for yourself….! Embroidered Bear Plushy DIY from Molly Makes Embroidered Bear Plushy DIY from Molly Makes Embroidered Bear Plushy DIY from Molly Makes Embroidered Bear Plushy DIY from Molly Makes Next on my list is to make a hundred (yes, a hundred) donkey pomanders to donate to The Donkey Sanctuary. I’ve recently started volunteering for them, and I thought they were just an adorable little treasure to make. I’ve learned blanket stitch and applique to make the ones I’ve done so far, but I’m hoping to make some fancier ones with some of the stitches I learned from the bear kit, and perhaps some more besides! Donkey Plushy DIY for The Donkey Sanctuary 7 I’ve used my new hobby as an excuse to buy up some exciting supplies too (no surprise)…..I have a load of hoops stashed away to make into pretty embroidered things, plus I hit Hobbycraft last weekend and purchased these lush neon embroidery threads! I can’t wait to use them….perhaps to embroider a cute mini shoulder bag for myself! Neon embroidery threads from Hobbycraft I’ve also started a Pinterest board (because, that’s what you do with a new hobby, right?!) to inspire me to take on new projects and to save some great tutorials for new stitches. Head over and have a look, and do share any advice you have on embroidery too, please! Ems x

Wednesday Wants: Wills Vegan Shoes

So you may have seen me wax lyrical about the super lush vegan bags by MATT & NAT recently, and I’m still eagerly planning my haul when I place a new order following my wardrobe clear-out! I’ve never found it quite so easy to fawn over vegan shoes though…..I’ve just never found a collection that both fitted the ethical bill, and also left me drooling. It’s a bit like when you look at the veggie options at a restaurant and the chef has clearly assumed you’re veggie because you’re trying to be healthy and so you must just want a salad…..wanting ethically produced shoes doesn’t mean I have no desire to wear something practical and fashionable!

However, whilst internetting earlier this week I came across a brand called Wills and realised I’d finally found my vegan shoe crush.

Will Green founded Wills “with a passion to provide animal and human friendly shoes with high-street styles and prices.” The aim of the brand is to bridge the gap between everyday people and ethically produced shoes. The entire range is free of animal products while workers are paid in accordance with European guidelines.

Shoes are made with microfibers that look, wear, breathe and resist water just like leather, and because they’re priced to compete with high street brands, there is no excuse not to make a more ethical choice! There is a range for men too, and Will looks to me an awful lot like John Krasinski, which is always a good sign in my opinion!

It was initially the super comfy looking boots which caught my eye, but as I’m focussing on those tiny signs that Spring is on its way, I opted for a ‘want’ list that was a little more geared to the coming seasons…..

Perforated Oxfords in Navy, £75.00

Perforated Oxfords in Navy, £75.00

Brogues in Chestnut, £69

Brogues in Chestnut, £69

Fringed Loafers in Black, £65

Fringed Loafers in Black, £65

Mary Jane Kitten Heels in Black, £64

Mary Jane Kitten Heels in Black, £64

Lace up Heels in Caramel, £49

Lace up Heels in Caramel, £49

So now it’s just a case of getting those shoes cleared out of the wardrobe so that I can fill it up with some of these beauties!

Ems x

 

PS. Shipping to the UK is only £4, with free returns! And furthermore, if you head to the website now you can get a voucher code for free delivery on your first order! x

It’s Pancake Day, It’s Pancake Day, It’s PPPP-PPPP Pancake Day!

Like the man said…it’s Pancake Day! And I for one will be enjoying a day of mostly eating batter based foods! I bally love this day….it wouldn’t occur to me to make a meal of pancakes any other day of the year (with the exception of a breakfast of American style pancakes now and again!) and I love the excuse to gorge. I even made a Pinterest board this year with ideas….I like to have both sweet and savoury options, you know, to make it a balanced meal of course.

For breakfast we had Belgian waffles with banana and maple syrup. Then for lunch I had another go at making Okonomiyake, which is a sort of Japanese pancake. This dish is a favourite of Adam’s and although I’ve never had it ‘properly’ in Japan, I’ve been trying to learn to make it. Last week’s attempt was rather poor, but I think today’s was pretty good!

Home made Okonomiyake, or Japanese pancake for Shrove Tuesday

I based mine loosely on the recipes in my Pinterest board, with (as usual) a couple of changes for my own taste (and to use up things we had in the cupboard!). Here’s how I made it…..

  • I mixed one cup of flour with one cup of chicken stock, then added one beaten free range egg to form a batter.
  • Then I stirred in a large handful of savoy cabbage and one small leek (both finely sliced and from our yummy organic veg box) and seasoned.
  • Next I heated up a large non-stick skillet and sprayed a little olive oil onto the surface before pouring the mixture in.
  • Having spread the mixture out as much as possible, I pressed it all down into as thin a ‘pancake’ as I could, and let it cook for about eight minutes until the underside was golden.
  • Then I slid the pancake onto a plate, added a little more oil to the pan as well as some strips of free range streaky bacon.
  • Next I flipped the pancake onto another plate before sliding it back into the pan with the cooked side on top.
  • It was then just a case of waiting for the bacon to cook well, and the pancake browning nicely before serving it all up!

To top our Okonomiyake I mixed up a dessert spoon each of ketchup and barbecue sauce with two dessert spoons of Henderson’s relish and a teaspoon of golden caster sugar. We spooned this sort of Tonkatsu sauce onto our pancakes along with some mayonnaise, which I believe is the traditional topping. Yummy!

For supper this evening we’re planning some more traditional crepe-like pancakes with lemon juice and sugar….although I think I’ll also make some of these delicious sounding apple, banana and cinnamon pancakes to try, and maybe even some of these fabulous looking cinnamon roll pancakes too!

How do you like your pancakes?!

Ems x