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Exams and essaying are over, so the sewing ban has been lifted! I’ve almost gone straight from uni work back into working at the nursery most of the time, and I have a new job now too. This month (and hopefully beyond) I’m nannying for a lovely little girl called Astrid. She’s two, and to coin a phrase from my co-workers, she’s lush.

Before I went back I had a little trip over to Watercress cottage, and dear Gods it was just so lovely. It’s a grey, cloudy day in the city of Bristol, so I shall take a moment to share some bright, sunny, green photographs to make you all jealous with the sheer beauty of the cottage;

I’m still at it with the art journalling. I’m trying to teach myself watercolour, and I think the technique will come with practise. The paper in my journal isn’t amazing for it, but it does the job so I must fight my art supplies perfectionism for now. Of course a beautiful weekend wouldn’t be complete without some theraputic just-finished-exams baking, so we made the ultimate easy-peasy yet show-off pudding, a lattice topped apple pie.

Something about the summer makes me want to make pastry, which is ironic really considering pastry likes a cold kitchen and cold hands, nothing like sun warmed skin to make flaccid pastry. It’s just so indulgent, when you can buy perfectly good pastry from the shops. This time last year I was making apple turnovers for the panto picnic, and the year before that, well…

What was it they said in ‘Treasure Island’ about strawberry tart?

Dr. Lively- “I’d like to enquire about the tart?”

Rosmerta- “I’ll have you know that under this buxom exterior beats the heart of a shy and delicate flower!”

It’s not like panto-themed baked goods are a rare thing, either. I believe that a certain Mr. Stone has been baking Dobbin coloured muffins, and of course the Panto League of Englishmen enjoyed afternoon tea, complete with Ellie and Olivia’s Dobbin cupcakes! I love these so much.

My own contribution was not quite so colourful. I went with the basic vanilla cupcakes from ‘Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World’ with lemon buttercream frosting. They went very well with my best china teacups and that horrible  tasteful plate Helena and Nat got me for my birthday.

And on a completely unrelated topic, since this is supposed to be a craft blog after all, whilst at Watercress I went to their church flower festival, and I got this book for 50p;

It’s so seventies! I love it! It’s not very helpful in terms of how to actually do patchwork, it’s more about frame quilting, but I’m very inspired by the grandmother’s flowergarden thing it’s got going on.

Look at those beautiful hexes! I love how they’ve cut the fabric so the pattern goes with the flower shape. I don’t have the patience for that and it must create a lot of wastage but it looks really cool. I’m all keen to get on with own hexes project again. I’d been stuck on it for a while- hand peicing takes such a long time! I sewed and sewed for a whole year and I have about a square metre worth of quilt so far. Plus I’m getting a bit sick of the colours I chose. Washed out blues and purples isn’t really doing it for me any more. After seeing this I think it might be fun to do an equal number of hex flowers in warm colours and alternate them on an off-white background a bit like the one above. It depends how I feel, if I want to make this a double. I might as well, since I’m not going to hand peice another quilt in my life, I don’t think. We’ll see. I have forty hex flowers now, which is a whole lot.

Getting there one hexagon at a time. Peace x


Here is the long anticipated baking update. I’ve been reading lots of vegan foodie blogs and maybe some day I’ll get round to linking them, but in the mean time here’s what’s been cooking. And I’m including my adapted recipe for apple muffins, because they are the best muffins ever and just the other day I was getting cross with a blog for raving about a recipe then not supplying it. But that’s to come. Also, a rant about fake cheese.

Courtesey of Vegan Brunch;

Cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon rolls

Isa’s Cinnamon Roll recipe is better than the PPK one, and I made these for an unofficial brunch in that I wanted to make them so I invited Kate, Tim and Rob to come eat them with me. (Official brunch club seems to be on hold at the moment, I might host one in a few weeks.) They were certainly easier than the other one, and like I mentioned they are a bit healthier too. But I’m still not impressed. They take a lot of time, effort and mess for what they are, and frankly I think I’d rather eat a bowl of porridge with cinnamon and sugar, or a peice of good bread with jam. So I might not be making these again tbh. That said, I never bothered with the drizzly icing because by the time it gets to that stage I always feels like “You want me to get out another mixing bowl? Fat chance!” Maybe that icing makes it, but I doubt it, friends, I really do.



Lemon poppyseed (rocking the heartshaped silicone baking cases I got from Helena and Nat for my birthday. My housemates know me so incredibly well!) Of course they taste better for being heart-shaped. Nice and light and easy-peasy to make. A big hit.

Spelt courgette

Courgette-spelt muffins. (Muffins spelled C-O-U-R-G-E-T-T-E. Shut up, it tickled me.) These were… ok. They’re whole spelt, and you can really tell. They have a very “wholefoody” taste, not sweet at all, like digestive biscuits only more so. If you want a healthy mufin it’s a good recipe, little sugar and little oil, but they’re a bit joyless if you ask me. Put it this way, Sam says they go well with chilli. And if I, with my years at RHF, think it’s too wholegrainy then you know it must be true.

Moving on from Vegan Brunch, Helena requested the sausage casserole I made the other day. This is a really nice recipe, and I did it with overnight bread, which is still the best bread recipe ever. It’s basically sauteed onions and garlic, with squash or other earthy sweet veg like sweet potatoes added, cooked up in gravy then with veggie sausages added at the end. Lots of mustard and sage going on. It’s autumn in a bowl.

Bread and casserole


Also, moving on from semi-normal food, I am afraid I have taken the plunge into hardcore veganhood. The non-vegans might argue I was already there, but trust me, I wasn’t. Until now. Now I have attempted the mysterious alchemy that is macaroni and “cheese” with nutritional yeast. Dun Dun DUUUUUUH! (I’m still not using seitan and bought vegan cheese or scrambling my f-ing tofu though, fear not.)

I’ve been aware of the existance of nutritional yeast for many years, having sold it back at RHF (Rugby Health Foods where I used to work) but I always avoided it on the grounds that it looks and smells like fishfood flakes and is weird. It was always something other people ate, and I was not going there. But sometimes you need something creamy and yummy, and the “Nooch” as those at Post Punk Kitchen call it, was there at the wholefood shop so i took the plunge.

 I used this recipe for “Macaroni hates Cheese” from the PPK;

And it came out ok. I suppose. The first time I ate it I felt a bit sick because it was so creamy and rich, and the yeast taste is strange when you’ve been off cheese for a while.

Macaroni hates cheese

See, it looks right. Ok, so that’s spag not macaroni but shut up. Also love my bowl that I painted!

This was all inspired by the post over at Vegan YumYum here: I didn’t do that recipe because it called for miso and tahini which I usually have in, but not this week. Hers looks a good deal more elegant than mine, and she summed up the whole taste better than I could

Mac and Cheese. Cheeze? Yeast?

October 17th, 2007 Stumble it! <!–Lolo–>

Mac and Cheeze and Broccoli

There are innumerable recipes for vegan mac and cheese on the internet. I’ve tried a lot of them. Some of them simply call for “slices of soy cheese” and some vegetable stock to be mixed over pasta. The majority, however, require nutritional yeast, and they usually also require making a roux. The recipe below is from my upcoming cookbook, and it’s one of my favorites. However, if you’ll indulge me for a moment, there are some things about vegan mac and cheeze I want to talk about.

Now, I’m the first to admit “Mac and Yeast” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. That’s why I tend to call it “Mac and Cheeze”. But I’m also the first to admit that these recipes, even the best of them, don’t really taste all that much like mac and cheese. Some get much closer than others, and a lot are downright tasty. But it’s not cheese. Your omnivore or veggie friend/spouse/child may love it as much as or even more than the real stuff (if you’re lucky), but they probably love it on its own merits, not because they really can’t tell the difference.

But you know what? It doesn’t have to taste exactly the same for me to love it.

A lot of people, myself included, are really interested in making vegan food that’s indistinguishable from the “real” thing. It’s a fun challenge, and oftentimes, a challenge where you can really and truly be successful. But there are many instances where you don’t create something identical, but what you do create is actually good. Different, but yummy. While vegan mac and cheese doesn’t taste exactly like non-vegan mac and cheese, it satisfies the same craving. It’s rich and creamy and salty and vaguely cheese-like. It’s a yummy, thick creamy sauce to top noodles with.

I think that sometimes it’s enough to satisfy your cravings with something similar, if you can’t find something identical. After three years of being vegan, I don’t even crave mac and cheese anymore; I crave mac and yeast.

I think expectation is important with food. If it looks like a grape, you expect it to taste like a grape. If I hand you a glass of sparkling wine and tell you it’s gingerale, you might be put off when you take a sip. You might even like wine, but you expected it to be, well, not wine. If I say, “here, try this mac and cheese” and give you mac and yeast, you might be disappointed when you tasted it. If you’ve never tried a mac and yeast recipe before, and you want to try this one, keep in mind that it doesn’t taste like cheese.

It just tastes like yummy”

Well said there. This is not something I’d ever feed a nonvegan. If I did I would not call it Macaroni Cheese or some tongue-in-cheek variation because the words “Vegan cheese” makes most people go “Aaaauuugh!” and for good reason. I’d only ever serve it as “pasta with creamy sauce”, because that’s what it is.

Anyway, to round this off I’m going back the whole muffin thing to proudly present Gracey’s Apple Muffin Recipe. This is the first recipe I’ve adapted enough to call my own and post on my blog, so here it is. If anyone wants to test it out for me (Here’s looking at you, Mr Paul) then I would love them forever.

These are the best muffins ever. I’ve probrably tried 20 or so recipes over the last year and these win. Pretty healthy in that they are light on the sugar and oil, and you can get up to half wholegrain flour without them tasting remotely wholefoody. You can sub that for wholegrain slept, and use half honey, agave or maple syrup instead of sugar but they won’t rise nearly so much and the texture will be wrong. They’re really filling and not too cake-y, so if you need an emergency breakfast you feel like you did have breakfast, not a cake, which is the main fuction of muffins for me. Repeat after me; muffins are not cupcakes. You all know I love cupcakes, but sometimes you need a proper muffin. This is for those times.

Apple Muffins (Makes 12 big ones)

2 cups plain four

2 cups wholewheat pastry flour or wholewheat with the bits seived out

1tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

1 cup soya milk

2 capfulls cider vinegar

4 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil

2/3 cup sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)

2 cups applesauce

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Mix together the flour and dry ingredients in a bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the other ingredients. Mix gently but thoroughly until combined, Spoon into muffin cases and sprinkle the tops with a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar, to make them crunchy and sparkly. Bake for 25 minutes.


Apple muffin


And for your pleasure and delight, here is gratuitous forest picture of the week. Beech leaves on the turn at Ashton Court;

Ashton court 24.10

You may notice the header has changed. You see, I was planning to take a picture of Charlie, the original cat who walks by himself, but I went home to find that dear Charlie has passed away. He will be greatly missed by all of us, most especially his brother Oscar whom he has been with since they were born. So in the mean time there’s the rag rug as a header because it has pretty colours to cheer me up. I may update here if I can find a nice picture of Charlie and it doesn’t seem too morbid.

Well, I am now proudly 21 years of age. The cupcake party was a big success 🙂 I’ve been wanting an excuse to try some of the more involved recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World for some time and this was the perfect reason!

So without further ado;



Chocolate stout

Pistachio and rosewater


Mint choc chip

In no particular order; blackberry cupcakes, plain chocolate and vanilla, chocolate and stout (you heard me right!), pistachio and rosewater, some made by the lovely Sara G. which I think were chocolate with coffee icing, and mint choc. chip. I really need a flickr account so I can go show off on the “Vegan cupcakes” pool.

More vegan cooking news, for my birthday Mr. Paul got me this;

vegan brunch

Vegan Brunch! Yeah!

… only, don’t click for more info. I stole the picture from (which is awesome for recipes by the way) I am very excited about this indeed. We do brunch in a big way around here. Usually Sara hosts, but we’ve had it here at Chez Grelanie too and it’s always fun to get some panto people together in the morning with some coffee and some pancakes and some pictionary.

I don’t know if I’m going to get the omnis eating scrambled tofu any time soon though… To be honest I don’t know if I’m going to get myself eating scrambled tofu any time soon. The idea always seemed a bit ming to me, partially because I don’t usually go in for “trying to perfectly replicate totally non-vegan foods.” Faking a bit of sausage here and there, or substituting marg. and soya milk is one thing, but eggs are eggs and I’m not sure I want to try them with tofu. I may have to eat these bloggy words when I do try it, but that’s my final word for now.

[EDIT]- Wait, sorry, I have totally eaten scrambled tofu. It was a bit ming or at least such a non-event that I erased it from my memory. But the point still stands.

In all seriousness however, there are some exciting recipes in there. Peirogies, which are aparently little russian pie-type things, look fun. And lots of muffin recipes that make twelve muffins! Yes! All the vegan muffin recipes I’ve found make ten. Which is annoying because a pan holds twelve muffins (and twelve is the best number in the world, which is why I like sewing hexagons so much and why I like cupcakes so much but we won’t go into that) so I’m pleased. And there’s a recipe for cinnamon rolls that looks good.

I’ve done cinnamon rolls  twice before, for one of Sara’s Brunches. I used the recipe here;  Don’t get me wrong, they turned out really yummy… but. Well, a few buts. They’re pretty complicated to make (I did the overnight rising which made it worse), created mounds of washing up and kitchen mess and the batch of twelve (yay!) of them contained a WHOLE CARTON of pure. So each roll was a TWELTH of a carton of margarine. It may be happy no-cholesterol margarine but still the idea of having that much fat in one roll freaks me out a bit. I put that much in a WHOLE BATCH of cookies. Less than that to ice a batch of cupcakes. Jesus Christ and other baking deities! It’s not that I’m against that much fat and sugar in my baking, it’s just that if I use that much I want it to taste like it. Like an actual bakinggasm. These were ok, pretty nice and moist and sweet, but not Oh My Gods good, if you know what I mean…

… phew… sorry [/baking rant]

Suffice to say I’m excited to see if there is a better way that seems to involve only a third of a cup and some oil in the dough. I think I’ll make these on Sunday. Though not for any kind of formal Brunch because we hosted the last one and my party after that, and I am “catering for large gatherings-ed out”

Oh on a brunch note, Sam got up and made Nat, Helena, Paul and I vegan brunch complete with hashbrowns and fried bread.  When we were all hung over. Because he is a beautiful angel boy. And now I can repay the favour with homemade hash browns.

Sam is lovely. And he got me some lovely presents even though he’d already go me a present which I’m not allowed to show you because you don’t show people your underwear on the internet. Unless it’s for money. And I bet none of you guys have any money. But look at the love;


He got me a plant-wax candle and a box and some fabric and some hotel chocolat stuff (yum!) I can’t get over the pure happiness of this present. I haven’t sewn with it yet. I like to just carress its brocade, awe at the real gold and silver thread that makes it weigh so nicely in your fingers, and those luscious autumn colours. My dear Sam knows me so well- craft materials make me crazy happy.

And that package from Sita! The brown paper one with the leaf, I just love it so much. It contains a purse shaped like and owl, and a hair grip, but I just had to wrap it up again because it looked so gorgeous. I’m seriously considering wrapping all my christmas gifts this way, just in brown paper with glue. Embellished with the most beautifully coloured leaves and a little bronze decoration. It’s so rustic and pure and un-tacky, it makes me smile. Than you a lot a lot Sita if you’re reading this.

Now, here’s something I’ve been waiting to post for a while. I am taking the Hundred Books in a Year challenge. Can I get a fanfare or something. Basically it’s just what it sounds like. I got the idea from a the red forum *wink nudge* and changed the rules a little bit. It doesn’t have to be a novel. Audiobooks count. Plays count. Rereads count. It just has to be read all the way through.

Here’s my list, most recent in bold. (R) means it’s a re-read.

‘The Bonesetter’s Daughter’- Amy Tan
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’- Margaret Atwood.
‘Writing home’- Alan Bennett
‘Choke’- Chuck Palahniuk
‘The Sea Priestess’- Dion Fortune ®
‘Shantaram’- Gregory David Roberts
‘The Earthsea Quartet’ (Four books)- Ursula LeGuin
‘On the Road’- Jack Kerouac
‘The Dharma Bums’-Jack Kerouac
‘A Game of Thrones’- George R. R Martin
‘Everything but the truth’- short stories by Christopher Macpherson
‘Bone Island’- Christopher Macpherson
‘The story of O’- Pauline Reage
‘Perfume’- Patrick Suskind
‘Netherland’- Joseph Oneill
‘Twelve minutes’- Paulo Coelho
‘Brida’- Paulo Coelho
‘Veronica Decides to Die’- Paulo Coelho
‘The 11.11 code’- (Can’t remember. It was pretty bad anyway)
‘P.S I love you’- Cecilia Ahern
‘Wicked’- Gregory Maguire
‘Son of a Witch’- Gregory Maguire
‘The Power of Now’ Eckhart Tolle
‘Bitten’- Kelley Armstrong
‘Stolen’- Kelley Armstrong
‘No humans involved’- Kelley Armstrong
‘Wintersmith’- Terry Pratchett ®
‘Wierd Sisters’- Terry Pratchett ®
‘The Wild Duck’- Ibsen
‘Hedda Gabler’- Ibsen
‘Death of a Salesman’- Miller
‘Broken Glass’- Miller
[b]’Secret Diary of a London Call Girl’- Belle de Jour
‘Cat Magic’- Whitley Streiber
‘White Teeth’- Zadie Smith
‘Twilight’- Stephanie Meyer
‘Ravenheart’- David Gemmel
‘The Last Guardian’- David Gemmel
‘Manifesto’- Barefoot Doctor
‘Dragonquest’ Anne Mccaffrey
‘Dragonsdawn’- Anne Mccaffrey
‘Dolphins of Pern’- Anne Mccaffrey
‘Dragon’s Fire’- Anne Mccaffrey
‘Dragon Harper’- Anne Mccaffrey
‘Wicked Words, A Black Lace Short Story Collection’- Ed. Kerri Sharp
‘Interview with the Vampire’- Anne Rice
‘Faeries’- Brian Froud and Alan Lee
”New Moon’- Stephanie Mayer
‘Renegades of Pern’- Anne MccAffrey
‘Snuff’- Chuck Palhanuik
‘The girl who heard dragons, and other short stories’- Anne Mccaffrey
‘Last Chance to See’- Douglas Adams
‘Wolf’- Anne Rice(R)
‘Junk’- Anthony Burgess
‘Dime Store Magic’- Kelley Armstrong
‘Subtle Aromatherapy’-Patricia Davies

I’m really tired so there may be repeats there in copying across from the forum. I make it to be about 60 but I’ll count again in the morning. Am I going to make 100 by the New Year? I doubt it, but it’s still possible. Gimme that teenage fiction I can swallow without chewing! Yeah! Actually thinking about it, I didn’t start this until March, so maybe I can have until March next year. I’ll see how things are going.

Anyway I shall leave you with a little sample of my domestic goddess-ness. Pea soup and herb-poppyseed rolls fresh from the oven.

Peace x

Pea soup and herb rolls

(what do you have for lunch? Pea green soup. What did you have for dinner? Pea green soup. What did you do all night? Pea green soup :P)

I just want to say thanks to all of the people who have said ‘Oh I read your blog’ because I didn’t think anyone read it apart from me and the odd internet-friend who I wanted to show a sewing thing. Um, wow. I feel very loved.

 Anyway I’m just going to dump some pictures of finished projects that I did ages ago.


This is the rag rug I’ve been sewing for more than a year. It’s made  mostly of old tshirts and some scrap fabric. I actually finished it last summer, but I wasn’t happy with it at all because I pulled it too tight as I sewed and it became like a basket so it didn’t lie flat. Long story short, it bothered me so much I just had to pick thewhole thing apart and do it again from scratch. Time well spent since I watched the whole of Gravitation on DVD while I did it (my love of this obscure-ish shounen-ai  is a story for a whole other post, however. And another view of the living room. I feel like I’m cheating to say I “made” this wall-hanging. I hemmed fabric and put sticks through it and I like it a lot. Got to love the very hungry catterpillar.

Very hungry catterpillar

And an english paper peicing update- we have flowers!

Hex flowers progress

pile of hexes

I love how the different fabrics in the centre make the eight base fabrics look completely different. I feel a bit bad for having favourites*, but I think I like this one the best;

peacock hexes

Just look at it! Look at the peacock!

The title is dedicated to Paul. There was a felaf-fail at the weekend. Sam and I decided to make our own felafels at the weekend, using this recipe; And, well, it failed. We decided to deep fry them, but the moment they hit the hot oil they broke up into little blobs. We tried doing them in the frying pan instead, and all was well until we tried to flip them over, upon which they collapsed into crumbley, slightly burned mush. Here you go Mr. Paul, here’s a picture for you before we tried to flip them;


I can only apologise for the ugliness of the photograph. Maybe it I hide it here between more pretty ones then noone will notice. I’m trying to improve my photography skills, but not with much success.

*Why? Why do I feel bad about having favourites? They’re hexagons, it’s not I’m not going to hurt thier feelings!  But I want to value them equally, because each unique patch has it’s own part to play. Gah!

Right. I’m off to go anthropomorphise more objects. Bye bye x