Ups, Downs and Cookie Dough Pie

I’ve been away from here for ages and I’m sorry! A lot of stuff has been going on.

The saddest news is that we lost lovely Aidah on the 26th of May. I kept meaning to write a tribute post to her, but I’m still devastated that she’s not around and haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. She deteriorated really quickly after a good 2-3 months without having any seizures. On her last day Aidah was having one seizure after another, looking more miserable each time. The spark left her eyes and I knew it was time to say goodbye.

Aidah

The flat has been so quiet without her around, I miss the way she used to run and meow to her bowl in the morning for breakfast, or her following me around chirping for treats and cuddles. Or her jumping in surprise and excitement when I came home because being deaf, she couldn’t hear me coming in. Life is definitely not the same.

Not long after losing Aidah, a kitten popped up in a local Facebook group who desperately needed a home or would end up in a shelter. His owner was having to move into sheltered housing and couldn’t keep him. No one was saying they’d take him in and as I still had a litter tray and food left, I offered a foster home….which almost immediately turned into a forever home. How predictable.

Meet Kobi.

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He’s a little terror but absolutely adorable and really gentle. It was hard having another cat around so quickly after Aidah, but he’s settled and I don’t regret the decision to take him in at all. Not used to having a young cat around as I’m used to snoozing old lady cats, but he keeps us on our toes and gives amazing cuddles.

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Overall I’ve been pretty up and down. Testosterone has been great in lots of ways, hair is sprouting and I’m turning into a bear. My voice is also starting to break and my face shape has changed. There have been some really unpleasant side effects though, some I was expecting, some less so but whether expecting them or not, they are still hard to deal with. I also made the mistake of stopping my antidepressants when I started T, which, in the words of my GP was ‘a bit of a silly idea’ and will probably explain the lower moods.

As well as all these emotions, I’ve been pretty busy. I baked a shitload of cakes to help my local support group, Morf at Sparkle festival. Morf run an awesome binder scheme that distributes binders to trans folk for free. The weather was shit but we managed to raise a fair amount of money, though if you like the sound of the scheme and want to donate, we’re always needing more binders and are grateful for the help.

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I’ve also had an excellent weekend away in London with old friends, which involved eating lots of good food that must be blogged about. And, I went on a retreat last weekend and had one of the most amazing experiences ever. It’s too much to go into in this post, but stay tuned because I’ll be writing about it soon.

I thought I’d end the post with a filthy dessert creation I made with some leftover cookie dough I had from the bake sale…

Cookie Dough Pie

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Ingredients

  • Around 1-2 cups leftover cookie dough
  • 1/2 cup leftover frosting (I had chocolate)
  • 1 carton soy whipping cream

Method:

  1. First off, preheat the oven to 180C. Mould a load of cookie dough into a greased cake tin and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  2. While you’re waiting for the base to cool, bake a few cookies out of the dough. While they’re baking, roll a few cookie dough balls ready.
  3. Whip up the soy cream before assembling.
  4. Cover the base in a thin layer of cookie tough, then a layer of the frosting and top with the whipping cream.
  5. Decorate the top with raw cookie dough balls and broken baked cookies before devouring.

Fucking hell. This was one of the most outrageous desserts I’ve ever made. I’m not lying when I say that after one bite, I could feel the chin spots immediately grow under my skin. I was spotty for a week after eating a slice of this. Ah puberty!

Totally worth it though. A great way to use up leftover cookie dough

That’s about all from me now, but I promise I’ll be blogging again really soon!

More Food & Fun in Berlin #2

Whilst I may have exhausted most of the 100% vegan eateries, there are lots of non veggie but vegan friendly places in Berlin and because I was the only vegan on my trip, I got to try many new places that did some really great food. I thought I’d use this post to show you all the great vegan food I had in non vegan cafes/restaurants.

Hot Dog Soup

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I’ve walked past this little place so many times in previous trips to Berlin, it’s in the heart of Friedrichshain, so I’ve always bypassed it in search of vegan kebab, crepes or cake. Daria loves this place and took me here after a night of heavy faux meat when we both craved something light and full of vegetables!

I wasn’t sure what to think of this place. It sells soup and hot dogs. Bit of a weird combo isn’t it? I was kind of hoping that the hot dogs would be IN the soup, but nah, you pick one or the other. There are always vegan hot dogs and always a vegan soup option. The day I went I think there were 2 vegan options, I went for a spiced pumpkin soup.

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This was one of the best soups I’ve ever had, hands down. Sometimes pumpkin can be a bit watery and tasteless, but this was bursting with flavour. It was beautifully creamy as well. Also, dead cheap, iirc around 4 euros. Soup and bread was a perfect lunch. I definitely want to come back to try the hot dogs, there are 7 different varieties…the one with sauerkraut and sweet pickles sounds right up my street!

Nil

Oh Nil, I fell in love with this place. I’ve heard great reviews of this place, but again hadn’t tried it in favour of veggie/vegan places. This place is right at the corner at the end of Sam and Daria’s street, so I ended up eating there twice. I had the Vegan Teller each time.

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This is beautiful and I think back on this tasty teller with love. I love every bit of it, the potatoes, the hummus, the falafel but oh my word, the bread is so good! And for under 5 euros? It’s a bloody bargain. This Teller left me in agony both times I ate it, but it was so worth it.

Lemon Leaf

This is another gem of a restaurant based in Friedrichshain. Sam and Daria really did pick a great area to live!

Whilst there wasn’t a huge range of vegan options here, there were a few options and the food was really delicious. I started off with these crispy deep fried pumpkin things with a chilli dip.

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I love this kind of thing. Deep fried deliciousness. I was sad when the plate was empty

I went for a Thai curry with tofu for my main

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This was a bloody good curry. Really rich and creamy, the tofu was cooked well. Really really yummy.

I probably wouldn’t go back here if I was travelling alone or with other vegans, not because the food is bad but because I can get really good Thai food here in Manchester. This is perfect if you’re wanting to eat in a proper restaurant with non vegan friends/family though. Great service and delicious grub!

Haferkater

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I came across this place on Happy Cow when my mum said she wanted to go out for a decent breakfast before a day of sightseeing. I thought the idea was great for breakfast lovers, a cafe that specialises in porridge! It sounded perfect for my mum…but if you’re a regular reader here, you will know that unless I’m offered a fry up or pancakes…I don’t do the breakfast thing. And I’ve never been dead keen on porridge.

When we got there and I saw a Maple, Banana, Choc Chip option on the menu, I started to get a bit excited about it.

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For good reason. This porridge effing rocked! Definitely the best breakfast I’ve ever had, I have no idea how they made those oats taste so good but they did it. Probably not a very healthy breakfast, there was a shit ton of chocolate and syrup on this, but hell, it was so good I’d eat it again as a sweet treat.

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We also had some really tasty drinks with our porridge. I had a soya hot chocolate and my mum had a fresh mint tea. Delicious! I definitely want to go back…and desperately want to learn how to make porridge that good!

Momos

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DUMPLINGS! VEGAN DUMPLINGS

This place is heaven. It’s 100% veggie but with lots of vegan options. I found this place when I got jealous that Sam, Daria and my Mum had Russian dumplings and I couldn’t. So I found out about Momos and made my mum have dumplings for two days in a row. Best son ever.

I went for a medium portion. 14 dumplings, 2 varieties and a dip. I had the Broccoli Shiitake Tofu and a Pumpkin dumpling.

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They were all bloody delicious but I loved the Pumpkin best. Also 14 dumplings can disappear quick.

I loved this place, you don’t really get this kind of thing in Manchester so it was a really nice change. Definitely going back again.

That’s probably it for this round up, I’ve rambled on enough. I’m probably gonna take a look at a few places I revisited for my final blog post…until then…

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More Food & Fun in Berlin #1

So my brother and his lovely girlfriend only went and moved to my favourite city ever. I was so happy about this, mostly because Berlin is a lot closer than Beijing so I’d get to see them more…but also because…free accommodation in Berlin! Yeah! More reasons to go back again and again.

I ended up going to visit twice within the space of a month. This was due to bad planning. In my excitement I booked a trip by myself and then found out my mum wanted me to go along with her a month later. It was still great and I had lots of fun both times but I am feeling a little Berlin’d out…I need to visit somewhere else in Germany next time for sure.

So, instead of the usual Day 1, Day 2 layout I do, I thought I’d lump the two trips together and sum up my visits in hopefully no more than 3 posts.

Let’s go!

The Currywurst Museum

Yeah. I went to a museum about meaty sausages. I have spent years debating whether I should go to this museum because whilst I enjoy a nice vegan currywurst…generally it’s not a vegan dish and would visiting a museum be supporting the horrible meat industry? It was a toughy. I decided not to when I found out that the entry ticket includes a free currywurst…but then I found out that they offer a vegetarian option with that…and it is also vegan…so I decided to just go for it and find out what it’s like.

I’m actually really glad that I did because 1) It was absolutely hilarious and the most fun I’d had in ages and 2) it was pretty much all about the culture/history of currywurst in Germany, where it came from, how popular a dish it is etc and less a focus on how it’s a meaty thing. I genuinely feel like I can recommend visiting there, it’s really food fun (though a little pricey at 11 euros entry) and the vegan currywurst is pretty tasty!

There were lots of awesome things about this place. First off, you get to find out which kind of curry you are by answering questions on a screen that have absolutely nothing to do with curry or sausage. I found out that I’m a Java curry

Next up, I got to visit some tables that had radio bottles of ketchup on them. Each ketchup bottle had a different song about currywurst. Hilarious

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There’s a sausage sofa

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Also..dripping ketchup blobs that you can hit with giant fries!

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Oh my God! I loved this so much. Of course me, Sam and Daria had a go at bashing each others brains up, but I particularly liked smacking those blobs.

The best thing was getting to pretend to make currywurst in a van! I had way too much fun with this.

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A bit too much fun..

There’s also a currywurst version of Cooking Mama and a comments book where I bigged up vegan currywurst..

Yes I know I made it look like it was dripping in sperm..it’s supposed to be ketchup you sickos.

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We finished up the museum and went to get our free currywurst. You get to pick your curry powder…hot or mild. Daria decided she wanted Java, as that was our curry personality but unfortunately that’s not an option. Sad times.

Apart from the lack of Java, I recommend the Currywurst Museum. It’s funny and there’s giant fries…what more could you possibly want?

Chum & Friends

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This was a really great restaurant that was just a few doors down from Sam and Daria’s apartment. Squidward was drawn on the chalkboard outside advertising a vegan option so I wanted to try it as soon as I saw it. Luckily Sam and Daria love this place and were keen to take me anyway.

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I had some delicious Vegetable Summer Rolls

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And then I had the Vegan Special for my main, which was a faux fish bowl with rice and veggies.

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The food here was pretty tasty and the prices were reasonable. We went during the day so it was nice and quiet and the service was quick. Definitely a place I’d suggest if I were in Berlin with a mix of vegans and non vegans.

Kontor Eismanufaktur a.k.a The Vegan Choice

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This amazing all vegan ice cream parlour opened a while ago and I wanted to visit so badly. Unfortunately it’s open seasonally, so when I visited at the beginning of March it was still closed. I was so happy that it was open for business when I returned in April and dragged my mum along with me.

The reason I was so excited to visit here is because I heard that they sell Spaghetti Eis. For anyone who doesn’t know what it is, it’s vanilla ice cream that looks like spaghetti, strawberry sauce and either white chocolate or ground nut ‘parmesan’ to top it off. It looks exactly like spaghetti, which is weird and hilarious.

When I was studying German back at school, all of the textbooks made references to spaghetti eis. Apparently that’s all German kids and families do…meet up and eat spaghetti eis. I had been waiting YEARS to try this creation.

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I was not disappointed

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Look at that! It looks just like PASTA but tastes like ICE CREAM! What the hell Germany? Why do you have such strange food humour?!

My mum had a scoop of some peanut brittle ice cream that looked amazing. I was so sad that I didn’t have another chance to come back here, I really wanted to try the other flavours. I’ve also heard they sometimes sell doughnuts too, so I’ll definitely be returning when I’m next in Berlin.

So that’s it for my first round up. I have plenty of other great food to show you in the coming posts.

Until then, folks!

 

Cheeseburger Pie & Stuff I Ate

Despite having a rotten cold and sore throat that has lasted for 2 weeks now, I’ve done a fair bit of good eating over the last week.

I finally got round to making a recipe I’ve been wanting to make for an embarrassingly long time. It’s a cheesecake from one of my favourite blogs Seitan is My Motor. I love this blog, I love German food..especially desserts and everything always looks so beautiful…which is partly why I’ve avoided trying this recipe…I wanted to do it proud…and right! Whilst it wasn’t as stunning as the original, I made it look awesome by decorating it with T Rex cookies.

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But seriously folks…try this recipe! It uses soya yoghurt instead of tofu/cashews and it works really well. It’s also super simple, I think I had the whole thing mixed and in the oven within 15 minutes.

On the same day I also made this delicious dish

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Chesnut Cannelinni Balls with Dijon Mustard Sauce, Rice and Garlicky Fried Cabbage. The balls were similar to my ‘Everything in the Cupboard Meatball’ recipe. So good, it was a great dinner.

I also went back to Ice Shack to try the Dog Bowl Sundae. I had plans to eat it romantically with my partner Jake…but he decided last minute that he didn’t want to share and ordered 3 scoops. Fine. I could do it without him…WHATEVER

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So what was in my Dog Bowl Sundae? 5…yes 5 scoops of ice cream. I went for 2 chocolate, 1 vanilla, 1 raspberry and 1 raspberry mango. 3 toppings..I had chocolate sauce, chocolate chips and an oreo. Then, something that caught me by surprise…Because the waffles that are included in the vegetarian option aren’t vegan, I was allowed to pick a slice of cake to go in there. I asked for one of the chocolate topped jam doughnuts…I got given 2!

Oh. My. God. I love this place. And I loved this sundae..it was awesome! I can also tell you that eating out of a dog bowl makes everything taste sweeter.

And for the finale I made this beauty of a dish…Cheeseburger Pie

Cheeseburger Pie

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Ingredients:

  • 8 meat free ‘beef’ style burgers (I used vegetarian choice)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 block vegan cheese (I used Violife Smoky), grated
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 packet of batter mix, prepared with water

Method:

  • Heat some oil in a pan and start off by frying the onions. While they’re frying, chop the burgers into bite size pieces.
  • When the onions have turned golden, add the burger pieces and fry for a further 10 minutes until crispy and caramelised.
  • Pour into a pie dish. Top with half the grated cheese and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast.
  • Pour the prepared batter mix over the top, top with the rest of the cheese and pop into the oven at 200C for 30 minutes

How can something so good be so easy?

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This was awesome. I was really bad and just had this with a gherkin relish…I recommend adding some kind of real vegetable to your plate.

Next time I’m going to top it off with those cheap crappy crispy onions and then smother it in burger sauce.

Try this if you know what’s good for you!

Ice Shack

Yesterday I got word that there’s a brand spanking new veggie/vegan dessert parlour in Withington, South Manchester… Ice Shack. I had zero plans for the weekend so the timing was perfect. I spent yesterday afternoon running around, rallying my vegan troops and used the menu as a little bedtime reading. When I woke up this morning, sugar was on the brain.

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I was patient and arrived 30 whole minutes after midday opening before arriving. The menu has promises of a large assortment of dairy free ice creams, doughnuts, cakes, pastries, milkshakes, hot drinks and lots of toppings (including whippy soya cream!). Obviously I walked in with big expectations…and I was not disappointed.

Not everyone was there when I arrived so I decided to order a cheeky little doughnut starter with a brew.

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After a few sweet bites, I was able to calm down and observe my surroundings a bit more. I really liked this place, it has a really nice chilled out atmosphere. There are a few tables and chairs but also some comfier sofas at the back…and… entertainment! There are books, board games and an arcade game! Yeah!

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As the place is a mixture of vegan and vegetarian, it was nice to see that there was a separate ice cream and separate cake cabinet to choose from. No need to worry about cross contamination or accidentally ordering something not vegan.

The cake cabinet had lots to choose from; chocolate topped jam doughnuts, flapjack, chocolate cake, ginger cake, lemon cheesecake, truffles…It looked like most of the cakes were homemade, though I suspect the doughnuts were bought in but decorated by hand. The ice cream cabinet had lots of flavours; chocolate, raspberry, raspberry mango, coconut sorbet, lemon sorbet, vanilla..I think most if not all of these are bought in rather than made in house, so I was impressed with the amount of choice available.

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For round 2, I decided to go for warm chocolate cake with 1 scoop of chocolate ice cream and 1 scoop of raspberry…topped with chocolate sauce. This was so good! I scoffed it and felt immediately sick…in the good way obviously.

What surprised me most was how reasonable the prices were here, it was 20% off all day which was an added bonus, but everything I ate came to less than a fiver! There aren’t many places you can eat yourself sick at for that kind of money.

Also..the best thing? I didn’t actually have this…but it’s so on my list…The Dog Bowl Sundae. What is this? 5 generous scoops of ice cream and 3 toppings (I think the non vegan version has a waffle too) and what makes it so great? It’s served in a bloody dog bowl. I’ve already made plans to return for this next week.

I spent nearly 3 hours in Ice Shack today and had a great time. Lovely atmosphere and really nice member of staff looking after all of us. It was amazing to see how many folk were coming in for the vegan selection, the non vegan cabinets were almost untouched! My friend told me that the owners are hoping to make more of it vegan and it definitely looks like the demand is here. It would be amazing to see some of the danish type pastries and frosted cakes found in the vegetarian section to spring up in the vegan area…hopefully Ice Shack can track down a supply of these in the future.

If you’re in Manchester, get yourself down here already!

Ice shack is open Tuesday – Saturday 12-9pm or 12-6pm on Sundays and is based right by the library in Withington, you can’t miss it!

 

Extreme Hunger and Overnight Oats

I’ve not really felt many effects from T yet, I’ve had a few hot flushes over the last few days and my uterus has started protesting the change by angrily shedding, but there’s no magical beard sprouting and my voice is as high pitched as ever.

When you mention Testosterone to people, they automatically think of this:

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Thankfully, this is a myth. I will not be turning green or angry, at least not more so than I currently am. When I told folk I was starting T, I assured them all that I would not turn into a monster. I would still be me. But apparently the treatment has sparked off an inner beast within me.

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Hunger

I am so goddamn hungry all the time. At first I thought it was my brain playing tricks on me. Nice one Emil, use testosterone as an excuse to eat all the tasty sweets and salty carbs. You’re so clever.

But this hunger was persistent and painful. I couldn’t stop eating. I was scared to start because I didn’t know how to stop.

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Nothing made it go away. I was eating at every possible moment. Nothing could satisfy me, and that made me sad.

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I managed to spend £8 on my lunch at work. That’s nearly the entire weekly budget for my food shop! Something had to be done. I decided to start eating breakfast.

Yes, I know. I never eat breakfast and it’s bad because most important meal of the blah, blah, blah. You don’t need to tell me, I already know.

I decided to give overnight oats a try because

  1. It’s all people are ever banging on about these days
  2. I hear oats are filling
  3. I’m a lazy bastard

I did not expect oats to be the solution to the hunger. I also didn’t expect my breakfasts to become so varied and exciting! You can do loads of different flavours and they always taste great. I even made some oats that tasted like a chocolate bar.

I’ve made quite a few varieties already but so far my favourite combinations are Chocolate Hazelnut, Black Forest and Peanut Butter. So, here’s my formula for Overnight Oats, feel free to try my suggestions or play around with your favourite flavours.

Overnight Oats

You will need:

  • 1 mason jar
  • 1/2 cup non dairy milk (I’ve been using vanilla oatly or chocolate rebel kitchen)
  • 1/2 cup porridge oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (these are optional and I hate myself for being a person who now uses these, but hey, gotta stop the hunger. If doing without add a little more oats or less liquid)
  • 2 tbsp liquid sweetener (my favourites are maple syrup or date syrup for chocolate based oats)
  • your flavour combinations of choice
  1. Mix together the milk, seeds and sweetener in a mason jar. Add your extra flavours at this point too.
  2. Add the oats and use a spoon to push them into the mixture. Seal and pop into the fridge overnight.
  3. Before serving add your favourite toppings

So here’s what my favourites looked like

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Peanut Butter – Just add 3-4 tsp of peanut butter to the mix. Give it a quick swirl so you get nice big chunks of pb in your oats. I topped mine with granola and chocolate covered coconut

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Chocolate Hazelnut – Use chocolate milk, add 3-4 tsp of hazelnut butter and 1 tsp cocoa powder. Mix up. Before serving top with roasted hazelnuts and chocolate chips. Basically tastes like a Vego Bar

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Black Forest – Use chocolate milk, add frozen sour cherries, chocolate chips and 1 tbsp cocoa. Mix up. Before serving top with a little oat cream, more cherries and more chocolate chips.

So there you have it. Tesosterone has turned me into an oat loving, chia seed eating, mason jar keeping beast. Better than the Hulk I guess..

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Are you an overnight oat convert? What are your favourite combos?

Creamy Spring Pea Pasta

I love when Springtime comes around. I feel happier, more energetic and I’m always desperate to get out of my wintery root vegetable slump in the kitchen. I get so excited when the sun comes out and all the lovely exciting fruits and veggies turn up on the shelves at work.

Sadly, Manchester hasn’t had a lot of sun this year. There’s been a lot of rain, cold wind, hail and even a bit of snow. I spent yesterday at an all day punk gig at a brewery. It was cool and I loved seeing Iron Chic, Caves and Bear Trade…but it was so gosh darn cold. I had to jump around extra hard so that my toes didn’t fall off. I woke up with sore achey feet and a bad back this morning because apparently I’m an old man and can’t deal with excitement. It was torture getting into work for 8am this morning.

So you can imagine the joy I felt when the sun peeked out early this afternoon. I got a bit over excited at the end of my shift and splashed out on broad beans, asparagus, some juicy vine tomatoes, fresh garlic and a couple of cartons of oat cream. I wanted to make a creamy springtime pasta dish.

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Fresh Garlic!

I also had more unusual flour to sample for work. Green split pea flour. After a bit of research online I read that you can use this stuff to make a pea soup, so I had the great idea to incorporate it into my creamy pasta dish. It worked a treat!

Creamy Spring Pea Pasta

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Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • a few cloves of garlic (double if you’re using fresh garlic), minced
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, chopped
  • handful of broad beans
  • vegan chicken (optional)
  • 2 vine tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup green pea flour
  • sprinkling of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 carton oat cream
  • splash of water
  • salt
  • enough pasta for 4

Method:

  1. Start off by heating some water and boiling the pasta according to directions on the packet.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry off the onions until golden.
  3. Add the garlic, asparagus, broad beans and vegan chicken if using and fry off for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the green pea flour and stir into the vegetables. Cook for a few minutes before adding the oat cream and a little extra water.
  5. Add the nutritional yeast and season with salt, stir through until the sauce thickens. Leave to cook for a further 5 minutes or so.
  6. Drain the pasta and stir the sauce through. Stir through the fresh chopped tomatoes.
  7. Serve

I liked this dish a lot. It was super quick and easy to make and the pea flour made the sauce really creamy. It also added a nice subtle pea flavour, which complimented the other veggies. Pea flour is supposed to be rich in protein, so it was an easy way of bulking up a meal without any fuss.

I splashed a load of Worcester sauce all over mine, but some extra nooch or fresh ground black pepper would be good too.

Have any of you used pea flour before? What did you do with it? I want to do some more experimentin’!

Anyway, I’ll finish this post with an Iron Chic song because, damn, they give me the feels.