Living on the Veg: A kid's guide to life without meat by Clive Gifford & Jacqueline Meldrum

Over the last few years I have been cooking a minimum two veggie meals a week to accommodate for my child who doesn't particularly like meat. We have discussed her dislike for meat and what her other options are, but this book has been great for her to understand what exactly it means to be a vegetarian and the global impact of her choices. It has also shown her she isn't alone.

Food is one of those topics everyone has an opinion on as we all need it to survive. It's something we are all too happy to judge people, claiming that a food choice that isn't the one we would make as 'weird' or 'gross.' But if we don't talk about food then how do we know what else is out there?

I feel more empowered after reading this book to be able to explain my choices as well as my defend my daughter's choices to people. Like anything it's about educating people and it's best to educate them young and this book is a great introduction to 'living on the veg!'

Not only does it give us a lot of information it also gives us a few recipes to get started with from Jacqueline Meldrum, vegetarian and food blogger at Tinned Tomatoes. My daughters and I choose to make the Puff Pizza Pies for a treat one day after school. They are super easy and easily topped with your favorite vegetables to make the ultimate veggie pizza!

There were other great recipes like these bean burgers and sweet treats like coconut ice! There are so many more options then you think when you are eating veggie, sometimes it's just thinking a little more creatively! Your taste buds will thank you! 

If my review isn't enough to convince you have a look at these other bloggers who have reviewed Living on the Veg!!

*I was provided a copy of Living on the Veg by by Clive Gifford & Jacqueline Meldrum to review by the publisher, Wayland, retails at £12.99 and available now from your local book retailers or online! All opinions are my own, I was not given any other compensation nor was I asked to give a positive review, please see my contact/policy page for more information.

The Vintage Baker by Jessie Sheehan {book review}

Recipe writing has changed over the years, back in the day when people scribbled down recipes for each other it was with abbreviations and the simplest of instructions. So simple that today we would have trouble understanding exactly what they wanted us to do. Jessie, through her love of vintage cookbooks and pamphlets, has deciphered the ingredient lists and instructions and brought back long forgotten treats. 

In the past when a brand came out with a new appliance or gadget they would alway include a recipe pamphlet to go with it. Which makes sense to me and some brands still do it. I know Nordic Ware and Wiltons provide recipes on the packaging of their baking tins and my Kitchen Aid had instructions on how to send away for a 'free cookbook' which I had every intention of doing, but didn't. I wonder if it's too late? 

Anyhow, it was these books and pamphlets that Jessie collected from antique stores and secondhand shops and developed the recipes to suit us modern folks. With a wide range of recipes that cover everything from Sweet & Savory Morning Treats to Confections and everything in between we are taken back to a simpler time.

The books these recipes are inspired by range from 1800's to 1950's; some of them are familiar and others I have never heard of. But there are a few I am definitely bookmarking to try out myself....

Chai Banna Fritters
Butterscotch Pecan Curls (pictured)
Vanilla Yogurt Coffee Cake
Black-Bottom Banana Dream Bars (pictured)
Fig Pincushions
Lemon Chiffon Pie with Coconut Whipped Cream
Cherry-Almond Slab Pie with Marzipan Crumble (pictured)
Blueberry Angel Food Dream
Coconut Blitz Torte (pictured)
Milk Chocolate Malted Pudding (pictured)
Ice Cream Cake
Hot Fudge Sauce
Curried Candy Cashews
Chocolate-Marshmallow-Walnut Fudge with Sea Salt (pictured)

These are just a few of the recipes in this book, but it gives you an idea of what to expect. Even if you never baked anything from this book, although I don't see how you wouldn't want too, it's an intriguing book to read. Each recipe has a little picture of the book or pamphlet that the recipe was inspired by and even though it's a little thing, it has given it a nice little touch and adds to the atmosphere of the book. 

I think this is a great book, not only for those who love baking, but those who love everything vintage. I love being transported to another place and time through food. If you want to learn more before getting a copy for yourself, check out the author's website here and she shares a link to the recipe for Silver Cake with Pink Frosting to try out! 

The book is essential vintage American bakes, but the recipes give us UK readers weights in grams, which saves us time converting! So, please don't let that put you off!!

*I was provided a copy of The Vintage Baker by Jessie Sheehan (photography by Alice Gao) to review by the publisher, Chronicle Books, retails at £18.99 and available now from your local book retailers or online! All opinions are my own, I was not given any other compensation nor was I asked to give a positive review, please see my contact/policy page for more information.

Lemon Bars - {recipe}

I live on a main road and were I have gotten used to the traffic and the bus that runs all night has almost become a comforting sound as it rolls by before drifting off to sleep or in the mornings when waking up.

It's also the lights of these buses that keep my company as I stay up late baking. I have always preferred to bake at night. I think it's because when I started baking I was a stay at home mom and I liked waiting until the kids were in bed and it was a way of de-stressing. Unless it didn't turn out and then I would stress more.

But generally speaking it was therapeutic weighing out the ingredients and mixing them all together before popping it into the oven and then cleaning up before taking it out of the oven to cool and going to bed. If it was cake it would get frosted in the morning and if it wasn't it would cool ready to be eaten in the morning.

It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago and so I found myself up late baking again, something I haven't done in a while. And as it was my birthday I baked something just for me. A treat that isn't found here in the UK (if it is I have never seen it), a treat that reminded me of home. Lemon Bars. I can't remember the last time I had one.

My extensive baking book collection uncovered several recipes for lemon bars and all of them were pretty much the same. So, here is how I made these buttery tart lemon bars.

Lemon Bars: 


160g plain flour
70g icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt
114g unsalted butter, cubed*

Grease a 9x9 inch square baking tin with butter, I use the wrapper of the my block of butter, dust gently with flour and tap out the excess. Heat the oven to 170C

Sift all the dry ingredients together and using your finger tips combine the butter into the flour, sugar, and salt until it resembles bread crumbs. Pour into the prepared baking tin and press it down into the corners and try to get it as even as possible. Bake for about 15 minutes. Allow it to bake and cool while get on with the

lemon filling:

3 large eggs
200g sugar
about 100ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed (2-3 lemons)
lemon zest from about 2-3 lemons
40g plain flour
pinch of salt

Beat the eggs until frothy using a hand mixer or stand mixer. Add the sugar little by little, until just combined. Beat in the lemon juice and zest on medium high for a minute or two until combined. Mix in the flour and salt and then poor over the baked crust and bake for 15 more minutes. The edges should be slightly browned and the top should have tiny bubbles. Leave to cool for at least an hour or if you're like me over night. Cut and sprinkle with icing sugar just before serving.

*tip - for the butter in the crust bring it out of the fridge just as you are measuring ingredients. You don't want it to be room temperature or worse melting.

Not only do I stay up late baking, I stay up late blogging too. I wonder why I don't like mornings, but I think it's pretty obvious that I stay up way too late! Wether you are a late night baker or not I hope you enjoy them! 

*inspiration from - Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding, Betty Crocker Red Cookbook, and Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

COMPTOIR LIBANAIS {restaurant review}

I have been to pretty much every restaurant on the Riverside and even ones that aren't there any more. However, there are only a few I actually go back to time and time again. Now this was my first visit to Comptoir Libanais (literally means Lebanese Counter) since it opened last year on The Oracle's Riverside - it is literally on the river and has a nice view of said river. That aside the food was good and I don't think it will be my last visit to this restaurant. 

My friend and I were in town and decided we were hungry, but we didn't know what for? It's a common thing with us never being able to agree or decide on what to eat. The only thing we did know and agree on was the fact that we hungry, but not that hungry and were looking for a reasonable meal with a reasonable price. 

Eating out is a luxury and that's why it's important to have a good experience. We were greeted when we walked in and pretty much seated right away. The waitress was informative and helped us decide on final choices. The food came so quick and it was delicious. 

As I mentioned above we were hungry, but not that hungry so we both went with a wrap. I went with the Chicken Taouk Wrap - it was stuffed with marinated chargrilled chicken, pickled cucumber, tomato & garlic sauce. My friend went with the Falafel Wrap (he is a vegetarian) which has chickpeas, broad beans, coriander, garlic, peppers, tomato, pickled turnip, parsley and a tahini sauce. 

By the recommendation of our lovely waitress we tried the Batata Harra or Lebanese spiced fries with red peppers, fresh coriander, garlic & chilli. They were good and we dipped them in garlic mayo and I believe a chilli mayo. 

I think on my next visit I will be trying the hot and cold Mezze (a selection of dishes). I think I would visit here again, I don't go out all that often and it's nice to know where you can go to get a good meal. 

The Riverside
The Oracle Shopping Centre
Bridge Street

*I was not asked to visit nor review this restaurant I just figured as it was literally the only one I hadn't visited on the riverside and I had a good experience there that I would share it with you! If you have been let me know what you like to get in the comments below! 

The Only Brownie Recipe you will ever need! (Raspberry & Toffee Brownies)

I have been blogging for a long time and at one point it was almost an obsession. But blogging was easy because I loved everything to do with what I was blogging about - baking.

I still enjoy baking and I still love reading cookbooks - it's why you still see quite a few book reviews on here - I even enjoy writing and taking photos, but my life now has limited extra time for those things, I have different priorities, hence why my frequency of posts has dropped so dramatically.

The one thing I don't enjoy is the stress and anxiety of social media. So, I have found a platform I enjoy (instagram) and use it as and when I get an opportunity I go on twitter and facebook and update things, but I no longer stress about how many likes or retweets I get.

I was asked once why I blogged and I answered mostly for me. And for my love for baking, reading, writing, photography etc.... blogging was and is my creative outlet and if I get a few loyal readers or lots of people dropping by great! But it's not why I blog.

The internet is a hard place to live in and understand.

These brownies are a recipe that I have tried and tested over and over again and thankfully aren't that hard to understand. I originally got this recipe from a BBC Good Food Magazine and the other day I opened up one of their issues and it was in there again, because it is literally that easy and good.

It has been adjusted over and over and to be honest this batch of brownies I couldn't even tell you what I put in them exactly. I just sort of threw it all together. But if you want to throw a batch together this is how you could do it.

Brownies: raspberry & toffee

200g dark chocolate chips
100g milk chocolate chips
250g salted butter
250g light brown sugar
150g dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
140g plain flour
45g cocoa powder
10g espesso powder
100g fresh raspberries
100g toffee, chopped

Preheat oven to 180C/gas4 and line a brownie pan or 8in square pan with parchment paper.
Very gently melt both chocolates with the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan. Just before the chocolate is completely melted, take off the heat and gently stir until it’s completely melted.
Then add the eggs one at a time to the melted chocolate mixture. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and espresso powder into the pan and stir until just combined.
Gently fold about half of the raspberries and toffee into the mixture, pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining raspberries and toffee over the top.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for a minimum of 35 minutes. If you are using the 8 inch square pan you may want to give them an extra 5 minutes, if you are using a brownie pan or a 9 inch pan then I would still closer to the 35 minutes.
Cool completely before cutting into squares and eating!

As mentioned the original recipe was not mine own, however this recipe only resembles the original, as was modified to fit what was in my cupboards! 

If try these out let me know how you adjust them in the comments below, I am always looking for ways to make the different! 

Here are a few of the adjustments I have made over the years: (Each one is linked to the relevant post if you want to see pictures!)

The Cook's Atelier: Recipes, Techniques, And Stories From Our French Cooking School by Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini {book review}

When I moved to the UK from the US I was and still am constantly told I was brave for making that move. At the time I was young and the opportunity was there so I took it not really thinking about it as anything but that, an opportunity.  However, when reading or hearing of other people's stories I think "gee they are brave" forgetting I have done it myself.

Looking back at my own story and reading the story of Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini I can't help, but concur it is actually a big thing. A huge life changing decision that does take bravery and a lot of faith that things will work out.

Both mother and daughter have always loved France and French food so, it's no surprise they have ended up in France. Both have professional backgrounds in food and wine so they combined that passion with their love for French food to create something truly inspirational. A cooking school in a town called Beaune, in the heart of Burgundy's wine country.

The Cook's Atelier is so much more then just a cookbook, it's a record of their joinery so far. It not only shares more then 100 recipes, it shares classic French techniques as well as introducing the people in their community, the people who support them and whom they support and are essential to their cookery school.

If you have ever wanted a proper look into French cuisine and life look no further!

At this point I list all the recipes I'd like to try. I do this one to share with my readers what sort of recipes to expect to find inside, but also as a record for me to go back too. However, there are so many delicious looking recipes and my list was so long I narrowed it down to my top 10!

Savory Tart with Spinach & Mushrooms
Shortcakes with homemade Strawberry Confiture
Green Garlic Souffle
Chocolate Layer Cake
Butter Cake with Peaches & Raspberries
Vegetable Tian with Fried Basil
Summer Berry Tart
Nicoise Pan Bagnet
Orange Cake with Candied Citrus
Braised Endive Gratin

Please note that I am a baker at heart and although I list more sweet then savory please know there are a lot more savory recipes to admire and try out!

If I ever have an opportunity to visit and explore France, I think I will be checking if they have a space in one of their workshops!

Want to know more - grab your own copy of The Cook's Atelier and/or visit The Cook's Atelier website!!

* I was provided a digital copy of The Cook's Atelier by Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini to review by the publisher, Abrams, retails at £35.00 and available now from your local book retailers or online! All opinions are my own, I was not given any other compensation nor was I asked to give a positive review, please see my contact/policy page above for more information.

Scandikitchen Summer by BRONTË AURELL

It is finally spring and it has brought us summer like weather! With the sun shining and the clouds hiding away it's probably about time I shared this great book with you. 

Last year I had the opportunity to review North: How to Live Scandinavian by Bronte Aurell and was delighted to have a chance to read her latest book Scandikitchen Summer and the book I am about to tell you all about.

When we think of the Scandinavian countries we think of snow, ice, and darkness. Well, I can't speak for you, but I know I do. It's hard to remember that although yes there is a lot of darkness in that part of the world, but they also have a lot of light and this book celebrates that.

Bronte gives us an idea of what would be in a Scandinavian Summer Pantry in her first chapter and then follow that chapter up with a chapter on Breakfast & Brunch. Continuing with chapters on Open Sandwiches, Salads & Sharing Plates, and then Larger Plates & Mains to get you through the summer days. The last few chapters are my favorite, because they all have to do with baking and sweet treats; Cake & Fika (fika is what the Swedes call a coffee break), Breads,  and last but not least Desserts & Drinks.

While reading through a great cookbook I always book mark a few recipes I would like to try and if I am reviewing it, I like to list them here for you to get an idea of what sort of recipes to find in the book. So, here is a list of some of the recipes I have book marked -

Crispy Wholemeal Waffles
Cinnamon Bun French Toast (pictured)
Simple Salmon Open Sandwiches
Cottage Cheese, Cucumber, & Radish Open Sandwiches
Fish Cake Open Sandwiches with Tartar Dressing (pictured)
Black Rice & Salmon Salad
Curried Cauliflower & Rye Grain Salad (pictured)
Pea Puree Dip
Dill Pesto Potato Salad
Easy New Potato & Dill Salad
Crispbread Pizza (pictured)
Mushroom Paj
Lena's Danish Meatball
Brown Butter & Toffee Cookies
Summer Berry Tart (as seen on the cover)
Elderflower Everything Cake (pictured)
Blueberry & Vanilla Buns
Beetroot & Walnut Buns (pictured)
Carrot & Rye Rolls
Swedish Mess
Vanilla & Cloudberry Ice Cream
Easy Elderflower Cordial (pictured)

There are a lot more recipes to browse though and inspire you to celebrate and eat like the Scandinavians and prove that although their winters are dark and magical their summers and bright and wonderful!

Bronte Aurell is an amazing author her words and recipes make me feel like I have been transported to another country. A country I hope to visit one day, but until then I can soak up her words and recreate her recipes until I get there.

If you would like to know more about Scandikitchen - check out their website here

* I was provided a copy of Scandikitchen Summer by Bronte Aurell to review by the publisher, Ryland Peters & Small, retails at £16.99 and available now from your local book retailers or online! All opinions are my own, I was not given any other compensation nor was I asked to give a positive review, please see my contact/policy page above for more information.


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