When I was at university, I was addicted to hot chocolate from the cafeteria (oh yeah, I knew how to party….. mild style) but since a lot of the sweet, chocolately kind of cocoa has whey or some type of lactose or milk powder in them, I had to put a stop to my hot chocolate habit. It was a sad time. A sad, liquid-chocolate deprived time. I tried boiling pure, unadulterated cocoa powder in hot soy milk, but it turns out that while yummy in cakes, it has a pure, unadulterated taste of burnt dirt when made into a drink. (Okay, maybe I should have added sugar next time, but if *you* drank boiled dirt, would you want to try boiled, sweetened dirt next time on the off-chance it was better? I would not, and did not)
But the realisation came a month ago when I got gifted a box of chocolate Oatly. Arghgmamamwyum. Chocolate Oatly, meet microwave, and become that which you were always meant to be; a delicious mug of joy and happiness. The pinnacle of human genius. Chocolate…that you can drink!
So yes. Try chocolate Oatly if you miss hot chocolate, and like me, did not think of this glaringly obvious solution
There’re a few themes running through this blog. 1). I *heart* polymer clay 2). OMG Lampworking rox!!!eleventy11!!! (yes, that’s tongue in cheek) 3). Go vegans! and 4). Yumnmnmnmnchocolate. Today’s blog post is on the first and fourth themes, although before you get excited, no, I did not combine them.
First, the chocolate:
I haven’t yet managed to find vegan choc ices, so last week I finally took matters into my own hands, scooped out little balls of Swedish Glace ice cream, and dredged them in melted chocolate. Oh. Wow. It’s seriously the best chocolate treat I’ve had in a while* and the chocolate cools around the ice cream on impact, making a delicious little shell with creamy coldness inside. So today I got out my chocolate moulds, pressed the ice cream in, and once they’re refrozen, poured on the chocolate. Even better than before. Next up – putting a swirl of Sweet Freedom syrup inside the ice cream. Then it’s on to glace cherries, a dab of jam, and maybe (get ready to have your mind blown) chocolate, inside of ice cream inside of chocolate inside of ice cream, ad infinitum or until I end up with a chocolate ice cream boulder the size of a football.
On to the polymer clay. The results of the first stage of the Beads and Beyond Jewellery Maker of the Year came in, and since reader voting is over and I didn’t get past that round anyway, I can show my entry – it did make it to the top ten, which, considering the photo, was pretty great *G*:
I have something embarassing to reveal…
I made a Facebook business page yesterday. I resisted so long, because I never truly ‘got’ Facebook (well, that’s still true) but I wanted another way to connect with people so, here it is. I uploaded quite a lot of eye-candy and I think I may try out some sort of poll later this week (daring, aren’t I? *G*) so ‘Likes’ are very welcome!
Also embarassing: I bought new shoes from The Vegan Store and they’re not of a practical nature. I couldn’t help it – they were on sale, and vegan, and green, and strappy, you try resisting!
I have no idea where I’m going to wear them, considering most of the stuff I do is better suited for trainers or slip-on shoes. It’s also brought my current number of shoe/boot pairs up to six, which seems a scandalous amount of shoes to own *G*
I usually make nothing but chocolate cakes, but today I needed a change and ‘made up’ a recipe: i.e. I took a variation on a basic non-vegan chocolate sponge, de-choco-fied it, took out the eggs and milk, and added a different flavour as well as some spur-of the moment toppings.
Here it is for sharing By the way, you get a gold star if you can work out what flavour the cakes are from my oh-so-subtle and minimalistic use of a particular ingredient *G*
Modified from a plain chocolate cake from the M&S Chocolate book.
100g soy margarine
juice of 2 lemons
225g of flour
pinch of baking powder
approx. 200ml soy milk mixed with a little cider vinegar (yeah, I know…but the vinegar makes the soy milk thicker according to ‘Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World’)
Juice of 1 lemon
50-100g of sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
150-200g of icing sugar
Pre-heat oven to 180C.
Cream the soy margarine and sugar together in a bowl. Sieve the flour and baking power together, then alternate between pouring the soy milk and the dry ingredients into the bowl, gently folding the mixture together. Add the lemon juice and a teaspoon or so of the rind (this is why I like to be organic unwaxed lemons – so the rind is okay). At this point you can add some more soy milk if the batter looks too thick, or some more lemon juice if it isn’t lemony enough.
Put the batter into cupcake cases and bake for approximately 15 minutes – the length of time depends on the size of the cakes, but you can test their readiness by quickly opening the oven door and prodding a knife into the nearest cake. If it comes out cleanly, the cakes are ready.
Leave the cakes on a wire rack to cool.
To make the syrup:
Heat the sugar and lemon water over a medium-level heat until the sugar has dissolved, and the mixture has started to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Prick the tops of your cupcakes with a fork and drizzle some of the syrup over them.
To make the icing:
Make a simple glace icing but using the lemon juice in place of the water. Once the cakes are fully cool, dollop or drizzle on the icing and let it firm up a little before serving the cakes.
A few notes: I’m a chucker, so some measurements aren’t precise. I tend to go by the ‘look’ of things and add liquid ingredients according to how thick the batter should look. You don’t want a doughy batter, but you don’t want something as thin as pancake batter either; somewhere in between is what you’re aiming at.
Bit of round up post (that’s right, whoopie pies get a whole post to themselves, everything else is shoved into one shared post. Priorities people!)
First news: I managed to get a tutorial into Beads and Beyond this month (June issue) which was lovely to see – I used lampwork beads by June of Beaujolais Beads to make a diamond motif bracelet. Here’s a variation, also using her beads:
Third item: Yeah, there is no third item. Oh wait, how about a plug for an awesome vegan cake service (there’ve been a few birthdays lately), Vegan Cakes Direct. I normally do my own baking, but sometimes it’s a treat to receive something pre-baked *G*
Apparently whoopie pies are the new cupcakes…although the Food Network Channel is telling me donuts are the next big thing in baking, so they seems to have skipped over the whoopie pies and gone onto the next, next big thing. But regardless, I received a book of whoopie pie recipes and had a go at veganizing them (using my usual egg replacement, Alpro Soya soy puddings).
Well, they’re tasty, but I think I had expectations that were too high – I tried a chocolate recipe and made my own filling with mint chocolate, soy margarine and icing sugar melted over a bain marie, which was good and yet not mind-blowing. Maybe I made them too chocolatey (turns out there is such a thing as too much chcolate); the recipe called for 100g of cocoa powder (yikes!) and then I added a chocolate soy pudding too, and chocolatey icing.
I’ll try a vanilla and raspberry version next time, see if a lighter flavour works better. (There’s also the possibility that I didn’t make it correctly….nah, who would ever believe that? Obviously it’s the recipe’s fault *G*)
Mind you, I did like that the filling squeezes out the sides of the cake sandwich. That was fun – like eating a jam doughnut *G*
Well, do ya?
It’s this: Swedish Glace vegan vanilla ice cream, sandwiched between two Rich Tea biscuits. I can’t describe how glorious it is. Actually, I can; it’s… very glorious.
And yes, there are vegan Rich Tea biscuits, and they’re in a supermarket, namely Sainsburys. Now I know big supermarkets are often bad news, but surely a supermarket which offers many, many vegan biscuits and snacks, and labels its vegan products, can’t be *all* bad.
First things: I’ve had a lot of Bead Soup lately, and I still have quite a few helpings left to go! I had to take a bit of time off the computer, so I haven’t managed to go round all the blogs, but I’m trying to work in little bits to get to them all. So if you get a comment in the middle of June about your Bead Soup piece(s), it’s just me *G*
Second things: I’ve set up a few ‘pages’ at the top of the blog that are commentless versions of some posts I thought needed a more prominent link, like an FAQ, and the Vegan Craft Supplies list. Speaking of that, I’m always looking for suggestions about products that need to be checked, particularly because I’m not a multi-crafter, and don’t know all the supplies needed for some crafts. There’s a link for where to leave a comment in the page at the top (and I’ll give you credit for the lead as a thanks)
Most jewellery has metal components, usually mined from the earth in horrible conditions, but to cut down on the amount used, here are some alternatives.
| White and Green Hemp Necklace
with Glass Teardrop Pendant by NeicosKnots
Unwaxed cotton cord or hemp- Both materials feel lovely against the skin, and can make up a delicate or casual necklaces depending on how they’re used; both knotting and macrame can make the simple cords into something a lot fancier. Perhaps you could also use any scrap wire to wrap the ends and make a small closure or clasp. For a quick course in macrame go here
|Metallic Blue Necklace with Flower Pendant
Seed beads and thread can make a really pretty chain for a pendant. A simple strung necklace featuring metallic finish Delicas is versatile and delicate, and easy to make, whilst beadweaving, though more time consuming, can be used for a more elaborate effect.
One of a Kind Metal Pendant, Handcrafted
From Found Metals by twistedbeading
Old, unloved electrical cables can be mined for copper wire, so you get some cheap supplies while recycling (PLEASE make sure they’re not still connected to electrics, or in use, eek!). Plus, small pieces of wire from old jewellery and short pieces of scrap wire can be used for wiring up beads or charms; even if you’re ‘only’ using plated metals (metal is metal after all), snip the tops off previously-wired beads, collect ‘mistake’ pieces, and save them. At the very least, they can be used for practicing wirework skills, or making tiny wire charms like coils and scrolls.
|Piranha Lampwork Bead Set Blue Cobalt Black by helbels|
Lampwork Glass Beads Purple Sparkles
|‘Deep Cherry Red Transparent Lampwork
Small Disc Spacer Beads Set of 12 by JSavinaBeads
|Fantasy Fairy Jewelry – The Garden Fae
There’s a wide range of glass pearls out there in beautiful colours, which make great substitutes for those taken out of oysters. Swarovski Elements (TM, et cetera) in particular do high quality glass pearls; in a fit of paranoia about rumours of fish scales being used in the coating of some glass pearls, I e-mailed them about this, and they stated there are no animal by-products involved in theirs, so vegans can rest easy about them!
Amazing Cream Glass Pearl Hand Beaded Necklace
with Sterling Silver by metalclothnwood
| Cerulean sea necklace by
|Polymer Clay Cabochons Lemon Grass Faux
Dichroic Set of 3 by Polymerpretties
- with a little bit of polymer clay, and some mica-powders, you make your own pearl-esque beads, and you’ll be able to control the size, shape, colour, and texture of them to get a more organic feel. With a few more supplies, you can mimic the look of almost any material with polymer clay, including lots of non-vegan things, making them a lot animal friendlier. If you’re not polymer-clay inclined, have a browse on Etsy – there are lots of talented artists there who are open to commissions.
Giant Pink Faux Rock Pendant
|Faux River Stone Necklace
Precious Metal Clay (silver)
|Sorceress Fine Silver Earrings
in Chocolate Amethyst by CeeGeeJewellery
Making your own fine silver findings and beads from recycled cars? Because it’s maleable and pliant, you can mould elaborately curved toggle clasps, shape bead caps directly onto the beads for a perfect fit, and make lightweight hollow beads by connecting two curved circles together with silver clay paste.
I have to admit, I had reservations about what the ‘organic binders’ were, because this vague and oddly sinister description made me think of a distraught man yelling out ‘Organic Binders is people!!!!” (geek) but apparently the binders are plant-based. Phew.
|Frank-Fine Silver Owl Handmade Necklace
Pendant Sterling by abbielyn
|Christmas Confetti fine silver circle earrings|
There’s a bit of furore going on in the on-line vegan community right now; a well-known vegan blogger has apparently suddenly developed a complete disdain for this way of life.
I’d like to write out a lengthy rebuttal of everything she wrote, but a lot of people have already done it a lot better and more interestingly that I can, and besides, whenever I start to thing about what she said, I have the urge to laugh out loud (and then cry in frustration a little bit) because it all sounds so ridiculous. I have to cut her a bit of slack – she feels her health has been damaged, and I know that when you feel like that, you’re often prompted to do whatever you can to alleviate your pain. I also respect that people have different beliefs, and not everyone is vegan, and that’s fair enough; she certainly doesn’t deserve the threats she’s apparently been getting for this.
But pronouncing veganism as an unhealthy option, as something that is often a facade (apparently, loads of famous vegan writers regularly eat fish or meat to keep them healthy…there’s that urge to laugh and cry rising again) from her position as a well-known ex-vegan just seems irresponsible; it has the potential to lend her words a false, misleading aura of legitimacy that will probably be used as fuel in anti-vegan arguments. It implies veganism cannot be sustained as a life-long diet, because who would know this better than some who *was* a vegan, and reverted. She is attempting to justify her own personal decision (her right, of course) by presenting her rationalizations as fact, and that is what ipsets me most.
I don’t want to lay out all the reasons I believe veganism is a good way to go, and I don’t want to sound judgey. What I do want to say is that, contrary to her post:
Most vegans are actually vegan behind the scenes as well as in public
It’s not difficult, self-denying, anti feminist, or masochistic to be vegan
Vegans are not continually hungry
And my own personal mantra:
Vegan chocolate and cakes are the most divine things in the world (plus you can lick the cake batter without worrying about raw eggs!)
Edited to add:
I’ve just started reading the comments in the eponymous vegan’s post, as well as some other blogs (links following); the internet never changes, does it? These fights always managed to follow the same script, just with a different topic, whether it’s fandom, food, or feminism. It’s funny when it isn’t sad.
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- bead soup
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