Monday, April 30, 2012

Recent Happenings

Yep, I deserve to have my wrists slapped, I've been very complacent with my blog this year. I thought I'd do a quick update for you all and report on everything that's been going on.

My new job is pretty much the reason for the lack of updates. I'm very busy nowadays and the last thing I want to do of an evening is spend all my free time online. It's mostly taken up with walking Gerry, we've been on loads of adventures lately with a new friend we have made and his 9 month old lurcher pup, Charlie. Here's a pic of them! This summer is going to be great :)

The new job itself is going grand, I'm very lucky to be working with people who I really get on with. They even went to the effort recently of ordering me a vegan pizza when we had a little office gathering, and everyone is always so interested in finding out exactly what vegans eat. There are a few people there who are on health kicks who often look to me for advice on dairy-free products and nutrition too, which is nice. Here's a pic of the pizza - just a regular veggie without the cheese, but it was still really good! Hmm. Looking at that picture now has made me a little annoyed as I did ask for extra pineapple, and there appears to be none on it! Funny how it's taken me over 2 months to realise this...!

I've hardly had any time to myself to do any photography, which kinda annoys me, but I suppose it hasn't really been the weather for it lately. I've taken a few pics though as you can see below. My lack of time also means that I've been rather unadventurous in the kitchen, hence no new recipes, and this month I'm going to go on a rather big detox... I'm far too fond of that Irish whiskey!! Time to stop going out drinking, stop buying so much ready-made food, and to get back to basics, eating fresh stuff and doing free activities to distract from drinking and spending money. I recently won a voucher in a RedBubble competition for one of my pictures, so I guess I should take that as an incentive to make more of an effort to get back into photography again instead of being so lazy all the time and just shooting snaps on my iPhone. They're still super pretty though, I love my iPhone!

Easter came and went without much ado - I got one Easter egg, a total surprise, of my boyfriend's mother. It was by the Celtic chocolate company: a dark chocolate egg with lovely dark chocolate mints. I'm not a huge fan of easter eggs, so my boyfriend bought me fluffy lambs and chicks instead :) I got my tattoo artist's dogs some dog friendly chocolate (carob) which is also vegan and I had no idea that you can actually buy dog easter eggs, otherwise I'd have bought one for Gerry!

Talking of tattoos, I probably haven't kept you all up to date at all with what I've been getting (I now have both feet, my back, my chest, and a lot of my arms done) - so I'll just show you my most recent one, which also happens to have vegan undertones to it. It's a scene from a medieval manuscript of two rabbits beating and skinning a man tied to a tree. A lot of people think I'm a bit crazy for having that on me, but not only is it to do with animal rights, but with the fact that I did my archaeology thesis on rabbits in the medieval economy for my masters degree. So I think it's rather fitting! Joe was more than happy to do it, of course, being a vegan himself, and I lent him a copy of The Plague Dogs, one of my favourite films. It's an animated tale by Richard Adams, about 2 dogs that escape from a research laboratory and who have to fight to survive in the wild whilst being hunted by everyone. A very morbid, dark tale, but well worth a watch. If you love Watership Down, this is right up your street!

So that's all my news, really! My dad is coming over from Wales in a couple of weeks time for his 70th birthday so that should be fun. I'll be treating him to a meal at my favourite Moroccan restaurant, and hopefully attempting to bake him a few treats and cakes! I'll definitely be blogging about that soon, to share either my success or my epic failures with you all :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Long Overdue Update!

Hello everyone!

I'm sorry I haven't posted since the New Year, things have been quite hectic here! The reason for this, is I managed to get a new job! I start on Monday and I'm thrilled to bits that I'll actually be working close to home, with some really nice people. So I've been rushing around lately going to interviews and buying new work clothes, and consequently haven't had the time to update the blog at all. I am just happy that I'll now be able to get back into my usual routine and it also means that I'll be able to continue to afford to feed Gerry his vegan food :)

Talking of dog food, I ordered Gerry a new treat today. Now it's not strictly "vegan" and I don't know what other vegans will think about this - it is a dog chew made from Stag Antler. The difference with this animal product is that it is naturally shed and a sustainable resource. No deer were hurt in the process, and the chews last a long time and are good for dogs, providing them with lots of necessary vitamins and minerals. The company also makes sure that all their packaging is environmentally friendly and recyclable. I decided to order one because Gerry loves his chews and the vegetable-based or rice-based chews I've bought him in the past are gone in a matter of seconds, and I need something to keep him occupied when I'm away from home and that will last him a good while. He has a plastic bone with vegetable paste inside which lasts a long time, but sometimes I do worry about him swallowing little bits of plastic. These antler chews are 100% natural, beneficial nutritionally, help to clean the teeth, are ethically produced and are not harmful to any animals in the process.

I'd be interested to hear your opinions on this. I have no idea how these deer are kept. If I found out that they were not roaming free in an estate or parkland, and discovered they were intensely farmed or mistreated in any way, then I would stop buying them immediately. Does anyone have any insight into this?

Gerry recovered well from his fractured paw. He was actually very well behaved during his 6 weeks house arrest - as if he knew exactly why he wasn't allowed out. He went through a pretty terrible time, poor thing. The bandage on his leg rubbed the skin and he got a few pressure sores and the skin started peeling off, which meant the bandage had to be removed, slowing down the healing time for the fracture. He's still being eased into exercise now (I think he overdid it a little today on a walk with a Sighthound Stroll friend and ended up limping a little) but he's doing well and his sores have nearly completely healed over.

In other news, I got a tattoo on my foot recently. I was planning on getting the other one done, but after the way my foot reacted to it I think I'll be leaving it for quite a while - I could not walk for about a week! It really swelled up and it was so painful. My tattooist Joe didn't do it this time, but my friend Anto, their apprentice, did an amazing job and used the same Eternal vegan ink as Joe uses. Here's the result, neat huh!

I also got my septum pierced. I've missed my nose piercing for the last few years. I only really took it out because of my work, but with a septum piercing you can tuck it up and hide it away inside your nose whenever you want. So that is what I shall do! It's very subtle, as it's only a small horseshoe and not a full ring. You can just about see it in this photograph.

And now for some lovely pictures I've taken recently:

And some yummy vegan food I had over the Christmas / New Year:

Homemade apple cinnamon crumble with nuts on top and vegan custard.

Black Bean, Apple & Soya Mince Chilli, which was really very good.

Christmas Dinner at my dad's with the Mulberry Bush's homemade nut and mushroom roast, with a wonderful sauce made with morello cherries and red wine, accompanied by sprouts and chestnuts, with maple roasted root vegetables. Mmmm!

My second Christmas dinner at home with the boyfriend consisted of orange and cranberry stuffing balls, root vegetable roasts (with yummy peanuts) from Goodlife, maple roasted root veg, sprouts and copious amounts of cranberry sauce and thick, delicious vegan gravy. Well worth waiting for!!

A chickpea tagine made with spicy sundried tomato and cinnamon sauce from Tesco, accompanied by some of Tesco's own Mediterranean Cous Cous. A quick and simple meal which tasted lovely!

So I'll update again soon and let you know how my new job is going. The words "Occasional Friday Pizza" and "Night at the Dogs" have already been thrown at me even at the interview stage, so we'll have to see how I cope with that! There will be no way I'm going to the greyhound stadium, so maybe when people ask why I can use it as an opportunity to educate them on sighthound welfare. As for the pizza, I'm sure I'll be able to order in something without cheese and educate a few more people about veganism when they give me some funny looks!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Latest Tattoo

I totally forgot to post up a photo of my latest tattoo! It's a gramophone turning into a flower (a morning glory, one of my favourite flowers as a child) with swallows flying out of it, symbolising how carefree music makes me feel. I love what Joe did with my idea :)

On the way up to Spilled Ink I stopped at Blazing Salads to get us some vegan cookies. Never again. They were so bloomin' dry they tasted like chalk in my mouth! Imagine a flapjack with no moisture that sucks all the saliva out of your mouth... I think I'll have to stick to making my own in future.

I am going to go back to Joe in the New Year and get some leaves added around the base of the gramophone and some light blue and white clouds behind the birds. As well as a few small bits added to my chestpiece. Maybe I could bring in some homemade flapjacks to make up for the bad cookies! I've been wanting a Mexican archaeological inspired tattoo for a while now but I think I'll have to wait maybe until my birthday until I get that... or until I get a new job!

I still haven't had much luck on the job front. I did get an interview though, which went extremely well, but the competition is so fierce here for work that it unfortunately amounted to nothing. Hopefully I'll find something next year, and in the meantime I'm going to try get a few qualifications under my belt thanks to the free training that FAS provides.

This Christmas I'm heading back to Wales for a few days to spend some time with my father and catch up with old friends. Gerry still has a fractured paw and is on house arrest so my boyfriend is staying in Dublin with his folks this Christmas so he can look after him. I'm really looking forward to going back to Wales, I'll try take some photos and blog about the food I had over the festive period when I return. In the meantime... I hope everyone has a lovely Yuletide! :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Festive Fun!

Our December Sighthound Stroll was a great success... 43 hounds registered for the walk - the biggest turn out yet! Gerry is still injured and on house arrest for another two or three weeks so it was a shame that he couldn't join in the festive fun... he'd have looked so cute in his fair isle Christmas jumper and elf booties! Here are a few pics from the day. It took place in Marlay Park, a large park over the south side of Dublin which also has a food market in the courtyard of the house every Sunday. I've blogged about it before, they do some really nice broccoli soup on one of the stands, and Blazing Salads often have a bakery stall there too.

This is Sam, formerly known as Sahara, who has just been rehomed in time for Christmas!

Pickles is in foster care now and is still looking for a Forever Sofa to settle into...

This beautiful little lady is Frida. My friend adopted her from Orchard Greyhound Sanctuary. She had a rough start in life, bless her, and was kept in a coal bin. You wouldn't believe the state of her a few months ago...

This is Stig, one of Gerry's girlfriends. Although I reckon Frida could be a rival in future as she's just as bouncy and mad as he is!  How cute is Stig in her jimjams?!! Gerry thinks her sister, Panda, is just as awesome... why only have one girlfriend when you can have TWO?

This is Sammy Sambo! He's a great friend of Gerry's who looked after him when I went to Connemara for a week in the Summer. Sam is an ex-racer and is far more sensible than Gerry. While he was at Sam's house, Gerry managed to find - and scoff - a whole bottle of cod liver oil capsules and was sick all over Sammy's mammy's bed. Lovely!

And finally, a few walking pics. I can't wait for the next meet-up!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Boyfriend's Ink

Joe tattooed my boyfriend today. It was my Christmas present to him... that's to my boyfriend, not to Joe!!!! Joe got vegan jellies instead ;) The lyrics are by Music Machine. No explanation needed :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bóthar Disgraced

The Irish charity, Bóthar, raises money in order to send pigs, cows, goats, sheep and hens out to developing countries to provide poverty stricken families with the means to solve their problems. The animals will provide milk and eggs to these people, and even though I disagree with any kind of animal farming, this, I think, is the most applaudable type, where an animal is sent to someone who will really look after it and value it and it will be given a longer, happier life than the average farm animal.

However.............................. read on.

Bóthar have always insisted that animal welfare is a great concern of theirs and that vets check their animals when they arrive to the families and that they are checked regularly to ensure that they are being looked after properly...

So, how shocked are we to discover that Bóthar is planning to raise money at the expense of cruelty to other animals? Yes, believe it or not, they are holding a FUNDRAISER at the GREYHOUND STADIUM in Cork!! How unbelieveable is it, that an organisation that has assured concerned vegans that animal welfare is a prime consideration of theirs, is raising money at the expense of exploiting innocent animals?

Are they not aware that thousands of greyhounds are put to sleep each year because they don't make the grade to be able to race? Even if they do make it to the race track they are often kept in squalid conditions as their owners don't care about their welfare. And when they retire from racing they are usually surrendered to pounds or found dead with mutilated ears to disguise their ID.

Join their facebook page and leave a comment about how you disagree with what they are doing! I can't even explain how disgusted I am. And I know a lot of people who supported Bóthar who will now have nothing to do with them. Really, I hope they will back-track and issue a public apology, as this cannot be tolerated.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Injured Pup!

I'm not sure if any of you know, but Gerry hurt his paw about a week ago and has been bandaged up and not allowed to exercise since. He is currently spending the night at the vet's and will be x-rayed tomorrow to see what the problem is. My boyfriend was out walking him and he ran down to the trees by the river and came back limping. The weird thing is that he wasn't crying at all - he's hurt his paw temporarily before and has uttered screams I've never wanted to witness again for the rest of my life, yet has been fine 2 minutes later after a cuddle and a treat! This time however, there was no indication of the cause of the problem. Tomorrow we will find out what exactly has gone wrong. He's been putting a bit more weight on it lately, but it's still swollen and sore. Not a great time for it to occur really, as soon as I've been made redundant! Luckily the insurance will cover most of it so I'll get my money back.

I've been treating him a lot since he has been poorly. I feel sorry for him being on house arrest. The only time he's been let outside in the last week is to do his business. He's been exceptionally good though, minimal complaining. It's as if he knows he's injured. When we've had falafels I've made him his own little portion. And when we had stewed spiced nutty apples he had his own doggie version without spices or sugar. He's also had a few puff pastry treats! The vegan kibble seems to be going down really well - no upset stomachs, no excessive pooing, very healthy coat... and he really looks forward to meal times! I have to monitor what he eats at the moment because he's getting no exercise. He seems to be adapting well though and it helps that I'm around for him most of the time.

I'll update soon regarding the status of his injury. I think it's either a dislocation or a fracture... fingers and paws crossed it's not broken! Here he is with his funny squeaky-fries toy! Apparently his two girlfriends (YES TWO!) have bought him a present, so next week he will have his first visitors he's had in a while and I'm sure he will be delighted! :)

Puff Pastry Yumminess

We made puff pastry pasties for dinner tonight - they were really good! I filled mine with cauliflower and cheezly, and my boyfriend had vegan sausage, cheezly and onion with a bit of mustard. We used Jus-Rol pastry, spread a little oil on top to garnish and seasoned with salt, pepper and dried parsley. YUM!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


So Nandos have come to Dublin. We've heard some positive feedback from other people, both vegan and non-vegan, about this chain of restaurants so decided to give the one on Mary Street a shot. It predominantly serves chicken, but also has a lot of vegan dishes on its menu. I don't normally like to go to a place which is associated so widely with serving meat, but as they seem to cater so well for vegetarians and vegans and use separate cooking areas and utensils for vegetarian food, I thought this time I would give it a go.

We were greeted by a really friendly guy who explained how to order food and which sauces to choose. When we mentioned we were vegan he brought over a big booklet explaining what ingredients was in everything, which was great, but I would have preferred if he could have explained to us in person briefly what was/was not vegan, otherwise that booklet would have taken us ages to flick through if we hadn't already done some research prior to our visit.

I went for the Veggie Burger in a wrap with chilli jam (minus the mayo) cooked in mango and lime sauce with peri-peri salted fries on the side. My boyfriend had the same only in a pitta and cooked with a medium heat sauce, with an extra corn on the cob on the side. Our meals fell within the €10-12 range and were very filling, but we had to wait a long time to be served. It could have been because they had only just opened, but I noticed that people who ordered chicken after us got their food served a lot quicker.

Both my boyfriend and I were quite disappointed with the peri-peri fries, we thought they would have been cooked in the spices, but the flavouring was just sprinkled on top. I really enjoyed my wrap and the soya and tomato burger had a great texture. I think my boyfriend regretted getting it medium heat as he found it a bit too hot and lacking in any other kind of flavour. I normally love spicy food but decided to deviate from the norm as the mango and lime really appealed to me and it went so well with the chilli jam, so I had no regrets there!

It's also great that you can refill your glass with soda as many times as you like and the prices overall are definitely reasonable, but I did think almost €5 for some pitta bread and hummus was a little steep so we avoided the "appeteasers". I'd like to try the mixed olives sometime though as they sound like something I'd love. Other vegan options on the menu as far as I can see are the cous cous salad, mixed leaf salad (both available with chicken at extra cost) and some of the sides like their macho peas, ratatouille and possibly their new black bean casserole type dish and spicy rice. I would have to check before saying so for sure though. Their other vegetarian burger, the bean burger, is not vegan as it contains cheese, which is such a pity as it sounds lovely and is stuffed full of pulses and seeds.

We will most surely be paying another visit when we are in town again sometime soon, as the prices and service were very good and the portions were large - the wrap and fries are all I have eaten all day and I am still not hungry and it's gone 7pm!! It's great that there's somewhere for vegans to go and get a decent burger, but I'm afraid that if I am out and about with my fellow vegans/vegetarians I'd be more likely go to Deli O'Delhi or Govindas than to Nandos, for more flavoursome healthy food at better value. However, it's a great option if you are with friends who are meat eaters, so I'd definitely recommend giving it a shot!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heinz Squeeze & Stir and Knorr Mealmaker Curry

I just discovered that two of the new Heinz Squeeze & Stir soups are vegan! My boyfriend bought a couple for us to try the other day, and they aren't bad really. The Mediterranean Vegetable and the Minestrone are vegan but "may contrain traces of egg". Great though for a little snack when it's cold outside!

We also discovered that Knorr's Chicken Curry "Mealmaker" packet is now vegan! It was one of my boyfriend's favourite quick curry sauces before he went vegan, and I always loved the smell of it but it pointlessly contained milk powder! I say pointlessly, as you have to mix it with milk to make it up anyway. We saw it was on offer in Tesco and it said "New Improved Recipe!" on the front, so we checked... and lo and behold, they have taken the milk powder out!! My boyfriend was over the moon about this and made us a big chickpea curry to celebrate :) All he did was add soya milk (or you may add coconut milk if you wish), onions, chickpeas and some extra fresh coriander. I had mine with grated cauliflower rice, which I adore, and the mealmaker packet with one can of chickpeas made a really substantial, tasty, quick meal for two. There may be more in the Mealmaker range that are suitable for vegans but I haven't checked as my boyfriend only really used to like the curry.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Never To Return...

One place I shall never be going back to is L'Officina, the Italian restaurant at Kildare's designer outlet village. I went there at the beginning of this week with my boyfriend's mother and brother, just to check the place out. I'm not even sure why I went, because I'm not into designer anything really, but it was something interesting to do.

I was treated pretty badly at this restaurant. It's the only place to eat there really, so we went in as we were starving and I hadn't eaten anything since the previous night, I thought they must be able to rustle something up for me. I don't think I've ever come across anywhere that hasn't been able to accommodate me in some form or manner - even the local pub once whipped me up one of the nicest vegan salads I've ever had, and I've even had to go to a steakhouse before and been given a lovely meal.

Not this place. I told the waitress I did not eat meat or dairy and asked if I could have a panini with roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes and aubergines. The waitress looked at me in disgust, as if I was insane and said she'd have to check with the chef. She promptly came back and just said "NO". Just like that, in the tone of voice that those capital letters imply. How rude for such a simple request. It's not as if it was a tall order, as these were ingredients used in all the other paninis on the menu. And what would they do if someone lactose intolerant came to eat there? I didn't want to just ask for one of the vegetarian paninis "without the cheese" because when I've done that in other places before they've just taken the cheese out and do not double up on the other ingredients - and I'd just be left with a weird, empty panini with only two ingredients.

So I had to have the minestrone soup. It was very nice, like a fresh vegetable broth, but that's not really the point, I really wanted something much more filling. I am also beginning to wonder if the paninis were ready-made, and not fresh, which is possibly why they couldn't add/remove ingredients. They did not look like very decent paninis when my boyfriend's family received theirs.

To top it all off, they couldn't even deliver my drink to the right table. Another waitress was wondering around with my drink offering to people on other tables, and when I tried to help when she passed by, by saying "excuse me but I think it might be for me?" she gave me a scornful look and said "no it's not for you"... then came back approximately 20 seconds later and said that I was right.

All in all, a very displeasing visit. Thank god I never plan to return.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Whopper of a Roast!

Nothing beats a big roast dinner, especially before you go out somewhere and need to fill your tummy for the day! This is what I rustled up before we went to see Battles play in Dublin on Saturday:

Fake chicken roast from Granose, with a layer of Tesco's sage and onion stuffing sandwiched in between, along with some dried chopped apricots added into the stuffing mix. I accompanied it with roasted potatoes and parsnips, sweetcorn and sprouts, with a serving of vegan gravy and redcurrant jelly...! It was soooo good! Granose products are really handy if you're pushed for time, like I was that evening, but still want to quickly conjure up something tasty for a roast dinner without going to much effort.

I have used Granose products before. This is what is available at the moment in all Holland & Barrett stores:

- Lincolnshire Sausage Mix
- Nut Roast Mix
- Chicken Style Roast Mix
- Sunflower, Lentil and Vegetable Roast Mix
- Falafel Mix
- Soya Mince

I have tried the nut roast, the vegetable roast and the sausages before and have enjoyed them all. Adding water is all you need to do to most of the products, which is just so simple and handy, and then put them in the oven for around 25 minutes. I think they mostly cost around €3, but they are currently €2.35 on the Holland and Barrett website. There are usually a couple of sachets per pack as well, so if you like to layer them together like I do then it will suffice for two dinners for three people.

The stuffing mix I used was Tesco value, along with Tesco value dried apricots. Yes I am not rich, I am going to buy value products where I can and am not ashamed to admit it!

Here's a very awkward photo of me with Ian from Battles rocking an impressive moustache... it was an amazing gig!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Logi's Been Forever Homed!


The little stray lurcher I rescued wandering on my green and who was subsequently taken in by Erin Hounds and then sent to the UK to be rehomed... has found his forever home!

Logan (or Logi, as he is called for short) has been adopted by an elderly gentleman called Ray, who has promised to spoil him rotten. When Alex, his foster mummy, left him at his new home he was asleep on the biggest dog bed she had ever seen, worn out after playing with Ray's daughter's two bolshie little terriers. Hopefully Ray and Logi will bond quickly and soon be inseparable!

I'm so relieved he has found the happy home he deserves, thanks to several people's hard work and dedication :)

Deli O'Delhi Update

If you remember my previous entries about Delhi O'Deli, the vegetarian and vegan Indian café on Moore Street, you will be glad to hear that the new version of their menu has everything vegan marked on it with a V! It's so useful that they have done this, and cuts ordering time in half! I've been in there quite a few times recently, but mainly to take advantage of their amazing "Five for a Fiver" offer, where you take a large plate to their buffet and help yourself to as much as you want from their five daily specials. You have to ask which ones are vegan, but usually four out of the five are free of dairy.

Yesterday I was doing some Christmas shopping in town and stopped here for a bite to eat. I had a huge plate of curried potatoes and green beans, chickpea saag (spinach), soya chunks with peas, with a little bit of pilau rice on the side and a few mini popadums. There was a vegan-friendly kidney bean dish as well, but I thought I had enough on my plate already!

If you haven't been to Delhi O'Deli yet, you're really missing out!

Also purchased yesterday, my lovely little Maneki Neko.
Hopefully he's going to bring in some good fortune - I really need it!

Getting my Falafel Fix

Al'Fez make some really good Mediterranean and Moroccan products. Today I tried their Falafel mix, purchased from Tesco. It's ever so easy to make and one packet (which costs under €2) made 12 decent sized falafel nuggets. I shallow fried them briefly, and they tasted much nicer than any pre-made, shop-bought falafels I've tasted before. I would make my falafels from scratch, but at that price and with such a healthy ingredients list why bother going to all that effort?! ;)

I will have to check out more in their range. They have a lot that is vegan - Kofta spice, Tahini, Houmous and Harissa sauce to name but a few... I shall definitely be on the look out for these. In the meanwhile, I think I will be having falafels on a regular basis! They are so delicious in a Mediterranean pocket wrap (like a thinner, but slightly larger pitta), with grated carrot, onion and sweet chilli sauce. Mmmmm!