Monday, 30 November 2009

Sloppy Lentils and Vegan Chocolate Buttons...

... are very nice for greedy gluttons!

Another short post today. I really can't justify posting this recipe because the only adaptation I made was halfing it and using green lentils instead of brown ones. This was another recipe from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker which is a secret vegan treasure with all the recipes being vegan. I expect they realised selling it as 'Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker' might be a little to scary!

On the side you'll note left over Tofu Hash, adapted from Vegan Bites. This was very nice but mostly a little less spicy then I like, so I added a little hot sauce. Nom Nom Nom.

From Ready, Veggie, Cook

Tonight I was feeling a little tired, so Hubby cooked a nice chilli. This was a simple mix of soya mince, kidney beans, spices, yeast extract and tomato purée. Since we had some kicking about, we also put a field mushroom in. This added a lot to it, so I think it might become a regular addition to our 'heck, there isn't much in the fridge' chilli.

From Ready, Veggie, Cook

The other exciting news is my endless craving for white chocolate is now sated. Just yesterday evening I was lamenting to the long suffering husband about my desire for white chocolate. While doing my usual blog crawling I noticed this recipe for White Chocolate Syrup over on Lusterous Musings. I was very excited to note that Dairy Free now did white chocolate buttons. It being a Sunday night I couldn't drag him out to Tesco on the pretence of looking for something else, so had to content myself with a post work mooch this evening, which turned up these gems.

From Ready, Veggie, Cook

They taste exactly like I remember Milky Bars tasting. This is a good thing indeed, and I greatly enjoyed nomming on a few while waiting for dinner to cook.

On a last note, how nice is this? My new co-worker made cupcakes for everyone at work today, but made vegan ones (so I could have them) and nut free, so my other nut allergic colleague could have them. This is why I love my new job. The people are great. That's what makes an office more than just a building.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Once you pop..

You know how sometimes you reallllly fancy a cookie, but making a whole batch is not really a great idea. Not that I have some huge ethical objection to eating a huge batch of cookies, I just feel that after cookie number 2, you don't really enjoy them as much... and if you spread them out over a few days by the time you get to the last cookie it's gone kinda soft on the outside and dry in the middle.

No, for me, two cookies per person is just about perfect. It's one of the annoying things about living in an Omni driven world... I can't just pop into Millies Cookies when I'm in town and get a choc-chip cookie on a Saturday and enjoy that and move on. Sure, there are some nice pre-made cookies, Nana's Cookies for one are lovely, but they aren't fresh made that day, and they aren't nice and warm and fresh from the oven.

So, homemade is the way to go, but most recipes make at least a 12 cookies, if not more. Imagine then, how happy I was to see I'm not the only person wantings smaller cookie batches... and even more so that someone had done the hard work for me and posted a recipe. Yes, Kris of Nom! Nom! Nom! Blog had blogged a great Cookies for Two recipe.

So, me being me I like to play. I've halved the recipe, and made a few changes, mainly because Mr Derious loves oats in his cookies, and I think he would pout without them.

Cookies for Two - Ms Derious Style

2 tbs flour
3 tbs rolled oat flakes
1/8 tsp baking soda
Sprinkle of salt
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs margarine, softened
1 tbs apple sauce
1/8 tsp of vanilla
1 tbs soya milk
1 - 2 tbs chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180C

Mix flour, oats, salt and baking soda together
Mix marge, apple sauce and sugar together. Add soya milk and vanilla (You could just use vanilla sugar if you wanted)
Add dry ingredients in batches
Fold in choc chips

Place four equal dollops of cookie mixture on a lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 mins until yummy looking.

Allow to cool

Eat all four while no-one is looking, claim you forgot to make dessert ;)

Again, thanks for Kris for this recipe, it's really nice to have just a few cookies as a treat.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow

I've been having a bit of a trouble getting into blogging since the seasons turned. I think in part this is because food photography is so hard without either daylight, or failing that good artificial lighting. This tends to make my food look very washed out, and not very nice.

So, I'm going to try posting some shorter, snappier posts until I get my groove back. So, some apologies for the poor photos and the brevity of the posts.

Anyway, today was the switching on of the Christmas Lights in my town, so we went out to see that. There was a great band playing, but so loud my ears hurt now! I knew we would want something warm and yummy when we got back, and a sticky, hot, pudding like chocolate cake sounded like the way to go.

I love my mums 'Chocolate Fudge Pudding' which is a sticky, gooey pudding cake which cooks bathed in it's own sauce. However, I shy away from attempting to cook it myself because
  • It's a very non-vegan recipe, eggs as well as dairy
  • It makes enough for 8-10 people
  • Requires about an hour in the oven, costly and my oven is a little unpredictable

I also don't like cooking things my mum does as it never tastes the same and I then feel my version is 'wrong' rather than just different. My Mum is an amazing cook, so I feel I have some big shoes to fill if I follow her recipes.

I remembered I'd recently 'starred' a Google Reader post that had caught my eye, and nipped off to go see exactly what it was.

I follow a few omni blogs that concentrate on more frugal foods, one of these being 'Passionate Homemaking' who are currently running a Nourishing Crockpot Carnival with loads of crockpot recipes. I knew I'd seen a link to a post making a cake in the slow cooker, and sure it was... sat on Sarah's Musings (another blog I instantly added to my bulging Google Reader list) Double Chocolate Cake with Hot Fudge Sauce

This is a yummy recipe, not great for you, but by no means as terrible as some, and cooks in just one step in the slow cooker, over the hours of 90mins + 30mins cooling time. This meant I went out immediately after sticking the slow cooker on and came back to a slow cooker full of cooked cake. It's much better for my electricity bill not to have an oven on for an hour!

One of the things I liked about this recipe was that it cooked straight in the pot, most slow cooker recipes ask for some steaming arrangement, and since my slow cooker is quite small they aren't really suitable for me.

I shan't post the recipe, since I made very few changes and I would love you all to pop over there and check out her blog yourself, but I will give you a quick rundown of the adaptions I made.

Substitute milk with homemade soy milk
Used half white flour and half wholemeal
Chopped nuts were slightly less then 1/2 a cup
Chocolate chips were probably less then a 1/2 cup, using one small 100g packet

I was also not clear on how much water to use in the last step so stuck it out at one cup full, which as it turned out was perhaps a little scant as the sauce was not as thick as I would like. The sauce is found right at the bottom of the slow cooker once the cake is done. I guess if you wanted to you might be able to turn it out onto a plate, but I think it's fine how it is.

Some things to note with this recipe.
The batter will seem runny - Its okay. Don't panic
The 'sauce' will also seem runny
As soon as you pour the sauce over the top some of the cake batter will bubble up and you will think it's ruined. It's not

So, it's one of these 'have faith that it's going to work' recipes, a bit like the first time you make seitan.

30mins is the perfect time to leave this to cool. The pot will be cold enough to touch, and the sauce still runny and hot.

While we are on the subject of Chocolate... feel free to check out Chocolate Covered Katie's Operation Chocolate Covered Kindness. A quick click doesn't take much, and it could help someone out.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The UK Vegan 100

Well, shall I just skip the whole 'I've not been blogging, I'm a naughty girl' bit, and move onto posting again... one hopes.

The main thing to note is that Pippin had her cancerous growth removed, and it doesn't seem to have returned at the moment.

On the job front, well, I've been working part time in a high street retailers....and I start a new full time job in two weeks time. I'm very happy.

Okay, quick post today. I've been looking at all the Vegan 100 lists online and sobbing into my barley cup because its been mostly US products. Finally, I've seen two UK vegan lists online, one from Where's the Revolution? The other from Cooking the Vegan Books. So, I can finally play, and now, you can too.

1.Copy this list onto your blog

2.Bold the things you have eaten

3.Cross out anything you really wouldn't eat

4.Pass it on.

If something looks non-vegan, like haggis or butter, you can just go ahead and assume that I mean a vegan version.

A bought pizza with cheese in the UK

Aldi croissants

Anything at Dandelion and Burdock

Anything at Saf

Anything at Vbites

Bacon buttie with tomato sauce


Beans on toast

Beef and Tomato Pot Noodle

Bird’s custard

Birmingham’s curry mile

Blue Sheese

Booja Booja ice cream

Booja Booja truffles

Bourbon biscuits

Bread and butter pudding

Bubble and Squeak


Chip shop curry sauce and chips

Christmas pudding

Churros at Terre a Terre

Clive’s pie

Co-op donuts



Crumpets (I love these, esp with yeast extract)

Eccles cake

Elderflower cordial

English muffins

Evesham asparagus


Fry’s Peppermint Cream

Granose Mock Duck


Hampshire watercress

Henderson’s relish


Holland and Barrett fruit flapjacks

Holland and Barrett Porkless Pie

Hot cross buns

Innocent Smoothie – Don't drink this now because of the link to coca-cola

Irish stew with dumplings

Irn Bru

Jersey Royal potatoes swimming in butter

Kent black cherries

Linda McCartney country pie Scallop (potato fritter)

Linda McCartney sausages and chips

Marigold bouillon powder

Marigold braised tofu

Marmite breadsticks - Don't eat Marmite any more because its owned by Unilever, who use horrible animal testing methods)

Marmite on toast

Masala dosa

Mashed carrot and swede

Melting Mozzarella Cheezly

Mildred’s mushroom and ale pie

Montezumas chocolate

Mushroom ketchup

Mushy peas



Paskin’s full breakfast

Pease pudding


Pickled onions

Pickled walnuts


Potato farls

Potato from the Baked Potato Shop in Edinburgh

Pringles Again, I don't consider products by animal testing giants such and Proctor and Gamble as vegan

Realeat fishcakes

Rhubarb crumble with Swedish Glace


Rice pudding

Roast parsnips



Scones and jam

Scotch broth

Scottish raspberries


Semolina pudding with jam

Sesame Snaps


Spotted dick

Spring cabbage

Staffordshire oatcakes

Sticky toffee pudding

Summer pudding

Sunday roast at The George


Victoria plum


Wagamama Yasai Chilli Men

Walker’s prawn cocktail crisps – I haven't had these in years!

Warehouse Café bangers and mash

Weatherspoons curry

White chocolate

Worcestershire sauce

Yorkshire pudding

Looks like I've eaten about 60% of the items, which surprises me.

Anyway, I'm going to try to get back into the blogging now I can skip the contact search for jobs!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Green Bean Casserole and Poached Marsala Pears

Most importantly, Pippin, has had her operation. The x-ray didn't show up any spread to the tumour, but she has an irregular shaped heart. They think they got all the main lump of the tumour, which is evidenced by an huge scar.

Other than that, it's been a bit of a slow week on the cooking front. I've not been making anything very interesting as I fell into a bit of a rut, being sidetracked by the concept of a novel I'm planning to write.

I have two very nice new dishes I made, one being a Vegan Green Bean Casserole based on a recipe posted by Chris from . Green bean casserole doesn't seem to be, as far as I've ever seen, a very commonly ate dish over here in the UK, so it was a first for me, and I can't therefore compare it to any I've eaten before, but it really was lovely. I made my own fried onions, simple soaking a big onion in some milk, covering them with flour, and then frying in very little oil. I suspect it wasn't very authentic as far as french fried onions go, but it was very tasty!

I also made the most gorgeous pears baked in maple syrup and garam masala sauce, with seasame seeds. This is another recipe from La Dolce Vegan. It was gorgeous, and I'll certainly make it again if I find myself over burdened with pears.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Long Overdue Update

I do love keeping my blog. It makes me very happy to sharing cooking with others, and to hopefully show people that sometimes being brave and trying new recipes really pays off. However, when I just banging out standard cook book fayre, or the same thing over again, I don't much feel like sharing. This is why I have an occasional tenancy for hiatus. When I'm stressed or down about something, its easy for me to slip back to the same meals I know I can safely do with little or no real effort.

I have had, however, a few nice meals of late, most enjoyable of which was a Mushroom Noodle dish, with a little toasted nori for good luck and iodine.

Mushroom Noodles - Serves Two

Neutral tasting oil for frying (Oil, Sunflower etc)
100g Mushrooms
2-3 Spring/Salad Onions
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Cup of Miso Soup (250ml)
1 Pack of 'Wok Ready' Noodles. Blue Dragon are suitable for vegans
1 Tbs of Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Gomashio
Sheet of toasted Nori
  1. Finely slice your mushrooms. Remove just the very roots of your spring onions off, and finely slice all the rest. This means the green bits too.
  2. Stir fry in a little oil for 2-3 mins
  3. Add the garlic, cook for a few moments, then add the miso soup and bring to a simmer
  4. Add the noodles and stir until mixed in, now add the soy sauce and 'plate up'
  5. Roll the nori into a tube and use scissors to slice ribbons of nori onto your bowls of noodle. Mix this in, then sprinkle with gomashio.
This is a very quick meal, and very filling.

I may well not post another recipe for a short time. One of my three cats, Pippin, will be going into the vets for an x-ray and biopsy on a small tumour on her chest tomorrow. Due to Pippin's age (16) and the location of the tumour, it is likely that it will have spread and we may not have her much longer.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I love cats. I think because we all use the word 'love' too much, it's easy for that to be underestimated. Cats bring me a joy very little else does. They are so utterly honest in their affections. A cat won't sit with you unless it wants too, likewise, should a cat want to sit with you, it's going to be pretty insistent about it.

When myself and my Husband got married just under 10 years ago, we hadn't lived together first, and as such, we didn't have a honeymoon, instead deciding to spend the time off work setting up the new house. I had known from the start this would involve a cat living with us. We wanted to give a home to a rescue cat, and were introduced to Diva and Hobbit, who soon came to live with us. Diva and Hobbit had various health issues and a background which meant they needed to live indoors only, and we soon got used to the endless cycle of litter tray cleaning etc.

In late 2007 we noticed a lump on Hobbit's face. It turned out to be an inoperable tumour, and at Easter, we had to make the decision to take the pain away from her.

Diva pined for her sister, becoming anxious and unhappy whenever we left the house, and we decided that she needed another cat in the house to keep her happy.

We looked about, and in late May 2008, Maisie and Pippin came to live with us too. Maisie and Pippin were 15, and were life long housecats, so needed a new family that were happy to have older cats that would need to stay indoors. I fell in love with them instantly, and within a few weeks, they had integrated with Diva and they all became friends. Pippin's 'slightly enlarged thyroid' turned out to require daily drug therapy, which I suspect if why her former owners no longer wished to look after her.

Pippin often sits with me as I surf the net or blog, and amuses me by attempting to help herself to my drinks. She is a loving cat, who likes being held and purrs loundly at the slightest touch or glance. She has a special personality, and I love her very much. If it wasn't for my cats, I don't know that I would understand how wonderful animals are, and how much like us they are... and how very wrong it is for us to use them to fill our stomachs.

About two weeks ago I noted a small lump by one of her nipples, and arranged a vets visit. My vet echoed my concerns and performed a needle biopsy. The results came back how we feared, and so she's going in tomorrow.

I write this in part to find an outlet for sorrow, which copious tears doesn't seem to free, and in part because I want to ask that anyone reading this just mentally sends whatever positive thoughts they have to my baby when she is with the vet.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Plough(wo)man's Lunch

Any of my fellow Brits will be familiar with the concept of a Ploughman's Lunch. What they are less likely to be familiar with, is the concept that it might very well be a bit of a ploy from the 1960s by the Milk Marketing Board to get people eating more cheese. This is disputed, as you'll see from my Wikipedia link, but it's interesting none the less.

Before I became vegan, I was convince giving up cheese would be impossible. I have found that I don't really miss it that much. Now and then I have a nice meal which would traditionally be expected to have some cheese in it, and I don't really miss it. More for my Husband, I have Tofutii Cheese Slices on top of pizza, but that's about it.

At the moment, I'm trying to eat a few more nuts, but without just sat there eating a handful of nuts each day. Enter, cashew nut cheese. I'm not going to post a recipe, as there are many of these on the web and I just used a recipe from La Dolce Vegan. I will be making this again, as its very tasty, but I might mix it up a bit.

You can see here, my lunch on Saturday, using some of the Beetroot Bread from a few days ago, I was so pleased to have a mostly home made lunch. The alfala was home spouted, the lettuce home grown, the cashew nut cheese was home made. I can't claim to have grown the brazil nuts, but the beetroot in the bread was from my Dad's garden.

I followed this up with a nice, crisp apple. Now, feel free to tell me this doesn't look like a 'real ploughman's' but I liked it.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Beetroot Bread

I didn't make much of note today, other than some bread containing raw beetroot.

I made this mainly because I still have some of the beetroot my Dad gave me last time I went to visit, and partly because I've recently sown a few seeds myself, and I need something to do with them when I (hopefully) get a glut as a last crop of the year.

Also, it looked a very pretty pink hue in the photo in the recipe book... and is rather red in real life! The inside of the bread itself is nicely flecked with bits of beetroot, and is pinker then the baked crust of the bread.

I haven't included a picture of this cut bread, because the light had failed by the time I sliced it, and all the photos came out badly.

I followed a recipe almost identical to this one on with the difference that my recipe only call for one tsp of yeast, not the two shown here. My bread didn't rise as much as I like, so I would actually recommend the 2tsp instead. I think the beetroot weighs the dough down a little.

This recipe is taken from "Bread Machine" by Jennie Shapter. The nice thing about this book is that in most of the loaf recipes give you the option of small, medium or large. Small is always big enough for the pair of us.

I never bake bread in the bread machine itself though, using a Pyrex Bake a Round instead. This doesn't give a bread that's the right size for sandwiches, but which is just about perfect for a hunk of bread or a small bit of toast. I got mine from a charity shop, and am now searching endlessly for another one. I would get them off e-bay, but they seem to be a US only thing, and if you google it you'll see they are often used for non bread making reasons.

In gardening news, the courgettes are starting to come through now. Since we only have the one plant that's producing anything, I'm fairly pleased with getting one or two courgettes off it a week. The French peas now have rapidly growing pods on them, and the Raspberry the very start of some fruit. Considering this is my first year growing my own food, and I did start very late, I'm quite pleased.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Cherry Plum Cake

One of the nice things about being quite into the blogosphere is that I often see recipes blossom out from one blog into another, and then another, each making slight changes that that blogger likes or dislikes. This is also the case that I'll see a recipe that includes dairy or eggs, and within a few days someone has veganised it. This was very much the case with the Plum Kuchen that appeared recently in Gourmet Magazine . It then appeared in a number of blogs I follow, including Smitten Kitchen and Vegan Yum Yum.

This seemed very fortuitous as the local cherry plum tree is going cropping very well this year, and I feel it my civic duty to eat some of the bounty. I've never seen any one else picking them off the tree. The photo below was taken in a large frying pan, about 30cm across, and I ended up using less than half the plums. The rest are now sitting in the freezer ready to do something else with. Any suggestions as to what that 'something else' might be would be greatly appreciated.

I followed the Vegan Yum Yum directions, only changing one or two things, which was using Allergy Care egg replacer instead of Ener-G Egg Replacer, and replacing the half cup of Earths Balance with 1/4 cup of Pure Dairy Free, and 1/4 cup of Apple Sauce. This reduced the fat a little, but it baked very well.

Caution, you won't be able to tell from the picture, but this makes a lot. I cut it into 12ths, because I'm trying to feed up my husband at the moment, but even at 16ths this would have given nice big chunks. It is also sinfully good when served warm, which I'm sure would be considered a sin in itself, but if its microwaved for just 30 seconds, it is very much like a sponge pudding. As it's cold today, I treated myself to this as my mid morning snack.

Speaking of the internet, and how it changes what I eat, I'm quite often to be found wandering about on The 'Vegan Forum' these days. There are quite a few UK people there, which is very nice, as we discuss a lot of UK products, and special offered in supermarkets.

A week or so back one of the other members offered a soy milk maker for free, just for the P&P. Being impoverished as I am, and somewhat obsessive over the idea of getting a soymilk maker for some time, I quickly bit his hand off. It turned up on Friday, and I made my first batch of milk later that day. It's very nice, easy to use and makes a litre of soy milk from just 55g of soy beans. This is about 9p per litre, a lot cheaper than the 60p tetra packs from Tesco, and a lot greener too. Plus, I have loads of Okara (soy bean pulp) to use as well, which I'm gathering up for recipes all ready.

Its a little effort to clean, but not too bad really, and considering I normally manage to cause things to boil over if I try making the soy milk on the stove, so really I'm just cleaning a mik maker, instead of a stove. Plus it seems to need a lot less soy then the stove recipes I've encountered. I'm not really sure why this is, but it doesn't seem very thin or anything, so that's another advantage.

Best of all, it seems like the company that makes it have discontinued the make I've got, and now do a fancy electronic one, which by all accounts is no where near as reliable or good. Also, I've become very chatty with the person who sent me the milk maker, so I'm very happy about that too.

Not much in the way of inventive cookery these last few days, so behold a bit of random food pictures.

Broccoli, Chilli and Courgette Stirfry.


The beetroot in the sushi was grown by my Dad.

Chilli Beans with Cider Bread

In yet more exciting news, my Brother's fiancée has just started a food blog. It's an omni blog, but a few nice vegan or veganizable recipes are already on there. Its nice to have a shared interest with someone. 'Misty' is a very lovely woman, and really kindly when I first turned vegan offered to buy my a Carob Easter Egg... isn't that sweet of her? She's also a scientist by trade. Isn't it interesting the way people think that science and spirituality are opposing forces. Surely, a curiosity about how the world works doesn't need to be limited to the 'nuts and bolts' of things.

Anyway, I sure think it would be nice to welcome her into the blogosphere.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Garden Soup and Treacle Tarts

Yesterdays dinner was a modified Garden Vegetable Borscht soup from How it all Vegan, followed up with a slice of treacle tart. Isn't the soup a pretty red? I modified this by swapping the cabbage for kale, and the spinach for Swiss chard. I topped this with a little soy kefer. It made loads, so I've frozen some down, and ate the rest with some lentils stirred in for dinner this evening.

The treacle tart from last night didn't quite work, but I decided I to have a go at making my own single serve microwave treacle tart. Stick with me on this, as I serve between weighed measurements and volume measurements. Sorry about that ;)

Single Serve Pie Bases - For two

20g Rolled Oats
10g Dry sweetener of choice
5g margarine or apple sauce
small pinch of cinnamon

Mix together and press into microwaveable pie dish or ramekin. Try to leave an indentation for the treacle to go into. Microwave for 1 min on high. You could also bake for 10 mins at 180°C.

Treacle Tart Topping - For two

2-3 Tablespoons of dry breadcrumbs (or 4 of fresh)
2-3 Tablespoons of golden syrup
1/8 lemon essence

Mix all ingredients and spoon onto the top of the prepared base. Press down and microwave for 1 min. If it looks like it needs a bit longer, microwave for 10 second increments. You could also bake for 10-15 mins as above.

Verdict - Very tasty, but needs work. A bit too much topping for the base. I'll play to see what I can do. I expect if I had baked it in the metal dishes it would have worked really well as the main issue was it sticking to the bottom.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Broccoli Skillet Toss

I go through small phases of really longing for certain veg. This week, I've not been able to get enough broccoli.

Saturday Night it was Broccoli and Chili Pasta, which I've posted about before and today I had a snack bowl of broccoli stir fry.

Broccoli Skillet Toss - Serves 1

1/2 head Broccoli.
1 clove garlic
2 rings red onion
2 small slices of fresh ginger
1/2 tsp chili paste
1 tsp oil of choice
  • Cut broccoli into florets. Slice garlic as thinly as you can and matchstick the ginger.
  • Heat your 1/2 tsp oil in a cast iron skillet to a medium heat
  • Add garlic, onion and ginger and cook until starting to go translucent
  • Add broccoli and cook, stirring frequently for 2-3 mins
  • Mix remaining oil with chili paste and drizzle into pan
  • Cook for another 2-3 mins. If you have a lid big enough, place this over your broccoli to help it cook and keep the moisture in.
  • Eat. Chopsticks optional.
I also had an epic food purchasing fail. Being as I love peanut butter I was very excited to see some cheap in QD (budget shop in my town). It turns out when a jar of peanut butter with chocolate chips in it is for sale and cheap, it's because it seems to contain no chocolate chips, just sugar.

Now, sugary peanut butter might be okay to ice a cake with, but it's not so nice on toast. Queue the quickest peanut butter improve know to man.

Chocolate Peanut Swirl

1 small jar peanut butter
4 squares (c 20g) dark chocolate
  • Chop chocolate into chip sized lumps
  • Microwave jar of peanut butter for 1 min. It should now be runny enough so you can't dig a hole in it
  • Add chocolate chips and stir just long enough to incorporate the chips, but stop before the chocolate fully melts
  • Place jar in fridge to harden
Actually, this saved the jar of peanut butter. I wouldn't go as far as buying peanut butter to do this to... but if you have one of those inexplicably sweet jars, go for it. It came out like a very budget version of 'Dark Chocolate Dreams' though not nearly as nice. Admittedly though, it was less than 1/4 of the price. I expect if I added more chocolate it would work better, but I fear that I would be throwing good money after bad.

Also, I've had a bash as coconut milk kefir. Basically, I took about 1 cup of coconut milk and added 1 tbs of soy kefir. I let then rest overnight on the counter top. It had separated out into especially sour 'whey' which has gone to make sourdough, and white creamy stuff. After straining, there was about a 1/4 cup of coconut cream kefir. I wouldn't bother again.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Pandemonium - A Cast Iron Excuse

Unfortunately, I'm not able to bring you pictures of scrummy foods today. I've been cooking, but mostly following recipes, and I don't like to blog if I can't bring you something interesting or new.

What I can bring you, however, is pictures of my new (to me) cast iron pans. Looking at the makers seal on the bottom (Victor) I don't think they are anything special, but I still love them already.

These came from a charity shop, and cost the princely sum of £7 for all three. The two smallest are currently in the oven, being reseasoned.

How do you season a cast iron pan I here you cry? Well, it's most easy.
  1. Should your pan require cleaning, you can rub it with a iron pan scrubber with a little salt and oil. Wash this very thoroughly as salt causes rust. If you have an oven with a self cleaning option, you can place your pan into the oven and run the self clean cycle. Personally, I've never tried this before, so I can't recommend this.
  2. Cover you pan inside and out in some kind of lipid. Some people claim vegetable oil makes the pans sticky. This isn't my experience. Personally, as a vegan I don't make shed loads of options here, so a I've tried coconut oil, rapeseed (canola) oil and olive oil. Rapeseed was best.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  4. Place turn your pan upside down and place on a baking sheet. If you can, open some windows as there will be smoke.
  5. Place pan in oven and heat for about 1 hour. This bonds the oil to the pan, and makes it almost non stick once cool.
  6. Leave pan in oven until cold.
Some people recommend doing this once a month, but if you use your pan fairly regularly, I don't think it's required. Never put your cast iron away wet, and you'll probably be fine.

Why do I cook in cast iron I here you cry with some excitement. Well, let me tell you.
  • Cast iron is almost non-stick. I don't use non stick pans because. I have concerns about the toxicity/carcinogenic properties of the non-stick coating of pans. Considering it's well known that the fumes from non-stick pans can kill pet birds, I find myself ill at ease eating foods cooked in them.
  • Clean up is very easy. Many people advocate just wiping out your pan with kitchen towel or a clean rag. Unless I'm cooking something that leaves behind a lot of residue, this is what I do. Much quicker then washing up in the sink. If it requires a proper clean, I use use plain water and then heat gently on the stove afterwards to dry it.
  • Lifespan - Stainless steel and aluminium pans require replacing every few years, yes, even expensive ones warp. A good cast iron pan will literally last you a lifetime. This is why you see perfectly usable pans with a makers mark from the turn of the last century regularly appearing on ebay
  • Cast iron increases the amount of dietary iron. As a vegan, this is a very fortunate thing. Acidic foods such as tomatoes will increase the leaching into your food. Its up to you if you think you need this though. Sometimes tomato based foods are a little darker when cooked in cast iron.
  • Cast iron can go from hob top to oven. Mind the hot handle though!
  • Cast iron has very few hot spots, especially better quality pans.
  • Cast iron is very good for browning food. This is wonderful for things like caramelised onions or pan fried seitan.
  • Cast iron works very well on induction hobs. Induction is a very efficient method of cooking, which is about 90% in terms of heat transfer. However, this requires pans to be ferrous to work, and many cheap pans aren't. Cast iron always is.
  • Cast iron is blurry heavy, and give your wrists a darn good work out ;)
The main concerns when using cast iron are
  • It requires a little bit of maintenance. This is normally nothing more then cleaning with a damp rag and then heating until dry. If it gets very gunky you might need to scrub and reseason, but this has only happened to me once in six months.
  • They are very, very heavy. If you have weak wrists this can be a problem. My wrists have become noticeably stronger since I started using cast iron.
  • Some ceramic/halogen glass topped hobs advise against the use of cast iron incase you scratch the surface or the weight shatters it. I find a strong policy of 'not dropping the pan' seems to have worked wonders here.
  • It is possible to get too much iron. Personally I'm not in the least worried by this due to my vegan ways.
I now have, including today's pan. 1 small skillet, 1 medium skillet, 2 large skillets and 1 cast iron griddle.

If you have a hob top suitable, you really should think about getting at least one cast iron pan. Check out your local charity or thrift store, or keep an eye out if you have a TJ/TKMaxx near you, which often has these in store.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Playdough Pizza and Super Sushi

No, not real playdough, that wouldn't taste so great, but incredibly green looking dough.

I used my normal pizza dough (200g flour, 1 tbs oil, 1 tsp easy bake yeast, 1/2 tsp salt) and added 1/2 a tsp of spirulina. I did this for three reasons 1) I have a lots of the stuff left over from my short stint of attempting to eat raw 2) It's a vegan superfood, apparently 3) Poops and giggles!

My spirulina in mushrooms experiment of earlier on in the week yielded very fishy smelling mushrooms, which made me decide to only add 1/2 tsp this time. I expected a slight green tinge, but what I got was awesome playdough green. You can see this here, where I have rolled out and added some Tofutti Chedder Style Slices in a misguided attempt to make a double decker pizza.

This doesn't really show up exactly how green the dough was... by the time it had rested in the fridge, it was even greener.

After topping with tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, home grown courgettes, mushrooms and peppers and baking, it pretty mush turned a slightly green grey. However, the fishy taste I had detected in the mushrooms was all but gone, so I think this will become a regular nutritional boost to my pizza doughs.

Saturday night I made my first ever sushi.

This was made with rice dressed in maple syrup, cider vinegar and homemade Gomashio, rolled with a mix of courgettes, cucumber, yellow pepper and beetroot. I thought it would be a lot harder to make

The next day I enjoyed the left over veggies mixed with some rice. This made a lovely pink rice salad. I love the way beetroot dyes everything pink. I'm sure there must be some cool pink recipes I can utilise this in. Suggestions welcome :)

In non-food related news, my trip to 'Aylesbury on Sea' was an incredibly damp one. Note the reflected life ring on the pier. It's kinda a shame, as if it was sunny, it would have been a great day.

It pelted it down, and I spent longer then strictly required hiding in Costa, lingering over a soya latte.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Cherry Baby - I'm gonna make you mine

Good old Frankie Valli huh? Okay, I know it's Sherry Baby, but never mind huh?

Anyway, in the continuing thread of cherry related posts, I submit, for your consumption, Cherry Schapps/Vodka

Take some cherries, and half fill sterile bottle with them. If the bottle already contained vodka, it'll be sterile anyway, or you can use any of the methods such as boiling, that are already on the interwebs.
Add 1 tbs of sugar. This step is optional, but really helps to draw out the juice from the cherries
Shake daily.
It is ready after 1 month, but gets better with time.
You can, if you so wish, remove the cherries and top up with a little more vodka after about 2 weeks, but personally, I'm going to leave them in, so I can have a nice taste of summer when I finally cave and drink the vodka... in about August ;)

If you are feeling really frugal, when you remove the cherries, you have repeat the steps above with sherry to make sherry cherry. Don't add the sugar, I'm told it's nasty.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Roasted Pasta and Aubergine Bake

Thursday is always the day I use up left overs in the fridge, as Friday is shopping day. I had the following left overs

'Cheesy' Fondue
Whole Aubergine

Queue a Pasta Bake!

Roasted Pasta and Aubergine Bake (Serves Two)

150-200g Pasta
100g Mushrooms (about half a pack)
1 Aubergine
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
Fresh (1 tbs) or Dried 1 tsp dried Basil
Either 1/4 - 1/2 cup vegan cheese grated or 1/4 - 1/2 cup cheese sauce/fondue

  • Slice aubergine and either grill or pan fry with a smidge of olive oil until softened*
  • Cook pasta till just soft in plenty of salted water
  • Drain pasta and add back into pan
  • Add tomatoes, mushrooms and basil. Bring up to a low simmer to soften mushrooms very slightly.
  • Assemble pasta bake in medium sized oven safe dish as follows, 1/3 Pasta mix, half aubergine, 1/3 pasta, remaining aubergine, cheese, pasta. Visual text diagram at the end of the instructions
  • Bake for 15-20 mins at 200C/390F. If it browns too early, cover with foil
Pasta (1/3)
Aubergine (1/2)
Pasta (1/3)
Aubergine (1/2)
Pasta (1/3)

Verdict: Very nice. Next time I might put some breadcrumbs on the top, mixed in with soy cheese for a little added crunch. Throw in whatever veggies you have to hand.

*I used a griddle for the funky char marks

Other Eats

Breakfast was very dull. Cornflakes and soy milk

Morning Snack - Mushrooms, sautéed with a little tomato/chilli dipping sauce and some spirulina added for the trace minerals, served on toast. This had a very odd taste. I shan't be trying it with mushrooms again!

I also made some Cherry Schnapps (American Style) but more on this in tomorrows post

In the evening I made some avocado mouse. I would post this, but it always looks like a big poop in photos, so I won't.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Carrot Cake for Breakfast - In Pancake Form!

Pancakes are a big favourite of mine at the weekends. During the week we don't really have the time to eat them before my Husband goes off to work, but we enjoy standing together in the kitchen on a Sunday morning, chatting away and eating the pancakes hot out of the pan, while the others cook.

I'm a big fan of Chocolate Covered Katie, and when she posted a Pancake Challenge, it was about all I could do to stop at the two pancakes in three days mark, so, without further ado, I present you, Carrot Cake Pancakes with Creamy Soya Cheese Topping.

Carrot Cake Pancakes - Serves 2 or more

1/2 scant cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp cinnomon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
large pinch salt

1 cup non-dairy milk
1 carrot medium grated
2-4 tbs currants or raisins

Mix together dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients and fruit, and mix lightly.
Heat a non-stick pan or skillet over a medium heat, oil very lightly
Use a 1/3 cup measure for each pancake, You may find the batter does not spread out without encouragement from the back of a spoon.
Cook until firm in the middle, and flip and cook until golden brown under. This normally takes me two minutes each side.

Serve with syrup or cream cheese topping

Easy Creamy Cheese Pancake Topping

2 tbs vegan cream cheese - I used Pure Dairy Free Soya Soft & Creamy Spread
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp lemon extract
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Place in a small bowl and mix together. To get a more runny consistancy, surround the small bowl with just boiled water. This is much nicer made the night before. I mainly made this to use up the left over Pure Dairy Free Soya Soft & Creamy Spread , which was hideously sweet and not at all nice as an actual cheese replacement.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Fondue Fun

Not much to say here, other than look at the pretty Le Creuset Fondue pot I bought a few weeks back for £5 from a charity shop.

It looks like they have updated the model they are selling online now. I like mine more.

It's full of yummy fondue from The Vegan Lunchbox. I honestly wasn't expecting to like this the first time I made it... it was really justifying the purchase of the pot, but it's gooooorgeous and so healthy! The main ingredients being tofu, carrots, nutritional yeast and miso, it's pretty much like a gooey, yummy vitamin pill which you dunk things into. It was blurry lovely :)

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Cherry Bakewell Pancakes

Ever since I noticed a few weeks back that the wild cherries at the edge of my estate were, indeed, edible, I've been looking for a way of eating them up. At the same time, ever since becomeing a vegan, I've been Jonesing for Bakewell Tarts. Well, can you see a thought forming?

Along came Chocolate Covered Katie with her Pancake-Making Bonanza and all my problems are solved. Okay, not all of them, but the cherry related ones are :)

Behold, if you will, the Bakewell Pancake.

Recipe - Makes two big portions, about 6 -7 smallish pancakes

1 Cup White Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tbs sugar

1 1/4 cup non dairy milk (I used unsweetened soya)
1 tbs sunflower oil
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup cherries - quartered
1/4 cup almond flakes

In a large bowl mix together the first set of dry ingredients, then add the wet and briefly mix, before finally adding in the chopped fruit and almond flakes and stirring until combined. As always with vegan baking, don't over mix.

I cooked this over a medium high heat, portioning out in 1/4 cup measures, which were a bit too small if truth be told. The pancakes need flipping once they are fairly solid in the middle, which was about after two minutes.

This was perfect served with my adapted Cherry Compot, topped with toasted flaked almonds. My husband pronounced them 'Very Bakewelly' He was quite happy to go cherry picking the next day, which I think is an indication of the success here ;)

Friday, 10 July 2009

Simple Cherry Compot

I made this partly to preserve my epic haul of wild picked cherries, and partly as a pancake sauce to go on my Bakewell Pancakes, inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie's Pancake-Making Bonanza.

This was adapted from Sweet and Sassy Cherry Sauce over on dlife, a diabetes support website, who in turn took it from The Cherry Marketing Institute . Like cherries need marketing?!?

Adapted Cherry Compot - Makes two cups

2 cup Cherries
2 tbs sugar
6 tbs water (Divided)
2 tbs cornflour
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp vodka
Juice and rind of 1/2 a small unwaxed lemon

  • Place cherries sugar and 4tbs of the water into a small pan and bring to a slow boil, simmer covered for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Once the cherries have released a lot of the juice, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and put to one side
  • Mix the salt and cornflower together. Add this to your 2tbs of water, and mix into the pan
  • Add the vodka along with the lemon juice and zest.
  • Continue to simmer over a low heat for 7-8 mins
  • Put the cherries back in, and cook for another 3-5 mins, until cherries are softened and the compot is of the desired thickness.
Kept in a sterilised jar in the fridge, this will last for up two two weeks.

To make into a pancake syrup, take 2 parts compot to one part maple syrup and warm.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Soup 'Erb

I won't apologise for this. I love soup. I love how easy it is to cook, how great it tastes, how many different sorts there are, and how frugally you can use up veggies that have, frankly, seen better days by this point in their existence.

So, this rambling warning delivered, I have two soupy days to tell you about. First, Black Bean Soup adapted from La Dolce Vegan. This used up the left over black beans from the 1lb sack I cooked over the weekend. It should have had an avocado salsa with it, but this didn't happen... because I didn't have an avocado. Instead it enjoyed a hastily knocked together salsa of fresh tomato, spring onion and parsley.

I also made some rather tasty foccachia, using the same recipe as the Pizza Dough. I let this go through the dough cycle, then took away 1/4 of the dough, and added a handful of chopped home dried tomatoes, some chopped green olives, and a little bit of mixed herbs.

I used the left over 1/4 of the dough to make two cinnamon rolls, but this was an epic fail :( I don't think the dough was sweet or oily enough.

Anyway, baked for about 20 mins in a very hot oven, the rolls were okay, but not worth making again.

As I was in a pottering about the kitchen mood I also made some caramelised onions, based on the method as detailed over on Tea and Cookies. I'm always shocked how much they condense down
From Ready, Veggie, Cook

Today I also made a recipe from LDV, this time ginger butternut squash soup. This was because I was feeling a littel guilt that I've had a squash sat up the in spare room for longer than I care to admit. These suckers don't die do they?

I thought some nice toasted butternut squash seeds would be a nice addition so the soup. They were ever so simple to make, just cleaning the seeds, and toasting in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes. Entertainly, they popped out of the pan just like popcorn! To these I added a little homemade
Gomashio, which added a lovely taste.

Cooked Seeds


I'm thinking about entering Chocolate-Covered Katie's interesting sounding Dessert Pancake-Making Bonanza. I don't know though, as I am still wondering about, finding my feet in both cooking and the blogosphere. Still, I guess the first step towards failing is not trying, huh? Lets see what happens!

In not-directly-related-to-cooking news, the garlic clove I planted months ago in the broken whistling kettle is now yawning above ground. I don't expect he'll be any good, but at least I feel that something happened from my planting him.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Pizza my mind?

Due to the rampant heatwave here in the UK, I've not really fancied having the oven on for the past few weeks, but today my pizza lust got too much for me.

My normal pizza dough creates enough for two

125ml (1/2 cup) water
200g (1 1/2 cup) plain flour
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil

I dump all this in the breadmaker, in this order. Indent the top of the flour and add the yeast, and put the salt and oil in the corners of the bread pan. Stick this on dough, and you are good to go.

Since it's well documented that I'm unable to leave things be, I decided to throw in some flavour to the base.

1 small handful dried mushrooms
1 small handful dried tomatoes

I just threw these in a food processor, then whizzed them to crumbs, and plopped these onto of the flour. It dawned on me after, I should probably have soaked them. Meh.

Added to this
1/2 tsp dried herbs
1 pinch chilli flakes

Waiting to be processed in the breadmaker

After 90 mins in the breadmaker

I rolled the dough out, and then let it prove for about 30 mins, untill puffy and yum :)

Now, to top the pizza I had left over chilli, mushrooms, yellow peppers and button mushrooms.

I tend to blind bake pizzas as I don't like a soggy crust. For me, I just fork the base slightly, cook for 2-3 mins on one side, flip, cook for 2-3 min the other side, and then add your toppings. With thicker based, this seems to prevent it getting unpleasantly moist. I bake at 230C for 10-15 mins, and then add 'cheese' and stick under the grill again.

I also added a little toffuti cheese slices, as my husband really loves these.

Doesn't it look nice all baked up?

Also, I normally make up a little sauce to dip the pizza crusts into. Today's was a little garlic and chili sauce dipping sauce, which I added some ketchup, a little brown sauce, and then some liquid smoke. Basically, anything liquid that's in my kitchen and not nailed down ;)

I also picked some cherries from the tree by the edge of the estate, with the intention of putting them through the dehydrator, as I love dried cherries, but I'm not prepared to shell out for them. Lovely husband pitted them by hand for me :)

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Modified Kale Pasta Eats

Firstly, Hello to anyone coming over from the link on For those of you who don't know what Operation Beautiful is, please visit the site. The primary aim is to tackle 'Fat Talk' by sharing positive notes in public spaces. It goes further than this though, and in my opinion, empowers all through the acceptance that appearance is subjective, and we are all beautiful.

Now, onto the eats!

Since first trying 'Matthew's Spicy Tomato Peanut and Kale Pasta' recipe from The Dolce Vegan, I've eaten it regularly, possibly around once a week. This is for three reasons

1) Its a very good way of eating my greens that even my Husband likes
2) I'm overwhelmed with Kale, grown in a container in my front garden
3) It's very, very tasty!

However, the original recipe calls for tomato juice, which we don't often have in the house. The recipe calls for a can of tomato juice, of a size I've never seen in the UK. This meant buying a carton and freezing the left overs, which never works.

Necessity being the mother of invention, I've tweaked the recipe a lot to make it more of a 'store cupboard + Kale' type of thing.

Adapted Kale & Tomato Pasta - Serve 2

Pasta for Two (150g)
Bunch of Kale, Chopped (About 2 big handfuls)
Can of Chopped Tomatoes
1 Tbs Tomato Purée

2 Tbs Peanut Butter
1/2 Tsp Garlic Purée
1/2 Tsp Hot Pepper Sauce (Tabasco is fine)

1) Cook the pasta
2) While the pasta is cooking, put the chopped kale, tomatoes and purée in a small pan. Bring almost to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for 8 minutes
3) After 8 mins, add the peanut butter, garlic and hot pepper sauce, stir
4) Leave another 2 mins, drain the pasta and mix it into the tomato mixture


Don't be tempted to skip the tomato purée, this really thickens up the sauce and gives it a tomato tang which is otherwise missing.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Black Bean “Brownies”

Okay, haven't updated in ages. I have been cooking though!

Ages ago, there was a recipe for blackbean brownies fluttering about the blogosphere. I book marker a few of them, and eventually settled on attempting one from Happy Herbivore

This simple recipe is based on black beans and bananas, and is very quick to throw together.
I didn't add the extra sugar, but I did throw in some chocolate chips and some walnuts.

When they were first cooked I wasn't too impressed, the edges are very crispy and not so nice. However, after resting for a few hours the flavours mingled, and they took on a tasty. nummy, fudgey quality.

I did add a frosting/icing made by mixing some Dark Chocolate Dreams, a peanut butter from the Peanut Butter Company's range of nut butter, mixed with a little Pure Soya, and a smidgen of icing sugar. This increased the nom factor by two meganoms, at least.

This morning I felt that I really needed a little extra fat, so I melted two squares of dark chocolate and poured this over the top, and had this with a soya milk cappuccino. All in all, rather yummy. See how nice!

I really am starting to make notes on my recipes, and I'm forming a misguided belief that I might actually be able to make the whole 'cookbook' idea work. Either way, I'm loving cooking at the moment, which is good.

What else? Oooh, we now eat at the table in the bay window. It makes things so much nicer. Only a few weeks ago we used to eat dinner watching TV each night, but after I put effort into cooking every night, I want to actually enjoy my efforts. It's also pychologically more filling, and now I tend to have a side salad of some of my home grown lettuce, and a slice of tomato so it ups the amount of raw food I'm eating, which is cool.

Anyway, more pictures of brownies below. Enjoy :)

Brownies in the tray - Note the burnt bits

Brownies - Burnt bits trimmed

Monday, 11 May 2009

Back at the keyboard

I'm sorry I've not updated in a little while. I've been superbusy with work, and MrDerious has been a little ill. I'll try better, I promise ;)
I've been experimenting a lot with sourdough... to mixed results. The sourdough bread has been okay (if not quite risen enough) in bread form, a disaster in pizza form, and gorgeous in sourdough biscuit form... based on the recipe from How it all Vegan. Anyway, I've now put some in the fridge, and dried a little on a piece of baking parchment, so if my culture dies, I have a good starter starter.
I will probably keep trying a new sourdough thing each weekend as I quite like the sour tang... and I certainly like playing with my food.
I'm trying to find ways of getting healthy fats into my diet. Even with eating enough calories, I don't eat enough fats, ending up only eating about 20-30g a day, when I need to be aiming for around twice that! Since I don't eat dairy or eggs, and don't like oily food, that v hard! Any suggestions beyond peanut butter and avocado would be appreciated.
Anyway, new plan. I try to diarise out what I'm eating for the day, and to forward load it so most of my eating is in the morning.... thus meaning I'm not trying to sleep with a sugar high!
This morning was couscous porridge from Garden of Vegan. This is blurry lovely, made with pecans and apricots.... however, it contains a whole cup of couscous and comes in at  well over 500cals. I tell you what though.... I suspect I'm not going to find myself hungry today! This made a huuuuugee bowl (I'll have to photograph it next time) of couscous loveliness... but honestly, I think I was going to burst! There is a very similar recipe in La Dolce Vegan, which makes about half the amount and has a banana in there instead of nuts and dried fruits. I think I might have to take the idea and make my own thing up with it.
Anyway.... exciting news, maybe. I'm leaving my current job. I've not been happy there, and I don't think it's a good fit for me. I'm not saying anything bad about the job... I think that for the right sort of person it would be great, but that's not for me. So, perception being a function of will I chose to see this as an opportunity to
  • Look at a wider range of jobs, including short contracts
  • Get into a job that nurtures my passions
  • Look at my self and decide what I want to do!
  • Start loving what I do again!
 Anyway...  so, back on with the food..... wooooo hooooo

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Pasta with Pinenuts - Picture Only

Hmmmmmm.... I love basil, a lot.

A simple sauce of tofu, basil, sundried tomatoes and garlic, over tagliatelle with toasted pinenuts.

Last time I made this the tomatoes were a bit tough, so I soaked these ones overnight in some water. It really softened them up.

I think next time, I'll put less garlic in... and maybe some chili powder.. because I like a little heat :)