2 July 2015

Delicious, No Bake, Lavender and Chocolate Cheese Cake.

It's too hot to bake, so I made this for my darling vegan fiends today! It's a mish mash of different recipes, with a touch of my own twists.

It's very, very easy to make.

1/ First line with greaseproof paper and grease, some kind of dish that can go in the freezer.

2/ Soak 1 and a half cups of Walnuts and mixed nuts in hot water for about 10 minutes or so.

3/ Put 1/2 a cup of dates in the blender but don't blend yet.

4/ In the meantime, pour 165 ml of a can of coconut milk into a small pan and put on the stove to boil.

5/ Break up 200g of Divine Dark Chocolate.

6/ When the coconut milk has just come to the boil, take off the heat and then add the broken pieces of chocolate to the hot milk and stir it around so that it melts into a delicious ganache!

7/ Next drain the nuts with a sieve and then put into the blender, with the dates. Blend and push down with a spatula, being careful to keep the spatula away from the blades. Then add some maple syrup to taste, I poured a bit in, without measuring.

8/ Scrape the mixture out into your prepared dish and flatten with your hands.

9/ Then, lovingly pour the ganache onto the base that you've just made in the dish, minding that you don't drool over it.

10/ Pick some lavender flowers/buds, wash them, dry them, pick them off the stem and then scatter them on top of your ganache.

11/ Put in the freezer.

12/ Call some friends round and eat it with them, or you can devour it slice by individual slice, without telling anyone about it.

Or you could skip all 12 steps above and just take one step into My Coffee Stop Shepton Mallet, where we will make it for you!

If you need Divine Chocolate and Coconut Milk in a tin, we sell those! We also sell the mixed nuts and dates too!

11 June 2015

The Easiest, Quickest, Tastiest Gluten-Free Pizza Ever!

I have just enjoyed the most delicious gluten-free pizza that I have ever made, no, I have just enjoyed the most delicious gluten-free pizza that I have ever tasted! Here is the recipe and it is PERFECT! The base is also brilliant for Vegans too, with no milk, or eggs needed! (If you are making Vegan pizza make sure that the toppings you choose are suitable for Vegans and don't put cheese on and I do NOT recommend any cheese replacement either, they are yuck, in my opinion!)

The base of the pizza is made with the Glebe Farm, Gluten Free Seeded Brown Bread Mix, which you can buy from our shop.

1/ Preheat your oven to 190 Degrees.

2/ Line a 9" x 13" baking tray with greaseproof paper and then grease well with oil.

3/ Pour a whole packet of 375g of Glebe Farm, Gluten Free Seeded Brown Bread Mix with Linseed and Sunflower Seeds into a large bowl and add the 10g of yeast included in the packet. 

4/ Stir in 1 tablespoon of raw cane caster sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt.

5/ Then into a measuring jug pour in hot water up to the 200ml mark, then add cold water to make up to 275ml in total.

6/ Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the water and stir in, then pour into the flour mixture and stir round until it is well mixed.

7/ Scrape the mixture into the baking tin and level it off, with the back of a spoon.

8/ Next, top with any toppings you like, put in the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.

That's it!

In the photos, I used a tomato topping that I had whizzed up in the blender of tinned tomatoes, olives, herbs and tomato puree, with garlic, I spread that onto the base, layered baby spinach leaves on top of that, sprinkled on some cheddar cheese, and placed olive slices and torn sun-dried tomatoes on top.

The end result is the most delicious gluten-free pizza ever! Don't forget, you can make it suitable for Dairy-Free Diets and Vegans by missing out the cheese and ensuring you use only Dairy-Free/Vegan toppings.

4 May 2015

Chickpea, Tomato and Quinoa Dahl

Lunch for Tuesday 5th May 2015, this gorgeous tasting, Chickpea, Tomato and Quinoa Dahl! Presented in a bowl for £2.70, at the time of writing and presented with a poppadom on the side. I have been told many times that I should charge more but I want to make healthy food accessible for all, I want to inspire people to eat like this at home too! People love my cooking but I am not a naturally great cook, the way I cook is to make it as easy as possible for myself, whatever I make is easy to emulate, I promise. Lots of the ingredients we use in our dishes, I stock on our shelves for you to take home and make it for yourself. These prices too are kept as low as I possibly can.

Since around the beginning of March, we have introduced a Daily Dish of the Day in our Shepton Mallet shop, I kept turning people away for lunch and didn't want to do sandwiches. Then one day a beautiful Vegan couple turned up in my shop, they love playing Bananagram, so I got one in for them and maybe that was when they realised I might be open to gentle persuasion. That lovely couple are now a family of three and have completely convinced me to keep cooking Vegan lunches for Shepton Mallet.

I am NOT a vegan myself but what inspires me to keep cooking these vegan dishes? Well, there are several things, I do enjoy challenges and cooking something Vegan and making it look and smell so tasty that even meat eaters will buy it, try it and come back for me, is pretty exciting for me! Our business is based on sustainability, the vegetarian and vegan way of eating is much better for the earth and we are already committed to our business being 100% suitable for vegetarians, there is just less harm done to our world when animal products are avoided and I have to say that all the Vegans I've met so far seem to look fit, healthy and slender. I don't know if that's because they have to keep saying, 'No, I can't eat that, no, sorry, can't eat that', or whether it could be the discipline they show in saying no to certain products, extends over into their own health and self-control. I can't imagine a Vegan person sitting down and just deciding to stuff their face with raw cane sugar, even if it is entirely suitable for vegans. Vegan eating in general fits in with Paleo style diets, apart from the slabs of protein made out of cows or pigs that Paleo eating encourages us to have on our plate. I also like the idea of conscious, mindful eating, of having standards and sticking to them, it appeals to me. If you are going to eat animals, then at least call them by their proper names and don't suddenly change a pig to bacon and a cow to beef, it's silly and a cover up of the truth.

I like the way that these dishes I am creating are nearly always gluten-free, they are always made from scratch, no pre-made sauces, or additives, certainly not bought in from a manufacturer and passed off as my own! My dishes are always great for Slimming World members because they are usually SYN FREE! I am proud of that. That's why I wrote it in big letters. They are not so synfree though, if I have cooked something with tinned coconut milk in, so always check with me first! They are always dairy free too and packed with protein. I don't eat dairy or gluten myself, I feel so much better for it, healthier, fitter and slimmer, so it's easy for me to make those kinds of lunches for everyone else. The other thing is my partner Gunter is diabetic, so I am very aware that foods of a low to medium GI are better for all of us, not just for diabetic people.

The great thing about these Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Slimming World friendly lunches, is that they embrace people from all cultures, people who have to follow all kinds of restrictions in their diets, people that want to eat healthily, well, tastily and sensibly! I like it when people connect together and these vegan lunches are doing exactly that! Imagine going somewhere to eat where there is NO menu, there is only one dish on offer and that is Dish of the Day! I love seeing people that don't know each other, sitting down to enjoy the same food and people that do know each other and are coming out as a family or as friends sit down and share the same food, it's very, very special. The whole way of doing this means I don't ever have to throw food away. Why ever did we think it was such a good idea to have so many choices in what we eat in restaurants? This way that I am discovering for myself is leaner, greener, healthier and proving to be very popular!

Here are the ingredients that I used in the Chickpea, Tomato and Quinoa Lunch, so you can check through them. Allergens are in bold.

Onion from the Friday Market
Garlic from the Friday Market
Ginger from My Coffee Stop
Tomatoes from the Friday Market
Tinned Tomatoes from My Coffee Stop
Cumin from Peppers
Coriander from Peppers
Turmeric from Peppers
Chilli flakes from Peppers
Yeast Extract from My Coffee Stop
Spinach Leaves from Aldi
Fresh Coriander Leaves from Aldi
Cashew Nut Butter from My Coffee Stop
Quinoa from My Coffee Stop
Kallo Yeast Free Stock Cube from My Coffee Stop, (Contains Celery)
Chick Peas from My Coffee Stop
Leek from the Friday Market
Celery from the Friday Market.

So come along and taste it for yourself, or make it for yourself!

2 February 2015

An Open Letter to Emma and the #LoveYourDoorstep team in #Enfield

Pathway towards Gentleman's Row, Enfield Chase.

Dear Emma and the +Love Your Doorstep team,

I am writing to let you know that after the ups and downs of the last few years, I have had a complete change of heart and would please like the opportunity to be an Lyds business.

Firstly, I would like to apologise for comments I have made, that I felt were my true opinion at the time but have caused upset and grief for you. I did not intend this at all and I am truly sorry. Having been off work for a while, due to illness, has given me plenty of time to mull over things and just two weeks after making some more negative comments about Love Your Doorstep in a Facebook conversation, I have looked at myself and the situation and I would dearly love to make amends and try to heal the hurt that I have caused. I really do not want to leave this mess behind in my life, please allow me the opportunity to make it better again.
It was the Facebook post that got me thinking. The negativity of the post made me intrigued, so, I checked your website and twitter feed and my opinion has changed. I can see that you have developed the business into so much more than a Facebook group.

It took me a long time to get used to the changes in the group in the beginning and it clashed for me that it was a free community and then changed into one where you had to pay to join as a business. But actually, Emma, you have created a visionary and completely new business model. I've been doing a lot of thinking. I think you have had to put your foot down and create strong boundaries because it is easy for friendship, kindness and business to get all mixed up. Like if people come into my shop, start chatting, don't want a coffee but are just saying 'hello' as a friend, taking my time and energy away from when I'm working. I feel I want to give stuff to them because they are my friend but on the other hand, if I run my business like that, I won't have one.I didn't really get this for ages, until there was some distance between myself and Enfield.

Your Twitter feed is strong and you have worked hard in building up strong links within the Enfield community, such as with the FSB, Enterprise Enfield and so on.

I have always respected your talent and vision, Emma but I found the new changes and rules very difficult, I can be fairly rigid in that respect due to my asperger way of thinking.

I think when we are angry, or emotional, we react rather than respond and I've been reacting all over the place.

Looking again at Lyds from a distance, it is incredible what you have done. The designs are really slick, the website works well on my phone, I love the shopping campaign stickers and the blogging area on the website is cool too. I have to say, I really have changed my mind.

Last year, I had too much Lyds from friends all over my timeline, I felt strangely emotional about posts where Lyds showed a film at The Dugdale Centre and about when they went to parliment. I felt left out and pissed off. But it was Lyds that did that work, not me and looking back on it now, I think I was upset because I was jealous. I didn't realise at the time.

I was so emotional and upset with all the posts, I then decided to delete any of my Facebook friends that were too enthusiastic about Lyds, to preserve my sanity, I deleted all of the enthusiastic ones and that felt better, until I realised that I had hurt some of them. The whole thing has been very difficult for me. I even started not to enjoy the Ideas Station, my social media workshops for women because every time the question would come up about whether I thought Lyds was good or not, I'd try to go for a bland, 'I wouldn't use it for my business but it does work well for other businesses', approach. Or the 'If you're not good at social media, it could be good for you.'. Or 'I don't recommend it but some businesses love it.'. I could never get away with a brushaway comment, to avoid my discomfort. The rest of the meeting would sometimes dissolve into a heated debate about Lyds and not about solving social media problems. It was embarrassing and took the motivation away for me to continue.

Now, I want to support what you are doing. Maybe some people will find that inconsistent, maybe hypocritical but I am proud to admit, actually, I am wrong I've made lots and lots of mistakes. Yes, I have changed my mind. I want people to know because this has been such a public affair and I want to help to heal the hurt.

People have seen me as one of the biggest ringleaders of the 'we don't like lyds' brigade.......I didn't want to be that. Emma, you and your team are running a never done before concept business, I had no patience and didn't make allowances for the learning curve involved.

The comments I made on Facebook two weeks or so ago sound bitchy, when I reread them, at the time they felt honest and truthful.  However, having taken another look, Lyds is actually something that is working well in these extremely difficult economic times and I realise there is a core of businesses who are repeat customers because it works.

I didn't even realise that you have a job board, I have a part time job that I would love to advertise on there.
I've made a lot of mistakes in dealing with this situation and it's all been fairly public. I am not afraid to say, my attitude has been wrong.

It is time for me and others in our community to give you, Lyds the respect that you deserve.

I am all for campaigning and for economic justice and have changed a few negative things in the world. Lyds is not a negative, it doesn't need a campaign against it, however inadvertently that situation has arisen and it doesn't need an emotional response.

If you don't want our business, I don't blame you but I just thought it fair to publicly share my change of heart.
I hope that together, we can build bridges, not walls.

I am very, very sorry for the way that I have been and I really would like the opportunity to support your concept, if you can ever, please forgive me.

Yours Most Sincerely and Hopefully,
Karen Mercer. xxxx
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