Well, we have all been good little bloggers this month and gotten our UK Vegan Food Swap emails exchanged and parcels sent nice and early!
I can’t wait to share with you what I got this month:
That’s right, folks, I received – hand-delivered to my door – a box of beautiful, colourful, sparkly, and freshly handmade vegan cupcakes from Rebecca of Rebecca’s Cakes!
You may remember that Rebecca sent me a wonderful parcel last month, and I raved about her cupcakes. She had sent me a banana split cupcake and a peanut butter cupcake, both of which were delightfully light and springy in the sponge and creamy and fluffy in the frosting, neither of which were overly sweet or cloyingly rich. They were, in other words, perfect. Plus, I got the box the day before leaving for my meditation retreat so I “had” to eat both the cupcakes in the same day, and didn’t experience any symptoms of sugar overload.
So when Rebecca emailed me to say she was my swapper again, I couldn’t have been happier. When she suggested sending a box of cake… Was I going to argue?!
Rebecca was in my area on Monday morning and suggested delivering the box by hand. Of course, I was only too happy to save her some time and postage and packaging costs and, more importantly, to meet her! What a brilliant way to start the week!
I could not believe it when I opened the box – I have never been sent or given, or even seen, a box of 12 cupcakes, and these ones were so beautiful and delicate-looking. Every cupcake is different, an even mix of creamy chocolatey flavours, and colourful fruity ones: Bounty, Mocha, Black & White, Blueberry Pancake, Coconut, Raspberry Ripple, Strawberry Sundae, Tiramisu, Maple Bacon, Peanut on Chocolate, Cookies & Cream, and Black Forest.
At the time of posting, Ben and I have already sampled a few: my first was the Bounty – super creamy slightly sweet coconut frosting on top of a warmly chocolatey sponge; Ben had the Strawberry Sundae, a fluffy vanilla sponge with a thread of gooey strawberry jam, topped with a juicy and creamy swirl of frosting; my second cupcake of the day was Tiramisu, perfectly moist which reminded me accurately of coffee-soaked ladyfingers, and a latté-like creamy frosting. Ben loved the Cookies & Cream, mainly for the frosting which tasted of Oreo milkshake, but said the Strawberry Sundae was better. The Mocha was every bit as good as you would expect – subtly rich chocolate sponge topped with a creamy coffee frosting – even though I was in a bad mood when I ate it. I have just eaten the Maple Bacon which was quite subtle yet the frosting was extremely fluffy and smooth, tasting of soft vanilla with the occasional smokey chew of little “bacon” bits. So far, so good!
Obviously, now, whatever I sent my swappee was going to seem inadequate! However, I did manage to do some baking last weekend so hopefully Vegan Vox, who is getting a parcel from me this month (after sending to Ben last month!), will enjoy something made with love, even if it’s not as pretty as a cupcake!
From the look of the blog, I figured that Vegan Vox enjoys real food, wholefood-based snacks and treats, and home-cooked meals. That suited me perfectly, so I angled this month’s box towards healthy treats and wholesome ingredients.
I love including chia seeds as they’re not always easy to find, and they’re almost always expensive. However, chia crops up in recipes everywhere these days, and is healthy and versatile. Hopefully I have been able to introduce a new ingredient to the Vegan Vox pantry!
Those Happy Kale BBQ chips are rapidly becoming UK Vegan Food Swap staples for me. They’re the sort of thing that are hard to buy for oneself – just kale and some straightforward flavouring ingredients, it’s the sort of thing you could make at home. In theory. My kale chips have never turned out that good, and they are worth every penny for the added value in my opinion. So, sharing the love.
I have also raved about Wheaty Chorizo Spacebars before. I promise I’m not being paid by them or selling them or anything. I just love them! OK, one negative point is that your hand will smell like smoked sausage for a while after you eat these, and that people do sometimes give you strange looks if you eat them on public transport, but it’s so worth it. Chewy, smokey, rich with tomato saltiness, sometimes nothing else hits the spot for me!
Perry Court Farm crisps are another good snack option for when you kinda want crisps but you don’t want anything greasy or overly salty. Plus, pears from Kent, seems a natural choice for the season!
And of course, if we’re talking healthy snacks that you won’t find anywhere else, RioLife bars have to get in on this. Sure, I’m biased because I sell them, but I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of importing them if I hadn’t gotten addicted to them first (actually, it’s Ben’s addiction I’m fuelling, as I refuse to get “aç-high-ì” – sorry, I couldn’t resist – on my own stash).
As for the baked goodies. In the clear cellophane wrappers we have pumpkin muffins from the PPK recipe – for once I actually behaved and stuck to the recipe, except for reducing the sugar by 1/4 cup and omitting some of the spices as I couldn’t find them in the cupboard. They are moist by nature, but also ever so slightly undercooked which means they just have to be heated up in the oven and enjoyed with ice cream (and maybe some maple syrup? chopped toasted pecans???).
In the little red box we have some classic thumbprint cookies which are so simple and always a success. I have previously used Angela’s recipe – or some approximation of it – but this time I went with the Wholefoods recipe, just because it was there and matched the ingredients in my cupboard. [Just about. I didn’t bother processing the oats, and I crushed up some blanched almonds and pecans using a mortar and pestle, because I didn’t fancy cleaning the food processor and those nuts were all I had. For the sweetener, I used up the remainder of some Sweet Freedom syrup and some agave syrup, and made up the rest with maple syrup.]
I used my mum’s homemade apricot-rhubarb jam which she made using rhubarb from the garden. I love using her jams made from her produce!
I love thumbprint cookies – they never look that pretty but are always weirdly cute in a rustic way. Oh, and don’t mind some of those muffins which appear to be trying to escape… They are happy to be eaten really! Also, don’t take any notice of my inability to fill muffin cups to the same height.
Apart from some goodies which had to be sacrificed to the gods of taste-testing, and another couple which were the only way to get Ben to eat a decent breakfast before work, the rest of these have been sent to my friend Viv who is now halfway through her month of the Great Vegan Challenge. Vegan baked love all round!
Before I wrap this up, just want to say one more huge thank you to Rebecca for a wonderful box of treats, and to Mitsu and Sasha as always for organising the swap. Don’t forget to check out Vegan Vox for their write-up (and an honest review of my baking…!).
I hope everyone is enjoying a great vegan food swap haul this month!