HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I can’t believe how fast we got round to 2022 but it’s finally here, and I hope it brings with it as much joy and positivity as it possibly can (I know we all need it!), but obviously, I couldn’t herald in the new year without thanking the old one, and although it was incredibly difficult there were still a lot of good things and fun times on the blog, so I think it’s worth looking back and being thankful for the distraction that is this blog. I’m gonna go through some posts from last year and include some of my favourites recipes as well as leaving links for each one if you wanted to check them out, then at the end I’ll do a normal monthly favourites for December and by that point we should be firmly done with 2021!
This month is obviously becoming synonymous with Veganuary and although I’m not vegan and don’t take fully take part in veganuary, it was fun to make some vegan recipes to include for the month and although January can be cold and gloomy I was able to make some very special recipes that month that still seem to be getting interest even a year later!
Slow Cooker VEGAN Cottage Pie
So we started pretty early in January with this vegan cottage pie recipe, I remember wanting to create something fully vegan that was still hearty and warming for chilly January evenings. I wanted to showcase that vegan food doesn’t have to be difficult with lots of hard-to-find ingredients, it doesn’t have to use ingredients you’ve never heard of, it doesn't have to take hours of prep and cooking and most importantly, in terms of look and taste, it doesn’t have to differ all that much from the meat-based meals you might have once enjoyed. I’m so glad this post picked up some traction because it was one of my first recipes making “fancy potatoes”…dauphinoise potatoes, which I think always looks like alot of work but in reality takes no longer than making chips, and although the picture at the very end of the post maybe doesn’t quite do the dish justice, I think it harks back to the days when I wasn’t that fussed about taking a good picture for the blog, I just wanted to get the food eaten! Even now, this is still one of my favourite recipes and although I haven’t had time to actually make it again, maybe I’ll have to make time this month!
I hope this might inspire you to experiment with Veganuary both this month and throughout the year, even if you only try a couple of vegan dishes a week or experiment with vegetarian or meat-free dishes too, just working to even slightly lessen your meat consumption makes much more difference to the environment than you’d expect. Anyway, if you want to see that recipe, please click here.
In 2021 I tried to have more of a focus on the holidays throughout the year, so when it came to February I knew I wanted to make something to celebrate Valentine's Day, so I came up with some relatively low-fuss recipes that you could impress your loved one/s with on the cheesiest day of the year! I think this year I’m looking to create an entire 3-course meal for Valentine’s day…so look out for that one!
As part of these Valentine's Day recipes, I attempted to make Foccacia which I thought was gonna be whole difficult process and take hours (I must have been dreaming about sourdough again, haha!) but in fact it took less than 2 hours, including all the resting times from start to finish so I thought this would be the perfect recipe to show off during that time of year. This focaccia came out beautifully if I do say so myself and again, I haven’t had much time to re-create the recipe but it’s on my list and when I do I hope to use slightly more interesting toppings than garlic and rosemary, for reference I'm thinking of using chilli oil or maybe peppers/ vegan pastrami as well as experimenting with some Christmas variations too!
I’ve had chance to make ALOT of bread throughout 2021 and please don’t think that will lessen this year, learning to make different breads has been a highlight of my year and something I actively want to carry over to this one, so although this was the first focaccia expect plenty more and I hope even better quality loaves coming your way in 2022!
If you wanted to try the focaccia recipe for yourself then click here.
This month was a real breakthrough for me as I finally decided to stop being a baby and try out making videos for the blog. I wanted to do this to break up the type of things I post out so that not everything is just blocks of text and pictures, now with some recipes there’s a fun video to watch, and I also thought it might be more fair for people who are visual learners and won’t enjoy just reading a recipe. It took me a long time to get to grips with my basic video editing software, but me and the software are finally friends (most of the time) and I feel like the recipe videos have increased in quality since this first one. Eventually I’d like to do much more exciting videos and not just about food but until I get up the courage to talk on camera you’ll just have to wait for those!
Homemade Big Mac
This recipe was part of a fun little series where I tried to recreate my favourite fast foods and takeaways but make them vegetarian or vegan and therefore make something that was more accessible to those of us who couldn’t eat at a lot of fast food places at the time. This recipe was incredibly simple to make, and after posting it out I think I made fake Big Mac’s almost every week throughout March and April for dinner because I was having so much fun!
Thinking about them whilst I’m writing has got me thinking I might have to try and recreate them for dinner at some point this week! This was yet again another vegan recipe where I wanted to showcase the ease of making vegan food and although the patties and vegan cheese might not be something you’d usually buy, they’re very easy to find and I think, taste just as good if not better and fresher than than their fast food originator!
If you’d like to try these out for yourself and have a giggle at my first attempt at a video, then click here.
Moving into spring and Easter time, I was all fired up on the introduction of video making, so I decided to branch out with my content and talk about other things that had been important to me this year, not just in April but throughout the year I started speaking openly about mental health, about budgeting and how to plan effectively for travelling abroad (unfortunately that one isn’t too achievable right now, but it will be at some point!) and then in April I decided to talk about the charities I choose every year to donate to.
Just a quick reminder on this one, I’m not trying to sound big-headed or boast about any of this, I give £5 a month to these charities but I wanted to talk about some things that were very important to me in the hopes that they might be important enough for you to donate to, and even if you couldn’t do that, just knowing I’d raised awareness for these great causes is enough for me.
Every year I look forward to researching and finding new charities, or just starting new donations with ones I already love. This year I’m looking to stay donating to both The Guide Dogs and WWF but just choose different animals to support. Like I said at the beginning, it means a lot to me to give small amounts of money each month to support a cause I’m really passionate about and to show that even with small amounts you can still make a big difference!
May was probably the biggest month of the year and my life so far because myself and my partner got engaged!
It was very quiet, on a hill overlooking the sea in Dover but of course it was lovely and of course I said yes, so now we’ve moved onto the wedding planning and I’ve written a whole post about it that you can see here!
In terms of life and food, May was a pretty good month! I learnt how to make a simplified Indonesian Nasi Goreng as part of the World Series recipes, I used homemade breaded tofu instead of meat and it ended up tasting amazing with the Nasi Goreng paste!
I ended up making it a couple more times and although it was a spicier dish than I would normally make, it was absolutely delicious and something very different for a meat-free meal!
If you want to make Tofu Nasi Goreng yourself then click here.
The last part of this big month I learnt how to make a Turkish variation of Baklava!
I’d made a Greek one before but for this one I added fresh orange and lemon juice and peel into the syrup and as a topping, it was delicious and I’ve become a little bit Baklava obsessed since making it, so now I’m trying to think of different variations to hopefully make my baklava’s better and better!
If you want to make Baklava for yourself, here’s the Turkish version!
This month we took a little break away to Cornwall because my partner had never been before and he got to try his first traditional Cornish pasty! Obviously he loved it and he’s just as interested in food as I am so we got talking about what goes into good pasties and although he’s a carnivore through and through he does appreciate me being a vegetarian so we tried to think of the best way to make a great quality vegan Cornish pasty!
When we got home I devised a little recipe and got to work. What came out of it were probably the best pasties I’ve ever made and a recipe that I’m proud to shout about.
I’ll leave the recipe here if you’re feeling in the mood for some vegan pasties...and let’s be real, when are you not?!
This August was the 2-year anniversary of me becoming vegetarian! It’s always exciting to celebrate a milestone but this one really means a lot to me. You can read the full post here but I was able to talk a lot more positively this time about my increase in skill when it came to cooking vegetarian dishes as well as the huge increase in options at fast food takeaways and restaurants and although there is still a way to go, I hope this post might show that it’s probably the easiest it’s ever been to go vegetarian or vegan!
We’ll whizz through to October now and of course this means cosy autumn recipes and fun Halloween inspiration. Autumn has fast become my favourite time of the year and as soon as the 1st of October hits I cannot wait to get the blankets, jumpers and Halloween decorations out and this month I had quite a few fun ideas!
Autumn Veg Soup
I finally got to post out my first attempt at an autumn vegetarian soup, this warming and lightly spiced soup was really easy to put together using seasonal veg and is perfect to boost your vitamins this time of year. I also made it extra festive by cutting out toast into the shape of a pumpkin, it doesn’t add anything extra a whole lot of cuteness!
You can read that recipe here.
As the nights drew in through November, I moved onto hearty meals that are sure to keep you satisfied as well as some fun day trips if you felt like braving the cold!
This was one of the most challenging bakes I’ve ever attempted, it took me 7-9 days to make 2 loaves of sourdough (which if you’re making the sourdough starter like I did, it's about normal) but I ended up with a loaf I was actually proud of, it wasn’t perfect but it toasted well and I got to eat fresh sourdough every single morning that I’d made myself. I haven’t had time to attempt another loaf since then but I know I will at some point and I’ll obviously keep you updated on how that goes!
Click here to try making sourdough yourself!
The John Rylands Library
Right towards the end of November I shared a post about our trip to Manchester and a few of the things we got up to, one of those was a day out to the incredible John Rylands Library.
Now, of course, I won’t ruin all the details for you here but I will say that that building has stuck with me, not only is it a testament to brilliant architecture, it’s a testament to the importance of accessibility to reading and education for all.
To read about our experience at the library, click here.
December Monthly Favourites
Phew! We’re finally all caught up, if you’re still here then thank you for wading through all that and I hope it was enjoyable to reminisce with me an entire year on the blog. The last thing to do is just talk about all my favourite things from December!
Garden Gourmet Food
I’ve found a new favourite vegan food company at my local supermarket and they offer everything you need to make your Veganuary as easy as possible!
I’ve been obsessed with Garden Gourmet for 4-5 months now and they’re one of the only vegan/ plant-based brands I trust to consistently bring out quality products, I thought I’d let their food do the talking and show you some of the things I’ve made over the last couple of months.
So on a weekly basis, I’ll buy the Garden Gourmet mince, Mediterranean herb chicken and the burgers and what I’ve been able to create is some delicious spaghetti bolognese, amazing “chicken” risottos and very simple but always tasty burgers!
In my local supermarket you can buy the Mediterranean chicken pieces for £2.75, the burgers (that come in a pack of 2) for £3 and the mince for £3, I honestly don’t think that’s anymore expensive than good quality meat products and each one of those has more than enough for 2 servings, and if it’s just you then you’ve got a weeks worth of vegan meat for £8.75...so not only delicious but also a bargain!
Pukka Tea Advent Calendar
This is a Christmas-themed favourite because we couldn’t ignore Christmas in the December monthly favourites!
I want to say that I bought this advent calendar because it was cool and I thought it would be different...but in all honesty myself and my partner forgot about getting advent calendars until the 2nd of December and we had to find ones that weren’t ridiculously priced online.
I ended up finding this Pukka Tea calendar and thought the idea of trying out 24 different teas was a brilliant idea and one I could definitely stick to. I’ve made a little list of all the teas I enjoyed from the calendar so that if you’re a fan of green or fruit teas then you might want to try them out too!
- Lemon, Ginger & Manuka Honey
- English Breakfast
- Three Ginger
- Ginseng & Green Matcha
- Wild Apple & Cinnamon
- Lemongrass & Ginger
- Vanilla, Chamomile & Manuka Honey
- Tulsi Clarity
- Three Chamomile
I also wrote that list more as a reminder to me of what teas to treat myself to next! Of course you don’t have to take my opinion as gospel and your taste might be completely different to mine but I think these are genuinely nice teas that the majority would enjoy!
I spoke about this calendar a little in my Christmas decoration post too where I just talked more about the price and also what my partner had for his calendar here, but I wanted to save the full write up for here.
Hitting 10,000 views!
This one I don’t want to make too much of a big deal about because I want you to know how much this means to me without it looking like I only care about views.
I started this blog in June of 2020 and I would go days only getting 1 view a day but constantly saying to myself “at least it’s something” and on the days I got nothing I would say “I’ll have to try again tomorrow”. This resilience got me through the first few months but then you all started to appear and view and comment and I realised other people were actually looking and it spurred me on to keep going!
Now in the first few days of January I’m already on 10.5k views and that’s all because of you!
I cannot thank you enough for continuing to come back to my little corner of the Internet, day after day, week after week and now year after year to see what I’m babbling on about.
I’ll stop rambling now but I want you to know how thankful I am that you all keep coming back and interacting, it means the world and only makes me want to create more!
And that’s it for 2021, what a whirlwind both in and outside the blog.
On a more serious note, the fact that you’ve made it into 2022 is a huge achievement and no matter what struggles you may have faced, you conquered it and you will continue to do that no matter what this year throws at you!
I hope 2022 is only filled with good things for all of us and I can’t wait to share more food, travel and eco-friendly lifestyle changes with you!