Monday, July 25, 2016

Trying something new without commiting

It's interesting that in my last post I was writing about marriage and in this post I want to focus on trying new things without having to commit fully.

Sun setting over the clouds

Back in May I wrote a post about trying a week without milk. It was something really different for me because I really love dairy. I mean REALLY love it!!! I would probably go through about 5 litres of milk a week and then cheese; cheddar, cottage, brie and then yoghurt and whey protein and ice-cream. The list goes on and on but the main point is I consume a lot of dairy. In fact, when I think about it I would probably say that the majority of my protein came from dairy sources. I used to be a vegetarian for years and while I switched back to including white meat and fish when I moved in with my fiancé, I still wouldn't eat a huge amount of it. Therefore I got most of my protein from dairy and I loved it!!

KerryMaid Country


However recently I have been doing some thinking and soul searching. Now I am not, absolutely not, going to stand here and criticise anyone else. Neither am I here to preach because lord knows I have consumed enough dairy in the last few years to feed probably about 5 people, so..... But there are a lot of people out there advising against too much dairy, for a variety of reason and I guess I have started to wonder if eating this much dairy is right for me?! And right now........ I'm not sure what the answer to that is.



So, I've decided to try something new, without making a massive commitment. So before the Vegan police descend - I cannot and will not tell you, or myself that I will never consume dairy again. In fact, I think I will probably deliberately leave myself the possibility of consuming dairy for ever, in a limited way, in one form or another. I mean I'm a baker, for goodness sake, and not a massive believer in overly processed substitutes. I may well be converted one day. However for the moment I have decided to try going dairy free for a little while and see how it is.



Also another side note to the Vegan Police - I am not Vegan, I do not claim to be Vegan. I have good people in my life who are Vegan and I respect them and their, at times, difficult choices for the benefit of animals. I believe in making some Vegan choices and you will see a number of Vegan recipes or alterations on my blog. However as a baker, a food blogger and a psychologist there is one thing that I firmly believe in and that is spreading hate and attacking people is never okay!! I understand that you view meat as murder, it kind of is, and I realise that living in a world where this is the norm frustrates you greatly. However I WON'T EVER agree that hateful behaviour towards others will successfully promote your cause. If anything it will shut down the very conversation you wish to start. So I compel anyone who finds this blog and feels the need to attack me or anyone else for where they are on their journey with food to just leave. This is not the place for you! 

That said I welcome and am excited by anyone who would like to share with me their story with dairy and their experiences with dairy-free too!! Particularly any tips! Please?!

So this week I tried an exciting new recipe and I wanted to share. You may remember if you read my previous post about giving up milk that I am on a bit of a quest. If there is even the slightest hope of giving up milk then I need to find something to put in my tea. As a born and bred Irish person, tea is an essential part of the day. In fact you can almost chart my mood based on whether I have had tea, and carbs but that's another story. So I need, NEED a dairy-free milk that will work in tea or this dairy free life is not manageable. I appreciate that this sounds dramatic, but I have come to know myself a little bit and I know I need tea.

So when I discovered this easy homemade cashew milk I jumped for joy!! It's creamy, milky and has minimal lumps. It works perfectly with cereal, amazingly in coffee but ..........awful in tea. So my quest continues but that doesn't diminish my love for cashew milk because this stuff is amazing!!!



Cashew Milk

225g/ 1.5 Cups Cashews
1.4L/ 6 Cups Water
2 Dates
1/2 tsp vanilla

You need - a blender
                 - an airtight glass jar
                 - a sieve (optional)
You Do Not need cheese cloth or any other special straining equipment

1 - Put the cashews in a jar cover with water and let them soak for at least 3 hours.



2 - Drain and rinse the cashews

3- Add Cashews and 1/2 the water into a blender and blend until smooth. At this point add the dates
     and vanilla if you want.



This is now a perfect consistency for creamer if that's your thing, so if you want that then stop here.

4 - Add the rest of the water until you have reached the desired consistency.

5 - Store in an airtight container in the fridge for  3 days, some say 5.

Then just enjoy in a delicious coffee...
This was full at one stage but I honestly couldn't resist it long enough to get photos

Note of caution ; It has been drawn to my attention that there can be an issue with raw cashews and mycotxins and although I have also found research that claims that properly treated and stored cashews contain little or no toxic substances. However I have yet to complete my own research on this subject and if you have any concerns I suggest that you do the same and reach your own conclusions.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Travelling and doctorating etc

I have been away for a while. I genuinely didn't mean to leave it so long and I think it deserves some real talk in explanation. However I will pepper it with some lovely pictures for your entertainment.I will also share a new baking post very very soon.

Recently we travelled back to Ireland and visited some locations for our wedding next year!






I haven't written much about the engagement or the wedding planning on here and if I'm honest I think that has been a major reason for my absence. I'm not completely certain why I chose not to write about the engagement etc but I'm guessing it had something to do with the fact that it didn't belong to me alone. You see my fiancé is quite a private person and I fully respect that. You may have noticed that he never appears in this blog much. Sure, I make reference to him is various ways; bf, partner, the boy etc but I've kept it deliberately vague in order to give as little away as possible.

You will have seen snippets of him -

Isn't he handsome?!


But that could be anyone really!

So now when we decided to make our two lives into one -



Well suddenly it felt like a horse of a different colour! A shiny colour ;)

Seriously though, from the second you get engaged it feels like the wedding is ever present and it has taken up, in a good way, a lot of my thinking since then. In fact, between that and the doctorate, I don't really think about much else. Well my friends and family but you know, they will also be in the wedding so I often think of them that way too!

Showing off in their finery!


And in the mist of all of this excitement, I got a bit lost about how to blog -



I know it sounds old-fashioned, and honestly we are not being old-fashioned about this thing at all, but joining our lives together threw me for a hot minute about which parts I had a right to share and which I should keep private to respect his choices! I cannot even tell you how many times of the last few months that I have sat at the computer and stared at a blank post, with a blank mind! It all felt a little too fake and although I tend to show the happier parts of my life and my baking I am nothing if not real. As evidenced by my previous 'I screw up this recipe,' posts.



If I'm fully honest, this is a process that I am still muddling through. However I think that I have documented so much of our lives together on here (we have been together since before I started this blog) and I love blogging about life and baking. Not to mention that the biggest and best baking project (i.e. my own wedding cake) is also going to be coming up! Well I think I am going to share a little more and show you some of the colour (good and bad) and excitement of this developing experience.

A glimpse of my hubby to be and this green house!
So I hope that you will accept my apology and explanation for my absence and here's to lots more baking fun to come!!

Also in fun news - I got an instagram - https://www.instagram.com/tvancookies/

Follow me on instragram at tvancookies

So.........that went well......but I'm back with a bang!

At the start of the year I said that I would try to post more regularly and......yeah....that didn't happen =/ Finishing this doctorat...