Which Easter Eggs are Vegan 2017?

For the third year running, I decided to go to all my local supermarkets and find out which Easter eggs are dairy free and vegan, so you don’t have to waste as much time tearing your hair out over ingredients. I did discuss the US options last year, and they don’t seem to have changed so you can find that post here.

Morrisons:

Most Improved 2017

The prize for Most Improved Vegan Easter Egg Collection 2017 has to go to Morrisons; they have really worked hard to develop a vegan Easter Egg range and you can find them amongst the normal eggs in the seasonal aisle (not in the Free From section) which I always prefer because then I don’t feel like a leper. If I had any money, I’d send Morrisons a trophy. They have 4 vegan eggs this year, including three from Moo Free; the “milk” chocolate one, the “bunnycomb” (honeycomb) one which has chunks of honeycomb in it, and the “orange” one which has chunks of orange-flavored confection in it, as well as the standard Kinnerton one. Full points for interesting and unique eggs this year:

A fantastic selection of Moo Free vegan milk free eggs from Morrissons.
A fantastic selection of Moo Free eggs from Morrissons.

morrisons moo free orange easter egg vegan

morrisons moo free chocolate vegan easter egg

morrisons moo free unnycomb honeycomb toffee vegan easter egg

morrisons kinnerton dairy free vegan easter egg

ASDA

ASDA have a nice set this year, there’s their Easter Egg with Choc Buttons for the kids, a nice looking one with orange discs for millennials, and a serious dark chocolate fancy egg for people who like a bit of luxury. Take a look:

ASDA free from dairy free egg vegan milk free chocolate

ASDA free from dairy free egg vegan milk free chocolate
This one has chocolate orange discs.

ASDA free from dairy free egg vegan milk free chocolate

Sainsbury’s:

Sainsbury’s had their usual lovely collection (and I’m pleased to tell you they also now do the most DELICIOUS dairy free Wensleydale cheese AND a vegan microwave lasagne). The highlights were  the white chocolate egg and the Choices egg (I love the caramel chocolates that come with that one), both of which I bought. There were others, too, but I can’t seem to find the photos to show you (really sorry; if I find them I will add them to this article):

sainsburys vegan easter egg white chocolate easter egg dairy free

sainsburys2

Tesco:

Tesco’s dairy free range has been a bit disappointing this year, and I noticed their Christmas range was lacklustre for milk-free as well; they seem to prefer to fill their free from range with gluten free stuff (and there’s a lot of stuff that they’re selling as “gluten free” when there’s a normal, cheaper version that doesn’t actually contain gluten). So their range was relegated to the mainstream eggs that didn’t have dairy in. Here’s the set I found (with ingredients as they’re not explicitly marked as vegan or dairy free):

Tesco ff green and blacks egg mint vegan

Tesco ff dairy free egg vegan dark chocolate

Lindt dark chocolate bunny dairy free vegan
Everyone’s favorite Lindt dark chocolate bunny is dairy free again this year. Thank you Lindt, I love these bunnies so much!!

The Hall of Shame:

And now, for the third year running, it makes me sad and a little angry to discuss those eggs that look vegan and dairy free, but aren’t, in Invoke Delight and Inspire’s traditional Easter Egg Hall of Shame:

Tesco not vegan dark chocolate bunny.
Not Vegan.

Lindt not vegan dark chocolate egg.

Green and Blacks not vegan dark chocolate egg.

And the prize for the least vegan friendly Easter chocolate, 2017, goes to Nestle, for THREE eggs that contain gratuitous milk. Again. Why do I suspect that someone in Nestle has a grudge against dairy-free chocolate? Now, Cadbury’s seem like they’ve been pretty vegan-unfriendly, but I will remind y’all that they own Green and Black’s, which has at least 1 dairy free egg, even if some of their others are not, so each year they make at least some effort in this department, whereas Nestle are stuck in 1982:

Nestle, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Again. And don’t bother to contact me if you’re just going to spout some spiel about needing butteroil in your After Eights or that “consumers tell you they like milk in their chocolate” because I’m a consumer and I don’t want milk in my chocolate, and given how popular this “Which Easter Eggs Are Vegan” series of articles has been, year on year, I know I’m not alone. BTW, readers, unbranded After Eights are dairy free and they taste great; most supermarkets sell them as “after dinner mints.”

I shouldn’t be surprised by Nestle, they have always been a bit regressive. After all, they did run that Yorkie “it’s not for girls”, and later, the “this one is for girls” (get in your freaking corner, girls, OMG, like what are you doing trying to eat chocolate?) advertising campaigns.

Has anyone spotted any other vegan Easter eggs in shops? Let me know in the comments!

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Another Cooking Skillz Fail…

When my Dearest and I buy a chicken to eat, we tend to cook it on one day and eat half between us, then we eat the other half on the second day after re-heating the chicken for 45 minutes in a hot oven.

So this time it turned into another cooking disaster. I can’t actually take credit for this one… I mean, I did the right thing and ensconced the remaining half-chicken in cling film (saran wrap?) to make sure it didn’t go bad while it was in the fridge overnight.

However, I wasn’t the person who then put the chicken in the oven.
I was the one who came to take it out and discovered it was coated in melted plastic.

cling film chicken
This is what happens if you leave the cling film on the chicken when you put it in the oven and cook it for 45 minutes.
Chicken cling film
A close up of the chicken fresh from the oven. Above the breastbone that’s melted plastic.

I’d like to be classy and say we threw it away on the spot, but I really wanted to eat something and I’d just spent 45 minutes waiting for a chicken to cook that someone else had put in the oven. So I didn’t throw the chicken away.

Using mad surgical skillz, I very carefully dissected the chicken in such a way that the chicken coated in cling film or any chicken that might have absorbed plastic was all removed.

There was maybe 1/2 a cup of chicken left at the end of it all. I poured some soup over it and ate it.

It tasted funny.

I am not really sure what the lesson is here. Don’t let other people cook? Seems a bit of an overreaction. What do you think? I have learned nothing from this episode.

Southern Fried Catfish and Hush Puppies

Has anyone tried this dish? I really want to make it, but I don’t know where to get catfish in the UK! It sounds very delicious.

And I could listen to this lady’s voice all day:

Grandma’s Blackberry Jam Recipe

So I made blackberry jam, and I canned it, which I’ll talk more about at the bottom of this post.

Blackberry jam.
Blackberry jam.

Here’s the recipe I used (it was very simple). This is a standard jam recipe but it’s vegan and gluten free:
1. Go pick some blackberries. I got 300g. Blackberries grow wild on brambles.
2. Weigh them (and wash them thoroughly, throw out any bad ones).
If you didn’t get many (you need at least 200g really – that does an 8oz jar of jam, when you subtract the stuff that will burn to the bottom, but for lots, preferably 500g-900g), freeze them and wait for more to ripen, then pick/wash more.
3. When you’re ready to make jam, weigh all your blackberries together.
4. Measure out the same amount of golden granulated sugar (it’s a 1:1 ratio blackberries to sugar). Maybe other sugar types also work, I used golden granulated.
5. Put the berries in a pan with a big tablespoon of lemon juice (this will help preserve the fruit) and about 1/4 cup of water, and bring to the boil.
6. Simmer straight away for 15 minutes.
7. Add the sugar. It will take a lot of stirring and a lot of waiting to get it all to dissolve.
8. Once it’s dissolved, turn the heat up as high as you can and boil for 10-12 minutes, until the blackberry gloop reaches 105 degrees C (220F) which is the setting point. Don’t stir, but if you smell burning, it’s done.

Blackberry jam.
This is what it looks like when its set after the white froth was scraped off.

9. Take off the heat, skim off any white froth from the top, and let it settle for a few minutes (you can put it straight in jars at this point but I wanted to check it had worked.
10. Put in (sterilized with HOT water) jars, seal them if you want to.

About canning, storage times and such:
I used these quattro stagioni jars in 8.5 ounce size, which I found for a good price on the shelf at Homesense (they’re one of those places that has different stuff each week), I liked them because they’re made to take the high temperature and they’re vacuum sealable for food safety (although one of mine didn’t seal) and they sell replacement lids (70mm or 2 3/4 inch is the size for the 8.5 oz jars, although that is NOT cheap for 2 jar lids, so I hope somewhere starts doing them cheaper). You can use any old jar for jam, but you should use a fresh lid each time because you can’t fully clean the lids, which is why I bought jars to use.
If you want to read about home canning in more depth to ensure you’re doing it safely, this free guide from the USDA is phenomenal (I’d start with this section). I highly recommend it for people thinking of canning (which means putting in jars – that confused me for a while) other garden produce, although I’m still undecided on what to do with my carrots when they’re fully grown.

If you vacuum seal the jar with the blackberry jam in it, and don’t open it again, it’s good for 1 year (the jars I linked to have specific instructions to seal them in hot water, I managed to follow them using a bucket as I didn’t have a big enough pot). If it doesn’t vacuum seal (the popper in the lid still pops up) it’s good for 1 month. When you open it, it’s good for 1 month.

Anyone else done any canning or jam making? Got a different recipe/method? Let me know in the comments!

blackberry jam
Sterilized jars.

Why you shouldn’t wash wheat packs

Do you use wheat packs?  I got introduced to them a few years ago and I love them! I microwave them, they get warm, it’s a nice way to calm aching muscles or something to snuggle when I’m lonely. I also like using them to open up my pores to clean my face out before I use a face mask. In winter, I go for one of those before I’ll put the heating on because it’s cheaper when it’s just me in the house…

…Yeah, they’re great until you need to clean them.  This might be the funniest story of domestic ungodessitude that I’ve ever managed to experience.

Last year, when two of my indoor rabbits were outside for the summer I got them a snuggly dog bed (they don’t make them for rabbits – pet shops are so racist) and it had a removable wheat pack in the middle that you microwave for your bunnies (or dogs).

Can you wash a wheat bag how to wash wheat pack dangerous
The wheat bag from inside the snuggly pet bed.

When they moved back into the house, I brought the rabbit bed back in. The new bunny Timmy managed to confuse it with a litter tray, and I removed the wheat pack and put the rest of the bed through the washing machine. I sorta thought the wheat pack shouldn’t be washed but it *was* part of a pet bed and surely anyone designing a pet bed would know how messy pets are and how their stuff needs regularly cleaning.

That left me wondering what to do with the wheat pack.  Anyway, in true MsAdventure style, I managed to forget about it for 6 months, and I found it while cleaning this weekend. It was stained brown and I thought I was doing the right thing by cleaning it. I’d forgot it was a wheat pack, and I chucked it in the wash, thinking it was a bean bag (with those styrofoam beans). I found out after this whole misadventure that it had a care label but I hadn’t read it before I did this.

Oh God that didn’t go well.

I put it in the machine with a load of other pale things, setting the temperature at 40 to get rid of the heavy stains, and somehow the entire load of washing smelled SO BAD, so I put everything back through the washer again (including the wheat pack), with a cupful of vinegar as well as the usual detergent (I was out of my usual favorite, Listerine), and it all smelled WORSE. Like, after 10 minutes in the tumble dryer (and I’d removed the wheat pack by now), the kitchen was filled with the worst decomposing fish smell and nobody ever wanted to smell that. It was disgusting, but I couldn’t work out where the smell was coming from (it stank so bad, I wondered if there was a dead mouse in my tumble dryer, and I don’t have mice in my house as far as I know).

I put it on the radiator to dry (I knew enough to know not to tumble dry it) thinking that a pair of socks had caused the bad smell. Nope. I finally worked out it was the wheat bag. I cut it open to see what happened, and instead of neat little brown balls of wheat it looked like this:

Are wheat packs washable? How to clean a wheat bag pack
Don’t wash your wheat bag or wheat pack!
Are wheat packs washable? How to clean a wheat bag pack
I think some of it has sprouted???!!

 

It sorta looks like sprouted popcorn with all the residue from the bottom of the popcorn bag. The smell was so bad I had to brush my teeth after smelling the inside of the bag (it was so much worse after I opened it) because I couldn’t get the smell out of my nose.

So if you’re wondering whether that “do not wash” label on your wheat pack or wheat bag is ignorable, DON’T!! If your wheat pack is dirty, you have two options. Either cut it open, remove the wheat, and wash/dry the bag then replace the wheat and sew it back up, or just buy a new one. The warning on that label isn’t like the warning on cheap clothes that dares you to tumble dry them, that warning on your wheat pack is real.

I threw it in the garbage.

Don’t do what I did (unless you’re trying to attract stray cats, zombies, or you really want to scare social workers into investigating your home)!!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dinner Time at Cafe Mango

Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
The main course at Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland. Taken August 2015.

For this week’s photo challenge, Dinnertime, I decided to share these pictures of the delightful Cafe Mango in Fort William.  If you’re climbing Ben Nevis, this Thai and Indian restaurant is well worth a visit.  It was the best restaurant we ate at on the West side of the Highlands, everything was simply delicious and the staff were friendly and made us feel very welcome even though it was 9pm, and we were the last customers (because we had just climbed Ben Nevis – everyone seems to eat early in the Highlands)!

Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
Some of the stunning decoration inside Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland. Taken August 2015.
Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
A shot of the rest of the restaurant (I used the bannister near the top as the horizon line) including the beautiful emboidered elephants backdrop, in Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.
Fort William at night: The outside of Cafe Mango, Thai and Indian Restaurant Fort William, Highlands, Scotland.