Sunday, August 26, 2018

Checking in, recent meals out and a vegan vanilla caramel butterfly cake

Well, hello. It is odd to log onto Blogger after nearly 2 months away. I confess that I haven't missed the act of blogging but I have missed the outlet for sharing food-related news and for connecting with regular readers. I hope you are all well.

I have been less active than I expected in reading blogs too. I opened Inoreader this week with a little apprehension - how much would have built up? - but found it freeing to look at 2 months of others' activity and know I could pick and choose what to read and what to comment on. It was a lovely surprise to see Johanna's reflection on blogging as part of my catch up. Her post captures many of my views and it summarises how blogging has changed and time can feel stretched for all of us.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

I think and hope I may be in a position to return to posting a little more often, but will make no promises in this post. I am pleased, however, to announce one update: Bite-sized thoughts is now on Instagram (@bitesizedthoughtsuk). I resisted Instagram for a long time because I thought it would be another thing to monitor and manage, but I like that I can share snapshots of products and meals when I wouldn't manage a full post. If you're on Instagram, let me know and I will look you up.

For now, I am pleased to share some highlights from the last 2 months.

Mini Bite in action

Late July saw my parents arrive from Australia. Their visit spanned some very hot weather and Mini Bite's second birthday. It was lovely for her to have grandparents about and for us to have the benefits of grandparents about. We packed in country outings, lots of toddler playing, and time with extended UK family.

Ightham Mote gardens, Kent

With grandparents in the house, Mr Bite and I even managed two dinners out by ourselves This is exceedingly rare - the last time was January and I think we have only had four meals out since Mini Bite was born!

For our first meal, we ventured back to Zizzi where I tried the new vegan salad featuring "pink beetroot 'beetballs', roasted rainbow carrots, pea shoots and a cannellini bean, quinoa and soybean mix, in a light citrus harissa dressing with purple basil and chilli threads". It was good, and very pretty, but I liked their previous 'green goddess salad' a little more. Fortunately they still have the amazing vegan chocolate torte on offer, which I took advantage of.

Zizzi's beet ball salad

For our second meal, we tried the nearby Vauxhall Inn. This is a franchised pub we have walked past many times and which offers several vegan options. It also sits in an impressive building, dating to 1732. I opted for the Asian noodle salad which features noodles plus carrot and cucumber ribbons, pak choi, coriander, sliced red chilli, Asian slaw, grapefruit and a Thai dressing. It was good given the restaurant is predominantly a pub. Amusingly, they also had a vegan chocolate torte on offer and we took advantage of that yet again.

Vegan chocolate torte with coconut ice cream

Recent home-based dishes have been a mix of familiar and new. Some of the recent new dishes have made it onto Instagram - beetroot gnocchi, and summer vegetables tossed with tofu in salsa and served over barley. I loved those two meals for the colours alone but they tasted great too.

Beetroot gnocchi

Salsa vegetables and tofu over barley

Another new item in my kitchen was a butterfly birthday cake for Mini Bite. She was delighted with the cake and with the novelty of having icing (I did stop at giving her any of the decorative sweets!). The rest of us enjoyed it too and I expect I'll make the cake again, as the mix of vanilla and caramel tones was delightful.

Mini Bite's birthday cake

The cake was lightly adapted from the vegan vanilla cake on Loving It Vegan. My main adaptation was to use coconut sugar instead of white sugar, which is what provided a caramel flavour. I made the butterfly by baking one heart-shaped cake and one large rectangle cake, and then cutting a heart out of the rectangle (using the heart cake as a template). The off-cut of the rectangle provided a centre 'body'. Decorations included mini vegan marshmallows, icing flowers, raspberries, raspberry liquorice, and some super sweet strawberry sticks as antennae. The icing was a simple (vegan) buttercream - fondant would have looked neater but I am not a fan of it and am also quite inexperienced in its use.

So there we are: 2 months of events, various meals, and birthday cake. Stay tuned for more regular updates on Instagram if you're interested, and I will share some more highlights in blog form in due course.

What has been happening in your life recently?!


  1. So good to hear from you. And that you are doing well and eating well. That beet gnocchi looks good, its been a long while since i made some or even had some. I concur with you on Johanna's blog post. Good to see that your on Insta now, I do have instagram so will follow you later this week when I get my new phone. I love how you made the butterfly cake, i actualy thought it was a mould, but love how you put it together with one heart-shaped cake and one large rectangle cake. Look forward to reading mor when you get time to blog. I am not blogging as much either, but funnily enough I still am still blogging more than I had expected too.

    1. Thanks very much Shaheen and it's been lovely to catch up on your posts, activities and eating too.

  2. Looks like a busy couple of months! And lots of fun. Glad my blogging reflections resonated. I am gearing up for Vegan MoFo with quaking knees as Sept is busy and my blog has been hacked twice recently but I thought I would have a go again. You have lots of lovely colourful plates of food and that butterfly cake is adorable. I tried fondant recently and it is cute but I still really love buttercream and I think your icing looks great - and the decorations are so pretty - I am sure Mini Bite must have loved it.

    1. Thanks Johanna - and good luck for Vegan MoFo! I am impressed at you doing it again.

  3. I'm glad you're still posting, even if it's not with regular frequency. I couldn't agree more about yours and Johanna's thoughts on blogging. I'll be interested to hear more on how your Insta experiment goes - I've similarly resisted getting an account because I didn't think I'd have time. The cake looks fab - lucky mini bite!

    1. I am finding Instagram much more manageable than proper blogging! But it does still take up time, so it's got pros and cons like everything else. It's nice to see you back blogging too :-)

  4. So lovely to hear from you. I have turned into a sporadic poster too, but I do like to lurk around and read other blogs still. Johanna was spot on with a lot of observations, blogging is not at all what it used to be. I quite like instagram... it's sort of micro blogging and it's nice to peek into other people's lives in a bit more of an unstructured way. Your gnocchi looks delicious and I'm glad mini Bite liked her cake. Coconut sugar is amazing!

    1. Sporadic posting might be something that helps make life more manageable when you have young children!

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