Kind of exciting vegan BBQ ideas

Mr S-B and me have been back in lovely south Manchester for a coupla weeks or so now. Last weekend we wandered into nearby Chorlton to meet up with my parents for lunch, and I spotted these beauties in a charity shoppe….



Sweet Mandarin has a restaurant in Manchester and I’ve heard that they have vegan options, so this book caught my eye. As it goes, it’s pretty packed with meat, but with suggestions for making recipes dairy and egg free (as well as gluten free) I decided it would be well worth buying anyway, since meat is easily replaced with tofu/mushrooms/seitan/tempeh/etc.

(Oh and I’m totally building up a GREAT collection of awful/retro cross stitch books they are super duper and I want to cross stitch a bonsai tree.)

Since we’re having a proper ~heatwave~ at the moment we busted out the BBQ the other night, and I took inspiration from the Sweet Mandarin book to create some tasty ginger & spring onion mushrooms….


I made a marinade and tossed some chopped chestnut mushrooms and spring onions with it, then threw the whole lot on the BBQ nestled in some foil.

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Have you tried this before? It proper works, whatever you want to cook. I recommend it!

I also double-nutted up with this super peanut tofu from Unicorn (our local vegan grocery store) and some of Aldi’s finest satay sauce….



YES INDEED, THIS WAS ALL VERY TASTY. We served with basmati rice and coleslaw, perhaps winning the ‘inappropriate sides’ award 2016?

Vulpe did a good job of sitting near the BBQ looking very concerned. WHY U MAKE FIRE?


And I enjoyed a tremendously refreshing strawberry beer and I nearly wrote ‘strawberry bear’ there by mistake.



So there it is. What’s your favourite BBQ type food? Do you like to do anything weird or interesting on the coals?

Here’s another shot of Vulpe continuing to look concerned once we’d stepped back inside the flat…..


Happy hump-day folks!


You Guyz! Super lovely vegan greeting cards!

So there is a lovely vegan lady on Twitter, Emily, that I’ve occasionally chatted with for the last couple of years. She is a mega talented illustrator and asked me a little while back about my opinion on vegan-themed greeting cards. Obvs I thought that was a SUPER idea and she’s only gone and done it! Check it out folks….



Uhhhhhh how flipping adorable are these? Emily has 8 cards in the range at the moment but maybe if we all buy lots and tell our friends, she’ll expand the range and/or make some other lovely goodies for us all….



The cards are printed using vegetable inks on recycled card and come in a biodegradable wrapper so they are basically just superhero-level eco-friendly cards.


Emily is a total peach, just the loveliest lady, and this is a great way to support an independent vegan artist. You can check out her shop on Etsy here.

Make sure to send Emily any feedback or special requests on Twitter!


Cousin Arleen

Hello folks!

I thought I would take a little departure today and tell a little family history tale. Because I must punish myself by having All The Hobbies, I have been super keen on genealogy in the last few years, and spent quite a few weekends in 2014 and 2015 in an Ancestry HAZE.

Cousin Arleen in central, in the snazzy pearls
Cousin Arleen is central, in the snazzy pearls.

This one’s about Arleen, my 2nd cousin 1x removed, born 17 March 1935 and living now in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. There she is in the picture above, and that’s taken from a yearbook photo from Eastern Senior High School in Washington DC, where she attended around 1952. I mentioned her previously here.

Jenny Arleen connection

You can see my connection with Arleen above – the red line links us. The first relatives in the tree that we share, i.e., are both descended from, are Benjamin Morton (1847-1886) and Ann Evans (1848-1922). Ann is my 2nd Great Grandmother, and Arleen’s Great Grandmother. She was born 14 November 1848 in Pendleton, Lancashire, a small rural village around 35 miles from Manchester. By all accounts, the village was all a bit Wicker Man, complete with sabbath days and maypole dancing.

Photo 02-06-2016, 10 36 00
My Great Great Grandmother, Ann Evans. [Date unknown]
Ann married Benjamin Morton on 30 March 1872, when she was 23 years old. They had five children, all in all:

  • Phoebe, born 1874.
  • Walter, born 1876.
  • Elizabeth Ann, born 1877.
  • Ada, born 1878.
  • Samuel, born 1882.

Ann’s daughter, Ada, went on to marry my Great Grandfather on 11 April 1903 at the All Saints Parish Church in Newton Heath, Manchester. Here’s a super jolly wedding shot:


There’s Ann in the middle, dressed (maybe?) in black. Immediately to Ann’s (own) right is Ada, my Great Grandmother. Lurking behind Ada and her groom (the one with the snazzy top hat) is Walter, sporting a very smart moustache. Next to Walter (and looking a bit ghostly) is his wife, Ethel.

Walter and Ethel had married at the same church on 17 September 1902…..

walter and ethel marriage

Walter and Ethel had one child; a son, called Lynwood Bentley Morton, who was born in late 1904 (according to records from later in his life) though baptised in December 1905.

Curiously, there seemed to follow a bit of coming and going between England and America in the subsequent years…

Ethel and Lynwood boarded the RMS Franconia at Liverpool on 25 June 1912, headed for Boston. Ethel is listed as a ‘housewife’ and as ‘not accompanied by husband/wife’ (escandalo). The country of intended future permanent residence is listed as USA.

RMS Franconia in Boston Harbour
RMS Franconia in Boston Harbour

However, Ethel and Lynwood are also recorded boarding the SS Laconia at Liverpool only a couple of weeks later, on 9 July 1912. She declares herself single (double escandalo) and her final destination (aka intended future permanent residence) is listed as Massachusetts. However, this is crossed out and replaced by ‘Manchester, England’.

July 1912 SS Laconia Ethel and Lynwood crossed out

I guess this doesn’t necessaily mean that Ethel and Lynwood were booted off the ship. Maybe they fibbed and stated they planned to return to England? Perhaps they were booted off the first time when trying to immigrate ‘proper’?

In any case, Walter departed from Liverpool around 3 months later, on 11 October 1912 on the SS Laconia. He listed himself as married, and his intended final destination as Laurence (sic), Massachusetts.

Lynwood, of course, was Cousin Arleen’s Father, and she had this to say to me of all the goings-on back then…..

My Mother told me that Ethel and Walter had owned a little grocery store, that he also did the gilt lettering on the old coaches, (that may explain my interest in beautiful handwriting). That apparently he had a roving eye and Ethel left coming to America with Lynwood and then Walter following stating that “she would not take his son away from him”, of course if all of this is true.

If indeed! But the records do seem to suggest that it might have been true after all (poor Ethel – I’m not sure how I feel about him chasing them across the ocean). In any case, by the time the 1920 census rolled around, the whole family lived together at 24 Merrick Avenue, Precinct C, Springfield City Ward 4, Hampden, Massachusetts. Walter was working as an upholsterer for the Street Railway Co., Ethel was a housewife and Lynwood was 15 years old. Here’s what 24 Merrick Avenue looks like today…

A lot bloody nicer than Newton Heath....
A lot bloody nicer than Newton Heath….

Moving on to Lynwood Bentley (a superb name), my first cousin x2 removed, and cousin Arleen’s Father……he was initiated into the Samuel D. Sherwood Masonic Lodge (eye-roll) on 28 May 1926 at 21 years old.

Lynwood was involved in a terrible accident in April 1930, when he accidentally killed someone walking by when he ran into them on a ‘machine’ he was driving. (Heavy stuff.)


In happier news, on St Patrick’s Day of 1935, after Lynwood had married Virginia Maguire (at some unknown date), their daughter Arleen Morton was born. At the time they lived at 130 Conwell Street, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. Here’s what that street looks like today…

Conwell St

As shown in the picture at the top of this post, Arleen attended Eastern Senior High School in Washington DC around 1952. Later, at college, she met and eventually married her husband Charles, and they had three children together.

I found Arleen’s current details through her husband Charles’ obituary, and sent a letter to her in March 2016. Arleen and I have been exchanging emails since, and a couple of months back she sent an amazing package with various family pictures, letters, and other bits and pieces. That included a picture of my Dad’s Aunt, someone I don’t recall ever meeting as I’m estranged from that branch of the family….

My Great Aunt, Jessie.
My Great Aunt, Jessie.

It’s odd to think that this picture was taken at a studio in Manchester city centre and was sitting in an envelope along with other documents over in a Massachusetts town until it was sent back to Manchester (to me).

So there it is, that’s the story (as I know it so far) of Cousin Arleen. Hopefully we’ll keep in touch and maybe one day (who knows) I’ll get to head over and meet a long lost relative. I picture JB Fletcher in my mind, in a little New England seaside town. Sounds good to me.

Have you ever traced your family tree? Ancestry really gets you started off if you know a few dates and names, and you can get a free month’s trial when you sign up (um, and you can get a few of those if you have enough email addresses, although not keeping all the info in one place can be a bit of a pain…..)

I hope this little show and tell was interesting anyhow. Have a fun weekend folks!


The new (old) neighbourhood, and lots of sniffing

Our new flat is in a suburb of south Manchester that isn’t exactly new to me. I last moved away from Whalley Range and from my teeny one-bed flat in September 2014, and I also used to live around here a couple of years before that. Vulpe spent around a year taking her walkies nearby and so it isn’t strictly a new area for her.

Personally, I find the local streets much more pleasant for wandering here than those surrounding our previous house in east Manchester. There are trees everywhere and lots of green. I can tell that Vulpe finds it much more interesting because she has to stop and sniff EVERY. LITTLE. THING. SERIOUSLY. EVERY. THING.

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You can probably tell that she takes sniffing very seriously. Ever since I read that pulling a dog away from a sniff is equivalent to pulling an interesting book out of a person’s hands, I haven’t had the heart to interrupt most of the time.

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Ahhhh, it’s actually pretty nice to be back. Anyone who’s familiar with Manchester will know that living out in east Manchester, if you’re not from the area, is a bit of an odd thing to do. I was driven by necessity back in 2014, and I guess it was a great house to tide me over. But I’m happy that Mr S-B, Vulpe and me have our lovely little cave here now. We’re closer to friends, the city centre, and many more vegan options (woohoo). I don’t miss the damp, the mould, or the slugs.

I’m hoping that this move will give me a bit of stability, once my unsavoury career situation is resolved (soon, I hope). As I’ve recently hit 35, a baseline of normality would be just swell. I also think Vulpe might be working towards a final draft of her 2016 edition of The Big Book of Smells, but hopefully the house move won’t mean too many amendments…..