Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Manchester Sewing Circle

We are setting up a new Venture called The Manchester Sewing Circle.
A mixture of Make Do and Mend and Sewing Circle/Bee.
Our joint New Year's resolution at Crown & Country was to start sewing our own clothes again but with a combination of work and rustiness we’ve had trouble starting. After making a pattern and sewing aprons for our WI (more on that in a future post) and being obsessed with The Great British Sewing Bee we were re-galvanized to actually set up this group.
We found a million great lessons, craft groups and Knit and Natter’s around the Manchester area but we wanted to create a social space which would just be about sewing, where we could talk about making clothes, swap patterns, tips and techniques and share a cup of tea.
We are looking at some City Centre Locations right now probably for a week day evening but have arranged for our first meeting to be at the Creative Institute at The Old Northern Market’s Summer Garden Party on the 21st July. We will have a meet-up for interested people to talk about the group and what they would like from the group.
More updates of times etc will be published here soon, let us know if this is something you would like to be part of and when and where you think it should take place in the comments below or e-mail us at
Stay tuned for more updates.
Susan & Charlotte

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Northern Vegan Festival

Well its been the busiest week for so many reasons that we ran out of time to tell you all about our visit to the Northern Vegan Festival on Saturday the 13th of April, we (along with just a few other people) made our way to Sasha's Hotel in Manchester.
We had been looking forward to this for ages but didn't really know what to expect as we hadn't been to a Vegan Festival before, we were more than pleasantly surprised, had such a great time and bumped into many people we knew from WI ladies to Prestwich friends.
There was such a range of different things to take in and it was at 10.30 (the event opened at 10.00) when we got there already packed 
There is a list of stallholders on their website 

We wanted to talk about every stall as they were all great but as it took us way over 2½ hours to get round, it may be too long of a post so we decided to show you some of our favourite
That Old Chestnut The Vegan Bakery are a Leeds based vegan bakery, not only was their stall beautifully styled, we loved the hessian with bold print logo and the cakes on various cake stands and plates, but the cakes looked and tasted amazing as well. 
There website is also pretty nifty too and you can order online.
So sad I missed these Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tiffin, three of my favourite things together, especially after seeing them on their website.
Wanted to try every one of their cakes but we opted for this Roasted Hazelnut and Chocolate Bundt Cake, more on that later.
The cakes and treats on Ms Cupcake's stall looked to die for, so much choice and variety, 
The stall was maned by Ms Cupcake herself and a colleague of hers, they were both lovely and very friendly. 
They have a new book which comes out on the 9th of May,(amazon link)
They had a number of copies on the stall and of course we had to get one, and of course have it signed. We will be reviewing the book really soon because we just have to bake some of the things in there, they look delicious.
This sugar (admittedly sugar is a weakness of mine) was amazing, Coconut sugar has a lower GI and still packed with the nutrients of coconut. the sugar smelled delicious like that rich demarera warm smell.
The Manchester Vegan Society were selling lovely looking cakes for Animal Aid. 
They meet at the Thirsty Scholar on Oxford Street (by Oxford Street Station) the last Saturday of the month at 1pm, they are a really informal group who just get together to drink a pint, eat the very tasty food at the Thirsty Scholar, and chat (not just about veganism) anyone welcome just an open mind needed, if you are curious about veganism, any aspect of it, for health reasons or simply a greater knowledge of what's in your food, pop along they are very welcoming, friendly and great fun. 

Cakes and Sweet things.
One thing that is definalty true about vegans (I am generalizing, I know my mum hates sweet things) is they love anything sweet, cakes, biscuits, ice cream really anything, If you search vegan on  amazon or waterstones most of the vegan books are on baking or cakes, We know we own most of them, There is so much room for experiment and creativity in vegan baking. Here are some highlights of just a few of the sweet treats on offer.
(They do the much missed pink chocolate, lovely)
The lovely Cottage Cupcake Company based in Chorlton, this was as close as I could get to her stall which is because her cakes are so tasty and they don’t look too bad either.
 Clockwise from top left,, Fruit Flies Jams
Really lovely people running this stall and their cakes were rather lovely to, we took some home to enjoy later. This was their first stall so we were glad it went well for them. visit their site to order them online.
The best vegan marshmallows in fact the best marshmallows I have ever had. They are sold in packs which you can make up at home or you could buy some ready made up, so gorgeous give them a go you can buy them here

There were many restaurants there along with caterers and food producers all with amazing looking and tasting goods.
Need to try this restaurant out when I'm next anywhere near Leeds or Hebden Bridge. It's based at 16 Town hall street, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX6 2EA, Great name as well.
Great looking sandwiches from V Revolution on Oldham Street in Manchester.

Some other Highights
There were beauty and make-up stalls, pet food, charities and dogs homes and all maner of things related to vegansim. We had a really great time and on our way out were very greatful we had gone early, as this was the line to get in. 
For anyone who knows Manchester the line was inside Sashas hotel, around the corner and all the way onto Oldham street and it was packed inside as well. We are really glad it went so well and was so well attended and hope it can continue to grow bigger and better next year. There are other vegan festivals through out the year and country mainly VegFest which has dates in brigton, London and Bristol
Finished off the day with Paris When it Sizzles and To Catch A Thief marathon, Bundt cake, ice cream and a green tea to relax after such hard work.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Beagle Resturant

Last week we had a celebratory family birthday dinner at The Beagle in Chorlton, 
The food was very tasty and the service was great and friendly, here are some pics of our meal.

Crown & Country xx

Friday, 12 April 2013

Cake & Bake Show

Last Saturday we along with a group of our WI ladies trekked on the metrolink to Manchester Central (or Gmex for oldies like me) for the Cake & Bake Show. So we though we would show you what we saw. (rather a lot of pictures in this post we could not resist)
Click for site
There was certainly a lot to take in, and a million people. There were big stands from Sainsbury’s, Squires Kitchens, Dr. Oetker, Lakeland (who also had a big shop but reaching it needed a braver woman than I), W.H.Smiths and Baking Many different theatres including the kids theatre where they were making bread and the larger baking and cake making stages.

The Sainsbury’s stand manned by season 2 Great British Bake Off contestant (and my personal favorite)  Holly Bell were promoting their new baking range which looked very fancy, apparently coming to stores soon.
Many of the stalls were beautifully styled and full of amazing looking things.
Clockwise from left Martins  Bradleys Pryces
 Clockwise from left Marriage's, Doves Farm, Flour Bin, Doves Farm, Four Bin.
Many artisan and specialists flour companies, where we picked up one of these proving dishes from Doves Farm

Our Prestwich Food Fest favorite Dough It yourself with their pizza (so that was dinner sorted) You can now order online too which is very dangerous because these pizza's and sauces are gorgeous.

A million cake and sweet treats stalls all beautifully styled here are some highlights.
Clockwise from left The Marshmallowists!, Ginger Bakers, More?
Probably our favorite stall was full of vintage Kitchenalia and lovely things, we picked up some plates and stickers, it was beautifully styled and a big hit. 
And the Lovely ladies (and their lovely dresses) manning the stall.
Very attractive stall from Bonne Maman where mum picked up some of these huge Jar’s 
Gingerbread Making Competition
We like hundreds stood and listened to Tom Herbert (from the Fabulous Baker Boys) make wheaten bread on the stage. 

This is him taking a picture for twitter with the audience.
We saw some other baking celebs as well Eric lanlard, Edd kimber, John Whaite, Paul A Young and many more.

We are already planning a joint (Prestwich & Whitefield and Salford Angels they are our closest WI neighbours who we went to this show with as well) to this in June. Looks very interesting Cake, Mr Darcy and a Vintage Market yes please.
Also another amazing stall love the bunting and gingham makes me look forward to summer.

All in all a great day out and we would definitely go again next year just maybe on a Friday next time.

Crown & Country