For vegan margarine I use either dairy-free Vitalite or Pure, both of which you can buy at any of the major supermarkets (Tesco etc). Both come in tubs and are relatively soft straight from the fridge. I believe those across the pond use something called Earth Balance, but this isn't sold in the UK so I can't comment on how our margarines compare to it.
I use applesauce to replace some of the margarine or oil content in recipes. I got the idea from my recipe hunts across American websites and since I discovered how well it works, I've not looked back. In theory you should use unsweetened applesauce, but I just use cheap 'n' cheerful Tesco Value applesauce because it's a smooth version. You definitely don't want a better quality one that contains chunks of apple because it's a real pain trying to pick the pieces out (as I know from experience!).
If you've never used applesauce to replace fat, you might be sceptical and think that everything will end up tasting of apple, but let me assure you that this is not the case. Although I use a sweetened applesauce, I never reduce the recipe's sugar content because I almost never find anything too sweet, but you might need to consider doing this.
I almost always use Alpro Light soya milk for its reduced fat and calorie content but when I state soya milk you can generally use whatever type of non-dairy milk you prefer. In some recipes, rice milk might be too thin and in other cases, you might need the extra fat (it's hardly loads) of regular soya milk. For folks in North America, soya is just the same as soy.
Ground flax seeds are sometimes used as a vegan egg replacer. Mixed with water and left to stand for a few minutes, they great a gooey texture that works well as a binder. Flax seeds are what we Brits know as linseed, but if you're out looking for packets of ground seeds, you're more likely to find them called flax. I've seen packets of ground flax seed in Tesco and Holland & Barrett in the UK. They're certainly not cheap, but they will last for ages. The recommendation is to store opened bags in the fridge or freezer but I keep mine in a dark cupboard and I've never noticed anything to suggest they've gone off.
Weights and Measures
I live in the UK and we use the metric weight system by default, which I personally think is a lot easier and more accurate than using the US system of measuring cups. However, I am possibly a contender for some kind of Guinness World Record for highest number of cookbooks and the vast majority of these come from the USA. This means that a lot of the time, you'll find that ingredients are given in terms of cups.
Measuring cups are quite easy to find in the UK these days. I've seen them in major supermarkets, plus I've just bought a second dead cheap set from eBay. I'd always go for a set that includes a 1/8 cup because of the extra versatility it affords. There are only two of us in my house, so I often halve recipes which brings the 1/8 cup into play a lot more often than it might for other folk. The 1 cup measure of my set holds 250ml liquid. If yours are slightly different, it shouldn't make much of a difference to the overall recipe because you're still measuring everything in proportion.
In terms of teaspoons and tablespoons, I use proper measuring spoons, not cutlery. My set of measuring spoons contains both 1/2 tbs and 1/8 tsp sizes and, for the reasons mentioned above, I find these very handy. A tablespoon of my set holds 15ml.
Again, because of living in the UK, I specify oven temperatures in degrees celsius and gas marks. I'll include fahrenheit if I remember to, otherwise you'll need to use a conversion chart. An oven thermometer is always a good gadget to have as if your oven runs cooler or hotter than the temperature it's set, it'll affect your cooking times.
Preparing Baking Trays and Tins
I used to use non-stick baking trays but found that over time things would start sticking, so then I'd start spraying them with a low-calorie spray (I currently use the Flora one). Nowadays I tend to only bring out the spray when I'm cooking veggies etc because I have discovered the wonders of baking paper (also known as baking parchment). This paper is an absolute godsend because nothing ever sticks to it. Both sides work, so when using it for cookies I just turn it over to do the next batch to double its value for money.
When I bake cakes etc I'll also line the tins with baking paper. Sometimes only the bottom will need doing, particularly if I'm using a springform pan, but I usually play safe and do the whole lot to avoid the possibility of any nasty problems. If using a square tin, it's handy to cut a piece of baking paper that's wide enough to cover the base and long enough to go up the two sides with an overhang, then just cut separate strips for the other two sides. Doing this will allow you to then lift the cake out of the tin easily. I "stick" the baking paper down with little dabs of vegan margarine here and there - you don't need it all over.
An alternative to baking paper would be silicone mats or Silpats. I've seen chefs using these on cookery shows but I've not yet tried them so I can't comment on how they affect baking, cookies spreading etc.
OK, so it's obvious I'm not a food photographer. I do take a lot of photos using expensive lenses and the like, but they're of my other love in life, ice hockey (I created the Lee Valley Lions' website which I've been running since 2001). To be honest, between hockey and my job, I'm pretty busy so right now I don't want to spend too much time on fancy photos. What you see on the site is what the recipes look like when you make them; just honest photos taken on a little Panasonic compact.